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when struggles become blessings

April 24, 2020

Not long after giving birth to Ella, my ankles and wrist and face swelled and I felt more sick than I ever have in my life. I knew that something was terribly wrong with me, but despite my efforts to convince anyone of how bad I felt, I was sent home.  I was told repeatedly to drink water and rest and drink water and rest and eventually, I did go back to the hospital and found myself in the Intensive Care Unit.  I asked the doctors, "Am I going to be okay? and she said something along the lines of, "We're going to do everything we can do to save you." I got a lot worse and then eventually, I fully recovered from Postpartum Preeclampsia. 


Not long after that, my OBGYN called and said, "I need to talk to you.  Can you get your husband in the room with you? I have news that you aren't going to want to hear."  Ella, our 4th child was only a few weeks old when she said, "We think you have cancer.  We are going to get you into lots of specialist right away to find out what is going on."  And they did, and eventually I got the relieving news that it was NOT cancer, but Sarcoidosis.  Since then different doctors have disagreed whether or not that I do actually have that....either way...I am 100% fine. 


Not long after that, I found our Lukey, who had just turned 4, in the kitchen floor, unresponsive.  I thought that he'd choked, but eventually the paramedics arrived and we realized he'd had a seizure.  It was a traumatic, out-of-my mind, overwhelming experience.  To this day, I cannot talk about it without crying.  It made the previous two experiences feel like NOTHING.  


A few years later, I left the only state I'd ever known and we moved to Georgia for Mike's job. It was without a doubt the right thing to do, I'd do it again a million times, but I was blind-sided by how incredibly difficult it would be. We moved 4 kids to a new climate, state, schools, church, community.... everything. New.  It was tough.  Now, I love living in the South where the sun is almost shining and the weather is usually great.  We've made great friends, fallen in love with our schools and church and community.  I will no doubt be incredibly sad if and when we ever leave here.  I really do love so many things about our new life! 


All of those experiences were awful.  I literally could NOT see the light in the valleys.  All I could see was my current situation.  All I could feel was grief and worry and sadness and fear and anger.  Why would a good God let me endure each of those things?  Did he not love me?  Was He not for me?  Was my faith not enough?  Had I done something wrong to deserve the situation or the sorrow that the situation brought me?  You see, I am a ball of sunshine and ray of light, until I am not. And then I.AM.NOT.  


I have found myself in another valley.  We are all in the middle of a pandemic.  We are all stuck in our houses (even if you live in Georgia - where you might be ALLOWED to go out, but if you are home alone with 4 kids, you probably won't. )  Shortly after we went into quarantine, Mike got deployed for the first time in our marriage.  He's been away for weeks at a time for training before, but never at a time like this.  Never without a return date.  Never in a time where all the kids and I were supposed to be at home 24/7.  Never at Easter and our kids' birthdays and Mother's Day and our Anniversary.  Never for this much time.  


It is hard. Unlike any of the other HARDS. As hard as people try to understand, to give advise, to help (all of which I am incredibly thankful for) there is nothing like missing someone who is your better half.  He's my calm.  My strength.  My chef.  Our disciplinarian.  He's the fun one.  I am 1,000,000% better of a human being when he is here.  I started off so well, but as the days linger on and on and as his deployment gets extended, I am finding it harder and harder to be calm, and patient and joyful.  To focus.  To be me.  


This morning I forced myself to get up, to shower, to eat, to put on make up.  God was so gracious to remind me that he always "Works all things for the good of those who love Him" and I do love Him! 


He reminded me that the cancer scare and the Postpartum Preeclampsia scare forced me to reevaluate how I was living my life.  To be more Joyful.  To increase my faith.  To figure out how to weed out things that steal my JOY.  To appreciate small things like sunsets, and sunshine, and giggles and the sound of my kids voices.  I learned to pick my battles.  My gratitude for life increased exponentially with each hard situation. 


And Lukey's Epilepsy adventure.  People have said to me, I love my kids, but you love your kids differently.  Your home is different.  (If they only saw how we fight and fuss and yell and drive each other crazy!)  But still, something changes in you when you think you are losing your baby.  To this day, almost 4 years later,  I still kiss his face a zillion times a day.  I treasure his life, his thoughts, his ideas, his hugs, his kissing cheeks.  


I am zillion times better of a mother (most days!) because of that awful experience.  I truly treasure them and seek peace and joy and love with them, where I once sought to be "right".


And the move.  It grew me.  It changed me.  It taught me to seek God and seeks Joy and to love others in a way that I have never experienced before.  I learned how to find JOY in tough situations.  For me, it's not in waiting for others to make you happy, but to seek opportunities to BE THE LIGHT to others. 


Which brings me to today.  I am reminded that although I am in a pit, desperately missing my husband, that when he comes home, I will love him more than ever before. I deeply regret all the hours that he has "been here" and I have "been here" but we both wasted countless hours on our phones and spending our time on things that did not matter.  God, please do not ever let me forget what it feels like to miss someone so much you think you could literally die of "missing someone."  Let me value and appreciate our time together.  If you have a husband or wife at home right now.... Love that MAN or WOMAN like CRAZY!!!!!!!!!  I'd give just about any and everything to see Mike right now.  


God, Help me to be more compassionate to struggling people.  


God, Help me to be a helper.  To be a LIGHT even when the last thing I feel like doing is being a light! 


God, please help me value and appreciate time with people that I love like never before.  


If you find yourself in a pit today...The Sun WILL shine again.  I know it feels like it won't.  I know it may feel like God has abandoned you or is mad at you or that you've done something wrong to deserve such punishment.  But maybe, just maybe, although he didn't cause the Pandemic, He can   use the pandemic and all the struggles that come along with it to grow us.   It could be the ONE thing that finally wakes some of us up and helps us to reprioritize what matters most.  I know for me, it has already caused me to rethink how I will live my life.   If we do not allow ourselves to become bitter, we can become BETTER.  


Better mommas.  Better wives.  Better communities.  We will DEFINITELY appreciate our teachers and health care workers and grocery store workers and scientist and military and a million other people more than ever before.  My appreciation for Military spouses... You guys are heroes! 


We are going to  be changed and we will have Joy in the Chaos again.


Hang in there friends. 


Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  


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