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What am I doing?!?

At my husband’s suggestion, I watched a birth movie tonight.  Not one of the natural births you see in childbirth classes.  A movie about birth as it happens in the United States, the good and the bad  but of course mostly the bad.  And of course, through tears at the end I started asking myself, “what am I doing?”

What am I doing in a master’s nursing program studying pharmacology and genetics when I should be out teaching women about the risks of being uninformed about your maternity care?

What am I doing focusing on chronic diseases when there is so much advocacy for safer maternity practices that must be done?

What am I doing spending my time learning to diagnose and treat ear infections and allergies while women still have limited access to evidence based maternity care?

What am I doing studying hours every day when I could be using that time to make changes in the world.

Deep breath…close my eyes…accept the job set before me.

I did not chose this path.  I had no desire to become a nurse.  I don’t see myself as a baby-catcher. But there are great needs to be filled in this world and God said go.  I cannot see where the path leads, but I can see where my next foot must land.  Though I do not know the ultimate plans God has for me, I do know I am fulfilling his purpose for me know.

I do not mean to sound ungrateful.  I know there are many of my readers who would change places with me in a moment if we had the chance. But I wanted to share my heart with you because I think sometimes we mistakenly tell ourselves everything will be perfect when we get what we want. But what if, like a little child, what we want is so much less than what our father desires for us?  What if we are wishing for a crust of bread while our father is preparing a feast? What if we are so short-sighted that we cannot see beyond our immediate gratification? What if what we think we want doesn’t even come close to the truth about what we are able to do and be in this world.

Ten years ago I followed God’s command on my life to write down the things he told me.  Without understanding why, I followed his command to put those writings into a book.  Each step of the way God’s command has seemed unnecessary to me, but I have stayed faithful to each call on my life as it is made. To be honest, I could not begin to measure the impact from that obedience.

Ten years ago I could not have forseen that I would write five books.

Ten years ago I would never have imagined the books would be used around the world, translated into multiple languages because women were desperate for the information.

Ten years ago I didn’t dream I would travel to the Congo to help women build their own health care network.

Ten years ago I underestimated what God had planned for me – while I was happy to have 50 page views a day on my small website, God had plans for 15,000 page views a day and more.  While I was content to teach a few couples out of my home, God had plans for families I could never meet to be taught from my materials. While I was wishing for someone to change a system I thought was unfair to expectant families, God had plans for me to be a part of that change

So now I sit, writing a mid-term in pharmacology and studying hypertension medications because what God has planned for me is far more amazing than what I have ever dreamed for myself. My dear reader, his plans for you are equally amazing.  Take joy in the work he has given you today, because it prepares you for the work he will give you tomorrow.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” Colossians 3:23

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas and childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student in a nursing program learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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