Note From Team LO: In honor of Sadie and Christian’s wedding day quickly approaching, we have invited some very special people to share letters of love, encouragement, and wisdom. Today we have Sadie’s mom, Korie.
I’ll never get over how cute your hands were when you were little. I promise you’ll understand when you have a baby girl. I would stare in wonder at your tiny hands as the held onto my finger while I fed you. As a toddler I would hold you over the sink to wash your hands, place them under the running water and just marveled at your tiny fingers. I’d look into the mirror with you smiling back and think how amazing and incredible God is to have given you to be mine.
With your deep dimples and spunky personality, you had us all under your spell. You told jokes and did impersonations from the time you could talk, you made up dance moves and put on plays, you organized your siblings to go along with your plans, and were the first to put on a costume to entertain the guests at their birthday parties.
You were always so aware of the feelings of others, and had a crazy understanding of God and Jesus at the time most were just learning their ABC’s. You asked all the questions and never got tired of listening to the answers. You love God, your family, and others so beautifully and completely.
You have brought me immense joy, wonder and fun.
Now you are all grown up. I’m not sure how that happened, but I see all of those things you were as a child so clearly in the woman you are today. God truly made you an original. He knew all along the things he was preparing you for. Including this moment, the most special of moments, that we are about to celebrate. You’re getting married to the love of your life! Those cute little fingers are about to have a wedding ring on them! You are going to be the most radiant bride.
I have been praying for this day since the time you were born. Praying that the man you would marry would be a Jesus follower and a lover of God and His word. That he would be strong and kind, wise and fun-loving, faithful and true; a constant learner, with that perfect combination of confidence and humility that only comes from knowing who he is in God. I prayed that he would cheer you on when you achieve your dreams, and lift you up when you fall, that he would love every single part of you, laugh at your jokes, and light up when you came in the room. I prayed that he would be your best friend and biggest champion.
I asked God to give you someone that would be an amazing dad to your future children; that he would be hardworking and up for adventure, and would show your children what the overflowing love of a good father looks like. That he would lead your family always to the cross with the grace and sacrificial love displayed by Jesus.
I thank God today that you have found that man in Christian! He will not be perfect. He will make mistakes and so will you, but now I pray that when the tough times come you will always find your way back to one another through love, compassion, and forgiveness. That you will never forget the promises you made on this day, and that your love for one another will be a light shining bright in this world, bringing glory to God, because He is love.
I love you dearly, sweet girl! I can’t wait to see you walk down the aisle to begin your life as Mrs. Sadie Huff. I will be there as always cheering you on. I might shed a few tears, but I promise every one of them will be tears of joy and thankfulness for the blessing that your life is to me, that I get to be your mom, and on that day the mother of the most beautiful bride.
Love always and forever,
Want more letters? Check out the other letters to Sadie from earlier this week!
Letters to Sadie: Katelyn Taylor
Letters to Sadie: Mamaw Jo
Letters to Sadie: 2 mama
Anyone else in a challenging season of life? I could not raise my hand higher. Maybe you are feeling a bit lost? Or possibly feeling like you are running on anxiety? I will get straight to it because one thing I know is that vulnerability heals–not just the person being vulnerable but also the people that hear her too.
I use the word “challenging” with a lot of intention. Just because this season is challenging does not mean that it is bad. And just because it is not bad, does not mean I am not allowed to cry or feel sad or frustrated.
Needless to say, God is teaching me A LOT right now. But if I could narrow it down to one sentence, it would be this, “Worship doesn’t have to be happy.” I truly think that God sent a sweet daughter of His to remind me of this last week.
That rocked my world because my husband and I are trying to conceive right now. And each month there is a negative pregnancy test or I start my period, I feel a deep sorrow unlike anything I have experienced before. The first few months, that sadness felt wrong. I know God has perfect timing and I should just trust in that. I’ve tried to resist those feelings. I never gave myself permission to worship IN my sadness. I also have never desired anything as much as I desire a baby now. Which is super ironic because I am not the gal that has LOVED kids her whole life. Actually, babysitting was my least favorite job, which I have felt guilty for because I thought that was supposed to be in my nature as a woman. Another story though, for another day.
But in the sorrow I am experiencing beauty. In the waiting season I am experiencing change. Refining, if you will. I am learning what it looks like to really rely on the Lord’s strength… ONLY. For so much of my life up to this point, I have had a grip on my own steering wheel. I have tried to manufacture my own life in so many areas. I have obsessed over my body and food. I have made my business my first priority. I have gotten away with putting my identity in men (LOTS of consequences of course, again another story). And here I am now, wanting that same control. Except there is absolutely nothing to grab onto. Can you imagine your steering wheel getting ripped off when you’re driving and not being able to hit the brakes? You have completely lost control. You have no choice but to surrender to wherever the car takes you and trust that you will be safe.
It is terrifying. There are so many “what if’s”. I am a seven on the Enneagram. Which basically means that optimism is IN me, especially when speaking to other people and helping them see the positive. So this fear and these ugly thoughts I am fighting in myself feel foreign and extra scary. But, God. He is using this to take me back to the cross. The enemy can try, but he cannot win. Not now. Not ever.
Right after college, I got Isaiah 41:10 tattooed down my wrist. It was a verse I clung TIGHTLY to when I was in a massive transition. And here I am again with nothing to clench onto except His Word.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I need help. Isn’t that what therapists say is the first step to getting help–actually admitting you need it? It is not my job to know, it’s my job to embrace. Embrace this story right where it is. Embrace His truth and His promises. Embrace the other stories around me that are similar. Embrace the tears. Embrace the excitement. Embrace His righteous right hand.
Waiting seasons are tough, sisters. But so are you and so am I! Getting sad or shedding tears does not make us less tough. It makes us human. Humans who need a Savior. And it is so cool that we get access to a God who wants to give us strength. A God who wants to hold us up when we feel like crumbling. Every tear you shed and every giggle that comes out has a purpose. Absolutely nothing is wasted. So let’s keep worshipping this Father that is limitless and has much better timing for every part of our lives.
Embrace the challenging season. Nothing is wasted.
Tanner Hobbs is a 26- year old wife, daughter, sister and healthy coach. As the owner of Chasing Freedom, LLC, she works to lead women to experience a level of health that only Jesus can provide. She teaches how to establish simple steps to overcome obstacles and live in the freedom that was so freely given (Galatians 5:1). Catch her daily snippets of inspiration over on her IG stories and posts, @trainertanner.
This time last year, my husband Spenser and I were, by all accounts, a thriving newlywed couple. We’d get off work each afternoon and hit the gym or meet friends for happy hour. We spent the evenings decorating our home or watching The Office for the ten thousandth time (ok fine, we still do that.) We cooked elaborate meals together and took way too many photos of our dog. We were confident and independent. Things were safe and comfortable. Our goal was to “live our best life” and frankly, we thought we were nailing it. While we were content with our small ambitions, God had something far greater in mind.
Now we are hot-mess foster parents in desperate need of help and grace. Our selfish desires get trampled on with each new morning and our social plans now include PTA meetings and court hearings. We’ve survived tantrums, bed-wetting and back to school shopping at Walmart. We’ve discovered new buttons that can be pushed, new volumes at which to yell, and we often spend evenings trying to fight the lie that we are NOT cut out for this. But stay with me for a second—this isn’t a sad story. While walking this road, our marriage has become deeper, stronger and more precious to us. We have experienced God’s love in new and profound ways and our life purpose has become crystal clear: to love the kids in our care as Christ has loved us. Sometimes I think back to the way things were and for a second I almost miss it. But, it turns out, living in our comfortable bubble was nothing compared to the wildly beautiful life that God had in store.
We were first introduced to the world of foster care on a weekend trip to visit our good friends in Boston. We sat down to dinner and they told us they were considering becoming licensed foster parents. The barriers were obvious; small apartment, busy city, no family nearby to help. They knew it sounded crazy, but they were humbly following God’s lead. He used their obedience and authenticity that night to spark our whole journey! Our spirits were stirred as we learned about the vast number of kids in foster care and the inadequate number of foster homes. We lived back in Tampa, Florida in our newly purchased house. We had extra bedrooms, a big yard and both sets of parents in town. Spenser is a high school teacher and football coach and has always had a soft spot for kids who lack the love and opportunities to help them succeed. We were just beginning to consider this path when God decided to make his message loud and clear. On the last day of our trip we walked into church and were informed it would be a unique service because it was… “World Orphan Day.” I can’t make this stuff up! I remember standing in that service with tears welling up in my eyes as I sang these words:
I’ll just say yes, you lead the way
I’m not afraid of what it means for me to say
This life you gave is not my own,
I’m trusting you to hear my yes and lead me on
And there is peace when I say yes
I might not see it now but you save the best
For all who trust you and obey
There is an answer no more delay.
When we got back home after our trip, a quick Google search revealed that a fostering orientation was scheduled in our town the following week. We showed up, chose an agency, signed up for parenting classes, and the ball was rolling!
I must confess, for weeks during the process I only felt heaviness. There was no joy or excitement, I just felt burdened as I counted the cost. I cried often, wrestling with the reality that God sometimes leads us toward really hard things. In our parenting classes we were confronted with the horrific situations that these children are coming out of. We were given worse-case scenarios to help us prepare. I knew this was a noble mission but, to be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I also questioned my motives. Was I just doing this out of guilt? Or to win approval from others? Did I have regrets but feel too prideful to turn back now? My feelings were all over the map, but as we kept moving forward a quiet peace started to grow in my heart. I knew I was secure in Him despite the long list of uncertainties.
Looking back, I see what God was teaching me; sometimes you need to step forward in obedience even when you’re feeling scared and unsettled in your emotions. Friends, don’t spend your whole life waiting for things to “feel right” before you do the work God is calling you to. Feelings are fickle, especially if your heart is an emotional rollercoaster like mine. Even Christ in the midst of his work cried out in sorrow while sweating drops of blood! Scripture tells us “For the joy set before him he endured the cross.” Your redemption was at the heart of that joy.
Becoming licensed took us about five months. Fingerprints, background checks and home studies were completed. We bought booster seats, assembled bunk beds and decorated them with shark-printed sheets. Friends and family donated books and clothes to fill the closets. All we had to do was wait and with over 4,000 kids in care in the Tampa area we were alerted of a potential placement immediately. They sent us the information for a little boy whose current foster home was closing soon. With hearts beating fast, Spenser and I looked at each other knowing that the time had come. We said “Yes” and brought in the six-year-old, freckle-faced, blue eyed boy and our lives have never been the same.
This past year has been one wild ride. We’ve experienced heartache, joy, tears, laughter, frustration, growth and ultimately redemption. It’s been the best and hardest year of our lives. We welcomed in another amazing boy, then said goodbye to our first kiddo and, in the midst of that, found out we will be having a baby in December! We would NEVER have written this story for ourselves. It’s been too brutal and too wonderful. But that’s the whole point…submitting to God’s calling on your life is not usually glamorous by the world’s standards. No matter what God is leading you into (parenthood, new friendships, a leadership role, community service, ministry, marriage, etc.) Your service will undoubtedly be accompanied by discomfort, fear, persecution or sacrifice. You might wonder why you should carry on. I want to remind you. We are the recipients of the greatest and most undeserved gift of sacrifice imaginable! So, with simultaneous humility and courage, we can respond by laying down our lives—our gifts, our time, our money, our desires—for others. Foster parenting has taught me that laying down your life isn’t a one-time decision. It’s a hundred daily decisions to keep saying “yes” when situations appear hopeless or daunting. It takes utter reliance on God to move toward the brokenness in front of me instead of away. I’m only empowered to do this by renewing my mind with the truth of the Gospel: Christ stepped out of comfort and immortality into MY brokenness. He met me in my wretched state. He lived the life I should have lived and bore the wrath reserved for me. He rose from the dead in victory in order to purchase and redeem my rebellious soul! As I meditate on the overwhelming beauty of the Gospel, it changes me and it will change you too.
Whatever God has put you at the brink of or in the midst of, keep saying yes. Keep pressing on into the dark and broken corners of this world. That is where the Gospel light is needed and He has equipped YOU to bring it! Your shortcomings are not a barrier for our mighty God. Keep moving even when you’re afraid, limping, or discouraged and let the God of hope work through you. Our reward is a deeper experience of joy, satisfaction and purpose than we could ever have while staying in our safe, little comfort zones.
If you think God might be calling you to bring love and stability to vulnerable children in your area, follow the link below for more information and resources on how you can become a licensed foster parent in your county.
We asked what you wanted to read more about on the LO Blog, and by far the most common theme requested was relationships. I totally get it! Relationships are hard! We are imperfect people loving imperfect people. How do we navigate that? There were a lot of questions that went something like this…How can I be a better/more Godly/happier wife/mom/sister/daughter/friend?
I love this question and I’m going to give you a simple answer because I believe that most things in life don’t take a rocket scientist to figure out (except for actual rocket science, for that you will need a rocket scientist). Here ya go: The best way to be a better you in your relationships is to treat the ones you love the most the very best. It’s that simple and, also, as difficult as you would imagine.
Why is this so difficult? Well, one reason is, the ones we love the most don’t always treat us the best. The first thing to remember in any relationship is that you can only work on you. All you can do is work to be a better, healthier, happier, kinder “you” which was exactly the question asked at the beginning of this blog—remember the question was, “How can I be a better….?”
A wise woman once told me, “You aren’t your husband’s Holy Spirit.” Neither are you your mom’s, your friend’s, or your sister’s Holy Spirit. Let the Spirit work on those around you and you work to be the best “you,” you can be. Even though you are only one part of the equation, when you change you, those around you will notice and over time they will start to change themselves. If they don’t, maybe you need to re-think that relationship, but that’s a whole other blog post.
Why do we give our best to people we don’t even know but treat the people we spend our lives with, the ones we promised to love forever and always, the very ones that hold our hair when we are throwing up, the ones that saw us through the hard times, so terribly? I think part of it is we feel safe with our loved ones. They are stuck with us. They literally can’t leave. We live in the same house; there is nowhere for them to go. We feel free to be “ourselves.” Unfortunately sometimes we are only giving them the bad parts of ourselves. It’s good to have people we can be real with, be vulnerable with, show the not so pretty parts to, free feel with, but it doesn’t mean we get to treat them badly.
“Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Hmmm, if you say you love your husband, boyfriend, sister, mom, dad, friend, you should probably check to see if the way you are treating them stacks up to this biblical definition. If it doesn’t, you’ve got some things to work on.
I’ll never forget a lesson a bible teacher I had in high school taught me. He had us write our name in the place of the word “love” in this verse as a reminder of how we are called to act toward others. So it would go like this, “Korie is patient, Korie is kind…” you get the idea. Do it for yourself. I promise you will re-think some of your interactions with the people you love the most.
Now for some practical ways to treat those you love the very best. I really believe that if you just add these three things into your daily life with your nearest and dearest, it will begin to change your relationships for the better.
1. Act excited when you see them. Think about what you do when you see a child that you love but haven’t seen in a while. A big smile comes across your face, you stretch out your arms, scoop them up into a big hug, maybe even swirl them around. Now contrast that with how you acted last night when you saw your husband for the first time after work. Ouch! I know! Did you even look up from your phone? Did you stop what you were doing to ask how his day was or did you launch into all the things that went wrong that day or all the things he forgot to do? What would happen if you ran over and gave him a big hug and then twirled him around when you first saw him after a long day? Would he think you had lost your mind? Maybe, but I bet he would love it! Think about your reaction you have when you see your kids, your friend, your mom, your roommate. Do you act excited when they walk through the door? Do you show them that you are happy that they are there? That first interaction can set the tone for the rest of your time together. Stop what you are doing, smile, walk over and give them a hug, ask them a question about their day. Think about how you would feel if someone did that for you. It would make your day better, right? Do that for the ones you love and see what happens.
2. Lead with the positive. I was reading Revelation the other day (I know you probably didn’t think I was going to bring up the book of Revelation in this blog about relationships did you!). Something struck me in the way God gave John the messages he wrote to the churches. He always started with something positive. These churches had some real problems, but every single time, before he said something they needed to work on, he praised them for something they were doing well. Here’s an example so you get the idea, Revelation 2:1-4: To the church in Ephesus, “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance…you have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love….” He then he goes on to tell them what they need to change.
I thought about it and realized God doesn’t have to do that. He doesn’t have to lead with praise or a compliment. He’s God! But He does, so maybe I should learn a little something from God’s example. I challenge you to incorporate the principle of leading with the positive into your relationships. It will change the way you are received by those you love.
Also, in doing this, it will force you to actually think of something positive about someone you might be having some struggles with. It might be difficult when you are angry, right? The person you thought was the love of your life just days before, suddenly you can’t recall anything they are doing right. But, if you make yourself think of something positive about that person, and say that first, you and the other person will be in a better state of mind to tackle the problem. Sometimes the hard things need to be said, but lead with the positive and the other person will be more ready to listen.
3. Always kiss them goodbye. A mother who lost a son to a motorcycle wreck years ago broke my heart when she reminded me, “You never know when it will be the last time you get to kiss them goodbye.” I know this is a difficult thing to think about, but it has stuck with me because it is so true. We aren’t promised tomorrow. We should live each day like it might be our last. If we do that, how would it change the way we treat the ones we love? Take the time to give them a kiss goodbye and tell them you love them every time they walk out of the door. It only takes a few seconds, but it may make all the difference.
I hope this is helpful! Every time I write to you I am in prayer that the things I write are meaningful to your lives. I know life can be difficult, and relationships are not easy. By giving you these simple things, I can’t promise you that it will solve all of your relationship problems, but I can tell you that these are things that have made a difference in my relationships. I do know that when you work on yourself, even if the other person doesn’t change, (because people can be stuck in bad habits that are hard to change, so be patient, this isn’t an overnight fix) you will be happier and more at peace because you are doing all that you can do and that always matters!
Try these 3 things for a week and let us know if it’s had an impact on your relationships. We’d love to hear!
Korie Robertson is a New York Times bestselling author and speaker who is passionate about motherhood. Korie (K-Swaggy) is a mom to Sadie — and five other amazing kids. In her free time, you’ll find her playing tennis, drinking coffee and spending time with her kids and new grandson, Zane.
Catch Korie and Willie on the Getaway Night Tour this fall in a city near you!
Follow Korie on Instagram @bosshogswife
It took me four months to finally share my birth story because I wanted to make sure I was mentally and physically recovered before I shared it. Hopefully, writing it down will help me remember every single detail and encourage, empower and prepare others who might have a few fears when it comes to having a baby.
I know having a baby can be scary to think about for lots of reasons. My pregnancy was so easy, but I was scared about the delivery. And, it wasn’t rainbows and sunshine, that’s for sure, but it was worth it. I can tell you, no matter what happens, you are strong, you are resilient and you will get through it. Because at the end of the tunnel (or should I say the birth canal ?) there’s a precious gift from God.
So here’s my birth story.
Thursday, January 10, 2019, was an unusually warm January winter day. I was 39 weeks and 1 day pregnant. I woke up that morning remembering I had dreamed that I lost the bet on when the baby would be born. (We had a bet between family and friends about the birth date. It was basically the Louisiana Lottery as we have a huge group of friends and family. Ha.) There were lots of bets for January 10th. That’s probably because we had gotten a fortune cookie saying we would receive the gift of a lifetime on January 10th, plus my sister, Sadie, had dreamed that I would be having a baby on January 10thbefore I was even pregnant. It seemed like January 10thwould be the day.
But, I woke up feeling completely normal and, the day before, my doctor told me I had only dilated to .5 cm (it even shrunk from the week before when I was at 1.5cm at 38 weeks. I don’t know how that happened?) My doctor basically said I was nowhere close to going into labor that day, but he would like to induce me if I didn’t have it by 41 weeks. I really didn’t want to be induced. I just knew the baby was going to come when he was ready and I trusted God to have the perfect timing. Everyone has different views on this. That was mine at the time. In future pregnancies, I might think differently.
So, on January 10th, I went on with my day without worrying about anything, thinking I would have at least another two weeks until the baby would arrive. The weather was nice so I decided to create a “bump date” photo. I didn’t know this would be the very last photo of my baby in my belly. I posted an Instagram story giving everyone a baby update and telling them I was still pregnant. Then, I ran a few errands.
But, around 4:00 in the afternoon, my stomach starting hurting a bit. I thought I might be hungry, so I called my husband to see if he wanted to grab an early dinner. We met up at a restaurant in town. I remember thinking I was so hungry that I could barely get out the car. I felt like I could faint from hunger.
While we were eating, my stomach started cramping, but honestly at that point I had no idea what contractions would feel like, so I just thought I was having trouble digesting the food. At the same time, I felt a weird shooting pain in my inner thigh area. This got so intense I was literally jumping up from the seat from this weird shooting pain. Still, I didn’t think that it was contractions. (So funny to think about now!)
I remembered my mom and doctor told me if I started to feel any weird symptoms, I should just go to the hospital, just in case. I called my mom and told her I was going to go to the hospital just to find out what that pain was all about. I still didn’t think I was in labor, but I wanted to be safe. She said she would meet me there.
My husband and I were in two different cars since we met for dinner. I got in my car, headed to the hospital, and my husband followed behind me.
As soon as I pulled up at the hospital, the pain stopped completely. I almost didn’t go in. I didn’t want to feel stupid and make something out of nothing, but my husband said since we were there, we might as well go in and ask the nurse about the pain.
Being first time parents with zero experience, we were nervous and a little embarrassed. What do we even say?I chuckled and explained to the nurse that I was experiencing some pain on the way here, but it completely went away just as I pulled up. I told her we were embarrassed to even be there. The nurse was super nice and tried to make us feel normal. She said that contractions feel differently to everybody. She said it was a slow night, so if I wanted, she could hook me up to the machine to monitor my contractions.
I put on the hospital gown the nurse gave me, but I left my beanie on my head because my hair was so crazy under it. I looked like Buddy, the elf, hooked to a fetal monitor. By then, my mom had arrived so the three of us just sat there and watched the monitor.
At first, it didn’t tell us anything. I started doing squats in the room just to see what it would do, but the nurse said I just needed to give it at least an hour. My mom called Sadie and they were praying about the situation over the phone. Just as they were praying, the monitor graphs jumped up! The nurse came in and said I was having some contractions, but they were still far apart. Once I knew what contractions felt like, I realized I had been having them all day. I just thought that was the baby kicking me.
Soon the contractions started getting closer and closer, like five minutes apart. I was having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I was in labor. I still thought I should go home and wait a little longer. My only experience had been watching “movie labor” where the woman’s water breaks in an inconvenient place and has excruciating pain and barely makes it to the hospital before the baby pops out. What I was going through was not at all what I expected or planned or had seen in a movie!
Just as I was gathering my belongings to head home, the nurse told me my doctor happened to be on call that day. He was on his way to check on me. Since I didn’t think I was in labor, this surprised me, but, okay, since he was already at the hospital, let’s do it.
He came in and checked me. It was time for another surprise. My cervix had completely softened and was progressing fast. What? Wasn’t it yesterday this doctor had told me it might be two more weeks? I kind of freaked out. I was not ready! I didn’t even have my bags packed! I had not fed my dog! I had not done a million things I thought I would do! I was wearing a beanie!
I kept asking my doctor, “Are you sure I am ready? Can I go home and shower first?” The fear of delivery started to set in. I was trying to avoid it as long as possible. I tried to convince my doctor it wasn’t time. I, literally, tried to talk him out of my delivery. ?
One last time, I said, “Are you sure I’m ready?” The doctor said, “I don’t know about you, but your body is ready. This baby is coming sooner or later ?and there is no need to shower, you are about to get real messy.”
After a moment of panic, I realized the time had come and I was having a baby that night!
I sent my husband home to get our hospital bags and feed our dog,
My doctor broke my water around 7:00 pm.
By then all our family members had been informed and slowly started showing up at the hospital! By 9:00 p.m. there were about twenty people waiting in the waiting room.
My body progressed quickly. Within five hours, I dilated from 2cm to 8cm. My doctor was going home to take a nap, but he had just enough time to grab some dinner at Waffle House and get back to the hospital.
I knew I wanted to get an epidural. Some of you don’t know anything an epidural yet, but it’s a form of antiesthetic used during childbirth. I had done tons research on it and knew it was how I wanted to handle my delivery. However, the anesthesiologist administered the medication in my spine two times when we realized my body wasn’t going to response to the epidural. They offered me other alternative anesthesia methods, but I didn’t want to take the risk. There was no time for web MD or google, so I passed on the other pain relief methods.
Finally, it was time to push. I pushed for an hour. It was probably the longest hour in my life. My husband was right there holding my hand (or I should say right there letting me squeeze his hand), counting the seconds to push. My sister, Bella, was in the room taking pictures for us. Everyone else was in hallway, cheering us on and praying for the delivery. Toward the end, Bella had to put the camera down and help hold my legs up to help me push harder. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t expecting to do that job, but she did it! (Remember, there are lots of surprises in childbirth!)
When the baby was crowning (head coming out), there was a moment of me thinking I can’t do it. I even cried out, “God please help me, I can’t do it!” My husband had his head buried in my chest so tight and he cried too, but he kept repeating, “You can do it!” I used every bit of energy in my body for one last push and out came Baby Zane at 1:27 a.m.!
The nurse put him on my chest immediately, so I could have skin to skin contact. I just gazed into his sweet eyes, overwhelmed by the miracle that just had happened. I thought everything was over and I asked the doctor if I could put my legs down from the stirrups. He said he still had to sew me up. (Another, first time mommy mistake. I hadn’t thought about that part.)
Baby Zane came so fast on my last push that my doctor didn’t have time to give me an episiotomy (a cut made during delivery to help with the delivery). I had what is considered a fourth degree laceration, which basically means I had a lot of stitches. It took my doctor more than two hours to sew me up. He used eight packs of stitches (one pack can usually give fifteen stitches so that’s about 120 stitches ?). I was told it was more than someone who has a caesarian section delivery (typically five packs), but, praise God, I was busy staring at my new baby while all this went on.
All of my family were waiting outside the room to see baby Zane. Around 2:00 a.m. John Reed took Zane out to meet them. I was still in the room being worked on until 3:30 a.m. but I could hear everyone talking about how cute he was.
But the night wasn’t over. We got into a room around 4:00 in the morning. I decided to try to go to the bathroom. I remember waking up to three nurses holding me up because I had passed out from the pain and blood loss. They got me back in bed and I thought I could finally sleep.
But, around 5:30 a.m., the hospital fire alarm went off. I jumped up from the bed. Even though I could barely move, I was ready to run to get my baby. I don’t know why, but the first thing John Reed and I thought of was someone was trying to steal our baby ??I guess our parent instincts had already kicked in. My husband rushed to the nursery to see if everything was okay. It turned out a kid had pulled the alarm. Our baby was fine. He was sound asleep in the nursery.
After that traumatic delivery, I thought I would never want to go through a delivery again. But it’s crazy how strong we women are, physically and mentally. As I am writing this birth story, four months later, I am surprised how I have forgotten the pain. All I see now is the joy this little life has brought to our lives. I don’t think about not being able sit, walk, or even use the bathroom for weeks. I don’t think about the times I laid on the floor of the shower letting the water run over my body, crying and praying that the pain would go away. I don’t dwell on the sleepless nights and the exhaustion of caring for a newborn.
I think God places a special gift of courage in our heart to handle every experience we don’t think we can get through. For me, the gift of courage came because of my son. Through him, I don’t just have the joy and love he brings me, I also learned that I am strong, brave and resilient.
And, I know I can do it again. Because it will be worth it. It was the most beautiful, miraculous moment I could ever endure, and I am so thankful I was given the opportunity to become a mother.
God gave us the ultimate gift–our Baby Zane.
Rebecca was born in Portland, OR but grew up in Taiwan and she join the Robertson family at the age of 16. She is the oldest kid of Willie & Korie Robertson. Rebecca graduated from LSU with a degree in fashion design, merchandising & textile Science. She is married to husband John reed Loflin & together have a son, Zane Israel. They reside in Monroe, Louisiana.
Follow Rebecca on Instagram @rebeccalorobertson
It was September 15, 2017, and I woke with great anticipation, not only because I had my freshly baked eight-week-old boy Leo to gaze at, but also because it was my ten year “Bonus Life” anniversary.
Let me explain. Before marrying my sweet husband and long before adding our three boys to our tribe, my life changed when I was eighteen. I was diagnosed with a rare disease called Lemierre’s syndrome that almost took my life. Jesus became a real person at my hospital bedside during that journey, and I would have never expected that the faith that carried me through that nightmare would replay on this day—exactly ten years later.
My day at home went on as “normal” and coffee was consumed in large quantities, as usual. You see, we live on an old farm and there is always something to do outside, so we all enjoy time together working on the property: kids pulling weeds (and also pulling worms) and dogs running and playing. That day, my husband, Luke, was mowing our large farm yard.
The first miracle of the day was that I got all three boys down for a nap at the same time. (I can hear all the mothers shout “Amen!” from here.) I quickly grabbed a mug of coffee and my book while making my way out to the swing on our outside porch with the boys’ room monitors within earshot. I began to read a page and my vision kept blurring. Weird. I tried to read the same line again and I couldn’t focus. Instead, I heard the Lord say to me: “Go check on Leo, and don’t believe what you are about to see.”
As you can imagine, at this point I’m running to his room where I find him face down, gray, cold, and with blood on his face. A million things seem to run through my mind, and I scream, “No, No, No, No!! I’m NOT burying my child!”
I ran outside to find that Luke was still mowing. He greeted me with his usual kind smile, but quickly looked down to see I was carrying our limp, lifeless baby Leo. Luke jumped off the mower and quickly called 9-1-1. I placed Leo on the ground while deep guttural screams came straight from my shattered heart. I tried what I know of CPR on Leo’s sunken chest. With his blood on my face from mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, I looked into Leo’s once-sparkling eyes which were now foggy and empty. I laid hands on him and pleadingly prayed, “In the name of Jesus, bring back my baby. By the blood of Jesus, raise him to life!”
Luke looked at Leo and then at me as he was still on the phone with 9-1-1, and shook his head, saying, “Oh, Courtney.” We both felt intense surrender.
My hands fell off Leo, and I said in a whisper, “Jesus, only you can do this. Only you can bring back my baby.”
Suddenly, Leo’s chest expanded, his eyes started twinkling and he gave out the most glorious cry!
I can’t describe to you exactly what I felt in this moment, but it was somewhat of a combination of shock, awe, and complete glory. To everyone’s confusion and surprise, Luke shouted to the first responder on the phone, “He’s alive!” What I remember next was a blur of the police and ambulance arriving, and Leo and I being whisked away in the ambulance. I hadn’t even thought about why or how this happened. All I knew was that my baby was dead and now he is alive.
We arrived at the hospital and in the frenzy of the emergency room, the hospital staff began running all sorts of tests—all with very scary definitions attached to them. When one of the many specialists came in, she felt around his skull and looked at me, saying, “You know that his skull is fused shut, right?” I literally lost my breath.
They found that Leo had craniosynostosis. That is where the cranial sutures fuse too early, causing problems with normal brain and skull growth, resulting in his case of sagittal craniosynostosis. In short, his head was misshapen, resembling a football while protruding in the front and being super heavy in the back. He would need skull reconstruction surgery.
In the end, the medical team labeled his case “near-SIDS” and discussed how his skull shape made the back of his head so heavy. In a perfect-storm scenario (and ultimate nightmare for us), this combination of issues led the doctors to believe that Leo rolled, got stuck, and suffocated.
I can’t begin to explain how our hearts were simultaneously wrecked with joy watching our son come back to life while also being utterly broken by all of this new information. I went from immense thanksgiving of celebrating Leo’s life to flashbacks of the extreme trauma of holding him—dead and lifeless—in my arms.
For almost everyone, the greatest fear we face in this life is death—death of a loved one, death of a child, and, even for believers, our eventual leaving this body and earth.
For me personally, I’ve navigated my own brush with death and glaring “stare down” with mortality ten years ago, then walked alongside my husband, Luke, who experienced his own life-threatening illness approximately six years ago, and then this with Leo.
As a result of those experiences, I lived many years with the controlling and life-sucking spirit of fear; my mind being overtaken with anxiety.
But here’s what I’ve learned: Not only does fear breed death, it also steals my joy, robs me of being present in the here and now, and confiscates “acres” of my mind that were made to flourish and dwell on the truth. (Philippians 4:8)
One day when I was heavily locked up in fear, a mentor friend of mine lovingly, yet simply said to me, “Fear is a spirit, but that spirit is under the foot of Jesus, and Jesus lives in you.”
Well, Boom. Truth bomb right there!
Something that has radically altered my life is believing the truth that when God sees me, he sees his Son. I am covered by his finished work, which means I’m no longer a slave to flesh or to any of the enemy’s ideas.
“Death is swallowed up by a triumphant victory! So, death, tell me, where is your victory? Tell me death, where is your sting? It is sin that gives death its sting and the law that gives sin its power. But we thank God for giving us the victory as conquerors through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. So now, beloved ones, stand firm, stable and enduring. Live your lives with an unshakeable confidence.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-58
My greatest fear happened that day in September. The enemy meant to kill, but, instead, what died was my fear. That doesn’t mean I never worry or that I never feel afraid; it now means worry and fear simply won’t rule over me—that the victory has been won, that my mind is precious soil for seeds of faith to be planted and to grow.
I know many of you beautiful souls reading this have experienced unspeakable pain and loss, paralyzing and unrelenting anxiety, or soul-gripping and joy-stealing fear—heartaches and setbacks you aren’t sure where to shelve.
Yet, as we near Mother’s Day, I believe this can be a time to confidently and courageously reflect on our roles as moms, of the children we’ve been entrusted with, children we’ve lost, and children we still hope for.
Here’s my hope for you and for me: May we go through our busy, full days with unshakeable confidence, imparting faith—not fear—to our children and then on to our children’s children and generations to come.
Courtney Smallbone is a storyteller and guest speaker who shares her heart-birthed, personal God stories so that people from all walks of life can thrive in their immovable identity in Christ. Her stories reflect the truth that God is still alive and working in today’s world, and she encourages everyone to live their lives intentionally and confidently—motivated by love, not fear. As wife to Christian music artist Luke of “for KING & COUNTRY” and mom to her three laughter-inducing boys Jude, Phoenix and Leo, Courtney embraces her “confetti” life, stomps out fear, and welcomes the adventure set before her while enjoying her rural country home life and traveling on the road.