Janny

Women, Child Birth and What it Means to be Fully Human Again

Prayer for Baby ChaseMy wife, Jan, was 8 days past her due date when the first signs of labor finally kicked in about 5am. Being past your due date is no fun (keep in mind, I’m a dude talking here, so I really have no idea how hard it really is) as you start to wonder, 1. if this little creature will actually EVER arrive and 2. if your labor will be have to be initiated by powers outside of your control, namely lots of drugs and stuff. After our first babe (Ruby) decided to make her triumphal entry on the very LAST day before we would had to make some hard choices about the road forward, we were praying baby #2 would come along a bit sooner. 

As the contractions strengthened, we celebrated that this was the real deal and Janny locked into this sacred, super-human state of focus and determination like I’ve never encountered.  

Strong. 

Steady. 

Quiet.

At peace. 

It was surreal. Of course, I was a ball of anxiety, fear and anticipation wrapped in the cloak of a “secure support partner.” About 80% of her laboring happened at home when we finally got in the car to head to the birthing center. Trying not to hit the breaks, speed without getting a ticket and keep my mouth shut, we pulled in and got all settled in for the grand arrival. 

Again, surreal. 

Confidently instructing a handful of us on how to support her, Janny was stoic. Not long after we got to the birthing center, our little Rosie arrived in my arms (quite literally!) and we snuggled as a family of four for the first time. 

As I began to process what had just unfolded in front of my eyes, I was struck by the sacredness of the whole birthing event. A women is able to grow a baby inside of her body (with a TINY bit of help from a man), have a full grown baby come out of her body and then offer it all the resources it needs…with her body. 

There is something sacred to this and I don’t think it gets celebrated or near the attention it should. 

When God created humanity, we were made in God’s image. The very nature of God was inscribed on us as God had serious plans for the role humans would play in the Creation Story. There was no sin. No fallenness. No vision for us to become subservient to the constructs that would be assembled around us. In fact, to be fully human was to be quite divine. 

Of course, we know there was a break in the Story. Selfishness, infidelity and violence started to corrupt what was originally created to be in perfect union with God. 

While our faith tradition affirms the reality of sin, it also affirms the reality of God’s image and design being central to who we are as humans. After the Reformation (think John Calvin, Martin Luther and a lot of angry church folk), this portion of our tradition didn’t get as much press, but it is just as true as ever. 

That brings me back to what I saw and experienced in that birthing center. I got a glimpse into a rightly ordered creation. I saw -- quite tangibly -- the way God created us to function…and it was remarkable. It was worship. It was a reminder that the God who created us hasn’t given up on us. No, in fact, he is still very much with us, we just need to have the eyes to see it.

One of our dear friends and neighbors is a couple weeks out from her due date. After losing her first baby a few months into her pregnancy, these moments leading up to arrival seem a little extra sacred. Having lost our first baby at 5 months along, Janny understands the mental, emotional and spiritual weight of carrying a baby to term after such a tragedy. 

As such, Janny transformed our upstairs bedroom into a little haven of blessing, encouragement and renewal. With candles lit and soft music streaming quietly through the space, she invited this woman over for a facial. Having gotten her friend settled into this space, Janny started to reveal a series of surprises that turned an ordinary facial into an experience with the divine. 

One of our other friends came in the room with her harp and began to play next to the bed. Then, one-by-one, women from our faith community came into the room and offered blessings over mom and baby. Instead of leaving after their blessing, most stayed and began massaging her feet and arms and belly. 

Tears were shed, burdens were carried together and the hope of new life became palpable. 

I often talk about the idea of a thin place; a physical space where heaven and earth seem to collide. A place where God’s kingdom is made real.

In this instance, it was a place where we got a glimpse into what it means to be fully human again. A place where God’s intended design actually came about. 

In a world where heroism, success and order are most often defined by men projecting their insecurities on society, I thank God for women. And for far more than childbirth (that just happens to be what deeply moved me recently).

For their leadership.

For their compassion.

For the way they show us what sacrificial love actually looks like.

For the way they guide us to the stuff that actually matters most.

For they remind us that rightly ordered humanity isn’t about who holds the most power, but who is most willing to give it away for the sake of another.

Because, for me, women show us how to be fully human again. 

Join Me In Offering A Community Blessing Over Janny For Her 30th!

JannyOne of the beautiful things about arriving at one of life’s significant markers is the opportunity it creates for loved ones to gather around and share a blessing over the life that has been lived and the life they see unfolding into the future.  

My wife, Jan (or Janny), turns 30 years old today and I want to create a space to offer her blessings, encouragement and/or prayers over her past, present and/or future.  

Will you join me?!?!

Post your note in the comments section below and I will be gathering them all to include in a physical book (thank you, Shutterfly!) to give her as a reminder of who she is and what she means to those who love her most.  

Thanks so much for jumping in!  I’ll start…

Janny, you turn 30 years old today and I’ve had the honor of walking alongside of you for almost half of it! Having been given a birds eye view of your remarkable life, I have been gifted with the honor of learning from your selflessness, guided by your wisdom and entertained by you humor.  You have taught me what it looks like to live fully into the person God has created me to be free of concerns around building reputation, appearance or success on any scale other than that of faithfulness, selfless love and Kingdom calling.  You teach me how the heck to be a decent parent and have grace on me as I learn to love you better.  It will be an honor to share the next 30 years of life walking hand in hand with you into whatever kind of crazy adventurous lay in front of us.  

Top 5 Reasons Why I Hope Janny Will Be My Valentine

10+ years ago I saw an incredibly attractive woman standing in the popcorn line at the movie theater. Four years later that same woman became my wife and six years after that she became the mother of our baby girl, Ruby.

Today is Valentine’s Day, yet I write this in a small hotel room on the border of Kansas and Nebraska as just two days ago Janny sat next to her Grandpa as he passed away.  We once again live in the tension of life and death while embracing an Entangled Theology (see last weeks’ posts).

In the midst of the pain, I want to write why my wife is awesome. Our relationship has had lots of pain and lots of joy, so it just makes sense that (even amidst pain) I reflect on the joy you have brought me and so many others.

Janny, you are awesome and here are the top 5 reasons why:

1. You’re Hot

(forgive the Junior Higher in me, but I’m your husband and it’s Valentine’s Day…I can say that!)

2. You’re super quick witted and funny

As much as I like to think I’m the funny guy, we all know you are the one carrying the goods of quick witted humor in this relationship. Even when it might not be completely appropriate, you still throw it out there…and I love that.

3. You’re the best travel partner a man could ask for

Travel has been less of vacation and more of a pilgrimage in our relationship.  It has shaped our worldview, given us the opportunity to see God’s Kingdom breaking through in contexts we would otherwise never imagine and allowed us to spend ridiculous amounts of time together.  How many women would turn in their wardrobe and comfort in exchange for 1 backpack and no guarantees on where we would sleep the next night?  I loved all of the 30ish countries we have wandered through, but most of all I loved wandering through them hand in hand with you (except Morocco where that wasn’t allowed!).

4. Family

I am humbled and honored by the value you put on family.  From loving both of our children through joy and tears to caring selflessly for my grandma when she has been at her worst, you embody selfless love and commitment.  Relational health among our families is in large part due to your leading me by example.

5. Lead the way in living out Jesus’ call on our lives

Setting aside financial and physical security to continually live into Jesus’ call on our lives is no easy task, yet it is one that you have willingly chosen to participate and raise our family within.  For you, following Jesus is not simply a title, one-time decision or about saying the right things.  Instead, you follow Jesus in all aspects of your life and invite others to do the same.

Bonus: You put up with me and keep me in line! Well, you try…

Cheers to my wife, Janny.  You are freaking awesome.  I’m looking forward to another 10+ years and another 10+ years after that.

With all that being said, will you be my Valentine?

P.S. Many of you who read this know Janny.  Jump in and tell her why she is awesome!

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