Healthy Soul

Grief and the Coronavirus


I look around my world right now and I see a society that is grieving.

There are people grieving the loss of freedom, expectations, incomes, careers, health, and life itself.

I do not consider myself an expert on grief, but unfortunately, I am familiar with it.

One thing I know to be true is that people grieve differently. Some people process things quickly, some slowly. Some mask their hurt with humor, some lash out in anger. Some people want to talk about it, some people want to talk about anything but what they have lost.

When you are grieving, you want other people around you to grieve like you. It is upsetting when you are sad and someone else makes a joke about the situation. There are times people are being so serious and you just want to lighten the mood.

Grief sucks you into your own world and makes it tempting to think only of yourself and your own loss.

I think one of the hardest things to accept about grief is that there is no cure. Sure there are stages to grief and you can cycle through them. But there is no quick cure-all to get over your loss.

There is not a cure, but there is perspective.

Loss is loss. What is hard for one person may not be hard for you. That doesn’t discount the fact that it is hard for them.

Today, as we are isolating and canceling events, plans, work environments, schools—it’s hard. Those are memories that will never be made, incomes that may never recover, and expectations that will never be met. I think we can all admit that is hard.

Today as people all over the world are losing loved ones to a virus that is rapidly spreading—it’s hard. There is no “at least…” when it comes to death. We can choose to focus on the moments we got with a person. We can choose to be grateful for the impact they had on our life and on the world. But when you have experienced the unexpected death of someone you love, you will never be okay with a trite explanation of why they are gone or comforted by the fact that it doesn’t happen to many people.

As I watch people grieve all around me, I hurt. I know the pain of unmet expectations. I know the pain of cancelled plans. I know the finality of death.

I also know the hope of Christ.

I was just going to leave this with a plea to be kind to each other. And really, we need kindness and gentleness right now in our world. But we also need the comfort of the Holy Spirit. We need the peace that only comes from knowing this world is not all there is. We need perspective on eternity. We need to believe in something greater than all the hurt we see around us.

We need to see it in people that call themselves Christians.

 We need to give each other grace to grieve our own losses while keeping in mind that others are experiencing loss right now as well. We need to keep in perspective that this quarantine will not last forever, but some of the impact from it will.

It’s hard.

It’s okay that it’s hard.

You have permission to grieve your loss.



Healthy Soul

I Continue to Hope


114 days.

Beckett passed away when he was 114 days old.

Tomorrow Rylee will be 114 days old.

This date has perhaps wrecked me more than any other date we have faced the past three years.

This day has brought out more fear, anxiety and emotional breakdowns than I’ve had in a long time.

It comes at me from all angles:

I look at our strong, healthy little girl and I think, ‘Surely we are safe this time. It won’t happen again.’ Then I remember walking to pick the kids up from school hours before Beckett passed away. His eyes were shining so bright and he was so cute and alive. I never looked at him and thought our time with him would be short.

I don’t want to put her down and walk away. That old thought reenters my mind constantly; ‘What if I had just held him all evening that day?’ and I can’t let myself take that chance again.

I trust my husband so much, but currently I am out of the house and he is with her. My mind is constantly wondering how they are doing. I keep glancing at my phone hoping for cute photos and no frantic phone calls.

It hurts that after tomorrow, each day Rylee lives is a day that Beckett didn’t get.

The crazy part of all this is that I thought this would be regular life the past four months. I had almost accepted that motherhood would be full of fear and sadness this time around.

I think I am being honest with myself when I say, this fear has not ruled my life. I have been exhausted, riddled with guilt over everything I’m not getting done, and emotional—but I have not let the fear of the ‘what ifs’ rob my joy of the ‘what is real’.

But two weeks ago it all crashed in. And it’s been heavy. It’s been exhausting.


So I told people I wasn’t okay.


When friends asked the casual question, ‘how are you doing?’ or ‘how is your week going?’ I told them I was a mess. I told them why. I said things bluntly to my husband that I usually try to tip toe around. I let other people in on my mess.

I haven’t let everyone in. I haven’t broadcast my turmoil. But I haven’t hidden it either.

I love the guideline of: You don’t have to say everything that’s true, but everything you say should be true.

This is my truth right now. It’s heavy. I don’t want to be ‘that friend’. The one that people don’t want to invite along because they always bring the mood down. The one that people have to filter their conversation around. But sometimes life is just heavy and there is no way around that.


And then finally, I let God in on my mess.


Sometimes I want to scream when people say I am so strong or compliment me for always pointing to Christ. I am not and I do not.

I am so, so weak.

I don’t know what I’m doing or if I’m responding the right way.

I choose to zone out and quiet my mind with music, fiction, sitcoms, scrolling. . . anything to keep myself from facing my thoughts.

Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning and I want to close my eyes and just pretend like life is fine instead of facing my situation head on.

I don’t want to think about the underlying fears and emotions because it takes effort. It takes emotional and mental energy to stop numbing my mind and let those raw thoughts rise to the surface.

As hard as it is to get real, I can’t pretend like this is just how life is and muddle through.

In those moments that it all becomes real, I know there is an answer to my suffering.

I know that Christ is the answer.

I know this because it’s the only thing that ever makes a true difference in my life.

When I turn to Him, my troubles don’t disappear. My circumstances rarely change at all. But my heart changes. My heaviness becomes lighter. Sometimes I physically feel it lifting off my chest.

Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I close my Bible and feel exactly the same as I did when I opened it just 10 minutes later. Sometimes this goes on for weeks.

God is not a mystical wish granter. There is no perfect prayer + bible reading formula to get what you want out of life.

When I let myself get honest, I admit that life isn’t about what I want to get out of it anyway.

Christians love to talk about this ‘free’ gift of salvation—that we accept Jesus sacrifice on the cross and that’s all there is to it. We talk about a ‘relationship’ like we have equal footing with God, a 50/50 partnership.

But when I accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for my sin, I gave Him my life in response. I said, God this life isn’t about what I want anymore, it’s about what YOU want.

Sure, I get to enter into discussion with Him. I get to argue and yell and tell Him how I want things to go. But I also have to trust that He is a God that knows the whole picture while I only see part. I have to trust that He is a God that loves me. I even trust that He is a God whose heart breaks with mine.

And when I give Him my troubles, fears, doubts and heavy emotions, He can handle them. Sometimes it’s immediate sometimes it’s not. But His peace is present. It’s present because I invited the Holy Spirit into my life almost thirty years ago, and He hasn’t left me yet.

Whatever phase I go through, whatever emotions I throw at Him, God is steady. He is true. He is there.

This isn’t just my truth. I don’t believe He’s just good for me.

I think He’s available for you too. I think He’s willing to listen to your troubles and your heartaches. I think He’s willing to take your life and give you His in return.

A life lived for God—it’s not free of trouble. Worldwide health epidemics still exist. Innocent people still die. It’s hard and it’s real and it’s full of trouble. But more than that, a life lived with God is a life that has the potential for joy and peace even in the darkest of times. It’s a life that knows this isn’t all there is. It is a life of hope.


When the days get hard, when the fear, anxiety and emotional breakdowns come:

I continue to remember that God gave me the gift of my son for 114 days.

I continue to choose joy in this motherhood journey I am on.

I continue to trust that He loves me.

Above all, I continue to hope.



healthy family, Healthy Soul

God Hears You.

Family Rainbow Balloons

I got pregnant in December and I felt God saying, share this news.

So we did.

Within a week we had shared it with our kids and then most of our family and close friends. We had a very public journey of loss and this journey of new life was going to be public too.

Then I had a miscarriage.

And I did not regret the decision to tell people we were pregnant early on. The loss of our baby was painful and I experienced it at home. I am glad my kids had a vague idea of what was going on and I did not have to keep our loss a secret from them.

I am glad our family and friends knew our exciting news early so they could pray for us throughout the early loss.

I did not, and still do not, regret going through our miscarriage publicly.

Then we got pregnant again. Rather quickly. It was exciting. It was a miracle (all life is). But the message pressed into both our hearts was much different.

This time we felt a strong sense of ‘Keep this news for yourselves’.

It was confusing, but it was clear.

It was confusing because the past three years Brian and I have been willing to be vulnerable. We have shared our emotions and experiences openly. We have both advocated for sharing this life with other people, not trying to do life alone.

But the message was clear. This time, this news, it was just for us.

The story of Mary and her miraculous pregnancy kept coming to mind. Specifically Luke 2:19 which says, ‘Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often’.

So I kept the news in my heart. Brian and I talked about it together, but we did not share the news with anyone.

It was weird. This was our fifth time to get pregnant and our first time to keep it a complete secret for so long.

I began to analyze all the whys. Why did I feel like I should keep this secret? Was it fear? Was it guilt? What was I supposed to be learning? What was the lesson in all this?  Because there is always a lesson, right?! There is always something to be learned.

For ten weeks I didn’t have any answers. Just a joyous little secret growing inside me. It was fun to share this intimate news with only my husband. But I didn’t think that was the point. But maybe there wasn’t a point. Maybe it was a simple act of obedience. I felt like God told me to wait to share the news, so I would wait.

Then as we got through week 8, the point of my previous miscarriage, and I continued to have nausea and symptoms of pregnancy I began to realize that God was listening to my prayers for a healthy pregnancy. And then it was week 11 and I was starting to feel better and feel more signs of the life inside me.

God was listening to my prayers and Brian’s prayers. That was it. Other people may have been praying for us throughout that time, but we were the only two that were praying knowing specifically for this little life.

And then it became so clear what I was learning through this experience. The message came flooding into my heart.

I knew:

The whisper of one small broken heart is just as important as the cry of an army of warriors.

God hears me.

He doesn’t hear me because other people are asking him to. He doesn’t hear me because I am a good person and deserve it. He doesn’t hear me because of anything about me.

He hears me because He loves me. And He hears you because He loves you.

God hears you. You are enough. All by yourself. Your voice is loud.

Miracle Square no info
healthy family, Healthy Soul

Daring to Dream Again

pregnant bw 1
July 2016. More than half-way through my third pregnancy.

I have been pregnant three times. Each time my husband and I have been pretty private about the fact that we would like to have a baby. Most the time we have not told anyone we were “trying”.

It’s like it is a fun little intimate secret we share alone. And we both love to surprise people! So we wait for the positive result and then share with close family and friends. Then we wait again for the sweet little ultrasound assuring us all is well, and then we take a cute photo and share our news with the world.

We love sharing the news, but we like to make sure we are in the “safe zone” first.

But when Beckett passed away at 4 months old, we realized there is no “safe zone”. There are no guarantees in this life.

For the past 2 years we have shared our journey of loss openly. We have followed doors that God has opened and we have known it was the right thing to do. It has felt natural.

Now we have decided to try for another baby, and we feel the exact same urging to share our story. But this time it is scary. It feels like maybe we are going to be over-sharing. Maybe it’s not really necessary to fill in the whole world on every little detail of our lives.

It’s scary because I don’t know how long it will take us to get pregnant this time. I don’t know IF I will ever be pregnant again.

However scared I am to share this journey, I can’t hold back. I feel compelled to share this part of our story as much anything I’ve ever written. I feel like I NEED to write this because I know I am not alone.

I know there are women reading this who have experienced loss and are scared to go through that again.

I know there are couples struggling because one partner wants another baby and the other one doesn’t. 

I know there is a mom with empty arms who just doesn’t feel ready to go through the pain again and needs to hear, ‘It’s okay. Take your time.’

I know there are people that have had their heart completely shattered and they don’t know if they can put themselves out there again.  

I know there are others who need to know that peace is possible.

I’m not just talking about pregnancy here. Maybe you have given your whole heart to go for a dream and it didn’t end the way you thought it would. And you just don’t know if you can do it again. You just don’t know if your heart can take being broken again.

I’m scared, but I’m more scared of not taking a chance. I don’t want to live my life in fear. And I don’t want that for you either.

So I’m going to share this journey. I’m going to write about the trials of trying to conceive after loss. And if you can relate directly, I’m sorry but I’m glad we have found each other. If you cannot relate directly, I pray you still find hope in what I write.

I don’t want to wait until after we have the happy result to share what this process has been like. I do not want to post a happy pregnancy announcement sometime in the future and not give acknowledgement to the tears, prayers, and waiting that are behind that announcement. This has been hard. Let me rephrase that, this IS hard.


This is hard on our marriage.

The loss of a child is hard on any marriage. I have read statistics that place divorce as high as 80% after the loss of a child. I have hesitated to say how our marriage has survived this loss because I know we have never truly made it to the “other side”. We consistently are reminded of the extra challenges we are still working through.

Brian has wanted another baby for a long time. Actually, while following the ambulance to the hospital, Brian cried out to God asking for the opportunity to raise another baby. As he held me in that same hospital that same night, I told him I didn’t know if I could ever have a baby again.

We have been patient with each other and as understanding as we could be, but for the first time in our relationship, we had different dreams and thoughts about what our “end-game” family would look like.

Brian quickly realized that no baby will ever replace Beckett, and he needed to spend some time adjusting to that loss instead of just plowing ahead into the future.

I have SLOWLY given my fears over to God. I have a lot of questions and concerns still. But I know I cannot live in those fears. Brian has patiently waited on me to be ready and left this decision in my hands.


This is hard because I don’t love being pregnant.

This reason has nothing to do with losing a child, but has a lot to do with my hesitancy to try again.

I am a horrible pregnant lady. Can I confess that I just don’t enjoy being pregnant? I know it is an honor and a privilege to be able to grow and carry a life inside of me. But I worry a lot. I think everything that can go wrong has gone wrong in between each check up.

My body doesn’t handle it real well either. I swell ALL OVER. I’ve had pre-eclampsia once and high blood pressure twice. It takes me about 2 years to get back to close to pre-pregnancy weight. The choice to get pregnant is a choice to give up my body. As much as I love my babies, I just don’t love being pregnant.


But the real reason I have been so scared to try again to have another baby:

I am fearful that it will break me. 


I am fearful I will never be able to lay that precious baby down, that I will not sleep for the first four months.

I am fearful I will neglect my husband.

I am fearful I will neglect my other two kids.

I am fearful I will lose another child.

I write this knowing full well that all of those fears are well founded. That as you read those last few sentences you can put yourself in my shoes and you would be fearful of the same things. Or maybe you are in my shoes and those are your fears as well.

But over the past two years I could never stop with those fears. I knew deep down in my soul, I wanted another baby. I love being a mom. I don’t feel like it all comes naturally to me. I often question whether I got the ‘mother’s intuition’ that supposedly comes along with a baby. As much as I make myself question my abilities, there is no denying my desire.

Up until this past summer I pretty much just accepted that that would be my future reality. I might lose myself for a time, our family dynamics might be tense for a time, I might live in fear, but it would all be worth it to add a precious new addition to our family.

Then I looked back on the past two years and I realized that fear and doubt do not have to rule my life through this process.

Almost two years ago we lost our precious baby boy. And in many ways it did break me. But in many more ways, I have witnessed a miracle. God has held me so tight through this time.

double rainbow original

Not only has my marriage held together, it has been strengthened by fire.

My kids have grieved the loss of a sibling, and through the process they have loved each other fiercely and are turning into pretty great little people.

I have neglected my body, fueled it with all the wrong things and been so angry at times about it. Then I have slowly come to a place of control knowing how to actually care for this physical body.

I have not lost my faith in God through this difficult time, I have clung to Him as my source of strength.


And if God could produce this kind of miracle in the past two years, why couldn’t He do it again?

Why do I trust Him to comfort and heal the pain of the past but not the unknown of the future?

So a few months ago, the same time Brian and I started feeling the urge from God to share this journey, we also felt the peace that He could bring about a miracle in our lives.

He could create a little life to carry inside of me. That in itself is a miracle each time it happens.

He could give me peace throughout that pregnancy.

He could give me strength if I have a healthy child in my arms.

He can calm my fears.

And if it all goes wrong—if I never get pregnant again, if I am unable to carry a child to full-term, even if I have to bury another child—even then, He can give me a strength and a peace that only comes from Him.

I’ve seen Him give me strength and peace before, and I believe I’ll see Him do it again.


I also share all this to ask for prayers. I speak of the peace and strength I have experienced since losing Beckett, and I know it comes from thousands of people all over the world lifting our family up in prayer. So I’m coming to you humbly again. I am thankful for your prayers and I still need them.

And while you are praying for this miracle for us, let me just throw this in—we aren’t just praying for one healthy addition to our family. We are praying for twins. Because if we are going to pray for a miracle, we figure we should go ahead and pray for the real desire of our hearts. And a set of boy/girl twins is what our heart desires. But what our heart desires even more than that is to be content with whatever God’s plan is for our life and our family. We desire to trust Him through this process and to be overwhelmed with a peace we know is from Him.

O God, listen to my cry!
Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth,
I cry to you for help
when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
for you are my safe refuge,
a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
 Let me live forever in your sanctuary,
safe beneath the shelter of your wings!

Psalm 61


I would love to pray for you as well. Let me know below or privately what you are struggling to trust God with for the future. I’m not saying this lightly; we need to know we aren’t alone. We need to know someone is cheering us on.


– Rebekah





Healthy Soul

How to Help a Grieving Introvert

me introvert lighter

I often call myself an introvert. And this is what I mean by that:

After being around people, I need time to just be still and quiet.

I am constantly analyzing myself and other’s response to me. An ongoing conversation in my head goes something like this: How am I coming across right now? How will this statement make that person feel? If I respond to this text right now, will they expect this to turn into a long conversation I just don’t have the energy for at the moment?

This is exhausting!

I need time alone to recharge and also to sort through all the thoughts in my mind. I love people. I love good conversations. But I crave alone time.

When I lost my son, the world changed. I changed in many ways. But at my core I was still the same introverted person.

And I think it was confusing for quite a few people who really loved me and wanted to be supportive for me, but had no clue what it was I needed from them.

I know all grief is different, and I know all people are different. But my hope is to give a few basic thoughts to help those of you that love an introvert who is grieving.


  1. Don’t Expect Them to Fall Apart in Front of You

After the death of my son, people often asked me how I was doing. That’s a natural question. I wasn’t offended by the question.

But my answer to that question was almost always vague. “We’re doing okay.” Or “God is my strength”.

And then I was often left with this feeling that I was letting them down with my answer.  I got this feeling that people wanted me to fall apart and share my deepest fears and feelings with them at the drop of a hat. Or at the drop of a simple question.

That is simply not me.

A week after Beckett passed away, I poured all my emotions into a public blog post that anyone in the world was welcome to read. I cried while writing it, I cried many times reading it later. It was my heart, my true emotions laid out bare.

Writing that post was my way of processing my emotions and also my way of answering the question, “How are you doing?” It was exhausting.

So in the following weeks, when someone asked how I was doing, I really wanted to tell them to go read about it themselves, I did not have the emotional energy to go through all that again!

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to let them in on how I was feeling, it was that I really could not physically bring myself to go through the emotions verbally over and over again.

Please don’t take it personal when your introverted friend doesn’t open up to you about their grief. I mean it when I say: It’s not you, it’s me. Go ahead and keep asking the question, just be prepared to quickly move on if they make it clear they don’t want to dwell.


  1. Don’t Apologize for Falling Apart in Front of Them.

I am not very emotional in front of people. I don’t know if this is an “introvert” thing or just a “Rebekah” thing. I have often felt envious of my softhearted friends. These women see a photograph of an orphan and are suddenly a sobbing mess.   They hear a sad story on the radio and they can’t even repeat the story to you because they are so choked up.

As a woman in ministry, I have often sat across from a woman crying over the state of her marriage, her rebellious children, her mess in life and prayed that God would just make my eyes squeeze out at least one tear so I wouldn’t appear so heartless.

Try as I might to change it, I am just a weird crier. But this doesn’t mean that it upsets me when other people cry in front of me.

Many times in the first months after losing Beckett, my friends would begin crying when they hugged me or talked about him. And then they would inevitably apologize.

Please don’t apologize for grieving over someone else’s loss! It shows you love them, it shows you care.


  1. When They Start to Talk—Don’t Stop Them!

Grief is a weird thing. It often shows up when we least expect it. Your friend might have some feelings and thoughts they need to process and they don’t even realize it until the conversation is started and the words come spilling out.

I often bring Beckett up in the middle of a non-related conversation. I am sitting and talking with a friend over coffee and my thoughts just start spilling out. I feel comfortable, I feel safe and I let my guard down.

If you want to be a safe place for your introvert friend to talk about their grief, be a safe place for them to talk about life in general.

Last year, on what would have been Beckett’s first birthday, I told my friend I was going to come by her house in the morning. Neither of us knew what that day would be like for me, but she was willing to put up with whatever I felt like on the day. I needed to go to a place where there would be no expectations placed on me.

I knew this friend’s house was the place to go because it had been the place to go for the past year. I had sat on her couch with a cup of coffee balanced on my pregnant belly and talked about motherhood many times. I had sat with that baby in my arms and talked about tired newborn life.

Then when my world changed in an instant, she was the one that held me in her arms as the paramedic took my baby from mine. The one that opened her home when I couldn’t face going back to mine. The one that saw me fall apart and didn’t expect a thing in return. The one that never had to ask me how I was doing, but always listened when I told her anyway.

Fortunately, I can say this about many friends not just one. I know I can text my parents and tell them to pray and they do without needing a lot of background. I tell my husband I’m having a hard day and he pulls me into his arms without a question. I cancel dinner plans with only a few hours notice and our friends understand without a complaint.

Then at other times I start talking and they just let me go. They don’t try to tell me how I should feel or drag more out of me than I am comfortable giving. They just listen and tell me they love me.

I have pretty great friends.

brook boston beach bw

  1. Let Them Know You Have No Expectations

In the first days and weeks, many people asked what we needed and said to let them know what they could do to help.

I had no idea what I needed. I had no idea what people could do to help. But suddenly this felt like a job to me. I needed to give people something to do so they would feel like they were helping. I took it as my responsibility to make sure they felt useful.

I know this sounds messed up. I am aware it is not at all what those people intended to happen. They genuinely wanted to help and would hate to think that put stress on me.

We had several friends that just stepped in and did things for us without asking and without making it a big deal. That is what I needed.

I needed to know there were no expectations on me as a friend to include other people in my grief.

chill afternoon
My idea of a perfect afternoon.
  1. Offer Non-Contact Support

I have listed several things not to do so I thought I would end with some practical things you could do to show you care.

The thought of making plans for a person, even a close friend, to come over to my house just to sit with me terrified me in the first phases of grief. Planning ahead of time meant I had to mentally prepare for what the conversation might be. I had to use energy to sit and talk and come up with conversation or process through my emotions out loud. I did not want to make plans to get together with people.

But if someone dropped by with a gift, that would be totally okay. That feels selfish to say, but it’s the truth.

I love hugs. I love feeling connected without a lot of words. A small gift and a hug at the door can be a huge encouragement without forcing your friend to use a lot of energy socially.

If you have trouble thinking of something to give, try one of these:

— A hand written letter or card.  If letter writing is not your thing, don’t stress yourself out trying to come up with the perfect words. Just buy a card and sign your name. It really is the thought that counts.

— A journal.  Many introverts process their thoughts by writing. I obviously fit into this category. Plus I love stationary and office supplies—Win/Win!

— Coffee.  Give a mug with a scripture verse on it, inspirational saying or cute design. You could also buy some nice tea or specialty coffee they can make at home. Or skip the at-home stuff and get them a gift card to go out for coffee with a note that you hope they enjoy some time out and an offer to tag along if they wish. You have offered a listening ear in a non-committal way.

— Small Personal Gift.  You know your friend. What will make them remember their loved one? A piece of jewelry? A figure or box to set out? A picture frame? What is something small and personal that shows you actually took time to think about them and the loved one they lost?

— Massage or Spa Treatment.  This is a bigger gift financially, but would a gift card for a massage be relaxing and welcome for your friend? I love to lie in a dark room and not make conversation for an hour. My mind actually goes quiet during a massage.

— A Cleaning Service.  The entire first year I was grieving my son, I constantly felt behind on household responsibilities. I just wanted someone to come over and clean my house and do my laundry. But I didn’t want to ask anyone to come over and clean my house and do my laundry because I did not want to have to make small talk with them while they worked, and I was too prideful to admit I needed help in this area.

Thankfully I have an amazing husband who starts cleaning when he has no idea how to help me. There were many months he kept our household functioning and took a lot of pressure off of me. If your friend lives alone or their partner isn’t super clean, chances are they are in dire need of some practical cleaning help.

If you can’t afford to pay for a cleaning service, give them that gift card for a coffee shop, send them out of the house, and clean while they are away. For $5 they are getting some alone time and you can give them some practical help.

— Prayer.  Seriously.  This is the greatest gift I have received in the past eighteen months. I have had friends pray over me in-person, but our family has had an army of people praying for us throughout the world. And we feel it. It’s not last on this list because it’s the least you can do, it’s last because I want it to be the one that sticks in your head the longest. If you are a praying person, pray for your friend.

gift guide for grieving frined

These thoughts have actually sat in my computer for months and I have struggled to finish writing them and post it.  It’s not because I’m an introvert and I’m analyzing how they will be taken.  I have an internal battle with this post because, regardless of everything I have just said, I really don’t love labels. I love discussing personality type. (I’m an enneagram 5 and an INFJ if you want to comment on that below!) But I get frustrated when people excuse their behavior behind a personality type. Ironic? Probably.

The bottom line:  give your friends grace to be themselves when they are grieving.

Don’t expect someone to react the way you would, and don’t expect them to react the way an article on the internet says their personality type should react.

God has created us unique and complex. And I believe we are the most helpful when we give people the space and the encouragement to be that person that God created them to be.

— Rebekah

Have you experienced grief?  What is something someone has done for you or given you that has helped you?  I would love to read your comment below and hear your thoughts.










Healthy Soul

When Life Isn’t Fair

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“This is our life, and it doesn’t even seem fair.”

I was standing by Brian one night recently and confessed this thought of mine to him. He nodded and agreed. We both often wonder what we did to deserve this life we live.

If you look at our life from the outside, you might see our current location.

We are almost exactly 3,000 miles from my parents. We are a little further from Brian’s family and a little closer to my hometown. Regardless of the mileage, there is an ocean that separates us from the people we came from and grew up around.

We devote a lot of our time to other people.

Three or four evenings a week we have people in our home sharing meals and lots of cups of coffee. We give every Friday night to running a youth club and countless hours to our church.

And then there is our family dynamic.

We lost a child. Our kids lost a sibling. We all four loved that kid with a fierce love. Grief is a part of our everyday life. Beckett is mentioned in our house almost on a daily basis. And even if his name is not said in a day, his memory is there.

Some people would look at our life from the outside and say, it’s not fair. Why does a good family have to go through so much heartache?


But that’s not what I meant when I told Brian that our life didn’t seem fair. I see something else when I look at our life.

I see our location.

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Earlier that same day we had driven a short twenty minutes to a lake in the middle of the mountains and gone on a beautiful three-hour hike as a family. Then later that evening we walked across the road from our house and played on the sand as we watched the sun set on the sea. We live in a ridiculously beautiful part of the world. It almost doesn’t seem fair that these adventures are right on our doorstep.

I see our home and our opportunities to serve others.

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God has blessed us with resources and a schedule that allows us to have time for relationships. We can have people into our home and open His Word and see lives changed. Yes, sometimes our commitments mean we don’t always do whatever we want with our time, but when we get to be a part of what God is doing in other’s lives, and when we get to point out that opportunity for our kids—that’s special.

And then I see our family dynamics.

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We are raising two kids that love each other and generally get along very well. They are both out of diapers, we don’t have to plan around their naptime, they can walk long distances on their own without strollers, they eat the same food as us, and they sleep through the night.

Brian and I have communication that is more open and honest than ever before in our marriage. We are working through some tough stuff, but we are working through it together.

I am getting healthy again. I have energy to go for hikes, to cook healthy meals, to keep our house clean, and still have time to go after some dreams in the meantime.

Our family is in a pretty sweet spot right now.

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And all of that is what I meant the night that Brian and I stood on the sand with the waves gently coming toward our toes and the sun setting a bright orange in front of us. I wondered how this could even be real life. How did we get so fortunate to live this life?

As I said it out loud, the phrase felt familiar and foreign at the same time. It’s a thought I had a lot before we lost Beckett. I almost felt guilty for our beautiful life. I often asked him in complete awe, “Why are we the fortunate ones who get to live this life?”

Then we went through tragedy and suddenly life didn’t seem quite as fortunate anymore. We were the ones living the nightmare, not the dream. Why us?

Through all these stages of abundance and loss, I have known one thing to be true: It’s never about what I deserve.

I don’t deserve to live close to my family. I have not earned healthy, beautiful children. My nice home is not my prize for saying yes to God’s plans for my life.

It’s all grace.

And God has poured out that grace on my life. He didn’t pour it out through a beautiful home, or loving husband or fun family time. He poured it out through His Son, and specifically His death for my sins.

That truth doesn’t change when my life circumstances change. His grace is constant and it is for me.

 It’s been almost a year and a half since we lost Beckett. In that time, I have struggled a lot with the thought of losing someone else in my life.   I tell God that I have clung to Him through this whole thing, but please don’t take any more. And He has repeatedly put one question on my heart, “Am I enough for you?”

Is God enough for me? If He takes away everything I have in this beautiful life, is He enough?

I have meditated on this a lot since then and I don’t think I am done asking myself this question. But on good days, the answer is yes. Yes, He is enough.

I have not become angry with God over the loss of my son. I have not turned from God because “my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence.” (2 Samuel 22:3)

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I refuse to turn my back on my source of strength.

I can look back now and say, God has been enough for me. I fully believe He has sustained me and carried me through my grief up to this point.

But that still leaves the question, what about the future?

What if we try to expand our family again and again we experience loss? What if I lose another person I love? Can my faith handle that? Can I still trust God after that?

For me, it all comes back to this: I don’t deserve anything in this life. I don’t say this in a woeful, hopeless way. I actually say it with joy. I say it from a heart that is starting to embrace that this life is all His grace anyway. If I can cling to God and believe that He was in control in the past, I have to believe the same for the future.

Friend, life is not fair. Sometimes we get abundantly more than we deserve, sometimes it seems like we get hardship on top of hardship with no warning at all. Let me encourage you to step away from those scales of justice we like to use to measure fairness. Please, leave the “deserve to” life behind and step into the grace life.

There is freedom in grace. There is joy. And there is perspective in grace.

This life is a gift. I don’t deserve this life, but I am sure thankful I get to live it.


— Rebekah

Healthy Soul

Why We Choose to Sabbath Every Week

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My husband and I both tend to be extreme people.

When we realized technology was playing too big of a role in our lives, we turned it off for thirty days.

When we wanted to eat healthier we removed ALL sugar, grains, dairy, and legumes from our diet for another thirty days.

When my husband felt like God wanted us to leave our job in the US in youth ministry and work overseas, he went in the next day and gave his boss his six-week notice with no idea of where our future income would come from. He just knew God wanted him to act so he did…immediately. (We did talk about it first, and I was onboard. I was scared out of my mind, but onboard!)

When we feel like we need to make a change, we tend to jump all-in and go extreme.

Usually, I love to blame my husband for our extreme actions. I always say he just jumps off cliffs when rational people are naturally afraid to even get close to the edge. But this most recent extreme jump began as my idea. It was a decision that came from a deep longing in my soul.

I felt as if my life was busy. My life was becoming chaotic. I felt overwhelmed.

I know I’m not alone. These are all words I hear many moms use to describe their life. Sometimes these words are used as badges of honor. The speaker claims to love this crazy life and wouldn’t change it for the world. Other times these words are cries for help from a life they feel they are drowning in.

I was part of the last group. My heart wanted to love this life I was living. I knew looking at my life from an outside, objective view, I had so much to love. But standing in the middle of my life I felt out of shape, out of energy, and out of control. I felt like I needed a change that was too big to make and I was just stuck. My life was full of a lot of good stuff, but it lacked passion and drive.

I felt like we needed to do something extreme.

So our family began to practice Sabbath. When I say that, this is what I mean: we set twenty-four consecutive hours aside to stop working and focus our life on rest and worship.

I realize that this concept is pretty foreign in today’s society. I think the best and clearest way to explain why we have chosen to do this, is to give you a glimpse into what Sabbath looks like in our home. But before I tell you what Sabbath looks like for us, I want to be clear about something:

Sabbath is not about rules, Sabbath is all about freedom.

 When I share what our family does or does not do on a certain day, it is not to create a list of rules other people should follow. I tell you all this in hopes of inspiring you to find what creates rest and worship in your life, and that you would pursue it with passion.

With all that said, this is how we Sabbath:


We choose to Sabbath on Sunday.

There were not a lot of factors that went into this decision. Basically we wanted to celebrate Sabbath as a family and the kids are in school Monday through Friday, Saturdays usually included parties, church events or a lot of work preparing for Sunday, so the decision for Sabbath on Sunday was easy in our home.

Our entire family participates in preparing for Sabbath.

Not only do Brian and I appreciate a clean house, but we relax better in a clean and tidy atmosphere. However, there is no cleaning on Sabbath. So the preparations begin on Saturday evening. Either when we finish eating dinner or when we get home from being out, we send the kids to their playroom to clean while we get our home in order by cleaning up the common areas and doing a quick vacuum. Hopefully the house isn’t too trashed and this doesn’t take too long, but sometimes it does. That’s life.

Next we move on to the kitchen. Brian fries up bacon and sausage and preps the breakfast casserole for the next morning while I marinate meat or do whatever is involved in prepping lunch for the next day. Usually we finish this up around bedtime for the kids.

We make sure they are excited for the next day. After a few months of practicing Sabbath, we don’t have to really get them excited—a day of no cleaning and lots of family time is exciting on it’s own! It is at this point that we tell them their Sabbath is beginning. We read together, pray together and tuck them in. Again, this is on an ideal Saturday evening, it’s not always that picture perfect.

We might have a few more things to finish up before Brian and I are ready to begin Sabbath.

If I like taking a break from one thing on Sabbath, it’s laundry! So I make sure the kid’s school uniforms are ready for Monday morning. I don’t let myself make lists or even look at my planner on Sabbath so I will try to look over my calendar for the coming week and make any notes of things I need to know for Monday morning. At a certain point Saturday night, I will completely close down my computer, shut my planner and empty my desk. The house is clean, my mind is at ease, and I am ready to Sabbath.


Brian and I often enjoy ending the night reading or watching a sitcom on Netflix. When we first began practicing Sabbath, I was going to be a stickler about a “no technology” rule. As I said earlier, Sabbath should be governed by freedom, not rules. I have since abandoned all strict rules except one (more about that later) and we occasionally use technology (actually I find it is way more useful to limit social media through the week when I am getting work done and then to enjoy it on Sabbath than the other way around.)

On Sabbath morning, I don’t sleep in. I am a morning person. I believe my best hours are in the morning and I hate to miss them, especially on Sabbath. Brian and I both get up and one of us gets the breakfast casserole in the oven. After this I get a cup of coffee and my bible and spend some time reading.

The kids wake up and play until it’s time for breakfast. Our Sunday morning breakfast actually pre-dates our Sabbath celebrations. Since we moved to Wales almost four years ago, we have enjoyed eating breakfast together on Sunday mornings and praying for the church service that was ahead. We have expanded our breakfast tradition to include praying for the Sabbath as a whole. I will often ask the kids to reflect back on their week and think about what they are thankful for or proud of accomplishing in the past week.

One of the things we remember when we practice Sabbath is that we are following the pattern God set when He spent six days creating and then rested. So we all take turns saying something we created or accomplished over the past week that we are proud of. This might be a story written, a Lego creation, a hospitable atmosphere in our home, or a really good meal. We take time to be proud of each other and thank God for the abilities He’s given us.

When breakfast is over, Brian leaves to go to the church early. I make sure the kids are completely ready and playing together in the playroom. Then I shut myself in my room to get physically ready for the day. At this point, I usually listen to a preaching podcast (Most Sundays, I am not in the preaching part of our church so this is my time to hear God’s Word). I might finish getting ready by using this time to paint my nails—something I don’t do at any other point in the week because it just isn’t a priority.

It’s finally time to begin heading to church together.


If you’re new to my blog or my story, my family lives and does ministry in Wales and together we lead many areas in our church and organize a lot of what goes on. I realize church is a very cultural thing. When I describe our church, it might not sound at all like what you experience in your culture. That’s okay. Remember, I’m not trying to give you a list of rules to follow, I’m simply painting the picture of what our Sabbath looks like.

I wrestled for many weeks with how serving at church fit into the grid of Sabbath in our lives. ‘Maybe we shouldn’t even attempt to Sabbath on Sunday because it is too much work.’ But over the past two years we have been on a journey with God that has shaped our view of what God has called us to do.

So let me state what I mean when I said our family does ministry in Wales:

First, we believe that if you are a follower of Christ, your family is where they are to “do ministry”. It is the job of all disciples of Christ to make new disciples.

And secondly, and most importantly, we believe that this discipleship does not happen best on Sundays. Our belief is that the “big stuff” in ministry happens between Monday and Saturday making Sunday a day of coming together and celebrating what has happened over the past week. This takes the pressure off of Sunday. It is no longer the main event where we must show up ready to perform. It is the very heart of Sabbath—a time to look back on what the week has brought us and worship God for all He has done.


What does this look like in real life? Am I standing in a flowing dress with my hair and hands free to worship God with my whole being and just an overwhelming sense of freedom? No. Not at all. I mentioned that we lead several areas in our church, didn’t I?

So a typical Sunday at church includes Brian going early for band practice, making sure technical glitches are all worked out, sometimes preaching as well. And then there’s me with a hand full of sign-up sheets organizing teachers, ladies meals, and children’s events.

But I realized a few weeks in to the practice of Sabbath, that I could make sure those sign-ups were ready by Saturday night. I could contact the many people I needed to talk to about events through the week and not leave it until I saw them on Sunday. I found that I could go to church without a running to-do list in my head and just genuinely enjoy talking with the people that were gathered there. I don’t get out my calendar and make plans on Sunday. I often say the phrase, text me this week and we can find what time works best for that. I am not avoiding commitment, I am purposefully choosing to keep my mind free of all the “need to’s” on Sabbath.

My continual prayer throughout the day on Sabbath is that God would keep my heart in an attitude of worship.

Sabbath is a practice.

I’m not getting it right every week. Some weeks I come home completely stressed out or at least have a stressed out moment in the middle. But for the most part, I have been able to thoroughly enjoy that sense of community and belonging I find at my church, and it has greatly enhanced Sabbath in my heart.


We all come home from church together. At this point we usually send the kids to play and start on lunch. There have been weeks we just grabbed a quick sandwich lunch and went to take naps because we were just done. Then we would have a larger family meal later in the evening.   But for the most part, we have come to enjoy this time together. Most of the prep has already been done, so this is just the finishing touches phase. Cooking the meat on the skillet, putting together the salad, something like that.

Brian and I are both verbal processors. That is code for: we like to talk! So we talk through all the events of that morning, anything we feel like God has spoken to us about, I might talk about a podcast I listened to earlier in the day. We love this time of working side by side in the kitchen and sharing our hearts.

When the food is ready we call in the kids and sit down together. Now, by this point we are all pretty tired. It’s been a long day already. This is usually not a long drawn out meal with a lot of conversation.

What follows next would probably be best described as “quiet time” or even “alone time”.

Boston usually takes a nap. That kid loves sleep!

Brooklyn usually reads, writes stories, or draws pictures.

I often take a nap. It’s not because I feel like I have to sleep on Sabbath, it’s because my body is normally very tired from the week and days activities. On Sabbath, I choose not to ‘push through’ but to listen to my body and rest. I have also enjoyed reading or even doing a puzzle during the afternoon.

Brian stays far away if a puzzle comes out—that is not restful for him! He might write, go to the church and play the piano, sleep, read or when it’s nice out, run.

What constitutes rest is different for each of us.

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Once we have spent the morning in community and the afternoon in solitude, we come together in the evening for family time. Quite often this is comprised of breakfast for dinner and a family movie. But it might also mean a long walk together, a trip to the park, family game night or whatever else we decide to do together. Then it comes time to put the kids to bed once again and close out our Sabbath day.

At this point, our Sabbath is technically over.

I might spend some time packing lunches for the next day, open back up my planner and check out what Monday holds. Jot down some notes of things I need to remember to do.   But I don’t get into anything too heavy that night. Like I said earlier, I am a morning person. I love feeling refreshed at the end of Sabbath and going to bed early even.

I have found that I wake up Monday morning motivated and ready to go. This is weird! I used to hate Mondays. I hated the structure of sending the kids back to school after enjoying a weekend. I hated getting up early after being able to sleep in for two days. And I did not enjoy getting back to ‘real life’.

But Sabbath has changed Mondays.

I wake up Monday morning with a ton of motivation and energy to tackle the day. Our bodies were created to work. In my personal experience, when we take an entire 24 hours off from that work, we emerge refreshed and ready to tackle what lies ahead. And it doesn’t just end on Monday. I have more energy and passion to work throughout the entire week.

I love to observe Sabbath, but I do not wish to spend my whole life in Sabbath.

I believe it was created for a specific intent: to give us rest and a time to reflect on the beauty of the work that has been accomplished. Sabbath only functions in connection with hard work.

As I look back on my life three months ago and compare it to now, I can honestly say I no longer feel overwhelmed, too busy, or like I am drowning. I don’t have less responsibilities, in fact I have taken on more.  However, choosing to Sabbath one day a week has given me energy and inspiration to accomplish more in the other six days than I have had in a very long time. I have even tackled the hard areas of eating and exercise and organization and I feel like I am living in the zone God created me to live in.

Do I think Sabbath is a command that all people, or even all Christians, MUST obey? No. I believe we have freedom. Colossians 2:16 very clearly says we should not let anyone guilt us in to participating in any customs. It says:

Don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.

I don’t believe Sabbath is a law that current day believers MUST follow. I believe it is a gift that we have the ability to accept. And I believe that truly embracing this gift, has changed the way I live my life. I believe it has made me more intentional, more productive, and more passionate about life.

And I believe it can change the way you live yours too.

Will it take extreme action to make this a reality in your life? Maybe.

Will it be worth it? Try it for a month and then let me know.


— Rebekah

Healthy Soul

The Life-Giving Gift of Rest


Every year Brian and I choose a word for our family. It’s a word that we want to describe our family or that we want to learn more about. In general, it’s the tone we want to set for our home for the year.   We have been doing this for a few years and our previous words were exciting action words like experience and thrive. They were concepts that pushed us out of our comfort zone. We made hashtags and took lots of photos of our experiences. They were fun for us as a family and fun to share with others. With excitement and anticipation, we sat in a coffee shop at the beginning of January together and discussed what our word for 2018 would be.

Before going into this year’s word, I feel like it’s important to mention last year. If you have been following this blog, or our family’s story, at all, you know 2017 was a hard year for our family. That is an understatement. We went into the year on an extremely high note. God had been teaching us many new exciting truths, we had a growing little family with three kids that were so demanding but so rewarding. We went into the year expecting to continue right along the same path we were on. January 4th we went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows when our baby boy passed away. The year that followed was so very different than the year that we expected.

You may not have lost a child, but I’m fairly certain you know what it’s like to have your expectations unmet. It can crush you or it can make you stronger. For us, it did both.

We depended on others as grief settled heavily upon us. We slipped into survival mode and we used all our energy to get through the days. Brian and I grieved very different, but we kept talking. We kept discussing and somehow we even kept dreaming for our family. It wasn’t instantaneous, but eventually we made the choice to thrive in our current circumstances and looking back we feel like we did that. It was not a year of incredible goal setting and attaining. Thriving for us looked much different than it might look for someone else. The year was not all forward progress, there were a lot of setbacks. But God faithfully carried us through the year and allowed us to come out with a growing excitement for a new year.

I think it’s natural for us to long for new beginnings after a hard phase of life. We like fresh pages, Monday mornings, January first. They hold the promise of a new start, new week, new year to do things differently.   This is true for me. Our one-year anniversary of losing Beckett lined up with a new calendar year. In no way am I saying that after a year I was done grieving. Grief is something I will carry with me the rest of my life. But I am saying that the one-year anniversary and a new calendar year seemed like a time to set a new tone for our family life.


So there we sat, in a coffee shop on January 4, 2018, discussing what we hoped 2018 would hold for us.   A sense of excitement began to grow as we allowed ourselves to dream and look forward. There were many areas of life that held an excitement for the future. A word seemed to surface over and over and the word we chose for the year was Expectant. We paused in talking and I wrote a blog detailing why we were choosing expectant as our family word for 2018. This is a small part of that blog:

I am expectant.

Expectant that God will change my heart.

Expectant that God will grow my relationships.

Expectant that God will renew our marriage.

Expecting God to give me wisdom as a mom.

Expecting God to use me in a fresh way.

Expecting a change in my health.  

I don’t mean expectant as in, ‘I will tell God what I want to happen and then expect Him to work in exactly that way’. That is having expectations. Expectations set me up for disappointment and ruin things.   I mean I am expectant for God to work in His own way. Maybe this seems like a petty difference, but to me it feels very different. I am done with expectations. I am ready to be expectant. I am expectant for God to show up in my life, in my relationships, in my ministry in 2018.

But I never published that blog about being expectant.

I really planned to publish it, but something held me back. That day as we sat together and talked about the coming year, Brian said God kept bringing the concept of Sabbath to his heart. Sabbath—the Old Testament principle of rest. The fourth commandment we learn in Sunday School, “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy”. Between expectant and Sabbath, the first seemed way more exciting and challenging to strive for. To be completely honest, I felt like we had already spent a year of not doing much. I did not want to focus our family on taking a break. I wanted to focus on looking forward to God working in our lives!

So I started the year ready for God to show me new and exciting things. And He did. Right away. The next day, actually. I listened to a podcast about the practice of Sabbath and I knew—this is it. I knew I had no idea what Sabbath truly meant, but I knew we needed it. Like I said, we didn’t need a break, we didn’t need a day off, we didn’t even need a vacation. We needed to experience the glory of Sabbath that God created for us.

I needed to practice Sabbath.

Somehow over the next few months our word changed, or more importantly our focus changed. I began reading, researching and praying for Sabbath in our home. God has overwhelmed my heart with a fresh concept and a fresh fire. I don’t even think I’m exaggerating when I say: Sabbath is changing my life. I know that Sabbath is not an irrelevant Old Testament law, but a life-giving gift. I’m learning how to make Sunday a day of Sabbath while being in the ministry. I’m learning how to prepare the night before. I’m learning Sabbath is just as important to my health as eating well. I’m learning how to teach my kids to Sabbath. I’m learning to use Sabbath as a verb instead of a noun!

Can you be this excited—this expectant—and rest all at the same time? Yes, I think you can. And I think that’s the point.

When we truly expect God to work in His own way, it may not be what we are looking for. It’s going to be better. It’s going to be what we actually need.

I don’t think this concept of Sabbath is just what I need or what my family needs. As I look around our 24/7 society, I think we all need it!


Please take a minute to subscribe to this blog and follow along this journey with me. You can also follow me living this out in photos on Instagram.  All of these things I’m learning, I’m excited to share them with you in more detail. I’m going to share the victories and the failures and together maybe we can experience some real enjoyment and rest in the midst of our busy lives. It may be odd that I am posting about a ‘word for the year’ when we are well into the year. Not all fresh starts begin in January. Those blank pages and fresh calendar years, they are great. But we can experience a fresh start any day of the year, any time of the day.

Today seems like a pretty good day for one to me!

— Rebekah

P.S. I Don’t want to confuse or offend anyone, I want to be clear from the start that I am not practicing orthodox Judaism.  I am a Christian and my viewpoint will be from that.  What I am describing and will be sharing in future articles is not an official Jewish Shabbat.  Thank you for your understanding.





healthy family, Healthy Soul

Sharing the Joy, Sharing the Pain

It’s almost been one month since we lost our sweet baby boy.

In the past month:

I have learned that clueless three-year-olds are a gift from God. Boston has made us laugh and continued on with his happy little life in spite of everything going on around him.

I have decided if there were an award for grieving, Brooklyn would win it. She talks about Beckett at least once every day. She draws pictures of him and writes letters to him. She somehow lives her life in a way that remembers him and honors him, without any heaviness. She is sad, but she is strong. She is one amazing girl.

I have been thankful for my marriage. I ache for Brian’s pain. He wants to take mine away. We both have moments of strength and hard moments, but we have them together.

I have felt God’s strength and comfort in a way I have never experienced before. I have never needed to experience it to this extent before. I can’t explain it, and I don’t think I need to be able to explain it. I just know that I would not be handling this the way I am without Him.

God’s love for me does not surprise me. God is love. It’s what He does because it’s who He is. What amazes me is the love being shown to us by other people. I know myself. I am a sinner. I make mistakes. I know Brian. I think he’s the greatest husband in the world (obviously), but I know he is very human as well. We are not amazing or exceptional people.   But we have made an intentional choice to share our lives with other people, and it is a choice we would make again 100 times.

We brought Beckett home from the hospital on September 15th. That morning Brian’s parents flew back to the US. We were bringing our third child home from the hospital with our closest relative 4,000 miles away. We were faced with a choice at that time. We could pretend to be self-sufficient and try to make it through this newly complicated life on our own. “Our little family of five is great and we don’t need any help!” Or we could share our lives with those around us. We could ask for and accept help. In the first scenario, I think we would have survived. It would have been hard, but we could have made it through each day. But we didn’t choose that option.

When Beckett was born we chose to share our lives, and we chose to share our little boy with those God had placed around us. And we loved it. Beckett quickly captured the hearts of our friends, our church, and pretty much anyone we passed in the village. He had big bright eyes and around two-months-old he started showing off a big smile to go with it.

We shared our little boy through the beauty of technology as well. Our family that couldn’t hold Beckett with their arms got to smile and talk to him online. Even my 90-year-old grandmother got to hold the iPad right up to her face and admire her eighth great-grandchild. Our friends could meet Beckett through social media. And our financial and prayer supporters in ministry were able to rejoice with us from a distance.

Life was hard with three kids. But the friends and the community that surrounded us made it enjoyable. I knew this thing we were experiencing was special. Brian and I often asked ourselves what we did to deserve such blessings from God. Why did we get to be the lucky ones that loved life and thrived in our current circumstances?

On January 4th our circumstances changed. We lost our little boy. At that point we had another choice to make. We could huddle our little family of four close and retreat in our hurt. Or we could continue to share this life with others.

Those people we let into our lives, they were hurting too. Our community that rejoiced with us and loved our little boy, this affected them too. The people near and far, the people that held Beckett in their arms, and the ones that held him in their hearts, it touched all of us. Brian, Rebekah, Brooklyn, and Boston didn’t experience this hurt alone. So we chose to share the pain just like we shared the joy.

This month I have learned many lessons. Some were not new lessons, but reinforced truths. One thing I know is that this life is meant to be shared. We might have been able to survive Beckett’s life on our own, but I question whether we could have survived his death without our friends.

Choosing to share our lives is a choice we will make over and over again. And it’s a choice I would boldly tell you to make today.   I’m not suggesting you begin to post photos of all your meals and family outings on Facebook (though I won’t complain if you do). I’m suggesting you invite someone over for dinner tonight. Offer to babysit for a couple that could use some alone time. Take a new mom and her baby out for coffee. Stop to have a conversation with the neighbor you wave at in passing each day. I’m suggesting you take the first step to make a real connection.

This choice to share our lives—it is a choice that can leave us vulnerable to hurt and can end up quite messy. But it is also a choice that can bring us unbelievable hope and joy. It’s a choice that comes with a risk. But it’s a risk that I’m willing to take.

I look forward to continuing to share our life with you—the joy and the pain.



healthy family, Healthy Soul

Love the Moments You Have


At the beginning of 2016, Brian printed out a paper that said “Answered Prayers of 2016” and was full of blank lines. The 3rd thing written on that list was “We’re having a baby!” We learned the exciting news that we were pregnant with our 3rd child on the 11th of January 2016.

On the 4th of January 2017, we laid our sweet, healthy, 3 ½ month old baby boy, Beckett, down for a nap and he passed away in his sleep.

We went through a lifetime in one year. But it wasn’t just a birth and death that happened in that year, it was a deeper change in our family.

Around March I began a bible study with a friend that was centered on motherhood.  Through the Bible study, and through her influence, I began to fall more in love with my ministry of motherhood. I began to love and interact with my kids in a different way. Some ways were very subtle, but some ways were more extreme. I knew going into Beckett’s birth that I wanted to take a long period of time off from all other responsibilities and just focus on being his mom. And for the first 6 weeks of his life I did that. I focused on Brooklyn, Boston, and Beckett and I loved it. It was hard. Babies are hard work. I was continuously tired, was still learning what each of his cries meant, and seemed to be unable to put him down for more than 15 minutes during the day without him wanting held. But I knew what I was doing was important. And I cherished it.

It wasn’t just me that was making changes to prioritize our family this year. Brian bonded with Beckett quicker than our other two babies. Whether it was a change in Brian, Beckett’s personality, or quite simply just the grace of God- they were a great team from the start. As Beckett entered the smiling stage, it was his daddy that made his eyes light up and his smile shine. When he was fussy and we couldn’t figure out quite how to make him happy, it was his daddy’s arm and a little koala hold that would instantly calm him down.

Brooklyn loved her brother. She read to him from the time I was 20 weeks pregnant and told her the baby could hear sounds on the outside. Brooklyn’s heart and attitude have changed this past year and she has become sweeter, gentler, and more mature. She’s still a wild 6 year-old, I don’t want to paint any untrue perfect pictures here! But she loved her baby brother with a gentle, genuine love.

And then there is Boston! He had no idea the baby in mommy’s tummy was going to be real until he saw him at the hospital and immediately fell in love. His exact question was, “Where’d this Bucket come from?” And from that point on his brother was called “Bucket” and he thought he was so cute.

To say all of these things in the past tense seems unnatural. It seems unreal. It seems like it can’t be us. I feel numb. I feel intense emotion and hurt. No one knows what to say to us. We don’t know what to say to them. I want him back. I know the road ahead of us is long. I know we will have many different emotions and reactions along the way. I don’t know how I will handle every step of the journey, but right now I am choosing to be thankful.

We had close to 4 wonderful months with our little guy. We got to hold him and love him and create memories that will always be there. We are choosing to be thankful for those 4 months. We are choosing to believe that Beckett was a gift to our family. We loved that gift. We cherished him for the time we had him. I want my little boy back. I want him back so much. But I don’t want him back to do things differently. I want him back because I miss him.

I’m not saying I didn’t complain about the late nights or the lack of showers. I fell behind on housework, on recipe planning, on record keeping, on countless things and I felt like I was failing at times. I’m not saying we did everything right with Beckett at all. But I am saying we enjoyed him. I am saying we loved him well. And when I look back at his short time here, I am thankful for the priorities we chose.

I know our situation has brought out a lot of fear in other new moms and families. I understand and I think it’s natural. But if I could choose for you, I would say don’t let this bring you to fear. Let it bring you to LOVE. Love the moments you have, don’t fear the ones that are unknown.

That “Answered Prayer” list that Brian printed out at the beginning of the year, we went on to write 138 items on it. 2016 was a good year. It was a good year because we looked for the good. We looked for God at work and we saw Him. And 2017 is going to be a good year as well. I know this because I know my God. In the midst of my darkness, in the midst of my pain, He is there.

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.  (Psalm 46:1-3,7)