Monday, December 30, 2013

straggly hairs, life interrupted, and all those other little things

It's 8:00am.  I sit here and type away in a dark hospital room while my son sleeps in the bed next to me.  His best friend today, Dilaudid.  This pain narcotic, a step above morphine, provides him the relief and comfort needed to sleep through this vicious episode. The monitors beep every 3 seconds it seems, and the room is frequented by medical staff.  Interruptions.  This life is made up of a lot of them.

I'm doing ok.  "Been here, done that" keeps echoing through my mind.  That taste of unwanted familiarity lingers on the palate of my heart.  But this time around, it's not the hospital or the blunt reminder that my son has a chronic illness that threatens to weigh me down.  It's all those other "little things" that go along with it.

Those little things have power in their punch. I want to punch them back.

It's the disruption of the family unit.  The sleep-deprivation. The physical and emotional exhaustion.  The strange loneliness you feel in the midst of the whirlwind.  The ache that's found in all those "little things."  Like your 8 year old sending you texts like this:

Or this:

It's the dark, cold drive home from the hospital at 5:00am just to find myself exhausted and spent and locked out of the house searching (by light of cell phone) for the spare key that may or may not be under a mat, flowerpot, brick, or stone somewhere hidden around the outside of the house.  Why is it my mind draws a blank now?  It's crashing into a half-empty bed and getting up four hours later to return to the hospital and all of her stagnant familiarity.

It's the daughters who break my heart each time they tell me they miss me and want me to come home.  Or cry when I am home because they miss their daddy.  Or have a meltdown in the middle of a late night game of yahtzee, not because they had to scratch their full house, but because they are having a hard time processing their brother being sick again and their mommy and daddy being away.  The fact that it takes a mighty big toll on them as our focus is centered around their brother.  The fact that it takes a whole lot of courage and strength for a 4 and 8 year old to muster up each day, braving their way through this ordeal once again.

It's going till 9pm at night with nothing to eat but a salty, greasy, MSG-filled beefstick because you don't dare leave the hospital room for fear of missing a doctor or the cries of your son who suddenly awakens and needs you there.  Or the fact that this Christmas vacation has been riddled with illness since day one.  Or the probability that your New Year's Eve plans will most likely be spent in a hospital room apart from friends and family and all things sparkly and bubbly.

It's the daughters who wake several times in the middle of the night for kitties and bathroom breaks and under blanket snuggles because their life has been interrupted too.  Thrown off kilter.  It's the 8 year old's hug that doesn't seem to end and squeezes me breathless as I walk into the house at night.  Or her sudden awakening at 5:30am when she finds me out of bed and begs me not to leave without saying goodbye to her.  And then lays in bed silently crying so she won't wake her sister.  And then just flat out pleads for me not to go at all.  Squeezes my hand tight and hushes deep sobs within.

It's all these other little things that weigh this mama's heart down.

And yet, still I find Him near.  And I will myself to take on His perspective and re-shift my thoughts. To focus on Him, and His beauty and grace, that is sprinkled along this life interruption.  And once I do, I sense His nearness.  Yes, it can be found.  Even in those little things.

It's found in hospital floors and straggly hairs.  In swooshes of grace and those "hardly hanging on" moments.  It doesn't take much to find Him when you are set on the looking.  It happened yesterday morning on the way back to the hospital.  As I set off on my commute, I looked out the driver's side window and found one lone, fine, thin, straggly, blonde hair of mine hanging off the sideview mirror outside my car.  It blew about and hung on steady throughout the 45 minute, 50mph drive to the hospital.

And it reminded me of great things.  And the Great One.  Who knows exactly how many straggly hairs are on this 38 year old head. ("Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Luke 12:7)  And if He knows and cares about those little details, surely He knows and cares about the rest.  This, I am certain of.

So, for the past couple of days, I have been intent on watching that straggly hair hanging on my sideview.  She lingers and holds steady.  When I left the hospital late last night, it had been raining.  Darcy and I have been trading shifts, so he had already taken the car back home and driven it back to the hospital that day.  And that little hair was still there last night.  She had weathered through a rain storm and through the winds of the commute.  Wet, matted, and tangled, but she was still there.

This morning, I left the house before the sun had even woken and graced us with her glorious face.  You better believe I was looking for that straggly hair as I drove my way back to the hospital.  And there she was outside the bottom of my window.  She held fast and blew about for the entire drive.

And I thought to myself, we are not much different than that straggly blonde hair.  There are moments and seasons in life where we feel we are just barely hanging on.  The storms of life and blustery winds of change come pressing through and leave us feeling beaten down, thin, frail, tangled, matted, and alone.  But, somehow we hold on.  God gives us strength to keep persevering.  And in those moments when we have nothing left to hold ourselves up, we find Him holding us along.

"We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed."
2 Corinthians 4:8-9

"...and underneath are the everlasting arms."
Deuteronomy 33:27

So when all those little things start getting to me, I've been trying to focus on all the other details.  The fact that after a day of beefstick diet, I came home to a warm bowl of homemade soup.  And while my bed may be half-empty, it's still a warm familiar bed I can sink into at night.  And though it hurts to let go of a girl who is giving desperate hugs and begging me to stay home, at least my arms will find their way back home to her.  These arms are not as empty as some.  For that would be a deeper and more desperate hurt than I can even fathom.  I know loved ones mourning through this anguish even now.  So I thank God for blessing me with the greatest role and privilege of motherhood, even in the hard and straggly.

And though the demands of the job force my husband to have to return to work today, at least he has a job and God is establishing the work of his hands.  And though the commute to the hospital is dark and cold, one glance out my window this morning while passing by a bus stop where others shiver outside in 18 degrees makes me thankful I have a car and a way to return to this unwanted familiar. And although our Christmas break has been spent in illness, at least my son isn't missing school and having to deal with the added stress of "catching up."  And I don't have to worry about getting my girls to and from school and making sure homework assignments are completed daily.  And although our New Year's Eve will not be as once hoped and planned, that doesn't outline and define the good plan God has in store for our family in the coming year.

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 hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

What matters to us, matters to Him.  He knows and cares about those big and little things.  The hairs on your head, the hardships and heartaches, the losses and the struggles.  So if you find yourself in life interrupted. If it's left you as frail and stretched thin as that straggly, blonde hair just barely holding on, hold fast.  He's holding you.  God is still good.   Life is still good.  And there is still beauty to be found in the tangled, dark, and matted places.  And in all those other little things.


  1. i could say the same about you was prayer warriors like YOU that helped carry us through. thank you sounds cheap, but i extend the richest most heartfelt gratitude to you (and all of the other people who prayed our son back to health and prayed our family through this ordeal again.)