Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Don’t Try to Anticipate

February 19th, 2020

Have you been searching through pregnancy blogs for lists of “lifesaver products”? You’ve been reading up on the “must-haves” for newborns too? And don’t even get started on the lists of things to pack in your hospital bag.

Poll your mom friends on Facebook and they’ll each have a different product they absolutely couldn’t have done pregnancy without.

It’s only if they’re moms of many that you’ll start to be able to understand the truth – there’s no way you’ll be able to anticipate which product is going to be your life saver for this particular pregnancy/delivery/baby.

I couldn’t have done it without my lace-up tennies in my pregnancies with Tirzah Mae and Louis. My feet swelled so terribly and got so painful, I needed the extra support. I only wore tennis shoes while hiking during my pregnancy with Beth-Ellen (and I did a decent amount since we traveled to Yellowstone and to the Rockies with Daniel’s family and mine during our second trimester.) This pregnancy? I don’t think I’ve worn tennis shoes even once.

I developed carpal tunnel during my pregnancy with Louis and needed braces. Wearing them each night (and sometimes during the day) made the days bearable. Almost as soon as the pregnancy test was positive with the baby we lost, I needed braces again – and the pain went away as soon as we miscarried. I had no need for braces with Beth-Ellen, and haven’t needed them in this pregnancy either.

I got a ginormous pillow in my third trimester with Beth-Ellen, when my belly made sleep difficult. This time around, I pulled it out in the first trimester, because my hips were doing something weird and I just couldn’t get comfortable. I slept fine all the way through with both Tirzah Mae and Louis.

Support hose were lifesavers for pregnancies 1 through 3. This time around, despite a bit of swelling in my legs, the support hose don’t seem super necessary – but I’ve taken to wearing compression shorts religiously, even to bed.

My hymnal was a sanity-saver for hospitalization #1. I sang it through cover to cover during my eight days of bedrest and the subsequent 26 days with Tirzah Mae in the NICU. Remembering, I brought it along when I was hospitalized with Louis – and barely opened it. On bedrest with Louis and as I prepped for my second unplanned c-section, it was the robes I’d brought from home that kept me grounded. I’m not sure I used anything I’d packed in my hospital bag for Beth-Ellen – not the clothing or the essential oils or the tennis ball thingamajigger or the popsicles.

Newborn Tirzah Mae lived in mama’s Moby wrap. Newborn Louis actually (sometimes) slept in the bassinet insert for our Pack’n’Play. Newborn Beth-Ellen used a swaddle. The elastic binder they gave me after Louis made such a difference in my ability to walk post c-section. It didn’t help the terrible abdominal pain I had after Beth-Ellen. I could not for the life of me understand the mesh panties and peri bottle after the first two – but I totally got it after Beth-Ellen. I spent obscene amounts of time hooked to a hospital grade breast pump with Tirzah Mae and Louis – and never pumped once with Beth-Ellen. It took five years of nearly continuous breastfeeding for me to first need lanolin. I’ve never, despite a super-abundant supply, needed breast pads to deal with leaks. Pantyliners on the other hand? Definitely a sanity saver.

Which is why it’s no good trying to anticipate what you’ll need for your pregnancy, your delivery, or your new baby. You are different with each pregnancy, your delivery is different, your baby is different.

Anticipate that you won’t have everything you want, that you’ll experience surprises, that you’ll have to adapt on the fly. Anticipate that you’ll spend some money figuring out what the fix is for that unexpected problem. Anticipate that you’ll be searching Amazon or sending your husband to the store to find some elusive product you never would have imagined needing.

Most of all, anticipate that God’s grace will meet you when you find yourself back in the hospital after you thought you were all clear – or when your daughter jumps into your lap and now you can’t move without excruciating pain “down there” – or when all your dreams seem dashed – or when you simply don’t know how to soothe that fussy baby. You can’t anticipate what the problem will be or what product will be your “life-saver”, but you can trust that God will be there amidst the unexpected – and that he will carry you through.

The Paradox of Christ

February 7th, 2020

“Above all, he is unselfish. Perhaps nothing strikes us more than this. Although he clearly believed himself to be divine, he did not put on airs or stand on his dignity. He was never pompous. There was no touch of self-importance in Jesus. He was humble.

It is this paradox that is so amazing, this combination of the self-centeredness of his teaching and the unself-centeredness of his behavior. In thought he put himself first, in deed last. He exhibited both the greatest self-esteem and the greatest self-sacrifice. He knew himself to be the Lord of all, but he became their servant. He said that he would one day come to judge the world, but he washed the feet of his friends.”

~John Stott, Basic Christianity

Nothing struck me quite so strongly as I read Stott’s Basic Christianity as the bolded sentence above. As someone who has believed since she was a young child, I have never really considered the “self-centeredness” of Jesus’ teaching. Of course he was self-centered – he’s God. He ought to be talking about himself. But if he weren’t God, were simply styling himself as God, he would be quite pompous.

Yet his actions aren’t pompous at all. He cares for the poor and needy, embraces outcasts, visits sinners in their homes. He served.

“…Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

~Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

This is the paradox of our faith – the God who is so High stooped down so low. He is indeed exactly what every person needs and does not shy away from proclaiming it: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” “I am the bread of life.” “I am the living water.” “I am the Good Shepherd.” “I am…” “I am…” “I am…” But, despite being God’s gift to man, he did not act as though he were.

Wow.

The Gravity of the Story

December 15th, 2019

“Every family needs to get a lamb – a young lamb, a perfect little boy lamb, a lamb without any problems. Keep the lamb as a part of the family.”

The three-year-olds eagerly reached out their hands to stroke the beautiful oh-so-soft stuffed lamb mat I’d brought in for our lesson. We all imagined having a lamb come to live with us.

“After two weeks, you are to kill the lamb.”

Every eye turned from the lamb to me in horror.

I’d written “Oh boy! How sad!” in my lesson – but the looks on their faces said far more. This was not sad, this was devastating. I started to wonder if parents would be coming to me, wondering what I’d done to tramautize their children so.

But I continued on:

“But this was part of God’s great plan. God decided that the lamb could die instead of the firstborn child. After the lamb was dead, the people were supposed to paint the lamb’s blood on the doors of their houses.

All the people who believed God got a lamb. After two weeks, they killed the lamb and painted its blood on their doorposts.

That night, God sent the angel of death over all of Egypt. If the angel of death saw blood on the door, he passed over that house. But if a house didn’t have blood on the door, the firstborn child died.”

The horror remained, the kids silent in the face of such a terrible thing.

I started keening, only a fraction of what I’m sure was happening across Egypt that night. “All over Egypt, the people who didn’t believe God and didn’t kill a lamb started to wail. Every family’s firstborn child was dead – all except for the ones who had been saved by the blood of the lamb.”

“That’s so sad!” a little boy whispered, almost distraught.

And I recounted how Pharoah at last told the Israelites to go. I retold how God led the people of Israel with a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire.

Their faces brightened.

They tensed as I told them how Pharaoh changed his mind and began the chase.

And their faces showed their elation when God opened the Red Sea so the children of Israel could pass through and then smashed it closed over the Egyptian army.

As for me, I was still struck with the gravity of the Lamb. The story I’ve told so many times I forget the horror. A perfect young lamb, a spotless baby come to live with a human family. One of our own, our companion, dwelling among us. Dead.

All this, so that the firstborn needn’t die.

The first lamb, and the lamb of each Passover thereafter, was chosen by its family – destined by its perfection among the flock to be a sacrifice.

The final Lamb, the one to whom each little lamb points, chose willingly, of his own accord. He made his first sacrifice, to become flesh. He made a second, to dwell among us. And finally, he sacrificed what remained, emptied himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Bearing the curse of all mankind, he did so to save the ones he sacrificed to make his brothers.

What a grave and terrible and sobering thought.

What a wonderful and terrible and awesome reality.

Do you feel the world is broken?

October 26th, 2019

It was sometime after Easter (which is shorthand for sometime after our miscarriage) when the church choir got up to sing a special piece.

Tears sprung into my eyes at the very first line:

“Do you feel the world is broken?”

My heart answered back with the choir: “We do”

And in the darkness and difficulty of the past six months, that line has come to mind many a time.

I hear stories of domestic abuse. I listen to the squabbling of “friends” online. I see drug abuse. I ache against the terrible realities of our foster care system, with so many problems, so many hard decisions. A friend’s baby develops an unknown, most likely life-threatening condition. Car accidents land people in the hospital. Uncertainty abounds.

“Do you feel the world is broken?” my soul whispers as I read and as I live. “We do,” I answer back.

And as I ache under the brokenness of this world, the cry rises up within my soul: “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”

And, tears still coursing down my cheeks, I sing the rest of the song.

Do you feel the world is broken? We do
Do you feel the shadows deepen? We do
But do you know that all the dark won’t stop the light from getting through? We do
Do you wish that you could see it all made new? We do

Is all creation groaning? It is
Is a new creation coming? It is
Is the glory of the Lord to be the light within our midst? It is
Is it good that we remind ourselves of this? It is

Is anyone worthy?
Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Of all blessing and honor and glory
Is He worthy of this?
He is

Does the Father truly love us? He does
Does the Spirit move among us? He does
And does Jesus, our Messiah hold forever those He loves? He does
Does our God intend to dwell again with us? He does

Is anyone worthy?
Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave
From every people and tribe
Every nation and tongue
He has made us a kingdom and priests to God
To reign with the Son
Is He worthy?Is He worthy?
Of all blessing and honor and glory
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Is He worthy of this?
He is!
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
He is! He is!

As I groan, I wait in eager expectation for the day when Christ will return to make all things right. He will execute righteous judgment. He will gather his people from all nations. He is worthy. He is!

My baby beat me to it

May 13th, 2019

I remember being 9, maybe 10 years old, reading how Jacob wrestled with God, how he saw the face of God and lived (Genesis 32:30). I remember reading of how Moses spoke with God face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. I remember hearing the Aaronic blessing every week at the end of worship: “May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” I remember getting to that part in the “Love Chapter” when Paul writes: “Now you see as in a mirror dimly, then you shall see face to face.” And I remember longing, longing for the face of God.

I remember swinging on the swings at the park while my mother and her fellow intercessors were interceding at the picnic tables a ways away. I remember pouring out my own soul in the unashamed earnestness of a rather emotional and completely socially-unaware preteen. “I want to see you, God! I want to see your face.”

My longing to see God’s face has only intensified as I’ve felt the weight of my sin, as I’ve felt how far I fall short of his image. Now, I read 1 John 3:2 and I long for the return of Christ, clinging to the promise that “when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

Oh, for that day. Oh, for the day when I can leave off this body of corruption and see the face of God. Oh for the day when I will be conformed into his image.

Friends, my baby beat me to it.

The kids and I had been planning to go on a homeschool field trip the week I miscarried. I had to email the organizer and let her know that we wouldn’t be coming. She, a woman I’d never met, responded with what has been to me one of the most precious thoughts as I process our miscarriage:

“I read a quote somewhere to the effect that when a baby dies in the womb, the first face he or she ever sees is the face of Jesus. That has always been such a special thought for me, and I hope it is comforting to you as well!”

Friends, my baby beat me to it.

As much as I long for my baby to still be in my womb, as much as I long to know him on this earth, how can I begrudge my baby the one thing I desire most in all the world?

My baby sees the face of God.

All I Want for Mother’s Day

May 9th, 2019

Mother’s Day approaches, which means everyone and their mother is opining about what you should give your mother.

I was scrolling past headlines when I saw “What your mother really wants for Mother’s Day” – and I suddenly knew exactly what I want.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
~3 John 4 (ESV)

This is what I want, but it’s not something my husband can get for me. It’s not something my children can make happen on their own.

This requires an act of God.

So instead of writing an article for the nearest mom’s blog (or sending a link to one of those articles to my husband), I’ll be lifting up my request to God, as I do each day.

Lord, let my children – my Tirzah Mae and my Louis, my Beth-Ellen and my sweet P, our precious C and darling J – let them walk in the truth. Grant that their affections would be stirred toward you, that they would desire relationship with you. Grant that they would see the desperate wickedness of their hearts and their utter helplessness to change themselves. Grant that they might fall upon the mercy of Christ and walk in the way of the One who is Truth.

And if you want to give me a Mother’s Day gift, join me in praying for these six God has given me (for short or for long), that they would walk in the truth.

Lest I Get Cocky

January 27th, 2019

Going from four children to three (in a good way) is a strange experience.

In a life that generally just gets harder and harder (as we add new children and new developmental stages), things suddenly get that much easier.

The kids all fit in one row of the Expedition, allowing me to enjoy the full back for groceries. The number of children is only one more than my number of hands. It’s that much easier to coordinate nap times.

I start to feel like I’m on top of it all, like I’ve got strength in myself to handle anything, like I don’t need anyone.

And then we do weekend respite for a two-month-old on the same weekend Daniel was volunteering for something and we were having people over and have a Sunday night meeting at church.

I’m exhausted.

And I’ve been disabused of any secret thoughts I’d been harboring of my self-sufficiency.

“I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior!
I come to Thee.”

Unless the Lord

January 23rd, 2019

I was in church leadership somehow, so I was supposed to watch the DVD on church growth strategies – but I was also a college student on spring break.

I’d decided to take my spring break at my grandparents’ farm, so I sat on their living room floor and took notes as I watched the DVD on their television.

If I remember right, the basic gist of the DVD was that you needed to identify what your church’s greatest weaknesses were – and bring them up – and then you needed to identify what the new weaknesses were and so on and so forth. Kinda a “you’re only as strong as your weakest link” idea. Or something like that.

Honestly, I don’t really remember much at all from that far ago DVD.

What I do remember is what my grandma said after I was done.

She’d been doing little household tasks in the background while I’d been watching, and had clearly been paying attention.

And she said, “You know, what strikes me is that they didn’t mention prayer at all.”

I recognized the wisdom of her gentle rebuke then – but I realize it much more now that I’ve lived another decade or so.

There are plenty of good strategies out there. There are things we can do to make ourselves better. Things we can do to improve our communication skills or our parenting skills or our connections. There are things we can learn about how to evangelize or study the Bible or create a welcoming environment.

But ultimately, what we do isn’t even half the picture. It’s God who changes hearts – ours and those of the people around us. It’s God who heals relationships. It’s God who saves. It’s God who transforms. It’s God.

Prayer reminds me that all the strategies in the world are useless unless God is in an endeavor.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”

~Psalm 127:1 (ESV)

The Prayer I Keep Coming Back To

January 14th, 2019

Last year, in an effort to strengthen my prayer life, I searched for lists of “things to pray for your children.”

I dutifully recorded the lists in my prayer app (PrayerMate) and began praying for each of my children in each of the suggested categories.

The app would tell me to pray for Tirzah Mae’s future – and so I would. “Oh Lord, grant that my daughter would have a future among those who fear you. May she know your salvation and cling to you as her only hope.”

The app would tell me to pray for Louis’s purity – and so I would. “Oh Lord, would you grant that my son would be pure in heart – that he would have the purity of heart that can only come by being washed in the blood of Christ.”

The app would tell me to pray for Beth-Ellen’s health – and so I would. “Lord, would you bring my dead daughter to life by your Spirit.”

And on and on.

Character. “Lord, would you draw my children to yourself. Bring them to life through the work of your Spirit and cause them to grow in Christ-likeness.”

Holy Desires. “Above all, would you awaken their affection for you, that they might desire your salvation and recognize their own inability to save themselves. Grant that they might fall upon the mercy of Christ.”

Salvation.

It’s the prayer I keep coming back to. May my children desire relationship with God. May they see their sinfulness. May they see the worthlessness of their own striving. May they fall upon the mercy of Christ. May they grow in the grace of the gospel.

Save my children, O Lord, I pray.

The Habit of Contentment

October 9th, 2018

It’s easy to think that contentment is a function of our circumstances.

If only I had x or y, I would be content.

But when x or y arrives, we find that something new is necessary for our contentment.

When we find ourselves in difficult circumstances, we might be tempted to think that if only we had done something differently we could have been content. I could have been content if only I’d chosen a different major in college, not taken out the loans I did, taken this job offer instead of the other. I could have been content if only I hadn’t married when I did or the person I did. I could have been content if we’d have chosen to buy a different house or to build instead of buy (or vice versa). I could have been content if I’d have had fewer children farther apart – or more closer together.

But Elinor Dashwood’s reflections upon Mr. Willoughby’s character in Sense and Sensibility should be instructive.

“‘At present,’ continued Elinor,’he regrets what he has done. And why does he regret it? Because he find it has not answered towards himself. It has not made him happy. His circumstances are now unembarrassed – he suffers from no evil of that kind; and he thinks only that he has married a woman of a less amiable temper than yourself. But does it thence follow that had he married you, he would have been happy? The inconveniences would have been different. He would then have suffered under the pecuniary distresses which, because they are removed, he now reckons as nothing. He would have had a wife of whose temper he could make no complaint, but he would have been always necessitous – always poor; and probably would soon have learned to rank the innumerable comforts of a clear estate and good income as of far more importance, even to domestic happiness, than the mere temper of a wife.'”

A discontented heart finds something with which to be discontented regardless of circumstances.

A contented heart learns to be contented in all circumstances.

I am challenged as I look at my own life, at the woes I pour out upon my husband each day when he returns from work. No matter how good a day may be, I always can find something to complain about. My heart is too often a discontented heart, considering whatever I currently lack (whether it be sleep or a clean house or quiet children or chocolate) to be of far more importance than any of the many things God has granted me.

If I get all the sleep I desire, but am not content, I will still be just as crabby as I am now. If I had a clean house, but not a contented heart, my soul would be just as shabby. If my children were quiet, but I was discontent, the clamor of my own heart would be enough to disturb the peace.

Because contentment is not a function of my circumstances. Contentment is a habit of the heart. And contentment is learned through practice.

So when the laundry overflows the hamper and I despair of ever catching up, I must turn my eyes upward and declare “With this, I am content.” When all four children want my attention at the same time and all I want is quiet, I must calm my soul and declare “With this, I am content.” When the day draws to a close and I still have thirty undone tasks on my to-do list, I must turn off the screen and declare “With this, I am content.”

And slowly, perhaps, I will begin to be able to say like Paul:

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
~Philippians 4:11b-13 (ESV)

In Christ’s strength, I can learn the habit of contentment.

Browse bekahcubed:


Search bekahcubed:


Contact bekahcubed:

b3master@menterz.com

Get my button:

bekahcubed button

Popular Tags:


I participate in:


Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge
L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge
What's on Your Nightstand?
-->