Monthly Archives: August 2021

The Purest Place

The purest place, I will draw near
Do what it takes to keep me here
in the center of your heart
the purest place
is where You are

It’s been a while since I watched it, but Answers in Genesis has this DVD called Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: When Human Life Begins. In the video, Dr. David Menton, who is a phenomenal teacher, walks step-by-step through every nook and cranny and phase of the female monthly cycle, and then he walks through the progressive stages of life and development that happen deep inside the darkness and protection of the womb.

Something that really stood out to me was when he described birth. For nine months the child is connected to the body of its mother. This is how the child lives and the way God keeps the baby alive. When the baby is born, the placenta must also leave the womb. He said that when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus, it causes such a rupture and breaking in the thickly established blood vessels, that the mother would bleed to death in minutes if it weren’t for the divine intervention of the body’s design. The uterus contracts and keeps contracting, simultaneously clamping off the vessels in the uterine wall and pushing the placenta toward the needed outside.

In nursing school I saw an example of what happens when the placenta does not completely detach (Trigger Assurance: This isn’t too terrible of a story). In a fallen world our bodies do not always work right, and in this particular mother’s case, the placenta did not completely separate, and even after the delivery, the mother’s uterus continued to bleed more than it should have. The nurse tried gently massaging the uterus from the outside. There was too much blood coming out of her body. The doctor did a D & C right there in the room, where he takes a metal instrument and scrapes the inside of the uterine lining, trying to fully remove any remaining now foreign uterine contents.

She ended up needing a hysterectomy. There’s a name for this, which I can’t think of right now, but it’s when a piece or pieces of the placenta become so deeply imbedded in the uterine wall lining that even the strongest contractions are not able to completely detach them. To leave it like this, the mother would not survive and recover from birth. This particular mother, counting the new baby, had three beautiful children. After the hysterectomy, she was able to go home, and didn’t even seem to be too upset about it, then at least. The hysterectomy ensured that she would never give birth to a baby again, but that she would also go on to be able to be there for the children she had.

If you’re anything like me, then there’s a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, right about now. And I absolutely hate that feeling. Life is way too fragile sometimes, and I sometimes have a hard time dealing with that. It can change too fast and in ways that seem way too cruel and too harsh. But that isn’t all of life. I wrote in my last post that each phase of letting go comes with its version of terrifying and excruciating. But this morning I was thinking of other times, like the evening you let go of a baby’s hands, and for the very first time, he toddles across the room smiling as the entire family cheers.

You may have noticed I’ve had a hard time deciding what to do about this blog. It hasn’t been all that long since I started it, and I actually really like this one, but I go back and forth between being at peace with writing here and not being at peace. Something I’ve been learning through the time of this past year, is that I have to be responsible for my own decisions. I can ask people their opinions, I can search the internet for advice, I can seek God’s word. We are each responsible for the lives we live, and while others may or may not agree with us, ultimately friends, we all make choices that effect our life’s path.

I have made the decision to stop writing here publicly. I don’t mean writing publicly ever, I just mean writing publicly here. (To the email sisters and private subscribers, this doesn’t affect you). I have thought before, and even still now, “But if I can’t have ______, then I don’t even want to write.” But that wouldn’t be fully or completely true either. I have so much more I want to say. There’s so much more I wish I would’ve said or still really wish I hadn’t said. But I also know that God knows the heart, and whether or not I say or don’t say things, doesn’t change what I also know is going on deep inside there.

These blogs are too close to who I am as a person, too close to my heart and my soul and my life. That sick feeling has suddenly turned into a feeling of wanting to vomit. I thought writing this post would be a little more peaceful, and it has been, because I am at total peace about writing it. God’s peace is a wonderful balm in our lives, friends, a true oasis in every occasion. Though I might doubt and fight and thrash and kick and deeply cry against it, though I do not fully understand here the mysterious ways in which the God who loves us works, in him we truly have nothing to fear. There is so much more to be said about that too, and while I don’t think I’ll ever feel as though I’ve completely gotten everything I want to say right now out, I know the powerful and saving work of Jesus Christ is enough. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing.” He restores our souls and delivers his children. He does all right things in perfect love.

Again and Again

“There are none like you among the gods, O Lord
nor are there any works like yours.”
~Psalm 86:8~

It’s been a week since the game and I still have not completely recovered. I’ve written and rewritten countless words to try and write again, to not leave the gaps between the posts here so long. Sometimes though, the words don’t feel right, they don’t sit right in my chest, like I’m trying too hard to make this something it’s not, or saying too much that shouldn’t be said, and so I don’t say a word, waiting for the block on my chest to be lifted, that’s only lifted with the truest and the least dramatic of the story’s version.

If I have cried any mostly I have done so in private. I know this time hasn’t been easy for me, but it hasn’t been easy for my husband or kids either. Seeing your mom not herself can be kind of scary thing. Having a husband with three jobs, now back to two, trying to also juggle the added burden of a wife who isn’t well has not been easy for him I’m sure. I’ve tried to have mercy on my kids and reassure them when they ask me if I’m good that I’m good, and I haven’t been lying. But every so often I have lost it in front of them, and last night was one of those nights again, where whatever composure I’ve been feebly holding together was lost. “You okay, Mom?”, and no, I am not okay.

The two big kids started school this morning. This puts two now in high school, and I’m happy for both of them. There’s always that swelling of your heart during times like this when there comes a new milestone and “letting go” of your kids, but sometimes I think I’ve only made these parting pains worse with the homeschooling. Bonds are great, but these bonds hurt to break. The cutting of the cord did not at all hurt the first time, but every time since has been it’s own unique version of terrifying and excruciating.

And while the tears ran freely, and after my husband sat down in the rocking chair next to me and heard the litany of everything including, ‘And the phone we just reloaded their minutes on is already lost, and now they can’t call us, and I can’t even call them”, he did something completely uncharacteristic and surprising. He started quoting a long-forgotten scene from Dumb and Dumber, when Harry and Lloyd were sad, stressed, and despairing. The laughter that came out of the depths from within me so forcefully expelled the lump in my throat I’d been choking on, similar but different, and sort of like the time I told him that I couldn’t keep fighting, and fighting would be the completely wrong word for my life right now, because fighting implies that I am slaying these giants, that I am somehow able to make it one more day in the glaring falsehood of my own strength. If there is one thing I have seen from the very beginning, it’s that there is absolutely no working, no determining my way out of this. There is no more of my own will to rely on, because my iron will is melting into a puddle to be evaporated slowly.

Have mercy on me, O Lord
According to your steadfast love
According to your great mercy
Blot out my transgressions

I cried out to the Lord
and he answered me
He answered me from his holy hill

Arise, O God!
Will the depths praise you?
Do the bones that you
have broken rejoice?

Will they?

Answer me, O God, for
I am pitiful and needy
I am poor in the house
of the Lord and in your sight

and beloved

I am not trying to sound or be dramatic, but at times it all starts to feel like too much. Every so often I start to feel like I’m fading and needing some hope or a change in circumstance (like a positive change in health) in order to feel like I’m doing okay. There was the time when my hands and my feet weren’t cold in the evening, and my heart and my soul said, “Praise the Lord”. There was the time where I could sit up in the chair, and my heart wrote it down, and I said “Thank you, Lord, for hearing my prayer.” It just seems like it’s taking longer this time to come, and I couldn’t even bring myself to ask the Lord to have mercy, because I could not bear the thought of his divine answer being no. I don’t want to stay here, and I don’t want to die, and I don’t want to take one more step into the unknown. I am haunted by fears and by slithering terrors, and this year has been difficult, and I am wanting right now to know the ending of all of this. Trials prepare us for future trials, for future glories, for future better days when we remember none other than the only God who made us, who was determined to carry us out of every misery and decadence, far and away from any forces far too far away from Love.

I’ve Seen Too Much
by Andrew Peterson

I know it sounds crazy
But I know what I saw
When the sun came up on the brightest day
From the darkest night of all

I saw the man die
They laid Him in the tomb
And I know cause I saw it with my own two eyes
When He stepped into the room

And I’ve seen too much, too much to deny
I’ve seen too much, too much to say goodbye

So we scattered to the four winds
To tell them what we know
But I get so tired and the doubt creeps in
And the doubt won’t let me go

And it’s all I can do to get up in the morning
All I can do to stand up in the storm
When all I remember is the passing form
A glimpse of the glory before it was gone

And I get so tired of this ridicule
But I cannot deny what I know to be true
Cause I’ve seen too much
What else can I do?
Where else can I go, Lord?
Where else can I go but to You?

I’ve seen too many faces
All shining like the sun
I’ve seen too many skies on fire
Like the face of the Holy One

I’ve seen too many eyes wide open
That once were so blind
All burning with the beauty of the same love
The same love that opened mine

And I’ve seen too much, too much to deny
I’ve seen too much, too many points of light
I know too much, I saw the scars and touched His skin
That’s how it was, and I cannot hold it in

I’ve seen so much that cannot be explained
And I realize it’s a mystery of faith
But my friend was dead and He walked out of the grave
And I knew the world would never be the same

I saw too much, when I looked into the eye
Of the One I love and the One who loves me
And there was nowhere left to hide

I’ve seen too much, too much to deny
I’ve seen too much, too much to say goodbye
Too many points of light, too much to say goodbye

Eighteen Years

Busch Stadium in St. Louis is a truly beautiful place. For the past ten or eleven years, it’s been a family tradition to go and see a St. Louis Cardinals home baseball game with my-in-laws. It started out with just the boys going, while the girls, along with whoever the baby boy was at the time, stayed back to go out to eat, paint our nails, or get back to school haircuts. Over the past several years it’s morphed into us all going together.

I knew I probably shouldn’t have gone, and I was right. This past year I’ve missed a lot of family events, be it Sunday services or Sunday afternoons out to eat. I stayed home from most my oldest son’s baseball games and didn’t go to my in-laws house for the kids’ birthdays. Earlier this month, while coming back from a family vacation to go visit my grandma, we went to an Atlanta Braves game in Atlanta. That’s its own story, but all of this is adding up to the reason I decided to go ahead and go along to the game.

The hour and a half long drive was okay. The 0.1 mile walk from the parking garage to the stadium will forever now be for me amazingly okay. The sitting in front of the stadium for half an hour was okay. The sitting in our seats for two hours before the game even started, now highlighting the obvious differences in how I personally would’ve chosen to do things, was still also okay. Catching a glimpse of David Freese signing autographs, the hometown hero champion of World Series 2011, then encouraging my kids to also walk over there, to get close enough to peek around the wall and they’d see him, was a thrill for me far more than it seemed to be for anybody else. At that point, I still was generally doing okay.

I was doing okay until about the third inning. If you know anything about baseball, you know that the third inning means you’ve still got at least six solid innings and potentially two to three more hours to go in the game. I started to feel a vibration in my back. I thought it was from the palpable energies booming throughout the stadium and somehow making their way to my chair. I turned to my left and asked my husband if he could feel his chair vibrating. He paused for a moment and then he said no. When I then put my thumb to my wrist to check my pulse, I realized my heart was actually pounding and that the rate at which it beating was significantly higher.

Instead of telling myself I was fine, that this was just your mind trying to play tricks on you, I told my body instead that I heard it, that I was going to do whatever I was able and could do then to help it. I’d gone up and down the stairs twice in three innings, once to use the bathroom, and once to accompany my daughter while she went. That was the point where I needed to sit down, where my upper legs were beginning to tremble, where the stadium lady came and asked me if I was alright. Three more times a person would ask me that question, and each time their genuine kindness and concern would pierce my heart.

I told my husband I needed to get up and go somewhere else, to sit up by the stairs. Then I asked if would come with me. I had a spent much of the afternoon Braves game comfortably alone in the open stairwell, away from the crowds, where I could stretch, rest, breathe and enjoy the light breeze. But the stairwell this time was only a stopping place. The stadium was too loud, the night was getting too late, and the hours leading up to the evening game had been too long. I told my husband I needed to go back to our van.

He disagreed, and this wasn’t a surprise. We have been through years of moments like this before, but this time I was consciously unmoved and different. He would help me or he decidedly would not, but there would be no changing my mind on this one. As my pounding heart continued to pound, I reassured my body that I was going to get it what it needed, that it was probably going to take some time, that I didn’t know exactly how all of this would work out, but that we were going to make it back to the van.

I asked for the van keys. I understood this predicament and could in some way relate. He couldn’t make me better with anything he would say, and I couldn’t make him see by over-trying myself. This was an inconvenience and a hassle and was going to cause a minor scene involving several other people, having nothing really even to do with what I wanted, but with simply what was needing to be done at the time. After a lady told me I couldn’t sit on the stairwell but could sit in a chair that was out of the way, texting my sisters and asking for prayers, and a little bit more back and forth interaction, he started walking with me over towards the third story steps. I was relieved that he was coming with me, and that the way from there was not uphill.

We were right about making a minor scene. All we wanted was to get me back to the van, and then he could go back for the rest of the game. But we arrived at the gate, and our differences met yet again. Because of COVID, anyone who left could not re-enter the stadium. I said this wasn’t a big deal, that all we needed to do was tell somebody what was going on, that if the person had any heart at all, which is every single human on this planet, they would make an exception. He said the rule was they wouldn’t let anybody back in, and he didn’t even have his ticket. He texted my in-laws to have them text the ticket to him.

After going up and telling the gate-people what was going on, they said they were not allowed to let anyone back in. By this point I was reaching my limit for walking, and was truly starting to hope my heart wasn’t about to explode. This wasn’t even the gate we needed, which was completely on the other side of the stadium. They said maybe gate three would let us do it, and I asked if there was any way to get a ride over there. They pointed us in the direction of the nearby help station, right next to the stretchers and the wheelchairs and the first responders.

I asked the help lady if there was any way to get a ride to gate three. She said she could get a stadium cart, but that a wheelchair would be quicker. For the fourth time that night I was touched by a stranger. She asked if I was okay, if I needed to be seen by first aid. I said yes I was okay, I was just needing help getting back to our car. She called the guy for the wheelchair and arranged for the parking lot transportation people to meet us at the street curb outside of gate three. The wheelchair guy looked slightly confused when he saw me. “Am I taking you?”, he asked. And I said, “Yes.” He wheeled me to where we needed to go, and at some point in the middle of the wheelchair ride my heart settled down to now pound at me less. I was relieved, thankful, riding against the people flow, and trying to hold in laughter about this absolute ridiculousness.

We arrived at the needed gate, but this time he had his ticket, and I was sitting in a wheelchair. He went up to the gate people and explained the situation. They immediately brought him to the gate’s main gate people. They said yes, go ahead, and if he came back there they would remember his face. The guy on the street was waiting for us with his vehicle, and the first thing he said to me was, “Hello Miss Rebekah.” I said hello back but when he asked me how I was, it was all I could do to hold in my tears, to look into his eyes with a sad half-smile and say nothing at all. We slid into our seats and took the short ride to the garage.

He told him this was our stop, that the driver could let us out here. He gave him five bucks and I thanked the man before he then drove away. Before too long I was back in the van, into one of the teenager’s middle row bucket seats where I could take my PRN medicine, call my sister to check in, cuddle up with my blanket that I still bring places, and soundly fall asleep behind the dark tinted windows. My husband gave me the keys, and he told me to promise him I wouldn’t drive to the hospital. I said I wouldn’t. He said it’s going to get hot in here, so I needed to leave the air on. Then he said to lock the doors.

I woke up to the sound of our kids knocking on windows. The game was over and the Cardinals had lost. I’d been asleep for two hours, and by the time we’d wind our way out of the garage, it’d be two more hours before we got home. I stayed right where I was and it was a comfortable ride, and before too long, the boys in the backseat were sound asleep too. I think I might have fallen asleep again, but I don’t remember. Needless to say, after all of that, I spent the entire day back in my in bed again. For the past six weeks I’ve been thinking about marriage, wondering what I would want to say here if I were to say something about it. I guess, for today, this story will do.

Glory to God

“Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.” -Proverbs 20:30-

I’ve been fighting with our internet for the past five days. By fighting I mean sitting here and watching that twirling circle spin around and around, finally stop, but only to leave it at a blank white page. When I’d go to my phone to find the draft there, again, nothing but the picture and a white blank page. After finally deciding I’d had enough, today I’m back on my phone after saying to the post, “Fine. I won’t write that one then.”

This feels like a season of God binding me up. If you could see me right now, I truly, truly think you’d be shocked. If you’ve ever seen those pictures where people are laying in bed covered head to toe in bandages with an arm and leg elevated and suspended in whatever those things are that hold up the limbs, that’s what it looked like. It’s getting better. I’m no longer bound to my bed and my leg is no longer suspended in mid-air. Now I just look like a walking mummy.

After a little over seven months, I resumed my place as the regular family grocery shopper person. Someone comes with me to push the cart, and I noticed I can now help load and unload the food from the cart to the check out and from the cart to the van without feeling uncomfortable. I still don’t lift or carry anything over the size of a green beans can and occasionally, a bag of apples.

Apparently healing from brokenness or sickness or trauma can also be, in a way, traumatic. I want to be grateful, and I truly am, but even writing those past three paragraphs hurt. And even in this one, it’s hurting again. But I’m also at peace with whatever this is. For it would hurt even more, yes, profoundly more if I didn’t say it.

A couple of years ago my husband and kids gave me some Old Navy navy blue, polka-dotted, one-piece pajamas for my birthday. I had said something at one point about wanting pajamas. They had a material and texture similar to long underwear. They were soft and made of 100% cotton. I distinctly remember the first night I wore them, laying in bed and feeling different. It felt like I was contained and whole. There was no unbuttoning of the button-up top to allow my nursing infant to feed. There was no designed way for them to be easily slipped off.

Besides being cold and a hassle to go to the bathroom with, I really, really loved those pajamas. I bring them up because something I read months ago in Peter Levine’s book Healing Trauma made me think of those one-piece pajamas. One of the first exercises he has in his book is to form a boundary around your body with string. The idea was to take the yarn or string and identify where your boundary was, to see the line around you where if someone were to cross it, that is the point you’d no longer be okay.

I’m learning just how foreign this concept of boundaries has been for me. Like, this idea of being a whole and complete person who has their own space, their own voice, their own place, their own own self, and that it isn’t wrong to say that. I am baffled that there are people who seem to naturally grow up knowing this. The other day I read an Instagram post from Shannon Bonne, the former wife of former pastor Joshua Harris. She’s one of the people I have been following to listen as she works through her faith deconstruction. One post in particular really stood out to me:

“Dear women, your rights can get really confusing and lost in certain religious (and other) environments. Give your life away! Die to self! Contentment is great gain! Not my will but yours! The heart is deceitful above all else! O ye of little faith! Put away the flesh! The messages to ignore yourself may be so plentiful that you’ve forgotten it’s okay to be human or even how. Here’s a reminder compliments of my best counselor ever, Glenda. Your whole self has permission to be here.”

I cannot even tell you how much I get that. I also find it truly fascinating that this wasn’t just me, but was something other people experienced. “The complementary nature of the sexes, yes, appealed to my love for goodness and truth and beauty. I would’ve never been able to see this then, and here I can only now speak for myself, but I can also see how Biblical Womanhood appealed to my vanity, my desire to be desired above all else, to be crowned the wife of wives and mom of moms. I truly thought I was loving my family. I truly thought I was following God. I was doing whatever it was at the time to do whatever it was I thought I truly needed to do.

I could go on and on and on like this. But I think the point that I am trying to make, the mysterious place I am trying to get to, is that none of this truly even matters. I am thankful to God for who and where I am now, for he is The Consolation Prize, the only one who could ever truly save me.