All those tubes and monitors frightened me. Her tiny body lay a breath away from Heaven.
She pulled through. A new fear settled in my heart. We were bringing home a baby with special needs and an unsure future. Life would never go back to normal.
The first few months I battled terror and guilt. I was so scared. Her health was fragile and no specialist could tell us what her future would be like. Fears assaulted me in the quiet. Would she ever walk? Eat? Talk? Make friends? What would my life be like? Would I spend the rest of my life caring for a delicate child? Was there more that I could do for her? Did we have the right therapists? Doctors? Was I missing something?...
It became hard to hold our little Micaela and simply enjoy her sweet smile or the way she felt in my arms. And that, that inability to give her a single moment of pure love, scared me more than anything.
Desperate, I begged God to fix my heart. What kind of parent was I that I couldn't love her like I loved our older girl Adela?
God answered and He made a beautiful offer. If I would give up my tomorrows and live only in the day, then I could rest in His peace.
I've always been a planner. What I saw as a strength was an Achilles heel to my faith. I had lost that illusion of control and without it, I faltered.
Micaela's life liberated me. I had to let go. I had to give God all our tomorrows and rest in His provision of the day...day after day after day.
Today Micaela ate a Graham cracker in my arms and giggled when her favorite song came on. She is precious to me. Precious because she is my daughter. Precious to me because her life brought me freedom.
Are you clinging to control your future or are you resting in God's promises?
Bits of weeds, dirt, bugs, and sticks scattered. I walked and pushed, walked and pushed. Behind me fell a neat line of cut foliage.
I smiled. My shoulders dropped. If having an open mouth hadn't been a hazzard, I would have sang.
If only all of God's tasks for us were like this: One job at a time. Predictable outcomes. Visual progress.
Many things in my life require work of the mind, heart, and body with no confirmation of results. With faith I keep pushing against bricks walls.
Are you pushing brick walls, too? Are you fighting for a marriage that feels like it is crumbling around you? Are you attempting to teach manners to a defiant child? Are you battling a disease? Are you holding the hand of a friend deep in depression? Brick walls come in many shapes and sizes.
Have you read the story The Unmoved Rock? If you haven't, you must. To summarize, God asked a man to push against a rock all day, everyday. The man did so for years. Eventually he became discouraged and cried out to God. God showed him how much the man had grown by performing the hard task. He had grown strong and resilient. But, He told the man that God was the the one that could move the rock. (Read the full story here. From Bible.org)
Today I am thankful for mowing, for a task where I can see results. But for all those other things that I am struggling for, I must instead look at the progress inside myself. I look at the patience I have gained, the ability to laugh and shake off little hurts, the heart that is learning to run to God for completeness...
Thank you, God, for having me push for the impossible. I will do the work, but remember that it is You who moves the mountains.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
What are you fighting for today? Even if you don't see much progress out in the world, do you see the progress in you?
"God's delays are not God's denials, Lora."
The words ripped a little hole in the knot in my stomach. Peace seeped in.
For months I had gone head-to-toe with weak sentences and useless paragraphs that littered my novel. No matter how hard I worked and how many hours I put in, I still couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel.
And an editor was waiting for it.
For the first time after writing 10 books, a devotional, and a blog I finally have a professional interested in my work. It has taken me over a decade to get here. You can imagine the fear and anxiety I feel as the months slip away. I worry they take my opportunities along with them.
Yesterday I unloaded on the CEO of CLASSeminars (a Christian Writers and Speakers Organization). I confessed my fears and God sent me a message through this dear lady's advice: Trust in God's timing, always. God's delays are not God's denials.
Life often obstructs forward motion and causes us to feel we are failing, yet God makes no mistakes. We are on His path. We are on His timeline. We are in His plans.
I got off the phone with Gerry and God's hope filled me.
I needed that.
It isn’t just my writing that feels stagnant, Micaela is going through a rough patch. She hasn’t taken to her new walker. Our encouragement and practice seems to get us nowhere.
But, God’s delay is not God’s denial, I remind myself. Just because progress is slow and often invisible, doesn’t mean she will never learn how to use this adaptive equipment.
I look around at my life and see so many things that I must wait patiently for. I must continue the work and keep my faith in an all-seeing God who has a purpose for what He has called me to do.
We might never know why He makes us wait, but His purposes are great. Trust in His love.
I did a major mommy no-no today. I don't know what was going on. All three of us--Adela, Micaela, and I--fell head-first into a major Monday morning grump funk.
It was bad.
Micaela wouldn't stop screaming. I checked her for broken bones, rising temperatures. I tried pushing food and water. I read books and suggested toys. She was one horribly mad toddler.
Adela was worse. Adela defiantly disagreed with everything I did: my cleaning, my attempts to soothe Micaela, my attempts to interest Adela in a fun activity. She didn't want to do anything except what was off limits. By the time the clock struck 10am, she had probably spent an entire hour in time-out.
And I couldn't do it anymore.
I slammed the baby gate into place, dumped the girls into their new gated community, and stomped outside to breath fresh air. It took two trips around the driveway before my heart opened enough for me to pray.
God, I don't know what else to do. I'm trying everything. I feel like my brain is going to explode. How can I get them to stop? I can't spend my day like this. What is wrong with them?
Stop fixing them.
God's answers sometimes take a moment to seep in. I walked around a bit more.
Okay, then. So...I will just go in there...and give them snack?
I took another lap around the driveway and asked God to fill me with His love.
Venturing back into the living room, Micaela and Adela fought over some animals strewn across the couch. Quietly I took out graham crackers, spread them with peanut butter, and dusted them with sparkling red sugar. I prepared two cups, princess plates, and a serving platter and told the girls it was snack time.
Instead of going to the kitchen I brought the food to them, set their little kid table, and served them snack.
Micaela was immediately quiet. It was the first time I had made her eat at that table, not ever trusting her to sit long enough in the little green chairs. Adela grinned, placed her hands in her lap, and very deliberately began to say "please" and "thank you" and tell me how wonderful her food was.
And the funk ended.
I don't know if it was low blood-sugar or the novelty of something new, but my girls needed that fun tea-time with Mommy serving them their food and smiling. Micaela sampled everything and Adela made me feel like I hadn't yet failed as a mother.
And God was right. I couldn't have got us out of that funk unless I had stopped trying to fix them.
I think that often the most damaging thing I do as a mother is look at my girls and think that all their moments of misbehavior is my fault. I look at them pushing boundaries or trying to make sense of their world and I feel like I'm failing.
I can imagine that today while I stomped around the driveway, God had his arm around my shoulder, gave me a big squeeze, and said, "Stop being so hard on yourself."
That being said, I was so thankful for naptime.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
How can you learn to look at your children's imperfections objectively instead of viewing them through self-condemnation? What God-truths help you keep a healthy emotional and spiritual balance while you parent?
I force a smile when my husband arrives home. We exchange the “Hey, Honey. How was your day?” I say that my day was fine...long... exhausting.
The girls, full of energy, jump all over their Papá.
An hour later while we sit together on the couch, I feel defeated. There are still dishes in the sink. I might or might not have picked up the floor. I have sixty minutes left to do something else with my life. I should write or study, but my mind is as weary as my body.
I have learned to give myself grace.
It only took four years of motherhood to realize the beauty of this season. Ask any parent, with children the age of six to sixty, and they will confirm: these early childhood years take a special amount of endurance and heart.
It is the most beautiful training we might ever experience.
In these years we learn to prioritize. Our kids remind us that they need a balance between healthy meals and healthy time spent with their parents.
They pull us out of our obsessions with plans and goals and make us learn to live in the moment with sticky-finger-hugs and bubble baths.
We develop a whole new appreciation for spouses, parents, neighbors, friends, and in-laws as we let go of pride and let others have a wholesome share in our little ones’ lives.
We learn to relax when we have a moment to do so. The work will always be there, but we won’t let it define us.
Our emotional, mental, and physical health begins to demand significance. We learn to let our me-time do double or even triple duty as we combine prayer and workouts and quiet.
We earn hearts that know how to serve. Serve our husbands, our children, our family. We understand how critical it is to reach out to others in need.
No longer do we take wakeful minutes for granted.
Habits, thoughts, and attitudes are weeded and pruned as we start to see ourselves in our children.
God becomes and intricate part of our inner thoughts because we know our sanity is best kept in His hands.
I could make this list go on and on. Some days it is hard to stay on top of my enthusiasm for motherhood, but I admire how this way of life continues to toughen and soften me. It is intense training ground.
LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
Can you think of more ways we are “trained”? What about other areas or seasons of our lives? God wastes nothing. How is He shaping you today?
Life can easily discourage and dishearten us. Remember, you have been called. Nothing about your day is useless or unimportant when God has you doing His work.
I was horrible at all sports. The only reason I was picked for a team was because my friends took pity on my tender heart. I always sat in agony, wondering if I would stand alone and embarrassed at the end. The moment my name was called I leaped forward, relieved. With energy and enthusiasm I would commence the game.
Today was a Monday morning. Even stay-at-home moms have Mondays. Mondays are the day we wake up early to prepare breakfasts and pack lunches. We know that for the rest of the day there will be little to no adult conversation. Mondays often dishearten me. I look at the week ahead and steal myself for the hard moments of discipline and parenting that I must get through alone.
Like many days, my Bible study didn’t happen until Micaela was tucked away for a nap and Adela was painting Trolls at the kitchen table. Mark, chapter 10, held the story of a blind man. A single line caught my eye and I had to read it over and over. The disciples tell a blind man “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” (Mark 10:49b, NIV)
The sweetness of this reality made me tingle from head to toe.
We lose focus in the day-to-day grime. The dirty dishes and bills provide a gray tinge to our world. I read the words of the verse again, this time I addressed them to me.
“Cheer up, Lora! On your feet! He’s calling you.”
He is calling me to be a mother to two little girls. He is calling me to be kind and considerate to the insurance company when they call about Micaela’s medical needs. He is calling me to be a supportive and loving wife to a hard-working man. He is calling me to be a good friend, daughter, and sister.
He is calling me to come and be part of His works, part of His team, part of His plan.
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
On those days when you feel less-than excited about your purpose in life, how do you rekindle love and enthusiasm?
What does your mask look like? When we keep our lives appearing spotless, who are we helping?
A knock at the door. My heart hammered. I whirled around and did one last check for clutter. I sprinted for the remote and turned off the cartoons that kept the girls entertained for the last hour as I cleaned. The girls followed me back to the door.
I welcomed the family inside. It was our first play date. I wanted it to go well. I tried to look at my little post-stamp house through their eyes, wondering what they saw. I checked Adela and sighed with relief. She had kept her shirt clean and the bow tucked next her ponytail.
The kids settled into play. The mom and I sipped tea. Her eyes flicked to clean counter-tops and a mopped floor. She didn’t hide her disappointment. My stomach sank.
My new friend cleared her throat and gave me a half-smile. “My home never looks this clean. How do you do it? I spend so much time playing with the kids, doing laundry, trying to keep meals on the table…How do you keep the floors clean?”
Discontent spread across her face and her cheeks flamed with embarrassment.
I covered my eyes with my teacup hiding my confusion.
I did not know what to tell her.
The truth was ugly.
The truth was I had not played with my girls once that day. The truth was there were piles of laundry hidden in my bedroom. The truth was that we would be eating leftovers tonight because I had not prioritized cooking another meal.
Worst of all, my mask had hurt a young mother who was doing everything right.
For a moment my pride wanted to keep silent, but my soul knew better. I set the coffee cup down and confessed. I confessed all. A few minutes later she laughed. We grew comfortable. By the end of the visit I had a better and very dear friendship.
The next time I had a play date I dressed the girls in our home clothes and left toys on the floor.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (ESV)
How do others see God in us? Through our perfections? No. They see the power of God when we struggle. They see God’s grace, peace, love, and joy, when we hurt and rely on Him.
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
How much does our mask of pride prevent the light of God from shining through?
Our Savior said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2, NIV)
Those words echoed in my heart when I looked at my friend’s tear-filled eyes and heard her fears. She worried her past choices might influence how others treated her child.
I swallowed. I reassured my friend. Her intelligent and kind daughter blesses my own girls. Later at night my mind fell back on that moment. To be honest, I have been so impressed with how this young woman is raising her daughter. In fact, witnessing friends and classmates become parents thrills my heart. It brings out the very best in so many I care for. They grow up. They re-prioritize. They give.
I wonder if they see themselves this way, or if they carry around their past. God’s mercies are new every morning and as we grow and learn to love others, do we turn around and learn to forgive ourselves?
I haven’t. I carry around past mistakes and errors like rescued valuables from a fire. I know everything ugly about my past and I expect others to see it every time they look at me.
I see this in others, too. I see beautiful maturing people who keep their mistakes.
That night I laid in bed, eyes wide, and it dawned. The way I judge others is the way I judge myself. If I can let go of my mistakes, give them to God, my heart will learn to love others the way God loves them.
How many of us limp forward in life, damaged by wounds we refuse to allow to heal? In our wounded state, how will we ever learn to embrace mercy and grace?
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Do you hold on tightly to your own mistakes? Does it affect the way you view others?
We will never reach the other side of our dreams without determination.
Micaela let out a gut wrenching scream. I dropped the soap sponge into the water and sprinted to the living room. I expected to see blood, maybe a wasp, something. Instead I found Micaela gripping her mega blocks and screaming.
Then began one of the longest weeks of my life began.
We are beginning to realize that Micaela’s mind is light years ahead of her body and speaking abilities. The battle of the mega blocks is a perfect example. She watched her older sister, Adela build towers for a few days and that morning she decided to give it a shot. She grabbed the blocks and slammed them together. They rolled away.
My mouth fell open.
Excited, I squatted beside Micaela and carefully showed her the holes in the blocks. I demonstrated how they fit together. Then I handed her one. She tried. The block fell on top the tower and rolled away. She screeched. I winced.
She knew what she wanted to accomplish, but coordinating wrist movement and depth perception was a monumental task.
For an entire week she played with those blocks. She would come crying, carrying the culprit plastic bricks, and I would show her over and over.
Finally, the crying stopped. She could do it. Our entire household let out a relieved sigh.
Oh, those mega blocks. We all have them. Mine are raising my children and becoming a successful writer. Watching Micaela that week was good for my heart. Her determination and following success was inspiring.
Proverbs 13:4, says: The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. (ESV)
Diligence. Hard work. Dreams.
Micaela’s pain and frustration was real, but so is the smile on her face when she shows off her new skill. If she had only craved to build a tower, but hadn’t forged through the hours of anger and mental exhaustion, she would never have done it. Our best dreams are our tallest mountains.
May our lives be blessed by the climb.
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
What keeps you going as you pursue your dreams?
The doctor looked over his mask and nodded to Micaela. “What do you think, mom, is this baseline? Is this Micaela?” She had experienced her very first seizure and recovery was slow.
I shook my head. “No. Its not. This isn’t baseline.”
Miceala sleepily babbled and banged a musical turtle. She threw her head back and gazed unfocused at the ceiling.
No. This was not Micaela.
Baseline. The word made my heart tremble. God, where is baseline? Where is baseline for my family? Is it this—hospitals and new meds and fear? Or, please, is baseline home where Micaela laughs and throws tantrums and Adela doesn’t wonder where her mother and sister went? Oh, God.
The doctors and nurses came. They left. The tests were done. Micaela’s brain showed no signs of bleeding, strokes, or epilepsy. There was only the old, extensive, damage. The kind that made the neurologists look at what was left of her brain and ask if the lethargic child in front of us was acting normal.
That night, when the hospital room dimmed, I listened to the monitors and questioned God. I questioned His plan. I knew He had one. I knew He had a purpose for my child, for me, for my family, before we were ever breathed into existence. But I wasn’t sure I liked it anymore. My prayers stopped. I wrapped myself in a blanket against the chill.
I thought over all the many twists in my 31 years of life. From one year to the next it has been full of the unexpected. I eloped at 21. I had my first child while living in Patagonia, Argentina. I said goodbye to a two-month old baby and brought home her twin sister. I lost my mother much too soon.
I relived a hundred memories and I saw it. Clear and beautiful--baseline.
We have no control over our lives. Even if we had the money and resources to create a perfect bubble, the unexpected would still worm its way into our existence. Baseline will never be something we can hold and touch. Baseline can be found in something altogether more powerful—our connection to God.
That is baseline. Baseline is being able to look at any circumstance and see our amazing Heavenly Father. Baseline is His joy in our hearts, His peace in our souls. Baseline stretches and weaves into our every moment because we chose not to walk out this life on our own strength, we chose Him.
Eventually, our Micaela woke, ate, played, laughed, and even threw a tantrum. God stays close to Her. That precious connection is an intimate part of her existence, and mine, my four-year-old Adela, and my husband’s lives. Our baseline cannot be measured, described, or limited.
But we have this treasure in clay jars to show that its extraordinary power comes from God and not from us.
What keeps you secured to your baseline?
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