Tag Archive | Christianity

The Waiting Room

I’m in the waiting room of my Gynecologist’s office. The almost eerie silence is pierced every couple of minutes by the sound of a door swinging open and a soft woman with a wide smile calling a name. I’m hyper-focused on the slight creek the door makes with every swing. I wonder how the receptionists can stand to listen to it all day, every day.

I make my way to the restroom and I’m greeted by a sign that reminds me to check with the front desk before urinating in case the doctor will want a sample. But I know the doctor won’t want a sample because I’m not here for a UTI and there’s no chance that I’m pregnant.

The sign seems to mock me.

How many times have peed on a stick in the hopes of seeing a second line? How many times has my husband said, “I really think this time is it!” when my gut already tells me it isn’t? How long has it been since he stopped saying that because the disappointment hurts too much?

Back in the waiting room there are three other women sitting in chairs, all of whom are obviously pregnant. There is another woman standing at the reception desk who doesn’t look pregnant so for a moment I assume, like me, she’s just here for a routine exam. But she’s speaking loudly so she is easily overheard. At least it seems loud in such a quiet space. She’s complaining because she’s pregnant and getting married in a few weeks. She can’t believe her terrible luck that she will have to spend her honeymoon pregnant. “Can you believe this happened?” she groans to the receptionist. I ponder whether she understands how these things come about and I wonder if she grasps just how blessed she is that it came so easily to her. Then she gripes that this is her second pregnancy in just a few months, and that she took a bunch of Morning After pills the last time so she would miscarry. “I miscarried that baby and it just figures that now I’m pregnant again!” she exclaims.

You didn’t miscarry that baby, you aborted it, I think to myself. A miscarriage happens to something you love. Something you wanted more than anything else in the world. I’ve miscarried and I can assure you it is nothing like you’ve described.

A chemical abortion is still an abortion.

For a moment I have an overwhelming urge to kick her. I’m not proud of that. I probably wouldn’t admit that to someone in person, but we’ve always strived to be real on our anonymous little blog. The feeling was almost tangible. I actually pictured myself doing it. Then in shame, I sent up a silent repentant prayer. It was judgment, jealousy, and violence all rolled into one sinful thought.

Infertility is hard. Really hard.

When my name is called, I follow the soft smiling woman beyond the creaky door toward the examination rooms. The walls are lined with pictures. Picture after picture after picture of adorable, chubby little babies. The offspring of the women who have received their care here.

The pictures taunt me.

“You’re not a real woman” they say.

Women were made to make babies.
You have no purpose.
You’re broken.
You waited too long.
You’ll never be a mother.
You don’t deserve it.
 
Sometimes I think that Gynecology offices should be separate from Obstetrics offices to spare us infertile women the emotional trauma of a visit to the lady bits doctor. Because let’s be honest, going to the Gynecologist is already traumatizing enough without adding in those jeering beautiful infant photos lining the hallways.
 
My doctor tells me even if I didn’t have a chromosomal disorder and even if I didn’t have PCOS and even if I weren’t overweight, I’d still have almost zero chance of conceiving because at my age all my eggs are dead. He also informs me that at his age, my husband’s sperm is dead too. He didn’t use those exact words, but he may as well have.

I feel silenced from talking about this pain because everyone around me seems to think I shouldn’t even want children, what with my age and the fact that I already have step-children. But there is a biological drive to reproduce. There is something deeply ingrained in a woman to be a mother. God created us this way. My step-children are wonderful and amazing and a huge blessing in my life, but I will never be their mother. I can love them, nurture them, and guide them, but I can never be theirs. They already have a mother, and I cannot (and should not) take her place.

They will never call me mom.

Every children’s birthday party, every pregnancy announcement, every baby shower, and every gender reveal is like another stab in an already shattered heart. You avoid the babies in your life. You desperately want to hold them, and yet you don’t, because you know if you do, you will absolutely fall apart. Your façade will slip, your truth revealed. In these situations, it is reality to be authentically happy for others, but almost inconsolably sad for yourself.

And then comes the guilt. Guilt for feeling that way. Guilt for being too-self-focused. Guilt for failing your husband yet again. Guilt for not taking it better. Guilt for not always praising God through the storm. Every month the grieving process starts all over again. You try not to get your hopes up, but you can’t help hoping this is the month for your miracle. Followed by the inevitable let-down, indescribable grief, and the return of the guilt. Did you know that more than half of women experiencing infertility say that it is the most upsetting experience of their lives? Another study showed that women with infertility feel as anxious or depressed as those diagnosed with cancer.

I have no idea how people do it without God.

Because I know God, it’s not all consuming for me. The Lord has blessed me tremendously and I am very thankful. I have an amazing husband and an incredible family. I am truly happier in my life now than I have ever been. I have a God whose love IS all consuming.

In my pain and sorrow, He is there. Always there. I can’t say why my prayers haven’t been answered or if they ever will be, but I can say without any doubt that I know He’s heard me. He knows my tears. He sees my struggles. Even when my attitude hasn’t always been right, He has continued loving me through it all. I am forever grateful for that.

He is a God of the impossible. It was but a few short years ago that I was on this blog moaning that I was still single in a sea of unhitched Christian women with nary a single Christian man in sight. I saw all the impossibilities: the high ratio of single women to men, my below average looks, being beyond the average age for a first marriage, and being too busy, too shy, and too anxious to date, among other things. By my human reasoning, there was no way I’d ever find a mate so there were times that I doubted whether God would send me a one. Still, I was never quite able to give up my hope and when the time was right, God answered my prayers for a spouse in a way that went far beyond my expectations. My husband is so incredibly good to me. He makes me feel loved and valued every single day. He has a tremendous faith in God. He is everything I ever wanted in a partner.

If God can answer that prayer, I know that He can make me a mother. If He doesn’t, then I know He had His perfect reasons for not doing so.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

 

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Leaving Tomorrow!

travel-suitcaseI leave tomorrow for Asia. It’s hard to believe almost a year has gone by since I applied for this program. I’m still deciding on last minute things to pack. I should be done, but I keep changing my mind about things. I underestimated the amount of space all the gifts for my host families would take up in the suitcase.

Peoples’ reactions to this trip are interesting. Most assume it’s just a work trip, others assume it’s through my church somehow. Some have told me they can’t picture me traveling so far alone because I’m too timid and quiet. Others have told me they’re surprised I’ve never been. It’s amusing to see how people project things onto you.  People travel everyday, I don’t quite see what all the fuss is about. When I’ve told people I’m going to the Philippines, China, and Taiwan (in that order) for some reason most folks only seem to register China. I’ve been asked over and over again about my trip to China as if that’s the only place that matters. This bothers me. I get it; China’s huge. It’s also the economic powerhouse that people in the US have their eyes on these days. Out of the three, it is the one that Americans tend to know the most about. But still, it is not the only place I’m going to, stop acting as if it is. My other pet peeve? Taiwan is not Thailand! And it’s also not China. People, please go read a book. Oh, okay enough ranting. Moving on.

Things I’m looking forward to on this trip:

  1. Learning more about the places where we do business.
  2. The opportunity to interact with locals and share culture.
  3. Getting to know more about my co-workers.
  4. Most importantly, hopefully getting the chance to share my testimony and plant seeds for Christ.
  5. The food! 🙂

It’s sort of silly the things I’m worrying about. I should be concerned with safety, translation issues, getting along with my host families, the lessons I’m going to attempt to teach etc. Instead I’m thinking about being fat and coming home to a backlog of work.

Seriously though, I’m trying to gear myself up for the inevitable comments about my weight that I’m sure I’ll hear. It’s just not unusual for Asians to make comments about weight in a way that as Americans, we aren’t used to. It was that way when I first met my ex’s friends.  It was also that way when I was going to Chinese church. In addition, people assume you can’t understand what they are saying so that gives them even more liberty to make comments. There was one woman at Chinese church who made constant comments about my weight. Her and her daughter had numerous full on conversations about it while I was right in front of them. It was partially my fault because I never let on that I had a clue what they were talking about. That was somewhat unfair of me. Later when she found out that I understand a little Mandarin she was a bit upset that she hadn’t been told. But pretending not to understand was my only defense. What would I have said? So I said nothing.

Granted, I’ve lost quite a lot of weight since then, but compared to your average Asian, I’m still huge. Here in America, I’m thrilled to be overweight. You may wonder how anyone could be thrilled to be overweight. Well, when you’ve spent all of your adult life in the obese category, and most of it in the ‘super (morbidly) obese’ category, being merely overweight is a wonderful feeling! but that’s in America. Going to Asia basically means I’m going back to being super obese (in comparison) and I’m not looking forward to that part of it.

I know I’ll hear the comments and it will be the same as it was with my ex’s friends or with the folks at Chinese church; I’ll grin and bear it and act as if I don’t know what they’re saying. It will be partially true since my understanding of Mandarin is so limited. I’ll try to tell myself that I misunderstood, that they aren’t saying what I think they’re saying, that it’s just their culture, that it doesn’t matter…that it doesn’t affect me.

Ahh, but enough of that. I’m not going to waste too much energy thinking about those things. Good things are ahead! I’m going with a spirit of expectation and I can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do! My prayer is that by the end of this journey I will have a new appreciation for my home country and all the things we so often take for granted. More importantly, I pray that somehow the people we meet will be forever changed because of God’s mercy and love for them.

Since Being Rebekah is a shared blog with a pretty specific focus, I have set up a second, semi-private blog to document my experiences on this trip. I will attempt to write every day and later upload the posts whenever I can find an internet connection. It will not necessarily have a spiritual focus the way this blog does, but will function more as a personal journal for me. Never the less, if you are interested in keeping up with my journey, send me an email at beingrebekahl@gmail.com and I will send you the link.

Next week on my regular day to post on this blog I’ll be in China. I am going to try to post from there, but I’m not really sure if I’ll be able to or not. WordPress is banned in China, but a fellow blogger that lives there has sent me instructions on how to get around that, so we’ll see. Also, my internet availability will be a bit spotty while I’m gone. I’ll have it in some places and not in others so I’m not completely sure if I’ll be able to post on my regularly scheduled day or not. To be sure, I’ll post again when I can. Say a prayer for me.

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

The God of the Impossible

I have been talking to a Buddhist man at my job about Jesus for awhile now. He always listens to what I have to say and compares and contrasts my beliefs with his own, but I was never really sure if he took anything I said to heart. To me, it seemed that he wasn’t really interested in Christianity beyond an academic understanding.

Today something interesting happened. This man’s son stopped by my office (his son also works for our company). I rarely talk to the son because we don’t work in the same department and most of the decisions for this family are handled by dad. The son asked me a couple of work related questions, but each time I thought his question was answered, he hesitated about leaving. Finally, I asked him if there was something else he wanted to talk to me about. He took a deep breath and gave me a half nod. He said, “you’ve been talking to my father a lot recently, right?” He then stuck his head out of my office door to quickly look down the corridor to make sure no one was around to hear what he was about to say. I suspect he was double checking to make sure his father wasn’t within earshot. When he determined the coast was clear he said, “My dad wants us to ask Jesus to reunite our family.” You see, my co-worker and his sons are in the United States while his wife and two daughters remain in his home country. For legal and political reasons they have not been able to return home, nor bring the rest of the family to the US. Apparently my co-worker told his son, “We tried our home country’s government and that didn’t work, we tried this country’s government and that didn’t work, we tried lighting incense, we tried burning paper and none of it worked. What harm can come from trying Jesus?”

So the son asked me if I told his father that praying to my God would bring their family back together. The son was very nervous and careful with his words, but it was clear that his family has been through a lot and he didn’t like the idea of me giving his father false hope. He feels it is useless to keep pining away for something that is impossible and he does not want to see his father’s spirits crushed by yet another disappointment.

I can understand that he wants to protect his father from further pain and I admire him for his effort to do so. The thing is that I never told his father that Jesus could reunite their family. To be honest, his father never talks about the family back home and as insensitive and naive as it might sound, it actually never occurred to me that this was something he would consider. All I have done is share the testimonies of things Jesus has done in my own life. The fact remains though, that Jesus can bring his family back together! He is the God of the impossible! It is when things seem most impossible that Jesus can move. It is often when we have tried everything else and we are most desperate that God can show us who He is and what He is capable of.

Please pray with me that this man and his son will step out in faith to ask Christ to do the impossible in their lives. Pray that God will honor that faith with a mighty move to reunite this family. Pray that they will know without a doubt Who it was that answered their prayer and endeavor to follow the One True God. God is able!

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

Working as for the Lord

Today at work I had a lot to do. I also had the ability, if I wanted, to be lazy and put off doing most of it. That’s because while I had a lot of things on my list, I didn’t have any pressing deadlines hanging over my head today. Also, both my boss and my supervisor were not in the building so there was no one looking over my shoulder or creating more work for me to do. In my flesh, I wanted to take it easy. I reasoned that opportunities to just relax are few and far between and that I deserved the break. I didn’t want to work hard today for the simple reason that I could get away with it.

It got me thinking about spiritual things. There are times when we could pray and we know we should pray, but we don’t because we don’t feel like it. We justify to ourselves that we can do it later, the deadlines just don’t seem that pressing. Likewise, we know that we should spend more time reading the Word, but we tell ourselves that we work hard for the Kingdom of God and we deserve a break. We often don’t give our best to the Lord for the simple reason that we can get away with it. We know we’re covered by grace and whether we consciously acknowledge it or not, we use the truth of grace to take short-cuts.

Thankfully, this train of thought convicted me and motivated me to work as if the boss were over my shoulder and I did have pressing deadlines. After all, Jesus sees all we do and tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Whether it is working for the Kingdom or working in a secular capacity we are to do all as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). And do you know what happened? When I determined to work as if Jesus were in the office with me, I didn’t just work hard, but I was incredibly efficient and productive. I’m not saying that to pat myself on the back, quite the opposite really. What happened is that the Lord multiplied my work! There is no way I could have accomplished all that I did today on my own. I managed to get far more done than I would on a typical day. It was really awesome and I found myself praising Him between tasks and singing worship songs while I worked. The more I did this, the more I got done!

You know there are so many times when we don’t feel like doing things. We don’t want to work hard, we don’t want to exercise, or read the Word or pray. It just feels like too much effort. The amazing thing is that when we do these things for the Lord (rather than for men), He rewards us for it. Think about that: we’re doing it for Him, and yet we reap the benefits! He is so incredibly good to us! He deserves all our praise and we should strive to give Him our very best.

Lord, forgive me for all of the times I took the easy way out. Help me to honor you with diligence and purpose to serve You. Thank you for helping me today. Thank You for showing me patience and for continuously guiding me closer to You. The flow of Your love is overwhelming; Your mercy and blessings innumerable. In Jesus’ precious name I give You thanks today. Thank You, thank You, thank You.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

The Land of His Presence

babieI have a coworker who has a four-month old baby at home. She has never been shy about sharing the fact that she did not want this baby. She did not expect to get pregnant so quickly (within days of her birth control running out) and loudly resented the fact that she was too new of an employee at the time to qualify for short-term disability so she had to take her maternity leave unpaid. After she gave birth she struggled with post-partum depression and has had difficulty adjusting to life with a newborn.

Incredibly, she is already eight weeks into a second pregnancy! She did not want to be pregnant the first time and REALLY does not want to be pregnant this time. She has cried to me multiple times already about how she is too overwhelmed with her newborn to deal with another baby. To compound matters, she has had debilitating morning (all day) sickness to the point where she can hardly eat anything and has missed quite a bit of work because she never feels well. She has complained that she has the worst luck and it’s so unfair for this to be happening to her. And guess what? She just had her first ultrasound and surprise, it turns out she’s having twins! TWINS! Considering that twins are often born prematurely, she will very likely end up with three babies under one year of age at the same time.

It is very understandable why she would be stressed out about this. Having three babies that were unplanned so close together is enough to overwhelm anyone. I have expressed compassion and sympathy towards her. I have tried to convey hope, offered to pray for her, and have given her a shoulder to cry on. But inwardly, I am struggling a bit with her reaction to all of this. Everything (and I do mean everything) out of her mouth regarding her baby and her pregnancy is filled with negativity. She has so openly expressed the fact that she doesn’t and didn’t want any of them that I have trouble not feeling a little angry about it. A child is a blessing from God. How can you resent such a beautiful gift?

Granted, much of my reaction is clouded by my own disappointment. I have a chromosomal disorder that makes it extremely unlikely that I will ever get pregnant. Being the oldest of the Rebekahs on this blog, even if everything were working as perfectly as it should, the chance of my getting pregnant is rapidly decreasing because of age. And there’s still no husband in sight even if those first two things weren’t true.

I had a guy a couple of years ago who promised me the world. And one of the things he promised me was a baby. He went on and on about the storybook life we’d have once we got married. He said there was no price he wasn’t willing to pay in terms of fertility treatments, supplements, adoption options, etc. to make this dream a reality for us. He assured me that we had a secret weapon – the power of prayer, and that He would make me a mother. He took my hurting heart in his hands and promised me the thing it most desired. But things don’t always go the way we plan and sometimes promises are broken. Rather than give me a baby, he got another girl pregnant instead – while we were still together.  For some reason the end of that relationship represented a dying of my hope of ever becoming a mother.

Listening to my co-worker complain incessantly about a gift she’s been given that I will likely never experience has been difficult. I wonder why God blesses people who don’t want children with them, and withholds them from people who do. In the end, I remind myself that God knows what is best and it is not for me to judge. He knows what is best for me; He knows what is best for my co-worker and what is best for her children. I work to remain compassionate to my co-worker who truly does have a lot on her plate. I am quite sure that if I were in her position, I would also be very overwhelmed. I would likely also express some fear and negativity, but I would never feel that I didn’t want them.

I know that my feelings border on covetousness, occasionally even camping right in the midst of the Land of Covetousness. Sometimes I even get stuck in Selfishness and Despair. During times of repentance, praise, and gratefulness, I’m able to wander far from that land, but I’ve yet to leave it completely behind. The truth is that I spend far too much time there, living right on the border. And it’s dangerously close to another border – the border of Bitterness.

Bitterness is a very dangerous place. The Bible says that a root of bitterness can trouble you and defile many (Hebrews 12:15). That means that it doesn’t just wound the person who is bitter, it also wounds the people around them. Bitterness can take on a power all its own. It can act as a poison, gradually choking many aspects of our lives without us realizing it. We are supposed to love one another. Bitterness smothers love.

Bitterness is a cancer.

It spreads. It damages and tears down. It destroys. It is not of God. It creates a rift between us and God and we cannot have a right relationship with Him if we don’t deal with it.

So it is clear that the lands of Covetousness and Bitterness should be avoided at all cost. Thankfully, there is a simple (though not always easy) solution for the problems of covetousness and bitterness.  For both, repentance is in order. It takes admitting to God that our feelings are wrong and that we need some direction to get out of those ungodly lands.

victory-and-praise1

When I start feeling bitterness, I know the cure is forgiveness. There is hurt in my past that still needs to be dealt with. When I start feeling covetousness, I know the solution is to start counting my blessings. I need to praise the Lord for His goodness. I need to focus on all the wonderful things I have, rather than the few things I lack.

Sometimes we make things more complicated than they need to be, but God has laid out a clear plan to live in the land of Contentment, Peace, and Praise – The land of His presence! I am praying that my co-worker will find her way to the Land of His Presence and that it will change her. I am praying that He will grant her peace in this situation and give her a deep, unconditional love for her children. Let’s all commit to spending more and more time in His presence.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Getting Ready

On Januarplaney first of this year I shared with our readers that I would be going to China, Taiwan, and the Philippines through a work opportunity later in the year. That trip is fast approaching! I leave in just over a month. The last couple of weeks have been a jumble of preparation from paperwork to securing a VISA, to booking hotel rooms, setting up communications with host families, and getting vaccinations. It would seem this trip is really going to happen!

In some ways, it is a miracle that I am going at all. I have had a lot of obstacles come in my way over the months since I wrote that initial post. But through each of them, God has made a way for the trip to remain possible. Shortly after I got accepted into the program, I faced an extremely stressful situation at work that nearly caused me to quit. My godsister told me at the time that I was probably going to face a series of tests to try to keep me from being able to go on this trip. Little did either of us know how much that statement would prove to be true! Work has never been more difficult or stressful as it has been since the announcement of this trip. I even faced the possibility of losing my job altogether at one point. But through it all God has remained faithful and He has kept this door open for me. I believe there is a reason for that, but I do not yet know what it is.

To let you all know, I am setting up a separate blog to document my adventures on this trip. It will not necessarily be spiritually focused in the same way this blog is and it also won’t really be a work blog, but will chronicle my time there. I will likely keep the blog private, but if you’re interested in keeping up with me, you can send me an email at beingrebekahl@gmail.com and I will send you an invite.

I am excited to see what the Lord is going to do!

In His Love,
Rebekah L

Related Post: Choosing to Believe

P.S. For those that have prayed for my mother and have asked for updates: First, I’d like to say I appreciate all of your prayers immensely!! She is doing better. The blood clot is gone. Praise the Lord! She still has an internal infection and continues to suffer from intense nausea and shortness of breath so I covet your continued prayers. Thank you for your care and concern.

Caring for Mother

1100587_hospital_hand

My mother had surgery last week. She lives in another state, but it’s less than a two hour drive away so I packed up a suitcase and drove up to spend several days caring for her after she was released from the hospital. It was physically and emotionally exhausting.

Helping her out of bed in the morning and to the reclining chair is a monumental task. Getting her out of the chair for any reason is as well. I’ve learned how to bend down, tip the chair forward, get the brunt of her weight under my arm, shift her weight onto my thighs while still keeping the chair tilted and use my hands to steady her, all the while holding her JP drain, catheter bag and tubing out of the way.

Caring for her has included wound care and dressings, emptying blood and fluids from the JP drain, emptying the catheter bag, dressing and undressing for the day, assistance showering, making sure she gets all of her medications (and there are a lot!) on schedule, cooking and cleaning for her, as well as feeding and walking the dogs etc… Most of this isn’t particularly difficult, but it is time consuming. Most of the difficulty lies, not in the tasks, but in my mother having to lay aside her pride and be very vulnerable and dependent. I know it’s humiliating to her to have to have her daughter help her with such personal and intimate parts of her life.

Honestly, prior to this week, the thought of having to help my mother shower or assist her with a bowel movement was horrifying to me. It is one thing to assist a patient, an acquaintance, or even a friend with these things, but having to help a parent brings a different level of emotional involvement. Our parents are the ones who cared for us when we were younger and to see them become vulnerable is a reminder that they are aging, that they aren’t invincible, and that life is fleeting.

But you know, sometimes such a reminder isn’t so bad. We need to be reminded that we are human and that our lives are short. We need to remind ourselves that our experiences here on earth are temporary and what matters is eternity. Additionally, caring for an ill or aging person is an opportunity to practice the love of God.

I’ve learned that I have much more to give than I realized. My mother and I have never been particularly close and I’ve often felt I am a failure in her eyes, but none of that mattered when she needed me. I’ve learned that when you love someone you don’t think about how awful it is to have to bathe them, you just do it. And you do it because you love them. I think of all the things she did for me when I was young, not because she wanted to, but because it was the right thing for me at the time. And I think of all the things the Lord has done for me. Not because He had to, but because He loved me.

Every blessing we receive is because our heavenly Father loves us. He was willing to do the dirty work in order to rescue us in our time of need. He came down to this degraded, unholy place as a helpless child because He loved us enough to overlook the sacrifice it would take. He didn’t just sacrifice His time and resources, He sacrificed His very life. He looked down and saw that we were sick and injured and put in motion a plan to bring us back to health. He saw that we were lost and dying and He picked us up and gave us life! He is the ultimate caregiver. He is the One I want to emulate and the One I want to praise all of the days of my short life on this earth and for all of eternity.

In His love,

Rebekah L.