Joy, Unexpected

I feel like I'm breaking the surface of the deep, paralyzingly cold waters of shock I've been trapped under for the past twelve days. I've taken a couple of life-giving gulps of oxygen, taken a quick look around and have accepted the fact that the shore--complete with a diagnosis and restored health--is nowhere in sight. I'm beginning to relax and trying to give myself to the current's flow, trusting that God is going to bring me safely to my destination, wherever that may be. I'm not going to lie--fighting the pull of fear and uncertainty is difficult--but if I can keep my eyes on Christ, I can stay afloat and even appreciate the sights along the way.

So far, my body has accepted three foods--rice cereal, goat milk and zucchini. I season with salt alone. I have also tried olive oil and avocado, but my body rejected them both. The diet plan I'm following explains that hypersensitive "patients" must advance their diets very slowly. I may eventually be able to eat these foods again, but I must wait. For now, it's easy to be patient. My stomach still protests a little each time I eat, so my food is prepared to be as digestible as possible, as if I were making it for an infant. The result is that Sara and I are sharing meals!

I haven't been exactly quiet about how much I loved to nurse my baby and how sad I was when I decided to give it up. Being able to share my food with my girl has been therapeutic in light of that loss. Usually, Sara sits in her Bumbo, and watches me eat. Sometimes, she wants a bite or two of my meal, and I am happy and able to share! We talk, laugh, play and eat our rice cereal and vegetable mash--it's really fun! Our mini meals are becoming a sweet, special time that makes me smile about my plate of baby food in spite of the fact that I would rather be eating steak and potatoes. It may be easy to be patient now, but give it a few weeks. I'll be needing this precious little drop of sunshine.

Each day I've eaten, I've grown a little stronger. I can manage a little laundry, a few dishes, giving Sara a bath and basic care for the kids, but not much more. I'm still unable to cook, keep the house clean (or even tidy, for that matter), stay caught up with the laundry or play very much with the kids. Eight to nine hundred daily calories just don't go very far, especially on days that the pain is severe.

Last Saturday afternoon, a flare-up was building in my bones. My grandmother came over to play with Micah, and took him outside. I peered through the french door glass at the smiling red-head playing chase with his great-grandmother. For a moment, my breath caught and I felt a pang in my chest. I would so love to be able to play chase with my boy, but I haven't been able to do that in months. It's been a long time since I was healthy enough to run around much. And there I sat in a dining chair, still in my twenties and aching all over, watching a woman in her seventies chase my child. As the tears were forming in my eyes, God slanted my perspective. I realized what a gift it was that my boy was outside running around like all little boys should. I realized what an amazing thing I had in a grandmother willing and healthy enough, even after breast cancer, to run around with him. It may not be the exact picture I had in mind when imagining parenthood several years ago, but it's not any less beautiful. For now, I will focus on what I can do--feed, hold, cuddle, kiss, read to, love my children--and pray that the Lord will meet the rest of their needs how He sees fit.

I also have to depend on God and others to meet some of my needs. I went to bed Saturday night in a good bit of pain, and woke up Sunday morning to more. We had Sara's baby dedication that morning, and I was hurting so badly, I couldn't even fix my own hair. I told Brandon that I didn't think we were going to make it, so he volunteered to fix my hair.

 You are now all mortified. The women are all mortified because they can't imagine what they would look like if their husbands or significant others fixed their hair and the men because they wouldn't know where to begin. I was never worried. You all forget that I'm married to Superman. A typical Lois Lane, I was only humiliated and frustrated that I couldn't fix my own hair. However, I'm finding that humility, though difficult and disgusting to swallow, is healthy for the soul. The ten minutes that Brandon spent styling my hair were actually very precious. How many women are married to a man that wants to go to their child's dedication so badly that he would offer to fix their hair? How many women are married to men who could actually do it? Brandon and I bonded on a new level Sunday morning, and I think he did a pretty good job! (You can add that to your "job skills" list, Babe!)

Dependence doesn't come easy to me. I have always enjoyed the feeling of being capable, but I find myself in a set of circumstances where I am just not capable. Every task requires dependence, whether on the Lord or someone else. Getting out of bed in the morning is proving difficult. I'm stiff and sore, tired and depressed, and if I didn't have children who were counting on me--physically and emotionally--to get out of bed, I would be tempted to just stay there and wallow. But I have to get up! So in a practice I think everyone should adopt, I daily acknowledge the fact that I can't even get out of bed in the morning without God's help, and I ask Him to help me. And He proves Himself faithful every morning.

I never thought I would find myself in such dire straights, and I certainly never thought I could find real, genuine joy in these types of circumstances. I'm not a glass-half-full kind of girl. I've always been of the mindset that everyone could take their "power of positive thinking" and shove it. (I'm still of that mindset.) No offense to those who like to think positively, but no amount of positive thinking is going to make me better physically or able to eat a doughnut ever again. My joy does not flow from the way I think about things; but to my absolute astonishment, there it is, present in every moment . . . . even the sad ones--joy, unexpected. And  that joy flows from the ever-constant, sustaining presence of Jesus Christ.

"Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days."
(Psalm 90:14)

Amen and amen.