The First One

In life, firsts are exciting. Your first day of high school, your first car. Your first job. No matter what it may be, it’s just a little bit better when those first-time jitters are present, hopping around in your stomach. But it’s also exciting to be the first one! The first one to dip a spoon into a brand new jar of peanut butter. The first one to cross a finish line. The first one to try something new.

God has a plan for each and every one of our lives, and it just so happens that his plan for me was to be the first one. First one of my friends to get engaged. First one of my family to move out of state. First one of mine and Trigg’s siblings to have a baby, which also means first to give a grandchild to both sets of grandparents (and great-grandchild to my grandma). As I mentioned earlier, these are all exciting things. But being the first to cross the finish line means there will be a period of time when you stand there alone as the other runners catch up to you.

Sometimes it’s hard to be the first one. It was hard to move away and see my friends rooming together in college. While they remained close, I was miles away in the middle of planning a wedding, choosing a place to live with my soon-to-be husband, and trying to make new friends. New friends my age were surprised to learn that I was engaged. New friends married or engaged were surprised to learn that I was so young. I was the first one.

Now, years have passed, and many of my friends are married. You can imagine their excitement and the excitement of my family as Trigg and I announced that we were having a baby! Sweet Nellie is surrounded by friends and family who go above and beyond to love on her. So many women have been there for me time and time again—already in just these short seven months. And yet, once again I find myself across the finish line from everyone else. Friends and family who are mothers have had experience raising babies—but all of their babies are grown up. Friends my age who are there for me haven’t had babies yet—and if you are a mother, then you’ll understand why this matters. I’m the first one.

The first month of Nellie’s life was the hardest month of my life—but it taught me so much. First, and most importantly, it taught me that I can get through ANYTHING in this life—bring it on—as long as I have my Jesus to lean on. And since in His word it says He will never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6), I don’t have anything to worry about.

Next, I learned that postpartum is stinking hard, people.

H. A. R. D.

And every single mommy has to get through it. Now it just wouldn’t do to be angry with God for making me “the first one” to have a baby, since, as I said, He was the One to bring me through it, after all. So instead, I’m focusing on the realization of just what a blessing I’ve been handed.

I know postpartum. I have experience teaching a baby to nurse (and failing to teach a baby to nurse, at first). I know how it feels to take that little “bundle of joy” home and wonder why your “joy” is hidden beneath so much fear. I know what it’s like to distort motherhood into this unrealistic picture of supermom—the woman who always knows why her baby is crying and never needs naps. And I know what I wish I had after having a baby. What nobody—perhaps not even myself—knew that I needed.

People.

People—mothers and non-mothers—to be there for me when I thought I didn’t need them—or at least thought I wasn’t supposed to need them. When I was too embarrassed to admit that I didn’t have it all together. People to take time out of their day to bring a meal for my family. People to hold my baby while I cry (yes, it happens) and let me get some rest. And mothers to stand by me and say,

You’re doing great. Your baby loves you so much. Keep it up, momma.

Being “the first one” means that I didn’t have any friends in my stage of life to share postpartum with. But God put all of the right people in my path to make it quite clear to me that He doesn’t want it to be that way. So now, on the other side of this finish line looking back, I’m ready. I’m ready for all of the new mommies who don’t yet know that it’s okay not to have it all together, and it’s okay to need other people. And when they need me, I’m ready for them. I’m ready to be there for each momma, holding her baby while she cries and saying,

You’re doing great. Your baby loves you so much. Keep it up, momma.

 

-Cari

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Teaching them to crawl

“Come on, Nellie, come on!” I coax, as I flap my arms excitedly. She flashes me a huge gummy smile as her arms and legs fly into the air. She starts to flail.

“No, sweetie, you have to keep your arms and legs on the ground. It’s your tummy that should be in the air! Like this!” I lay flat on my stomach and dramatically lift my stomach higher until I’m on my hands and knees in a crawling position.

More flailing.

Nellie doesn’t know how to crawl–yet. But I do. And as her mom, I want to do everything in my power to help her learn. So I coax, and I demonstrate, and I encourage. I place countless toys just inches out of reach. And so far, Nellie has responded in the same way every time:

Flailing.

Nellie doesn’t understand my words. She may not be strong enough or coordinated enough to copy my movements. And yet, on any given day of the week, you could come upstairs to Nellie’s room and find me sprawled out on the floor motioning frantically for Nellie to crawl to me.

Why is this? Because I care for my daughter. I want her to learn. I want her to explore. I want her to be mobile. And I want to be a part of her process–that is, the process of her learning to crawl. All of these are good things, but at the end of the day, Nellie has to crawl on her own. She has to understand the need to keep her arms and legs on the ground…on her own. And she has to build up the strength to lift her tummy off of the ground.

My desire to show Nellie how to crawl–and ultimately the realization that I can’t really show Nellie how to crawl–has helped me to reach an important understanding.

One day, Nellie is going to face a challenge in her life. She won’t know what to do. I’ll want to hold her hand and lead her forward–to coax her and encourage her. I know I’ll try my best to help her in any way–to give her every answer that I have. But when that day comes, I won’t be able to fix all of her problems, whether I have the answers or not. It will be up to her. My precious girl.

It is on that day that I hope I remember these afternoons on the floor of her room. All of the prodding and flailing. I hope I remember that as much as I love her and want what’s best for her, there are certain areas of her life that a mother can’t control. But that doesn’t mean I have to get off of the floor. Because although right now Nellie hasn’t figured out what I’m trying to tell her, one day she will.

And one day she will crawl.

The Biblical TRUTH About Childbirth

What do you know about God’s Word pertaining to labor and childbirth? Probably the basics. You know that painful labor is a large part of the punishment God placed on women after The Fall (Genesis 3:16). And you’ve probably read the one million verses in the Bible comparing other pain and hardship to a woman’s experience at birth. Here are a few to make you cringe:

Jeremiah 22:23,You who live in ‘Lebanon,’ who are nestled in cedar buildings, how you will groan when pangs come upon you, pain like that of a woman in labor!”

Isaiah 13:8,Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame.”

Psalm 48:6,Trembling seized them there, pain like that of a woman in labor.”

Jeremiah 4:31,I hear a cry as of a woman in labor, a groan as of one bearing her first child—the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath, stretching out her hands and saying, ‘Alas! I am fainting; my life is given over to murderers.'”

Groaning. Pain. Terror. Anguish. Writhing. Trembling. I’ve read all of this before, but I’ve always skimmed past quickly, thinking, “Yeah, yeah, it’s painful, I get it.” It really hits home now that I’m only weeks away from this painful labor myself. So as I’ve read verses such as these multiple times in my quiet times in the last few months (because trust me, labor pains are every Biblical author’s favorite metaphor to really get their point acrossthey show up all the time!), I’ve really been searching for God’s truth in the Bible regarding labor and childbirth. Many times, such as in the examples above, I really believe it is simply used as a metaphor to describe immense pain. But, as I have kept searching and studying, God has spoken to me about His greater purpose in childbirthpast the simple use of a metaphor.

1 Timothy 2:15, “But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”

This verse immediately caught my attention because it’s a reference to childbirth that isn’t all about the pain. But, saved through childbearing? I wasn’t sure exactly what Paul meant by this at first, but I knew being saved is a good thing—and it looks as if childbirth is a way to bring this salvation about. After searching and studying, I have four possible understandings pertaining to this verse.

  1. Pain in childbirth is woman’s condemnation for sin, but Christ saves us through this. While painful childbirth is what women face on this Earth in punishment for our sinful natures, Jesus offers us that which we don’t deserve—eternities free from pain in Heaven.
  2. Through childbearing, women fulfill their God-given roles and demonstrate “true commitment and obedience to Christ” (from the Zondervan Application Study Bible). The verse is not taken to refer to the instance of salvation from sin but to the act of living out salvation. God’s plan for wives is to bear children and raise them up with care.
  3. God planned for salvation to come through childbirth—the birth of Jesus Christ.  Women (and men, too) receive salvation because Mary gave birth to Jesus.

    Genesis 3:15,And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

    Did you know that “he” in this verse refers to Jesus? I have always loved to jokingly refer to this verse as the reason behind my fear of snakes, but this was mainly because I took “her offspring” to refer to females. As in, there is enmity between “your offspring” (snakes) “and hers” (females). But, the verse clearly says HE will crush the serpent’s head. So the enmity stretches farther than just to females. This early in the Bible, God was already foreshadowing the birth of His son. And while the serpent gets to “strike his heel,” such an act isn’t deadly. Crushing the head, on the other hand, is deadly. From the beginning, God planned for Jesus to come to this Earth through childbirth in order to deal Satan the final blow.

  4. Through the difficulties and trials of childbirth, women develop qualities that make them more like Christ. God designed childbirth to train women after His heart in faith, love, and holiness. These bring about salvation for women (just not salvation from sin, which only Jesus provides).

Basically, while childbirth is painful, God has designed it to provide women with so much more than just the pain. He chose painful childbirth as the vehicle to bring His son (and ultimately our salvation) to Earth, and He continues to use childbirth to bring life-change to women.

Romans 8:22-23,We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.”

Just as painful childbirth was the precursor to the first coming of Jesus, the trials and hardships of this world (and of Christians particularly) are the precursor to the Second Coming. We must endure these struggles as we await the return of Jesus, our hope, but the laboring mother also has hope and a reason for her pain: the precious life of a new baby.

Romans 8:22-23 (above) gives an important Biblical perspective on childbirth. In the spirit of Paul’s comparison, we ought to treat labor and childbirth the same way the Bible teaches us to treat life on this Earth—as temporary, but not without purpose. And just as God promises to end our struggle on this Earth, we can trust Him to keep this promise in childbirth. We are blessed to be able to do the work we are called to do while fixing our eyes on what is to come: Jesus, and in my case, Nellie.

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-Cari

 

P.S. My new Biblical perspective on labor and childbirth has also given me a new perspective on CHRISTMAS! We all focus on precious baby Jesus (who does deserve all of the glory), but I often forget the part about Mary actually having to birth him. Alone. Without experience. In a stable. So, this Christmas let’s remember the most important birth that this Earth has ever seen.

P.P.S. I’m so excited about CHRISTMAS!!!

Many are the Plans

I suppose you’ve heard by now, but the La Tour family is growing by one, and my husband Trigg and I are expecting the sweetest, tiniest bundle of joy in November. We found out recently that it’s a girl, which means in a few months this world will welcome Miss Nellie Grace La Tour! The fact that there is another life inside of me is one I’m still getting used to, but we couldn’t be more excited. And so begin the days of preparing for and dreaming about baby. 🙂

But this post is less about the biggest thing happening in our lives right now and more about everything else. Of course Trigg graduated almost two months ago, so big changes have come for him months before Nellie arrives! In May he began working full-time at RCAL Products Inc. in Prairie Grove, AR (about 25 minutes outside of Fayetteville). He’s worked there for almost three years as an intern and is now transitioning to design engineer!

For the past three years, Trigg has driven almost an hour every day to get to and from work, so we knew when he graduated that we’d like to move out closer to RCAL. The plan was for it to be my turn to commute, since I still have three semesters of my applied mathematics degree/Spanish minor left at the University of Arkansas.

Well, I’m excited to say we recently closed on a sweet little fixer-upper farmhouse on an acre of land, merely seven minutes from RCAL! We’ve seen God working all throughout this (very long) process, and we trust Him to continue to take care of us. Now Nellie will have a real home to come home to!

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Of course, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). After much prayer, Trigg and I know it’s not God’s plan for me to raise this baby while I’m still in school. I will not be finishing my degree at the U of A. At least not any time soon! This summer and in the beginning of next fall, I will be taking classes from the Northwest Arkansas Community College in order to finish out an associate’s degree. I’m scheduled to finish by October at the latest, so school will be long gone before Nellie Grace arrives!

This has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my whole life. The world tells me that I need a degree to fit in. I need a degree to be an intelligent individual. I need a degree to get a job. I need a degree to be worth something. But God is teaching me to overcome my pride and trust in Him. Because raising children is not easy, and it’s not something to be taken lightly. But raising this baby is God’s plan for my life, and not finishing my degree is part of the price I need to pay to follow His calling.

So, friends and family, I seek your understanding and support in this crazy time in our lives! Through all of it we are seeking God’s guidance, and through all of it we continue to receive His blessings (the tiniest of which is coming in November!!).

 

Cari