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The Importance of the “H” Word

When my parents built their house they had each child press their handprint in the freshly poured concrete to commemorate the excitement and accomplishment of building a home. I wasn’t even born when the first set of three children, my older siblings, pressed their little hands into the concrete leaving their mark forever. The arrival of myself and three additional children necessitated a second addition to the house. When the foundation was poured, all seven children pressed their hands into the cold, wet rocks, and we traced our ages underneath. It was to commemorate a unique moment in time, that might otherwise be easily forgotten. I was born in that house. Literally, born into one of the rooms of the house my Daddy built. I lived my whole life in that house until I moved out at the age of twenty. My parents still live in that house, on the same stretch of land where I spent my childhood.

Now I also live on that land, in the woods where I grew up. My husband, Cody and I are building a house of our own for ourselves and our two children. We live in a sort-of community, “The Compound” is a name we’ve allowed begrudgingly, with three of my older siblings and their families who also built houses on the land that now spans 20 acres. I have three other siblings who do not live on the land with us… yet.

I know for certain my parents didn’t plan for any of us to move back to the place we were raised. When my Dad found the land, thirty plus years ago, it was in an effort to assuage his  desire to become a park ranger. He’s always loved the woods, but when he realized a park ranger’s salary wouldn’t keep up with a growing family he went with the next best thing, living in the woods. And so for twenty years, that’s what I did.

As long as I can remember, my parents talked about the importance of heritage. I didn’t fully understand it at the time. The number underneath my handprint read 7, but I can remember several times growing up my dad giving long, serious speeches about something we came to call the “H” word. “Don’t get Dad started,” my older siblings would warn us. It became a joke in our family that anytime Dad wanted to talk or pray, we knew we’d be there a long time. “Oh no…” we’d say, “Not the ‘H’ word.”

It was a time, for me at least, that I followed my siblings with a watchful eye. I pretended not to like these talks, because that was the cool thing to do, but as I grew I found a unique strength I gained from them. An identity, founded on unshakable principles that my parents just wanted to share with us. These talks were not planned, thought out, or rehearsed. They sprang from spontaneous moments of instruction, encouragement, and passion that my parents had inside them. Things like hard work and determination. Doing a job with excellence. The importance of personal responsibility and caring for others. The importance of relationship and community. Being a part of the local church, grounded and rooted in God’s Word as a source of strength and identity. Allowing the Holy Spirit to lead your life in every way. All these things were freely discussed, but more importantly lived out, as I was raised in this family of seven homeschooled children. Now that we are all grown, I see these qualities played out in each of my siblings own families. That is what heritage is, after all: valued qualities, traditions and beliefs that are passed down from one generation to the next.

Now this is not to paint a picture of the perfect family. It’s not to say you must be a homeschooling family, living on land, in a house you built yourself to pass down heritage. In fact, my parents would be the first to tell you, it is by the grace of God they raised us and we all still enjoy spending time together. They would even tell you they felt like failures most of the time, and mostly just tried to survive raising seven children on a one-income budget. But that didn’t stop them from trying. It didn’t stop them from continuing to share their beliefs and passions and live them out everyday even when it looked like we weren’t listening.

I realize however, that for many, you may not have had parents like this. You may not have been raised in a Christ-believing home or taught the importance of heritage. Maybe the things passed down to you were not positive things, but curses you’re having to break in your life now. You may in fact be alone as a single parent, just trying to get by as both Mom and Dad.  You may be a first generation believer without a genealogy of faith, and as one your job carries even greater importance, and perhaps you face even greater opposition. You are turning the tide, building a new foundation, and forging brand new paths in which your children, grandchildren and future great-grandchildren will be forever grateful. You are breaking family curses left from those before you, which means your role is even more vital in this battle.

Now that I am a parent, I am beginning to see the importance of heritage. It strikes me now more vividly than before because I’m realizing, whether we try or not, we will all leave a legacy. The question is will it be one worth passing down? Will it be one our children will want to emulate? It is a sobering thought to know the way I live my life right now is shaping my children’s upbringing, shaping their memories, their origin.

God has given me and my husband our own unique passions and qualities, and along with the ones instilled in us by our parents, we want to be intentional to share them with our children. Not in a forceful way, but through relationship. Through sharing our strengths and weaknesses, our failures and victories, and what God has done in our lives. I’m sure we’ll also pass along a few not-so-great things as well, but that is the nature of parenting.

Recently, I got to share this little piece of heritage with my own children. I showed them my seven-year-old handprint, now corroded by time, and we talked about the importance of hard work, and leaving our mark on the earth. Will they remember our conversation? Probably not. They are five and three, but that didn’t stop me from sharing this special moment and creating a new one of our own.

Cody and I are building our own home on an acre of land passed down to us by my parents. When they poured the fresh concrete we pressed our children’s handprint into the rock leaving their mark. Hopefully, one day they will show their own children and share with them the things that matter most.

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Emma’s Birth Story

The birth story of Emma Joy Light

Written for her by her mother, Anna Light

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Emma,

Your birth story starts long before I ever went into labor. Your estimated due date was March 27th. It was a Wednesday and while I knew I would probably be a few days late, I never imagined you would take your sweet time entering the world.

Wednesday came and went, and so did Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Still I had no baby to cuddle. I wasn’t concerned or anxious, since your brother came three days late, but I thought for sure you would come within the next day or two, or so I hoped.

Sunday was Easter, and I was glad to spend it with family at your Aunt Cristi’s house hunting Easter eggs with all the cousins and eating way too much good food. Once dinner was over I said, “Ok, baby can come now!”

Monday passed and so did Tuesday… No sign, except the occasional grinding of your head in my pelvis. (Thanks for that!)

I had an appointment Tuesday with the midwives and I thought for sure, I wouldn’t have to go. I was 6 days late! Surely you were well on your way. I went to my appointment where Gail, my midwife, checked to see if I was dilated. I was at a 2 and everything was in it’s proper place. You just weren’t ready yet. I thought the check might help spur on labor, so I made pasta that night as a last meal and thought for sure we would meet you by morning.

That evening we finally decided to flip a coin to agree on a boy name for you. I won the toss so Caleb William Light or Emma Joy Light could come into the world. Nothing was stopping you now.

That night I woke up with horrible stomach pains. I wasn’t sure if they were contractions or not, but I went ahead and timed them. I got up and walked around the house, visited the toilet a few times and realized I was losing my plug. Surely this is it, I thought but these “contractions” felt odd and came so irregularly. I started to feel nauseas and had diarrhea… all signs of labor, but something just didn’t feel right. I was in so much pain, worse pain than contractions because these stomach cramps were constant and the nausea sent me over the edge. I finally threw up my pasta dinner from the night before and realized, I wasn’t in labor. I was sick.

After a night of cleaning out my body from both ends, I finally rested well into the late morning. Cody stayed home from work to take care of Ethan, and I just slept as much as I could that day. I got my appetite back and thought, Ok, now can I please go into labor?!

Thursday was a normal day. Cody returned to work and I tried to rest between taking care of Ethan. I planned a foot massage to hopefully induce labor naturally. I was desperate at this point, willing to try anything. Cody came home early and I just cried in his arms “I’m so miserable. I just don’t want to be pregnant anymore.”

I had the massage that evening and she told me, if you don’t go into labor than this will definitely get your bowls moving. She knew the pressure points to hit and it relaxed me.

Everyone assured me, “babies always come out.” Of course I knew this but when you’re emotionally exhausted and hormonally crazy you begin to think silly things.

Thursday night the contractions started again. They were every 10 to 15 minutes apart. I couldn’t get comfortable, so I laid on the couch with Cody on the floor beneath me. Ethan must have suspected we were up, because he got up and wanted to be with us. I started to feel sick again, more diarrhea and nausea. Are you kidding me?! I thought, this is ridiculous! Give me labor over this any day, at least labor leads to a baby! I kept losing my plug with each bathroom visit so I knew something was happening. The contractions kept coming but they were getting further apart. 30 minutes, 45 minutes…. This was not real labor.

That day (Friday) my mom came over because sometimes you just need your mommy. Cody took Ethan to Aunt Cristi’s so I could really rest. Gail suggested I take Tylenol PM to really get some good sleep. She must have known I wouldn’t be able to go into labor and push this baby out while I was so exhausted. This was now 2 nights in a row with no sleep.

I slept all day with the aid of Tylenol PM. I was contracting about every 20 minutes, but at least the nausea had subsided. I cried to mom, “I feel like I need to go to the hospital so I can get well, and while I’m there, they might as well take the baby, I don’t know if I can do this.” I doubted my ability to labor while so exhausted. I seriously considered just getting it over with–as serious as you can get while doped up on sleeping pills!

We finally decided I was in pre-labor and had pre-labored for two days. At least once active labor decided to start, it wouldn’t be too long till we met you. Knowing that helped me. At least these last two days had done something.

9pm
We had Ethan stay with Amber and Kody so we could get some rest. We got in bed and 30 minutes later a contraction wracked my body. 5 minutes later another one. We started timing and realized this was it… maybe…

10:30pm
After an hour of intense contractions every 4-5 minutes, we decided to call in the troops. Gail’s assistant was on her way, as well as mom and dad.

When Jessie (the assistant) arrived she checked me. I was still so uncertain this was real labor that I cried just thinking of morning coming with still no baby. I was at a 5 and 80% effaced. Jessie assured me, this was real labor. I shook with the force of the hormones in my body so she suggested I get in the shower to try and relax.

11:30pm
My sisters started arriving. First, Ali, then Erin and finally Katie. Gail arrived shortly after and coffee started brewing. It was going to be an all-nighter.

12:00am
Contractions rocked my body, but I tried not to fight them. I knew if I let them do their work, this would be over sooner. I labored on my hands and knees in the living room while soft music played and a slide show of our pictures filtered through the Apple TV kept everyone entertained, or lulled them to sleep.

12:30am
I moved around a lot. I had so much pressure in my pelvis as you made your way down. My stomach nearly disappeared as you engaged and continued to bare down. I needed to look right into someone’s eyes with each contraction, my silent question “Can I do this?” searching for an answer in their gaze. With each breath I felt myself stretch wider. “Open, open, open,” I thought. I stood with Cody, for a few contractions and would go back to leaning on the couch as the pool was being blown up and filled with water.

I got in the pool and it relaxed me, though I couldn’t get in a comfortable position, so I just kept moving. On my side, on my back, leaning with my arms over the edge. Mom, Katie and Cody were my companions for a while, until I got out and labored again in the living room. I realized then I was entering the “out-of-it” stage. I felt like I was dreaming. My mind was in a fog and the only thing I could really understand was the pain and that I had to let it do it’s work. I kept saying “I’m out of it, I’m out of it.” My sister Katie said, “Out of what?” I just said “Out of it.”

Gail suggested I sit facing backward on the toilet. I didn’t like it at first. It made the contractions stronger and it was a bit uncomfortable. Mom said to give three contractions sitting there and I could get up.

Once those were over I got up, but realized I did like the toilet. I felt open and could feel the contractions doing their work. I got back on with pillows to support me. The contractions started coming further apart and I was getting discouraged, but they told me to welcome the break and rest between each one. I dozed while Katie, and Mom took turns standing behind me to support me when a contraction hit.

2:30pm-ish
I wanted to be checked again so came in the bedroom and laid on the bed. I was at a 6-7 and fully effaced. I was discouraged I wasn’t at an 8 or 9, but Gail knew the right words to say and told me I was very close and that it was great progress. I remember my sister Ali had to leave at 3am to catch a flight. I said good bye and got back in the pool and labored for another hour or two, at this point I was losing track of time.

With each contraction I breathed, making as little sound as possible. I breathed deep, all the way down to my baby and felt myself stretching. I was proud of myself for not fighting the pain. I knew it wouldn’t be long now. Cody, Katie and Mom took turns with me. Katie and Mom sat on the floor next to the pool. Katie said, “Don’t think about the pain.” I said, “Tell me what to think about.” She said, “Holding your baby.” Then mom said “Swimming at the pool this summer.” Those distractions helped and before I knew it I felt the urge to push. “This is a girl,” I told Mom and Katie. I had thought boy for the longest time, but the last couple days and especially during labor my intuition told me: girl. I was baring down and groaning, my body telling me what to do without even being checked. I told Gail I wanted to be checked and sure enough I was complete! I could push!

4am
Erin and Dad came into the room at that point, woken by my groans as my body told me to start pushing. Cody called his mom and she showed up, though I was barely aware of anyone in the room at that point. I asked for Cody and he held my hands as I pushed with each contraction.

My pushes were wimpy. I could even tell that! I was hesitant and shied away from them thinking, the baby will just slip out, I won’t have to do much… Gail told me I could reach down and feel the head, I did, but I couldn’t tell if it was a head or not. It just felt hard and I just wanted the pain to stop.

I pushed for 30 minutes with no progress. I even looked at Gail and told her, “I don’t think these are doing much.” She agreed and suggested I try to lay flatter with Cody supporting my back in the pool. I think he was half way in the pool himself trying to support me, but that position wasn’t working either.

“I think you need to get out of the pool and on the bed. Flat on your back so you can grab your knees and really push.” This was Gail’s suggestion and I didn’t hesitate. I climbed out of the pool and made my way to the bed as another contraction hit. I finally laid down and tried pushing again. Again, I shied away, not wanting to experience the pain. I could feel my body twisting away from the extreme pressure in my pelvis. Surely the baby will just come with each contraction, I thought. But I was wrong. I was going to have to give my strength to this, all of my strength or you would never come out. After another push with no progress, Gail, quite sternly said, “Anna! I want you to put your bottom down, grab your knees and curl around your baby… you have to push and hold it there as long as you can.” Then she asked for a prayer.

My dad prayed and though I don’t remember the exact words I remember him saying something like, “Help Anna understand it’s going to have to hurt for a little, speak to her and help her bring this baby forth.” It was a message to me. Embrace the pain. Stop trying to run from it. Give it everything you have and it will be over soon.

With the next push my mind exploded. I had to find a place inside to hide. I could not be present for this pain. I felt myself slipping away into a Never Land of the mind. It’s where I had to be to get through it. I felt a gush of water and thought I had peed, but my water broke and I felt myself stretch to the max. “Hold it, Hold it,” Gail said. I was screaming, grunting and writhing but I knew that push had done something.

“Reach down and feel your baby’s head, it’s crowning.” I felt it for a split second, but the pain was so excruciating I didn’t last long trying to explore. My sister Erin was at my right, helping me hold my leg up while my sister Katie and Cody were helping me hold my left leg. With the next push I felt the fire and more water gushing, but I also felt a head pop out. That’s the hardest part, I thought. I’m almost done. Little did I know the cord was wrapped around your neck twice and tucked under your arm. You were blue and Gail told me to stop pushing. STOP PUSHING?! Are you kidding me?! Guttural sounds were coming from my mouth, I couldn’t stop. My sister Erin jumped right in, “Anna, pant with me He-he-he, its for your baby, it’s for your baby.” I did that for 15 seconds and it was enough for Gail to get the cord unwrapped. “I can’t stop, it’s coming… ” I said, and Gail said “It’s ok.”

4:54am
You flopped out on the bed. No one caught you because they were too concerned about the cord. You were on your stomach so no one saw what you were. They threw a towel around you and placed you on my stomach. Still no one knew if you were a boy or a girl. I reached down to feel between your legs saying, “I wanna know what it is!” I felt nothing protruding and announced to everyone in the room “It’s a girl!” To which they screamed and giggled with delight!

“My baby girl,” I said with elation, having instant relief from the pain and feeling the ecstasy of your skin against mine. I loved you in that instant, your warmth filled me with a love so fierce it hurt. Cody sat next to my head, completely shocked that you were a girl and not a boy. He didn’t speak for several minutes, and later told me he was shocked and close to tears. I held you close as we waited for the cord to stop pulsing, once daddy cut it, I rubbed your back and your first breath filled the room with a soft baby cry.

A daughter. Our daughter.

Emma Joy Light, born April 6th at 4:54am.

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Stay Healthy on the Go…

I haven’t been blogging a lot lately. My life has been a little busy over the last couple months. But I want to share some tips this week that have helped me stay on track even when life seems out of control! 

Bag It Up

I love fruit. Not only is it sweet and tasty it is an amazingly healthy snack that keeps me on track. Since I’m always on the go it’s hard to keep a variety of fruit close at hand, and easy to grab as I’m heading out the door. To fix that problem, I take the opportunity of a free night to do a little chopping. 

Buy a carton of strawberries and after washing them slice them into pieces. (Eat with yogurt for a yummy, healthy snack!)

Divide pieces into little baggies and store in refrigerator.

Do the same with a bundle of grapes. 

Add apples or plums or peaches and you have a nice variety of fruit to grab as you’re heading out the door! Bag It Up

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Dinosaurs in Our Wedding

After setting the date for our wedding for July 31st, all the plans were set in motion. Though it didn’t seem that time was going by at all, things were getting done and we were marking things off our wedding to-do list, including: order the invitations.

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That was all until I got word that a particular series we do at LifeChurch.tv got pushed forward to August 1st and 2nd. This particular series is a pretty big deal for us at LC and we go all out with decorations, creating an atmosphere people would want to bring their friends to… 

The particular atmosphere our campus is creating has something to do with big dinosaur heads, cars in trees, waterfalls and incubators… none of which you would find at a wedding!

So, when all the dust settled the only thing that had to be changed was the date on the invitations. We have a new wedding date of August 7th!  

No dinosaurs allowed!

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How to be a Good Sport

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A group of my staff and a few friends play on a softball team together every Monday night. After watching a couple games last night, I had a few thoughts to jot down…

1. It’s not personal, So stop taking it that way! 

2. Learn to have fun. 

3. Remember, there is always another game… 

It’s amazing how often I feel like I remind myself to follow these same rules when it comes to other aspects of life, not just a softball games… anyone else know what I’m talking about?

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Some Thoughts on my Mind

#orange09–I can’t seem to figure out how to upload videos to my blog. Wishing I had switched my blog to iweb before the conference… 

Wedding stuff—We set the date for July 31st which is only three very SHORT months away… we have a lot to do until then…

SWITCH—A little worried about being gone this week. Just praying all goes well. I’m also constantly thinking how well the new 1-3-1 model is working… 400 students in small groups of 9 is HARD!

Cody Light—He’s half a country away on his own little business trip in CA. Won’t see him again until Saturday.

Running/Sore—I feel like a 97-year-old lady walking around. I’m extremely sore from yesterday’s marathon…

BLOG—Excited to get to write a LOT this week. Stay tuned for all the good stuff from #orange09.

What’s on your mind?

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Going to the Chapel, and I’m…

Gonna get mar-ar-aried!!

That’s right! I’m engaged to Cody Light! He asked me after we crossed the finish line at the Oklahoma City Marathon!

Check out the awesome pictures below!

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Cody wrote my number on his shirt, so I would see it when he crossed the finish line.

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He had the ring safety-pinned inside his ipod holder…  

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Then he got down on one knee… 

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And I said “YES!!” 

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He was REALLY glad!  

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The ring is BEAUTIFUL!!

We will be married around the end of July… three short months. I can’t wait!  

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Going to the Chapel, and I'm…

Gonna get mar-ar-aried!!

That’s right! I’m engaged to Cody Light! He asked me after we crossed the finish line at the Oklahoma City Marathon!

Check out the awesome pictures below!

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Cody wrote my number on his shirt, so I would see it when he crossed the finish line.

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He had the ring safety-pinned inside his ipod holder…  

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Then he got down on one knee… 

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And I said “YES!!” 

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He was REALLY glad!  

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The ring is BEAUTIFUL!!

We will be married around the end of July… three short months. I can’t wait!  

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