I kept adding the items to the list and my stomach twisted. Finish planting the garden, do the laundry, prep the bunkhouse, cook meals for the weekend, call the neurologist,...
It looked impossible and yet it had to be done.
I raised a weary hand and rubbed my aching shoulders. Why in the world had I insisted on putting in the garden right before we started branding? Ugh!
I shook my head. I knew why. After months spent in the classroom, I was hungry for sunshine and dirt. Hungry to be outside, to watch things be weeded, and to watch things grow. Yesterday I loaded up the girls into the car and we picked out plants and seed, eagerly driving back home to let the planting begin. We worked for hours and probably got half way done.
In my mind, I figured it wouldn't be that big of a deal. I'd dig some holes, do some weeding, and have it all done before dinner. That would have left today for all the food prep, laundry, and housework that needed to be done in preparation for the next few days of branding cattle.
Even with Adela and Jovani working right alongside me, the work was slower than I had thought it would be.
As I prepared for my days, my Bible reading landing me at 1 Peter 5:7 and tears sprung to my eyes as my Heavenly Father reminded me that He cares deeply for me. My strong and loving God goes with me and before me. Perhaps everything won't get done. Perhaps I'll have to trust the un-done tasks to the future of tomorrow. But, God will not change. This morning I choose to hold on to the promise that God cares for me. That promise makes the knots in my stomach untie and a smile come on to my face.
So, I did what my Mom told me never to do: I wrote all over my hand. I need that reminder. I will need it often today. I will need it each time Micaela and Adela need time with me even though I feel too busy. I will need it each time the dryer finishes and I need to pause to sort a load of laundry. I will need it when everyone is hungry and I am finishing cooking. I need to remember that the God who created the universe is right their with me, caring for me, and asking me to give Him all my worries.
What anxieties do you need to give to God today?
I want to remember all of it.
This morning the house was quiet. The girls were still asleep, as if the stillness of our lives created a pocket of rest we so desperately need. I sat in my trusty rocking chair and was reading in Job, sipping my half-caff-coffee when I ran across that verse where one of Job's friends tells him, "You will surely forget your troubles, remembering them only as waters gone by." I paused. I don't want to forget.
This school year pushed me and my family. All of us. Including my dad, mother and father-in-law, brother, and friends who came alongside us. I don't want to forget my mother-in-law showing up last-minute when one of the girls was sick and I needed to go into work. I don't want to forget late nights spent grading papers. I don't want to forget my dad cuddling Micaela on his lap as he waited for the bus to come. I don't want to forget every single hug that a coworker gave me when I was barely holding it together. I don't want to forget the phone calls and texts of my sister and close girlfriends as they checked on me and did the work of keeping our relationships alive. I don't want to forget how good it felt every single time my husband walked in the door and I remembered how blessed I am to be doing life with him. I don't want to forget my brother coming over to watch movies with me and the girls when I needed a smile. I don't want to forget the teachers that encouraged and watched over my daughters' growth as precious human beings even when they were having rough days, just like me.
All those hard times, every single one, God provided for us. He provided for our weariness, fear, anxiety, and stress. God never ever forsook us. I watched Him show up time and time again and it was the most beautiful gift for my faith that I could have ever been given.
So, my friends, I just want you to know, that in this quiet still morning, as my feet have made it across the finish line and my ears have heard that last bell ring, my heart is full.
What troubles have built your faith through the years?
I must have been about 9 years old, sitting in the wild alfalfa and sweet clover that thrives around Pagosa Springs, Colorado, when one of my cousins asked me about my obsession with writing poems and songs and sketching. I remember the moment. It was one of those moments that imprints upon your soul in a way that only God can brand you with. My cousin, a touch older than me, must have been feeling philosophical that day. She sat down in the grass and flowers next to me and asked, "Lora, why do you do all that writing and drawing? Do you think you want to be an artist some day? What do you really want to do?"
I felt the answer rush into my heart the way the New Mexico wind gusted when a storm was coming. "I just want everyone to know how beautiful everything God makes is." As I said the words my face filled with heat, not from embarrassment, but from a deep conviction I rarely felt being of such a quiet and passive nature.
Today, I finished cleaning up the kitchen and started up my computer to work on some things for my classroom. I sighed a world-weary sigh and felt paralyzed by the long list of things that needed to be done. I just couldn't do it. It was all so important, but, I wanted to feel my soul sing. God never forsakes me. I feel His presence closer than ever these days as I navigate the new terrains of teaching and cheering Jovani on as he does the grueling work of a university student in veterinarian medicine. The devil likes to sneak up behind my tired shoulders and whisper lies about how my own dreams are being left behind in the dust of service to my family.
That moment, decades ago, when I sat in the sun as a child, God placed an anchor of truth deep in my soul. Today I went back and asked myself, "Lora, why do you do all these things? The dishes and feeding baby and administering of G-tube feeds (Micaela's special needs) and wipe noses? What do you really want to do?" I felt tears of relief and gratitude fill my eyes because it IS what I want to do.
I'm doing it. I am showing the world how beautiful are the things that God makes.
He makes mothers and wives that can shoulder grief and loss.
He makes wives that can weather storms and stand by their men with strength and passion.
He makes mothers that can sit beside their children on the third hour of homework and gently encourage their struggles.
He makes women who can spot out the lies of this world and fight for their families.
He makes women who, though exhausted and often fearful, can find the love and joy to smile for and hug their friends.
He makes us stand firm on the last watches of the night when our strength is failing us and our children are sick.
He makes us forgiving, understanding, hopeful, and full of laughter.
He makes us BEAUTIFUL, ladies.
Right where we are.
We don't need a stage or a platform. We've got our daughters eyes and our husbands arms and a world that expected us to break down a long time ago.
But we just glow with that deep seated joy and peace, mortal vessels of God's miraculous spirit.
Oh, so, beautiful.
Do you see the beauty in your life today?
Micaela's sleep study on Thursday was very rough. I wish I could describe it differently, but it was awful. All of her teachers, therapists, and I were wondering how this would go. Micaela is currently at that independent, self-preservation phase. She doesn't like for anyone to help her or even touch her without her permission. She fights hard whenever she feels like she is being controlled. So, as you can imagine, when the sleep technician began to get her set up, our little girl went berserk.
Our technician was amazing. She is the same lady who took care of us for our last sleep study and she remembered Micaela. Throughout the tedious process of getting Micaela connected to monitors for her brain, chin, jaws, breathing, chest, stomach, oxygen, and carbon dioxide levels, this remarkable woman never raised her voice. She was calm and encouraging and understanding.
For Micaela, the situation worsened. Some of the equipment was faulty and it took three and a half hours to complete the set up. By the time we got the thumbs up to fall into a deep sleep, Micaela's eyes were nearly swollen shut from crying and there was so much snot coming out of her nose that the nasal canula was useless. However, as we settled in to sleep for the night, I was full of peace. I know we had countless family and friends praying for us and I marveled at how it permeated the room and rested on our technician.
She had such a gentle spirit. Her back was aching by the time she had leaned over Micaela's struggling body for over three hours. However, she was remarkably tender and understanding with my obstinate child. Micaela even gave her multiple hugs before we left the following morning.
Then, when I came home to fires and precious friends evacuating from their homes to mine, I remembered her gentle spirit. I served them as best I could for the frantic hours that we watched and hoped and prayed. I was humbled to get to serve them with some of that spirit of love that had been shown to us the night before. It was as if her patience and love strengthened me for my own trials ahead. Honestly, I would have otherwise been an angry exhausted mess.
What a precious and unexpected gift. I've never thought about how our actions can give others the strength, patience, and peace to handle difficult situations completely unconnected to them. Our technician has no idea that her gentle spirit ended up affecting my whole day as a encountered a terrifying situation.
God, let Your gentle spirit in me be a source of love and strength for others. Thank You, for watching over us, keeping my friends and neighbors safe, and most of all, letting Your peace reign.
Has the peace, patience, and gentle spirit of another person every blessed you in an unexpected way?
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"...and God was already there with me."