The Child I Was Given To Love

I took a pregnancy test early one morning while my husband was still asleep. Two pink lines appeared. Pregnant. 

There in that quiet hour I knelt beside my bathtub and turned my heart God-ward. The first prayer that came was just this sentence: "God, make this baby to be exactly what you want this baby to be." Other prayers would come later, but this prayer was the first, a prayer of receiving and of giving away. 

I was that very day 4 weeks pregnant (as they count those things), and 4 weeks prior I did not want to be pregnant, I did not want to have a baby, I was happy with my childless future, as I had been for all of my remembered life. But this was now and there were two pink lines and there was a surprisingly persuasive intuition that knew it was true before the urine stick did. There was an embryo inside, cells blossoming like a rapid springtime. "God, make this baby to be exactly what you want this baby to be." I was praying to receive this child, to want it, not to resist it but to accept it.

But it was also a prayer of giving away.
Whoever this child could be---musical, stubborn, fearless, bookish---
Whoever this child might be---colicky, freckled, chubby, tall---
Whoever this child would be---reassuringly average, exceptionally bright, deformed or disabled or miscarried---
that was the child I was given to love.

On nauseating bus rides, in the moments between sleep, in the waiting rooms, at my desk, with my husband: "God, make this baby to be exactly what you want this baby to be." The prayer continued. 

Last week I left the midwife's office dis-couraged. Un-couraged. De-couraged. The baby's heart rate was good, fetal movement was good, my blood pressure was good, but I hadn't gained any weight in two weeks and my belly hadn't grown either. I looked more like 30 weeks pregnant than 34. So the midwife ordered another ultrasound for me and scheduled it for the next available appointment, a week away. They wanted to be sure that the baby was okay, checking the umbilical cord, checking the amniotic fluid, measuring the baby's body. 

So with my ultrasound order in hand and week to wait, I left the office, de-couraged, un-happied. Now 8 months pregnant I had grown attached to the tumbling, kicking, hiccuping babe inside. 

Back on the bus, the primordial prayer returned. "God, make this baby to be exactly what you want this baby to be," even if this child whom you have given to me to love is disabled or a child who doesn't survive. Every good and perfect gift... Blessed be the name of the Lord. 

Looking at my belly, willing it to grow, thinking about the child I can't see. 

I cannot guarantee this child's well-being, in the womb or out of it. I wanted to get to 13 weeks so the risk of miscarriage would be low, then 20 weeks, then just let me get to 37 weeks to be "full-term," as if then (or then or then) I could count on a healthy baby. 

Birth will make the baby more visible, but it won't make the baby more safe. The world is not a safer place to be than the womb!

So in the weary night I cast my cares upon the Lord with the prayer of receiving and of giving away. And I awoke in the dark some hours later with the peace of knowing that God is making this baby to be exactly what he wants this baby to be. Blessed be the name of the Lord.


33 weeks, 5 days.

33 weeks, 5 days.



grace and welcome

An invitation has been pressed upon me, pressed into me. 

I have been called to a life lived with great hospitality, to cultivate a heart of radical welcome. For years Joshua and I have sought to grow in the grace of hospitality, and now that seeking has sought us.

And, it is being revealed to me, in order to offer this deep and genuine welcome to others, I must learn to extend greater acceptance and grace to myself. 

If my house is dirty and disorganized,
if I'm unkempt and flabby, 
if I never return to work or finish my degree—
if I lose what I think I need to be myself, 
I am still a self loved and welcomed by Christ and those dear ones He has put in my life.

From a place of peace we may offer peace; from a place of welcome we may offer welcome. 

You're welcome here, Baby Bennett <3

Paddle, Flounder, Swim

I'm two years into this PhD thing and I feel dumber than when I started. 


A few weeks ago I had a spate of book reviews to turn in. I've written dozens of these things in the past, so why was I frozen in front of my computer screen? I was so intimidated by the assignments that I couldn't get started. I crossed out the first 6 attempts to write a single paragraph on a fascinating book that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

White page. Blinking cursor. Hands paralyzed at the keyboard.

I felt too ignorant, too incompetent to write these book reviews. And not just the book reviews: every assignment that's come my way I have received with greater trepidation and reluctance. The longer I spend in this PhD program, the dumber I feel. At the same time that I am gaining expertise I am feeling less expert.

How could that be? —I have learned so much and have been stretched in ways I can't describe even to myself.

Part of the reason is that I'm being exposed to so much good thinking that I realize how shallow, how facile my opinions have been up to this point. This academic experience has shown me how little I know of the world and its operations.

Additionally, since every single thing is controverted by some scholar somewhere, the long hours I've spent in the icy waters of uncertainty have worked to immobilize my ability to be sure of myself.

And, of course, everyone I'm interacting with here seems to be an expert on something. We sit in class or around the cafe and talk deeply about specialized subjects and I see that it has become harder than ever to be conversant and so I find it harder than ever to converse. 

Remember that post from a few years ago when I talked about my insecurities about starting a PhD? Yeah, well, I was totally on point. I'm not diligent enough or smart enough or spiritual enough for this undertaking. (Yet, by the grace of God, here go I.) The lesson still stands: The difficulty of this PhD is a Fatherly invitation to allow Him to pry my fearful fingers out of the grip I have on my own self-sufficiency. –Yes, pry my fingers, Holy Spirit Crowbar-style. 
But one more lesson has been surfacing: 

- The learning is in the struggle. I'm sure 418 really deep and inspiriational books have been written on this; I would read them, but I have too many other books to read. The point is that it is when we are in the margins of our competency that we grow in expertise. You've got to paddle and sink a little bit. Taste the lake. Search for the bottom with your feet and miss it. And then you'll stretch out your arms and swim.  

Paddle, flounder, swim.