We sweated it out on a hayride for my little boy last weekend. His wish was to go to the dairy barn and have an ice cream party with his friends, so that's exactly what he got. It made no difference that it was five thousand degrees that day. It was his party and we would sweat if he wanted to. A couple girls in my house are incessantly counting down until it is their turn. Mermaids, Toy Story, swimming party, oh my. They are dreaming and I am trying to keep up. Whatever the opposite of a party planner extraordinaire is - that's exactly who I am. Details, decorations, and hosting crowds stress me out like no other, but at least a handful of times a year, that's exactly what we do. We celebrate the lives of our kids in whatever way makes their little hearts sing. It's never perfect, but they are always thrilled.
Google calendar keeps popping up on my computer screen, telling me how many minutes are left until Miller Grace's birthday. As if I don't know. As if my heart hasn't been doing that for me for days. At this very moment eleven years ago, I was in some fierce labor and... let me see... (math isn't my strong suit) 67 minutes away from seeing her face for the first time.
I could live to be 102 and I believe my life will be divided into the pre-Miller Grace days and the post-Miller Grace days. At 12:48 a.m., just after midnight, as a Friday night turned into a Saturday morning (just like it is now) every single thing changed for us forever.
I thought about not writing at all tonight. Believe it or not, I really don't like to make people cry. I don't like to dwell in sad places that make people squirm. I honestly don't even want to stay on this topic too long. Just today, sitting in our new pediatrician's office, I tried to give my children's medical history in a nutshell so this kind new lady would have a clue what she had just been signed up for. Years of uneventful and a handful of healthy kids now, Mama can't ever forget and watches things crazy close and it's for a merited reason. I thought I did a halfway decent job of playing it cool - right up until my sweet girl asked me what I did to my neck after the doctor left. Busted. When I speak of the things that have nearly left me undone, I'll claw at my neck and never know it.
So, I know it's not comfortable. I get that it's easier to read shorter, lighter, happier blogs than this one.
That's not my story. That's not who I'm called to be. Sometimes, yes. Not on June 23. Not any day anywhere near it.
I have no idea how we are going to celebrate tomorrow. No venue is booked. The house isn't even clean. I didn't order a cake or buy any balloons yet. (The picture is the one we had made on her first birthday - the first time we faced this dilemma of a day.) The closest I've been able to come was buying a Funfetti cake mix and icing in the Dollar Store tonight and I fell apart at the seams pulling out of the parking lot. (Just keeping it real here.) I'll lock my jaw and follow my God through every season that comes until the day I die, but there is no convincing this mama heart that it's alright that my girl isn't here on her birthday. It's not. Y'all, it's just not.
I would not change God's plan if I could. I know with every fiber of my being that Miller Grace was created to live five days, eight hours, and forty-eight minutes and not one moment longer. God chose me to be her one and only Mom. I would have never, ever declined the offer to receive that title based on the minor detail that her lifespan on earth would be short. What mother would? I want every one of my babies for every minute God will give them to me. She is no different.
"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them."
I hate to disappoint, but I do not have a pretty bow to tie June 23 up with. The details of that day are tucked in my heart and they have only rarely crossed my lips. I doubt they will ever cross my fingertips. Do you have days like that? Days you can't make sense of? Days your heart still wants to cross its arms and shake its head at? Days that just are not okay? Do you know God already knows that? Do you know you are not required to put on a happy face and say something is well with you that is anything but? It's true.
"The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares in its joy.
Even in laughter, a heart may be sad, and joy may end in grief.
In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence and his children have a refuge.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning people away from the snares of death."
Proverbs 14:10, 13, 26-27
I am doing what I am doing here, on this blog, in ministry, in my daily life, in my lifetime because I believe the whole world needs the kind of hope that I have found to be crucial for survival. He alone was big enough, powerful enough, persistent enough to save me not only from my sorrow, but from myself. This world offers a myriad of other really tempting options and not one of them offers life in return. If any other had taken hold of me, I don't know where I would be. I'll sing His praise and point His way all my days. I'm tired of watching folks around me get beat up by all that life throws at them. I'm tired of the enemy winning when they believe it's just the way things are. "That's just life. You put on your best game face, pull up your big girl panties, and make the best of it."
No, ma'am. I wholeheartedly disagree.
My God is no fair-weather friend. He's not in some far-off place with his back turned to me when pain comes my way or when my story is too heavy for social media to handle, when no lipstick or makeup can cover the brokenness I feel. He's right there. Bad things don't happen because we didn't pray enough. We don't catch Him off guard by not being faithful enough. He gives and He takes away, every joy and every pain. Through it all, He remains faithful even and especially when we were not. My Savior is the one who "had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." (Isaiah 53:2-3)
He could have chosen to dwell on this earth in any form He chose. The King of Kings opted to become ordinary for ordinary folks like you and me. When life has left us wrecked with sorrow, even to the point that men hide their faces and despise or ignore us, we can rest in knowing He walked this path first.
None of this is a surprise to Him.
"The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law."
The hidden things belong to the Lord. We may never have sufficient answers to all our questions "why" in this life, but they are safe in Him. When we cannot believe our eyes, we can trust His heart. The revealed things belong to us and our children, so we hold tight to them. We know His promises. We have seen His goodness in the land of the living. We can hold the Word in our hands and read account after account of broken, incompetent, flawed people God used in mighty ways. It was never about them and it's not about us. There is a great purpose. They didn't understand. Most didn't see their reward in their lifetime here either, but He was enough for them and He is enough for me. I don't know what you're walking through, friend - or how you might be clawing your neck just reading these words - but the one thing I can promise you in this life is that Jesus Christ is more than enough for you, too.
Following Him is the greatest ride of my life, even and especially on the days when my heart lags behind.
"Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look to the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
Isaiah 51:6, 11