The Birthing Naturally website began in 2000, when Jennifer Vanderlaan used the internet as a way to provide key childbirth information to families attending her classes. The website hs been growing and evolving since then. Through the process, Jennifer has always viewed the website as a way to share things she has learned about giving birth, trying to provide the information that is not available elsewhere.
Jennifer is not a Biblically trained scholar, but God used her anyway.
Sharing What I Have Learned (my testimony)
I can no longer pinpoint the moment it happened, but I can still feel the sting of rebuke when I remember it. When God made it so clear that the things I was learning, the things he was teaching me, were not only for my benefit. The conviction was so strong that I worked non-stop typing out my journal entries into some sort of organized fashion and put them as accessible files on the website. With great relief I stepped away from the computer feeling as if I had fulfilled God’s purpose for me, and the first version of the Lord of Birth was born.
I didn’t know what to expect from obedience. I think I expected everything would be good, ‘easy’. I believed making information available, pregnancy and birth would be better for other women. I tried not to think about what it meant for me, to have my private struggles with God printed on computer screens around the world. I was definately not ready for the negative comments every author receives and I had to learn to seperate who I was as a person frm the criticisms others were willing to share.
My obedience was honored with another call – to provide the book in printed form. This was followed closely by the call to write the second book which was followed by a call to expand the Christain childbirth information on the website. Each step became more difficult, because I knew what to expect – the judgment and criticisms of others would be inevitable. Each act of obedience led to another call of service, sometimes writing and sometimes working with couples, taking another step closer to the ultimate goal. Each task requiring more sacrifice, more courage and more faith.
Acts of Obedience
After the first two books, I was challenged to create a volunteer doula service for the crisis pregnancy center in my area. I attended a training, got certified and then started training volunteers to work with me. The next challenge was to organize a day of prayer for childbirth, connecting Christians from around the world. Through my obedience to that call, God opened my eyes to the needs of birthing women in developing countries. I can still remember sitting at a stop sign with tears streaming down my cheeks as I saw the next steps for me…I was to begin nursing school and train as a midwife.
My family endured the nursing school with long clinical hours, then moved 800 miles away to pursue midwifery education. There wereweekends out of town at a birth center, and work to be completed for two master’s level degrees. During that time I also traveled to Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo, Gutamala and Honduras for weeks at a time. I was sure this would be “it” the final challenge to endure. It seems funny to me now that with each act of obedience I thought I was done, that I had finally done what God had asked of me.
I am sure now I will never be done. I am sure now as long as I am obedient to the call despite my fears of inadequacy, my fears of criticism or my desire to avoid things that are hard, God will continue to use me.
The next challenge? During midiwfery school I began to see my role is not to provide care to individual families, but to make changes on national and global levels. This requires my participation in creating research and policy. More schooling, more opening myself and my ideas to criticism. I am ready God, lead my steps.