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 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 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.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Think about where you feel your breath. Concentrate on that part of you body. Breathe.
My mind concentrates on my breath for about ten seconds. Unruly and untamed thoughts bounce back and forth, ping pong balls in my mind. I can’t focus for long.
Recognizing my undisciplined mind is important. Knowing that I have no control over my thoughts, makes me aware of how easy those downward spirals are or those tangents of panic and paranoia.
This year I have found myself on the battleground of my mind. My fears and concerns are real, daily, and many in number. How do I not allow them to control my life?
Micaela’s seizures are life-threatening and while she sleeps. She was recently implanted with a VNS. We have been working with Phoenix Children's Hospital who are hopeful that the VNS will lessen the severity of her seizures. In the meantime, Jovani and I check her hourly during the night.
During the day, Micaela is a bright bundle of energy. She can walk holding on to one of our hands. She jabbers away, daily adding to her vocabulary of single-syllable words. We are potty training which at our rate will most likely take years. Yes. Years.
She is now eating and drinking water. We continue to wean from the G-tube feedings.
God's blessing fill our lives.
Our family life is busy with Adela in second grade and Micaela going to Kindergarten. The farm continues to grow and our responsibilities grow with it.
On paper, it is easy to see the blessings. However, a few months ago, it was growing harder to live with joy.
I don’t live in the present anymore. A lot of us don’t. We live in a memory of the past or the fear of the future. We work out problems or dwell on issues. We walk through 90% of life outside of the here and now. Then we are stressed and full of fear.
For the first time in several months I feel hopeful and awake. I have been given the possibility of learning to live in the moment, enjoy it even, instead of constantly juggling a heavy load of what-if’s and if-only’s.
I’ll share more about this next week, but, if anything I’ve shared has struck a cord with you, I want you to take a moment to look up “Mindfulness.” It is incredible how many health benefits are connected to practices that have been around for thousands of years.
God is in the here and now. He wants us to release the past and the future and take our seat in front of His presence in this very moment.
I’m just having to re-learn how to get there.
The Christmas Season can be full of hustle and bustle. Do you find yourself having a difficult time enjoying the holidays?
How do You Harness the Power of Community When You Are a Farming Stay-at-Home Mom?
from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
There are coutless ways to spend time with others in the Body of Christ. Can you share more in the comments below?
How a Mother Feels When She No Longer Spends All Day Every Day with Her Child
My eyes traveled down the hall and settled on the door of Micaela's classroom. It was hard to keep my feet from picking up into a trot. "No running in the halls"... even for mommies.
I reached the door sporting a happy collection of kindergarten decorations and turned the knob. Micaela was waiting for me inside, her EA helping her cut out a pair of paper shoes for her paper person.
I took a seat at the child-size table, my knees coming up to my chest in the tiny chairs. Fascinated, I watched her pudgy fingers work the sissors up and down with the EA's guidance. Her little pink lips made a perfect "o" as she concentrated on her work.
My arms ached to hold her, but my mind and heart filled with a hunger I had never considered. I wanted to watch her like a biologist sitting before a beehive or astronomer measuring stars.
I wanted to know her.
I was hungry to know her.
Micaela has a limited vocabulary. Adela, as a kindergartener, would come home and tell me about the games she played at recess and complain about her homework. Learning about Micaela is a constant challenge. How I long to know what is going on in her sweet head.
However, I admit that I feel the same about Adela. I love having someone stop me and tell me what my girls did that day in school or have a friend recount a funny thing they said. I want to know if they ate their lunch and if it tasted good. I want to know when they were sad and what made them laugh.
I want to know everything. It is a hunger that makes me catch my breath.
Did God breathe this into me? A distant echo of what He feels about me? Of how He longs to be invited into to every intimate corner of my world? Or, is it an invitation to long for knowledge of our Abba Father the way we long to know the constantly progressing character of our loved ones?
Eventually, the shoes were cut out and my girl was handed back to my care. The EA let me know the answers to some of the mysteries: what she ate, what she learned, what made her angry, and how much she smiled. But, the challenge to know my girls continues.
I am so thankful for family dinners and bedtime prayers. They are the moments in daily life when I get to peek inside their world. I like to believe that my Heavenly Father thinks about me the same way, that He gobbles up our every conversation. That He anxiously awaits the moments that I come to Him, to be held inside His arms.
It is such a precious kind of hunger.
Are you eager to know and understand your loved ones better? How do you see this mirrored in your relationship with God?
Recovering Before Rushing into the Next Season
I watched the bus pull away. I waved frantically, trying to catch Adela or Micaela's eyes, but they were already busy with friends. Then they were gone. The farm yard was full of the sound of sheep. The wind tugged strands of my messy bun out.
Alarm filled my heart.
I was alone. Unencumbered by the needs of little souls. What if I didn't honor this new season? What if I let the unfilled hours fall waywardly to the ground instead of doing something with them? And that "something", what is it? What does God want of me? What does my family most need from me? How do I strategically fill the hours in just the right way?
I turned around and whirled into action. I attacked the house and farm chores, pushing my anxiety aside. That still small voice whispered but I brushed it away. Later. I thought. Later.
At lunch I pulled out my journal and scanned some notes. My eyes fell upon an entry from a few days ago when I had been reading a book by Ruth Graham. In the book she spoke about how important it is that we utilize seasons of transition because these seasons are rare and they often are the times that God speaks to us about a direction He wants us to go.
But, the key to transitions is that you have to give yourself over to the quiet. You have to give it to God. If you try to cram every second with busyness, you will miss out on the blessing of building a closer relationship with God.
I pushed the journal back and put my head in my hands, breathing in and out. How I have longed for the quiet. My soul feels like the soil beneath my geranium, dry and cracking. Like my brave little geranium, I am still upright, but not up for extending my branches. I want to draw myself in, retaining whatever is left to sustain me. My geranium would never turn down a nice cool drink from the tap water. Why would I turn down a rare season in which I can refresh my walk with God and settle my roots deeper in His truths?
Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever been faced with a new season with more space and quiet? Did you rush to fill the empty spaces with more work, tasks, or responsibilities? In her book, Ruth Graham, filled her space with busyness. She made choices that ended up having devastating consequences. She encouraged the reader to never give up an opportunity to seek God during a time of transition.
I am no longer a mother of preschoolers. I am a mother with two girls in school. I thought this day would never come. My over-achieving mind wants to jump into a million projects, but my exhausted heart craves rest.
I stop and finally listen to that still small voice. I relax the grip I have on my life and give it over to God.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
What would prevent you from allowing time for study, reflection, prayer, and quiet in a season of transition?
A New Home and New Dreams
My boots made hollow thumps as I stepped into the empty rooms. The bare floors and empty walls held a thousand dreams and promises of memories. I reached out and touched the smooth gloss of yellow paint. My nose filled with the scents of paint, vinyl, and hard work. My stomach gave an anxious flutter. A new chapter in life of my family beckoned.
I just needed to pack.
Moving is an incredible process. You weed through your life, deciding what will go and what will be sent away from your home. There will be bags of forgotten toys, ill-fitting clothes, and ratty furniture that won't make the cut. But, other items will be treasured and put in places of honor.
I love this process. I like cleaning out cupboards, filling boxes, and unpacking everything. As I organize my little kingdom, the world makes more sense.
I wonder how you do this for your soul.
Recently I watched the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. In the series, Ms. Kondo goes to homes and has the families put things in piles, weeding out what will go and what will stay. Then, everything that stays gets folded, stacked, put away neatly. Afterwards, the family lives with more breathing room, space, and clarity.
Right now my heart and mind are so cluttered I find it difficult to walk straight. I wish I could throw all the priorities, memories, responsibilities, longings, and dreams into the middle of my living room floor. I would step back, hold things in my paint-smeared hands, and gently put many in the trash. Others I might pack away for a different season. I would make room for the vitality of my family and remove the guilt I feel and I see certain projects or hopes gathering dust on a cluttered shelf.
Yes, a good soul-cleaning sounds lovely.
Someday soon, when I have unpacked the boxes, I will put on those cleaning gloves, roll up my sleeves, and make space for God's light to expand into the dusty spaces of my life.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
What is your favorite part of moving? What do you learn about yourself in the process?
I settled into my chair and winced as I heard Adela’s squeal of laughter. Nobody else minded. Our preacher, Pastor Tim, grabbed his guitar and we began Bible Study.
Wednesday afternoon Bible Study is new to our church, but I feel incredibly fulfilled by it. For the past few weeks Pastor Tim has been teaching us the commands of Christ. Every week we dig into the Bible and all the theology and history that comes with it. I leave feeling refreshed and hopeful.
I leave well-fed.
Our spiritual hunger is a mighty force. I’ve noticed that the more I feed myself through Bible study, devotions, and Biblical teaching, my appetite only increases. I used to fight to stay off social media, to stop playing little games on my computer, and to not binge watch TV. However, developing an appetite for God’s word naturally weaned me off many worldly interests.
Isn’t that cool?
Right now, we are in a season of Lent. Often, during the 47 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, Christians opt to give something up in order make space for prayer and reflection. It is such a fantastic practice, but I’ve also noticed that in our human nature we often give up one worldly vice and fill the space with another earthly pleasure. Unless we are purposeful about our plan to grow closer to God, we will find that the Devil is ready and willing to distract us in our quest.
I know that there are many areas of stress in my life that I could easily fill up spaces with negative coping mechanisms or brain-fillers. But, in a step of faith I have chosen to cultivate my hunger for Bible Study and fellowship with my Christian Brothers and Sisters. This is my chosen coping mechanism. My chosen fuel. And, my reward is the peace and joy that comes with God’s truth.
This season of Lent, I am happy to lean in to the emptier spaces that can be filled with God’s word and fellowship. May my hunger be satisfied and the Living Water renew my soul.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12, NLT
Did you give up something for Lent? Were you active in your plan to fill it with God’s word and wisdom?
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"...and God was already there with me."