It’s miniscule at first…in the smallest cell in the deepest part of your soul. It’s smothered, beaten down and held in check. Adversity. Poor health. Family struggles. Spouse issues. Finances. All of these combine to form a huge weight bearing down on it, threatening to drive through you and crush it into the earth. You’re squatting down, veins bulging in your neck, face turning beet red from the strain of holding up this oppression. All of a sudden, it flares to life…it’s a light. Gradually it grows. As it does, these burdens fall away, one by one…replaced by a brilliance we cannot remotely begin to look at. That’s the light of faith.
I know that I’ve been writing a lot lately about the issues in life that have prevented me from making timely posts. While I haven’t been writing, I have been maintaining my faith and family. Maintaining isn’t enough. You see, if we simply “maintain”, we become stagnant. And if we become stagnant, we slowly decay and forget our faith. And when that happens, sin happens. When sin happens, God gives us a little “nudge” to get us moving in the right direction again. God has His plan for each and every one of us, but our free will has a tendency to steer us off course. This post is about returning to form.
The photograph that I’ve added to this post is of our beautiful girls (l-r: Caitlin, Makayla, Samantha and Mia). Mia was born just three days ago, and while her delivery was as smooth as those things can go, what followed wasn’t. Oh, have no fear, Mia is perfectly healthy; weighing in at seven pounds, eight ounces and measuring 20 inches long at birth. God’s little gift is truly an amazing blessing, the most precious He could ever give in my humble opinion. My wife, Lena, however, didn’t fare so well following Mia’s arrival.
From her 22nd week, Lena has been having these spells where she would black out. Her speech would become slurred. She would become disoriented, incoherent. Her blood pressure would drop to as low as 65/42. From week 22 until birth, she had a total of six episodes like that. We made four trips to the emergency room and one to a cardiologist group in Jacksonville, Florida (after wearing a heart monitor for a month). All the tests that she had showed that she was a pillar of health. MRI…clean. EEG…clean. EKG…clean. Ultrasound of her carotid arteries…ditto. Cat scan with contrast…yup…clean. And through all of that, Mia was in perfect health.
Fast forward to December 5th. For about two months now, we had a nurse coming to our house once a week to keep tabs on Lena. Thank you, Becky, for being a Godsend. Lena had a rough day and was feeling particularly yukky (scientific term there ). When Becky checked her out, she didn’t like what she saw. She paged Lena’s OB, and he said that we needed to take another trip to the hospital. He also said to pack for a day or so since he would induce labor the next day (he already planned to induce on the 7th anyway, so this wasn’t a big deal).
After running a few tests when she got there, we settled in for the delivery. When the time came, the whole birthing process went as smooth as silk. She went from four to nine centimeters in about an hour and a half. The epidural went fine. She only had to push a total of nine times…and viola…baby Mia! (Of course this is coming from her coach, who had the easy part of wiping her brow with a cool washcloth, telling her to push and breathe, etc.) As I mentioned before, Mia was perfect.
The next morning, I returned to the hospital around 7:45 am after having dropped my daughter off at school. Lena was sitting up in bed trying to put the phone back on the tray table. I asked her what she was doing, and she answered me in a low, slurred voice that she was trying to call me. She laid down on the bed and told me to get the nurse in a manner consistent with someone having a stroke. I ran back out to the nurse’s station and informed them of what just occurred. As it happened, her OB was in the hall and came in on the tail end of Lena’s episode. He immediately ordered another battery of tests, which the hospital started only 25 minutes after it happened. Thus began the rest of her four-day stay.
Her EEG, previously normal, picked up what’s termed as a non-specific abnormality (a fancy way of saying that she may have had a seizure). They put her on a seizure medicine which made her groggy and lethargic because it suppresses the nervous system. In addition to that, she was taking percocet for passing a small volleyball and ambien to help her sleep. Did I mention she just delivered a baby?!? Ultimately, we left that hospital only to go directly to another hospital 40 minutes away to have another EEG by a neurologist. Finally, yesterday, we made it home.
Now to the message of this post. I am utterly astounded at God’s grace and mercy. Lena was so dejected during her ordeal. She cried spontaneously and often would tell me that she just wanted to feel normal again so she could hold her baby and breastfeed without wondering if Mia was getting any milk (the medicines made her that out-of-it). All I could do was pray for her and us. I told everyone I could, church family, friends, family to pray for us. I felt so helpless, but at the same time, I felt empowered. That little light that was in that smallest cell was beginning to glow. “Our God is with us,” I would tell her. “Through Him, honey, you’ll get through this.” I would pray for Him to heal her according to His will. I told her we needed to have faith. And that faith was more than rewarded.
Twice during the course of our stay did I wonder how we were going to get the money just to maintain at the hospital (daily essentials such as food and gas), and twice someone gave us a gift to help with our struggles. Both of those ladies (you know who you are) told me that God had put it on their heart to help us out. Lena’s boss, though we look at her, her mother and her husband as if they were family, was a tremendous prayer warrior (we love you Ms. Judy and Dr. Fitzgerald). Her colleagues at work came by and prayed for her. They knew we hadn’t been to the grocery store all week, so they picked up a few things for us and the girls to come home to (we love y’all too ). Our pastor and his wife came by often and prayed for us. Friends on Facebook lifted us up to the Lord. My mother and sister-in law came in to help us with our other daughters. Words cannot adequately express the gratitude and love we have for all of you.
God answers prayers.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7: 7-8
That’s the verse I feel led to share with you. The guide says this about it…
“Jesus tells us to persist in pursuing God. People often give up after a few halfhearted efforts and conclude that God cannot be found. But knowing God takes faith, focus and follow-through, and Jesus assures us that we will be rewarded. Don’t give up on your efforts to seek God. Continue to ask Him for more knowledge, patience, wisdom, love and understanding. He will give them to you.”
I’ve written before about Faith in The Face of Adversity. It’s a common theme that will occur over and over again in this life while you walk with God. As the song that I’ve attached says, “Let Faith Arise.”