Christmas is just shy of two weeks away, and on Facebook and Pinterest friends are discussing whether they "do" Santa and voicing their opinions on those crazy Elves on the Shelves.

I don't begrudge anyone a right to their opinion, but I do have to admit that as a child....well, actually until I got married and no longer woke up on Christmas morning in my mom's house, Santa stuffed our stockings and left us presents (unwrapped and all assembled) under the tree. He always ate a few bites of the cookies and drank some of the milk. Even long after we knew the truth, we still giggled at night and waited anxiously for morning to come so we could run in to see what the fat man left.

My sister, my brothers and I all accepted Christ at young ages (between 6-8 for all of us). Maybe we're all extraordinarily gifted, but we never once misunderstood the gospel message or thought that our mother was lying to us just because she played up the idea of Santa Claus to us.

My parents and grandparents lied about plenty while raising us ("don't make that face; it'll get stuck that way", "kids who drink coffee don't grow" or "coffee will put hair on your chest" (obviously I had an issue with coffee even then)....and yet it didn't alter my perception of what real truth is. Sometimes it's really ok for a child to learn truth as they grow up on their own. I believed I'd catch a cold if I went outside with wet hair until I was in college microbiology. And that's ok.

When Paul and I started out our parenting career, we discussed the whole thing and I was feeling led to focus only on the birth of Jesus and not "do" Santa.

That lasted one year. Paul and I both missed the traditions we grew up with and didn't want our kids to miss out on the fun.

Don't get me kids know all about St. Nicholas and the origins of "Santa Claus". We totally celebrate the birth of Christ and we celebrate the Advent and read the Biblical account (we just read Mary's Magnificat last night)....and yet we somehow have successfully combined that with the tradition of Santa and reindeer and cookies & milk.

We even have an Elf on the Shelf. We've had him since 2006.

This is Little Dave:

Last night he pulled nursery duty.

The kids thought it was a hoot.

Lest you think my kids are a bunch of imbeciles, my 6th grader is finishing his first semester at Holy Crosswith all A's. Griffin is knocking out all A's in 3rd, and Annie is the only kindergartner in her school that is reading through the Little House on the Prairie series like other 6 year olds are reading Green Eggs and Ham.

What I'm saying is that my kids are smart kids who know the truth of Jesus and what His birth meant, and continues to mean, to all humankind. My kids actually have a much better grasp on what Christmas really means than either Paul or I did at their ages.

So amidst the lists pleading for new electronics and Legos and Barbies, my kids will bake a birthday cake and have a party on Christmas Eve for Jesus. We will write down our gifts to Him for the next year and place them in His stocking....and we will take out what we wrote last year and talk about how we did or didn't do and what we can do to help each other in the next year. We will read Luke's account of Jesus' birth and we will join hands and pray.

And then the kids will say goodbye to Dave for another year and we will dose them up with Melatonin persuade them to go to bed until morning. We'll stay up late getting everything together and ready and put them under the tree.

And when all is said and done, I have a feeling that my kids will have memories of our family traditions and be okay with it all.

Merry Christmas.

A New Season

In the morning I will have a complete hysterectomy.

I will never again live in a state of "what if?!?!" when my period is late.

I will never again feel the absolute THRILL of seeing the stick turn pink. {and doing 7 more tests...just to be sure...}

I will never again feel the queasiness that only a newly pregnant woman knows.
{You know, when you smile while you're puking because you're so stinking happy that your hormone levels are high, yet you feel so crappy that you'd sell your right arm for a Phenergan or Zofran.}

I will never again feel those first kicks and flips and flutters of an actual human being inside your body. {and wonder, to yourself only, is it gas or is it the baby? and who can I ask? or should I just stay quiet until I'm sure?...}

I will never again scour baby name books or family trees in search of the perfect name. {I never got to use some of my favorites: Nolan, Bennett, Owen, Marshall, Mary Paige, Avery, Evelyn, Greer...}

I will never again sit up late at night doing crossword puzzles while having contractions and wonder "is this it?" {is it a cramp? should I call the doctor? nah, I don't want to wake him up. should I?}

I will never again hear that first cry and think to myself "There really WAS a baby in there!!" {there is honest to God no better sound in the world!}

My brain knows without question that I am ready for this...but my heart is what prompted me to ask the ultrasound tech if she saw a heartbeat anywhere in the midst of my 47 year old fibroid filled uterus during a pre-op test. {Her answer was a sad, puzzled look that said "oh-my-God-is-this-woman-psychotic??}

I will admit I've shed a lot of tears in the past month. And I'm pretty sure there are a lot more to come.

David wrote in Psalm 30 "Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning."

Is it morning yet?


Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and on Facebook, friends are listing things they are thankful for each and every day. I'm not sure why I didn't jump on the bandwagon...after all, that sounds like something I'd do.

Don't get me wrong...I have a ton to be thankful for. This year I suppose I feel a little guilty being all happy and thankful and all "look how good I have it!" -- when over in Israel, my sweet friend Liba and her family are having to lock themselves in their safe room each day when sirens blare, indicating rockets are flying over her house. Liba has 4 children. A husband. A job. She is no different than me, other than the fact that she chose to raise her children in her husband's homeland. Israel. God's country.

So while I'm over here making my grocery list for my white chocolate bread pudding, Liba is sleeping pretty poorly, probably with one eye open while she waits and wonders.

My lack of sleep will only come from hot flashes and night sweats. I live in a city known for it's violent crime....and yet I sleep in peace, knowing we are not at war. There will be no missles, no threatened ground attack.

I watch the news and hear politicians and wonder if no one has read the Bible. It's all written out there for them. I'd trust the Author Himself over some foreign correspondent or "expert" on Middle East affairs.

But that's just me.

I look at my children and fear what is coming. I've always believed in a pre-tribulation rapture, and right now I'm hoping I'm right. I cannot bear the thought of my children having to live in a world like the one into which we are heading. I wonder if we were wrong to have kids. I remember the 9/11 attacks --- I was one week away from delivering Tucker --- and I recall wondering what was going to happen...never in a million years thinking that one day not too far away the Middle East would be in the situation it's in, with terrorists taking over and threatening to destroy Israel.

I pray for my friend, and for her neighbors and friends. I pray that God will protect them and watch over them tonight and every night.


Recently, I got into a discussion with some women who, like many women in this country, believe that when it comes to feeding a child, breast and bottle are equal. "Either is fine."

You know, I try to maintain some semblance of composure.

Really I do.

But really? Do intelligent, thinking women REALLY believe that? Or do they just say it to appease those that chose not to breastfeed? I really can't figure it out.

I can't comprehend how we can know the facts -- the unequivocal, scientific facts -- and yet still have this discussion.

The science has been done, ladies. The information is there.

And yet so many choose to ignore it. I know why. I blogged about it here.

I have so many precious patients and friends who honestly went way beyond what I could have done to make sure their children were breastfed. I know women who would have given their right arm to nurse, but for reasons such as glandular insufficiency or mammary hypoplasia just could not bring in a full milk supply. It is a slap in the face to these women to hear "either is fine."

I love to tell the story of the formula rep that came to me after delivering her first baby for help breastfeeding. She confided to me that there was "no way in hell" she was giving her child a drop of formula. (She went on to breastfeed for 2 years. And the child never got a drop of formula. And she quit her job, saying that she was ashamed of herself for having told the lie for years to women that, you guessed it, "either is fine".)

Imagine being able to feed your child organically grown fruits and vegetables year round. Imagine having access to free range eggs and grass fed beef. Imagine having your freezer filled with those healthy, delicious offerings. And imagine saying "no, Johnny, you can't have that. You get McDonald's for every meal."

That is precisely what you are doing when you make the choice to feed artificial, pharmaceutical formula.

That is not ok. It is not fine. It is in no way comparable to breastmilk.

The worst part, however, is the sexualization that these not
thinking women place on a woman's body, specifically her breasts. A relative of mine wrote:

I don't know when I was little these things were innocent and we were given bottles to feed the babies. Not every parent wants their kids to have that innocence taken away. I know that with my kids I would like them to not have to worry about that and asking me those questions at such a young age. Plus I have boys! I'm personally not for it but I also dont try to tell the little girls here that they have boobs when they are little & they dont. Let them enjoy this time... they get to deal with all that grown up stuff later on. I miss the innocence to things.


It made me want to literally sob to hear her (as do so many women) equating seeing a woman breastfeed to losing ones innocence. Really?

My children breastfed forever for 2 and 3 years each. They know what a woman's breasts are for. They aren't "boobs" or "titties" or whatever vulgarity you want to use. They are breasts and they make milk. That is what they were designed by God, the perfect Creator, to do.

My children have seen me breastfeed. They have seen other women breastfeed. They know it is the natural, normal way children are fed.

For my kids (and many others), bottles and formula are the freakish thing. They cannot comprehend why a woman would mix a powder with water and feed it to her kid.

The infant formula industry is an $8 billion per year business. Across the globe, huge advertising budgets are spent to convince women that it is better and more convenient to bottle-feed their babies.

Formula contains dioxins, PCBs and organochlorine pesticides. Water is often contaminated (yes, even in the US) by parasites and bacteria. Chlorine, weed killers, insecticides, solvents, lead and arsenic are common contaminants in public water supplies.

But you use bottled water, you say?

Bottled water may also contain contaminants.

Formula itself may have contaminants introduced in the manufacturing process. In the past, recalls have been ordered because of contamination with substances such as broken glass, fragments of metal and salmonella and other bacteria. The fungal toxin aflatoxin has also been detected in some commercial formulas. This toxin is known to cause cancer. Infant formulas also may contain excessive levels of metals, including aluminum, manganese, cadmium and lead. Soy formulas are a particular concern due to very high levels of plant-derived estrogens (phytoestrogens) in soy products. In fact, the concentrations of phytoestrogens detected in the blood of infants fed soy formula were 13,000 to 22,000 times greater than the concentrations of natural estrogens.

Some formula companies have been affiliated with pesticide or chemical companies that make hazardous chemicals. Others make products out of polyvinyl chloride plastic.

Formula is the product of a large and unnecessary industrial process, all of which adds to pollution in a variety of ways large and small. The list includes production plants that pollute, trucks that burn polluting diesel fuel, the use of harmful pesticides and genetically modified organisms to grow soy and cattle fodder, packaging that contributes to deforestation and pollution and more -- all in service of a product that is both nutritionally and developmentally inferior for infants.

So back to that familiar statement that "either is fine" --- your call. What do you think?

(Breastfeeding Exhibit A: 3 kids who were all exclusively breastfed well into their toddler years. Never been sick (except for a few colds and a flu once) and none of them have ever been on an antibiotic. All have above average IQ's and are classified as "gifted"):

Fifty Shades of Magic Mike

"I have something to confess."

Those are the words a very dear friend spoke to me through tears (the ugly kind, with snot and all) a few years ago. I admit, I wondered what on earth could be so bad? She must be having an affair.

"I'm addicted to pornography."

My mind turned to Playgirl, Hustler, and generalized "erotica" (that can sometimes go beyond the simply erotic to the downright vulgar).

My friend went on to tell me that it was romance novels that were the culprit of her addiction.

Romance novels? Not pictures, stories of S&M, bondage, and the like? Surely that doesn't qualify as "porn".....does it?

To my friend, and many women around the world, it does. Pornography, according to, is defined as "obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, especially those having little or no artistic merit."

In case you are wondering what defines "obscene" the answer is: "offensive to morality or decency; indecent; depraved."

So yes, I can see how some romance novels can cross the line from "romance" to porn. A few salacious scenes can lead the mind to places that aren't exactly, well, helpful or edifying to our minds or our souls.

Not only is it dangerous, it is sin.

Matthew 5:27-28 says "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."


Lust begins by a single glance. Then it moves into the heart. And then, occasionally, we act on it. (Remember David and Bathsheba? The roof, the roof, the roof was on fi-yah!) As Christians, we have to guard against engaging mentally in any act of unfaithfulness.

Women have a very strong tendency to become emotionally attached to characters and ideas that can lead to a dissatisfaction with what we have in reality. Pornography in all forms causes marital discord. If my husband is looking at erotic pictures or reading about how a woman responds to a man in a story, he could potentially look at me with disappointment. But let's face it, men are visual. Women are much more verbal. Which is why most women don't look at pornography...they read it.

Which brings me to the current fads of the year.

Fifty Shades of Grey.

Magic Mike.

Remember the last line of the definition of porn? "Having little or no artistic merit" --- and that sums up these not-so-artistic offerings in a nutshell. For starters, the book is the worst writing in the history of writing.

Nothing disturbs me more than poor writing. It is without excuse. Really.

I am honestly horrified for my fellow women out there who love the book series and the characters. It is psychologically disturbing, sexually repugnant, and emotionally draining. The movie is nothing but filth. I mean, obviously Matthew McConnaughey is the utter definition of "eye candy" -- but does watching Matt teach newcomer Channing Tatum how to strip, party, and pick up women do anything at all to enrich my life? Teach me a lesson? Have any redeeming message? Does it even really entertain me?


And I dare say it doesn't entertain the majority of thinking women out there either.

And I read once that MM doesn't use deodorant. How sexy can that be?

While the movie is totally mindless, the book is not.

There is nothing sexy about humiliation and controlling behavior. (Women who love the series are quick to say "but he gives her 'safe' words to use when she feels uncomfortable!" -- which makes me cringe. If there is a potential for being or feeling unsafe in my relationship, I don't need a safe word. I need out).

My personal feelings aside, the one recurring thing I hear from women is this: "I wish Christian Grey were real" or "I wish my husband were like him".


Statements like this are the reason that pornography is so detrimental to relationships. Your partner is never like the person you saw or read about. Studies have shown that pornography causes actual damage to the frontal lobe of the brain. Psychologists the world over can testify that it causes relationship damage...every.single.time. Even with casual use. Even when used by a couple to "enhance" things a bit.

Perhaps what I find most disturbing about the whole "mommy porn" fad is the fact that many women posting about their new genre of entertainment are self-professed Christians. These women post silly, giggly posts and pictures about the books and the movie, urging others to read or watch.

"Temptations are sure to come; woe to the one through who they come. It is better to be thrown into the sea than to cause another to sin." (my paraphrase of Luke 17:1-2)

"...decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother." (Romans 14:13)

As Franck in "Father of the Bride" would say, "Every party has a pooper, that's why we invited you....."

Yes, I'm a party pooper. But *I* didn't say it.

Jesus did.

I dare you to call Him a party pooper.

" for the rest of the time no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead." (1 Peter 4:2-6, emphases mine)

So what if you are the only one of your co-workers or the only team mom that doesn't indulge in the sin of the summer? No matter how hard it is to be the party pooper in the crowd, we are called for more, ladies.

Way more.

"God has not called us for impurity, but holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God." (1 Thess 4:7-8)

"Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called." (Eph 4:1)

"Do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written 'You shall be holy, for I am holy'. " (1 Peter 1:14-16)

I mean, seriously girls. Where does it say that we can take a break, get off the hook, and just watch a "silly little movie"? Where does it say that it is ok with our Saviour to indulge our minds in sin?

You're right. It doesn't.

And here's another thing, while I'm on the subject.

What kind of example are we setting for our children? What does it tell my daughter if she sees a book hidden in my nightstand (or on my Kindle) that I would absolutely d-i-e if she read? I want so much more for her. I want her to have respect for herself and for men. I want her to know that no matter what the other girls are reading/watching/wearing, we are to live in a manner worthy of our calling! We have to guard what comes into our eyes and ears. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us to do just that.

A youth pastor from years ago said something that I will never forget (some 30 year later, it still is in my mind when I make entertainment choices for myself): imagine reading, watching, or listening with Jesus sitting right next to you. Would He approve? Would He find it of value?

I believe that God finds great value in the arts. In the beauty of a painting. In the written word that makes you pause and re-read a sentence because it was *that* good. In the song well sung, or the instrument played with skill.

There is so much beauty around us. So many good books, excellent movies, and soul moving songs. So many beautiful works of art. God has not deprived the Christian of art and film. He has blessed us generously.

We only need to use discretion in our choosing.

"Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion." (Proverbs 11:22)

That is totally one of my favorite verses. It just says it all, doesn't it?

So back to my friend that I told you about. It has been a long season of praying and staying accountable, but she is doing so good. I love her for her courage and her honesty.

And I'm pleased to report that the last time I saw her, there was no evidence of a gold ring anywhere near a pig's snout.

Happy Reading,

faith and baseball

I love 7/8 baseball. It's so fun to watch these boys that are really getting the game. In 5/6, they learn the basics of the game, but it's just sort of painful cute to watch. By 7/8, the boys make the game exciting....they are learning the subtleties of the game and their individual positions, and their own personal talents and gifts begin to shine.

One of the most difficult things for the boys to do is to look to their coaches after they hit the ball. Their inclination is to watch the ball in play and see what is going to happen. In practice, the coaches drill into them "When you hit the ball, drop the bat and RUN! Watch the coaches to see what to do next." It's a matter of trust, really. Does the 3rd base coach really know what's going on? Will I be safe if I follow his lead?

Will I be safe if I follow His lead?

That is the bottom line of faith, isn't it? Once we hit the ball and acknowledge that Jesus is our Savior, He instructs us to, well, drop the bat and run. To go into the world and make disciples. To love God first and our neighbor second. To give everything up and follow Him.

As we are rounding the bases, how many times do we take our eyes off our Coach? We get tagged out time and time again because we've taken our eyes off of Him, wondering if He really sees the big picture. The thing is, we cannot run and look around at the same time. We would fall every.single.time. We really have no choice but to trust that He sees it all and is either telling us to stay where we are or to run harder, keep coming, don't look back....

Sometimes I foolishly forget that my Coach is on my team. Heck, he founded my team. He cares more about it's survival and success than I do. His reputation is at stake. We are an individualistic people {that is my made up word for selfish} we like to think we can do it all on our own. We like to think we are responsible for our successes. Just as Griffin's coach desperately wants a win, God wants a win from me.

Through me.

In me.

God can see that each little individual success adds up to one ginormous win for His team. Each time I choose Him over me. Each time I give a little more of myself, my time, or my money....each time I listen to a hurting soul, tend to a broken heart, touch a wounded body.

'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Taking our eyes off of ourselves is so stinkin' hard, though. It's not easy to stay focused on someone that isn't, well, me. I'm so much like Peter, who was walking along on the long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. Once he looked away, he began to sink. That is just so me. I find myself treading water more often than I care to admit.

The thing about it all is that it just takes practice. Griffin and his teammates have to consciously fix their eyes on Coach Craig over on 3rd and refuse to take their eyes off of him. With practice, they have gotten really quite good at it. They have to fight that internal battle to not look out to see for themselves where the ball is and what is happening on the field.

As Griffin and the rest of the team round 3rd and go sliding, running, skipping, and flying into home plate, they are awarded with a multitude of high fives, slaps on the back, butt, and helmet. They are surrounded by stands full of parents and siblings on their feet, yelling and cheering and clapping wildly. They can at last look up and see the scoreboard. The big picture.

And one day, prayerfully, as we round 3rd and head for home, we will see the same thing. Those that have gone on before us will be just like those in the bleachers at the ball park....standing, applauding, and cheering us on. We will get a whole lot of heavenly high fives and saintly slaps on the back.

And then our Coach will look us in they eye and say "Well done..." And He will point to the scoreboard, and on it we will be able to see for ourselves...The Big Picture.

So go ahead....

The next inning is about to start....

Play Ball!

Urgent prayer request

Today as I was praying for my sweet friend Tricia, I came across this old blog post I wrote years ago as she was waiting for a double lung transplant. Every day back then, heck -- every breath -- was a miracle.

And then I wrote this and Tricia was triumphantly the owner of brand new lungs.

Today Tricia is again in a fight for her life as she is experiencing organ rejection. Please pray --- right now --- for her, for Nathan, and for sweet little Gwyneth.

Sleeping. Or not.

Last night I woke up at 2:34 a.m. to go to the bathroom. It took me a minute to finagle my way out of bed, trying not to disturb the 5 year old lying sideways between me and Paul, or the 8 year old at the foot of the bed (still in his dirty baseball uniform, mind you, and clutching his prized game ball), and of course trying not to wake either of the dogs, who were sandwiched somewhere in between the humans in the bed. The 10 year old had made his way into our room as well, sleeping peacefully on the loveseat next to our bed.

It all started a few months before Tucker was born. "We have GOT to get a bigger bed," I announced to my husband one morning, as my ever-growing pregnant belly took over the tiny little double bed we had been sharing. (And in retrospect, are not those the teensiest mattresses ever? What's the point? Might as well just have a twin.)

So off to the store we went, and a few hours (and a few thousand dollars) later, we were the exuberant owners of a pillow top king sized bed.

(Remind me sometime to tell you about Paul and the Ambien. Let's just say he slept like a baby diagonally across the brand new king sized dream bed while his 40 week pregnant, miserable wife slept on the sofa because she could not move him. 11 years later and yes, I still remember.)

Until, of course, September 18, 2001. Had we known then what we know now, we would have just stayed in bed, asleep, for a good month or two to prepare for the next several years.

It started out innocently enough. No one ever starts out their parenting career thinking they will co-sleep. But then reality sets in. The reality of a nursing infant who likes to nurse every hour or so. All.night.long. (Which is totally normal. Moms milk supply is higher at night than any other time.) So instead of reaching over, getting kid out of bassinet, nursing, putting kid back in subtly morphs into just leaving kid attached to breast and falling back asleep and never really knowing if the leech sweet baby unlatches at all through the night.

Then baby #2 comes and the process is repeated, only now kid #1 is still in the bed because he is still nursing. Now you are tandem nursing all.night.long. Until you urge kid #1 to night wean, which he finds an odd request, since baby #2 is still a marathon nursing dude.

Then comes #3, and we're all too freaking tired to do anything other than all pass out as a family in the same king sized bed that we had bought 5 years earlier. When there was just the two of us.

Which is not to say that we don't sleep now. We do. Through the night, even. Everyone is potty trained, everyone is weaned, everyone sleeps through the night.

Just not in their own space.

We sleep on edges of beds, with slivers of covers. We sleep with feet in our faces and behinds in our backs. We get punched a few times per week by the stray flying extremity.

After I made my way back to the bed and pushed kids and dogs out of the way, I lay there awake for awhile, thinking about how hysterical it was that the 10 year old is always begging for his own room, when in reality we could easily live in a one bedroom flat somewhere. They all like to be close to us. Occasionally one or two of them will start out the night in their own bed, or on the sofa in the living room, but eventually it seems we all wake up in close quarters.

I know that one day this will not be the case. (Even though Griffin states unequivocally that he, his wife, and their children will also come over every night to sleep in our room, if not in our bed.) One day, probably soon, Tucker will make his way to his own room for some much needed privacy. Griffin won't be too far behind. And Sissy will eventually find her way to her room to fall asleep to the sounds of Justin Bieber instead of her daddy's snoring.

Why do kids hate being alone at nighttime? Probably the same reason many adults do. Studies show that nighttime is when anxieties, depression, sadness, and fear presents itself. Hospitals and nursing homes know this phenomenon well. In our society, use of night time sleep aids is on the rise. Everyone is having trouble sleeping, it seems.

My suggestion?

Have a kid.

You'll sleep like a baby.

Or at least you'll think you did.

Mom Enough?

When my son Griffin was 3 years old, he had his ginormous tonsils and adenoids removed. I was skeptical about the surgeon's choice of hospital: Tulane, instead of my first choice, Children's. The same day surgery folks were nice enough, but I worried that they wouldn't have enough pediatric experience or patience with *my* most precious patient.

We were put at ease immediately. The nurse anesthetist who came to give him his pre-op evaluation (and a beautifully hefty dose of Versed) drew a frightened and anxious 3 year old into conversation. It didn't hurt that she wore a Boston Red Sox lanyard either. She carried him off to the OR, with him chatting eagerly about Big Papi.

Fast forward about an hour and a nurse hurried out to the waiting room to tell me that Griff was awake, crying, and he needed me. She rushed me to the recovery room, where my sweet boy was lying there with big tears streaming down his face. "Mama" he cried, reaching out to me. The nurse pulled up a chair for me and I sat down, cradling my little boy.

Without thinking, Griffin pulled up my shirt and rested his hand on my breast. The tears stopped, and he started to drift off to sleep. "You can nurse him, you know. It would help him to drink something."

Tears came to my eyes as I looked at this woman, who looked back, smiled warmly, and said, "All mine nursed until they were 3 and 4."

It's a special bond we all share -- us moms who have chosen to allow our children the dignity of weaning when they feel ready. We are outsiders....we crazed women (and partners) who allow our children to feed whenever they are hungry as newborns, who will stop what they are doing to nurse a toddler who has fallen victim to a boo-boo, who happily shares their sleeping space with nursing babies, toddlers, oversized children and dogs. Those of us who will not force their child to wear big boy (or girl) underwear until they show developmental signs they are ready (instead of looking at some calendar and proclaiming "it's time!"). We deal with rude strangers, concerned family members, and uninformed health care professionals. We have a list of "reasons we still breastfeed" always at the ready to fend off the obnoxious questions that invariably come our way.

Today, with the unveiling of Time Magazine's cover (and corresponding frenzy-inducing title "Are You Mom Enough?"), the public raised their voices on message boards all over the globe, calling me (and countless other moms like me) a freak, loser, a sexual abuser, and a pervert who "gets off when their kid sucks their tit", to name a few.

Literary geniuses, they are not.

Methinks those pour souls could have used a good bit of breastmilk in their younger days. Obviously they don't know that breastfed children score an average of 10 points higher on IQ tests.

Dr. Katherine Dettwyler is an anthropologist who has done extensive research on human breastfeeding, specifically weaning. The bottom line? The "normal" age of weaning is between 2.5 and 7 years. (Stuart-Macadam, P. and Dettwyler, K., ed. Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives, New York: Walter de Gruyter, Inc., 1995.)

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child… Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother… There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.” (AAP 2005)

The World Health Organization urges breastfeeding at least until age two. They stress that illness rates go up once weaning has occurred, thus encouraging women to breastfeed for as long as possible. (WHO 2002)

The American Academy of Family Physicians has even more to say. The AAFP recommends that breastfeeding continue throughout the first year of life and that “As recommended by the WHO, breastfeeding should ideally continue beyond infancy, but this is not the cultural norm in the United States and requires ongoing support and encouragement. It has been estimated that a natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven years. Family physicians should be knowledgeable regarding the ongoing benefits to the child of extended breastfeeding, including continued immune protection, better social adjustment, and having a sustainable food source in times of emergency. The longer women breastfeed, the greater the decrease in their risk of breast cancer.” They also note that “If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned.” (AAFP 2008)

In the Bible, we read "when the child was weaned" -- meaning a minimum of 3 years old, though scholars estimate 4-5 is more likely. (Larry Overton has done a great job researching this.)

My children are now 10, 8, and 5. Each of them remember breastfeeding with fondness. They all had little habits that were unique to each of them, and they like to talk about them now. They often ask, out of the blue, "mom, tell me again what I used to do when I was nursing" -- and I tell them (Tucker always scratched one spot on my forearm. Griffin rubbed my face. Anne Claire twirled my hair.) I've asked all my kids what they remember of nursing. The resounding answer (from all 3) is always "you smelled good and the milk was warm and sweet." They have virtually no desire to breastfeed any longer. They are all potty trained, sleep through the night, and are independent, strong, funny, and incredibly healthy. They weaned when they were ready. There were no tears. No sleepless nights. No anxiety. They finished when they deemed it time.

No, I'm not a loser. I'm certainly not a pervert. My children are stronger, smarter, healthier, funnier, and more socially adept because they breastfed, not in spite of it.

So to all the haters that are gonna hate....Yes. I *am* Mom Enough.

Are you?

Regarding Mary

Every year around Christmas I begin to think about, and usually write about, Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Lately, however, I've been thinking a LOT about her. So much so that I've taken to reading books about her and trying to learn all I can about her life. I've always been puzzled as to why this magnificent woman that God chose to be the vessel in which to bring forth the Christ is talked about so little in the Protestant faith, and why whenever she is mentioned, we are always reminded that she was just an ordinary woman....nothing special.

I sort of get the feeling that God disagrees.

Of all the women on the planet, at one particular time in history, God created one woman named Mary who He had set aside to be the Mother of His Son. He chose HER. He didn't send angel-messengers to 2 or 3 different girls to see who'd say yes. He chose ONE. From the moment of Mary's conception, He knew that she was the one He wanted. His hand was on her life and He guided her to the very moment when the angel appeared and said, "Hail, [thou that art] highly favoured, the Lord [is] with thee: blessed [art] thou among women." ("highly favored" means "full of grace" (Favor, Favored: to endow with charis, Luk 1:28, "highly favored" (marg., "endued with grace") Verb Strong's Number: g5487 Greek: charitoo)

God endued Mary with grace. The grace it would take for her to take on one of the most emotionally wrenching jobs in the universe. I am constantly amazed at the lowly place in which we put her. She was not just one of many extraordinary women in the Bible. She was the actual Mother of our Lord. He grew in her belly and she birthed him and nursed him and worried over him.

And yet she is relegated in Protestant books and sermons as just a really cool gal who agreed to be the surrogate for God. Some Evangelical commentators and theologians are flat out rude when it comes to Mary -- honestly I became embarrassed and a little angry when reading some opinions of the very Mother of God.

Growing up, whenever I asked about Mary, I was told that she was just a vessel. Just a person. Just a pawn in God's plan.

I disagree. I think she is a pretty amazing, loving woman who deserves our honor and our love.

And I cannot, for the life of me, find anywhere in scripture that Mary points to anyone but to Jesus. In her Magnificat, Mary says that her soul "magnifies" the Lord.

[mag-nuh-fahy] verb, -fied, -fy·ing. verb (used with object)
1. to increase the apparent size of, as a lens does.
2. to make greater in actual size; enlarge: to magnify a drawing in preparing for a fresco.
3. to cause to seem greater or more important; attribute too much importance to; exaggerate: to magnify one's difficulties.
4. to make more exciting; intensify; dramatize; heighten: The playwright magnified the conflict to get her point across.
5. Archaic . to extol; praise: to magnify the Lord.

Luke 1:46-55 (KJV)

46And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
48For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
49For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
50And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
51He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
53He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
54He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
55As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
(bolding mine)

And yet, we don't call her blessed.

We don't call her anything.

The gospel is all about the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Mary was present at all three events. As a matter of fact, Mary was a vital part of each stage. Mary's "yes" to God was a "yes" to all of us.

Yes, I will carry the Son of God. (Luke 1:38)

Yes, I will be a mother to every believer. (John 19:26-27; though many argue that Jesus was only referring to John specifically, others believe all believers are disciples and therefore this transfer of maternity belongs to all of us.)
Maternal love and nurture is something vital to every single person on the planet. Without a mother's touch there is suffering. Without a mother's milk there is starvation. Without the love of a mother, the human psyche is forever damaged.

I will never know the truth of the mysteries of Mary until I get to Heaven and learn of it all...but until then I will honor her as the Mother of my Lord.

And I will call her blessed.

Birth Control. Gulp.

Growing up in the Southern Baptist tradition, there are several things that baffled me throughout the years. My parents didn't like it when I questioned them....they usually either brushed me off completely or they just finished the conversation with "because we're right." This parenting technique was an easy out for them, but for me it created even more questions. Why didn't they want to talk to me about this stuff? To me, they were are important questions. Theological questions. Questions that might make me -gasp- call into question some of my family's long held beliefs.

One of these questions was on the issue of birth control. I know, I know.....a hot button topic right now. I suppose all the news coverage of birth control recently has stirred up some of those thoughts. But really.......what about it?

Back in college, I recall Dr. Raman C. Murthy stunning me during a lecture when he stated that birth control pills worked by preventing ovulation (which I knew) but he went on to say that oral contraceptives also changed the cervical mucus to make it more unhospitable for sperm. Additionally, and most alarming to me, was that in the case of fertilization, the pill would alter the endometrial lining, thus making it impossible for the newly formed embryo to implant.

Say whaaaaat?

So if I actually ovulate, and the sperm is capable of swimming through thickened cervical mucus with an unfavorable pH, and said sperm and my newly ovulated ovum have a meet and greet.......then my new little embryo will die because it has no place to rest it's little head?

That smelled fishy to me.

So I gathered up pharmaceutical inserts and read the news from the manufacturers themselves. This was in the 1980's, before the internet and RxList, which gave me this summarization today:
Combination Oral Contraceptives

Combination oral contraceptives act by suppression of gonadotropins. Although the primary mechanism of this action is inhibition of ovulation, other alterations include changes in the cervical mucus (which increase the difficulty of sperm entry into the uterus) and the endometrium (which reduce the likelihood of implantation).

Last reviewed on RxList: 12/28/2007
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Raman C. Murthy wasn't lying to me.

How long had I been operating under the assumption that birth control was ok? Yup, my whole life. My mom used birth control. She had a tubal ligation after her last baby, at age 37. As I grew into adulthood, everyone I knew, Southern Baptist or not, used birth control.

Then I began reading the Bible and I started having even more questions.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.....your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13, 16

Lo, children [are] an heritage of the LORD: [and] the fruit of the womb [is his] reward. As arrows [are] in the hand of a mighty man; so [are] children of the youth. Happy [is] the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Commit your way to the LORD. Psalm 37:5

What I read and discovered was that life began at the moment that egg and sperm meet (I know, I know, some people totally disagree. For those, however, I can only suppose one never had an early ultrasound or saw life unfolding right before your eyes under a microscope.)

I discovered that God had created every human being on the planet in His mind long before they were created in a woman's womb. (And I was taught that God was soverign and made absolutely NO if He intended to create them, and we stopped His creation, then where does that leave us? I suppose placing ourselves up there WITH God. No, that couldn't be...)

I read that God considered each child a reward. A blessing.

I learned that He knows more than me. (Duh.)

And so I went on with my adult life, never really discussing these issues with anyone because I was always met with a blank stare and realized that, like my parents, no one wanted to discuss birth control.

Fortunately, I married a man who agreed with me. So we reproduced three gorgeous, witty, precious children.

And then, at the age of 41, I had my tubes tied.

It's true. I was hesitant, but succumbed to pressure from my OB, who was a nervous wreck for 30 weeks at the thought of a 41 year old woman who had had a uterine rupture with her last delivery. He announced at each visit "Jennifer!! You are 40, for goodness sake!! You can't have any more kids!!" And I had my mom all worried about it and other family members telling me that I really didn't need more kids.

I was sad, but in my intellectual mind, they were right.


My biggest regret in life, I tell you. Ask any young woman I work with what my advice is when they say they are done having kids. "Don't do anything permanent. You never know how your heart might change."

I live each day knowing that I took control of my body in a way that I'm sure makes God cringe. When I get to heaven, I often wonder if He will show me all the blessings He had for me....but that I refused to accept, because I thought I knew better. Than Him. Seriously.

We lived at a southern Baptist seminary for 4 years while my husband studied. There, I was surrounded by women who used birth control religiously (pun intended) because they were waiting for husbands to finish their MDiv's or write their dissertations. I was astounded by the number of what those outside the gates would call "godly women" that didn't give God credit for knowing better than them how many children He created for them. It was so incredibly sad. Abortion, to be sure, was murder in their eyes. But to ingest a known abortofacient daily was ok. Which led me to think mabye they didn't believe life begins at conception?

I had one discussion with a fellow seminary wife who said "Yes, but God gives us free will to make these kinds of decisions for ourselves."


I mean, yes, we could go out and do whatever we desire because of that free will. But do we do it? I venture to say no, no we don't. Our actions stem from our beliefs. Why would I do something that I know is sin if I claim to believe that Jesus died a cruel death on a cross for my sins because of His love for me? Does that even make sense?

So when I read the papers and watch the news and read 894 threads on Facebook about birth control and government and who should pay for what, my heart is re-ignited to encourage women to trust in the Lord with all their hearts, and to not lean on their own understanding of what's best for them. Trust in Him, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Paul says in Ephesians that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Just because we can't imagine more children doesn't mean that He doesn't have a plan that is better than yours.

Because He is, after all, God.

And He really is smarter than you.



"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.'" (Zech. 7:9)

Parenting is ridiculously hard. Especially when you have more than one child. When you punish one, the rest tend to inherit the punishment...sort of like secondhand smoke. How many of us grew up with smoking parents or grandparents who thought nothing of smoking in enclosed cars or rooms, filling our lungs with all those noxious fumes that were poisoning our little kid lungs and seemingly not caring when you coughed and sputtered and begged for air....

Ahh, but I digress.

In our house, we like to extend mercy to the kids when we can. We figure it: a. models Christ and b. allows us to see a movie when one of the kids ruins it for the whole crew. Especially if it's something mom or dad really wanted to see.

But I was wondering the other day if we had given too much mercy to a certain child who shall remain nameless. He seemed to expect it. He even asked, "what about mercy?" So it got me thinking about how often God extends mercy to us, and why He does. Why does He do it sometimes, and others He leaves us to wallow in our God-imposed time out?

So I did a little research and the word "mercy" shows up 276 times in the KJV. Most of those refer to the act of mercy shown by God. Some refer to the mercy seat (made of gold and sitting atop the ark of the covenant) -- which I find just as applicable....I mean, isn't a time out chair/corner a sort of parental version of the mercy seat?

The point being --- God places a high value on mercy.


noun, plural -cies for 4, 5.
compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence: Have mercy on the poor sinner.

the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing: an adversary wholly without mercy.

the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.

an act of kindness, compassion, or favor: She has performed countless small mercies for her friends and neighbors.

something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing: It was just a mercy we had our seat belts on when it happened

I think that in order to receive mercy, we must be repentant and genuinely sorry. Think about a police officer who lets you go with just a warning. The offender's attitude was more than likely the cause of whether Mr. Policeman gives you a warning and a smile, or a ticket and a smirk. Not that I would know anything about that.

So it is with our children. And with us. In order to receive mercy, we must come to Jesus (or mom and dad) with a repentant heart and a genuine desire to make it right. To do better next time. No sense of entitlement....just a grateful heart -- because we deserve punishment, and yet the mercy-giver sees something in the mercy-seeker and chooses to extend it....again. And if not, we just have to deal with the punishment and learn from it. It's up to us and the state of our hearts.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The LORD is good to those who wait for him, fto the soul who seeks him. Lamentations 3:22-25

A Crown of Splendor

It is interesting to me the reactions I get from people when they realize that I am going gray on purpose. You know, the point in time when it becomes obvious that the gray roots are now longer than the old color. I have gotten reactions ranging from shock ("you mean you MEAN for it to look like that?!") to displeasure ("it looks SO much better colored") to a wee bit of envy ("I wish I had the guts to do it").

Seriously, no other appearance related comment would be appropriate or acceptable. Think about it:

"Dang, girl, you've packed on a few pounds!"

"What's with the new makeup? You look ridiculous!"

"Did you think those glasses looked good in the store?"

I have spent the last 25 years soaking my hair in chemicals to cover up the silver that all the women in my family (both sides) have had for as long as I can recall. Only a few of them have flaunted their natural color, and of those, I always thought their hair color was amazing. Both of my grandmothers had beautiful silver hair. As a matter of fact, I didn't see a picture of my Grandma Stigall with dark hair until after she had passed away....and then I was astounded at the resemblance of her to Kate Winslet.

Though in reality, Grandma was prettier.

I let my vanity control my hair color until about a year ago. I didn't want to be mistaken as my children's grandmother. I didn't want to be taken for older than I already am. I didn't want people to think I'd look better some other way. At the root of it all was my need to please people. I am the one who asks for 59 opinions before I buy something. I'm the one who asks, "What would YOU do/say/eat/drink/buy?" And, as you probably know, there are plenty of people willing to offer their opinions.

But then one day I realized that I am a grown up. I am who God made me. I have gray hair and it really doesn't look bad at all. Some people even think it's....pretty.

And really, aren't I supposed to not be conformed to the world (and it's need to cover their grays) but be transformed by the renewing of my mind? Renewing my mind by perhaps thinking about my hair the way God thinks about my hair? (And yes, I do think He has given my hair consideration....after all, my hair color was determined by God before He even formed me. My days were numbered, the hairs on my head were counted, and their exact color and texture were planned out by the Creator Himself.) Renewing my mind by knowing that God says "gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life". Renewing my mind by being who He created ME to be. Authentic. Real. Transparent.

And in my case, gray.