The Time Has Now Come

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” (Eph. 6:10)

It has been exactly 11 years since Todd and I traveled to Orlando, Florida, to attend our Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth training. Back in 2003, four children made up our family, and Ben was a mere four months old when we left them in the brave yet capable hands of my parents in our absence. For reference, while we were gone, our country invaded Iraq. Bradley sessions ran from early in the morning to late at night, causing me to miss my beloved March Madness, and in an era before texting and cell phones (at least for us), Todd would come down to the sessions and give me updates about the upsets and bracket busters of the year. In other words, it feels like it was a long, long time ago.

Even before attending the training, I was so excited to embark on a new adventure of teaching this childbirth preparation method that had revolutionized our own thinking about pregnancy, labor, and birth. Bradley made sense to us, and absolutely brought Todd and I together as a couple during our pregnancies and births. I couldn’t help but want to share that knowledge and enthusiasm about birth with other pregnant couples, and this opportunity was perfect for us. Throughout the four day training, I grew even more fired up about teaching, and exited our time provisionally certified as an instructor and ready to get started.

Bradley was the perfect “job” for me at the time: I had the chance to teach something I was strongly passionate about, yet it allowed me to stay home and focus on our young family. We met so many people from various walks of life who ended up blessing me many times in more ways than I felt I did them. On the practical side, every week we were forced to clean our house–at least the part my students walked through–and all the kids knew that “class day” meant a little extra work. A girl we barely knew beforehand became not only our weekly babysitter, but also a lifelong friend in the process. My kids quickly came to love Lynsay and the time they got to spend with her at least once a week.

When I began teaching in April of 2003, with a class of three couples, I could not have imagined how successful our venture would be. With the help of a local maternity fair, my second class was a full seven couples, and from then on I had classes running almost continuously. While tremendously nervous at first to run my own class (“how am I going to fill TWO HOURS with material?!”), the flow of the course and the interest of the students soon took away any nerves I may have had. I loved teaching Bradley. Throughout the course of my tenure as an instructor, I also became a certified doula and had the absolute honor of attending just over 30 births. We welcomed two of our own children during that time too, and had the opportunity to share our pregnancies with other couples due around the same time. After teaching for a short while, I was grateful to have word of mouth as the most effective means of marketing my classes. What better way to attract students than from the recommendation of satisfied past couples? I have always been humbled to receive each and every reference. I could not have imagined ever wanting to quit teaching. Even with the frustrations I may have had with my parent organization, the benefits always seemed to outweigh the risks and it was worth it.

Slowly, however, my heart started to move away from the weekly sessions. Without ever having a break (and sometimes taking on two classes simultaneously), I think a bit of burn out may have begun to creep into my classes. While I still enjoyed actually teaching each class and loved being with the couples, my prep time became a tad tedious and my heart wasn’t in it as much. With an active birthing community in our area, it was obvious that I couldn’t invest the time necessary to keep up the PR side of birth advocacy so my classes were as cutting edge as they could be. In addition, our family was just getting older and moving into directions outside the house: sports, church, and other activities such as teaching math beyond simple addition required more of me. At the same time, over the next few years our family also became increasingly more involved in our new homeschool group, Classical Conversations. CC was, and continues to be, the perfect fit for our family, and it has proven to be exactly what Todd and I desired for our homeschool–a truly Christian classical education. Still, I was not ready to give up my classes.

When the current director of our CC group approached me about considering the position of director a few years ago, I remember her email clearly. It was written in sort of a half-joking, half-serious tone, as if to test the waters. I can only imagine: had a I scoffed at it, that door would have been closed. I surprised myself when my reaction was not an immediate and resounding “HECK NO!” That still seems insane to me–both that she would think me able and that I would even entertain the idea. But I think that’s how God works on our hearts, and when He calls someone to a job or a mission or a position, He can work miracles in preparing both the heart and mind for something seemingly crazy…even if it takes time to come to fruition.

Over the next couple of years, the director and I began talking more seriously about a transition and whether or not I was serious about pursuing it. At every opportunity, she gave me the gracious chance to back out if either Todd or I felt that it was NOT the direction we felt led to go. During that time, I prayed. A lot. Was I crazy? Was I just flattered that she chose *me* to lead and not really looking soberly at what exactly I would be getting myself into? Were we both insane to think I could handle everything that the job would entail? The more I thought and prayed about it, the more I felt that it was the right direction and the right position to pursue. In our many conversations, I came to see that I was not chosen by the director to be flattered, but through her prayerful consideration and leading. And, as I have seen more and more the older I get, God equips those He calls.

I do not, even for a moment, think that I could perform this job by my own strength, wisdom, or abilities. As I prepare to step into the role of director of our established and large group, I would be lying if I said that I’m confident that I can do it all. There are so many areas that I have already listed as prayer concerns, but even so, I’m sure of this: “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:17) While I will be responsible for the group and its workings, I know that we are in His hands. As highly as I regard the outgoing director (and, in the course of learning more about everything she has done for our group, that regard and respect has skyrocketed), I realize that her successes did not come from her own abilities either. Through her humble and able leadership, each of us in CC has been blessed beyond measure and pointed to the One who gives all strength and ability. I am so thankful that she is not leaving us, but simply transitioning to another role in our group. She will most likely hear from me a great deal over the next year. In fact, I would venture to say she might be a little frightened if she didn’t hear from me on a regular basis looking for counsel!

This past Wednesday night, I signed the contract for next year, making my position as the new director of our campus official. As I scrolled through the contract, initialing as I proceeded, the reality of the new role began to truly sink in (though I think it will continue to do so as I start walking out my duties!). While many may consider me crazy to even consider this job, I am so happy to be excited to embark on this next adventure. That anticipation can only come from God! Will there be many sacrifices required? Absolutely. I’d like to think that when it comes to work and doing hard things, however, I am not one to shrink away (well, not usually….). Do many, many other people do much more than I am undertaking? You betcha. Will it be a family effort? Yes, yes, and yes. Thankfully, I have Todd’s support, or I know it would be foolish to undertake this venture. I do not think my family yet appreciates how much they will be called upon to help me. Hopefully, along the way, they will learn the invaluable lesson that “hard work done well feels good.”

Perhaps most important, I see my new role through the eyes of a servant. I hope that I can humbly serve our CC group in such a way that the purpose is protected and can continue to grow and flourish in everything we do. It is not for my own glory, but for His, and for the benefit of the entire group, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil 2:4) One of the greatest blessings of our group is that everyone works together to make the machine run smoothly. I categorically appreciate that willingness to work and will no doubt call upon it continuously. Throughout my willingness to serve, I also ask for grace from my community as I navigate these uncharted waters and learn the ropes of directing. I am clinging to Romans 12 as I look ahead to the year ahead:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12: 1-8)

In order to accept this more time-consuming role, I have had to learn to say no to other opportunities, and the biggest one is my Bradley certification and teaching. While I will miss it immeasurably–and hung on to the notion of continuing my classes longer than I should have–I can finally say that the time is right to walk away. Through the ten years I officially taught childbirth classes, it was my honor to teach over 196 couples. Many of them still keep in touch with me, and countless others I call close friends in this journey of life. I will forever treasure my time with Bradley, but now know that it is time to move on.

To new beginnings, to doors that have been opened as well as those that are now closed, and to what adventures, challenges, and successes stretch before us, I can only say that I’m grateful for the opportunity, I’m ready, and I will “do [my] best to present [my]self to God as one approved, [a] a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)

And I’m armed with coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

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