Monthly Archives: July 2016

The Hammer

micah_mommy_1Yesterday we sat playing tools. The kids were hammering away. I was enjoying watching their imaginations at play. Out of nowhere, whack! the hammer makes contact with my eye. “Ouch!” I hollered in real pain, “that hurt mommy!”

Micah’s lower lip pushed out and began to tremble. He buried his sad face in my side and refused to look up at me. I wasn’t angry. I knew he never intended to hurt me. He really wasn’t even aware that hammering my eye would hurt mommy. I explained to him that I wasn’t mad at him, but that it did hurt me when he hammered my eye. He finally looked at me with such deep sadness over what he had done, so choked with his own emotion that he couldn’t even say the words he knew he needed to say, “I’m sorry.”

micah_mommy_2We sat together a while, and I gave him lots of hugs and kisses. He told me he felt sad because he hurt me with the hammer. I reassured him again and again that it was ok. We all make mistakes.

It took him longer than usual to rebound from this incident than it did from others like it. He knew he had caused me pain, and he felt so sad about it. It kind of broke my heart to see him so hung up over a little hammer to the eye. He even insisted that we call Daddy on the phone, and when Andrew answered, Micah stated right away, “I’m sad because I hit mommy with the hammer.” We talked with Daddy about how it was time to let it go because he had already said he was sorry. He didn’t need to hold on to his sadness anymore.

After our phone call we began to play again, and I assumed the incident was finished. But, as I walked towards the door of Micah’s room last night in the dark, after stories, songs, and prayers, I heard from the crib, “Hey, Mom?”

“Yeah buddy?”

“I’m sorry I hit you with the hammer and made you sad.”

“It’s ok buddy. You said you were sorry, and Mommy loves you very much. Mommy is not mad. Mommy doesn’t want you to feel sad anymore about that, ok? I love you very much.”

“I love you very much too, Mommy.”

Hours later he was still holding on to his sadness over how he had hurt me. This was true remorse, and it touched me to see my two-year-old son expressing such emotional depth.

At breakfast this morning, Micah gave me a sideways glance and said, “Mom, I’m sad.”

Of course I knew what was coming, but I asked anyways, “Why are you sad, buddy?”

“Because I hit you in the eye with the hammer.”

Oh my goodness. His little heart was still so sad! I reassured him that he was forgiven and that I loved him so much. I told him I didn’t want him to be sad anymore. It was time to let it go and move on. His sadness had inhibited his play the previous afternoon, and now it was carrying over into today. He didn’t want to eat because he was so sad about hurting mommy. Bless his tender heart — may it beat this way forever.

In this little interchange, I caught a glimpse of how our Father must feel towards us when we continually beat ourselves up over our failings. Yes, grief over our sins can be appropriate. Sometimes they are very destructive to ourselves and to others. However, what Jesus has done for us on the cross has removed the guilt of our sins. I can almost hear him asking, “Why are you still so sad over this? It’s done. Let’s move on!” Continual wallowing in our own guilt and unworthiness only hampers our enjoyment of life and our effectiveness in what God has for us to do.
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In Nehemiah when the Israelites returned from exile, rebuilt their city wall, and gathered under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, Ezra read the book of the law to the people. Their hearts were broken with grief over the ways they had displeased God and departed from his laws. They were mourning and weeping. But Nehemiah tells them repeatedly, “do not mourn or weep … Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Yes, they had made mistakes and strayed from God’s path, but that did not change God’s love for them and the joy he would exude over their return to him.

What I see in Micah’s story and in the passage from Nehemiah is the deep love of our Father. Yes, my heart was sad that Micah would hit me with a hammer, just as our sins sadden God’s heart. But deeper than that sadness over the incident was my desire for Micah to know he was loved so that he could move on. And this is true of our Father: Deeper than his sadness over our sin is his desire for us to know that we are so very loved. In this, we can move forward. Rather than standing in the weight of my own guilt, I want to stand in his love.

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What’s RIGHT?

It’s so very easy to see all that’s wrong with life. Maybe this is my condition as a sensitive realist, or maybe it’s just my condition as a human. My natural bent does not seem to be to practice gratitude. I try to look for silver linings in life. I try to see the bright side. At times that’s difficult, when I get inside my own head, when I fix my eyes on all that’s broken around me. Why do those wrong things draw my eye so much more easily than all the things that are right?

Granted, we’ve had some difficult blows in the past few years. By now I’m beginning to wonder if life is ever without difficult blows…. They seem to be around every bend. Is this adulting? Maybe I should pass. Ah, but that’s not an option. Reminds me of Micah when I tell him it’s time to do something. For instance:

“Micah it’s time to go to bed.”

“No, I don’t want to go to bed.”

“Well, you have to. So you can either choose to come over to the chair and we’ll read and sing and then go to bed, or I can just put you right in bed and leave. Your choice.”

“I don’t want either choice.”

“Well, you have to choose one. The choice is yours.”

The choice is yours. How are we going to do this? Usually he makes a good choice. And, as it turns out, living through the broken places in this world isn’t really a choice either. But how we do it, that’s our choice.

In spite of the many broken places in my life, I’m going to choose to believe that God has already intervened on my behalf countless times. He has already answered my prayers, in ways seen and unseen. He has already saved me in so many ways. It’s much easier to see the brokenness that remains. Much of it is in my face daily. But I want to choose instead to see the ways he has saved me.

I’ve had a stroke, which has altered my health, sometimes my daily function, and the future forecast for my once growing family. But I’m still breathing, walking, talking, caring for my family. not incapacitated, not impaired, not in the ground. My son, whom I was carrying at the time of this minor stroke, is perfectly healthy. Not only was my life at stake, but his was too, depending on my health as he grew. And here we are. Thank you, God.

My daughter still struggles with developmental delays and a speech disorder. There are times where I can cope well with this reality. Other times my heart bleeds, and bleeds, and bleeds. But lately it occurs to me what life for her could have been like. When she was four months old, we knew nothing of what her future might hold. So I choose to believe that God touched her body when we began to pray. I choose to believe that her life is different because God has been good to her. I choose to see what her life could have been, or that it could have even ceased to be. But here she is. Thank you, God.

There will always be many things wrong withcross life. But there are still so many things that are RIGHT. RIGHT. I want to see what’s right. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, I want to be aware of the ways that God has blessed my life, saved my life. But, even if he didn’t, he has still saved me for eternity. Even if I lost it all like Job, I can know that “my Redeemer lives and in the end he will stand up on the earth. After my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God, I myself will see him with my own eyes — I and not another!” Thank you, God.

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Sophie’s Story: Genetics Update

Last week we visited our geneticist to follow up after Sophie’s first round of genetic testing. The testing for Weidmann-Steiner Syndrome returned normal with no defect on the particular gene for that disorder. This was great news! Weidmann-Steiner can have other potentially serious heart defects, so we are relieved not to need to consider that in the future.

However, that left us with no new direction to consider for Sophie. So, our geneticist decided to present Sophie to the entire team of genetics doctors at the hospital to see if any of them had any ideas. This week I received a call that someone on the team suggested Coffin-Siris Syndrome, and our geneticist would like to test for it. This syndrome involves mutation of a different gene than Weidmann-Steiner (we have 23,000 genes in our bodies, making this search literally like a needle in a haystack). Like any other syndrome, it can have a profound affect or a mild affect on the child’s health and development. In addition to differing physical features (some of which Sophie may have and some she does not), speech delays, mild to profound intellectual disability, and low muscle tone, it can also indicate kidney problems. That fact alone makes it worth testing for.

We’re not on some hell-bent quest for answers. We’re not looking for a named syndrome to suddenly make it all better. But we are trying to be wise about Sophie’s future. If there is a genetic mutation, it is possible that internal organ systems can be affected, and that is something to be aware of and prepared for. So our search will continue. God bless BCMH for their financial assistance.

I confess that conversations like these with special doctors always make my heart bleed a little bit. I don’t like sophie_ladybugthe scrutiny that my beautiful girl comes under (even with doctors who have the best of intentions) for her physical features, which I feel are just perfect. It’s hard to consider the possibilities that the future holds. It’s hard to talk about the areas where she is lacking. It feels unfair… because we are all lacking in some way… so why are her ways so important to look at under the microscope? I tell myself all the time when I catch myself thinking I just want a “normal” life for Sophie, what IS normal anyways? Which one of us is perfect without anything “abnormal” in our lives? I tell myself, she will grow up just fine. I want to believe that. With all my heart I do. But sometimes heart is just not enough and doubts creep in.

But faith…  faith is enough. And I hold on fast to these words: “‘For I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” Andrew and I chose this verse as the text for the sermon at our wedding, along with another well-known passage: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” So sweet how these verses have stood with us through so many trials over the 14 years that we’ve been together, a constant reminder that God is directing our steps with all goodness and love. With every difficulty we encounter, he meets us with grace, strength, and truth to carry us through.

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We really appreciate continued prayers for wisdom on the part of Sophie’s doctors and for her continued growth and development. If anyone feels led to pray about potty training, I will share my mansion with you when we get to heaven.

 

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