Conspiratorily, Adela and I walked into the room where Micaela played. Adela held out a box to her sister and said, "Micaela, we have something for you."
I watched with a proud heart as Adela helped her sister open the box to reveal her new pair of pink glasses with her new prescription and matching shoes that fit her AFO's. Micaela flapped her little hands in excitement as we fitted her braces into the shiny pink shoes and slid the glasses over her head. I hugged her and said, "I like your pink shoes and your pink glasses, Micaela. They are very pretty."
She grinned and exclaimed, "Micaela is pretty!"
Adela and I laughed and hugged her hard enough that she squirmed in our arms. She leaned back and very deliberately articulated, "Thank you." My eyes stung as they filled with tears.
She stood up and flapped her hands the whole way through the house on her way to show Jovani her new kicks and specs. Our little girl is pretty in pink.
Micaela has so much equipment. Another little girl, older and more knowing, might want contact lenses and high heels, but Micaela is content with her family telling her that she is beautiful. That is enough.
Most of all, she is thankful.
We are all thankful. I watch her walk and am reminded of the miracles...the incredible answers to endless prayers. When I watch her, I am at peace. My trust in God fills my heart.
Perhaps, mine is the most miraculous blessing of all. The storms of life have kept me close to God and Micaela reminds me of this with every step, every spoken word, and every night she is brough safely into the morning sun. Thankfulness is etched into the deepest corners of my soul.
Is a grateful heart keeping you close to God today?
I refreshed the weather app on my phone and slid my finger past the next 10 days. No rain. Not even a chance.
My stomach rolled over with fear. Restless, I stood up from my chair and softly padded my sock-covered feet to the windows. I stared at the wind, furiously moving dust and leaves and yellow grass.
Lord, I prayed, please send us some rain.
Determined I went back to my endtable and grabbed up my Bible. God made so many promises to the Isrealites to bless their country with rain and I wanted to hear one. I am an adopted daughter of God, that means He promised rain to me as well, right? My mind eagerly snatched at a formula: Find the verse + pray the verse = God remembering His promise and makes it rain.
This is where you the reader can shake your head and say, "Poor, girl."
Well, God in His mercy directed me to something else. I found Moses blessing to Isreal right before he died in Deuteronomy 33:26-29. While God does promise "dew from Heaven", He primarily emphasises that He is our reguge, that we are in His arms, and that He protects us.
My soul sighed, my shoulders relaxed. God is already here.
We all do this. We fixate on a problem, small or enormous, and all we want is for God to intervene. We want it now. We just know that an answer would set our world right. If you are anything like me, you have a hard time with any semblence of contentment until you get what you "need".
We are already protected and safe. Even before the answer from God or the miraculous intervention from Heaven, we are loved, in God's arms, and overloaded with His blessings.
I stopped refreshing my weather app and decided prayer was enough. I am bringing the need for rain to God, often multiple times a day, but I am not waiting for rain to have peace and joy. That, my friend, would be an insult to our Lord who "rides across the heavens to help you".
The next time you feel the agony or fear of an unanswered problem in your life, take a moment and revel in the truth that you rest in the arms of your everlasting Father.
What problems are filling your mind and heart these days?
I wrapped Micaela in my arms and began to play the "face game". Her body was warm, her eyes sleepy. In the opposite recliner chair, Adela was curled up on Jovani's lap. The house smelled like the popcorn I had made on the stove. The news talked to us from the television.
My shoulders dropped. In that moment, the world felt delicious.
I took in all the details of Micaela face as we named emotions and changed our faces from "surprise" to "anger" to "happy" and so on. Every once in a while Micaela would let out her tiny little roar and I would pretend to be scared. She giggled.
Worry niggled at the back of my mind.
The side of her head bore a quickly growing bump. She had fallen five times in the last few minutes before I scooped her up and decided to hold her the last little while before bed.
Falling has become a new norm as we go through the tedious process of slowly introducing Micaela to a new Epiplepsy drug. The medicine makes her dizzy. The neurologist asked that we push through the process and see how her body reacts after it has had some time to acclamate.
The process is scary and frustrating, but necessary.
Isn't this true for all of us? When we move toward good and lasting change, the process is often frustrating. We must compell ourselves to endure through discomfort, people telling us we should give up, loved ones asking us if it is really worth it.
I love reading Nehemiah, the book in the Bible where the Isrealites return to Jeruselum to build a wall of protection around the city. It was tough. The nay-sayers were loud. The enemy was dangerous. But once they finished, the wall protected them from assault.
There are some pretty awesome habits, customs, and atitudes God has called on us the build with Him if we will have the fortitude to stand firm through the process. With God, we can build our own walls of protection.
Have you started working on a wall? Perhaps it is a new prayer habit or a new healthy eating plan or a dedication to learning a new skill. As you strive for this change, you feel the push back from the world, friends, and even your very self.
Don't give up. Ask God for discernment and protection and keep going with His blessing.
Our family has chosen to wait out the side-effects of Micaela's new medicine. In the past, her body gets used to a drug within a few weeks and the side-effects lessen or dissapear. We are hoping for an added layer of protection from her seizure which are markedly decreased since her surgery last year.
As I hold her, I thank God for this moment, a moment of peace, and I ask for His strength as we continue to work on that wall.
Have you ever had to stand firm through a grueling process meant to better your world when you got to the other side?
I absolutely could not sleep. My eyes closed and filled with visions of the laminated lists and perfectly packed lunch boxes.
It was done.
It was all done.
Nothing to worry about.
But still my heart hammered inside my chest.
There is a mom out there, more easy-going than I, probably getting a good chuckle at my anxiety. I know there are plenty of families out there who make through everyday without spreadsheets and timers on their phones. They probably enjoy each other a bit more than me and mine do these days.
I am simply terrified that something isn't going to get done.
Like, what if a teacher texts me that Micaela's breath smells? Or, what if Adela starves at school because she didn't have her lunch?
While I love my children, a more honest voice inside me confesses my motivation is desperation not to mess anything up.
Nearly at the end of my mental and emotional capabilities, I needed God to speak into my life. For this particular instance a few weeks ago, He used my sister. I called her because she is an organization guru and I wanted some tips and tricks to incorporate into my infallable system. I told her about my insomnia. I could hear the smile in her voice when she told me two things: First, I would get used to this new working-mom routine and would start sleeping again. And, second, I would mess up and realize that life could go on with mistakes.
I breathed out slowly and realized that I had not been allowing God any control.
I'm in week six of working and I am now sleeping again. I have gotten used to the new routine. Also, I have a more gorgeous view of my family supportively picking up the slack. Jovani has become a pro at getting the girls school-ready. Adela is feeding animals, emptying the dishwasher, and double-checking her backpack. Micaela kisses me goodbye and gives me a joy-filled grin as I leave.
The more I give up control of what I've held onto so tightly, God fills my hands with blessings. It is so easy to make plans and systems a kind of idol that edges my trust in God out of the way. The more I had focused on trying to become organized and prepared enough, I had taken my focus off of the magnitude of God's love and power.
Sometimes we have to let go of something for God to hand us the blessings we have been waiting for all along.
When has God surprised you most with unexpected blessings?
The air filled with the smell of animals and the powdered dust kicked up by the sheep's tiny hooves. Adela's ponytail swished back and forth in the air. I smiled and shook my head as a lamb, near the size of her mother, tried to nurse and her eager movements almost lifted the ewe off the ground.
It was a good thing today was weaning day.
I love working days. We begin with a family breakfast that usually involves extended family and friends coming over to help with the work and enjoy each other's company. As we work, everyone has an oportunity to be involved. The pastures and pens are a flurry of activity as the animals are gathered and sorted. The lambs are given booster vaccinations and taken to different feeding grounds. The mothers are given rest and a chance for their bodies to recover from the work of nursing lambs before they are bred again.
So many families are busy these days. We live in a "divide and conquer" world. Parents work. Kids go to school. However, on a farm or ranch, we literally live where we do much of our work. Our kids get to go out with us. We can share a huge part of our lives together. I grew up on a ranch about thirty minutes from where I live now. My weekends were spent checking cows with my dad or tying fence. I still enjoy the close relationship I have with my father.
I am blessed beyond beleif that as we share our life and our work with our children, we get to build relationships with them that will last a lifetime.
It is just another reason that while farming and ranching isn't easy, it is beautiful.
What part of your life are you blessed to share with your family?
It started the week I began working. Adela had a very rough attitude. She was uspet, sad, or angry about everything.
I am a ridiculously emphatic person. I will feel what anyone around me is feeling. So, my eight-year-old's negative vibes brought me down to a new low. We wallowed in it together. There were way too many tears and raised voices. We could not seem to get out of that cycle.
Finally, afraid that I might commit a terrible act if I did not put an end to the circus, I told her, "You are completely allowed to feel all your feelings, Adela, but I am not going to feel them with you."
Expecting more tears, I was shocked when she erupted into giggles. The giggles turned into full-body laughter and the unicorn on her little pink dress danced with her merriment.
I had to laugh, too. To my young daughter, what I said must have sounded absurd, but for me, it was completely liberating.
If there is a sin that I hold on to tightly, it is the belief that I am responsible for fixing everyone. If someone is sad, I make them happy. If they are angry, I calm them down. If they are anxious, I try to be a peaceful voice.
However, I was listening to a podcast about personalities, and heard a psycologist say that so many emotions must be felt. Sometimes, the most healing thing we can do is settle into the feeling and let it run its course. Only then can we identify the thoughts and memories that hurt us and take a step toward healing.
Also, it definitely is something people need to do for themselves without me running over and covering them with emotional anesthetic.
So, my new motto is, "Feel all those feelings, child. I am just not going to feel them with you."
Adela did eventually figure out the root of all her negativity. I was proud of her voicing her fears and anxieties. Together we worked out new ways of thinking about the changes in our home and school. My happy little girl is back.
When someone you love is hurting, how do you come along side them?
My cheeks instantly flushed as I stepped out into the humid afternoon. On the horizon, the sky was darkening, the clouds building and bubbling. As I bent down to turn off the dripline to my garden, I smelled the rain on the air. I wondered if the storm would bless us or pass us by again.
So is the life of a New Mexican living here on the Great Plains. We can see a storm and watch it pass by us, so close we could touch it and smell it, and not get a patch of ground wet. We can also go from sunshine to flash flood in mere minutes. We don't really know for sure until it is happening.
The storms are the perfect analogy for my life right now. I'm at a season of change. Micaela's sudden developmental leaps have left us with a little girl who walks and talks about her favorite color. Adela's maturity and quick wit means I have a growing daughter willing to help with chores and care for her little sister. With their growing independence, motherhood for me has changed.
And I don't know what it means. I'm waiting. I'm putting my feet forward and testing the waters. I have taken on responsibilities in our new company, A&G Family Meats. I am even going to start a job outside my own home. For a woman who hasn't been formally employed since teaching in 2011, I feel as if I am venturing into an alien world. A world that requires me to put my coffee into a mug with a lid and drive away.
As I look to the days ahead, I have no idea what they will bring or what challenges will be faced. However, I am at peace with the thought that I am not alone. My God who sends the rains will bless my life with His never ending goodness.
What helps you juggle home and work?
I wanted anything except a half-dead lamb on my kitchen floor.
I had dropped the girls off with their Abuelos for two days. With the school year finally over, I was eager for a chance to pusue some projects while the girls were happily beginning their summer. Like so many parents around the nation, sheltering-in-place while homeschooling my children had been quite an experience and we all needed the break.
I took care of breakfast, dressed, did my chores, and rolled up my sleeves to gaze at my to-do list with shining eyes. With excited determination I pointed my toes towards my first task.
Someone knocked at the door. A little monster inside me growled as I noted the first minute of the day roll by. And then I saw who was at my door. My dad stood with a limp figure in his arms. The very same arms that rocked me to sleep as a baby, held a half-dead lamb.
He apologized. I sighed. The poor little critter was cold and mostly unresponsive. I had never saved one this far gone. My eyes flicked to my agenda for the day as I grabbed the milk, bottles, and equipment for tubing milk directly into the baby's stomach. Dad got back to checking the rest of farm. I worked with the lamb for a half-hour, trying to get her warm, watching her anxiously for a flicker of an ear or a bat of an eye that would show that wome warmth or nutrition would bring life back to the tiny creature. Nothing. Annoyed and heart-sore, I left her in a box with a warm towel and got back to my to-do list.
I tubed her again a half-hour later, traded out warm towels, and noted that nothing about her changed. Once again, I wouldn't save this lamb. I looked at the clock and, from experience, guessed she would be dead within the hour.
I walked away, annoyed at how my eyes stung with sadness and frustrated at the lost time. I finished sorting a box in the office and went to take a load of trash to the dumpster. I passed the lamb's box and froze in my tracks. There wasn't any movement, no sign of change, but, that still small voice spoke into my heart. She needed me.
I crouched next to her, wondering what else could possibly be done. Before I knew it, I was making a bottle and bundling the tiny creature into my lap. I shifted her limp weight and rubbed her body. I lifted the warm bottle of milk to her mouth and let the taste of it hit her tongue. A strange sense of love came over me. It wasn't there a second before, but suddenly I knew that whether she lived or died, she needed love. She needed my time. My warmth. She needed to be more important than an item on a list.
So, I sat there and talked to her and stroked her newborn baby lamb hair.
How many things in life have I refused to love simply because I was too busy?
How many people do I speak to curtly, shortly, or not at all because I do not have the time?
Many of us are guilty of this. It seems the new "cool thing" to be is someone who has so much on their plate that they cannot be bothered with idle chats or a moment of silence with a hurting friend.
Eventually I set the lamb down, carefully, where the warm sunlight would hit her body, and stayed close while I worked quietly. I prayed for her. I waited for her passing, thankful that I wouldn't regret that I hadn't tried enough or given enough of myself.
When shifting a load of laundry into the dryer her thin bleat nearly made me fall down to the ground.
My little visitor was not only alive, she was awake and on her feet. I grabbed the bottle, warmed it, and went over. I gathered her up and offered the milk. She sucked and wagged her tail.
I did cry a little.
We named her Princess Buttercup. She was sick for a few days but eventually found her feet and is quickly becoming one of our biggest and strongest ewe dogie lambs.
All because God made me stop and consider a life.
Lambing is mostly done now and we have several sets of triplets and countless sets of twins. With it has come 13 dogies (orphans) that my family and I care for. They are happy, busy little babies.
I pray my lesson with this lamb stays with me a long time. May my time never be as important as life and love.
Have you ever neglected a friend or loved one because you were too busy?
I heard it. The tell-tale thump as Micaela went tumbling into our laminate flooring. Then I waited. A little bit of movement. Then more steps. I let out a breath. No busted nose this time.
Micaela is walking! Oh how we waited for this day. Hoped for this day. Prayed for this day. When Micaela was born she sustained an extensive brain injury. We were warned that 97% of children with such damage never walked or talked. Truly my family has a front row seat to God's miracles every day of our lives. She is both walking and beginning to speak in sentences.
However, let me level with you, my friends... I honestly believe shelter-in-place helped facilitate this long-expected gift. As we honored the social-distancing rule, the girls fell into a quiet routine. We were at home. Life was less chaotic and busy. It gave Micaela that little bit more space she needed to grow.
Truly, God works in mysterious ways.
But, it has been bloody. Micaela has always been prone to nose bleeds and it never stops quickly. I usually have to pick her up, strip her down, and put her in the bathtub to wait for the gushing to stop. Each time I wonder if she will hesitate to get back up and walk again. So far, she hasn't stopped. Perhaps she is a little slower and more cautious for a couple hours, but it never last long. It is as if something deep in her soul has a desperate need to go forward.
She inspires me.
There has been a lot on my plate. Millions of other families have experienced changes and shifts in their responsibities. I have never delt with change well. My need for perfection is frustrated by having the world change. How can I do things right if what I'm asked to do keeps altering? I have been going to bed many nights, frustrated and angry at myself, wishing I had handled my emotions better or got more done.
It is hard feeling bruised at the end of the day and still getting up the next morning with enthusiasm to try again.
I watched Micaela giggle as she made a round in the kitchen. It hasn't got old yet for her. It has been a couple months now and she is still estatic about working on this new skill.
Perhaps I must take a page out of her book. So what if I get some emotional bumps and bruises? I cannot stop. It will get better, the day more fluid, as we learn new steps of life.
I pray this for each one of you, my friends, that no matter what blows life has dealt you, that you are able to get back up with hope.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.
How has God blessed you during this crisis?
I watched the fat bodies of the ewes wade through the wheat growing in the fields. The wheat rustled as their bodies waddled. I ran my eyes over them and made guesses about which one would lamb first.
I've been doing this for days. Lambing season for our farm has come and the waiting is hard.
Waiting is a game we are all doing now. Waiting to hear from our governing bodies if the COVID-19 curve is flattening. Waiting to hear if businesses can reopen. Waiting to hear if school will resume in the fall. Waiting, waiting, waiting...
At the begining of our state's shelter-in-place mandate, were given a miracle. Micaela started walking.
My friend, we have been waiting years for this. YEARS. Years of therapy. Years of visiting doctors. Years of tears and prayer.
Now the waiting is over. The VNS surgery she recieved last November, greatly reduced her seizures and she started to develop speech and motor skills at a rapidly increasing speed. These days, the thing I'm most interested in is simply having a front-row seat for whatever she figures out next. Thanks to social-distancing, my daughters are here at home with me and I am getting to experience every moment of this precious time with them.
Psalms 27:13-14 says,
"I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!"
I know waiting well.
I look at the ewes, pregnant with the promise of adorable bouncing lambs. The weeks ahead will also involve the extra work and stress of protecting and monitoring them closely. We might even end up with a dogie lamb or two which will require love and late-night feedings. But for now, I have the lovely view of healthy, expectant ewes grazing peacefully across the pastures.
What is in your view today? Are you allowed the blessing of watching every minute of your children learn and grow? Are you comforting a friend via a Zoom meeting? Are you soaking in the quiet and taking a moment to consider your life? Are you holding onto God for dear life as you try to keep tempers under control?
My friend, do not despair as you wait. I believe there are blessings ahead. And, if you are willing to trust, you will find the blessings where you are at as well.
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
Feel free to share a blessing below in the comments. I would love to hear how you are seeing God during this time.
Click on the button above to receive newsletters, weekly encouragement
and a FREE eBook.
"...and God was already there with me."