Rosie Grace

I lay there in darkness and silence.Knit together. Designed with intention. The unfolding and curling and swirling within responded. Our child, purposed and adored from the start. Fearfully and wonderfully made. Hand fashioned. A story already written, yet to be read. Her own from the beginning.

How could it have been ten months ago that I had woken to read and a verse not even originally intended had spoken to me upon first glance on the page, it was as if my eyes had been placed there.

"Woman, you are pregnant...."  It read. I stopped. Counted. Froze. And knew. It wasn't our plan, but instantaneously I knew we would be seven.

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Minutes later, proof in hand, sliding to the floor against the wall, my knees were backed up and pressed against the abdomen I knew was no longer just my own.

Skies spin their dance Within Your breath Time runs it's race Within Your hand And my mind runs wild To comprehend What no mind on earth Could understand*

I called Chris, my best friend, my partner, my teammate. He was on his way home and spring weather I knew would be inspiring a to do list to accomplish in the last hours of sunlight.

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"Honey, let's just go for a walk together tonight."

It wasn't unusual, the sidewalk turns knew our noisy bunch well and were therapeutic cures and prevention of nearly every ailment.

"We just have so much to be thankful for, let's pray together while we walk and talk." Secretly, I was trembling. To raise five children, the sacrifice, the weight, the meaning, it's immense.

Behold children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them. He will not be put to shame.**

We walked a few steps and I started my story over the crunch of acorns, between the corral of the four we had assumed would be the fullness of our quiver.

"I started reading this morning...spent some time praying, and stumbled accidentally across this verse..." And I repeated it.

"Woman, you are pregnant."

He stopped. My heart did too.

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"Are you telling me what I think you're telling me?"

I didn't answer but smiled, joy bubbling faith past doubt.

Your ways are higher, your thoughts ways are wilder, love came like madness, poured out in blood washed romance, it makes no sense but this is grace. I know you're with me in this place, here, now. All I know is that you are here now. Still my heart, let your voice be all I hear now.*

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Wrapping his arms around me, laughter sang his faith. We would do this together, not just together but with our Father who rejoiced over us in song.

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It was now thirty nine weeks of carrying our gifted surprise, this child would be the gender tie breaker of the home.

I had spent the day with a friend. She emptied my dishwasher, wiped down my floors and I held her baby. And between the noise of littles at our feet, we retold birth stories and strategized mothering. She knew what I had been holding inside.

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She knew I'd spent much of this pregnancy in the shadows of doubt. More deeply aware of my inadequacy.

And yet, as Ann Voskamp has said, “what matters is never what isn't.”

Every great thing in the words that hold my heart was accomplished by someone who before their encounter with grace was defined by incapability.

The smallest, the stutterer, the barren, they all bore rich fruit of the Great Gardener.

I told her then I felt the shift within and believed the work was, both spirit and body, beginning.

The good friend she is, she spoke life and strength and belief into me.

"have you not known? Have you not heard? The lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He does not grow faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength."***

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The afternoon came and I called my love, wondered his plans as what I was feeling was continuing, shifting within, deepening, widening, fire settling a little further with short minutes between.

“I’m getting pretty uncomfortable, hun.”

He said he’d work towards finishing up.

The afternoon continued and the work of a mother is never done.

The hampers and dryer were full and four rumbling tummies needed dinner.

I turned on music, swayed with pauses as I felt the waves swelling.

Soon I needed more, turned on music while we all went about our routine.

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You are my strength and comfort You are my steady hand You are my firm foundation; the rock on which I stand Your ways are always higher Your plans are always good There’s not a place where I’ll go, You’ve not already stood****

I saw my son’s lips move as he moved passed me, kissed his forehead as he murmured the lyrics I’ve played so many times.

I tucked this away to remember, a reminder of how whateverI’m surrounding them with in each moment will be shaping, teaching them in each moment.

What a joyous responsibility.

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I called my love again, asked him plainly to come home. The work was getting hard, and I needed more time to focus. He knew the tone in my voice, said he would leave and be home as soon as possible. I was stepping away from the children more often now but my girls followed me. My oldest had watched my husband relieve pain the past ten months, studied his hands, his care, his tenderness.

rosiegracebirth_0008Without a word, she joined me in silence, her innocent hands stroking along my spine. She’s been a nurturer from the start. Soon, her little sister, now my middle daughter, joined her. Small feet stood next to me, tiny hands reaching as high as they could, gingerly at first, patting with a restrained gentleness I knew took specific intention with the enthusiasm she’s been born with. My girls. My little women. They’ll care for so many someday. It was just dark now and my husband walked in. When I met him, fell in love with him at nineteen, I could have never dreamed the maturity, the sacrifice, he would embody. He was ready for work. Taking one look at me, my hands folded behind my back, swaying, “What can I do?” Though we struggle to find the same page, the same book, the same library as we so often joke, we were ready to be a team.

rosiegracebirth_0007“Can you take care of the children? I’m not sure, but I think this is it.”

He took over from there.

The next couple hours were spent separately in preparations. Gathering, packing, kissing good night, it kept us busy while I timed, breathing through the work that would bring our daughter into the world. Contractions were about three minutes apart and had been for awhile. It was the swiftest labor had ever come on for me.

Night began. The work continued. With the short amount of rest between contractions, we decided it was best to head to our midwife.

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Every step brought a contraction and sitting was impossible. Each moment that passed I turned more inward as I hunched in the car backwards, knees on the floor, head in hands in the seat. Parking and arriving, I assured the nurse I wasn’t going to have the baby in the hallway, but he didn’t believe me. Following me up each step, he’d ask me with each stop to work through a contraction if I was going to have the baby. After birthing four babies, I’ll tell you, it’s not time yet. He still didn’t believe me, and it was a long walk. Contractions were a minute apart the whole way. But, one step at a time, stopping and swaying and trying again, we made it.

rosiegracebirth_0013Only at a 4 when we arrived. I struggled not to be crushed. I knew how much that meant ahead. I had been at a 4 every time I had arrived at the hospital with my other children, but never had the intensity been this strong, the rest so little between. This one we love so individually, she’d have her own story from the beginning. It took forever to be able to get settled. Technicalities, signatures and assurances, heartbeats monitored and our sweet babe was sleepy within. I kept my head down while they arranged around me.

rosiegracebirth_0014Finally, I was able to move, to find my place of comforting focus as Chris turned on our music.

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Cause I know that You are here now Heart and soul God I know that You are here now Fix my eyes On the things that I can't see now And all I see Is the glory of Your Name*

I sunk down in warm water. It lapped at my knees, swirled over my chest, rippled out from my belly bobbing above. My legs floated, as the tightening would swell, warmth building fire, pulling down and out, I sank lower, letting it settle, surrendering.

Time was nonexistent.

Darkness, silence were the hold of focus as I then closed my eyes until I saw her face.

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Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.*****

Finally I needed to move, needed to breathe more freely but sitting was agony and standing brought relentless contractions with no break between.

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My fight or flight response was on the horizon. I swayed for awhile as they checked on our sweet love again. The self-doubt was beginning.

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Would this really all be worth it? It didn’t feel like it anymore. I rocked and leaned back, felt my husband’s arms around me, felt his strong hands against me, his face, his breath. He and I, created to be together, to be one, had created together, had created one.

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Our family, our tribe. We were bringing our child into the us who, even unknown, loved her already.

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Behold the Lord God comes with might... He will tend his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms; He will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.******

Just in time, they checked again. I was at a nine.

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“You’re almost there. You’ll have a baby soon. You let us know when.” “Are you sure? Are you lying to me? Are you sure?” My mind was spinning.

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“You’ll have a baby soon.” They told me again. I told them to stop. I didn’t want to hear it. I couldn’t be counting the minutes, couldn’t think it was almost there when I knew there was still work to be done.

You unravel me, with a melody You surround me with a song Of deliverance, from my enemies Till all my fears are gone*******

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My sisters had arrived they told me. Did I want them in? Yes. Yes, oh yes. My best friends. They’re everything to me. Their own bellies swollen with my nephew and my niece, such joy was ours. Their births were just days ahead for one, a handful of weeks for the other.

From my mother’s womb You have chosen me Love has called my name I've been born again, into your family Your blood flows through my veins*******

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I never once felt alone because I wasn't. Divine presence with skin on, embodied by those who love me most, I was surrounded. My husband, my friend, my comfort, was relentless in his encouragement, his gentle words, the strength against my back.

rosiegracebirth_0024 My sisters, though they never spoke a word, I could feel them there, their tears, their adoration, they were for me. And the prayers of those at home, loving me in the night, waiting for the news of the one we were working for, they carried me.

You split the sea So I could walk right through it All my fears were drowned in perfect love You rescued me So I could stand and sing I am child of God…*******

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Then, it was time. And it took my breath away. This awesome gift, this unparalleled privilege of carrying and bearing, bringing life forth, the time was now and needed all. No words, just exhaling everything in loudness.

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Every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain and hill made low; the uneven ground shall become level and the rough placed a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed...********

They held our child up, so perfectly designed and knitted, a story already written, one we can't wait to witness. “Well, Daddy, what do you have?” His surprise, his joy poured out in laughter, “We have another little girl!”

rosiegracebirth_0029 She was here. The waiting, the enduring, it all fades so quickly, metamorphosed into pure delight.

“Well, what's her name?” I smile to myself at the foreshadowing the year’s held - we’ve heard the whispers of this word, grace, throughout the ugliness and forgiveness of our daily humanity. We’ve asked for it, we’ve relied on it, we’ve prayed for it, we’ve needed it, and, to raise these five children, our tribe, our legacy, oh, how we’ll need it.

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I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valley. Song of Solomon 2:1

In this book of romance and passion, a woman of humble, unrecognized background stands before her bridegroom. And even in the presence of his might, his power, his royalty, she declares with secured confidence her identity of fullest worth and unparalleled beauty. I am a rose. I am the fairest flower. I am chosen, I am wanted, I am adored. This unashamed, unabated boldness, how can this be?

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But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us... made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved... so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God... Ephesians 2:4-9

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Grace.

rosiegracebirth_0031 Unmerited deliverance. Undeserved favor.

rosiegracebirth_0034Grace makes it possible.

rosiegracebirth_0054Grace makes it all possible.

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rosiegracebirth_0041And, this amazing grace is ours.

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You are our fairest flower, our undeserved gift, our love, sweet daughter.

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rosiegracebirth_0044 Rosie Grace French 12.10.15 12:46am

See Rosie's birth story film from The Grays Photography below.

The Birth of Rosie Grace from Briana on Vimeo.

Thanks to our dear friend Briana Gray of The Grays Photos for the beautiful, perfect documentation of our sweet love Lucy and now Rosie's birth day. Your friendship means the world, and your talent is humbling.

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*”Here Now” Hillsong **Psalm 127:3 ***Isaiah 40:28-29 ****”Trust in You” Lauren Daigle *****Psalm 139:12 ******Isaiah 40:10-11 *******”No Longer Slaves” Bethel Music ********Isaiah 40:4-5

Read the rest of our story as our family of seven met here.

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