Tag Archives: Rebekah

An Update on Rebekah

Elizabeth and I have been deeply thankful for those who have read my blog or used Facebook to keep up on Rebekah. I realize my blogging and updates have been sporadic, so I wanted to let everyone know how Rebekah is doing. I intend to start using the blog to discuss other things I’ve been thinking about, particularly as summer gives me some relief from a hectic life. However, I first wanted to let you all know how my family is doing.

Rebekah is home now, for which Elizabeth and I are deeply thankful. She was marked with the covenant sign of baptism the Sunday before last and we are loving the duties of caring for her, even the middle-of-the-night awakenings and early mornings. There are so many little things I am cherishing about being able to have her home; last Sunday I sang hymns in church with tears in my eyes because I could hold her in my arms as I sang.

Rebekah does continue to have ongoing medical needs. She has issues with her esophagus and being able to swallow. We are praying they might resolve with growth, but if not she will have to undergo surgery sometime this summer to correct it. For now she is getting most of her food through her g-tube. However, she continues to grow, and is now over 11 lbs. There are also questions about whether she will experience long-term developmental issues or disabilities from some of her medical issues associated with prematurity, but this isn’t something we’ll know for some time and we are submitting to whatever the Lord will bring in this area.

We are so grateful for all of your prayers and encouraging words. Being in the hospital for almost five months has made me deeply aware of just how little I can take for granted. The fact that I get to see my daughter smile at me, the fact that she is growing and generally healthy, are great blessings on which I can never again presume. Elizabeth and I hope you will rejoice with us and continue to keep Rebekah in your prayers.

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”  -Psalm 36:7 (ESV)

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Two Months In

It’s been two months now, living at the hospital. My daughter has spent the first two months of her life in intensive care, surrounding by the beep of heart monitors and the clinical decor of a sterile room. In between the bustle of nurses and pediatricians, I’ve been struck by how much I never realized about living life this way, despite the friends we’ve had confront similar situations.

I never realized how tired I would get, how watching someone you love struggle to grow could chafe at you like a bad pair of shoes, leaving you raw and blistered without your even noticing. I never realized the anger and frustration I would feel, the way even a good report could make you want to yell because it wasn’t the report you wanted – the news that she was coming home.  I never realized how wrong the world could feel, when the question “how are you?” could never honestly be answered with “fine,” when a successful day is one you survive with your faith and hope intact.

I never realized any of this, and yet there’s something familiar about it all. It’s common in these situations for people to say “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” This is in some sense true, of course, and is meant as a gesture of compassion. Yet the fact is that, for all these last few months have felt like repeated kicks in the teeth, they’ve only served as an acute reminder of the dull ache I’ve always had in my jaw. The weariness and frustration and wrongness have all become painfully acute these last two months, but they’ve always been there.

Tragedy isn’t a break from the usual business of life. We’re always up to our necks in a broken world; it’s just that sometimes the brokenness sloshes over our heads, rushing into our noses and making us choke. For fear of confronting the frailty of our peace we distract ourselves with the glitz and hustle of this fractured world. But the waters of life are not to be ignored, and the waves that smack us in the face are reminders of our fallen estate.

The reality of this world as Scripture presents it to us is not a pretty picture. The bible consistently forces us to remove the blinkers and open our eyes. It shows us a world where tyrants triumph, innocents die, good men do terrible things and bad men often escape justice. Creation might be good, men might bear God’s image, but this goodness and this likeness are fractured into pieces by the fall, and we often get cut on the sharp edges.

This picture has little appeal to a people in love with Kincaid paintings and stylized movies, where everything is pastoral beauty and everyone is airbrushed. Yet it is precisely this picture which we need to see. In the gospel, God goes to war with this broken world, not to destroy it but to put it back together again, even though that’s the last thing it desires. It is the great strategy of the prince of this world to keep us from joining this fight, not by defeating us, but by making us fall in love too much with the way things are and keeping us from dreaming of how they will be. The Christian response should start not with a happy lie, but with a broken heart.

I’ll be damned if I ever accept life at the hospital as the way things ought to be. As much as some would like to talk about a “new normal,” as if a few adjustments in perspective could make everything better, I’ll never believe it. Children should not be struggling to breath. They should not have wires tangled around their little bodies. Nothing is okay about it; nothing is quite right here. Yet this isn’t an expression of despair. Instead, it’s to hope for healing, for redemption.

Redemption is what the Bible holds out to us in the midst of a world ravaged by the effects of sin. Redemption from our guilt, from our bondage, from our sin-sick hearts and broken bodies. We aren’t called to be Buddhists; we aren’t meant to deny the dissatisfaction in our souls. This world is a hospital, a place for the sick and dying. Nothing is quite right here. It is only when we realize this truth that we can begin to grasp the hope of a better world, a world of life and health and peace. It is only when we realize we are deeply wounded that we can endure the cure.

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Hope is a Hard Thing

Having Rebekah has been perhaps the most emotional, and emotionally confusing, experience of my still-short life. On the one hand, there is a great joy and wonder. A new life has come into this world, a new life that is in some sense mine. I look at my tiny premature daughter and there are feelings which I can’t quite put words to, mythical feelings of fatherhood, of protectiveness and delight. Yet at the same time, there are other feelings – grief, and an overwhelming fear – at her helpless state. I suppose every life is fragile, but its not philophizing about life in general that concerns me. It is my daughter’s life, so uncertain because of her early exit from her mother, that brings home to me in a way I’ve never experienced before the uncertainty of tomorrow.

It snowed yesterday, and I found myself dreaming about a year from now when I might take my little girl, all bundled up, to relish the fat flakes which drifted from the sky. Yet as I dreamed, I felt something in me recoil. It was like the guards on the bulwarks I’ve erected around my heart were calling out, warning me that I was on uncertain ground, that the enemy might strike at any moment and snatch her away. They called for me to retreat back to the safety of their walls of cynicism and fatalism. I could barely dare to hope, because at any moment I knew my hope could be taken from me.

This struggle to hope has characterized my days since Rebekah’s birth. There are beautiful moments. The first time I touched her hair, stroking it,  I wept in gratitude over her isolette. Yet those moments are hard to keep; they are quickly overwhelmed by the terror that we might receive a midnight call from the neonatal intensive care unit and I might be plunged again beneath the torrent of grief. Continue reading

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A Prayer for Rebekah

(For those of you who don’t know, yesterday my wife and I gave birth to our first child. She is premature by three months. While she is alive and stable, there is a long road ahead of us. This is what I’m praying tonight. You don’t have to pray it; many of you might not even agree with it. But there are few things I’ve meant more.)

Almighty God,

A pious saint might stand over the trembling, fragile form of his too-small daughter and sagely nod, noting that your ways are beyond searching out. But I do not believe you are a God for pious saints, but for broken human beings desperate for mending in every way. I do not know your plans, I do not know the future, but I do know who You are.

You are the great Triune God, Father, Son and Spirit. Father, I beseech you to have mercy on your tiny child. Jesus, I beg you to consider the youngest of your sisters. Spirit, I groan with desires I cannot twist through my lips, and I pray that you might intercede with me for my little girl.

You are Yahweh, Covenant Lord. You have given your promises to me and to my children. You have knit my daughter together in her mother’s womb, known her hidden form, counted her among your people. You are the God who says the kingdom belongs to little children, and I can think of few smaller than my own.

You are Yeshua, God with us. You came not in heavenly majesty but with labor pains and afterbirth. You sympathize with us in our weakness, and her hand is the size of my fingernail. You show mercy to the least of these, and she struggles to move her mouth. To work salvation you took on frail flesh and bone, and I can see her lungs laboring beneath stretched skin.

God, I know you are a king, but you are no petty tyrant who breaks men’s backs with an iron rod. You are the Servant King, the Lamb who wins the victory at the price of His own life. In this knowledge, I do not hide behind platitudes, but ask plainly. Grant my daughter protection, peace, and many years. Let me hear her speak, let me watch her grow up in faith, or at least let me hold her in my arms.

They say men pray to lift their sagging hearts, but I have no interest in self-delusion. I bow my head and lift my hands in supplication because I know You are the most real thing in this universe. Your palm holds the ocean, your voice sets the cosmos spinning, and your will includes every day of my daughter’s lift. I bend my knee because I know it is your right to take her away if that is your desire; she already belongs to you. Yet this power cuts both ways, and I ask that you would watch over my Rebekah tonight with your sovereign mercy and uphold her with your omnipotent grace.

I do not presume to approach you as one worthy of your ear. I have no more to offer you than does my premature baby. I approach instead in the name of Jesus, to whom both I and this covenant child belong. In your mercy shown us on behalf of Christ, watch over her. She is my child; she is Yours as well.

Amen.

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