I think the two greatest gifts life holds are watching life enter the world, and watching a precious saint of God leave the world. I’ve had the privilege to do both, twice. But I must say watching a baby enter, arms flailing, swollen-eyed, red-skinned, and then wailing is the most holy thing I’ve ever seen. My gracious sister-in-law, Janey, allowed me this privilege on two occasions, when her second and third girls were born, my nieces Lauren and Abigail. If I had been in town for her other two kiddos’ births, I’m sure she would have let me be there as well.
I almost missed Abigail’s because I had big sister duty and the event seemed to be in a stall and we both needed a coke. So, we had a coke and a conversation in the hospital cafeteria. On our way back to the room the doctor passed us running.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“To your room!” He hollered from over his shoulder without stopping his full-on sprint.
I looked at my six-year-old niece, Hannah, our eyes bugged out, and we took off. We made it just in time to see that adorable little slimy head and tears flowed all around. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
At the time of those births, I did not know I would never have that experience in my own life. Looking back now it makes those moments even more precious and even more of a gift.
When Philly and I knew God was inviting us into this building adventure with Him, I was a conflicted soul. Not over the building. No, He settled that so clearly. But I was torn between my deep desire to design it all myself, while knowing I was not fully equipped for such an undertaking. Granted, I knew a great deal. I had spent fifteen years with a man who was one of the most talented interior designers I’d ever seen. From Christmas decorations to furniture placement to textures and patterns of fabric, to client consult days, to installation days, I had been there for all of it. I also knew the business side. I knew the vendors. I knew how to place P.O.’s. I knew how to receive items. I knew how to manage the books. We had started the business together when it was just the two of us and I was all he had to depend on. But, what I knew I didn’t have was the hands-on, using my own creativity to make those decisions and then trusting that they were good.
I have a friend who is a birthing coach. Many times, she has stood by the bedside of straddled mothers encouraging, wiping foreheads, calming nerves, distracting anxious soon-to-be dads and doing whatever else moments of bringing something holy to earth requires. Every birthing process in life needs a birthing coach. Consider the things in your own life. The business with the mentor. The marriage with the counselor. The book with the editor. The television show with the producer. It’s a divinely orchestrated plan. When God births things, He usually does it in relationship. Packer is mine.
I met Packer Wilson two decades ago. I had started my very first Bible Study. It was twelve women from different stages in life. She was in the more seasoned stage. She was so captivating. Southern. Gentle. Kind. Lovely. Sassy. Pearl laden. She told our group that she couldn’t cry. About two weeks into the study she started and she hasn’t stopped in the over twenty years I have known her. We get a good laugh about that often.
Her background is impressive. She had her own design firm for 25 years called Packer and Associates. She was the first woman ever to be elected President of the Tennessee Builders Association. And at 82 she is still sharp, sassy, and the perfect birthing coach.
When I was wrestling with the decision over hiring an interior designer to help me because I felt so inadequate, she assured me that I could do it. That I needed to allow God to show me all He had placed inside of me. Then she said these words that gave me the confidence I would need, “I’ll walk with you every step of the way.”
We’ve already walked a lot of “steps of the way” together. We’ve traveled together. Served Jesus together. Prayed together. She has been my Nashville bonus mom. She was there the day I got divorced. She sat in the courtroom the day I was taken to court. She hosted me and Philly for the perfect engagement dinner the night he proposed. She was there on my wedding day and a thousand celebrations and challenges in between and has served on the board of our ministry from the day it was birthed. She’s held me when I’ve cried, scolded me when I’ve been stubborn, challenged me when I’ve been weak, prayed with me when I’ve been in need.
One morning during our prayer team’s Tuesday morning prayer, I was sharing about Packer’s willingness to help me build the house. Edie spoke up quickly, “She’s like your birthing coach!”
That statement froze me. I stared at her for a long while considering my Isaiah 54 passage, “Sing oh barren…” Finally, I shook my head, “Edie what an absolutely perfect statement.”
She has been the ultimate birthing coach. Now, lost in windows and walls, outlets and angles, closets and cased openings, I often wear out before she does. You can watch her mind work as if it is running through its own little rolodex file. When I’m unsure of a decision she helps me make it. When I make a wrong one that could cost money down the road, she redirects me. When I want to throw in the towel and hide under the table, she assures me I can do it. If I stay under there a little longer than I should she’ll kick my bootie from the other side. She is everything a woman who is giving birth to something holy needs.
The beautiful thing about this journey is I’ve often struggled thinking she was giving so much but what was being given to her? But she will be quick to tell you (as she cries) that God has allowed her to see she’s still got it. And she does. So, as she screams “push,” and I shed a few tears and wiggle and squirm and often let out a holler or two she is there, refusing to let me quit. We are going to get this baby birthed and it is going to be holy.