Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fear, and Busting Through It

FEAR.  That's the big scar for me that I have done battle with for months.  This season in my life has too acutely shown me how little control I have.  Not so good for a perfectionistic control freak like me, oh my!  It is a journey... to learn how to trust with unwavering faith.  I have a long way to go.

I feared when we brought Colby home from the hospital at one week old.  He seemed so healthy, but I worried anyway.

 It took me several days to realize why my stomach hurt every time I combed his hair-- it was my body remembering softly brushing over the scars on Ellianna's head--always scared that I might hurt her. 

Colby's soft, milky baby smell made my chest hurt.  It reminded me of the day that scent disappeared too soon.  I breathed deep of it, to ingrain it into my memory; afraid that day would come again.

My sweet baby boy started sleeping through the night at two weeks old.  Dreamy, sighing, refreshing sleep, and yet I was exhausted; awake every 15 minutes to check if he was still breathing. 

I have feared I won't have the chance for one more photo, or that I won't have any video of him.  You can imagine what THAT fear has led to :)

After several weeks of the sun rising with my sweet little boy still safe in my arms, I began to let my guard down.  That was when my faith was tested again.

He was blue, gasping, but no rise of his tiny chest.  My mind shut down, my hands did what I have been trained to do... but I couldn't revive him on my own.  I called for help, and it wasn't until he was on the way to the hospital ahead of me, that it all came crashing down.  The roots of hope I have been nurturing were pulled by doubt.  I was blind with terror, incredulous that I was about to live this nightmare again.
Colby stabilized, he was breathing on his own, weak and pale, but breathing.  He was admitted with aspiration pneumonia after spitting up and then inhaling the fluid.  It seemed so stable, but my heart was not.

This will sound ridiculous, but I started taking pictures.  Every few minutes taking another, because "what if this is my last chance?"

It wasn't just me... shortly after my husband left the hospital to go home to the other kids for the night, he texted me.  He was sick because it was all too familiar.... the last time he left, leaving me at the hospital with our little girl, and me calling him to come back because she was going to die.

I was standing over Colby's bed.  He was pale, temperature rising, and everything in me was bracing for impact.  I bowed my head and I screamed at the God I was trying to trust. 

"Don't you dare take my son from me.  I am not Job.  I will not continue to praise You.  I will not survive this time." 

All this fear stemming from such a shallow belief that the God I claim to believe, really does have my best interests at heart.

They say He doesn't give us more than we can handle... So I'm trying to believe that He must really think I'm strong to give me what He has.  Doesn't make it easier really.

 As I'm entering another season that at times seems too much, I have the advantage of being able to look back at all He has brought me through.  Wasn't ever pretty at the time, but here I am... after days I thought I would never make it through, here I am.  And there He is, just trying to make a Job out of me :)

Colby has since recovered completely, and is thriving.  His smell is sweet, his smiles are cherished, and we have enough photos to embarrass him for years to come.  I am sleeping almost the whole 8 hours that he is, and I am continually, purposefully giving my fears to God.

Two of my sweet little ones have surgeries coming up.  Although nothing like the brain surgeries that changed our lives, I can't help but feel anxious.  Enough so that we are opting to drive to a hospital out of town instead of sitting in that familiar waiting room close to home.  I know that I will be an emotional wreck; that's just the result of the hard that I've been through. But I'm being intentional about sharing my fears, leaning in, and choosing to hope that good things and happy endings do exist.

 Most of all, I'm preaching to myself, reviewing the promises, and remembering that even if things get hard, I will be upheld and sustained by a God who has already brought me through so much.

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Be Brave

People don't like hard.  They don't want to be involved in messy, and they certainly don't want to feel uncomfortable.

That has been a difficult reality for me to learn over the past year and a half.  When our lives got hard, we saw too many people walk away.  People we thought would be there day in and day out to pull us through, instead chose to walk to more comfortable ground where there were less tears, less heartache, and certainly no talk about death.

Some of those people have been watching; waiting until it seems like the air has cleared and they wont have to see any pain when they talk to us.  These "waiters in the wings" have assumed that it must have been long enough now.  This precious new baby we have welcomed into our lives has surely healed all our pain and enabled us to move into the future without talking about the past.

Well, oops, sorry to burst that bubble.

Hard is not fun. Hard is not pretty. It's not something any of us would choose, but it is real and immutable and a big part of what makes us who we become.  The hard things we go through don't magically fade away after a given amount of time.  The hard things become part of our story, and shape how we respond in the future.

Reluctantly, we have let it in.  We have leaned into it, wrestled with it, and learned how to push on when we don't know how.

The people who don't want to know hard exists, won't want to commune with us, but the ones who are brave enough to embrace it, might just be blessed by some of the things it has changed in us.

Are you brave enough to let us in?

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

84 Days For a Lifetime of Smiles

During the first few weeks of Colby's life, I was aware numerous times of the differences between him and Ellianna.

He is alert... he shows interest...his body feels so soft and cuddly compared to the stiff muscles Ellie had.  All these things not only made us realize just how sick Ellie had been, but how healthy our new little guy is.  In spite of these obvious differences, my heart was holding out for one thing...

a smile.

For each of the precious 135 days Ellianna was with us, we never saw her smile.  We giggled, we cooed, we made silly faces, and we waited.  Waited for a little smirk, a dimple, a grin... something that would show us she was happy inside and that her tender soul knew we loved her.  We squinted at her, trying to convince ourselves we saw something that we didn't, pretended that each little twitch surely must have been a smile.  But the truth was, it never came.

When I looked at this sweet baby boy in my arms, I longed to know that he was in there; that buried beneath his shiny eyes and smooth cheeks, there was a spirit that recognized my face, read my joy, and could reflect that overflow of loving giddiness I have when I look at him.  My heart needed to know that he could.

Day 84.  Colby lay on my lap like he did every day, while I sang and cooed and told him how much I loved him.  And there it was.  His eyes crinkled, his forehead wrinkled, and his tiny lips stretched into perhaps the most beautiful smile I have ever seen.

I burst into tears.  I laughed. I squealed.  I fumbled for my phone to capture this moment in time.  I have the proof... it is blurry and shaky and inexact because I was shaking... but I have it... his smile.  

Every day since, he has flashed those gorgeous gums, crinkling into a beam of brilliance at my singing and cooing and silliness.  And every day I drink it up, and look forward to a lifetime of these smiles.

Please leave me a comment; it lets me know you're listening!