Thursday, April 2, 2015

when life does not go according to plan

On Monday he lost his first tooth and rode his scooter around the driveway with a big snaggletooth grin.

Hard to believe that only two days before we were scurrying from one medical facility to another - me carrying him in and out of waiting rooms, on and off of x-ray machines, afraid to make any sudden moves because he would scream.  It began in the middle of the night - the severe pain in his right leg.  I woke to his crying and listened to it off and on the rest of the night.  When it was no better by morning we headed for urgent care.  After 24 hours in and out of medical facilities on very little sleep, we were both exhausted.  It had not been an easy day.  When we finally arrived back home I told him to take it easy and rest a bit because I didn't want us to wind up back in the hospital.

Why not?  he asked.  I liked going there with you.

Wow.  Really??  What should have been a fun day of Easter egg hunts and going out for pizza and a movie with mommy had not gone anything like we had planned and yet - he was okay with that.  Not only was he okay with it, he actually liked it.

I think when your kids sense that you trust God they don't mind going there with you - into the unknown, the strange, the unexpected, the painful, the scary - anywhere.
Our kids are never more confident in us than when we are confident in Him.
Do you want to know some of the greatest evidence of God's work in my heart?
Left to my own devices last weekend's events would have left me scared, frantic and impatient.  Oliver would have sensed that too.  As I waited on doctor after doctor who warned that my son might have juvenile arthritis impacting him for a lifetime or a septic hip requiring emergency surgery to prevent any further damage to his cartilage and growth plate, I would have been completely undone.  We already have one child with a chronic health condition and for a brief moment I had to consider that we could be living with two.

Did my heart sink?
   Yes, absolutely.
Did my head start spinning?
   Of course.
But I know the Spirit of God has taken up residence inside of me because within moments there was a sense of peace and hope that lifted my heart and stilled my head.  I came back to my senses and what my senses know after years of experience is that God is sovereign over all things.  That's a fancy way of saying that he is in control of every big gigantic thing, every tiny minuscule detail, and all that falls in between.  Everything.  That includes hips and children and diagnoses and the days that don't go anything like you planned.

Once the reality of the situation settled into me there was a thought that surfaced above any fear or anger or doubt.
That thought was not - NOOOO - I can't handle this! {Although, left unto myself I actually couldn't.}
It was not - Why is this happening to us?? {Although, it would be perfectly human to wonder such things.}
It was not - This is not how I wanted to spend this day! {Although, truly, who wants to be stuck in a hospital with a hurting child while everyone else is outside watching spring unfold.}

My prevailing thought when faced with the possibility of another major crisis for our family was this - OK God, let's see what you will do.

Do you know why?
Not because I am particularly strong or super 'spiritual' or some kind of saint.  On the contrary, I was feeling pretty weak and weary and useless.

The reason I could rest in the hope of seeing what God would do in the middle of a disaster of a day, is because
     I have seen what he has done.  

Every time life has not gone according to plan I have found him there.
In the places of uncertainty.
In the chapters I would have never written for myself.
When I'm sitting in a dark and stale place while everyone else seems to be breathing fresh air out there in the light.
I find him in the most tender of ways reaching out a hand to me and walking right by my side.  And never have we just endured the crises of life, always we have grown closer and my faith has grown deeper and my life has grown richer and my soul has found meaning.

God gives purpose to every breath we breathe if we allow him access into those places.  If we acknowledge him there in waiting rooms and doctors offices or wherever your latest crisis finds you.
When I first discovered that the prognosis could possibly be very bad and we would have to leave from 5 hours in urgent care to more intensive testing at the emergency room I told Oliver we were on an adventure together.  I asked if he was ready and he said yes.
I wasn't lying.
I really believe it.

We are on an adventure together.  Sometimes it will take us places we would not have chosen to go and sometimes we will have to do things we would not have chosen to do but there can be excitement in the unexpected and there can be triumph in the trials if we trust that God goes before us in ALL things - not just the ones we had planned.

It was not juvenile arthritis.
It was not septic hip.
It was an unusual manifestation of a viral infection that was diagnosed as transient synovitis.  With some heavy doses of pain medication and rest it was gone within 48 hours.  We were grateful.

But we had still missed the egg hunt with the inflatables and shaved ice.  Instead of going out for pizza and a movie we had to skip dinner completely and watch bits and pieces of Netflix on my laptop.

We could look back on the day and, yes, there were
painful blood draws and
sleepless nights and
unfamiliar people and
strange places and
situations outside of our control
and LOTS of waiting for answers,
but there was also time to be silly on the crunchy paper of the examination table and
opportunities for tiny hands to tuck themselves safe inside of mine and
chances to be brave and overcome fear and
uninterrupted hours worth of looking into each other's faces and cuddling up close.
The stitches that knit my son's heart closer to mine over the course of that day can not be counted.


Sometimes life does not go according to our plans,
 but that does not mean they are not going according to A plan.   

In those moments, or days, or weeks, or years of living out what we did not plan
we can grow scared or angry or impatient
or we can grow deeper and closer.

The way we choose to live out the unplanned seasons of our lives will determine whether we will look back with bitterness and contempt or instead say with confidence
  I liked going there with you.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

the one thing I really don't want to tell you this Easter {and the one thing I do}

It's always said with an undertone of criticism - maybe a tad bit of belittling.  At the very least it is bossy.  I know because I said it once, a long time ago, and it tasted so bitter on my lips that I never breathed it again.

God helps those who help themselves.

First of all, it's not in the Bible.  Let's just clarify that.
Second of all, there are a lot of profound and true statements that are not found in the Bible - this is not one of them.

Monday, March 16, 2015

the beauty of bare branches

My South Carolina backyard seemed to burst open with color overnight.  Golden forsythia and fragrant white pussy willow are in full bloom which means the rest of the woods are not far behind.
I. love. spring.
But despite my longing for warmer weather, there is a part of winter I will miss -

Monday, March 9, 2015

advice for your renovation {of home or heart}

Home renovation is not for the faint of heart.
We signed the contract on a 1950's ranch on Christmas Day and here we are two months later still dreaming of being settled in our new home.
We are getting closer.

Just this week the giant, rusty dumpster was removed from the front yard.  The pink toilet and rolls of old carpet gone along with it.  Dust that was an inch thick everywhere is slowly being vacuumed, swept, and mopped clean.  I have a kitchen sink.
Hallelujah.  Praise the Lord.
I. have. a. kitchen. sink.
Don't ever take your kitchen sink for granted, people.

Friday, February 27, 2015

when your mess is exposed

I rode behind the truck for at least five miles before I realized it.  The conversation with my friend on the other end of the phone had me so captivated that I wasn't paying attention to what was happening.  When the wet streaks began hitting my windshield I turned on the wipers assuming it was the snow they had predicted.  It sure was messier than any snow I remembered, but...whatever.

When I finally noticed the giant sprayers on the back of the bright yellow truck directly in front of me, it dawned on me - this might not be snow.  And, in fact, it was not.  It was salt.  And by this point the entire front end of my minivan was covered.  Good grief.  I am an idiot.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

we are the people of the cross

My 5 year old loves to complain.  If we're going somewhere other than exactly where he wants to go he crumbles at the knees and tells me
it's SO far
he's SO tired
his legs hurt SO bad
and I just have to laugh and roll my eyes and sarcastically say - I know, it's such a long hard road isn't it buddy?

Friday, February 13, 2015

{when} five-minute-friday

{linking up today with a few friends for five-minute-friday}
When will this be over?
When will I heal?
When will I finally get an answer?
When will this dream come true?
When will it stop, start...

If I'm not careful all my 'whens' are
a bitter little voice asking impatient questions
demanding
future-focused
stealing the joy that could be found here and now
setting my heart and mind on what I want instead of what I already have.

I'm like a child asking over and over from the backseat of the car - When will we be there!?  
Or from the aisle of the store - When can I get more Star Wars Legos!?
Or from under the covers - When will it be morning!?

But God loves this childish, misguided heart of mine anyway.  A child who doesn't know what is best for her.  Lovingly he withholds answers we don't need and turns us back to the ones we already have.

We find freedom and peace when our 'whens' become something different.
Grace-filled statements instead of grumbling questions.

When I was still a complete mess of a person he didn't just say he loved me, he showed me.  

He proved it by taking the weight of this broken-down world on his shoulders until it crushed him.  He did that - for me and for you.  When there was nothing - in this world, in our hearts, in our hands - he made something.

That is the the one 'when' statement that answers all our 'when' questions.
And the answer is this - He already has...
And it's more than enough.  It's everything.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

a tuesday morning pep talk for you {and me}

You were created.
You didn't just 'happen'.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your birth, you were thoughtfully made before you ever took your first breath.

You possess a unique
design
passion
purpose.

That sneaking, lying, no-good voice will try to tell you
There are already plenty of people doing 'that thing'.
Lots of people do 'that thing' better than you ever could.
You don't have enough time or enough talent to do 'that thing'.
You've missed your chance.
You're too old, too young, too busy...