Discomfort & Big Bird: A Preggo’s Confessions

Rachel Cavanaugh

I awoke for the second time with a terrible migraine. In the shape of a starfish (not on my side), disoriented, unknowingly hogging the double bed and ungraciously crowding my sweet husband who was teetering on the edge. The teal colored night-lamp dispersed just enough light to see the ceiling.  The room was small, I could see all four walls out of the corner of my peripheral.  It seemed too bright for it to be 3AM. Was it really the middle of the night? Alas, this was family vacation.

I’ve grown to both love and loathe bedtime. I laid there, hot and sweating in the room set at a cool 70 degrees. Uncomfortable, trying to recite scriptures to memory; “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…” and was interrupted by nausea. I quickly determined that no matter how beautiful, modern, or exquisite a vacation condo is–there’s no way to dress up a toilet. I sat on the bathroom’s beautiful marble floor and sobbed.

“I’m 19 weeks along. Why am I still sick with “morning” sickness?  I’m exhausted. Why are my prescriptions not working? Why does the smell of spearmint toothpaste make me want to puke more? God, can’t you just take away the nausea? I forgot to bring ginger ale. Why didn’t anyone tell me it was this hard? Shut up, you’ll wake Johnny, and they just drove over ten hours to get here. What on earth did I eat for dinner? What am I doing wrong? Why am I complaining– I am pregnant! You’ve prayed for this! You have a miracle inside of you. So many of your friends have suffered multiple miscarriages, failed adoptions, and been told they’ll never have children. You’re not dying. Rachel, stop being so selfish. Pull yourself together. Don’t be such a pansy. You’re such an ungrateful brat.”

These thoughts circled my mind like a lion closing in on it’s prey. Frustrated and angry. Then guilty and ashamed for being frustrated and angry. I could feel desperation’s sudden, not-so-subtle onset. Cue more tears; this is where I panic.

Then out of no where, I thought of a big bird. What on earth! (I should mention that I have a strong dislike for birds in general.) The thought continued to unfold; “He will cover you with his feathers.” I knew I had read it somewhere, but I hadn’t a clue where it was found. I crawled back into the room and grabbed my phone off the floor. I went on a google search frenzy: “scriptures; bible verses; ‘feathers…'”

Psalm 91. Bingo, well played google:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’…
He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and protection.
You will not fear the terror of night,nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
You see, this first-time-mommy is quick to think of God as Marahute, the golden eagle in Disney’s The Rescuers Down Under. So often I wonder why He hasn’t swooped me up out of my troubled circumstances and “fixed” everything that’s seemingly going wrong. Where is He in my “time of trouble”? Isn’t He omnipresent, omnipotent, and capable of anything?
Paradigm shift. I’d been sitting there for well over an hour praying for God to take the pain away, while all along, He was sitting there with me. Stillness swept over my heart as His gentle, loving peace soothed my weary soul. He was with me.
I’m starting to see that God doesn’t always change our circumstances, troubles or trials. But like a big momma hen (don’t laugh), He gently covers us with His wings and warms us with His feathers. He faithfully sits in the crud and through storms of life with us. He comforts our hearts, speaks peace to our minds, sustains our spirit, and won’t leave us for a moment.  He is ever faithful; this is our Savior.
I’d be lying if I said I’ve only had a few nights like this. To be honest, pregnancy has been a journey of ever increasing faith. I’ve been challenged, pushed beyond what I thought were my limits, and been sicker than ever in my life. But along with my tummy, my trust and confidence in Christ has grown– and for that alone I am thankful. Our pastor, Todd Wagner’s version of Paul’s writings has been my motto over the last few months: “If dependence on Christ is the goal, then weakness is an advantage.” My prayer is that in times of need, my heart would turn to Him.
So whether you’re a first timer struggling through pregnancy, have six children, praying for children, or going through a stormy season– snuggle up to His side and let Him pull you through. He’s promised to work all things together for your good and His glory. Daddy Big Bird promised.

What Marriage Isn’t

John & Rachel Cavanaugh

“But I have this one thing against you. You do not love Me as you did at first…” Rev. 2:4

Husband brag:  My man is good at a great number of things–  He crushes just about any sport, can cook better than Martha Stewart (so I mayyy be bias), has the patience of a saint, communicates better than most women I know, and lives to serve. But despite his incredible character, many accolades, love for God, and huge heart– my man is absolutely terrible at this one thing.

So now that you know how awesome he is and how much I love him– I’ll take an unconventional route and let you in on what he’s not so hot at. This one thing– well, it kills me (quite literally). I’m certain he’ll never get any better at it. And the worst part is– he consistently fails in it every day and will continue to for the rest of his life.

So here’s the thing: as absolutely wonderful as he is– my husband makes a terrible god.

“Your spouse makes a crappy idol.” Maybe you’ve heard other married folks say this kind of stuff. Maybe you’re like single Rachel and quite frankly just can’t imagine someone who you’d actually have to keep from idolizing– because you know, you’re just too confident and cool to actually like anyone that much. Maybe you’re like I often am, and don’t even realize that you’re operating as if your spouse is your God. So single or married, let me tell ya, IT HAPPENS, so hear me out:

My sweet hubster wasn’t created to supply all of my needs. As well as Johnny loves and knows me, he cannot give me the strength, peace, joy, love, or comfort that I so desperately need. John Erik Cavanaugh is not all sufficient in himself– so how could he possibly sustain me? He cannot. He isn’t and wasn’t ever created to be my idol. And likewise, I shouldn’t be his either. The more I try to create space for him to fit in that role, the more he fails me– and the more angry, disappointed, and bitter I become.

As a result of idolizing my spouse, I’ve directed all my attention towards having the perfect marriage, and being a exemplary wife. Making certain we’re communicating well, being a light to others, and finishing each season strong. I’ve been striving and trying so hard under all this pressure and in my own strength, that I’ve forgotten my primary role as a spouse. I’ve missed that the whole point is to help and encourage Johnny to grow in Christ, to lean on Him for his strength, love and security.  Not to control him. Not to manipulate him into being a better Christian. Not to make sure we “look good” at all times. Not to make sure we read our Bibles every morning, and pray together every night. I don’t have to work and strive, strive and work.

So many things spin out of control when I take my eyes off of Christ. If He isn’t our foundation, we will crumble. He alone holds everything together. But before Jesus Christ can be our center, He must be the sole sustainer of my life– and He can’t fill that role if I’ve replaced Him. I’ve learned the hard way that you cannot depend on your spouse to make God the center of your life for you. I must fight the lies that Christ in my life isn’t important– on the contrary, it’s EVERYTHING.  We’re two human shells, created to be dependent on Christ, learning to grow in love for one another with a non-earthly affection. Marriage isn’t about idolizing your spouse. We weren’t born to be gods.

Whether it’s our spouse, occupation, children, earthly possessions or gifts– on this side of eternity nothing will satisfy. No marriage, relationship, status, or thing can fill the void. Christ alone satisfies. Only in Him our deepest desires are met; our fears are fought; our fickle love is surpassed; our victories are determined; our voids are filled; and our joy is made complete. So go to Him and let Him love on you. His heart is already turned towards you.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deut. 6:5 



“In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army.”    2 Samuel 11:1

Spring was a good time to go to war because the roads were dry, making travel easier for troop movement. David had just successfully defeated the Ammonites. But immediately following victory, David abandoned his purpose, passed off his responsibility, and stayed home to soak in the victory instead of being alongside his army in battle.

I’m sure David was simply enjoying the many luxuries of being king.  It seems as though he began to build security on his own strength. Forgetting that it was the Lord who enabled him to win in the first place. Instead of being forward thinking, He began to rely on his previous victory. His priorities were out of line, and he failed to face the next task at hand. While most of us think of David as a man with a worshiper’s heart and a warrior’s will; this story portrays him as someone entirely different.

Distraction comes easily if you aren’t focused on your purpose. And distraction precedes failure. I remember the first (and hopefully the last) time I played dodge ball. Six fellow peers of mine dragged me onto their team after realizing that they had to have at least one girl on their team in order to play. I told them I wasn’t too grand at sports, but they were convinced otherwise- and wow were they ever wrong.

I was a miserably pathetic throw and exhibited incredibly poor hand-eye coordination skills to boot. But, for a split second, I experienced my fair share of glory. Three or so minutes into the game, (The anxiety made it feel more like 40) one of the styrofoam balls was launched up in the air, luckily high enough so I could catch it. I caught it, everyone cheered, and my opponent was out. But, I was so overcome with the pride of my new found victory, that I failed to notice the second ball. Lethally headed in my direction. Being entirely distracted made me an easy target. And that was the end of my dodgeball career; just as soon as I had tasted victory; I was out.

I’ve since learned that looking back to soak on your victory too often will only distract you from the next challenge at hand. I don’t know of a time in the Bible where Jesus used his energy recalling all that He had done. He was always forward thinking. Looking for the next person to touch, heal, or save. He had bigger fish to fry than to use his valuable time thinking, praying, or addressing the past. He was always in the Spirit, always in warfare, always on call, accessible, and ready.

“One evening, David got up from his bed and walked around the roof…and saw a woman bathing. David sent someone out to find her…she came to him and he slept with her.” 2 Samuel 11:2-4

Like me, in light of victory, David had let his guard down. I’m sure he did indeed deserve some R&R. After all, he’d served diligently, patiently, and  faithfully all those years. He’d single-handedly killed the giant, destroyed opposing armies, and remained in communion with God. So, hadn’t he earned it?

We mustn’t depend on our past victories to pull us through tomorrow’s challenges, we still have to face them. Every war has a price.  Anytime you lose sight of your mission, you can rest assured that distraction is lying on the next rooftop.  Opportunity is always knocking, and if you don’t have a worthwhile cause to obtain your focus, your own desires will overcome your purpose.

You see, this snowball effect began as a decision; to fight, or not to fight. Never underestimate what hiding from your battles will cost. No matter how great the recent victory is, we should never feel entitled to lay aside our weapons. A friend of mine put it this way “As Christians, we shouldn’t ever feel as though we have the right to rest spiritually.” We can’t let up, give in, or back down. There’s a task that has been assigned to us. The moment we lose sight of it, we will fall, and eventually distraction will destroy us.

If you feel as though you’ve lost sight of your purpose, don’t worry! David blew it- royally at that. Yet, he turned his life around and we still speak of him today. God will honor a man who returns. It’s never too late to come back.

So, let’s face tomorrow. Let’s kick the crud out of our lives. Let’s become so overwhelmingly consumed with the God who loves us, and the task at hand, that distraction has no place in our lives. Contend; it’s what we’re born to do.

“The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12