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  • Writing A(nother) Book by Rebecca Brewster Stevenson

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    I’m a mother three times, and the births of my children were relatively easy. I say “relatively” because they were each (also) fraught in their ways. But the upshot was the same each time: healthy baby, healthy mother. I remain incredibly grateful for this.

    The birth of one of them, however, was a little dicey. No, I didn’t require help with the pain on this particular go-round, but I also couldn’t get any help because none of the nurses would offer it. As I breathed through the contractions, a nurse would occasionally pop into the room and then out again. But none of them would stay long enough for me to ask my question: am I getting any closer to having this baby?

    I think it was a very busy night in that maternity ward.

    It doesn’t matter. As I said, the outcome was what we all hope for. And while this particular baby was blue for a few minutes and while he did have his umbilical cord wound twice around his neck, he was really altogether fine and, moreover, is fine today. Thanks be to God.

    I recall only one interaction with a nurse, and this was when Nurse Harder came into the room. The sun was coming up and I was beginning to feel hopeful (because mornings almost always make me feel that way), and Nurse Harder came in at the start of her shift and didn’t leave the room immediately. Instead she introduced herself to me, my husband and my mother: “I’m Nurse Harder, as in ‘Push Harder’,” and I found her little joke incredibly encouraging.

    She also checked my progress and told me that “this baby is almost ready to be born,” which is what every laboring mother wants to hear, and that she was just leaving the room to call the doctor. And then she said to me, “Please don’t push yet.”

    I remember that instruction distinctly: “Don’t push.” This was really very encouraging and also not encouraging at all, because it meant that the pushing part (which means the baby part) was imminent– but my compliance with her instruction was absolutely impossible.

    Because here’s the thing: when the body decides that it’s time to push the baby out, the body is going to push the baby out. When you’ve reached that point in the labor and delivery, the body shifts to auto-pilot. There is simply no stopping the pushing. None.


    Why am I telling you this?



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The Books

Overview of Healing Maddie Brees

This is the story of Maddie and Frank Brees, seventeen years into a marriage they’ve crafted with honesty and care. When Maddie is diagnosed with cancer, they discover they’re not as honest as they thought, and the burden of her present illness is compounded by the beliefs and experiences of their pasts.

A work of literary fiction, the novel took me many years to write. It’s a story of marriage and of illness, and also of unvisited grief. It questions what we expect from one another and from God, weighs the significance of adolescent love, and examines the perhaps extraordinary demand of our physical beings on our spiritual selves.

And it’s filled with hope.


Overview of Wait: Thoughts and Practice in Waiting on God.

Waiting might be the most common experience of human existence, but some waits are worse than others. Some are longer; and for some, the stakes seem frighteningly high. Whatever you’re waiting for, chances are you’re not enjoying the wait itself. The whole idea of waiting, after all, means to endure in the hope that things will get better.

Meanwhile, we might glean something from our protracted dissatisfaction, and this work of creative non-fiction explores some possibilities. Initially, I drew from my own family’s very long wait, but soon I was including the experiences of friends as well as stories of waiting in scripture and studies of some art and poetry. The book takes a careful look at different aspects of waiting, offering a perspective that might make your own wait something you are actually grateful for.

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Wait: Thoughts and Practice in Waiting on God.

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About author
Rebecca Brewster Stevenson

I was born in California, spent two years of my childhood in Japan, and grew up in Pittsburgh. While Long Island’s North Fork, home to my maternal grandparents and parents, will always be my second home, I have lived most of my adult life in Durham, North Carolina, where my husband and I have raised our three children.

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“Most powerfully, Stevenson links the physical to the spiritual, letting Maddie’s breast cancer open her to a spiritual journey, letting the veneration of the Eucharist open space for understanding illness, letting love for the mortal body open space for love of the divine. A gorgeous meditation on broken bodies, fractured faith, and the soul-wrenching path to serenity.”

–Kirkus Reviews