On Anxiety, Anger, and Trust

Slowly I put one foot in front of the other. To my right, windows reach from floor to ceiling. In the darkness of night I can see the snow on the rooftops below sparkling in the building’s light. To my left, a wall of glass looks down on the hospital entryway below. During the day the noises of people echo softly through this hall way, but now all is quiet.

From the top floor this hall circles the edge of the building, circles the entryway below, and as I walk it’s circles my heart circles around the same worries. Each lap taking me a little deeper into anxiety. I walk as if trying to shake off the day, trying to escape the fear that has gripped me, but with each circling lap it becomes more and more clear that it’s not working.

Only hours before I stood in the Urgent Care with my four year old son. He sat in a stroller nearly too small for his preschool body. His eyes glazed over in a motionless stare. His little face flushed with the fever which had reached 103 degrees only minutes before. He complained of a headache and begged me to hold him. My heart longed to sweep him up in my arms and cuddle his aches away. I wanted to hold him close and never let him go. But, my head recoiled. I would never hold back my love for my child just because I was fearful of catching whatever illness he had, or at least I had never thought that I would, but in that instant I had to. I had to protect myself as a means for protecting my husband.

Bryan is now half way through his chemo treatment. His white blood cells are starting to fall. The goal of this treatment is to bring his white blood cells as close to zero as possible. They literally want to destroy his immune system. Once he is neutropenic then the real treatment can be given. That is when they will give him the millions of white blood cells – his white blood cells – that they have grown and trained to fight his particular cancer. That is also when they will give him Interleukin 2 as a support for the cells they inject into him. During that time he will have no immune system, he will be dangerously susceptible to illnesses and infections of any and every kind.

I cannot risk getting sick now, because Bryan cannot risk getting sick now. I will not be separated from my husband during the most difficult thing he has ever walked through. So I say no to my son’s begging. I step back instead of stepping forward and my heart breaks. My sister flashes me an understanding and heartbroken look, before offering to hold Thad for me. “Thad, can I hold you? I’m not your mommy, but I am a mommy? Can I hold you?” My heart swells in gratitude for my sister – she has a beautifully mothering heart – but at the same time it aches for my son.

I had thought I understood stress. I thought I was already under as much stress as I possibly could stand, and then Thad came down with a fever and I felt my worst fears being realized. I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t even think. All I could picture was myself coming down with whatever Thad had and being unable to be with Bryan and then Bryan getting it anyway because he had already spent time with Thad. This has been one of my worst fears since coming to NIH. And now I felt that fear knocking on my door, threatening to come in.

Looking back on the day as I walk I try to pray. I beg God to protect Bryan and keep him well, to protect me and keep me from coming down with anything, to heal Thad and restore him quickly. Lap after lap I lay the same request before Him. But, the hall is silent and my anxiety only grows. And then as I round the corner I hear a gentle voice, “You are worrying about something you cannot control.” And I only walk faster. I want to scream, “But I WANT to control it. I don’t want to get sick. I don’t want Bryan to get sick! I don’t want anything to happen to Thad and I don’t want him to suffer through illness without his mom! I DON’T WANT THIS! It’s not right! I want to worry about this because I want to control this.”

The voice comes back again, “But you can’t control this.” And I remember my blog post from a few days ago about Worry. I remember how I had concluded that it seemed ok to me to worry about things that I could control, choices I could make – it seemed ok, and perhaps even right, to worry about the things that were within my free will.

I fight back again, “But there were decisions I could have made things I could have done to prevent this! I shouldn’t have let Thad come out here. I should have kept him home. Even today when my sister told me he woke up teary and seemed out of sorts I should have heard that as a warning sign and kept him away. I should have left him and sent him to urgent care with my sister instead of going myself and exposing myself to whatever other germs there were at the urgent care. I should have… I should have… I should have…”

The voice is gentle, “You did what you could. You made the choices that seemed best to you at the time. You took steps to protect both Thad and Bryan. You got Thad on antibiotics right away, even though that wouldn’t normally be your first course of action. You wore a mask yourself and used lots of hand sanitation and even showered before going back to see Bryan. You did what you could within your free will. So, why are you still holding on to this? Why are you still so anxious over something you can’t control?”

Finishing the lap I stop and stand still. Directly in front of me is the small hospital chapel. I move towards the doorway as if pulled by gravity. But I cannot step inside. There is a war going on within me and stepping inside would be acknowledging defeat.

In my head I know that I shouldn’t be holding on to this anxiety about something I cannot control. In my head I know that Bryan could get sick while he’s neutropenic and there could be nothing that I can do to stop it. In my head I know that I could get sick – not only from my exposure to Thad, but just from the fact that I’m hanging out in a hospital all day. I know that I cannot control whether or not those things happen. I can take steps to prevent those things from happening, but now that I have done that I should be able to let go of the anxiety and trust God to do for us what is best.

But, there is the clincher. There is the heart of the issue. Trust.

Standing in that doorway, unable to step forward and yet also unable to step back I know I face a choice. The same choice I have faced a thousand times before and will probably face a thousand times again. Will I trust?

I start to cry. Not the soft tears of acceptance, but the hard sobs of anger. I am angry that Thad got sick. Angry that there is an increased risk that I will get sick and that Bryan might get sick. But, more than that I am angry that we are here at all. It is the first time I feel it, really feel it deep in my bones, this anger at the injustice, the un-rightness, of cancer. “God, how can I trust when you are not trustworthy!?!?” The words spill out of my lips thorough desperate broken cries.

“Do you really believe that?” “YES!” I cry back. And the truth is finally out. My head may proclaim God’s trustworthiness, but my heart tells a different story. In the depths of me there is not just questioning of God and his trustworthiness there is a knowing. There is a root within me that knows without a doubt that He is untrustworthy.

And now we can really talk. Now that the heart is exposed we can really begin the battle. In the silence a simple thought comes. How do you define trustworthiness? By who’s standards do you judge your God?

By my own, of course! By my own desires and goals and wills. I want what I want and when I don’t get it, like a small child, I holler and yell and believe that God is untrustworthy. Standing in that door way that is exactly what I do. I throw a classic tantrum. I fall to my knees. I play out all of my worst scenarios in my head and ask myself at the end of each “Would God be trustworthy then? How could God be trustworthy if that happened?”

God does not defend himself. He is silent, but more present than I have ever felt him before. And then when I have few tears left to cry the words come, “Will you follow me anyway? Will you follow as Abraham did, to an alter? Will you place Thad and Bryan and Sage and all that you care for in my care, on my alter, as Abraham placed Isaac?”

Remembering the story I suddenly felt calm, “Will you give them all back to me safe and sound, as you gave Isaac back to Abraham?” But, I know as soon as I speak the words that this is not a bargaining ground. This must be trust, real trust, complete trust, heart trust. I stand again and stare through the doorway, down the isle, at the simple alter in the front of the chapel. And suddenly something breaks within me and I take that first step singing through choked tears.

You are good You are good
when there’s nothing good in me.
You are love You are love
On display for all to see
You are light You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope You are hope
You have covered all my sin

(Oh) I’m running to Your arms
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

You are peace You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true You are true
Even in my wandering
You are joy You are joy
You’re the reason that I sing
You are life You are life
In You death has lost its sting

You are more You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord You are Lord
All creation will proclaim
You are here You are here
In Your presence I’m made whole
You are God You are God
Of all else I’m letting go

 

It feels like a very long walk from the doorway to the alter, but is in reality only a couple of steps. By the time I reach the alter I fall to my knees again, arms raised in the empty chapel. This is what it means to surrender. This surrender costs something.  This is what it means to praise in the midst of darkness.

After a few minutes the tears ease up and I feel drawn to the podium. On the empty podium rests a large lectionary. I turn to the marked page – the reading for the second sunday in Advent:

 

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see:The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[b] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

I nearly laugh when I read the passage, but instead tears begin to flow again.

Many years ago when I was in college and going through a difficult season, questioning God’s goodness, I read a book called The Prisoner in the Third Cell . It was very transformative for me and centered around this passage of scripture when John the Baptist was in prison.

Here is John in the middle of his own dark night, questioning the very Jesus whom he had proclaimed. John was faced with the same question I just wrestled with in the doorway of this hospital chapel, “Will you follow me even though you don’t understand me? Will you follow me even though I don’t do things the way you want me to do things? Will you follow me even though it might cost you everything you hold dear? Will you follow me and trust me even though I may lead you to places you wouldn’t choose to go?”

The walk away from the podium, away from the alter, out of the chapel was entirely different from the walk in. My heart was light as I crossed easily through the doorway. I will follow. I do trust.

 

Rejoicing in the journey,

Bethany

 

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Ingredients for a Healthy Marriage

Todays guest post was written by my sweet mother-in-law, Lisa. I have been blessed with incredibly caring in-laws who love my husband and I very much. Lisa has always been very open with me about her own marriage and I appreciate all of the wonderful talks we’ve had about life and marriage over the past few years. I hope you all enjoy this post and the beautiful prayer that she shared as much as I did. Thanks again, Lisa!

I have found in my 32 years of being married, that marriage can be an incredibly wonderful experience as well as a hellish one, and that there is no such thing as a perfect marriage because it consists of two imperfect beings. I do believe that marriage is a gift from God, one that should not be taken for granted, and that it is worth all the time, work, and effort it takes to build. There are many ingredients to a healthy and successful marriage.

The first one being Trust. We build trust by allowing ourselves to be accountable to one another as well as surrounding ourselves with those who will ask us the hard questions and keep us accountable. We can create and nurture emotional intimacy by being transparent with one another in a loving and accepting way. As we build trust, it breeds security and respect for each other, which allows us to know that our partner has the health of the marriage as the main priority in everything he or she does.

Forgiveness is essential to a healthy marriage. I have learned that forgiving someone that has wronged you, is not forgetting or even condoning the behavior, but showing grace and choosing reconciliation. It has taken my husband and me many years to bring our two very different ways of conflict resolution together to make them work. Rather than ignoring the situation with cold silence, we’ve learned to talk about the issue as soon as we were able. Sometimes it took awhile to cool down, gain perspective and think clearly, but we learned that resolving it as soon as possible was best for the health of the marriage.

Effective communication means verbalizing needs and listening carefully. We can not expect to go through our marriage without having to face conflict. God made us different, both with faults and strengths, however made to help each other grow spiritually. Learning effective communication skills will certainly help your marriage grow. We learned that “reflective listening” helped us hear what the other was trying to communicate. When one of us would relay a message, the other would repeat back what we heard. We were surprised to find out that many times we heard something that was not even said. This allowed us to clarify what the true issue was before jumping to wrong conclusions and responding prematurely.

One ingredient that is very important to me is Laughter. Humor keeps our marriage fresh and fun. Laughing together has the ability to form two people into kindred spirits, soul mates. Studies have proven that laughter is good for your health and can relieve stress and even pain by producing a natural tranquilizing effect on the body. Laughter can only take place when you spend time together. When you laugh together, the result is bonding and friendship. Laughter, and the resulting friendship, is comfortable, enjoyable and deeply satisfying. Laughter is about connecting. Finding a way to laugh about difficult issues helps you take yourself less seriously, and helps you put problems into focus.

Love and Romance are wonderful qualities to a healthy marriage. In the beginning, it seems to come more naturally than as time goes on, but it is crucial to put effort in keeping this aspect of your union alive. We have found that keeping a “date night” at least once a month is a good way to accomplish this. Once kids enter the picture, it becomes even more important to put the time and effort into keeping the love and romance alive. We have found that the best thing we can do for our kids is to love one another, have a healthy relationship and be a good example for them.

Ultimately, a good marriage is built on a foundation of love; but the bricks-and-mortar that rest on that foundation, such as communication, respect, and spending time together, take some effort. I would like to end with a prayer that I wrote down many years ago, and go back to many times: Lord, you truly are the giver of gifts and the author of marriage.

Lord, thank you for the gift you have given me in my husband. I know in the depths of my soul that you are trust worthy, faithful, all knowing, caring and loving and you knew what you were doing when you gave this gift to me. Help me receive this gift as you intended, help me cherish the differences and see how our gaps fit together instead of resenting them. Help me take on your character to enable me to participate in this union as I truly was meant to. Amen

myspace photoLisa Stedman is a wife of 32 years to Blake Stedman, and a mother to Bryan Stedman(age 26) and Tamara Stedman(age 23). She is a business owner of “Philo and Honey”, a company she founded to keep her family’s time honored tradition of making baklava alive. Lisa is also an artist, and especially enjoys painting watercolors. She also enjoys working out at the gym as well as hula hooping, entertaining, spending time with family and friends, and reading. She has felt very fulfilled in these many roles and feels very blessed.

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Stepping Out of the Boat

This is a guest post written by my dear friend, Sarah Springer. Sarah moved to Prague just before my husband and I did and is now back in the states following God’s leading into new roles and responsibilities. Even though we live on different continents now Sarah will forever continue to be a my dear friend. I’m happy to be able to share her with you all today.

I’ve been on a journey for around 13 years now in “finding myself”. Interestingly, part of finding out more of who I really am, started when I began to learn about who God is. I became a Jesus-follower when I was almost 18 and from that point forward, I have honestly sensed God’s involvement in my life. I have been on an incredible adventure of following Him, in real-life issues, challenges and decisions. I’d like to share how a story from the Scriptures has touched my life in a very real way. As you read Matthew 14:22-34, try to visualize the story of Peter and how he stepped out onto the water in the midst of a storm to walk towards Christ.

22Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat was already a considerable distance[a] from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28″Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29″Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

34When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.

This is actually pretty crazy. The fourth watch of the night, means it was around 3 in the morning! I don’t know why Peter did it or what he was thinking. Ultimately I believe he stepped out of the boat because he trusted Jesus; Peter really believed that Jesus would take care of him and support him. Years ago I came across this passage, in a season of transition in my life. I was laid off from work, in the midst of uncertainty, trying to find my calling in life. After reading this passage I realized a few things.

I realized that there were other people in the boat. They were disciples of Christ, believers of His teachings and truly followed Him. These people watched this whole scene with Jesus and Peter. On the other hand, Peter risked it all. He had to trust in Jesus and nothing else. God still loved those who were on the boat. God did amazing things through those followers. But, Peter, was a little different. Peter, unlike the others, knew the actual experience of following Jesus onto the water and even what it was like to fear and be caught by Jesus. I became very inspired by this. I decided with certainty that I want to experience following God and not just observe the things God can do in a person’s life. After reading this, I told God that I wanted to be like Peter, and step out of the boat, into life, in such a way that I can only trust in Him alone.

And, shortly after, my husband and I decided to church plant in Prague, Czech Republic. I had lived my whole life in the Chicago-suburbs; although I moved often, I was very familiar with Midwestern America and that’s about it. It was a huge move and a huge-cultural shift. The motivation that brought me to say “yes” to this adventure was that I imagined myself leaping into Jesus arms and trusting Him alone with my life. I wanted to know Him more though this decision. It was hard to be a “tree” and be replanted in a new culture, new language, and to build brand-new friendships. I cannot imagine where my life would be if I hadn’t faced my fears and in my own way, like Peter, stepped out on the water to trust Christ. We were in Prague for 3 years, and I learned so much, grew in incredible ways, and faced some truths about myself that helped me mature. And, even more than all that, my faith in God grew.

We moved back to the States in June 2009, and now, a year later, I am still feeling in transition. This last year, in many ways, seemed crazier and more adventurous and unknown than our journey heading to Prague! We moved back to a bad US economy where my husband didn’t have a job, I was 6 months pregnant, planning on a homebirth, unsure of a midwife and had no place to deliver my child; we were in temporary housing arrangements, uncertain of exactly which state we’d land in, and in the midst of reverse culture-shock. I could share many details about all that, but again, in the midst of the unknown, I experienced what God can do in a life that trusts in Him.

And now, I’m in a new season of trusting in God. As of yesterday, I have part-time job leading a ministry at my church for families who have a loved one with special needs. God has touched my heart deeply about this ministry and ultimately that my calling is to love God and love people. That’s what I believe life is all about. I have the opportunity to love people who are often ignored, overlooked, or even avoided. I have a chance to help others grow in understanding and loving these people as well. I have the chance to get to know God’s heart more. Who He is. How He loves. What He cares about. I am excited about this. Once again, I feel that I have followed God into this. I believe again, that I am stepping out of the boat like Peter, trusting Jesus to be there when I fear and to be with me in the unknown.

As I transition my family into a new rhythm, one of my concerns is how to continue providing natural, “real” food for my family in the midst of working 2-3 days a week, coming home around 5pm. I’d love to hear feedback on how any of you do it. How do you prepare your food in advance? What kinds of meals do you make that take just 25-30 minutes to prepare?

Thanks for reading. (And if you have any resources or experience or a loved one with special needs, please share! I’d love to learn all I can.)

Here is a blessing/prayer for those of us in any kind of transition:

God, circle us with your unending love.

Calm us with your strong embrace.

Give us the wisdom and discernment we need to

remain centered as things swirl around us.

Be our constant O God.

Keep us above the waters of Life that sometimes want to pull us down.

Give us peace that passes understanding.

Give us moments of refreshment and delight,

Calm our nerves and quiet unwelcome worries.

May we be blessed as we endure

Bless us as we love others, serve and lead.

May we not fear but trust You are with us.

As we put our Hope in You, may we rise up with wings like eagles

And know we are Yours.

May it be well with our souls. Amen.

Photo on 2010-07-01 at 22.30 #4I am a wife since May 2000, a mother of two, a sister to a few and a friend to many. I love spending quality time with people, sharing stories and learning more about ourselves as we’re together. I love being with my husband and children, doing whatever. I enjoy cooking, sipping tea, sitting in my papasan chair and reading or journaling. I love researching and learning new things–lately it’s all about food and various things about the food industry. I believe the core of who I am is loved and accepted by the Triune God, and that has made all the difference. I hope that somehow as I continue on the journey of life, I can encourage others and help them see Truth and Beauty in themselves.

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Pregnancy as a Spiritual Practice

I’ve been surprised by how little I have written about being pregnant and my experience being pregnant. I’ve tried to process that a little and I think there are a lot of reasons for it, one reason is probably that honestly overall I haven’t enjoyed pregnancy as much as I thought I would and to write about it too much would probably mean to complain about all the aches and pains and discomforts as well as the fears and insecurities that it stirs up – no one wants to read about that right? Anyway, today though I want to write about pregnancy and share a few thoughts about pregnancy as a spiritual practice and spiritual discipline.

Let me begin by saying that though I do feel like pregnancy is a spiritual practice of sorts I don’t by any means think that pregnancy is an essential or even really an important spiritual practice. Half of the population (men) will never experience it and many women both by heart ache as well as by choice will also never experience it. For those who want to experience pregnancy but are not able to my heart truly breaks and I do not want this post in any way to rub salt in an open wound. So, please if that is your experience don’t read on if you don’t want to, and don’t hold it against me that I wrote this post.

There is so much I could say about pregnancy being a spiritual practice and experience I’m not really sure where to begin now… well, I guess I’ll just jump in…

To me pregnancy feels like a spiritual practice because it is an act which joins us with the creative life-giving God. In pregnancy we partner with God to bring forth life. I really believe that it is a profound and sacred act, an act which is both entirely temporal and physical and yet also entirely spiritual and non-temporal. I can’t really explain that, I more just feel it, so I’m going to move on to another point.

When I first learned that I was pregnant one of the first things that I felt was an overwhelming sense of being out of control. This was so different from anything I had ever experienced before that it sort of shocked me in its severity. I realized very quickly in my pregnancy that I really had no control over whether this baby lived or died, whether he developed healthily or not, whether my body would do all that it was suppose to or not. I was intimately involved in the process of daily creating and sustaining this life, but I had no conscious control over how it progressed. To me it was (and is) a strange feeling to feel so deeply connected with creating life and yet to feel so removed from it. I have never felt as completely vulnerable as I have felt since being pregnant. Vulnerable to physical pain, to heart ache, loss, and even to death (in fact I have been a little shocked by how the act of bringing forth life can be such a vivid reminder of life’s fragility and end).

This feeling of vulnerability and lack of control have brought me to look at all of life with much more awareness of my own smallness. I have realized through this experience that I am out of control and vulnerable in more areas of my life than just my pregnancy and it has called me to a deeper trust in God and his sovereignty. Through pregnancy I realize anew that there is more to life than meets the eye, there is Other and I am called into a trust relationship with that Other. Through pregnancy I realize that I can’t go at it alone and that I do ultimately control very little in my life and world. Through pregnancy I realize that it is when pain and heart ache are close to us or threaten to be close to us that we most learn to trust the ultimate love and goodness of God. Through pregnancy I learn again to let go and surrender to that which is and will be.

Pregnancy feels like a spiritual practice to me also because it is a time that forces you into waiting. You can’t rush it, you have 40 weeks of waiting and anticipating and wondering and praying. Even though there’s a lot to do to prepare, pregnancy seems like it sort of forces you to slow down and be patient. As I wait for this baby to grow, I wonder what he’s going to be like, I wonder what kind of mom I’m going to be, and in many ways every day I have to let go and wait on God. Trusting him.

Pregnancy also feels like a bit of a spiritual practice to me because it is uncomfortable. It’s not easy being pregnant. Sure it’s beautiful and fulfilling and feminine, but it’s also terribly uncomfortable and awkward. You get nauseous, your back hurts, your skin itches, you get big and your balance changes – just to mention a few. In all honesty your whole body changes. I feel like dealing with the change and discomfort can be a sort of spiritual discipline. How I handle the physical pain and discomfort of pregnancy can teach me how to handle the pain and discomfort of life in general. Can I let go of the discomfort and pain and work through it? Can I continue to live lovingly towards those around me even in the midst of discomfort? Can I let go of my selfishness enough to notice and care for another’s discomfort even amidst my own? But will I also take care of myself when needed and recognize when I am pushing myself too hard and my discomfort is a sign that I need to slow down and rest? Can I listen to what my body is trying to communicate to me? Pregnancy forces me into all these questions and these questions force me to face my own inadequacy and that inadequacy forces me back on my knees before God’s throne of grace.

There is more I could write about pregnancy and the spirituality of it, and how it has drawn me and called me to a deeper relationship with God, but honestly I’m not sure how to put the rest in words yet and I’m not even sure if what I’ve put into words so far will make sense to anyone but me. So maybe I’ll stop here.

I want to close this post by sharing with you a poem that my friend Joanna wrote and gave me at my baby shower. I think it paints a beautiful picture of pregnancy and the spiritual mystery that is present in the act of bringing forth life into the world. I think it also portrays this awe-inspiring dichotomy of it being my body and yet not only my body which brings forth this new creation.

Moonbelly

Blessed are you, womb that heals and holds
Grows and tends
Stretches and shares
The life of mine own
Blessed are you, skin that glows
Ripe and ready for the harvest fruit
Ready for the great harvest of the one within
Blessed are you, bringer of life
Passage of light
Harbinger of all things good and pure
Blessed are you, blood that nurtures, protects and provides
Blood of my blood
Flesh of my flesh
Bone of my bone
Blessed are you, one within
The indwelling indwells with you
The spirit that knows you
Knits you
Loves you
Blessed are you, my sweet gift
Honor and privilege to call you my own
And show you the great love that is mine to give away
To you

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Letting go and Trusting

So, I haven’t been sleeping very well since being pregnant. In fact I think in the past 23+ weeks that I’ve been pregnant I’ve only slept through the night without waking up once. Honestly, I’m very tired of that. But, last night during one of my many fits of wakefulness I was doing some thinking, or maybe feeling is a better word for it.

It seemed that suddenly I was flooded with all the many things that are currently going on in my life and the lives of those around me that I could worry about. As the many potential worries came at my mind and heart, waves of anxiety started to build. I rolled over trying to shut the thoughts out of my head. I tried to pray for myself and those I love, but it seemed everything came at me so fast and I didn’t know where to even beginning. Soon I was sitting up staring into the darkness, feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. In that moment some words came to me, “Which of you by worrying can add a single hair to your head?… Oh, you of little faith.”

What does it mean to trust God in the midst of deep uncertainties and potential devastations? What does it look like to really have faith? How do we stop from spending our days in needless worry that gets us nowhere and does us no good?

I clearly don’t know the answers to these questions as my experience last night shows. But, as I lay there I started to see how truly pointless my worrying was. What did it gain me? It gained me nothing but more worry and anxiety. Then I began to think through each of the situations that were causing me stress. Not a single one of them was something that was in my control or something I could do anything about. I guess that’s why they caused me to worry so much in the first place – if I felt that I could do something about them then I would feel some release of anxiety because I would feel in control over them. But, the truly scary things in life are those things that we have absolutely no control over. So, maybe the act of trusting, the act of letting go of our worries and anxieties is really the act of acknowledging and accepting and surrendering to our ultimate lack of control.

That’s what I worked on last night… letting go. Recognizing my lack of control and accepting that someone far more gracious and loving than me is in control and I could rest in that. I didn’t totally figure it out, but I’m trying.

This morning I opened the Celtic Book of Daily Prayer and came across this section which seemed very applicable:

“Christ of the mysteries, can I trust You
to be stronger than each storm in me?

… I determine amidst all uncertainty
always to trust.

I believe You will make a way for me
and provide for me,
if only I trust You
and obey.

I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times are still in Your hand.”

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.