healthy family

I Am Not a Savior

wright-family-2020-178

I spent the first years of my marriage trying to make sure everything was perfect for my husband.

If he didn’t love the way I cooked a meal, I would change it the next time.

If the traffic was bad on the way to get where we were going, I would look for another route the next time.

If he got frustrated or angry at a situation, I would feel like a failure and try to anticipate that need and fix it the next time around.

He DID NOT blame me for situations going wrong around him. Yet I almost ALWAYS felt guilt and took responsibility for his reactions.

I did this because I thought that was what ‘good wives’ did. I thought my role as a wife was to make my husband happy. I was to think of him first before myself, right? My goal was to make his life painless. I did not write out this goal, I did not even consciously make this goal. But as I look back, I know that’s what I was trying to do.

I was actually pretty good at it too.  I am an organized person, a planner.  So I meticulously planned out events.  I am an overachiever, so when he said he would prefer something done differently, I jumped on it and learned how to do it differently.  I tried to stay one step ahead and clean up the messy footprints behind.

The first years of our marriage I was filled with a lot of unspoken sadness, frustration, and feelings of failure. I loved my husband. We had some ridiculously fun times and a lot of laughs. Still, I had an overwhelming feeling of drowning. Like I could never be good enough.

Around year eight I somehow realized that Brian did not marry me to be his mother. He was a full-on adult and he had deliberately chosen to get married and leave his mother. He had chosen me to be his companion. He chose me to be his friend, his lover, his partner.

This realization was freeing.  I no longer felt responsible for all his actions.  I did not stress about making sure he was fulfilling all his responsibilities.  I stopped feeling responsible when he overslept or when a family activity did not go as planned.  It was a turning point on my side of the relationship, but it still felt like something was off.  Something was missing.

It wasn’t until recently, year twelve of marriage, that I looked back on those early years and saw that I was not trying to be Brian’s mom after all. I was trying to be his Savior. Maybe more accurately, I was trying to erase his need for a savior all together.

His reactions to things that went wrong were often sinful. I took it as a personal mission to remove his sinful reactions by creating an atmosphere that was perfect. Again, he did not ask me to do this. I wrongly assumed it was my duty to do this. I thought I could place my husband in a perfect home environment, plan perfect family outings, give perfect advice for his problems, and respond perfectly to his requests and he would, in turn, be perfect in this atmosphere I had created.

That feels crazy when I say it so bluntly. 

The truth is, I can never create a perfect atmosphere. And it has never been my “job” to try.

I have changed the goal in my mind from being perfect to pointing to the One who is perfect. If I have a “job” as a wife, it is to point my husband to a perfect God each time he sins.

The reality of this is not easy.

For Brian marriage was honestly a lot more fun when I was making sure everything went his way. He didn’t know I was doing this and didn’t ask me to, but once I stopped ‘catering to him’ things had to get tougher before they could get better.

His changes did not come as a result of me telling him he needed to change. They came as a result of prayers on both of our parts. It came from me starting to feel safer opening up and sharing my heart with him. I began to tell him how I truly felt. I told him the times I was feeling like a failure so he could be aware of how his reactions were impacting me. And he began taking on a new role of guarding my heart.  

I really don’t know what would have happened to our marriage in the early days if I hadn’t been like I was. Maybe he would have spiritually matured a lot faster, maybe I stunted his growth.

We will never know. I just know I wish we had the marriage we have now back then.

I know we can’t go back and change the events and the attitudes that have brought us to the point we are at now, but I know we can surrender our current attitudes and habits and beg God to help us change.

And I know this is a continual work. It is a work that needs God’s Grace and mercy and love all over it. Because I am not a Savior, and each time I try to be one for someone—I will fail. But HE is a Savior and He will never fail.

-Rebekah

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.

 

-Rebekah

Healthy Soul

When Life Isn’t Fair

family in front of lake small

“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?

wright-family-2016-51

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.

brian with kids small

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.

making pizza small

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.

family selfie small

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.

beach silhouette small

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)

2 Sam Verse Image

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

Marriage, Parenting

Resting While Moving Forward

wright-family-2017-198

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.

wright-family-2017-205

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!

wright-family-2017-228

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 Soul

The Life-Giving Gift of Rest

wright-family-2017-198

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.

wright-family-2017-205

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!

wright-family-2017-228

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

Choosing to Thrive

I believe you can go through life one of two ways: You can survive or you can thrive. I have a hard time defining what these two lifestyles look like, but I don’t think I have to. I think if you stop and think about your life, you will know exactly what I mean. You can probably think back on times of your life when you can say, man that was great, I was thriving! Then you could look at times—months, years, decades even—when you say, I was doing all I could to survive.

Before January 4, 2017, our little family was thriving. And then we lost Beckett. It was an event that we had no control over. It was not something that we chose, and it was not something that we liked. We slipped into survival mode. It took all of the energy Brian and I had to go through the normal motions of life. Grief is exhausting. Emotions take a lot of energy. Every day I miss Beckett. Every day I am reminded of him in some way. I could choose to focus on all of the things my life is missing. I believe this choice would plant me firmly in survival mode. I don’t want to live my life in survival mode.

Instead I want to choose to thrive. I still feel sad. I don’t expect that to change any time soon, if ever. I still do not like being a family of four again. This life we are living right now—it’s not part of my perfect plan. However, I believe with all of my heart that in the midst of imperfectness, we can catch glimpses of perfect. And when we begin to look for those things and notice and appreciate those little moments, we begin a mental shift that takes us from surviving to thriving.

This concept of thriving is not original to me. Over 2000 years ago Jesus told his followers, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) The Message puts that verse this way:

I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

For me, my choice to follow Christ changes everything about this life. Yes, it gives me a hope for after this life. But right here, right now, in the midst of some serious ‘stealing, killing, and destroying’ of my life; I have a strength, a peace and a better life than I could ever dream of. And that strength does not come from me, it comes from God within me.

Sometime around the end of January, Brian and I took a look at our life and we decided it was time to make the choice to thrive again. It wasn’t an instantaneous, one time choice. The first time it was a choice we made to take Brooklyn and Boston out bowling for the first time. We laughed at the kids; we had fun as a family. We missed Beckett. Deciding to do one fun thing as a family did not “fix” our pain. But it did set us on a path to thrive. Next, we made a choice to get away as a couple for a night. The next month we went miniature golfing.   We did family nights and went for walks. The choices slowly started adding up.

At first, I had a hard time grasping the concept of thriving in these circumstances. It almost sounds irreverent or wrong to even think about.   I can’t give a generic definition of thriving, because I think it looks different for every person and every family. But if I personally define thriving as choosing to be thankful, choosing to look for glimpses of perfect, choosing to trust God despite how I feel—then I want nothing more than to thrive in this season of life. And I want nothing more than to encourage others to do the same. On the top of the mountain or in the bottom of the valley, look for the chance to thrive, thank God when you find it, and share it with someone else.

-Rebekah

 

 

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.

 

-Rebekah

Healthy Soul

When Life Marks the “Fail” Box

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I think most people lie when asked what their greatest fear is. I know I do. If you ask me what my biggest fear is I will probably answer bridges or fire. They are somewhat honest answers. I don’t like bridges, and I can’t handle people playing with matches and fire. But I still drive over bridges when necessary and I still light candles in my house. Those aren’t really my biggest fear.

The real answer- I have always struggled with a fear of failure. I don’t like getting things wrong. I wasn’t happy with less than an “A” in high school and maintained a high GPA in college as well. And it goes beyond that into adulthood as well. I like to be able to predict my husbands needs, to have our family outings planned for what we will need, to be able to pull off an event without any major glitches. Oddly enough, I would not call myself a perfectionist. I would define my fear of failure by saying that I like to feel like my hard work ends in success. I want to know my time and energy wasn’t wasted.

When I was sixteen-years-old I failed in my first attempt at getting my driver’s license. I didn’t handle it well. All of my other friends got theirs on their first attempt as soon as possible. So I lied. I pretended I hadn’t even taken the test yet, acted like it wasn’t a big deal to me at all. It took me a long time to even get behind the wheel and drive again and then an even longer time to reschedule the test. I could not handle the fact that I had not succeeded and found it impossible to admit that fact to others. By the time I did take the test again, I was much more prepared and passed the test just fine. When I told people I passed the test, I just acted like it was the first time I had taken it.

Now I am 31 and in the same position again. I moved to a new country and must learn to drive again. Over the past year, I have been in the process of “getting everything right”. I studied hard and passed the written test with no problems. Then the complications started. The test center was backed up for the driving test portion of the test. I had to schedule our test 4 months in advance. Already this made my timing a bit sketchy with a baby due in 6 months at that time. Then came the driving lessons. All month long leading up to the test I have been throwing our regular family schedule off with 2-hour lessons sprinkled all over the calendar. At the last minute they changed my test to the end of September, which was not possible with a baby due in the middle of September, and I got it switched around, but ended up with a date that was as close to my due date as I felt comfortable with. Meaning it was pass or wait until after recovery to try again. All of these details are simply to say, when I took the exam, I wanted to know that it was all worth it; that all the sacrifice and hard work that I had put in the past month ended in success.

As the test drew closer and my lessons progressed, I felt more and more comfortable with all the maneuvers and being able to do everything correctly. I was gaining confidence and knowledge and felt like I should be able to pass. I prayed that God would give me a calmness and a confidence as I drove and I knew I was capable of passing.

Still the night before as I was having trouble sleeping, I told Brian: When I was 16 I failed my driving test and I didn’t handle the failure well. I can’t shake the feeling that He might give me a second chance to do better with the failure this time around.

At the end of a 40-minute drive I had the examiner tell me I was a brilliant driver, one of the best he’s ever taken on a test. He handed me an almost empty report. There were 2 small marks on the entire sheet: 1 minor (you are allowed up to 15) and 1 serious — an automatic fail. The serious fault didn’t cause any danger to anyone and it would be tempting to call it silly, but rules are rules and I had committed the error and had failed the test.

I didn’t want that result, I wanted to know all my hard work had been worth it — that it ended with success. But “fail” was exactly the result I got. And even if I don’t like it, I can’t help but know it’s exactly the result God wanted me to have.   I should have passed the test, I’m a good driver, but I didn’t. Why? The obvious answer is that I made an error while driving. But the bigger answer, the one my heart is screaming in the hours since failing — Because God’s plan is bigger than my plan.

I have told God that with a baby coming in 6 weeks, I HAD to pass right now. I told him this was the best timing. I told him that this was the only way I could justify all the practice lessons and all the money we had spent setting this up. And He responded with, “I know better than you. Trust me.”

So I am trusting Him this time around. I trusted Him enough to immediately confide my failure in a few close friends. I was able to say, I failed, and I don’t handle failure well. God was able to use them to speak truth into my life before lies could root their way in. I am trusting Him with the timing of working in another exam and having a baby. And maybe most of all, I am trusting Him that while using my example of a seemingly small driving exam, I am stepping out of that grip that fear of failure has on my life.

That’s what trusting God is all about: taking the steps that might seem small to others, maybe even small to us at the time, but knowing that it is leading somewhere far greater than where I am now.

I have been given a second chance in dealing with my failure, and I don’t want to blow it. I want to trust God with His plan and His timing this time around. And I can’t help but wonder if, just maybe, someone else out there needs to do the same.

Rebekah

 

 

Healthy Soul

Choosing Trust over Fear

12 weeks close up

I have a really hard time writing when I can’t be open and honest about what I’m learning. On January 7th I wrote my last post, on January 11th I found out I was pregnant! This was very wanted, but somewhat unexpected at the time. We have spent the last two months getting acquainted with the health care system in a new country, and lying low until we could finally get that appointment that assured us everything was going well. We got the appointment, and everything is going great! So now it’s time to rewind a bit and share what’s been on my heart the past two months.

My first two pregnancies and births have been a bit complicated, and since I have gotten healthier in the past year I wanted to have this beautiful, healthy, fit pregnancy.   It started out so good! For about three weeks I stayed gluten, dairy, and sugar free. I did my regular workout and I felt so good about myself. Then week 8 hit. I had no energy, all healthy food sounded horrible, and I was a mess of expectations. I struggled for about a week of this, and then I started giving myself some grace. I still felt tired. I still didn’t like food. But I ate some ice cream. It was glorious. I ate when I was hungry and what I was hungry for. I lowered my daily step goal from 10k to 6k. Most days I didn’t hit it, but I went to bed anyway. Then there was the hardest part, I put all my fun family adventures on hold. I told myself it was okay to have more family movie nights and less days out. Not all special moments have to be well planned or picture worthy.

I wanted to take this huge new development in my life and just add it right in with all the plans I already had. But that wasn’t God’s best plan for my life. In my case, this unexpected is a great thing, but throughout the past month we have been hit with some not so great unexpected events as well. Sometimes God brings situations into our life to slow us down, make us re-evaluate and change some priorities. But my natural tendency is to pray, ‘God, help me to fit this in my life on top of everything else like nothing has changed.’ When God started showing me that I couldn’t just keep-on-keeping-on like all was normal, my first reaction was fear. My body was reacting differently to this pregnancy than the other two and I convinced myself I was pregnant with twins (I’m not), that I was just old now (I kinda am) and then finally that it wasn’t even an actual baby, just a food baby from all my ice cream choices (thank God for that clear ‘real baby’ ultrasound a few weeks ago). This was just the tip of the worry iceberg along with other doubts and fears about our ministry and family.

As all this went on in my mind, Brian and I were in the midst of some soul detoxing, and I came across this quote that has been ringing in my mind since:

What you fear the most reveals where you trust God the least.
– Craig Groeschel

Through this one reminder, I have cried out to God in prayer with each fear that comes on my heart. At times, I was just praying for enough peace and comfort to get some sleep at night. At other times it meant trusting God to work in someone’s heart, to save a family, or keep my little baby safe and growing. Whatever the situation, it is always about choosing trust over fear. It is about realizing how much Bigger God is than any of my own efforts. And the best part of all of this: I saw it work! I saw God answer an amazing prayer overnight, I have felt Him calm my anxious mind. And I am still trusting Him to work out raging storms.

Prayer is active. It is real. With my whole heart I believe prayer changes impossible situations. In my 2016 experiences, I want to live like I believe that.

Rebekah

 

Uncategorized

2016: Moments, Stories and Risks

It’s 2016—bright, shiny and full of possibility. I am a lover of new years. I love making my lists and goals for the new year. This year I have a bit of a struggle: I really loved 2015. I kinda don’t want to say good-bye to it. In 2015 my family moved from the USA to the UK and loved it. In 2015 my lifestyle changed and I lost 60 pounds. In 2015 I saw people say yes to Jesus and lives changed. 2015 was good to me.

Brian and I like to set a word and a verse as a theme for our family for the year. And in the last week of the year, God pressed this word on my heart: Experience. Then the ball just started rolling. Goodbye to 2015 became easier as I started to ask myself: What do I need to do in my life to really experience this year?

  • I need to stay as healthy as I can.

I know you can’t simply plan a healthy year. Sometimes, illness happens that we have no control over. But there are things that we can plan. The food I put into my body and the exercise I do—that is under my control.

And as I was thinking about that, God brought this verse to my mind as well:

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalms 34:8

I’ve always thought this was a kind of strange verse. But when I put it in the context with everything else God has been doing in my life it got me all kinds of excited! I already stated that I lost 60 pounds in the past year and that God is really teaching me a lot about health. Probably the greatest lesson I have learned is to eat real food: food that God created for us to eat. Taste and see that the Lord is Good.

  • I need to spend less time on my phone.

I can deny it as much as I want, but I spend too much time distracted by my phone. It’s a fact and it needs to stop. To truly experience life around me- I need to look up and connect with life around me. Taste and SEE that the Lord is Good.

  • I need to say NO.

I’ve written about this before so I won’t spend time on it now. But sometimes saying NO to good things makes room in your life for the best things.

  • I need to say YES.

I’m not at all confusing am I? There is a time to say no and turn down opportunities. But experience is about taking risks. It’s about saying yes even when it makes my stomach churn and my head scream NO! In experiencing 2016 I want God to do things in my life that I don’t see coming, things that I can’t do on my own. That means I need to be willing to follow His leading in my life. I need to follow that leading even when it is outside my comfort zone. I don’t like typing that. It might seem like someone who left her home country shouldn’t have a struggle being a risk taker. Someone who followed God across an ocean should be a little spontaneous. You’d think that, right? I like my lists. I like my plans. It’s more than a little scary for me to pray, “God, mess my life up.”

It’s even scarier to mean it.

When I first came up with the theme of Experience, I had thoughts of family vacations and days out. I thought of hikes and new places. But what if God wants me to experience something totally different in 2016? What if my experiences are scary and even if they are not fun at the time? Am I content to know that “the Lord is Good”? Do I trust that He knows the plans He has for me, and that they are good plans? Do I trust that, even if they mess up my plans I have for myself? I pray at the end of the year I will be able to answer- yes, I trust that!

So that’s it. That’s the big plan for 2016. Experience. Moments not things. Stories not souvenirs. Risks not comfort.   It’s time to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Rebekah