As we approach a transition in this season of our family I have had some time to reflect driving back and forth between our house in Franklin and the hospital in downtown Nashville. Little Thomas is expected to come out of the NICU and be released here in the next day or two. We give thanks and praise to God for sustaining him, walking him through his valleys, and giving Mom and Dad strength for each twist and turn.
One of the new pastors on our staff at the church gave me some great advice today in how to pray. Oh Lord, give me new feet for the paths you are calling me to walk ahead. Amen, these are unexpected paths, we could not have planned this course, but the one who determined the steps will now give us the feet necessary for the journey. For this we are thankful and can rest.
I think the most interesting question we have been asked over the last few days has been, “How are you doing?” Most of the time my honest answer would be ”I don’t really know.” So much has raced in the mind over in such a short season and the emotions have both sustained us, given us strength during a hairy schedule, and drained us to no end. I don’t know how I am doing but my heart and mind is quite full of thoughts and reflections. I guess I’ll throw them up here a bit.
A Mixed Bag of Thoughts and Feelings:
- I have not asked the question “Why” once during this time – I thought I might, but it just did not come across the radar. I think I realize that I really don’t have enough electrochemical meat between the ears to understand anyway and I do not believe in a random universe. In other words, God knows why, he was not asleep, he is not asleep, he is leading us and that is enough for the why question. For his glory and good pleasure this has been wrought – and I pray I am not full of it when saying that.
- We have cried a bunch – in joy, in sadness, in pain, in confusion, in shear disbelief when we heard the words “chicken pox.” I remember leaving a friend a voice mail then hanging up and screaming in the car from a deep place in the soul. Driving north on 65 I just was in a state of confused angst. What to do? What does this mean? Am I overreacting to all this? Why am I so afraid? Will this child die? I don’t want this God – I need my wife and kids to be together with me.
- I have laughed a bit and the shear weirdness of our circumstances. I really felt a wink from God when I prayed, “Lord, only you could have designed these strange turning of events”
- I have acknowledged afresh the reality of this world. It is fallen. It is painful. It is not the way it is supposed to be. Great goods and treasures abound; they have names and little precious faces. Yet the destiny of all is to succumb to this strange alien of death. Whether at age 85 or 5 days, this is the terminal to which we all arrive. Viruses which cause fever and sores on the body of a 2 and a half year old can proved deadly to a premature newborn. I have thought again in both harsh terms – “this just sucks” to more somber words “Oh Lord, how long?” I have tried to keep in my mind the words of the Scriptures describing Jesus as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Indeed, our God relates, understands, yes he entered this world of pain. Indeed, we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.
- I learn much watching my children. Yesterday Kayla (almost 5) and I drove downtown to see Mom and Thomas while we left Ky at home with newly discovered chickenpox. When we arrived at the hotel where Kasey was staying the cell phone rang. It was Kase – I cannot be near any of the children so not to expose her or baby to the chickenpox virus. I literally was in the hallway of the hotel and we were having this discussion on our cell phones. I opened the door to give her a visual affirmation that this will be OK and Kayla stood on my leg weeping…just wanting to go hug her Momma. She knew what was happening and in a way she understood while not understanding. I saw so much of the human condition in her tears and quivering lips. We understand what this world is, but we do not have understanding. We run from this reality, we place our hands over our eyes and plug our ears to the reality. We drink a few bears, buy a bunch of stuff, get the right job, the right schools, the right neighborhoods, the right, blah, blah blah. All the while we refuse to acknowledge that there is something wrong, deeply wrong when we are separately from the one we desire, when cannot hug the one we so desperately need, even God.
- My children are a great comfort from God. After we realized we were in Kasey’s hotel but had to stay away, Kayla and I went exploring while Mom went on to the hospital. We talked about hydraulics and counterweights as we watched the mechanism of two elevators traverse up and down, up and down. We were fascinated together and it was a calming thing. Thanks God for elevators with their moving parts exposed. We snuggled on a small couch and then watch some PBS kids in the hotel lobby. She was patient while I made phone calls and then we got in the car to drive home. I spoke with a good friend in the car who spoke with strong manly compassion for me as a brother – I began to weep - I cast my hand towards the back seat and felt a strong and tiny grip. It will be OK Daddy, I love you so much. Yes, it will. Thank you Jesus for little Kayla. She won my heart years ago, my passion for her, our passion for life together, deepens. I place her too in the Fathers hand. I don’t know the span of her years, I would love to do her wedding, all the future days are uncertain. But today I am thankful to know this little princess, who skipped into my life almost five years ago.
- I have realized my weakness. I am floundering like a fish to focus my soul amidst all the daily happenings. I have read the Bible on my own initiative only once in the last few days. Not that I am a legalist about these things – far from it. But I wish I had carved more time out to just sit before the Lord. Yet even in this I have seen God’s goodness. An Aunt and Uncle sent a passage from Isaiah which has been food for my meditation. A friend from Virginia today sent a passage from Romans and encouraged me to take some time in the passage. I will do so shortly…the hunger is strong, I need to sit down to eat.
- My wife is my dearest pearl and I love her ever more deeply today. I have watched a women’s courage that exceeds anything I have seen in my life; more than even fictional accounts in books or in movies. Yes guys, even more than William Wallace. I have seen her weep with compassion and concern for our struggling son. I have seen her tirelessly pump, feed, and learn from nurses and doctors. I have seen her humbly receive help from others and avail herself to be ministered to. I have seen her laugh at my dumb jokes and wink at me as we walk another trail of tears together. Together…I love that we have been in this together. We often joke about who needs to die first; it must be me…I will be a ship set adrift in a hurricane without Kasey. Love has deepened in ten years – I praise her at the city gates…
- Finally, we have seen the beauty of the bride of Christ, his precious church. We cannot say thank enough to all the people both local and around the world who have sent in timely words of grace, prayed countless – real praying people prayers, are lining up to help us gain our feet to walk through the next six weeks with a split family. Thank you to those of the body of Christ, thank you for your sensitivity to our compassionate servant King, thank you for caring about our family. I would name many names here but in doing so I would inappropriately leave someone out. So, you know who you are, big high fives and chest bumps guys – you are incredible friends!
Well, I am a bit bummed that I have to wear rubber gloves and excessive gowning to go near the NICU. Not being able to have Thomas nuzzle up next to me is a bit of a downer…yet this reminds me that I have been able to hug, snuggle, and read with a chickenpoxed beauty named Kylene Jordan today. Due to the fact she was vaccinated (another thing to be thankful for) her case with the pox is mild. Her spirit is high; I am looking forward to more one on one time with her in the days ahead.
It looks like Thomas will leave the hospital in the next day or so, then the next days begin. Pray that Kasey will continue to find peace and courage and not to be overwhelmed by what could happen. We need his help to walk by faith.
Thanks again, and goodnight and I don’t believe in luck (sorry for the Murrow joke)