Hurting heart

I keep thinking I’ll post about what I learned from my exes but work, church, and life consume me.

This past week I found out a friend from my college days passed away. She was my youth choir director and I lived with her and her family for a summer after college.

So full of vibrant life, she overcame weight issues to inspire others to be healthier today and live for God every day.

The weight of the loss. The weight of the guilt of not visiting sooner. The weight of knowing that as a doctor, I know better… It hurts.

I’ve been praying in Mandarin with my parents. They’re trying to help me learn it better for my church and my professional life. I asked them recently how to say “heals the broken hearted” in Mandarin and it literally translates to heals the broken to pieces heart/soul.

God,

Heal all of our broken to pieces hearts. Mine aches at times, knowing how much so many must be hurting. I still can’t believe she’s gone. I still can’t believe I didn’t take time sooner to go visit. As a doctor, I know better. I know tomorrow isn’t promised.

Help us live every day for You.

Help us shine brightly for you as she did.

Help us bring many along with us to heaven so they can meet those like her.

Jesus, heal the broken to pieces hearts/souls.

Broken in Him,

Rebekah M

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Learned Helplessness

I mentioned in my last post that my husband and I were starting a Bible Study with a young lady who is new to our church. We have been able to do a couple of lessons with her and through the Lord, I believe that we are off to a good start. It is a blessing to be able to teach with my husband. In the past when I have taught Bible Studies I have done so on my own so I am keenly aware of some of the subtle differences. We are able to play off each other’s strengths in Bible knowledge to give a more well-rounded approach to the Scriptures. Where I might forget or overlook an important detail, he is able to jump in and offer additional insight. I appreciate his love for the Word and for this opportunity to be able to partner together in ministry.

The young woman we are working with is tormented by fears and anxiety. Her need for constant reassurance is heartbreaking. She wants to call and text at all hours of the day and night. The amount of free time I have in my schedule is very limited so these constant interruptions can be taxing. I have had to set boundaries with her as far as when and how often I can talk to her. She has a deep-seated fear of abandonment so I want her to know that we aren’t going anywhere, but also establish appropriate parameters so that I am not too drained to be a benefit to her spiritual walk.

What we’ve learned about her story is disheartening. The state removed her from her mother’s custody as a toddler due to abuse and drug addiction in the home. She then bounced around in the foster care system for the next six years. These were not always the best environments for a young child. Finally, an aunt took her in. Her aunt did her best to love her and help her, but because of her past she was not always the easiest child to raise. At sixteen years old she got involved with the wrong crowd and ran away from home. She moved from couch to couch living with friends and boyfriends, suffering abusive relationships, and experiencing many things that she harbors deep shame over. After a few years of this, she eventually returned to her aunt’s house.

She has a number of learning disabilities and mental health issues so the aunt was quite overprotective of her at times. Over the years she essentially learned from her aunt that she isn’t capable of doing anything on her own. The aunt constantly reinforced her learning disabilities and did everything for her to the point that she genuinely believes she isn’t capable of living on her own. She now lives with a sister that she only met a few months ago and readily admits that her sister has to take care of her almost as if she is one of her children.

It won’t happen overnight, but I truly believe this girl is capable of living on her own. It’s going to take some work, a little faith, and a lot of Jesus, but this is not beyond her. With God, all things are possible! She will need some help to learn some basic skills such as applying for a job, how to cook, and how to do laundry on her own, but it’s not as if these things are beyond her intellectual capacity. Yes, she may have some learning challenges that will have to be taken into consideration, but there are people with significantly more severe disabilities that live independently. Her main obstacle is not her ability to master these skills, it’s with her ingrained belief that she can’t.

The God we serve is a God of transformation. He is well able to take an anxious insecure girl and turn her into confident and capable woman. As she grows spiritually, I expect to see that she will also grow toward independence in the natural. It is my prayer that her learned helplessness and dependence on others will shift to an unequivocal and faithful dependence on the Lord. I am excited to see where God will bring her on this journey. I am not sure where my husband and I fit into her spiritual walk, but I am humbled to have an opportunity to witness even a tiny part of it.

Dear Readers, if you have read this far, I would like to ask you to take just a moment of your time to say a prayer for this young lady. Pray peace over her life. Pray for spiritual discernment and a deep abiding love of the Almighty. Pray the Lord would send her helpers that don’t hinder her by doing everything for her, but rather help to do it on her own. If you’re feeling particularly generous, say a prayer for my husband and I that when we feel drained that God would supernaturally fill us up. Pray that we generously give of ourselves in love and service to our wonderful Savior, Jesus the Christ.

We serve an amazing God!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

First Sermon

By show of hands, and I know we are not afraid to raise our hands, how many remember having to write an essay in elementary school entitled “What Christmas Means to Me?” My best friend, Robert, went on ad nauseum about socks: black socks, athletic socks, argyle socks. Robert has retired from the Marine Corp as a Colonel and lives in Iowa now as an attorney so it is safe to say Christmas means something other than socks for him today.

When Charlie Brown asked for the meaning of Christmas, Linus van Pelt got up on stage, stood in a spotlight, and masterfully delivered an excerpt of Luke 2. In all the history of the Peanuts comic strips, films, and televised specials, the one and only time Linus willingly lets go of his security blanket is when he comes to Luke 2:10 and tells how the angel calms the shepherds with the words, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” but that will be a point for another day.

We must be mindful of the miracles without losing sight of the reason why. We have to remember the socks when we get dressed or the outfit will be incomplete. We have to remember His birth or the meaning of why He was here in the first place is lost.

Skip ahead with me to Luke chapter 20 where we will find the parable of the tenants. The landlord repeatedly sends servants to the tenants who are brutalized and rejected. As a last effort he sends his only son. He hopes the tenants will respect and accept his son but they murder him. Over the course of Old Testament history God has been sending Prophets to bring His people back unto Himself but the people reject these messengers time and again. After a four hundred year hiatus what happened? John 6:38 tells us. Jesus came down from Heaven to do the will of the Father. There is the who, the where, and most importantly the why.

What has God wanted since The Fall in Eden? He has been working tirelessly, because you cannot exhaust the omnipotent God, to bring each of us back to Himself. Adam and Eve knew they sinned so they hid and covered themselves in leaves. God went one further. He made a blood sacrifice and better coverings than they had made for themselves. People were blind over the centuries to the efforts made. By show of hands, and I know we are not afraid to raise our hands, how many remember Michelangelo’s painting on the ceiling at the Vatican? God and man are reaching out to each other. Think more closely. God’s arm and finger are fully extended, forcefully, commandingly, as if to say “you are the one lost soul that matters to Me”. The man’s arm and finger are limp like celery that has been in the fridge past its prime, leftover salad which should have been discarded days ago, as if to say “yeah, I know you’re there but it’s in my nature to take You for granted”.

Jesus came to reconcile all the world to the Father. He spent time with the sinful, the lost, the ones who needed Him most before becoming our blood sacrifice. A person with 20/20 vision does not need an ophthalmologist. It is the guy with the foreign body in his eye or the detached retina who needs the specialist. The church is not a place for the righteous. If it were, I would not be allowed in. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The church is a hospital for the broken.

What is the purpose of the church? We are, through the foolishness of preaching, as Paul puts it, to communicate the Gospel. The Gospel is the message of reconciliation. This is why He came in the first place. This is Christmas.

The Epistles give instruction to churches and individuals on how to live, worship, and conduct our lives. According to II Corinthians 5, the ministry of reconciliation is committed to each of us. The greatest of all the spiritual gifts, according to I Corinthians 13, is love. What greater gift can there be than hugging that person who was lost and is now found, giving them a shoulder to cry on, and being a support for them?

The happiest people are those who have invested time in others. The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. Reach out to someone. According to Matthew 5:22-24, we are to reconcile with a brother before coming to God. The true attitude of the Kingdom, according to Matthew 18:15, is to communicate one on one to gain a brother through reconciliation.

During this process two things will be discovered. The hard part is defeating human nature in that I is the least important word in human relations. The liberating part is finding the joy forgiveness brings in freeing us to interact positively with people.

Do not lose sight of the meaning behind the miracle. The meaning of Christmas does not come once a year. It happens whenever and wherever there is a need to reconcile one to another. We were first called Christians in Antioch because it was there people first acted like Christ. Today the term Christian has become diluted to mean any Gentile. Put the meaning back in Christian. Put the meaning back in Christmas. Live His example. Let your light so shine. Bring someone back to yourself as an example of God bringing people back to Himself. Let the Holy Ghost work through you to bring someone back to Him. If we believe the Gospel, we do must obey it.

Yitzhak (Isaac) N.

Discipleship

“To all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God.” – John 1:12

A few weeks ago our pastor contacted my husband and me regarding a young woman who has just moved into the area and is looking for a church. She doesn’t drive so my husband and I were asked if we would be willing to pick her up for the following service. Of course we said yes without hesitating. She has attended nearly every service with us since.

She is only about four years older than our teen so to us she seems a lot like a kid, though legally, she is an adult. From what we’ve gathered, she’s experienced far more in her young life than she should have had to. That said, she knows what she needs is the Lord and she is hungry to get to know Him better. I’ve been praying that she will experience true healing as only the Lord can give.

There is something about this girl that reminds me of a lost neglected puppy. She seems almost desperate for someone to care for her. She doesn’t appear to have learned the basic characteristics of responsibility, communication, or being accountable for one’s own actions.

She comes across as very unsure of herself. In one moment she has the capability of carrying on intelligent conversation; in the next, she struggles to answer even the most basic questions about herself. When asked where in Connecticut she moved from, she could tell us the town, but not anything about the town or even what other cities are located near it for reference. She eventually said that she wasn’t from there; she is originally from Boston. So trying to make conversation, I asked her what part of Boston she is from. Everyone I have ever known from Boston will quickly tell you they are from Beacon Hill, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Southie, Hyde Park etc. and usually with such pride that when you ask where they are from, they may not even say Boston at all, but will jump right to the neighborhood they hail from. When I asked her this question she looked really confused and told me, “Massachusetts”, as if Massachusetts were a part of Boston instead of the other way around.

In another instance, she seemed really unsure of where we are in comparison to other places. She referred to places south of us as being north etc. She also hasn’t given us the slightest idea of how long she has lived at any of the three places she has mentioned or whether she’s lived anywhere else. She only mustered a feeble, “not very long” in reference to her current residence and gave the same response to the residence just prior to this one. I get the feeling she may have moved around a lot.  I am not sure if she really knows so little about where she is and where she comes from or if she is just evading the questions because she doesn’t want us to know too much about her. She is a sweet girl, but something appears to be lacking in her basic comprehension abilities. My husband and I have decided not to push her, but to let her open up to us as she feels able and comfortable.

Her first service at our church she went right to the altar and cried at His feet. She experienced the amazing infilling of His Spirit. Unfortunately, shortly after that, she experienced a panic attack in our fellowship hall. Thankfully, another sister and I were able to pray with her until she regained a sense of calm.

She readily agreed to come again the following service. It was after that service that she began to expound on some of her health issues both physical and mental. She struggles with anxiety and depression as well as a sense of being invisible to the world around her. She also confided that she has had long time stomach and digestive issues that cause her great discomfort and a fear of food.

During her third service at our church, she asked me to pray for her mother and revealed that her mother is a drug addict. The next service she disclosed that she is living with her sister and that she just met her sister for the first time a couple of months ago. She recently disclosed that she also has a brother that she has just met.

We are unsure exactly why she had to move in with a sister she barely knows, but we suspect her mother’s drug addiction may have something to do with that. It might also be the debilitating anxiety she is constantly under. She sometimes texts me dozens of times in a day asking the same questions over and over and practically begging for some reassurance that she’s doing okay, that she hasn’t lost her salvation, and that God won’t leave her.

My husband and I will be starting a Bible Study with her this week in the hopes of discipling her in her walk with the Lord. The Bible Study is a twelve week course that is designed to give a basic overview of the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Please pray for my husband and me as we embark on this journey with her. It is our prayer that the Lord will anoint us for the task, help us to be sensitive to her needs, and give us the spirit of discernment to best be able to serve her. Most importantly, we are praying for her spiritual development and salvation.

Though we don’t yet know all the details of her situation, we know that “all things work together for good to them that love Him” (Romans 8:28) and we believe that God “makes all things new” (Revelation 21:5). She has begun a beautiful journey in the Lord and we feel blessed to be given an opportunity to witness it.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Restoration

As time as gone on with the new guy, things keep happening to rewrite various times that in the past held memories of pain. Thanksgiving 2011 ended with me meeting my then boyfriend for dinner where he called for a break. That Christmas when he originally had planned on proposing I was single, having been broken up with via his changing his status on facebook.

This past Thanksgiving weekend, 5 years later I had a wonderful time with the new guy. It was the first time we hung out just the two of us for an extended amount of time and then joined friends afterwards for an almost 7hr hang out in total. I left that night wishing I had more time with him and we talked every day since.

Soon after, we started praying together every day for our respective jobs. He works night shift so often we have prayed together twice a day. This is a man who knows prayer. This is a man who has touched the throne of God in the past and it shows in his confidence in going to the King.

On Christmas Day, after having asked our pastor if he could date me the Wednesday before, he asked my brother (standing in for my dad who’s on the other coast of the US) if he could date me and was given his blessing as well. Almost like a kid, he shyly came up to me and said “so… your brother gave his blessing so… here in the middle of the church, would you like to become official?” It was so sweet and sincere my heart smiled as I said yes.

I don’t know for sure that this guy is my Isaac, but I do know this:

– I very much enjoy our joint prayer time, he’s a great prayer partner and I’m thankful for him and his ability to join me in seeking the One who can make all things better and new

– So far, even when it wasn’t planned specifically to be that way, milestones in our relationship have coincided with painful ones of my past- even his birthday, December 21st was a marked day of my past- I had fasted 21 days for that first boyfriend… the end of which was done living out the scripture of “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, pray for them that use you and persecute you too” since he had dumped me partway through my fast for him so on December 21, 2011 I declared it my victory day having successfully fasted for such a person and 5 years later I celebrated with my now boyfriend his birthday 🙂

– I appreciate how he treats me so much because of how poorly I have been treated in the past. I’ve been a klutz around him lately, spilling starbucks and water on him this past week. Instead of yelling at me and bursting out in anger like other guys of the past, he kept saying it was fine and not to worry about it. His patience with me, his care and concern, his prayers for me all melt my heart a little for him each time. He in turn is so thankful for me because his ex-wife was very emotionally/mentally abusive to him. My hard working, sweet, Godly, kind man was called so many things that he is not. It breaks my heart he had to endure that, but his commitment to his marriage vows (he never wanted to divorce, but she pushed for it and filed despite his trying to do anything to stop it for 3 years) tells me that he is a man who knows how to fight for a marriage and would for us if we ever got married.

– we both have had prayer journeys in our past – mine after my first break up, praying 4-6hrs daily for 3 months while his was 2hr prayer hikes daily for a year. Those intense times of prayer helped shape our respective walks with Christ and I think that’s part of what draws us to each other

All this is to say that I feel like God has called us to this time of dating to help restore each other through His guiding. I do not believe that two broken people should go into marriage, but I honestly feel like God brought us together now at a crucial time in which our prayers for and with each other are most effective in His journey of healing us both. His from the damage his ex-wife made in him and mine from the trauma of residency/past romances/long standing insecurities. I was sooo broken from so much. Earlier in 2016 I had daily suicidal thought; often the smallest pressure might send me into a panic attack. But God!

I’m surprised but thankful that God is using us to help HIM restore us respectively and I know He can do the same for you readers who need restoration. Likely it won’t be a new boyfriend/girlfriend – but God can and will restore each of you in His unique way if you’ll just let Him!

Jesus,

Bless those reading right now if they need restoration to find it in You. I pray that You restore what the locusts have eaten in Your perfect timing. Thank You for this new man in my life. Thank you for a man who would show me that he thinks i’m worth his putting his pride on the line to ask both my brother and my pastor for permission to date me. Thank you for my new daily prayer partner who tells me I’m beautiful, who’s grateful for me being in his life, who likes me just as I am- no need to change, no pressure to be anything but me. Help them seek Your Kingdom first as I have been doing and find all the other things added unto them.

In Him,

Rebekah M

This Is My Rebekah

When I first heard of this blog, “Being Rebekah”, many images and recollections flooded my head. Who was Rebekah? Is this is metaphor for these women who wish to emulate the qualities of my second matriarch? I remembered what the rabbis taught me regarding descriptions and anecdotes from Torah, Talmud, and Midrash.

Torah tells us, in B’resheit 24, Abraham sent one of his servants back to his people to find a wife for his son, Yitzhak. An angel went ahead of the servant. He prayed for an outward sign which was given by Rebekah bat Bethuel, and the rest as they say is history. Midrash tells us Abraham prayed while the servant was traveling that the woman God would provide would have the qualities God directed him by which to live his life. Talmud tells us exactly what these are: “to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to speak kindly to the unfortunate, to act justly towards all mankind, and to be ever grateful to the Eternal”. Separately there are references to modesty but none as clearly described until given by a rabbi generations after Abraham yahrzeit. Luke 14:8-11 tells of one person who honors himself in front of others leading to humiliation and another person who humbles himself in front of everyone leading to being honored publicly.

This is my Rebekah. Everyday she performs her role at work in virtual anonymity with professionalism and to the best of her abilities. Her behind the scenes efforts on behalf of all the other employees, for whom she has genuine concern, can only be described as a ministry.

This is my Rebekah. Everyday she provides strength and encouragement to those who are lacking in one area or the other, or both. She is a living example of God’s love, understanding, and forgiveness. There are Christians, as the world uses it as a label, but she is a Christian, as the honored title given to those in Antioch.

This is my Rebekah. She puts God first, above all things, living as closely to the Gospel of Emanuel bar Yosef in obedience and submission as being human allows. Her focus is on others, in many cases to the point of self sacrifice. She puts herself last so much this effort has become a habit which has become her lifestyle. It is to the point that when anyone does something for her she has a feeling of being unworthy, has a sense of embarrassment, and is disproportionately thankful.

My Rebekah is very much the way I imagine Isaac’s wife to have been: a tremendous blessing and gift of God, a help-mate, a strength, a compliment to my weaknesses and failings, and (most of all) my encouragement to continue building a relationship with the Eternal I Am.

Yitzhak (Isaac) N.

Praying into His Will

I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. ~Revelations 3:8

The day I got back from China I lost ALL my IDs. It was scary, it was freaky… but by the end of the day God assured me I was safe with Him. I still haven’t recovered them yet, but I know God’s got me because I know this is His Will to be here.

While I was in China, a guy from my church who is divorced with a daughter was one of the few who had a non-censored messaging app and we got to know each other a bit better. When I came back, he was the perfect companion for my insomnia/cold since he works nights and could text me while I was up coughing up a storm and jet lagged. Eventually he revealed he had feelings for me and wants to date.

The next day, we met up as part of a group and I mentioned that maybe I could hang out with him after a bible study and he replied maybe. 9PM rolls around and I’m at my brother’s house post-bible study where it was hosted and the guy texted me saying he was outside the church (where it is normally held) and could hang out if I wanted. He eventually revealed with prompting that his daughter was with him- I freaked out. I asked for us to take a step back and pray if this was God’s Will because to involve his daughter this early into things was more than I could handle. The weight of how things would affect her if it wasn’t God’s Will was more than I want to bear.

In all our time talking, I just couldn’t get why this guy was divorced. I asked him about his dating process with his ex-wife- decent timeline. I asked him if he prayed about her, he said yes repeatedly. I asked him if there were any warning signs and he said nothing major. I have continued to ask him about it including today… but today I think we might have found the big thing: praying into God’s Will.

He has repeatedly expressed that he has been praying to God that “I have to believe You know what You’re doing in my and [my daughter’s] life, Lord”… almost a plea to do better than before since he truly believed that God had brought his ex-wife into his life. But today I asked him one simple, but powerful question: did you pray if she was His Will?

The more we talked about her and his whole situation, the more I had the nagging suspicion that he had given God a list and asked it be fulfilled – he even had told God what name he wanted his future wife to be! To him, when this woman with his list came into his life and she even had the name he had asked for- BAM! God’s Will! But as I told him about how important it has been throughout my whole life to make sure my prayers were submitted into His Will and then ended with that question, he had to pause and could not say that he remembers actively submitting his list and his ex-wife into God’s Will, He assumed it must be because there was his list in living flesh, with even the right label!

My life has been His- step by step – even when it HURT to even THINK of things not being His Will- I have MADE myself pray that- the act of praying it into life (‘God, if this is not Your Will, please stop this, please don’t let it come to pass”)  being my way of lifting the knife to various “Isaacs” (jobs, location, schools, men; Genesis chapter 22). Each time knowing that the release of knowing that it IS His Will when things come to pass being completely freeing.

There IS a door that no one can shut but it opens only in His Will. When you are walking in the center of God’s Will, having actively submitted yourself and those things in your life into His Will, NO ONE can stop it!

Readers, 
Submit yourselves to God and His perfect Will and find yourself unstoppable. This does not mean that nothing will go wrong, but it does mean that nothing is unfixable in your life and trying times all ultimately give Him glory and work together for our good (Romans 8:28). 

Having talked with Rebekah A on this, we decided to joint blog about it so look for her Part 2 on this coming soon!

In Jesus,

Rebekah M