Saturday, 28 March 2015

And Then This Happened

On March 17th my hubby, Don called me at work to complain about some mild heartburn and a numb left arm. I told him to dial 911 and raced home, beating the ambulance and advanced life support team.

He looked a bit tired but fine, and we spoke while they hooked him up to all kinds of monitors and gadgets. Arriving at the hospital, his heart rate was 33 and they couldn't establish a blood pressure reading (I assume because his pulse was so slow?)

As the day progressed we were told he had not suffered a heart attack, and then hours later, we were told he had. Let the roller coaster ride begin. More turns and highs and lows would follow. As Don and I sat in the trauma room, he asked me to take a picture of the heart monitor because it was averaging around 40 beats per minute . . . he thought it would make him look like an elite athlete.

Grabbing my cell, I held it up just as his heart rate disappeared. The top right of the screen lit 32 and then went blank; the green line that had been slowly leaving a weaving trail went flat. In shock I just kept taking picture after picture while beeps and alarms sounded. Strangely, Don kept speaking and looked pale but fine.

I dropped my cell onto the bed and began to quote scripture, starting with ,'He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds'. Don - not knowing what I was doing - joined in. Moments later the number reappeared and slowly rose. He was admitted and hooked up to a horrible machine that beeped and alarmed constantly.

The next day, they told me that they were taking my man for a quick, twenty minute angiogram. Two hours later I was still alone outside in the hall waiting. I sat, head hung down and asked the Lord, 'You are El Roi - you do see - right?' Moments later my cell rang. It was a friend telling me that something I had prayed about years ago and had been waiting for resolution was . . . resolved. In that moment. Not last year . . . not last month . . . not yesterday . . . but in that moment.

God sees.

A half hour later, they wheeled him out with a report that showed he needed open-heart surgery. Shock? You bet! Supernatural peace . . . buckets full! I was still in awe of God's intervention minutes before.

The next day I was scheduled to fly to LA to see Mia off before her three month mission trip. We were dumbfounded but the cardiologist assured me that Don was in good hands and that I should go.

So I did.

For forty-eight hours I was in a blissful, beach bubble with my kid, miles away from painful reality. However, come Sunday, having returned the rental car, the truth slammed me and I lost it. Babbling, snotty tears flowed.

Back home, two of the kids were able to fly in just before the surgery, and we captured a selfie. (I was going to post it, but decided to protect the innocent. It wasn't too pretty a shot of Don).

El Roi was holding us. We could feel it. Once in awhile I would crack and have a good cry when nobody was looking, (except for the couple of hundred people at the Burbank airport). But we were good.

His bypass surgery was postponed a few times as he was bumped by others with more urgent needs. I struggled with resentment, but then kept remembering my El Roi moment days before. His timing is always perfect.

The night before his surgery, I lay in bed alone with one of Don's shirts I pulled from the hamper tucked under my chin. I could smell his scent and it brought me comfort. I knew that I had to let go. That I had to open up my hands and release my husband into God's perfect will and purpose. Not for God's sake, but to grow my own faith and to give up my selfish fleshly desires for whatever He had planned. It took me a bit, I prayed a lament using Psalm 41:1-3, replacing Don's name where possible.

I wanted Don to walk with me for many more years to come . . . but I also trusted the very One who had showed up and encouraged me when I was alone outside the angiogram room a few days before.

As I write this, Don is in the cardiac intensive care unit recovering from a quadruple bypass. When he woke this morning and they removed his breathing tube, the nurses told me his first words were, 'Thank you. God bless . . . Jesus loves you!'

Moments later, I sat down next to him and he reached out and - forgetting that he could speak - spelled out 'Jesus loves you' into the palm of my hand with his finger. My man was experiencing the crazy love of His Father and wanted everyone in the room to join in.

There is nothing amazing about us or our journey - we acknowledge that many have walked much more challenging and tragic paths. But we are amazed at God's faithfulness and all that He has taught us these past twelve days. As Don said when the nurses left us alone for a moment, 'This is not about us, Lori . . . we're here for His purpose.'

Yes, my sweet man, Jesus does love me. And He sees. And He is faithful . . . He gave me you . . . and then He gave you back to me.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Letting Go of Unbelief

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 ESV)

There is a syndrome that affects loving parents across the world and is has done so since the beginning of time. I call it, ‘Lord I believe, help my unbelief!’

Typically the condition doesn’t manifest right away. No, as new parents, we confidently stand before God and others and dedicate our children to the Lord. We plan brunch, invite friends and family, choose frilly outfits for our sweet, precious babies and in front of witnesses promise to raise them in a God-fearing home, entrusting them to His care. We believe fully in what we are saying. But then . . . we have to let go.

We let go of the baby carrier, taking a sniff of the new-baby smell as we leave them with a sitter for the first time. Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!

We let go of sticky little fingers, as we guide them up the school bus steps. Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!

We let go of their passports as they pry them out of our fingers and disappear behind airport security barriers, setting off for college or a backpacking adventure. Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!

These are the times when those simple, heartfelt words spoken at their ‘child dedication’ can begin to stick in our throats. It’s no longer about frilly outfits and brunch. Rubber soothers are gone and the rubber is hitting the road. Faith-filled words are now put into action. And it’s hard.

I think of my sweet, dear friend, ‘Nadine’, who had to let go of her son, Kris, well before she was ready.  Labor started right on time and everything looked good. But when they hooked up the baby monitor, it was discovered that the precious child she had carried and anticipated for nine months was already in the arms of the Lord. He was gone. Yet, the pain of childbirth and holding his lifeless body still lay ahead. Oh the painful loss of letting go!

Some would say that Kris never came of age, but we know that’s not true. He lived the life that was laid out for him since before time began. And his parents found it a privilege that they were chosen to be his, even if it meant having to let go of the plans that they had designed for their son and trust in the Designer who knit him in Nadine’s womb.

Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!

This is the cry of every parent’s heart. We have times filled with belief, and times where we struggle with unbelief. The Father knows so well how hard it is to let go of a beloved child! So wherever you are in the journey of ‘letting go’, remember that our empty hands are not to hang limply at our sides, but to cling to the Lord, the One who entrusted us with their care for a season.

Father, forgive us for holding on so tight and for making your precious gifts into idols. We thank you that you have proven to be a faithful Father and that we can trust You with our precious children. Help us to believe and when we do lack faith, to cry out to You for a fresh filling and a clearer vision of just Who you are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.