Thursday, April 27, 2006

Fairy Tale Endings

When I was a girl, every fairy tale had a happy ending; and every story was a fairy tale. Then, I got older, and fairy tales didn't come true anymore. Life got hard; bad things happened. Every story didn't end happily ever after: my sister died; my baby died; I had to move (across the country) because of a job transfer; life really didn't look happy at all. Added to my own heartache was the pain of watching my daughters learn that every story doesn't have a happy ending.

We recently found out we were going to have a baby. After 9 pregnancies and 4 miscarriages (two late ones), my husband and I were nervous. We knew that not every pregnancy ended with a healthy baby; sometimes it ended in the hospital with a dead baby and empty arms! So, we didn't tell people for over 3 months. By that time, our girls had guessed and were extremely excited. As you can imagine, word spread quickly. For our oldest daughter, though, who best remembers our previous losses and experienced her own grief most deeply, the news brought not only excitement, but also fear. As a mom, that was hard.

When we found out that the baby I carried had a 1:80 chance of having Trisomy 18 (you can get more information at, I experienced a totally new kind of fear. Because we didn't know if the baby was healthy or not, we chose not to tell our children, but they could tell Mom was upset about something. The waiting was excruciating. For one week, we were waiting for a second result, to see if perhaps the first was an anomoly. It wasn't. Then, we spent another week waiting for the ultrasound, wondering if the doctor would even be able to tell anything and what our next step might be. Each day was long and as the ultrasound drew closer, it became more and more difficult not to be anxious.

Romans 8:28 is a verse may churchgoers will recognize. The verse says "All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose." You hear it outside church circles as well, but few realize it is a Biblical principle. Growing up in church, I thought those words translated, "God will fix-up my mix-ups and life will feel good; every story will have a happy ending, even the ones where I make all the wrong choices and the mix-ups are totaly my fault." Unfortunately, as you well know, I was completely wrong. All things do work out for good, but not all things feel good, nor are all things good in and of themselves.

Matthew 6:33 and 34 say, basically, not to worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow has its own problems. Today's trouble is enough for today. Instead, seek God's kingdom (or keep your eyes on Jesus) and He will take care of the details. It isn't any more a promise of fairy tale endings than Romans 8:28, but a great admonition not to borrow trouble.

Phillipians 4:8 says to think about what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, whatever is of good repute; if there is anything excellent and anything worthy of praise, this is what you should focus on. Thinking about a baby with a chromosomal abnormality that is considered "incompatible with life" does NOT fit this description, but it was hard, as we waited, not to imagine the worst.

As a spiritual life coach, I knew borrowing trouble wasn't what I wanted to do. Instead of going where my mind naturally wanted to run, I chose to focus on what was true. John 3:16 says that God loves the whole world, including me. Psalm 91 says that he who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty; a comforting thought. Romans 8:28 is just as true in the midst of a storm as it is when life is good, and I thought about that. Over and over in my mind ran the words to an old hymn, "Be still my soul. The Lord is on thy side. Bear patiently the cross of grief and pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; in every change, He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end."

Fortunately for us, this time the story has a happy ending. A detailed ultrasound revealed a healthy and normal baby boy - our first (and probably only) son! Though this fairy tale is on its way to a happily ever after ending, it is not a guarantee. More than a happy ending, though, I wanted to keep my eyes on Jesus as I walked the lonely road of fear and doubt. It was not fun, nor was it easy, but God's grace was enough. He held me tight in the midst of my fear, and together we weathered the storms that buffeted my faith. How thankful I am to know Jesus is in my heart, and that His promise to never leave me or forsake me applies even when my story doesn't end happily ever after and life doesn't feel good. My circumstances don't determine what is in my heart. A relationship with Jesus does.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The magic of bandaids

Today has been one of those days you really don't enjoy. When my husband got home, I told him I wanted to run away from home and let somebody else be the mommy! And, I did it without pouting (too much). He did what a good husband should and gave me a hug, made dinner, then left for an evening meeting.

When my husband left, he did take with him three of our 5 children, leaving the oldest and the youngest home with me. Thankfully, they are only on season 6 (out of 9) of "Little House on the Prairie" and have been quite content to entertain themselves with the gray-screened babysitter as I've cleaned up dinner and the rest of the carnage from the day.

At least the oldest has been. The youngest decided she needed something out of a kitchen drawer but misguaged the speed with which the drawer would close, closing her thumb in the drawer. After regaining her composure, and getting back her breath from the cries of pain that racked her little body, she asked pitifully for a "banaid." "Hurts" she said, holding up the injured digit, followed by "Banaid. I need it."

Knowing Mommies have "magic" in their kisses, I kissed the booboo, but it just wasn't enough. So, we marched into the bathroom, where a bandaid was gently applied. This time, the "magic" worked. Suddenly the pain was better, and the previously inconsolable toddler left the bathroom with the words, "All better."

Maybe the next time I have one of those days, I need to ask Jesus for a bandaid!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Not afraid of snakes

Being a modern mother, I have tried very hard not to pass my hatred of snakes to my children. When given the opportunity, I encourage my daughters to touch, hold, catch and play with snakes, as long as they have wise, careful adult supervision. When our 4th daughter was 2, that meant letting her hold a HUGE python in Florida. Her dad helped her. On Sunday, that meant sending them out to catch garder snakes.

Sunday we were invited to the home of some friends who live on acreage where they raise have many different kinds of animals. With lambing season just over, they have 3 "bummer" lambs, who need to be bottle-fed and raised by humans for one reason or another. To their delight, my daughters were invited to help with the feeding.

It was great fun for the girls, running around after the little lambs, playing tag with them, exploring the property, and generally having the kind of fun that is considered dangerous in our overly cautious society. When they came running into the house to report they'd found some snakes, my husband's immediate response was, "Did you catch any?" When they replied no, he headed out to help them. All the children joined in the fun and were soon relishing the joy of a new "pet." I, on the other hand, was hiding far away, inside the house, away from the doors.

Though I've tried very diligently not to pass my fear and hatred of snakes on to my children, I have not been able to hide my fear from them. So, being children, they wanted to tease their mommy. Safely away from the doors, I was sitting right by a rather large window, looking out into the back yard. Guess where the girls brought their new treasure. Yes, right to the window! I smiled and admired the snake, knowing that I had nothing to fear because of the safety margin of the window. When the girls left, laughing, I had no cause for concern.

The cause for concern came when the girls (laughing hysterically) brought the snake (in a butterfly net) past all my barriers of security, and stuck it in my face, literally!

Thankfully our host was sitting with me in the house (my husband hadn't returned from his snake catching adventure) and interviened for my protection. I'm even more thankful that I didn't pass out or loose control of bodily function, or do anything I'd later regret to one of my children. I did, however, totally cement in the minds of my children my absolute terror of snakes, providing them with unlimited opportunities to play pranks on me in the future. At least they don't appear to be afraid of snakes.