Sep 15, 2015

She Who Hoped in God

Note: this is the first article in a series of sorts, inspired by this conversation. 

By Rebekah Theilen

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:9)

It had been a long day, another long day. Little ones were in bed. Dishes slept in the sink while morning sickness remained wide awake. I found Mom on the sofa tucked away in the dark. With her oldest child in college and her youngest already five, Mom knew what this meant--she was starting all over. She had yet to tell Grandma and was nervous to do so. She was several weeks pregnant--again.

Yes, again.

I knelt down beside her. She opened her eyes. I didn’t say much but I told her the truth. I had watched through the years as this truth became real. “Children are a blessing, and God will provide.” Perhaps it seems trite, like a well-rehearsed platitude, but that’s what Mom had taught me to say, so I said it. She was more than my mom in this moment of weakness. She was human, a woman, a sister, my friend--and now, real as ever, needed truth shared in love.

“I’ll always be happy for you, Mom.”

There were other moments like that, when Mom would lose heart. Her friends, after all, had been “done” now for years. But why was this so unusual? Why the deep shame? Why should a woman, twenty years married, feel embarrassed by a pregnancy?  She would ask me those questions when the doubt would creep in. I didn’t have answers, only ears to give a listen. Thankfully her sadness never lingered too long. Lucky for her—my mom loved babies.


And it was all new again. She spent the summer shopping rummage sales. Each find brought her more and more joy. The hand-me-down crib. The bag full of barely used sleepers and onesies. Our church planned a shower. We walked through Babies “R” Us, in search of a high chair, while she told me stories of my baby days sleeping in a drawer. Grandma even sent money to put toward a gift, Mom’s favorite of all—the new car seat and stroller.

That summer I decided not to return to Concordia University.  I learned many wonderful things in Seward, Nebraska, but as the oldest daughter, a sense of duty toward my parents and younger siblings called me back home. I continued taking classes at the local community college, but my higher education continued outside of the classroom. My most memorable lessons, good and bad, remain the ones I learned by living them.  Since I’ve always had a hunger for hands on, real-life learning experiences, I asked Mom if she’d mind me being present for the birth. I was thrilled when she said I could be there.  

Come September she was ready as one can expect when you’re expecting. Dad, Mom, and I left for the hospital early in the morning. Thanks and praise be to God, a healthy nine-pound baby arrived by late-afternoon. At the age of nineteen, I watched my forty-three-year old mother, a vocal fan of epidurals, quietly deliver a baby girl into the world. Dad stood at Mom’s bedside, holding her hand, reading Hebrews 11 aloud through his tears as she pushed.

“By faith, Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” (Hebrews 11:11)

Hannah Faith was my parents’ eighth child.

It was an honor to witness the miracle of life.  I tasted the privilege of motherhood that year. For the year of Hannah’s infancy, I gave her bottles, changed her diapers, got up with her in the night so Mom could sleep, and took her for rides in my car just for fun.  One day while playing with Hannah Mom said to me, “The only baby you’ll ever love more is your own.”

Two years later truth again became real. My husband and I had been married a year.  College completion was still a few years away. But at the age of twenty-one, come September, our first child was born. I still remember the details, but most of all, I remember him. The first time I saw my son’s face I knew. My heart possessed a tender love like no other I’d known. And it was all new again. We were starting our story.

This you learn quickly--every mother has a story.

So you’re having a baby?  Fear not and take heart.  You begin a blessed journey of many who have gone before, including a young mother from Nazareth, the Virgin who bore our Savior.  

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, with Truth and Hope as our guide.

Children are a blessing and God will provide.

“Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven, and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” (Hebrews 11:12)


***

Rebekah is the wife of Joshua, her husband of eleven years. With the help of the Lord they have brought forth six children. Five grow and play and learn here on this earth while one (lost due to miscarriage) lives and sings in the glory of heaven. They reside in southern Illinois where Joshua serves as pastor to the Lord's flock. Each day ushers and compels them deeper and deeper into the promise of new mercies, the hope of the resurrection, the coming King of Kings, and the blessed life of the world to come. 

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