The Body & the Bread (a birth story) 

2pm- I had just left work and texted my husband a cryptic little message, “today’s the day”. He knew what I meant. Frantically he called me, “are you serious? like right now?”I reassured him that I wasn’t in full blown labor, but I had a feeling this baby was on his way. He took that feeling seriously and spent the evening packing bags and last minute “nesting” aka cleaning. It’s funny the things you feel must be scrubbed in those hours before delivery. 

10pm – We went to bed with no real sign of labor in sight. What felt like strong Braxton Hicks had come and gone, like many nights before. I still knew we must be close. 

1am – I was awakened by a strong contraction and felt the need to use the restroom. After nestling back under the covers, I whispered this update to my husband, when suddenly another came. 

1:12am – With nearly no warning, my water broke and I was instantly in active labor. The forceful contractions seemed to pile on top of one other, giving me no room to catch my breath. Our little boy was coming and he was coming fast. 

2am – The overnight security guard managed to help me into a wheel chair. His face is but a blur amidst the blinding pain, but I could tell he understood the sense of urgency. Wheeling me past all of the lovely mommas beautifully laboring down in triage, I continued to writhe in pain. I had plans to labor down too– exercise balls, whirlpool tubs, I had even packed mood lights, essential oils and of course, a Spotify playlist. But there was no time for these diversions. 

Within moments of arriving, I was taken to the birthing suite. I was somehow, already 9cm dilated. The nurse gave up on trying to file her paperwork and check me into the system. The look on my midwife’s face said, ‘it’s go time’. 

For 2 hours and 2 minutes I experienced the most excruciating and intense pain I can ever imagine enduring. I felt everything. Each contraction moved through me with such cruelty, that I couldn’t help but weep and cry out for help. 

I had read about back labor before. It was described somewhat sweetly as, ‘intense discomfort’, but this was much more harsh. My son was faced the wrong direction, his head pushing fiercely on my tailbone. I wasn’t sure I would be able to deliver him. 

As the pain increased, my belief decreased. I wanted to give up, I wanted to be done. I was so ashamed that I wasn’t stronger than this. I am a strong person, I thought, but I never expected it would hurt this much. 

There are two things we need when our hurt outweighs our hope and our belief begins to falter– the bread and the body. 

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” – John 6:35
Jesus, ‘the Word made flesh’ (John 1:14), is our bread, our nourishment; and that which nourishes, sustains. 

I could hear scripture being spoken over me in prayer. I needed the bread–the Word, and I needed the body–the church, my Christian community to speak it over me when I didn’t have the strength to speak it for myself. 

My midwife, my husband, and a close friend were the encouraging voices throughout this physical battle. When I screamed I can’t, they spoke you can. When the pain was too much to bear, my husband would move in closer. Pushing my back with equal intensity wherever the pain surfaced. When I found breath enough to weep, I could hear my dear friend crying out with me in prayer. 

The battles we face in this life can be completely overwhelming, but we have the Bread to sustain us and the body to surround us; to push love where the pain lies, and cry out prayers where the sorrow lives. 

And then something beautiful happened- I reached down and felt the crown of his head. A miracle of life was but a painful push away. Touching his crown gave me the last ounce of strength I needed. Sometimes we have to reach out and touch the thorn-laced crown of Jesus and remember the suffering we endure on this earth is but a glimpse of the great suffering he endured for us. 
With the last ounce of strength I had, I pushed and pushed again and pushed once more. And that quickly, he came. At 4:02am my son was born. Isaiah Harper Gurley was here. They laid him bare on my chest and I cried in utter gratitude. 


The greatest pain in our lives can bring forth the greatest joy. The seemingly impossible, the greatest miracles. The nearly hopeless, the greatest hope.         We must simply cling to the body and the bread. 

Advertisements

Prepared

The power went out yesterday. It was this crazy, unexpected storm. No rain, no thunder, just wind. Wind so strong it knocked things over, blew things away, and ultimately took out the power. A friend of mine saw a canoe blow across the main road. A canoe!?!                            As the wind rattled on, I sat in my comfortable home, but I started to feel less and less comfortable. I learned that having well water, meant having no water when the power went out. This is not a surprise you want to unveil when you go to make your screaming newborn a bottle. I went to pop a bag of popcorn, and remembered the microwave didn’t work. I wanted to work out, but couldn’t access my on demand programing, nor could I power on the blender for a post-workout shake. I thought I’d set my son in his swing because he loves how it rocks him and plays music, but it wouldn’t power on. As the house grew colder and colder and my cell battery grew smaller, I decided to leave and take a drive but my garage door wouldn’t open. How about a show on the tablet for the stir crazy toddlers? Well that would have required wi-fi. Hot shower? Not gonna happen. Wash that onesie covered in poo? Gonna have to wait!

We all know we are privileged, we know we rely on and take for granted comforts that more than half  of the world doesn’t have access to. It’s so silly to even imagine being inconvenienced by this disruption, yet it affects us. Why was I bothered by any of this, knowing my privilege and how short-lived it would be? 

I realized it had very little to do with the storm, and more to to do with my lack of preparation. 

If I had known we were going to be without power, I would have planned ahead. I would have made sure the flashlights had batteries, borrowed a generator or made plans to spend  the night at a friend’s home. I would’ve stocked up on water, and gotten out the camping stove so I could still heat food. And I definitely would have made sure we had firewood for the fireplace and pulled all of the warm blankets out from storage. 

It would have been a whole different story. But when a storm comes and we have no light, when it gets cold and we have no heat, when we’re hungry and we can’t find nourishment, or thirsty and can’t access a drink- it can feel like weight of our suffering is too much to bear. 

But as followers of Jesus, we don’t have to be unprepared. We never have to face a storm and be completely undone. The Bible promises this, “in this world we will have trouble”. We know we will experience loss, grief, trials, hardships and heartaches of all kinds. This deep suffering will sting, will hurt, will wound, but if we’re prepared, we can make it through.  

How will we be ready? How will we be prepared? We must stock up on the light that only comes by being in the presence of Jesus, the warmth of authentic Christian community, and the hunger and thirst quenching Word of God. We must be in His presence, in His nourishing  Word, and in community with His people. So not if, but when the darkness comes, we are ready. We are prepared to face the storm.

xo, Tamara 

Remember

God pressed these words on my heart to share at the IF: Local event for the Thrive Women’s Ministry of Ada Bible Church this past weekend. It was birthed out of the sorrow in my lack of remembrance of the Lord. For all of the times I haven’t trusted him, for all of the times I haven’t “needed” him, for all of the times I haven’t desired him above all else…may I always remember.

Remember
by Tamara Gurley

Where have you been?

Where in all the world have you been?

Remember the Lord?

The great and glorious one

Remember the Lord

The one who called you by name

The one who sought you when you were just a stranger

Remember the Love

The love poured out for you through nail scared hands, wounded feet, and a spear pierced side

Remember the Days

The days spent falling in love with the one who pursued your heart

This GRAND love story between a bride and her groom

You had never felt such love, you had never felt such peace, you had never felt such joy

In this broken, beat up, fallen world

You had found the love of your life

Remember the Faithfulness

He was always there

Calling your name

Waiting for you to run into his arms

As he whispered in your ear, “when you seek me, you will find me, when you seek me with all of your heart”

Remember

But where have you been?

Have you forgotten me?

What is it that draws your heart far from me?

Is it your riches? OR your wreckage?

Is it that you have enough or that I am not enough

Why have you forsaken your first love?

What Wild Gains have caused you to run far from me

What Deep Sorrows have caused you not to trust me

And what sin and what shame have caused you to HIDE your face from me

Where have you been?

When you first became my child, I loved you, I called you my daughter, but the more I called you, the further you moved from me, worshiping the things of this world, When I taught you how to walk, and I led you by the hand, but you didn’t even know, and you don’t even care. I led you. I wrapped my ropes of kindness and love around you, I lifted the yoke from your neck, I stooped down to feed you, but you refuse to return to me. (Hosea 11)

Where have you been? Remember?

But hear me oh daughters, hear me

The love of the Lord knows no bounds

The love of the Lord knows no bounds

The faithful love the Lord never ends

His mercies are new each morning

His grace is sufficient for today

He never forgets us

Never forsakes us

So come – He cries—Come

Come and bring your riches, and bring your wreckage, and bring your too much and not enough, and bring your sin and your shame and your deep sorrows and your great pain

And lay them at the foot of the cross

Lay them at the feet of Jesus, he’s waiting for you there

And remember

Remember the Lord

Remember the Love

Remember the Days

Remember the faithfulness, Remember

So when the lord calls your name, Where have you been?

May we all reply,

Right here at your feet, lord

With my eyes fixed on you

Right here, at your feet