{A Letter to Kate} 7 Ways to Labor & Deliver Your Best Life

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A Letter to Kate on the day she went into labor:

Dear Kate:

So. They say you’ve gone into labor today?

I’m not sure if anyone ever mentioned it, but there’s this wild law of the universe: a mother’s labor and delivery never ends, and you never stop having to remember to breathe.

Let’s just be upfront: This can be a hard thing.

I once had a two and a half year old who climbed up a forty foot ladder on the side of a building.

One December, we all spiked fevers and had a collective tummy upheaval within 10 minutes of each other and it lasted 3 days. The baby was 8 days old. It was 5 days before Christmas. The house temperature fell to 58F and I had to get a fire started when fever burned through the bones and I couldn’t stand up and the baby kept crying and there wasn’t a clean sheet left in the house. Mothers can cry without a sound.

Then there was that night one of the teenagers stood at our door and hardly spoke so I could hear things I didn’t want to, and I laid awake afterward and I don’t know how air kept getting to my lungs. Mothers know that miracles are everyday things.

So — what you’re doing right now in labor and delivery, what they teach you in those childbirth classes? Yeah — BreatheIt’s how life works. It’s the way beauty is always born —

Breathe in: Lord, I receive what you give. Breathe out: Lord, I give thanks for what you give.

That’s it right there.

That’s the prayer for people who can’t remember to breathe, the prayer for when you think you might hyperventilate, the prayer when you can’t remember what comes next — just these 7-8 syllables that perfectly settle into the rhythm of breathing.

It’s the syllables of sanctuary, a surrender to His sovereignty.

It’s the only cycle of sanity:

Breathe in: Lord, I receive what you give. Breathe out: Lord, I give thanks for what you give.

And then, on the hard days, you know — when the transmission falls out of the car, when life turns you and you feel sucker punched, when the kids are all yelling and bickering at once, when the phone call turns into a crisis of faith, when you want to pull your hair out, pluck out your eye, or lay down and cry like a baby —

the perfect prayer can do this thing where it get’s real short, fits right into your panicked, shallow breaths and quiets even them:

Breathe in: Lord, I receive. Breathe out: Lord, I give thanks.

So there’s that: You don’t get to make up most of your story. You get to make peace with it.

You don’t get to demand your life, like a given. You get to receive your life, like a gift.

This is how you labor through a life, how you make it grace.

And when at some point today, Kate, when they hand your child to you for the first time and you hold that swaddled bundle and kiss that little forehead smelling like fresh heaven, but this is the thing and what the headlines forget: the delivery never stops.

The moment the delivery of a child stops — is the moment when everything starts to go wrong.

That’s what deliver means: “hand over, give, give up, yield.” Once you start delivering a child, just keep on: Keep delivering, handing over, yielding the child to God.

This is how you birth beauty in the midst of the messy.

I know, I know, Kate — they all said that you were too posh to push, but whoever said that, didn’t know that that is what mothers do: we push through exhaustion, we push through overwhelm, we push through dishes and laundry and all these feelings of unimportance, because we’re the ones who live the biggest and realest and profound ideathat suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint.

This isn’t only theology — this is sanity. We let the grace of Christ push out into the world through the grace of us.

Somebody said that there’s this restlessness among the next generation of women, that they fear more than anything – wasting their lives. I’ve felt that before. Feelings can last for years but they can lie and change your forever.

So, look — There’s no fear: You aren’t wasting your life when you’ve poured out for eternity — wherever you are.

There’s no fear: You are doing something great with your life – when you’re doing all the small things with His Great love.

There’s no fear: You aren’t wasting your life – when you aren’t wasting opportunities to love like Christ.

So labor and deliver, Kate, and know you are not alone — there’s a whole world of us doing it with you, grandmothers and widows, men at desks and pulpits and barns, and women who are single, who are weary, who have never had children but have bore these beautiful lives — We’re all breathing with you:

Breathe in: Lord, I receive. Breathe out: Lord, I give thanks.

There are a thousand ways to be stretched thin and it’s the stretchmarks that a soul wears gratefully that can be these thin places that give us more of God.

Blessings, Ann

A Letter to Kate: 7 Ways to Labor & Deliver Your Best Life ~www.thebettermom.comAnn Voskamp is a farmer's wife, the home-educating mama to a half-dozen exuberant kids, and the author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, a New York Times bestseller for a more than a year now.

Named by Christianity Today as one of the leading 50 women most shaping culture and the church today, she's a writer for DaySpring, a speaker with Women of Faith, and, with her family, partners with Compassion International as a global advocate for needy children.

Featured on the “TODAY Show” with Kathie Lee Gifford, WORLD Magazine and Focus on the Family magazine, Ann Voskamp's blog, one of the Top 10 Christian blogs on the web, has become a daily well for the weary and soul-thirsty to drink beauty, grace and His Living waters:www.aholyexperience.com.