The Witch in My Family Tree

June 24, 2015 at 7:38 pm

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. -James 1:27

When I was about ten years old, my stepmom, eager to share her love of literature, gave me a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (1959 Newbery Medal winner). It has remained one of my favorite books ever since. Something about the story and its characters has always called to me on a deep level.

witchofblackbirdpondHannah Tupper, one of the book’s main characters, is an elderly Quaker widow who has been ostracized and rumored to be a witch by the Puritan community she lives among. Toward the end of the book, the townspeople, looking for someone to blame for a fever outbreak, come after Hannah, intent on harm. I won’t spoil any more details, but it’s a beautiful book that I highly recommend.

Around the same time I received the book, we went with my stepmom and dad to visit the Salem Witch Museum. I remember standing in a dark room with period-costumed mannequins where a loud speaker told the stories of some of the women and girls who had been killed for supposed witchcraft. All of this talk about “real” witches was new to me.

Several weeks ago I learned something about my family history that helped me understand perhaps why The Witch of Blackbird Pond had struck a chord in my soul. I am a direct descendant of Margaret Stephenson Scott, hanged as a witch in the Salem Witch Trials on September 22, 1692. Margaret Scott was my 9th great-grandmother on my mother’s side.

Dear Midwives

May 5, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Today, on International Day of the Midwife, I want to pay tribute to the midwives of the world, past, present, and future. I will begin with two of my favorite midwives of all time. Puah and Shiphrah.

midwives
Here is their story as told in the Bible in the first chapter of Exodus (KJV):

Book Review: Walking with the Women of the New Testament

December 14, 2014 at 11:53 pm

In October I received a free review copy (from Cedar Fort Publishing) of the book Walking with the Women of the New Testament, by Heather Farrell ( beautiful art by Mandy Jane Williams). I knew right off the bat that my review would be biased. Heather Farrell and I, along with Felice Austin, Robyn Allgood, and Sheridan Ripley, co-wrote The Gift of Giving Life from 2009 until it was published in 2012.

Meeting in-person for the first time in summer of 2010

Meeting in-person for the first time in summer of 2010

I found Heather’s blog Women in the Scriptures back in 2009 doing an internet search about Eve. After clicking around on her blog and devouring a bunch of her posts, I told Felice, “We need her!” Not long after that, we invited her to join with us in writing The Gift of Giving Life. Over the course of the project, we eventually all met in person. I adore Heather Farrell.

4 Great Reasons to Hire a Doula

January 16, 2014 at 7:33 pm

I wish every laboring woman could have a doula’s support.  Here are four great reasons why…

1) Doulas are nothing new.

A lot of people, when they first hear about doulas, think… oh, that’s new. But it’s not at all. For thousands and thousands of years women have been supported by other women during childbirth. We watched an awesome film at our doula training called “The Timeless Way” which showed the history of childbirth starting with ancient artifacts and moving to more modern depictions. I was struck how the very same image was represented through sculpture, wall carvings, pottery, and art over and over and over again. It is the “classic birth triad”—an upright laboring woman supported from behind by another woman, with a midwife in front ready to catch the baby. It has only been in the last century that this “classic birth triad” has all but disappeared. Doulas are not new. Modern obstetric practice is what has strayed (very far, I might add) from the time-tested norm.

Midwives Save Lives

May 22, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Midwives have been saving mothers and babies for thousands of years. Long before the words “hospital” and “obstetrician” even existed, midwives were passing down the skills and wisdom of their wise women, nurturing mothers and babies into life.

In one of humanity’s oldest and most well-read stories, midwives were saving lives. The first chapter of Exodus tells of two midwives (Puah and Shiphrah) who saved countless lives through their courage and compassion. When Pharaoh demanded that they kill all the male babies born to the Hebrew women in slavery, Puah and Shiphrah saved the boys instead. It is likely thanks to them that anyone knows and reveres the name of Moses. Midwives save lives.

My own faith’s history claims many brave midwives. In the late 1800’s, Emma Andersen Liljenquist attended a course in midwifery after Mormon church president Brigham Young had urged many women to receive medical training to meet the needs of the Utah’s growing families. (You can read more about Utah’s midwifery history here.) Emma recorded these experiences from her years as a midwife among Utah’s early settlers:

Healing Traumatized Genes

May 2, 2013 at 5:04 am

So I’ve been kind of obsessed with near-death experience accounts lately. My Grandma (a.k.a. primary-caregiver for most of my childhood) passed away last year. Her loss was pretty earth-shattering to my soul, and part of me was absolutely terrified: “What if everything I’ve ever believed all of my life is false? What if she ceased to exist? What if I never see her again?” So grief books and near-death accounts (among other things) have been instrumental in helping me to hold onto hope and faith that she most definitely does still exist, and I most definitely will see her again.

Yesterday I finished reading the bestseller Embraced By the Light by Betty J. Eadie. I found it for 99 cents at Goodwill last month and threw it in my cart. I’m pretty sure I read it back in the 90’s when she originally published it, but it was a whole lot more impactful now. I really loved her near-death story for so many reasons. Here are some of my not-really-death-related favorite quotes:

  • “I came to know that each of my children was on earth for their own experiences, that although I had thought of them as ‘mine,’ I had been mistaken. They were individual spirits, like myself, with an intelligence that was developed before their lives on earth. . . . They had only been placed in my care” (p. 35).
  • “I heard a soft, pleasant sound . . . . It was a tone similar to a note of music, but was universal and seemed to fill all the space around me. . . . The tones produced soft vibrations, and as they touched me I knew that they possessed the power to heal. . . . They were like spiritual salve, expressions of love that mended broken spirits” (p. 87).
  • “I learned that spirits can choose to enter their mother’s body at any stage of her pregnancy” (p. 95).

Film Review: Birth Story

April 24, 2013 at 4:52 am

“Some of the best birth footage out there–a must-see for anyone even remotely interested in the subject.” -Ceridwen Morris, CCE, childbirth educator, and co-author of From The Hips

When I received an email last week asking if I’d be interested in reviewing the film Birth Story on my blog, I immediately responded, “Yes!” I received my copy of the film over the weekend. My husband watched some of it with me, in between doing the dishes. I was impressed at how much it didn’t seem to freak him out. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. He’s been married to me for almost twelve years, after all.

Standing Against Gendercide

April 22, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Two Tuesdays a month, I have the honor of welcoming a bunch of nine- to ten-year-old girls from our church into my home to do various activities. Tomorrow we’ll be playing badminton in my backyard. Last time we did a get-to-know-you game. One of the questions in the game was, “What is your favorite scripture story?”

Of course I love the Nativity story and the Easter story and a lot of other stories. But the story I wrote down for my answer was “Puah and Shiphrah.” The girls didn’t recognize those names, so I was happy to tell them about two of my favorite people in the Bible. Whether you’re religious or not, I think there is so much we can learn from the story of Puah and Shiphrah.

Here is their story as told in the Bible, starting in verse 7 of the first chapter of Exodus (KJV):

And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. 

Mothering my children, healing myself

July 28, 2010 at 8:08 pm

The way I mother my children is unusual in mainstream American culture (but common among my readers).  I share my bed with my babies, I could never endure “cry-it-out” (even for a few minutes), I breastfeed on-demand for an extended period of time, I practice “nighttime parenting” by soothing or nursing my babies and toddlers back to sleep every time they awaken, I hold and carry my wee ones as much as possible (often in slings/wraps), I respond as quickly as possible to their cries of distress, and I rarely leave them with anyone besides my husband.  Some might say I take Attachment Parenting to an extreme.  There are probably those who would even say I take it to an unhealthy extreme.  I certainly haven’t had a decent night of sleep for, well… years, and date nights with my husband are very rare.  Some might assume I am driven to these extremes because I believe other parenting styles to be unethical (or evil), because I’m trying to be better than everyone else, or because I’m pursuing an unrealistic vision of “perfect” motherhood.  But they would be wrong.  Understandably…. because they don’t know my history (or my gene pool).

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