Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Light at the End of the Snot-Nosed Tunnel

For the past two weeks, we've had a nasty virus and strep go through the house. Mama needs a break! The above is me, at least in my head...I'm actually running around like a crazy person trying to catch up.

Luckily, my boys are healthy again. But I kept wondering during that time why they'd gotten so sick. I had given them supplements, gotten them to bed as early as possible, and feed them healthy food (which can sometimes be a battle, right?). Why did they get so slammed?

It got me thinking about difficulties in life in general. Sometimes we can be doing EVERYTHING as close to right as we can, and they still pop up unexpectedly - and often, at the worst possible time.

It gave me solace to think that once my boys had fought off this sickness, their immune systems would be stronger. They could never get this virus again. Their body in amazing and unseen ways was fighting AND learning. Their immune system, though taxed, was simultaneously bolstering.

We can grow through difficulties too. We've all heard the adage, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." But isn't this a huge, often overlooked upside of challenge when we patiently and faithfully work our way through it?

Faith, like immunity, is a muscle that can grow inside of us. We will come out on the other side of things stronger. Things that once bothered us will not the next time around because we'll have greater peace, greater trust, greater comfort from God. Sometimes the only way to learn this is to go - and grow - through difficulty.

The Bible makes this promise clear in James: "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way" (The Message, James 1:2-4).

While we're growing, there's an additional promise for us too: God's love is always surrounding us. I would have done anything to help my children feel better. Every hand hold, every snuggle, and even every clean up effort (you get the picture), reminded me of how much more attentive the God who made us is of us.

So whatever you're facing today, take heart. God is with you, and this too is temporary...So let's see those muscles!


If you appreciate this post, you might also like Runny Noses and Providential Care4 Life-Saving Lessons When Adversity Strikes, and What To Do In A Storm

Monday, May 2, 2016

Warning: Learning Curve Ahead!

This post is in response to the TODAY Parenting Team's question, "How did life change when you became a parent?" We all have stories - what follows is one of our humorous ones. To show your support, please take a minute to click "VOTE UP" on the TODAY Parenting Team site - thank you in advance!

How is it that parenting can be both exhilarating and exhausting, rewarding and costly, and empowering yet unnerving all at once? Somehow it easily can. My husband and I quickly realized that parenting would involve a learning curve before we had even left the hospital with our first child. We had bought all of the supplies. We had taken all of the classes. But we soon discovered that we had made a simple yet important oversight. 

An attendant was wheeling me downstairs to the lobby to leave the hospital. My husband puffed with pride as he pulled our car up to the lobby door and brought in our carefully selected, extra-safe car seat. He walked over to me, set it down at my feet, and took our newborn son in his arms. Then something comical happened: We both realized we had no idea how to adjust the straps.

As he gently placed our son in the car seat, the straps were too tight in their original position. As he tried repetitively to make the ends fasten, I got more and more concerned.

“You’re going to crush him!” I panicked. It was that bad.

So he handed me our son and set to work turning the car seat upside down, to the side, and everything in between in hopes of finding something that could save us from our embarrassment. Our college degrees meant nothing. Handfuls of people were walking by in the lobby, watching the spectacle. 

Finally, a man in his fifties came up to us laughing. In one quick swoop, he pressed the lever, loosened the strap, and muttered, “I’ve been there before!” A wave of relief swept over my husband and me, and then a sense of urgency to get in the car as fast as possible.

Home from the hospital...finally!

This experience taught me three important parenting lessons that still hold true today:

1. Parenting means entering a brave new world. No matter how much we prepare, there are always curve balls. Being willing to learn on the job is a necessity, for we’re all really feeling it out as we go along.

2. Securing support is essential. The grace that stranger showed my husband and me that day in the hospital was simply a precursor to the support we’d need as parents. Sharing advice, resources, and babysitters has been vital to our success – I mean, survival!

3. Parenting will involve expertise with foreign supplies. Baby equipment, for one, requires its own safe-cracking code. But as a mother of boys, I’m also realizing this principle as my children grow. For one, my oldest likes a sport that I previously knew nothing about – now I can lace skates with the best of them.

Elizabeth Stone once wrote, “Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Even with parenting’s ups and downs, it has inarguably been the most rewarding adventure of my life. And given my experience so far, I quite expect there are even better surprises ahead…

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