The Prophetess: An Honest Review

I’ve read several books by Jill Eileen Smith. She writes historical fiction based on women of the Bible.

The Prophetess is about Deborah, who was judge over Israel & helped Barak win the war against Sisera, who was a tyrant under King Jabin’s reign.

The way Jill writes really draws you in to the story. She does an amazing job of opening your eyes to what Deborah may have been feeling when advising others & going into war with Barak. I love how Jill creates a fictional storyline about Deborah’s daughter & several other characters to help tell the story of “what if…” but manages to tell the truth of the verses as well. I never really thought about “Deborah’s Song” until reading the background and history of Deborah, her loved ones, & the situation Israel was in.

I highly recommend reading this book as well as checking out her other books. She has truly been given a gift of creative writing. I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Reading her fictional books has made me want to re-read the Bible stories they are based on. They are truly an inspiration!

*I was part of a launch team for The Prophetess and was given a copy of this book in exchange for providing an honest review.


Come Back

Wow. Has it really been over a year since I have blogged?? I cannot believe it. I know blogging isn’t “as cool” nowadays, what with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, etc. The list goes on & on. But you know what? I’m planning on being on all of those less and less (even deactivated my FB and in 14 days it will be deleted! Am I crazy??). I just need a change. Everyone knows the “definition of insanity” – doing the same thing over & over & expecting different results. I have decided to do what I can do “get out of the same ole ruts” I’ve been in so I can live a life that is more how I want to live, and how I believe God wants me to live. Now, this isn’t saying the details are for everyone. Facebook isn’t a bad thing. What I mean by God wanting me to live is this. In FREEDOM. I am not living and walking in freedom by being addicted to FB and tied down to my phone all day. Ha. I want to breathe that breath of fresh air I’ve been so desperate to breathe. I think this is one step I need to take. Once again, to be clear, ME. Not anyone else. 🙂 Someone said I was strong for doing it. I see it as the opposite. I am weak. I cannot handle it in a responsible way so I have to get away from it. heh. Anyway… Enough about that.

A few weeks ago I was at my church and they were singing some songs. I don’t even remember the exact songs that were playing, but I began to pray instead of just sing. I began to pray for the people in the room that were struggling, had addictions, had issues that seemed too big for them, etc. God began to renew my passion for intercessory prayer & a desire to minister to those around me.  I had my arms raised kinda to the sides and God spoke to me that my wings had been broken, but being broken isn’t permanent. They are now healed. They are still weak & tender, but they are healed. I heard him tell me I am going to soar on wings like eagles. Now, the thing about eagles is they don’t work hard or depend only on themselves to fly. They spend a lot of time gliding, relying on the wind. In the same way, I just have to put my wings out & I will glide on Jesus. He will carry me. He is my wind. A lot of times I depend on myself for everything; I like to be in control. But this causes unnecessary stress. He wants me to do what I need to do but not worry about the things He is taking care of. What a relief! I will soar: I am meant for interceding. Even if *I* think I’m not good at it or not qualified. I am meant for ministering to those in need. They have not been forgotten & neither have I.

This was such a powerful moment for me. I have felt lost and weak for awhile now. I still don’t feel strong, or completely found what my theology is, but I am confident in Jesus. He speaks to me. He speaks to us!

I find it encouraging when people share what God has done in their lives or what He has shared with them. If you have something God has spoken to you or done in/through you recently & would like to share, feel free to do so & encourage others. If you’ve been discouraged lately, know this. God doesn’t forget us. We can be lost, lonely, depressed, angry, confused, or forgotten how to walk, fly, or soar… A myriad of things… and he doesn’t leave us or forget about us. I’m learning to not only walk again, but to fly. To soar. He wants you to soar too.

I love you, friends.

Birth story of Samuel Christopher Chowdhury

It has been almost 6.5 years since Samuel was born, so I’m not sure what all I will remember, but I will try. I’m sure it will read a little differently than the other 3 birth stories.

I was due Friday, June 16, 2006. On June 17 I went to some garage sales & freaked people out when I told them my due date was the day before. My feet were so swollen & I probably looked pretty miserable.

On Monday, June 19, my outer bag of waters broke at night. I didn’t even know I had an outer bag of waters (lol), so that surprised me. I informed my parents I was probably going to be in labor soon, so they started driving through the night from NC. They arrived early the next morning & slept for a bit.

On Tuesday, June 20, I had Chris take off work since I “knew” I was going to be going into labor. I don’t remember much of what happened that day except that I wasn’t in labor. Ha. No contractions, my parents were there, & my husband missed a day of work he didn’t need to miss. Oops.

On Wednesday, June 21, we went to the birth center to meet with our midwife to discuss our options since labor hadn’t started yet & I had a broken bag of waters. Right before we left & as we were there, I started having some mild contractions. She suggested I get some funny movies to make me laugh, send Chris to work until I felt I needed him, and try to rest until they picked up. I got the movies, sent Chris to work, & began to watch with my dad. I was timing contractions the whole time on a sticky notepad. I remember later on when I went into the birth center, Linda (midwife) told me to stop counting & just let my body do the work.

In the early afternoon, I called & asked Chris to come home because I wanted him there. He hadn’t been there very long. Things were picking up & seeing as to how it was my first time having a baby, I didn’t know how long things would take. He came home & we headed to the birth center probably around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. I look back on the video of me leaving the house & remember how “concerned” I was, or how concerned I looked & I get embarrassed that I thought it was “that bad” so early on in labor. Little did I know how much more “intense” it would get. Maybe I was being a drama queen. 😉

Once we arrived at the birth center, we talked a bit & Linda helped me settle in. I was watching the clock & she turned it around so I couldn’t see. She asked if I needed anything & I jokingly said, “an epidural” even though I didn’t mean it at all. I later felt embarrassed I had even made that joke. Sigh.

I remember bouncing on the exercise/birth ball, leaning against Chris, while laboring. I would eat some cereal & sip on some water or gatorade. I also labored on my side on the couch but didn’t really like that. I would also walk around some. At some point I started feeling like I was hyperventilating cuz I couldn’t catch my breath & I had to figure out how to breathe better so I wouldn’t be lightheaded anymore.

At some point, we noticed it starting to rain & get dark & pretty windy. Linda asked me if I wanted the windows and/or blinds open or closed (some people like the storms; some don’t), and I told her I wanted them closed. Storms make me nervous. Because of this, the birth assistant gave me a homeopathic remedy called “Rescue Remedy” under the tongue. Not sure if it helped or not. She gave Chris some too. Linda was listening to weather reports, I had my music on, & the lights were on but dim. The power went out eventually & the storm started to pick up. Linda had to keep calling (texting?) her daughter to see what the latest weather reports were since we had no TV or power to listen to radios, etc.

I went ahead and got into the birth tub even during the storm, but since the power had been out it was lukewarm. It still felt nice & I didn’t want to get out. They lit candles & had flashlights. Linda heard from her daughter that there was a tornado spotted touching down somewhat nearby. Since we had a tornado warning, I had to get out of the tub (and I may have been in transition; at least close to it) and go labor in the bathroom. I don’t know how long we were in there but we were all camped out – Chris, me, my midwife, & her assistant – & I remember Linda writing notes using a flashlight and I was sitting on blankets or towels, wrapped in a towel because I was wet.

After the initial tornado threat was over, I was allowed to get back into the tub. The contractions had slowed down after initially getting in, but they picked back up pretty quickly. I don’t remember how long I was in labor after I got back in the tub, but I do remember I got on my knees to push & it felt “right”. Chris was sitting on the edge of the tub with his legs in the water & I was leaning on his legs & lap with my arms around his waist. He told me later how much it was hurting his bottom to sit on the thin rim of the tub, but he would think about my pain & it wouldn’t compare. He also told me later it was horrible seeing me in pain & unable to do anything about it. My water broke, I felt a gush, and I pushed for 24 minutes. He was born with his hand up by his face & that made me tear, but not too badly. Samuel Christopher Chowdhury was born into the water on June 21, 2006 at 10:14pm after 13 hours of labor, probably 8 of it “active”. He was 9 lbs 10 oz & 22.25 inches long.

Since I tore, I had to get stitched in the next room. Someone had finally brought us a generator so we had electricity temporarily. After everything was over, it was around 2:00am so we stayed at the birth center overnight. We hadn’t planned on staying & we didn’t have a “crib” so I asked where Samuel would sleep. Linda said, “um, with you”. I was like, “okay…” lol It’s funny cuz I had never thought of this option. So he slept in-between Chris & me and the next morning Chris woke up & realized he had slept in our bed & he was shocked but fine with it. That was the beginning of our wonderful journey of bedsharing/co-sleeping.

As for the intensity of the storm, we later discovered there was a small tree right outside the window of the room Samuel was born in that was uprooted during my labor. Also, the high school across the street from the birth center had part of its roof torn off. So it was definitely a strong storm. It actually was the worst storm the area had had in years & it had flooded a good portion of the city’s streets.

As another interesting side note, I used to have this recurring dream about a tornado. It was always a similar scenario: There was a tornado coming, I could see it coming & I was inwardly freaking out. Yet there were always kids with me that I had to be calm for because I was responsible for them. I would find shelter for & shield them from it, the tornado would pass over, and we would all be okay. After having Samuel “during a tornado” and having to stay calm for him, I did not have that dream again for 3-4 years, although I had been having it several times a year for as long as I could remember before he was born. I now have had the dream maybe 3 times in the last 3 years. It’s like God was preparing me to stay calm in the storm for Sam. 🙂

Birth story of Matthias Oliver Chowdhury

This is the birth story of Matthias, our 4th child born to us. Please be aware there are details that may “gross someone out”. They are not gory or meant to be gross, but it IS a birth story. Read at your own “risk”. 😉

On Friday morning, September 21, at 40 weeks, 2 days, I started having contractions that were different than the prodromal-type labor/Braxton Hicks contractions I had been having on and off for the last few weeks. They were about 10 minutes apart & since I felt like things went pretty quickly for my 3rd child’s birth, I went ahead and let my midwife, doula, & photographer know that “today is the day”. I had my husband start filling up the birth tub so it would be ready in plenty of time for laboring in as well. As soon as I made the calls, I put on the TENS unit for some pain relief. I didn’t have any painful contractions for the next hour. I actually thought I didn’t have any contractions but my midwife, upon hearing I was wearing the TENS unit, believed I was just not feeling them because it was working so well. I kept taking it off & would get one randomly & it hurt, so I figured she was probably right & left it on since it was “bringing such relief”. It turns out I wasn’t having contractions consistently anymore. My parents were at my house watching the kids, and my midwife, photographer, & doula had arrived and were there as well. My husband was finished with the tub & I felt like a watched pot. I was very frustrated because I wasn’t having contractions anymore.

My husband & I decided to take a walk since taking a walk w/my doula earlier had made my contractions pick up. While we were walking, my contractions were every 4-5 minutes, and even though they hurt, I could walk through them. They continued while we had lunch and as I walked back to our house. As soon as I got home, they completely stopped again. My thoughts were, “My contractions are only coming when I’m outside! I can’t have this baby outside!”
My midwife gave me a few options. 1. They could all stay & let me continue to labor (and I in turn would feel like a watched pot that was wasting their time). 2. They could leave & I could call when I was in full-blown labor again (and I would feel guilty for making them come back that night if things did pick up AND I would also have to “be prepared” for my labor to go quickly & them not make it in time for the birth). or 3. I could labor another hour or so & wait to make the decision until then. We chose number 3.
My husband & I went back up to our room alone & as I was trying to labor (meaning, nothing was happening except me crying), we decided to send everyone home & not even wait the full hour. So we went back downstairs & told everyone to leave. My parents even took the kids home with them so it’d be peaceful & quiet to allow my body to totally relax & not have to take care of anything. I fully expected to labor that night but since nothing was happening even after they left, I had to figure out what was stressing me out & get rid of those stressors the best I could.
The stressors were as follows: I had told my Facebook friends I was in labor & felt pressured by them, so I told them it had stopped so I was “off the hook”. I was worried about my kids & my mom being there or not & stressed about what to do, so I texted my mom & she told me not to stress; it was okay if she wasn’t there & if we did happen to call them in time, it was fine. I was also stressed about the photographer being there in time & also about wasting her time & gas money again, so I texted her & said I didn’t think I wanted her there & that I was sorry. She was very understanding. With all that taken care of, all I had to do was talk to myself to prepare myself for if the baby came while I was alone with Chris & also remind myself this was a labor & not a miscarriage (I was crying because of thinking of my miscarriage of our daughter last year). I felt I knew what to do IF labor happened quickly, & I was able to calm myself about the miscarriage situation, so we were all set. I expected to go into labor that night. Yet, nothing.
The next morning, my parents went ahead & brought the kids over & headed to their meeting. I told myself I wasn’t having a baby for another week or so & planned on having a family day with my husband & kids. Telling myself this mentally let me off the hook for “getting it started” or feeling guilty or pressured again. We started getting dressed & ready to go. As I was getting ready, I was hit with a sharp contraction all of a sudden. Huh. That was strong. And odd. I tried to ignore it & continued to get ready. Then I was hit with another one. Only 3 minutes later. Hmmm. “Well, let’s keep getting ready,” I thought. Then another 3 minutes later. I had to stand at the counter & sway to get through these already. I finally told Chris, “I don’t think I can go anywhere…” I couldn’t imagine riding in the car & then walking around a mall or something while trying to breathe & sway through these. Let alone trying to wrangle kids! Ha! So we called my parents to come watch the kids. I called my midwife & she said she’d wrap up the appointment she was having & come right over (she was an hour away). I called my doula but couldn’t get ahold of her on her cell, home, or her husband’s number. I called her son, who was so nice, & he called her. He got ahold of her right away (still don’t know why my call didn’t go through) & she left her other son’s ballgame to come.
By the time my birth team arrived, I was still contracting every 3-4 minutes, with them lasting 45-75 seconds, and I knew I was in real labor finally. I didn’t let anyone know, and after awhile I put my phone down, & just started concentrating through them. The birth tub water needed topped off with hot water (it ended up not quite being hot enough for my liking, but it worked), so my husband worked on that. We played my music & it was soothing. I remember my doula kept getting up to see who sung some of the songs & it was always Sara Groves.  We both love her voice & her songs have wonderful lyrics. It was very peaceful to have the music on.
When I started having consistent contractions, it was around 9:15am. Around 1:45-2:00 I got in the birth tub. I was done. I was so ready to have this baby. It hurt worse than I remembered. I had dealt with anxiety for most of my pregnancy before God healed me in July, but toward the end of labor when transition hit, the anxiety briefly returned. I kept wondering if the baby would “fit” or if he would get stuck. I felt like I needed to squat to give him more room, but I couldn’t really picture myself doing this on my own. So I lifted up one leg in a squat & stayed on my other knee. I held my belly during each contraction at this point, because rubbing & putting pressure on it helped. When I would get tired of this position, I would switch legs to where I was half-squatting the other way. I kept doing this until I was ready to push.
I remember seeing my midwife knitting & thinking, “Does she know I am done? Does she know I’m going to push soon? Does she think I’m not that close? Is it going to be that much longer?!” I later found out that she was watching for cues from my doula, who is training to be a midwife & was handling it very well. They made a good team & I think my doula got some new experiences in as well. I finally started “feeling pushy” as they call it. My midwife got up & ready, and my doula was snapping pictures & helping in the ways she needed to. (I still don’t see how she did it all! She’s great!) I was even pushing when I wasn’t getting an urge because even though I looked extremely calm on the outside, I was inwardly panicking. I was seriously afraid of him getting stuck at this point & was just telling myself, “I have to get him out. Now.” This was the first labor where I was crying in transition. I was so ready for it to be over. After 17 minutes of pushing, his head came out. It felt different than my other births, though. Like he was in an odd position or something. I kept stroking his head, and it helped so much to feel his squishy hair. My midwife said, “Wait for him to turn before pushing again.” And then just a few seconds later said, “Okay, you can push again if you want to, but only if you want.” And boy did I want to. I gave a good push again and – whew! – he was out! After a total of 19 minutes of pushing & a little over 6 hours of active labor, Matthias Oliver Chowdhury was born at 3:29pm on September 22, 2012. We weighed him a little later (after 3 meconium poops & 1-2 breastfeeding sessions, which probably evened it out) & he weighed in at 10 lbs 12 oz. & was 21 inches long.
I would later find out the reason it felt “different” when his head was out was because the cord was wrapped around his neck 2 times, around his shoulder once, and under the other arm once. His right arm was also pinned up across his chest with his hand under his chin. My midwife had told me to wait so he could turn, but then upon realizing he had come through in the position he was “supposed to” turn, I could go ahead and push. He was also born “in the caul”, which means his amniotic sac was still over his head. It had broken at the back of his neck as he was coming out, but his head was still covered. He also had a bit of meconium staining but my midwife was quick to reassure me he was okay & it didn’t require attention other than wiping it off. He immediately breathed & cried a little later & I knew he was fine.
My doula went to go grab my mom & the kids & I heard them running up the stairs. They all looked at the baby & I announced the name to them. My 2 year old was tired & kinda grumpy & maybe even scared, so he didn’t want to touch him yet but I think the other 2 did. Then, all of a sudden, my face went numb & started twitching & I got scared. I managed to get out, “uh… uh… I don’t feel so good…” My doula got my midwife’s attention since she hadn’t heard me call for her & my mom saw the look on my face & quickly ushered my kids back downstairs. I felt really lightheaded & my face twitching was scaring me. I couldn’t keep my right eye open. I wanted someone to take Matthias so I wouldn’t drop him, but I couldn’t verbalize anything. They managed to get me out of the tub so they could help me deliver the placenta & try to stop my bleeding (there was a lot of blood in the tub).
Once out of the tub & lying on the futon, I started feeling a little better. I rested there a bit with the baby & I think that’s when I delivered the placenta. They eventually helped me move to my bed but I was still not feeling fantastic. After a couple hours I was told I had to go try to use the bathroom. I got up, with the help of my midwife & my husband, but after 1-2 steps, I collapsed and said “no. no.” I couldn’t walk. I was about to pass out & had to have ammonia (smelling salts) at my nose. That stuff stinks. They got me back to my bed & my midwife gave me a homeopathic remedy called Shepherd’s Purse. It tastes like dirt & is “spicy/hot”. I had to hold it under my tongue for 10 seconds then swallow. That was nasty. After that, she had to check my uterus because I was still bleeding a lot. It was not where it needed to be so she had to massage it pretty firmly. That hurt like crazy. As she was massaging it, 2 huge clots came out. As she kept massaging it, the uterus went down in size to where it needed to be & my bleeding became a trickle, like it should be. She gave me Shepherd’s Purse again later (I almost refused, but she told me I was very close to going to the hospital, and she was right, so I took it). I was able to get up shortly after & walk to the bathroom with a little assistance from my husband & from then on it got better & better.
I am so thankful for my husband, my midwife, my doula, my parents, and everyone who was so willing to work with me & understand my needs at the time. God is good and I am so blessed to have my 4 children here on earth. 

I’m free!!!

Though many people didn’t even know I had an anxiety/depression problem, the last 15 months have been the most horrible time of my life. God was moving & doing stuff in me, and I’m glad he has been faithful & taught me even in the midst of the storm, but I still would not want to repeat this last year. With that being said, I want everyone to know that God still heals & delivers today. I am proof of that. Here is my testimony, copied & pasted from my pastor’s blog: 


I have been dealing with anxiety & depression for the last 15 months. It had gotten so bad that it was definitely interfering with my every day life. I couldn’t do the littlest task without being overwhelmed. Making decisions? Couldn’t handle it – big or small. My husband has been awesome & such a rock to lean on in this time. A wonderful spiritual leader for sure. Anyway, I had anxiety about little things & about big things, including my baby who is to be born soon. After losing a baby last year, I couldn’t think straight about this birth – I felt for sure he was going to die. Trust me, I didn’t want to feel this way. Well this week I was beginning to consider being put on anxiety medication (a huge deal to me, as I rarely take even a small drug like tylenol), and the thought of that even made me anxious. I went to church yesterday morning, forgetting that they would be praying for healing. As soon as Pastor Chilly started talking about it, I couldn’t control the tears. I knew God was saying to go up & get prayed for. As soon as I went up, even before being anointed with oil, I felt the Holy Spirit working in me. I got prayed for and all day yesterday & today I have been “testing” my healing (lol). For the first time this whole pregnancy, I am looking forward to & have peace about the birth. Little things don’t send me into a panic like they did just 2 days ago. I am now almost in tears because of JOY and amazement of what God has done. After 15 months of walking around in a cloud, I now have clarity, peace, hope, & JOY!!!! Praise God!!!!

My Psalm

Our Pastor this morning gave us a “homework assignment” to write our own psalm based on who God is & what he has done in our lives & then to share it with others. Here it is.

My precious God, how I love you & long to show you more.

When no one is around & I am all alone, You are consistently here.

When I mourn, You comfort me.

You take my face in the palms of your hands & whisper “Not only do I love you, but I want you.”

You are so faithful to me, even in my least faithful times.

When I feel like I’m drowning, and there’s no way out, You are my hope & that is enough for me.

When others have shown no grace or compassion, you teach me that the only grace & compassion I need comes from you.

You never condemn, always convict; You lift me up & let me try yet again.

You are the perfect One on whom I can depend.

To those who will listen, I will tell of your unfailing love, unending grace, & Your desire to be with them forever.

I give you all the glory for I can do nothing apart from you.


My wonderful kids

Lately my kids have been saying some pretty awesome stuff.

The other day Addison (4) was praying & she asked what to pray for. I told her to pray for other kids who don’t have a lot. I figured she’d pray for them to “get stuff”. Here’s what her prayer was: “Jesus, I pray for the kids who don’t have anything, and that we’d share our stuff with them.” Uh. Yeah. That’s where it’s at, people. Truth.

Yesterday the kids & I put on the armor of God together. We went through each piece of armor in Ephesians 6, acting like we were putting it on. Sam wanted to “pretend fight” the devil & I said, “Oh don’t worry. We’ll have plenty of opportunities to use our armor today. Like when you are tempted to be mean to your brother & sister, or tempted to disobey…” and he said, “But I already disobeyed.” I asked him what and he said he had the idea to hide a toy from me he wasn’t allowed to play with so I wouldn’t know he was playing with it. I said, “Oh ok… But do you know what you just did? You used the belt of truth!” and slapped him a high five. Then I said, “And you know what you can do? You can fix it by going & putting it away.” And he grinned really big, said okay, and ran to do it. It was such a blessing to see the truth of God’s Word convict & change my little boy’s heart.

Another day last week we were listening to a Rend Collective song & one of the lines is “You are my Father, and I’m your true son…” And Sam says, “Yep, I’M his true son!” I love that he knows that already.

And one that’s not spiritual, um, at all… Micah has picked up a phrase from somewhere. I don’t know where (okay, someone… confess! Who taught him?!). Anyway, whenever I tell him to do something like put away a toy he says, “No! Stink bug.” And calls me a stink bug!! We never use this phrase & Sam said he doesn’t know where it’s from. It is actually hilarious & he never uses it when he’s truly mad; just when he knows I am serious & need to laugh. Goober.

I am sure there are many more, but those are the few I wanted to capture lately. I am really enjoying my kids lately & find myself stepping back & staring at them, the faces they make, the way they talk, the funny quirks they have, and just being so thankful. I am so blessed!