It was Crazy Town in our hospital room today. The boys had way too much energy, and attitude, for what little space we live in. When the doctors came in for rounds, I tried to act like I was NOT mortified by the fact that Jonah had his nose in the corner for spitting on Daniel. Come on in folks, don't mind the noise, just a little parenting going on in this room. Naps did everyone a lot of good and even though the energy level only increased throughout the day, we nipped the attitude in the bud. Score one for the parents!
Caleb's blood was drawn for his antibodies to be tested again... hopefully we will know the results in the next day or two. I appreciate all your prayers that these antibodies would be gone. We are praying for an amazing answer from the doctors on this one.
In other Caleb news, he is so fat. That's not really news if you've seen him, or especially if you've tried to pick him up recently. He weighs 30 pounds! He is a beast! He looks like he must have eaten that scrawny little kid that got admitted to the hospital way back on November 1st! Yes, a little bit of that is because he retains fluid, but mostly it is legitimate weight gain. It's just another example of a positive thing that has come from waiting this long. The other kiddos that have gotten hearts have all been really skinny... no one would ever describe Caleb as skinny now. The boy has multiple chins and a gut that makes him look like he's trying to keep up with his mama's growing belly. Thank you God for the physical reserve he will have after surgery, with all that chunk to help him recover and get strong fast.
One more bit of family news before I get to the meat of this blog post: Daniel and I got invited to attend the national Donate Life conference this year, which happens to be in Indy in June, to speak about Caleb and share our story. We are really humbled that God keeps giving us opportunities, big and small, to talk about our experiences in the last year. We pray that what we share would act like a big fat spotlight drawing attention to God and His goodness.
OK, so on to the meat. You have probably noticed by the tone of this post that I'm in a pretty good place right now. It is because God has been speaking to me a lot and yet again changing the way I think about this time in my life. You know, if you're thinking how exhausting all my ups and downs are, let me tell you, they ARE exhausting. But I think that's how we grow into maturity. I don't wallow in the downs... I process through them and ask God about them and learn from them. And if I allow Him into the mess of my life, He always brings me comfort and joy just when I desperately need it most.
So last week there was this other family that came to Riley with their little daughter and they had just found out that she had cancer. I knew the father when we were kids and I know his family and was very surprised to run into him and his wife in the cafeteria one day. We talked for a bit and connected quickly, especially because they also follow Jesus and we could relate to each other on a faith level. Of course I was not thankful for the reason they were here, but I WAS thankful that God had crossed our paths with another couple that perhaps we could get to know and be friends with here at Riley. Well, that opportunity was short-lived because just literally a few days later, they got the incredible news that their daughter's tests showed that her cancer was mostly benign and she wouldn't even need chemo or radiation. In fact, they got to go home shortly thereafter.
I was so happy for them. I had only just talked to them a couple times and they were gone, sent home with good news. And yet I couldn't get the thought out of my mind... some kids go home with good news, and some kids don't. Some kids get better and some kids die. There wasn't even a "why" to my thoughts, I was just trying to accept the reality that there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the different outcomes people are dealt. I was taking a walk by myself thinking about this, thinking about how that family was here a matter of days, they prayed hard and believed God would make their daughter better, and then He did and they went home. And thinking about how different my own story is from that. I'm waaaay past the point of wondering if I just had stronger faith or something if maybe MY kid would get better too. I don't think those kinds of things anymore. I don't feel resentful or jealous, I just (begrudgingly) accept that for reasons way over my head, God has chosen THIS path for MY family.
And as I was thinking this, as I was pondering how much adversity there's been in our life and all the struggle and pain and fear and disappointment that our life includes at times, God cut through my thoughts with a single word: "favored". I almost stopped walking. Excuse me, what, God? Favored? What on earth does that mean? I am reflecting on the suffering of my life and You interrupt with "favored"? And then I remembered what I've been reading about in my Bible about Mary, Jesus' mom. I've been thinking about her a lot lately, and I remembered something about her. When an angel showed up to tell her she was going to have a baby even though she was a virgin, and the baby was going to be the son of God, the angel said, "Greetings, favored woman!" And Mary was confused, probably thinking something like, "Favored? How am I favored?" The angel explained what was about to go down, and after receiving what had to be the most mind-blowing information of all time, Mary's response was resolute. She said to him, "I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true."
Then I realized what God was saying to me. Mary had the awesome privilege of being the mother of Jesus, but with that privilege came the personal sacrifice of watching her son go through unthinkable pain. I mean, think about what this woman had to endure as a mother... watching her son grow up, knowing he only sort of belonged to her, and witnessing him being rejected, tortured and eventually killed. And this woman was "favored"? That doesn't sound like being favored, it sounds like being punished. But I think that's what God is saying. His plans almost never involve things going like WE would map them out. His plans almost always involve our own discomfort, disillusionment, pain and suffering, until we have been stripped of all our own plans and desires for this life. Until we are totally and completely surrendered to whatever path He is choosing for us. Maybe it should never be our goal to achieve this relaxed, easy, planned-out life. I'm pretty sure you can't follow Jesus and expect that. Jesus calls us to live in Opposite World, where instead of seeking our own comfort and pleasure, we seek to live a life that brings attention and fame to God. Instead of trying to live a nice, happy life, we accept the circumstances HE chooses for us, learning to not only be content with the cards He deals us, but to even find joy and use every circumstance for His purposes. I know that seems like crazy talk, but if you know Him like I am getting to know Him, you know that actually this is the only way to live a full, abundant, amazing life. God was whispering to me that day that I am favored by Him, His beloved daughter, one that He has chosen to deal a lot of pain, but pain that He is using every drop of for His good plans. And I want so badly to be able to look in the face of all the craziness around me and say to Him, like Mary did, "I'm your servant. Let everything You want to do in my life come to be."
Do I think I should stop praying for God to give Caleb a new heart? No way, of course I pray that every day. I pour my heart out to God all the time, and tell him how much I want Caleb to live, and be strong and have a long life. But I'm learning to also accept when He doesn't answer my prayers the way I want. And I know now that just because He hasn't answered my prayers the way I want doesn't mean He is punishing me. Quite the opposite. It means I am favored by Him and He has chosen to use my life for bigger purposes than I ever could have dreamed up. Help me to trust You Lord, and help me to believe with all my heart that what You're doing is far better than what I can even imagine.