Stakes in the Ground: on recovering from hard things and learning to claim the landmarks

stake in the ground

“Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known…”

Habakkuk 3:2

“What do you do when you’re in the valley? You remember what God has done. And you dare to believe that what He’s done before, He will do again.”

-Craig Groeschel, Hope in the Dark


For the past 3 or 4 months, I’ve thought about filling out a sticker with “Hello, my name is Nausea” and just wearing that, because it felt like my personality had been hijacked by the Hyperemesis – that I was 90% nausea and only 10% Beka.

I think when you’re sick for an extended period of time, you tend to come out the other side of it a little altered, and while you’re in the midst of all the shifting it’s easy to feel like there’s no familiar territory, not even in your own heart. To me…that looked like a lot of blank pages in a journal I normally filled to the margins; crisp, white paper rather than markings that made sense of my world.

But finally, finally, I’m starting to feel like myself again! I’m still pretty dependent on meds and rest, but the nausea has moved to the background. I have preferences and goals and ideas climbing back up to the surface, and I now recognize the person I see in the mirror.

I also see changes: changes in my thinking, changes in me. New hues where old ones have faded or overlapped, new certainties, new hesitations; but I think they are, all of them, landmarks. Way-points that tell of a good God who never wastes difficulty.

A friend and I were talking about the recovery process and looking back on sick seasons. She spoke of a similar concept and called them “stakes in the ground:” markers she could look back on that reminded her of God’s faithfulness.

I loved the idea and I think it’s an important part of any recovery, to acknowledge what has been hard, but also to see the stakes in the ground as you survey the terrain.

I think we move forward from hard things always carrying heavy memories, but stakes in the ground define them, keep them balanced, make them worth carrying and maybe even lighten the load. Perhaps they mark out who we are even more than our experiences do, because they tie us to an unchanging God rather than to all that fluctuates.

Stakes in the ground hold steady when stressors and heavy seasons come again and threaten to take our fragile hearts under.

So I will learn to put down stakes. I think I can’t afford to move forward without them.


I stand in awe of your work in my life.

Thank you for inviting me to come to you with my daily, practical needs. Thank you for teaching me that I can be confident you will give your guidance and help here and now, just as you always have to those who look to you.

Even as I breathe relief, I feel so out of my depth toward the decisions that lie ahead. I don’t know what’s best. I don’t know what to do. But I will put down stakes and gaze back at your faithfulness, then I will look ahead and watch for you with expectation.

For you give anchoring hope as I look to you.

“God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind…Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls…”

Hebrews 6:17-19

How to say “No”: on persistent worry and fearless hope


“Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever…I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter…”

Psalm 73:25-26, 28


I’m 18 weeks along today.

80% of Hyperemesis Gravidarum cases completely resolve by 20 weeks. No nausea. No vomiting. A normal pregnancy from here on out. In the next 2 weeks, things may drastically improve for me. I hope for that.

But my health may fail.

I have to start acknowledging that at 18 weeks, I’m not better yet, and so I may be the 20%. The whole pregnancy may be this way. If I’m honest, that persistent thought terrifies me.

But my heart has to learn to hold that possibility without fear.

I have to learn how to let Him be my heart’s strength, how to let Him be what I desire most. Then I will be able to ask for a lesser desire and not stake ALL MY DESIRE on what I ask.

I am not guaranteed what I ask for, but I am guaranteed Him. And He is enough.

looking up through leaves

I can learn to hope and expect help from Him, to know it is not hard at all for Him to turn things around for me, and to still to cry out:

Even if you don’t

My hope is you alone.


I have come a long way with how I handle worry. I am growing in my ability to face financial uncertainty and settle in my heart that my needs will be met, even if I don’t know how at the time.

I’m learning that I can allow torment as I anticipate what’s ahead, or I can rest in what I know of God’s character. I can wonder and worry and grow completely distracted with all the what if’s. Or I can trust that He will give me what I need, generously, abundantly, lavishly, just like He gives Himself.

But I have yet to learn how to say “no” to worry over sickness, over pain, and over loss.

I have yet to learn that it is the same choice.

I cannot know what He will allow, but I can know He will help me face it, and so I can spend today acting as if I will be okay, because I will be.

I will see, when I get there, that it was either better or worse than I expected, but that:

  1. He was faithful.
  2. I had what I needed.

My expectations may not be met, but my needs will be.

So I can let worry steal my joy as I wait to see how the details pan out, or I can decide that I know enough of the big picture, and it’s not worth my time to obsess over the details I can’t control and can’t figure out ahead of time anyway.


I can give my attention to fear, or I can give it to Him.  But I have His blessing to choose not to worry about it. I have His go-ahead to set it aside and go about my day as if I will be okay, because I will be. In fact, I honor Him when my actions assume that I’ll have what I need; as they add up, they form a life that takes God at His word, that makes practical decisions and takes real risks based on confidence in His promises.



I can spend my day planning and constructing shelters from an unknown, unseen storm, or I can take shelter in you.


I can be overwhelmed by all the threats, all the possibilities, all the noise in the world, or I can fall silent and be overwhelmed by you.

My health may fail, but I have you. And so this morning, while the wind and the passing traffic and the problems and the construction and the nausea and the frightened thoughts are not silent,

I will yet fall silent before you and know this:

You rule from On High and my story is in your hand, held precious. I don’t know all the details, but I do know this:

  1. You will be faithful.
  2. I will have what I need.

So help my heart to be brave and unconcerned, to fall silent and learn of fearless hope, to face the possibility that my health may fail, that things may be worse than I expect, and to say “no” to worry anyway.

hope 2

“But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.”

Habakkuk 2:20

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Matthew 6:34


even if you dont


Better than Safe: on worry, freedom, and the making of valiant men

plane 5

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:1-2

I will never be done taking in how good the Lord is.

He heard us and he answered. He gave us a new little life, and even through hyperemesis, chest pain, shortness of breath, tachycardia, weakness, dizziness, hypotension, pallor, cramping, 1 ambulance ride, 3 hospital visits, 7 rounds of IV fluids, 7 nausea medications, 10 weeks of daily losing food and fluid and weight and sometimes hope, he has kept that little life safe. 

hospital beka 2.jpg

He didn’t have to. Even as I closed my eyes Saturday and laid my exhausted, dizzy head back on the hospital bed pleading with Him to help, to protect, I knew this:

He is good no matter what happens here.

I can face loss and heartache, sickness and pain, and He is good. He is all we need. He walks with us. He doesn’t waste what has been hard.

From the beginning it has been a chore to untangle my heart from its desperate bid for control, from its pattern of constant worry over everything. From the beginning, it has been a challenge to hold this little life before the Almighty and acknowledge that it is too precious for me to handle; that the only thing I can do is put it in God’s capable hands because He is able to keep what I commit to Him.

…For I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him…

2 Timothy 1:12

From the beginning I have known that great love comes with risk of great loss. I must let this baby be His, stewarded to me for a time. If I see it as only mine, my heart will strangle and suffocate with stifling fear over how to keep it safe.

And I want more for my son than safe.

sword hilt 2

We are naming him after a warrior for a reason. I want him to plunge into life, fierce and fearless, because he knows the Living God and that none can stand against Him. I want him to face risk and take leaps and find Jehovah on the other side, faithful.

If the kid is anything like me, he’s going to have some scars. May they paint a picture of a life lived in hard pursuit of his Savior because then, they will be worth it.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I read in a pregnancy book, “if you’re worried about miscarriage, welcome to the rest of your life.”

mother worries

It went on to say that when you finally reach the safe window for miscarriage, you’ll worry about birth defects, and then labor injuries, learning disabilities, falls on the playground, bullying at school, kidnapping, car crashes, college…the worry never ends because this baby has your heart now and there will always be some new danger that threatens it. The book said to get used to worrying.

But I say no.

I know I’ll worry and I know it’s normal, but I say no to just accepting that worry will rule from now on. Fear need not rule my heart, even when I cannot ensure that what I love is safe.

Peace guards the heart that brings its fears to Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

I can lay my worries before Him and then I am free, free to breathe and to try and to forge ahead into the unknown. He goes with me. And I can teach Abishai who He is, or I can teach him to stay safe at all costs, I can teach him not to make me worry.

But safe is not the best I can do for Abishai.

Knowing Jehovah is. 


Oh Lord-

Help me to show my son who you are. Teach me to let him be a warrior, a leader, a follower, an adventurer. I love that Cody’s first happy thoughts about having a boy were hiking and hunting and playing with sharp sticks. I love that my husband is not afraid of dirt or scrapes or the woods at night; that he scrambles up steep cliffs and gazes at the stars.

cody cliff

Help me to trust you, Lord, so I can let them be men as you intended. Men who face danger and find Jehovah in the mist. Men whose stories tell of giants and lions and dark places; of who they became when they looked to a God mightier than them all.

You do not always promise safe, but you promise close. You invite us to step further, a little further, out onto the water, out of our comfort zone, but always toward you. You promise you are near, even when we feel lonelier than ever. (Psalm 119:151)

Lord, I want my son to walk close with you. Help me to remember who you are when that scares me. For the same Psalm that says “You have shown your people hard things…” also cries out:

“…through God we will do valiantly…”

-Psalm 60:3, 12

Help me, Lord, that I may raise valiant men. Prepare Abishai’s little heart, even now, to know you and to be transformed by it. For you make us more than we are.

cody walking shore

Prepare our hearts for the precious task before us. As Tedd Tripp says in Shepherding a Child’s Heart,

“You may not try to shape the lives of your children as pleases you, but as please Him…Your right to discipline your children is tied to what God has called you to do, not to your own agenda.”

My agenda would be guided by safety, convenience, and the desire for my son to do what I say.

But I can do better for Abishai than my agenda. I can teach him to obey your voice.

I will keep on obeying your instructions
    forever and ever.
I will walk in freedom,
    for I have devoted myself to your commandments

Psalm 119:44-45

For a season, you have given us a son to steward. May we use our time teaching him to obey you, so that when the season of our authority fades away, we have done more than keep him safe, we have taught him where to find freedom.

hand in reeds

So here’s to the making of valiant men.

We will get there only by your grace. Teach our hearts to remember that it is enough, and to keep looking to the hills for our help.