A week ago tonight I was still at the lake house. I had the blessing of entertaining angels. In May, 2010, a girl across the world reached out to our family. She became one of the most faithful to love and pray for us on this journey. We became friends in a way that I never thought possible without meeting face to face. She and her mum travelled here from Australia to get her settled so she could begin her call to seminary. We shared a meal together. My dad brought Danica over to give hugs because Dan was working and Delaney was sick. After they left we moved to the living room and sat across from one another. The fellowship was sweet. I found myself bearing my heart to them with an ease I rarely feel because of my pride. We wept. They prayed with me. They asked things of God for me that I have never really been brave enough to ask for myself. The time slipped away, and it was very late when we headed to our beds. I loved having a place for them to stay. My particular gift of overnight hospitality has been buried because of circumstances, and it meant so much to be able to offer them such a pleasant place to sleep even though it wasn't my own home. In the morning dear Bethany came down and gave me a gift. It was a little blue hardback book. I gasped when I saw the two gold letters imprinted on the binding. "IF"
When I was a little girl I found my mother's copy of this book by Amy Carmichael. I didn't even know I loved poetry yet. I didn't know about Calvary love. I was drawn to the simple paragraphs and the pressing of the heart. I was drawn to the white space left on each page as if to say, "STOP HERE. YOU CAN ONLY ABSORB THIS TODAY. MEDITATE. PRAY. LIVE THIS BEFORE YOU MOVE ON."
Bethany reminded me how powerful words are, and how my words here on the screen have changed her. She mentioned my honesty and my return to the cross over and over again. It was God once again speaking to me about how this is not just about us. He is working in ways we may never know until eternity. He is asking me to keep telling the truth and pointing to Him. He is asking me to suffer awhile longer because He suffered for me.
A week later, and I wonder how I could get so lost in so little time. I moved home and everyone was in stages of sickness. My parents were weary to the core. Dan was completely spent. I began to do much more than I am able, because it has to be done. My presence made everyone seem to fall back on the Monica that will always push through any kind of pain. My recovery was over. I went from full on rest and healing to 24/7 wife and mother. The pure adrenaline kept me going for the past seven days. Tonight I am finished and afraid.
I failed at Calvary love tonight. After sleepless nights and a trip to the pediatrician yesterday for our very sick Danica followed by literally wrestling her for every antibiotic dose my own body has begun to shut down. (The muscles in my neck feel hard and knotty and scream in pain. My blood pressure drops, and I feel like fainting.) The new addition of a puppy has caused me to bend over many times a day. Keeping Danica drinking and wiping her nose in addition to cleaning up puppy pee and keeping Twixy from choking on Danica's little toys she somehow finds and from barking because my grandma is sick upstairs . . . it is too much. I can't just lie down when my body says it it done. I helped Danica make a special card for Dan. She wanted to wrap up a stuffed animal. I couldn't find tape. I looked high and low and my ever sure supply of tape is misplaced or gone. I found some curly ribbon and showed her how to decorate the box with stickers instead of wrapping. (My neck is in spasms.) I put my collar back on. I made enchiladas and corn cake to keep a promise to Delaney. I stood in the kitchen and as my back swayed in my legs felt like jelly. My tethered cord is so glaring now. Delaney got home, and her coat needed washed. I asked her about homework. She has a math test and a verse due tomorrow. I heard her but was really thinking of how to say out loud to someone I have to rest. (Please God, let someone offer to help me.) My mom came in, and I told her how sick grandma is. She told me about the very sad death of a dear administrator in our school community. She needed to go get Gatorade and medicine for grandma. I don't think she saw me. I don't think she could. I cleaned up the dishes from feeding the girls and Anna Mae. I made Dan a plate for when he got home and Delaney a container for her lunch tomorrow. My dad came in. He looked at me and my wide eyes. He asked me what was wrong. I told him I was in so much pain. I don't think he heard me. I don't think he could. Dear people in our church lost their grandson in a horrific accident in Virginia. I have barely been able breathe thinking of their loss. A Chiari sister is fighting for her life in a coma after surgery to try to relieve intracranial pressure. I had this high pressure the day after my surgery. I know how grateful I should be to even be here. I know the world is constanly turning, but I feel frozen in this place. I went downstairs and told the girls I had to rest. Just ten minutes. (I had to look for my Vicodin. I quit taking pain medicines as soon as I came home as if I drew a line in the sand. I had to cross back over.)
Dan came home, and I felt like I couldn't move. He saw me lying in bed. I saw it in his face. It's his birthday. I felt a crushing guilt. A plate of food was on the table and a cherry pie my mom picked up for him yesterday. I heard the girls giving him the cards they made. I couldn't move. He ate his pie alone. The entire family came in to get in bed with me. Dan had an old tattered home plans magazine. (Every move of the bed hurt my neck. I gritted my teeth.) Dan and Delaney began talking about the house they want to build. They were discussing the size of her bedroom and what color she would paint it. I wanted to scream. Then I said it. I spoke cruel words that cut deep into one of the only places Dan still holds a dream. I told them to quit talking about a house we would never have and be quiet. I asked them if they could see me and my pain. Doesn't anyone see I can't do this? They scurried away. Hot tears ran down my fevered face. The lies begin to fill my head. I am a failure at love. I will never be enough. I can never do enough. I have been broken for too long. They were better off when I was gone.
I said I could not tuck Danica in tonight, but she came in later in her tattered princess peach dress so ready to go to bed. I crawled out of my self pity and remorse and slipped in beside her unconditional love. It hurts to lay sideways on her twin bed. My neck is unsupported on normal pillows. I rolled over with my back to her to try to get more comfortable. Her soft hand rubbed my back and she began to trace the scar on my neck with her little finger. I began to cry again. She sees me. She understands. Her healing took over a year. She knows it is way too soon for me to understand how much better things will get. The kingdom of God is made up of tender hearts like hers.
Just like that I am back at the foot of the cross where Grace and suffering meet. His Grace is greater.
If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into self-pity and self-sympathy; If I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of