Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Deeper Still

I anticipated that Christmas was going to be hard.  And it was.  The waiting and hoping for God to fulfill his promise for Sparrow has been painful.  Excruciating.  I wish I could say that I've handled it like a champ, but I haven't.  I feel like I'm riding the longest, twisted roller coaster I've ever ridden.  I have days when I'm on top of the hill, full of excitement and hope for what God is doing, and then the next day I'm in the middle of a corkscrew rotation, upside down and completely disoriented. 

On Christmas Eve, I went to bed more discouraged than I've ever been.  My 98 year-old grandma had to have life-saving surgery two days prior to Christmas Eve.  Thankfully, she did great and is improving daily.  But traditions are important to me and it just felt weird that we weren't all celebrating Christmas Eve with the family at her house.  This is Mohini's first Christmas and every year since Munni came home, we've had our picture taken in front of her tree.  I was looking forward to getting our picture with Mohini in front of that tree!  It sounds dumb I know, but it just was more sadness that things were "off" and changing.  Instead, we celebrated in the ICU.

We got home from the hospital and started to do our nightly routine, when Munni frantically called to me that Honeybee couldn't get up from the floor.  She is our 16 year-old boxer that we took in when she was 13.  I ran to the living room and she was clearly in distress.  I'm pretty certain she had a seizure.   She lost control of her bowels, was breathing erratically, vacant stares, and her tongue and lips did not look right.  We laid her on the new dog bed, prayed for her, said our goodbyes, and cried.  The girls went to bed and I had to put Roopa's big wheel together.  

Merry Christmas to us.  

By time I finished the big wheel, Honeybee was still breathing, but things did not look good.  I went to bed and cried.  Thoughts raged through my mind about how this was the worst year ever and I couldn't wait for it to be over.  Waking up to a dead dog on Christmas morning was the icing on the cake.  Really, God?  Is this what stepping out in faith looks like?  I don't want to do this if it is.  

2017 was a difficult year in many aspects.  My beloved dog, Rollie, died in July.  Several of my close friends are dealing with profound grief.  Mohini coming home was a huge adjustment.   She is a great little girl and we love her, but her age has been a huge challenge for all of us.  How we lived our life before she came home is nothing like how we live now.  We've had to adjust everything.  And right when we were finally getting our footing back, her brain MRI and hearing tests came back that she is deaf in her left ear and has brain damage in two parts.  Shocked can't even describe my reaction.  Through all of this, was the underlying waiting for Sparrow.  
Hoping, praying, believing. 
 When I found out on my dad's birthday that she had been matched with another family, it felt like a nightmare  from which I could not wake.

As I reflected on all of this, I barely slept Christmas Eve.  My heart was heavy, broken, and in complete despair.  Finally, I got up and went into the living room to start the Christmas morning tradition of lighting the fire, putting on Christmas music, making much needed coffee, and preparing to feign excitement for the girls.  I had already decided that I would wrap Honeybee in a towel and put her in the garage until I could take her to get cremated.  This was not how I wanted to start Christmas morning.  I literally could not believe my eyes when I walked into the living room and she popped her head up, eyes alert, and then GOT UP and walked over to me in that traditional boxer wiggle!  I immediately thanked God for reviving her.  It was as if nothing had happened.  I felt a little excitement welling in my soul and thought maybe this Christmas won't be so horrible after all.  I got my camera ready and stood in place so that I could capture their expressions as they walked out and saw some of the "big hitter" gifts that were on display.   I called the girls and told them they could come out.  They walked around the corner, took one glance at the cornucopia of presents, and then all three of them ran right past their gifts, through the living room, and directly into my arms to give me a giant hug, and wished me a Merry Christmas.  Queue the tears.  In that moment, I realized that at least I have done one thing right.  My girls value our family, our relationships, above all else.  Their early morning display of affection and love was the best Christmas gift!
We spent all day at my mom and dad's house; it was the perfect distraction from my thoughts.

The day after Christmas I crashed.  It felt like God was never going to answer.  I was not in a good place.  Each time I hit these horrible lows, he always provides the encouragement I need through dear friends and strangers from across the world.
I received several emails and messages from people in countries far away.  Messages of hope, encouraging me in this fight for Sparrow, standing with me in prayer and belief that God will bring her back to me.

One dear friend set me straight and told me that Jesus waited two days and let Lazarus die.  Could Jesus have gone and healed him immediately when they told him that Lazarus was sick? Certainly.  Lazarus' sisters, Martha and Mary, sent word to Jesus that "the one he loved" was very ill.  But that was not his plan.  Even though Jesus intended something far greater than what they could imagine by bringing Lazarus back from the dead, he still met Martha and Mary in their grief and wept with them.  

Jesus has also met me in my grief.  He has not taken away the pain; instead, he has provided compassionate fellowship.  He's given me encouragement from friends and strangers who are praying with me.  Their words of wisdom, love, and support have carried me through the most difficult  moments.  Every day, I wake up and pray that Jesus will take my hand and walk me through the day, leading me through the dark parts and helping me to steady my eyes on him.  
This has been the most difficult faith journey I've ever experienced.  I pray and pray and pray and ask for discernment - should I abandon this hope that he will bring her back to me?  Should I pursue another child?  Should I stop all together?
Every single time, he answers me with the dream he gave me in May, and even though I've been riddled with pain, there is peace knowing I'm exactly where he wants me to be.  It's taken time to get to that realization and acceptance.

The girls and I have a dream of one day owning a farm.  We've been praying about it for almost 2 years.  We talk about it daily.  My mom gave us a vegetable growing kit for Christmas which led to a discussion of how we anticipate our farm will look and what purposes it will serve.  God used this conversation to minister to me.
Growing food takes much waiting.  In between the time of planting the seed until the harvest is much "dead" time.  Above ground, it appears as if nothing is happening.  We can't see the seed.  We can't see what's going on in the soil underneath our feet.  We can't see the effects the sun, heat, moisture, and pressure have on the seed that eventually causes the hull to break apart and allows the tiny roots to burst forth.  We can't see those roots slowly digging deeper into the rich, moist soil, securing a solid foundation for growth.  None of that is visible.  Instead, it appears as if nothing is happening.  I thought back to all of the prayers I have prayed for Sparrow.  How God gently led me step by step.  I planted the seed in obedience.  And now, I have to wait and trust that like the forces of nature, God is preparing that seed for the harvest.  He knows the time when that precious green shoot will force its way out of the ground to be seen by all.  
What a glorious day that will be!
But for now, I wait.  I trust.  I believe.
And in my dark moments, I remind myself that like the seed underground, I can't see the spiritual realm.  I can't see the work God is accomplishing and I can't see the foundation he is preparing.  And isn't that exactly what faith is?  Trusting in what can't be seen.  Having confidence in what we hope for and assurance in what we can not see.

I can't thank everyone enough for all of your love and support with which you have covered me.  It is invaluable and priceless!  Please keep praying with me, you have been a wellspring to my soul!

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