One year ago today I was sitting in the hospital ER with a broken wrist. The story of how I got there, and what came after, is both terrible and amazing at the same time. I haven’t shared this story in its entirety before today, because quite honestly, I didn’t think anyone would believe me. What I have come to realize though,it is not so much important that you believe what happened to me, but that in hearing this story, would ask yourself, “What do you believe is happening to you?”
October 31, 2015 I found myself facing a situation I never thought possible. My husband was headed to Denmark; for three months. As I dropped him off at the International Departures gate, the reality of being home alone with our four children (ages 7, 5, 3 and 6 months), in addition to being separated from my best friend and love of my life, was weighing pretty heavily on my heart. Although there were many tears, grieving the loss of the life we had always known, one thing was certain; we had an absolute trust and faith this was God’s plan for our family.
The last several months we had been praying for Mike to get more work so he could reach his minimum required hours for the year. As a lawyer, you may sit in your office 10 hours a day, but unless you have work to bill to a specific client it doesn’t “count”. So because of time off with our new baby earlier in the year, and a slow client summer, he was really far behind. Turns out one of the attorneys in their client’s office was about to step out on paternity leave and Mike’s firm realized a great way to continue to build that relationship was to send someone from their own team to step in. And Mike was the lucky guy.
Sending him across the ocean wasn’t quite the way we were expecting God to answer our prayers, but when this opportunity presented itself, we couldn’t deny His hand in it. So as sad as we were to be separated, we had faith that everything would be ok.
Those first couple of weeks flew by. I went about the daily business of managing our family. Getting kids off to school. Taking care of the house. Continuing in the many areas of ministry and service just as I had always done. I knew God was behind this, and I wasn’t going to let it slow me down. My husband and I were determined to view this as a blessing.
Because of the time difference, scheduling time to talk to each other was difficult, so we began to communicate via email a great deal. Every night before I went to bed I would send him a message recounting the day (which was usually just moments before he was about to wake up). He would then respond (which I would see when I woke up for the day).
I’m just headed off to bed here. Wednesday night’s sure do kick my butt. Not getting home from church until 9:00 and then having to get everyone to bed is intense. I wish I could figure how to do all 4 of them simultaneously. That would be awesome. After getting the kids to bed and the kitchen cleaned and stuff ready to go for the morning rush I thought about just crashing into bed…Easton didn’t sleep last night, and I realized that I’ve barely had any caffeine at all today (and it is starting to show…) but then I picked up my Bible Study instead. I’ve been using the time in the evenings (when I would normally be talking to you) to devote to “quiet time”. Tonight makes 4 in a row.
Loved reading this when I woke up today. I figured that bedtimes on busy nights would be tough, even for a rock star mom like you. I wish I could help somehow. I’m glad you’re keeping up with your quiet time. I know it makes a huge difference for me – I’m 4/4 as well so far, so hopefully we’ll both keep on it. My morning prayer time has definitely helped me deal with some of the uncertainty and stress of this whole situation.
Love you, M
Just finished up my evening quiet time. I used your Bible tonight. It felt good to hold it in my hands and see your handwriting and notes. Made me feel closer to you. Today wasn’t a great day (with all the vomiting and whatnot) but I want you to know that we are doing ok. It was tough, but we are hanging in there. All 5 of us. Avery seems to be handling it much better than before. Every day he seems a little stronger. We pray for you every night.
Thanks for keeping me in the loop. I know it is difficult to really catch up on the phone when you’re in the middle of everything and the kids want to talk too. I’ve been meaning to write to you about things here – for better or worse I have been swamped in the evenings but hopefully I’ll get into more of a rhythm now. I’m glad Avery is doing better. Thank you for all of your reassurance. It has really meant alot to me to feel like you’re managing ok and that you support me. I read through your prayer requests for me and they were so great – I wanted to just give you a hug and thank you for loving me so much. I will be looking forward to talking to you later – hopefully from my new apartment.
Love you, M
Three weeks flew by and before I knew it, we were down to just 4 days until he would be home to visit for Thanksgiving. Our church had planned an experience in preparation for Christmas where you would journey through the 25 days of Advent and I was charged with decorating one of the rooms. Although it was a lot to take on by myself, I was confident that this was something God wanted me to do and it would help to pass the time waiting for Mike to get home. I had been reading about Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus in my nightly bible studies and I really felt called to bring to light some of the encouraging words God had been placing on my heart.
So I packed up my two little ones while the big kids were at school, and headed to church to begin setting up. I had collected several large mirrors that I planned to hang on partitions, creating a very “hall of mirrors” effect, but when I arrived at church the room I was supposed to decorate was still being used by another ministry. I only had a short window of time before I had to pick up my older children from school, so I began to feel impatience rising in me. I sat in the hallway and wrote out pieces of the verses with chalk paint on the mirrors and internally tapped my foot as time slipped away from me.
Just as the group was finishing, over an hour later than I was expecting, the alarm went off on my phone reminding me to go pick up my kids. I rushed home, grabbed my big kids from the bus, tossed some snacks into a bag, grabbed our pool bags (we had a date with a friend that evening for an indoor swim party) and then rushed back up to church. I texted my friend to let her know we would be late, and the kids sat and watched a movie while I began to transform this plain everyday room into something more.
The lights were dim. The hallway of partitions had been created and mirrors were everywhere. The large ones with the verses written on them hung from the partitions. Small handheld mirrors were set out on tables covered in light fabric with tiny glowing candles all around. The atmosphere was one of silence and reflection. It was perfect.
This is what I had prepared for my station.
Station 6 (Large Children’s Ministry Room) Luke 1:26-38
As you travel to station 6 – imagine for a moment what it must have been like to be Mary. Just going about you normal daily activities (maybe walking to the well to draw some water. Preparing a meal or sweeping the floor) and then suddenly an angel appears to you and tells you that you are highly favored with the Lord. Think about that…What was it about Mary that found favor with God? She was just a normal person – like the rest of us – sinful in nature. So what did God see in her that she did not see in herself? As you walk around the hall of mirrors – take a look at yourself. What do you see? What do you think God sees? Take a blank person sheet and write out the words you would use to describe yourself all along the white margins. And then look closer. Deeper. Think about what God might see in you – and write those words inside the body. If you have small children with you, encourage them to decorate the picture to represent what they look like to God. And lastly, consider Mary’s response to the angel’s proclamation: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” Take a moment to write down on the blank white slips of paper something God has been asking you to do, that maybe you have been hesitant to act on. Or maybe there is a desire in your heart that feels too big. Or too scary. Maybe you are afraid you aren’t the right person for the job. Take a lesson from Mary, who had found favor with God, and rather than question – commit to simply responding “YES” to whatever God is asking you to do.
I had spent the last few hours climbing up and down off tables, running here and there, keeping one eye on my kids and the other eye on the clock, all the while I couldn’t help but take in what I was doing. Staring into the writing on these mirrors, I couldn’t help but reflect on the words myself. I had found favor with God. In light of my husband being gone, I was still praising His name. I was recommitted to my daily bible study. I wasn’t letting solo-parenting keep me from doing what I knew He had called me to do. I was literally a living picture of “Let it be, according to your word”…
I jumped down off the table and told my kids to pack up. We were already late and needed to get out the door quickly if we still wanted time to swim before the baby totally melted down. It was then I heard the whisper in my ear that one of the mirrors was crooked. I glanced over my shoulder to see that the largest one had slipped off its hook and was hanging to the side. I climbed back up on the table, standing squarely in front of the mirror and straightened it back up. “There” I sighed to myself. “Ok kiddo’s – let’s go”
The next thing I knew I was on the floor and my hand was aching. The pain was intense and I was desperately trying not to cry in front of my kids. What had just happened? My mind was racing. Everyone had been giving me a hard time about walking around on the tables. But I swear, I did not slip. It did not feel like I had fallen.
I felt like I had been, well…pushed.
As calmly as I could manage, with a smile on my face and cradling my limp wrist in my good hand, I drug myself up off the floor and wandered into the hallway to find help.
Considering what I was going through…my spirits were still relatively high. When I called my husband I started the conversation with “Now, don’t freak out – I’m fine, but….”
Fast forward a few hours, my kids have been picked up and taken in by friends and I am sitting in the ER waiting to be seen. Another friend from church had been kind enough to not only drive me, but wait with me at the hospital so I didn’t have to be alone. Things were moving very slowly and it was looking like it was going to be hours before I could get out of here.
My friend and I laughed and told stories and I posted silly pictures to Facebook to pass the time. When the doctor finally came in she gave me lots of pain meds, put a shot directly into my broken bone, reset my wrist, applied a temporary cast, and then wrapped me up. I had zero movement from fingers to elbow.
After a few x-rays she sent me on my way with instructions to follow up with an Orthopedic doctor on Monday, assuring me that they would cast me and I’d regain some function in my arm. It was close to midnight, I was heavily drugged and mentally exhausted, and yet as my friend drove me home I was insistent that I did not need any help. That I’d “be fine” on my own.
Thankfully, she did not believe one groggy-drug induced word I had said, and made arrangements for someone else to stay the night with me. One of my best friends had left her own family, her own baby, to come over and take care of me and my kids for the night. As I came in the door we chatted for a few minutes (I must have been hilarious in this state because I remember much laughter) and then I passed out in my bed.
It wasn’t until my sweet baby boy woke up for the first time that I realized, Houston – we have a problem…
I couldn’t lift him out of his crib. In fact, I discovered that I couldn’t hold him at all. Thank goodness my bestie was sleeping on the couch. She came up and fixed his bottle and rocked him and took care of him; multiple times that night. It broke my heart to hear him cry and not be the one who was comforting him. He had only recently been weaned to a bottle and we still nursed occasionally during the night. I knew he just wanted me and he didn’t understand why this other person (albeit someone he knew well and loved) was there instead of me. . At one point, I just couldn’t take it anymore so I crawled onto the floor next to the chair while she rocked him and just held his little fingers with my one good hand. After she had put him back to sleep, I crept my to my own bed and sobbed. How was I going to do this?
That’s when I heard the whisper again, only this time it said “you can’t.”
I couldn’t sleep so I grabbed my devotion and these were the words I had written. I can’t remember now specifically what the lesson was about, but from the answers in my journal it appears to have been on healing. How like our amazing God to give me a devotion on healing the same night I have not only a broken wrist, but a truly broken spirit.
to be continued…