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?
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"...and God was already there with me."