I have spent the last several hours debating whether or not to go to the hospital. I have been having contractions for a few weeks but I always had them early with my other pregnancies as well, and so I decided that they were nothing. All of a sudden, they don’t feel like nothing. My stomach looks completely different than it has in the past few weeks and my instincts are telling me that something is going on. I called my doctor and set up an appointment for 10 a.m., so unless something drastic happens, I’m just going to hang out tonight. I will be 28 weeks tomorrow, and all of a sudden I am realizing that it’s not enough. I’m not ready to let her go.
Ironically, while typing this post, my daughter Ellie lost her first tooth. She came running up the stairs to show me the big gap and all I could see in the space was time passing me by. I started crying hysterically and she kept telling me that it didn’t hurt and that she wasn’t bleeding anymore. I just kept hugging her and telling her how proud I was of her, all the while thinking that 5 years of baby teeth isn’t long enough either.
I decided to get creative with breakfast yesterday. I cut up a bunch of fruit and mixed vanilla yogurt and Hershey’s syrup (not Jessica Seinfeld approved) and let the kids use fondue sticks to dip the pieces. If you ever want to have a deep conversation with your kids, or you feel like you are disconnected, I have found that a good meal does wonders. I do feel compelled to mention that most mornings, we are doing well to have cereal, and that a few hours after this moment took place, the “amazing, creative, fondue-dipping wonder-mom” that you are imagining was less than three clicks away from selling her youngest daughter on EBay. I think you deserve the truth at this point in our relationship.
Before Abby and Kate had made it down the stairs, I was reminding Ellie of the Bible story we read a few nights before. We have this amazing kids Bible called “The Jesus Storybook Bible,” and I suggest you go buy it right now. Seriously. This will wait until you get back. I think it is one of the most creative, beautiful portrayals of God’s word that has ever been written. When I became a Christian, I felt totally overwhelmed by the Bible, and bought a few children’s Bibles to help familiarize myself with the stories. I used to get so irritated when people would spout off references like they were ordering a Happy Meal and figured I would never be able to join the club. The more I read, the more I fell in love. I still have a hard time remembering exact references, but I am working on it. I think the best policy if you can’t remember that stuff is just to make it up on the spot and sound convinced. I have also found that by saying, “Was it Paul that said…?” can pretty much get you through the New Testament.
Kidding aside, I do have a passion for instilling a love of the Bible in my children. We have been discussing the story of Abraham and Isaac, and they are fascinated by the fact that Abraham would walk a mountainside in expectation of killing his son, so led by God’s voice that one of the only details we learn is that he paused to praise God in the midst of his trial. As a sidebar, this is one of those stories that makes me giggle halfway through. For some reason, I can’t stop picturing Isaac continually and more frantically asking his dad where the sacrifice is. In my head, he sounds like one of the Simpsons. “Hey dad, where’s the sacrifice? Dad? Shouldn’t we have brought up a ram or something? Dad?” I guess that shouldn’t be funny, but it kind of is.
In our little Bible, Abraham raises his knife while Isaac lays motionless, tied up in rope that his father’s hands have wrapped around him. Suddenly, God shouts, “Stop!” and the boy is spared. The girls always hold their breath as we build up to that part, even though they know he will be okay. Usually, we have to remind them that he isn’t going to die, because the suspense is too much to bear.
I sliced an apple and asked Ellie to tell me the story as she stirred. She did a remarkably good job, but after she repeated God’s words, she got quiet and looked at me like she had something else to say.
“You know that part where God yells stop?”
I nodded, half paying attention.
“I don’t think He is going to say that to you.”
My hands stopped moving and I looked at her eyes. Sad, knowing, feeling, see-into-your-soul eyes.
“I don’t know that He is, Ellie.”
For what seemed like forever, we just continued our motions in silence. I don’t know that I can adequately describe what that moment was to me. It was just one of those times in life when you know that God is speaking.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it. About the fact that it was his son. His hands. His rope.
And yet it was never his at all.
When people talk to me about what I am going through, they often use the word “trial.” I think it is the right word. It was the same for Abraham; the rules have not changed in thousands of years. We listen, we praise, we walk in the direction of God’s voice, and we obey. It is that simple.
Sometimes that means we get to unbind and celebrate.
Sometimes it means we don’t.
I looked up the original Hebrew word for trial in one of my big fancy books (OK, one of Todd’s fancy books) and I hope that as you read these words, you will know the way He quieted me in that moment. This is a direct quote.
TRIAL (Old Testament) noun: from the Hebrew word “sara” which comes from the root srh, which means, “to bind, tie up, restrict.” Thus, the noun comes to denote a narrow place in life where one is bound or restricted…
I have carried this image with me for days, and am saturating myself in the truth that I discovered about what it means to be walking where I am. Immediately I thought of sweet Audrey, unable to grow, restricted, as bound and helpless as Isaac. It feels heavy, even though I know I am not responsible for the decision.
As we walk this “narrow place,” I am reminded of the power of being still and submitting to the God I trust more than I ever thought I could. During these days, I walk closely, moment-by-moment with the God of the Universe. The God that chose Abraham and chose me.
I can’t think of anyone I would feel safer with right now, because of course, the difficult, terrible, beautiful truth is that He Himself is not unfamiliar with the binding.
Jesus, sweet lover of my soul. I bear my wounds tenderly, with worship ever on my lips because You did the same for me…
“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed. ” Isaiah 53:5-6
It is after midnight now on Wednesday…I will keep you all updated on my appointment tomorrow, and and always, find myself humbled to even be able to count you as prayer warriors on my behalf.