Out of the Blue

A while back, David and I left our old church. It was something we had been feeling the Lord calling us to do for a while which we had initially resisted. We had friends at our old church, enjoyed the teaching and generally felt at home there. We eventually stepped out in obedience and began the search for a new church. It didn’t take long before we found it. And when we did, it was like spiritual fireworks went off in both of our hearts. This was the place for us. From the very beginning, we have had nothing but stellar experiences, from easily finding a multiple places to serve, to having very meaningful conversations with the head pastor, to joining a small group that was full of a diverse bunch of awesome people. Everything has just been amazing.

Our small group is probably the biggest source of life-giving spiritual encouragement I have ever experienced. In the past, Christian community always felt hard. I never quite felt like I belonged. Our current small group is like a breath of fresh air. It’s a mix of people from all stages of life and it’s lead by one of the teaching pastors at our church named Charlie (we have 3 teaching pastors who rotate preaching, it’s brilliant!). Over the last year, David and I have gotten to know Charlie and his wife and they have been so great to us. Encouraging. Kind. Supportive. Challenging. Friends.

3 weeks ago as we walked into their house for small group, Charlie greeted us at the door and said “Hey! has Brad (lead teaching pastor) called you yet?” I looked at him quizzically and said no, then I inquired about why Brad would be calling me. “Oh, your name came up as we were talking about ministry leadership positions at the church. I’m sure he’ll call you soon.” And that was all the info I could squeeze out of him.

Sure enough, the next day Brad called. He talked to me about how my name had some up several times as a recommendation for a position at the church that would soon have a vacancy. I was excited and anxious to hear more about it, I couldn’t wait to understand exactly what Brad was referring to. As he kept talking, my excitement and anticipation kept building. And then he said 4 words which came falling out of the blue and are still ringing in my ears today: Director of Women’s Ministry.

Nooooooo! Please Lord, anything but this. Anything but women’s ministry.

On the whole, except for a few positive experiences, women’s ministry and I have a pretty bad track record. It has made me feel like an unworthy infertile woman. Always overlooked, insulted and excluded. It is where I’ve received all sorts of awful “advice” like, “maybe if God saw your faith grow, He would bless you with a baby.” It’s where I quietly sat and listened to moms complain about their children, swap childbirth stories and give each other parenting advice. It’s where eyes would land on me and then quickly move on to someone more relatable.

It’s where I experienced some of the deepest pain in my infertility and childlessness journey.

So me? Try and lead an entire women’s ministry? Yeah…no thanks.

That was my gut reaction at least. My knee-jerk reaction of oh hellllll no. Find another girl. Find someone other than me. I’m not strong enough and I don’t have the fight left in me to keep trying to turn people’s eyes to Jesus instead of their children.

That was 3 weeks ago.

Fast forward to today and I’m singing a different tune. God has been patient and gracious with me, slowly changing my mind and giving me perspective. I had a meeting with Charlie last week to talk more about the position because he would be the overseeing pastor of it and my boss. He told me that he specifically recommended me for the job because of, not in spite of, the fact that I do not have children. He thought it would bring further health to the ministry to have a somewhat nontraditional woman leading it. He thought it might help bring other women who lurk in the shadows forward. Maybe they would see me and feel like it was a safe place for them to come too.

This was probably the first time in 8 years that I have felt any benefit whatsoever to my status as a childless woman in the church.

So I’m finally at a place where my head and my heart agree that this would probably be a really good fit for me. Charlie is very spiritual formationally-minded so he has his eyes fixed on the same things that I do, like listening prayer workshops, spiritual retreats and deep and theological teaching for the women in this ministry. Our visions couldn’t align better and it would bring in everything I’m currently learning at Denver Seminary.

At this point, there is really just one little pesky problem standing in my way. My schedule.

Charlie feels this is a 20-30 hour/week job. I work 20-40 hours/week with my photography business and another 10-15 hours/week with grad school. I’m maxed out as it is. I’m not quite sure how I would even have enough hours in the day to fit ministry in. I have weddings booked through December 2017 so it would be at least 9 months before I could scale back and probably 1-2 years before I could stop it altogether. I just added a 2nd employee to my team so it’s not just me I have to worry about either.

As I pray about this (which it seems like is non-stop these days) I keep getting the sense from the Lord that this is the right opportunity but the wrong time. I think He is delighted that my heart did a 180 and that I actually feel excited about this prospect. I think He is overjoyed that I am willing to step out of my fear and into this position. But I also hear Him cautioning me to be careful with my time. Going 90mph and 60+ hours per week is not exactly a healthy way to enter into ministry.

I meet with Brad on Thursday to discuss things further. Maybe there is room for negotiation about how much time I commit to this position. Or maybe I tell him that for now I will take my name out of the hat and trust the Lord’s timing to bring me back one day when I’m able to fully devote myself to the ministry. Either way, it’s been so encouraging to see how God has used a source of pain in my life for His glory. How He has used something that has historically hurt me to now encourage my heart forward in ministry.

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The Quiet Side Of Infertility

My friend Caroline was putting together a post for National Infertility Awareness Week and she asked me to contribute a short little snippet describing what I wish more people knew about infertility. This got the wheels turning. I spent a long while thinking about this. Probably too long. I have never really participated in NIAW, but this year I felt like I had something to say.  I wanted to share something that would be impactful….both to the infertility community and to those who do not struggle with infertility. I wrote Caroline an email back so answer her question and I said:

“Sometimes infertility is quiet. It doesn’t always look like hormones and injections, IVF, doctor appointments and charting your next steps. Sometimes it is just quiet prayers, faithful hope and a patient longsuffering.”

After sending that over to her, I thought…”man, I could really expand on that. Maybe I’ll just write a little post about what I mean. Maybe it would help someone else.” The theme of NAIW this year is #startasking. So I thought I would start a dialogue for anyone who wants to start asking a questions about what the other, the less obvious side, of infertility looks like.

It’s so easy to equate infertility with the endless striving for motherhood. From HSGs to charting and ultrasounds, negative pregnancy tests to Clomid and injections, IUIs and 2nd opinions…I’ve been on that side of infertility. I’ve been on the side on infertility where every moment of my life was consumed with how to get pregnant. “Maybe if we try this drug…maybe if we see this doctor…maybe if I memorize this verse or pray this prayer…maybe if my faith were just a little bit bigger…” I camped on that side of infertility for a long time. Years.

But now I’m on a different end of the infertility spectrum now. 

I don’t mean that I am done with infertility. No. Infertility is still very much with me. I still have a uterine fibroid and poor egg quality. I still only have one fallopian tube, which is likely blocked now. I still have a cyst on my brain that affects hormone regulation. I still am not pregnant. Infertility may stick with me for many years to come. It’s like a monkey on my back that won’t jump off no matter how many bananas I tried to throw. So when I say that I’m on the “other side” of infertility, it doesn’t mean that infertility is no longer a part of my life, my prayers or that it doesn’t occupy any space in my heart.  

What I mean, is that I’m on the quieter side of infertility now. The side that is no longer striving, trying, planning or researching. The side where actively pursuing medical treatments is over and you’re done trying to fix what is wrong, or maybe you realize you can’t fix what is wrong, like in our case. Not many people ever make it to this side. Often, IVF, surrogacy, surprise pregnancies or adoption enter the scene and this side of infertility remains a dark unknown that people are glad to pass right by. 

Since many people avoid this place, either intentionally or because God supernaturally intervenes on their behalf, there are consequently very few people on this side of infertilityIt’s like a secret land that no one really knows about. It’s scary at first, you don’t really know what’s over on this side. Like…. what actually happens when you get off the infertility treatment crazy train? Is it so dark that you can’t see? Is it just utterly hopeless? Do you feel stagnant since you’re no longer actively pursuing something? Do you just wander around aimlessly hoping for a baby to drop out of the sky? Are you just forever lost at sea? I get it. I asked all of those questions too when we made the decision to stop actively pursuing medical treatment.

It’s an interesting place to be, especially when there are so few who have gone before you. There’s not exactly a guide for this stage. To my knowledge, there isn’t a book or step-by-step directions on how to navigate these waters we have found ourselves in.  

To be honest, the quiet side of infertility is very peaceful. You can hear yourself think and the Lord speak. You’re in a place with new views and horizons. You can travel and not worry about ruining a cycle. You can stop stabbing yourself with needles and taking crazy pills (looking at you, Clomid). Your head space is a little clearer because you’re no longer obsessed with trying to fix what is wrong. You also have a little extra time and money since you’re not blindly throwing them away into the pit of fertility treatments.

I’m here to tell you it’s really not a scary place. It’s just not. 

Are there still sad days and despairing nights? Yep. Do you still mourn the loss of a dream not yet realized? Yes. Are friendships strained because you don’t fit in? Definitely. But this is also a place of opportunity for strength and incredible growth. It’s a rich land that is full of potential, which I am just now beginning to lean into.

Ultimately, this is a place of deep dependence on Jesus. He helps keep me keep my head up when the world wants me to second guess the path I’m on. It’s so easy to question this side of infertility. To wonder if we really continue to hear God correctly. To feel insecure and left behind. It’s so easy to crumble under the pressure to conform to society’s standards, the infertility community’s common bonds, the Christian community’s expectations.

It takes a lot of obedience, courage, strength, hope, faith, prayer, perspective, peace and humility to stay here. But knowing that we are firmly walking in alignment with God’s will for our life is a beautiful thing. Even if it’s hard and doesn’t look like what everyone else is doing, both within and outside of the infertility community.

So, if you’re thinking about stopping fertility treatments, or if you’re not comfortable moving forward with more, or if the funds have run dry, or if you feel the Lord leading you to simply rest and trust in Him…I’m here to tell you, it’s ok to do that. You don’t have to dive head first into things you’re not comfortable with or don’t feel called to. You don’t have to keep putting your body through hell. You don’t have to justify your decision or explain yourself. You don’t have to worry that you are “giving up.” 


Being on the quiet side of infertility is perfectly fine. There aren’t many of us on this side, and it takes a lot of guts and prayer to make it here and stay here. But if you do make it, you’re in good company and you can rest assured that the Lord will never leave you or forsake you as you trust in Him for His perfect plan.

Under Contract

The housing market in our new town is not for the faint of heart! We have spent the last 5 months searching high and low for a good opportunity. We’ve watched houses sell for 50k over asking price, contracts get signed within 4 hours of listing and inspections & appraisals waived completely(what??). We’ve seen open houses that are too crowded to even step in the front door We’ve lost a house to cash buyers and we’ve seen first hand how nasty things can get in a bidding war .

But God (I LOVE when I get to say that!) stepped in an intervened miraculously and directly on our behalf this week by providing an adorable bungalow that wasn’t even on the market! It was not easy to get, but we are finally under contract! Praise God!

The story as to how we got this house is so circuitous and random, it could only be a God thing. Last weekend David and I went out of town to hang out with friends at their ranch in the mountains. It was supposed to be a relaxing 3 day trip enjoying their family’s log home and 5,000 acres of peaceful forest.

1 day into our trip, our friends randomly came down with the stomach flu. They begged us to leave so that we wouldn’t get sick. We were so disheartened! We were looking forward to a weekend away with our wonderful friends and couldn’t believe that less than 24 hours after arriving, we were driving back home.

We got home in time to stop by an open house that was going on. We really liked the neighborhood and the house itself was pretty cute too. As we were looking around, a neighbor walked over in his sweatpants and came up to us and introduced himself as Mark. He had mustard stains on his t-shirt and it looked like he hadn’t shaved in a few days. But then he said some beautiful words: “hey guys, I’m thinking about selling my house in a little bit and it’s in better shape than this house that you’re looking at, would you like to come see it?” At first, I thought maybe this guy was an axe murderer and we should decline the offer. But we were desperate, so we agreed.
The second I stepped inside Mark’s house, my eyes welled with tears and I fell in love. It’s precious.
We spent 2 hours talking with him on his delightful back patio. The more we talked, the more we realized that there was actually potential for a deal happening. He told us there was another couple interested in the house as well(he also snagged them at the open house), so he needed to talk with them and gauge their level of interest. We went home, called our real estate agent and had an official offer submitted to him in less than 24 hours! That’s when things started to get complicated. 
The other couple also submitted an offer, which was almost identical to ours. What ensued after that was a week of back-and-forth negotiations. Each day that went by, we became less and less confident that Mark would accept our offer. We knew the other couple had been looking for months for a home and they were dead set on getting this house. Eventually they submitted a counter-offer that we could not beat. 
But on Easter evening, we got an email from our agent saying that Mark had decided to go with us and wanted to move forward. What?!?! We had been expecting to hear the exact opposite. Why in the world did he go with our lesser offer?
Yesterday, after he had signed our contract and the deal was done, David and I had the chance to talk with Mark on the phone. He said, “I’ll be honest Becky, the other couple had a much better offer. But you and David are caring people and I wanted this house to go to a good couple with kind hearts.” I was speechless.
You see, Mark is sick. He has prostate cancer. A few days back I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to write him a quick email to see how he was feeling and to say just say we were praying for him. I can’t help myself, these days my heart is drawn to anyone who has an illness, chronic ailment, pain or difficult health problem. I’m sure it’s because of all the troubles we’ve had, but I can’t stop myself from caring. He said that email is what made all the difference. Also, Mark said he’s felling better. The doctors gave him a really good prognosis this week. I’m in awe.
God performed a miracle out of the stomach flu, prostate cancer and a nice email. What a bunch of random circumstances He used to bring about His plan for our next home. Almost as if to say “see Beck, I can do anything. I can bring you a home out of the stomach flu. I can make miracles happen, even if the odds are stacked against you and there is no logical reason why something should turn in your favor. I defy odds and I will never betray your trust.
To be perfectly honest, we needed a miracle. Our spirits have been low and discouragement has been running high lately. We have felt hopeless, disheartened, upended and very confused these days. Between David’s health stuff, my health stuff and our nomadic lifestyle we have been quite weary. We were almost getting to the point of regretting the sale of our house, even though we clearly heard God tell us to sell it. Thankfully God stepped in at just the right time and we are left humbled and so very grateful.
So let’s chat about the house, shall we?
It was built in 1978 and definitely has a quirky, funky feel to it. It’s so different from the “traditional” homes David and I had been looking at. It has a bunch of different levels, unique angles and windows, an amazing loft (my favorite!) and a beautiful backyard that backs up to a big open greenbelt that makes my heart so happy. And it’s right across the way from a private lake that we have access rights to. Wooop! 

The interior was updated by a previous owner who was a general contractor. He installed a new furnace + air conditioner, new windows, hardwood floors, updated all the bathrooms, poured new concrete, new landscaping, new appliances, backsplash in the kitchen and heated tile in the master bathroom (can’t wait for that!). He worked so hard to put in all this new stuff and then he took a job in Denver and sold his house to Mark. 



It’s smaller than our old house, which is perfect because we were looking to downsize! The neighborhood is older and very established. It’s a quiet area with lots of big trees and bunnies hopping around. It’s right in the heart of town and within walking distance of Trader Joe’s, Starbuck’s, Chick fil-a and Panera. Yassss! 🙂
The only downside is that we can’t close until July. Mark needs to own it for 2 years in order to avoid capital gains tax. So we shall patiently wait and spend the next few months thanking God, saving our pennies and thinking about what kind of patio furniture we should get.

Cori and Tex, if you’re reading this, we are so very sorry that you guys got the stomach flu…but we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sending us home and sparing us. You are welcome to stay with us anytime, we’ll probably name a guest room after you for your involuntary participation in helping us get this house. And if would be helpful for us to get the stomach flu so that you can buy a house, we will gladly repay the favor 😉

The River

I decided to post the first paper I wrote this semester to my blog. Not because I think it’s amazing or worthy of public appreciation (ha!), but because it describes so well the place where I currently am and I want to remember this place. The paper was to be a personal spiritual journey reflection paper. We were to identify an obstacle (ha! I have like 14 and I couldn’t choose so I rolled them all into one and just called it “suffering”) in our spiritual journeys and the steps we are taking to overcome it. Alongside that, we were to develop a word picture or analogy for this obstacle. These things have been floating around in my brain since oh….2009 and I feel like I am starting to finally make some progress with marrying the ideas of God’s love and the role of suffering in life. 

So here is my first paper affectionately titled, “The River.”


When I started my first day of school at Denver Seminary, my husband David was in the hospital with two large blood clots in his lungs. I quietly slipped out of his hospital room at 4:45am after a restless night’s sleep listening to him struggling to breathe and fighting through pain that his morphine drip was not helping. I walked through empty hallways with my books in hand, passing nurses in the cardiac wing who looked at me quizzically. Little did they know, I had a long drive ahead of me to a very important class that I refused to be late for. My husband is probably the only person who truly understood how important it was that I make it to class, despite, or perhaps in light, of his tenuous condition. 

My husband’s health crisis which kept him in the hospital for a week due to complications occurred six months after I endured three painful and mostly unsuccessful spinal taps, which were three months after I had brain surgery to repair a rare and degenerative vestibular condition. Brain surgery was on the heels of my husband’s job loss, which was on the heels of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy which almost cost me my life and resulted in the loss of our only child. The loss of our pregnancy came after three years of infertility testing and treatments which have brought us no closer to parenthood six years later. Suffice it to say, I have become acquainted with suffering.
Despite the brevity, I do not recount this grim list of events casually. Each one has made a deep and distinguishing impact on not only my day-to-day life, but my spiritual life as well. I share these events as a way to set the scene for describing the subsequent spiritual wrestling match that has taken place in my heart. 

Through the vast majority of the trials I have experienced, my faith in God and my enthusiastic pursuit of Him have not wavered. I have clung tightly to Him as David and I have weathered the storms that have come our way. I have continually sought the Lord through prayer, worship, Scripture, godly counsel, church, spiritual direction and a simple but deep longing in my heart to know and experience Him more. Along the way, however, a shift occurred in my perception as I unknowingly began to view God’s intentions for me with trepidation. My belief that God was good held firm, I just did not believe His intentions for me were good. I knew God was loving, He just did not love me quite as much. Subsequently, the door to my heart began to slowly close as I rationalized my way through why God would intend such hardship for me. I still sought after His wisdom, comfort, peace, guidance, presence, grace and forgiveness, but my pursuits ended there. 

During a guided retreat in November for CF606 which I was auditing at the time, I was made painfully aware of the impervious state of my heart. One of the retreat exercises entailed reading through various verses and writings about God’s love. Aggravated, I regarded this exercise as futile because of my conviction that God did not actually love me. Why spend an afternoon reading through things that did not even apply to me? It was in these moments when the Holy Spirit confronted me with my deeply errant view of God and His love. Does God’s love automatically equate with blessings or a lack of problems? Does the Lord’s goodness mean one never suffers or experiences hardship? Should the natural response to trials be closing one’s heart off to God in an attempt to self-protect? I was overwhelmed by how far astray my assumptions about God’s nature, which is characterized completely by love, had gone.

The retreat was a catalyst for reshaping my perspective. How I viewed suffering, trials and pain in light of my renewed sense of God’s love began to change. Conversely, how I viewed God’s love in light of suffering, trials and pain also began to change. As I opened the crack to the door to my heart wider and wider, my mindset began to shift and I have been more welcoming of God’s love in its various forms. Much of the Old Testament has been particularly transformative, allowing me to gain insight into the relationship between God’s love and the suffering of His people. One section of Hosea 6 has brought me considerable enlightenment in regards to God’s love and His intentions in suffering.
Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us 
down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise 
us up, that we may live before him. Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going 
out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the 
earth (Hos 6:1-3 ESV). 
Isaiah 30, which speaks of eating the bread of affliction and drinking the water of adversity (Is 30:20 ESV), is a perfect description of the nourishment I have become familiar with and has given me considerable great insight into the Lord’s recognition of suffering and what He intends for it. 

The purpose for my suffering remains partially veiled. I do not believe the Lord has fully revealed His design for it in my life, nor do I believe my heart could bear the full weight of such purpose at this time. However, as I look back over the years, I survey remarkable maturity and growth that only suffering could produce. As gold is refined in a fire, so has my heart been refined by the trials. I cling to James’ words in the hopes that the perseverance produced by these trials might one day be made complete so that I would be fully “mature and complete, not lacking anything” (Jas 1:4 NIV).

If I were to further speculate, I might estimate that the suffering I have experienced serves, in addition to developing a mature faith, as a precursor to ministerial calling, whether that be in the realm of chaplaincy, spiritual direction or simply helping friends who need companionship while walking a difficult road of their own. Despite my blindness regarding the reason, I intend to continue in my pursuit of vulnerability before God. No longer will the door to my heart receiving and reciprocating God’s love remain closed. That is not a state to which I wish to return and so I will remain unflinching in my reception of His love, whatever form it may manifest itself. This includes intentionally remaining open in prayer during subsequent hardships, such as my husband’s recent hospitalization. The temptation certainly existed to adhere to past faulty beliefs the second we walked into the emergency room. As a result it takes extra intentionality to refute past convictions and continue forward in my simple but transforming belief that God is indeed good in my life, He is indeed for me and He does indeed love me.

As I have begun to explore the relationship between God’s unconditional love and His purpose in suffering, I have been led to a word picture of a river. A river is a wild and unbridled force that cuts through rock, plummets as a waterfall over cliffs, frequently floods low-lying areas, forms steep canyon walls, carves paths through impenetrable terrain and on occasion, injures the occasional recreational enthusiast. 

A river also shapes trade routes, provides irrigation water for fields and farms, nourishes surrounding flora, provides drinking water for wildlife and people alike, allows for spectacular scenery, fly fishing, rafting and outdoor relaxation. Rivers are wild and scary but they are also life-giving and peaceful. They are a vivid juxtaposition of wonder, life, necessity and goodness with rampant power, torrential rawness and a hint of danger.

If I wish to lead others to the water of this mighty River, then I myself cannot be afraid of it. I must be willing to submerse myself in these mysterious and often painful Waters. It is not enough to sit on the River’s edge and remark on its beauty, take photos and urge others to jump in while I stand at a safe distance, afraid to get wet. If I aim to attend to others along this river of God’s love, I must be a guide who is not hesitant to get in the boat and face the rapids head on. I cannot walk the shoreline shouting instructions at those who were willing to enter a boat, I must enter the River myself.

To draw the picture of a rafting guide out further, if my boat were to capsize with myself and crew in it, I cannot swim to shore, set up camp and count my bumps and bruises for the subsequent few months. There is no progress in rehashing old wounds while maintaining a victim mentality. If my boat were to snag on a log in the River and the air began to escape from it, I cannot wave my white flag and decide to walk the rest of the journey. The River goes places that cannot be traversed on foot. 

This is why I left David’s hospital room that Wednesday morning. Since that retreat in November, which opened my eyes not only to my own errant ways of thinking but also to the conviction that I was being called to begin the Christian Formation and Soul Care program at Denver Seminary, I have been utterly convinced that hardship should not hold me back from exploring more of God’s love for me. It probably would have been much easier to skip class, defer my studies for a semester and ruminate over yet another hardship that we have endured. I love my husband deeply and wanted to care for and support him in any way I could, but we both also were highly aware of the significance of not letting another health crisis impede the journey towards further spiritual growth and development. So I tiptoed out of his hospital room and back into the River.

Upheaval

Honestly, I thought my next post would be about how grad school is going or how the move out of our house went. I never imagined that I would be writing about what it’s like to operate in crisis mode 24/7 or what it’s like to watch your husband not be able to breath or how many times I prayed that God would spare David’s life.

Believe me, I wish I was being dramatic. We have had a scary ride these last 10 days or so. Probably the scariest in my life. I haven’t really even begun to process what has transpired. Too much has happened. Too many tears. Too many nights without sleep. Too much disruption.

It has been a total upheaval.

Writing is usually my first step to processing something the Lord is doing in my life and so this blog post is more for my own heart to begin to make sense of things than for your reading enjoyment. No offense 😉 The days have blurred together and I know that if I don’t get something down, it will be harder and harder for me to remember or be able to piece together.

I mentioned in my last post that the buyers of our home had moved up our closing date to February 1st. It was a tight timeline but we knew we could get our house fully packed and moved by then. I had rented a POD to store our furniture and we were steadily chipping away and packing boxes. I left David in charge of the heavy stuff so he spent last Saturday lifting and carrying heavy boxes. Towards the end of the day he mentioned that the side of his ribcage was hurting. We chalked it up to a pulled muscle and continued with our progress.

On Sunday the pain was making him wince every now and then. When he stood up or sat down, he’d close his eyes and say “man! this really hurts.” Again, we chalked it up to a pulled muscle. A few times he was doubled over in pain and I suggested going to an UrgentCare. “They’re just going to give me some Advil and tell me to take it easy” David said. Monday was no better, though he did finally see an in-house doctor at his work who confirmed that it was likely a pulled muscle. She literally gave him Advil and told him to just take it easy.

Tuesday I woke up to David struggling to breathe. He couldn’t talk or move. His eyes were shut tight and he had tears running down his cheeks. I did my best to put some clothes on him and rushed him to the ER which we thankfully lived 3 minutes away from.

At first, the ER doctors thought it was some minor complication from a cold he had the week before. They seemed genuinely unconcerned. They ordered an EKG and a chest x-ray which came back clear. But when a triple dose of Morphine didn’t take away David’s pain, I saw a change in the ER physician’s demeanor. He looked at the lab results and noticed a test for blood coagulation came back abnormal. He ordered a CT scan and they immediately took David out of the room.

When the doctor came back, it looked like he wanted to cry and apologize at the same time for not taking us seriously from the start. “You guys, I am so glad that you came in. David has two large blood clots in an artery of each of his lungs. If you had waited to come in, or tried to push through the pain any longer….. this would have ended very….. very badly.” In 25% of people who have pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in the lung), sudden death is the very first symptom. Ultimately, it kills 1 out of every 3 patients who have it.

He was immediately admitted to the cardiac unit and given all sorts of shots and pills and drips of IV medicine. The first 2 days were pretty bad. His pain was out of control and he really struggled to breathe if he moved even the slightest bit. Morphine + hydrocodone truly did nothing for his pain. It was so hard watching him be in such sustained pain. David is a tough guy, he’s had all sorts of broken bones and injuries- in 13 years, I have never seen him in such physical distress.

We had some really beautiful sunsets out David’s windows. Every night was a treat to watch.

It was only once they introduced a very strong anti-inflamitory pain medication called Toredal that things started to finally turn around. His chest pain lessened, his breathing was easier and his spirits lifted. Praise God!

Interestingly though, after he started this medication, he mentioned having a touch of a headache (Note to Self: if you’re ever on opoid prescription pain killers and still have a touch of a headache, it’s likely more than just a headache). That was just before he threw up. Even more interesting, the doctors and nurses didn’t find any of this the least bit troubling and decided to discharge him after a 3 day stay.

He came back to his parent’s house after being discharged. Within hours, the pain in his head grew worse.

What happened after that was a blur of 2 ER visits, stabbing pain, worried doctors, relentless nausea and vomiting, MRIs, blood tests and CT scans. There were talks of bleeding in his brain due to blood thinners, talks of severe reactions to the blood thinners, talks of spinal taps and of stroke risk. For a while they thought perhaps the clots in his lungs had traveled to his brain. There were lots of tears, prayers, Morphine, Dilaudid and Zofran. And then a readmittance into the hospital for a 2nd time.

I didn’t sleep for a span of 48 hours. I couldn’t take my eyes off of David, watching each breath he breathed and thanking God for allowing him to be alive.

He was admitted to the neurology floor where neurologists worked to figure out what in the heck was going on. While they tested out theories and prescribed various treatments over the next 2 days, David was in a state of utter torture. His pain was what the hospital staff referred to as “unmanageable” meaning, no medications helped. Even the strongest of the strong, Dilaudid (about 3x stronger than Morphine) would only touch his pain for a brief moment. His nausea was also unmanageable and the only way David got any relief was literally by being unconscious. One particular drug called Phenergan was very helpful for just knocking him out and giving him a little reprieve from the agony.

During these days, I got a strong sense that this thing was bigger than ourselves or the doctors’ abilities to help. I stopped being able to pray intelligible prayers and simply began begging the Spirit to intercede on our behalf. I called upon the name of Jesus more times than I can count. We had a revolving door of support come through. David needed complete darkness and silence, so much of the intercessory prayer happened outside of his room but that didn’t make it any less powerful! I’ve only had a few times in my life where I could literally feel myself being carried by the prayers of others, this was one of those times.

After 2 and a half very long days, eventually the neurologists gave us explanation for what David was experiencing. He had a condition called status migrainosus which is characterized by 72+ hours of relentless and unmanageable pain, vomiting and nausea. They confirmed he had no blood clots in his brain and no bleeding in his brain. This condition put him at a heightened risk for stroke and began evaluating him several times each day for stroke signs. But ultimately, they believed there were no abnormalities in his brain and that he would be ok.  I truly believe God spared him from a multitude of worse-case scenarios.

They finally put him on a steroid protocol with a mix of IV medications which aimed at breaking his pain. After about 14 hours, he slowly moved into a more coherent state of mind as the pain began to dissipate. The next morning, he ate a few bites of food. He smiled. He kept his eyes open. He spoke in full sentences. He began to slowly turn the corner. The steroids helped him so much and really brought him back to reality again…a reality with much less pain, confusion and torment.

Terrified to be discharged prematurely again, David and I decided it would be best for him to see how he did without any pain or nausea meds in his system before we agreed to be discharged. We stayed long past when we needed to, just to make sure. He had so many ups and downs over the week, we didn’t want to go home only to have him relapse yet again. But after 12 hours of reduced pain and no nausea, he seemed to still be doing well so we cautiously went home.

He has since been on the mend and recovering well. The blood clots are still there. They will probably stay in his lungs for the next few months, but the doctors feel confident that they will not get bigger and they should dissipate with time while he is on blood thinners. We still have some testing to do in the months to come to see if the blood clots are due to a coagulation disorder.

He seems to have recovered fully from the pain and nausea, which is a big blessing. His body is handling the blood thinners well and aside from not being able to mountain bike, shave with a razor or really do anything that could cause bleeding, the blood thinners don’t seem to be too much of a problem.

Somewhere in all of this, we moved out of our house and into my in-law’s home. We sold our home. And I started grad school. But those are different posts for a different day.

For now, I will simply thank God for His favor and protection over my sweet husband. And I will continue to smile and stare at him as I watch him breathe 🙂

Of All Things

I’ve always felt the call to help others. Back in 2007, in my 24 years of wisdom, I thought that naturally meant counseling so I pursued that degree. While I certainly don’t think my counseling degree was a waste, I do know that I missed the mark in that pursuit. And that’s ok. Because that experience was a significant stone in my path through life. It lead me on a 5 year journey that I have affectionally called my Wild Goose Chase. A chase of discovering God’s call on my life. It has been a journey of discovering my abilities + giftings and how they match up with needs of the world (and church) + God’s leading.

I have been auditing classes for about 2 years now at Denver Seminary in an attempt to “finish my unfinished business” and redeem part of my experience there from my counseling days. This fall I began auditing a class called “Scripture, Formation and Soul Care.” It’s been a wonderfully restorative class for me personally (especially considering the year I’ve had). Going into the class, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve been really surprised at how impactful it has been.  It’s reshaped how I view suffering, God’s love, how I approach reading the Bible and it has mended a few bruised areas in my heart.

Not only has this class ministered to my heart, but God has also used it to reveal another beautiful stepping stone in my path ahead. If you flip over this most recently discovered stone you’d find “Grad School: for real this time” written on the underside of it. Yep. I have officially applied to grad school…again! Maybe the second time is a charm 😉

I have prayed and prayed and prayed. I’ve sought godly advice, poured through God’s Word, talked with students at Denver Seminary, read books and prayed some more. I think I can say with relative confidence that God is drawing me back to pursue a formal education again. And this time, I think I’m hitting closer to the mark of what God is truly calling me to.

The program is called Christian Formation & Soul Care. The further I explored my class this semester and the more I looked into the program, the more I realized that this was it.

Can I just say that I think it’s pretty remarkable that God used brain surgery and spinal taps (of all things!) to help point me in the direction of my calling? If I hadn’t been so utterly broken spiritually this summer, I doubt I would have ever signed up to audit this class. I just think that is pretty awesome that those botched spinal taps actually had a purpose. I shouldn’t really be that surprised, but I am.

So what exactly is Christian Formation & Soul Care? Christian Formation is essentially our spiritual walk with God. It’s our process of maturity and development as we seek loving intimacy with Christ. The journey has many ups and downs, twists and turns, valleys and mountains. And it’s in this journey that we occasionally need a little Soul Care (also referred to as Spiritual Direction). The guidance of another…a fellow sojourner…a spiritual friend to encourage us and help point us back in the right direction (Christ) so we can get back on our way.

This is what I’ve felt God lovingly draw me into over the past several months.

The opportunities that this degree can lead to are pretty diverse…everything from leading retreats to becoming a spiritual director. You can get a job working at a church in pastoral care, discipleship or chaplaincy. You can also use it in a teaching context or some other type of full-time ministry. Or maybe God will lead me into something I haven’t even thought of yet! Two of my spiritual role models just retired from being full-time soul care missionaries. They traveled all over the world caring for other full-time missionaries who were away from home and in need of some spiritual encouragement and refreshment. They’d visit a missionary in India for a week and then head to China to encourage a group there. See? There are endless directions this path could go!

I love that this process involves helping others, but in a non-clinical or therapeutic context. I get excited at the idea of being able to help and encourage fellow believers on their spiritual journeys without needing to “fix” them in a traditional counseling setting. I feel a lot of peace and reassurance about that.

I am still in the very beginning stages of learning and understanding the world of Soul Care and Christian Formation. At this point, I have more questions than answers and I haven’t even been accepted formally into the program yet, so I’m practicing the art of not getting ahead of myself. I’m trying to pace myself here, taking one little step at a time as I hear His voice calling me forward. So for now, my application is officially submitted and I’ll wait patiently to hear the final word on if they’ll have me back for a second go-round. Fingers crossed! 🙂

Soul Care

Looking back on it, I can recognize that what I experienced this summer was probably a “dark night of the soul.” I didn’t see it at the time. At the time, I just felt spiritually burdened, alone, confused and pretty hopeless. For a while I wondered if it was depression, which I have struggled with in the past. It felt like a familiar feeling…and yet, different. Then I thought maybe it was an identity crisis of some sort. But even that didn’t explain the extent of things that I was feeling. I thought maybe it was spiritual warfare, but I’m really sensitive to spiritual attacks and can identify them pretty quickly. While this was certainly darkness, it wasn’t darkness from the evil realm. 

In hindsight, I fit almost exactly what Saint John of the Cross described in his poem “Dark Night of the Soul”. He literally describes a dark night of the soul to be “a contemplative purgation or nakedness and poverty of spirit.” Yes. That. 


My first 2 failed spinal tap attempts certainly triggered it. But this dark night wasn’t just about spinal taps and it wasn’t just contained to that exam room. It wasn’t about frustration with medical appointments and a slow healing process. It extended into my everyday, my prayer life, my job, my marriage. I think it was just my time. My time to fall apart and fall to a spiritual depth that I have not known since becoming a Christian 12 years ago. If you talked to me at all this summer, you probably picked up on it. My typical “joyful in the Lord” personality had a quieter, withdrawn, reticent quality to it as I worked through my confusion, pain and internal wrestling. 

Saint John of the Cross explicitly states that a dark night of the soul is all about union with God, not separation from Him, although it might not feel that way when you’re actually in it. The dark night ultimately prepares you for a deeper union and connection with God. You’re stripped of all you know in order to enter into a new level with God. It’s intentionally disorienting. Intentionally disintegrating.

I can’t say for sure that I’m fully out of it, I know it’s a process that doesn’t happen overnight. But I’m on my way. I have more clarity than I did back in July and my hope and understanding have begun to be restored. God’s tender care has begun to restore my heart again. I am so very thankful for that!

The restoration has come through the process of “soul care.” 

It started as I was looking up Fall class schedules to audit at Denver Seminary. I wanted to get back in the classroom and keep learning, but knew I couldn’t keep up with an Old Testament or Exegesis of Revelation class haha! So I started looking at the Christian Formation program and one class stuck out to me. It was called “Scripture, Formation and Soul Care.” It immediately grabbed me. I could practically feel God saying “Hey Beck, your soul has taken a beating. You should probably learn how to care for your soul. Take this class!” Got it, God. And so I signed up.

The class has been nothing short of amazing. It is truly what my heart and soul needed in this season of life. I didn’t really know what to expect. I mean, how does one take care of their soul? Is soul care really a thing? Is that different than taking care of your heart, mind or body? And if so, what does it look like?

One aspect of Soul Care that we are learning in class is called Lectio Divina. I’d never heard of it before, but interestingly enough, just a few weeks before class started, one of my Bible study leaders game me a book called “Broken Body, Healing Spirit: Lectio Divina and Living with Illness.” I didn’t quite understand what it meant at the time, but since starting this class, the book has become invaluable to me.

Lectio Divina is a Benedictine practice that is all about experiencing (not studying or memorizing) God’s Word through meditation and praying the Scriptures. It’s about calming your mind and experiencing the Living Word through the written Word. It’s unlike any way I’ve ever approached the Bible before. There’s no “right way” necessarily, but there are some steps involved in the traditional form of Lectio Divina. They involve silence, slowly reading & meditating on God’s Word, praying through the Scripture and finally contemplating your experience.

I have to free myself of feeling like there is a “right” way to do this, lifting expectations and just allowing the time to be what God intends it to be. It’s a pretty open-ended process, which I struggle with sometimes. I like having solid expectations, knowing what’s going to come. And this goes against all of that, but it’s been very rewarding so far! 

One thing I love about praying through the Psalms is that the Psalms are full of emotions…emotions we don’t necessarily feel permitted to really feel towards God. Like doubt, anger, fear, complaining, lamenting, hurt. But the Psalms give us full permission to identify those emotions and bring them to God. My friend Stacy told me a few weeks ago on the phone after my botched spinal tap attempts that my feelings of God abandoning me sounded downright Biblical. “Really?” I thought, “it doesn’t sound like a very godly way to talk.” Low and behold, those very words are found in Psalm 22. In fact, Jesus quoted Psalm 22 while he was on the cross. The Psalms give us permission to feel all the feelings. To pray about them, dwell on them, let them rise to the surface, cry them out and let God care for your heart in the process. There are few few emotions that aren’t found in the Psalms. Murderous rage? Check. Abandonment? Check. Despair, anger, joy, fear, hope, encouragement, sadness and discouragement? Check check check.

A few other aspects this class touches on are spiritual retreats, meeting with a spiritual director, guided meditation and reflective writing. Honestly, they are things I don’t have much experience with (aside from reflective writing) but I’m coming to realize how impactful they can be as I begin to integrate them into my spiritual walk with God. Sometimes my time with God can be so cerebral…it’s all about knowledge, Bible studies, memorizing, learning, learning, learning. Of course there’s nothing wrong with learning, but sometimes I miss experiencing God because I’m too focused on learning. It’s nice to introduce experiential dynamics back into my walk with God.

There’s a lot of ins and outs to soul care and I have only been exposed to the tip of the iceberg. I can see how soul care can lead a strong Christ follower into new seasons of self-reflection, growth and spiritual maturity. And I’ve certainly seen how it can lead a hurting, limping, wounded soul into a season of healing and restoration. My soul has already received an abundance of care, who knows how awesome I’ll feel by the time the class is over in December! 🙂