Friday, December 30, 2011

There is no crack in heaven.

"Do you suppose God ever snorts an 8 ball? or maybe takes a hit of some mind altering substance right before he makes an important decision about my life?" 

This was said to me in a rather deep discussion I had about God earlier this week. Somebody I know is struggling with how God can be good and still "let" stuff go wrong in our lives. I had to laugh when my friend said it.  I assured him that, as far as I understand it, there is no cocaine in heaven. God isn't toking the ganja.... And God doesn't make bad things happen. 

I have a pretty thorough answer for the "why does bad stuff happen question" as I asked it myself back when I was a teenager. To find the answer, I read books on religion- all sorts of religions. I looked into apologetics and read books by people with old-school, Roman-sounding names. I never found the complete answer in any of those books though they did help me formulate my own philosophy on the subject. What really helped me understand was having talks with God. Rants about all the stuff that pissed me off. Long talks about what made me sad. It was feeling Him inside the peace that would suddenly flood over me in a crisis. It was getting an answer, not the one I expected, but one that showed up just in the nick of time....over and over again!It was learning I could count on Him. It was getting to know who He was to me. Because of the personal nature of the answers I found, I could never hope to convey them on a public blog- so I won't even try.  Discussions like that flow better in natural conversation where the individuals involved can learn from one another and bounce thoughts off other thoughts- things that the written word cannot accommodate.

But one part of my theology about "bad things" I will share here, because its relevant to my situation right now. And that is the absolute relativity of the term "bad".  You see, we found out today that Evangeline will need her shunt after all.  Four months ago, at her birth I would have plopped the idea of a shunt directly in the "bad" category. No questions asked. In fact, I may have shoved the "bad" box into a larger one labeled "horrendous", then stuffed that one down into yet another one  labeled, "life altering".  Now, not so much.  I've labeled it instead as "inconvenient".  Why the change?  Well, because life IS change.  What seems like a bad idea one day, can seem good the next. That is because human emotion plays HEAVILY in how we label things. I am not implying that emotions are bad things. Or even that we can control them completely if we try (sometimes no matter what we try, emotion beats logic as surely as a straight beats a pair).  What I am saying is that "bad" changes and God does not. 

Let me try and illustrate... when I was 16, with parental permission, one warm day in May I checked myself out of school early to go to a dentist appointment. My dad had called shortly before I left and asked me to wake him from his nap when I got home- he wasn't feeling too great and thought he'd take a snooze. So, I left campus as planned; I got my cavities filled and drove home. Once there, I dropped my book bag in a pile on the couch, grabbed a soda from the fridge and went back to my parent's bedroom to wake my dad.  I immediately noticed that he was laying across the bed rather than just on his side of it.  Upon approach, I realized that was not the only unusual thing... something just seemed off about him. After trying in vain to wake him by tapping, shaking and shouting, I finally realized that what seemed so odd was the absent, rhythmic rise and fall of his chest.   I ran to the phone and called 911.  In the distance I could hear screaming. I wished whoever it was would shut up so that I could focus on my phone call.  My dad needed help!  I was halfway through the call before I realized that the annoying person screaming in the background was me and all I needed to do was take a deep breath and shut my mouth to get it to stop.  That day for me was "bad".  But yet, after all the questions I asked and all the knowledge I sought as a result of that "bad" day, God helped me understand that "good" (another very relative term) came out of my dad's passing too.  As a two pack a day smoker since he was 12, my dad had developed some polyps on his lung. The doctor wanted to do a biopsy to check to see if they were cancer. Dad died before they got the chance- but if he could have chosen....what would he have picked? To die instantly at home in bed (The medical examiner hypothesized that he sat down on the edge of the bed, made the call to me requesting a wake-up and then promptly fell backward and expired, resulting in his position crossways where I found him. He also said that my dad's lung definitely looked cancerous...) or would he have chosen a slow death by lung cancer? I know my dad pretty well and I have to say, he probably didn't consider that day "bad" at all. For him it was a good deal.  He skipped a lot of hospital time and got to have a welcome home party in Heaven.   Should God have spared me a "bad" day and robbed my dad of his "good" one? God isn't like that. He gives us each free will. He was the very first proponent of first amendment rights. He lets people say what they want and do what they want even if it freaks Him the hell out. (This is where most religious people could take a lesson from Him). God never stopped my dad from smoking all those ciggs.  My dad was gonna die.... but this was was more ...well, it was more his style.  Shock and awe.  This death at home was the better alternative. 

All these other things that seem beyond tragic in our it even possible that there is a WORSE alternative out there? One we never got to know because thankfully it never happened?  I think even in the "bad" "good" lives on.  Especially if you let God help you find it and make the most of it. 

So, I guess that's whats on my mind as we head to Wed Jan. 4th.  The alternative the shunt is saving us from. In that light it actually seems kinda friendly. Dare I say it? Kinda good.

" Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. " Psalm 126:5-6

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I gave up caffeine once. I lasted for MONTHS without the stuff and felt pretty proud. Then one long, thirsty August day, I took a tiny little sip of an icy cold Pepsi....and after that, I wasn't without a soda in my hand for over a week. I never fully kicked the habit again. I had, ehem...fallen off the wagon so to speak with no inclination to ever climb back aboard.

Recently, I've had a relapse of another sort. I've caught myself asking a "forbidden" question for the past couple of days.  I've had it banished from my life almost a year now. For the last 10 months or so, I just haven't allowed myself to ask "why". I mean, what difference does "why" really make anyway? The answer never changes the facts, assists you in coping with reality or makes you feel better. Not really. Ultimately, it just makes you dissatisfied, forcing you to re-think on situations better left to wander the darker, quieter regions of your mind... alone where they can't bother anybody, least of all you! And, yet, this week I've gone and done it. I've fallen off the "why" wagon. And let me tell you, it was a bumpy landing.

Maybe this has been a long time coming. Maybe I will just throw a few minor fits with a possible prolonged pout included for good measure, dust myself off and climb back aboard the "get-it-done-and-don't-complain-about-it-express".  At least that's my plan.  A short layover for some whine-and-cheese then back to life. But right now, I'm feeling pretty bruised up.

As this year draws to a close I can look back and think on what has happened:
1) In January I found out the unexpected but happy surprise that I was going to be a mommy
2) In April I had the heartache of a diagnosis for my baby that I didn't understand
3) I rode the pregnancy roller-coaster of changing prognosis and fluctuating hope for months
4) In September I was literally hit head on by a drunk driver and frightened out of the few wits I had left
5) Also in September, I had a c-section and recovered (mostly. There is still a band on my tummy that has no feeling on the surface)
6) I became the mommy to the BESTEST baby ever. (the highlight of my life- not just my year)
7) In November we were laid off from our jobs
8) Because we lived where we worked we had to move (Since no one will rent to people with no income, my Mom was good enough to let us all pile in at her place for the time being)
9) Because small companies in Florida are not required to report employee quarterly earnings, we have to prove income before we can receive unemployment.  As of yet, we still have not received any paydays, although we have been continuing to claim weeks and have (i hope) submitted everything they need.
10) Up to now, I haven't been able to tell anybody that we were laid off. My boss requested that I tell people we "left for personal reasons" because she didn't want parents or kids to know the school was in a financially hard place. To save their reputation, I let mine be tarnished. Even our co-workers though we just "up and left". I am only saying something now, because, like I mentioned before, I've finally popped a cog. This post right here will probably cost me a good reference in a bad economy but I refuse to live my life in that fear of what my former employer will say or do any longer. Its one little "why do I have to do this?" that I am dropping from my life.

I feel angry. I feel sad. I feel frustrated. I feel numb. The good news is, that through all the challenges I've faced, I didn't loose anybody. We all came through in one piece.  Evangeline is healthy, happy and flourishing. Frankly she loves the fact that we are staying with her grammy. Its one more person to adore her.  We were blessed with enough finances to meet all the minimums on things and we are afloat. I feel like 2011 has been one long storm and our proverbial little boat has miraculously made it out unsunk, unharmed, and just a little shaken. I wish I knew "Why" all these things happened. I wish I knew what next year was going to bring us.  But I don't. I'll just have to redouble my efforts to stay focused on my miracles (which are abundant and amazing) while forgetting all the crud and dismissing any pointless "why"s.  I know things will get better. We all just have to keep moving forward.

 The Old Testament prophet Isaiah spoke of a day when the world would find a light in dark places. He was talking about a baby born in a manger on a Bethlehem night.  I am so thankful that He came to give me hope in my dark times.

Isaiah 9:2
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

December Update

I fear my wee one may think a head rub is a form of greeting in our family.  Everybody pretty much rubs her head whenever they see her...checking her soft spot...which, by the way, is still soft. Hurray! Her next MRI is on the 28th and she goes back to see Dr. Aldana for the results on the 30th.

She is growing well.  She has strong core muscles, but still isn't holding her head steady.  We are working on it with extra tummy time. She smiles all the time and is growing more vocal every day. 

Prune juice has finally proven to be a reliable answer to the perpetual poo problem.  The apple juice kept things softer, but she reuqired something else to get things moving. Either Miralax to make things even softer or liquid glycerine babylax, which we alternated ever day or so. The prune juice we give every day now with two parts baby apple juice and we get consistant results. Still we have an apt. with the GI clinic at Nemours on the 12th to get her in with them before the "spinal defects clinic" in Feburary.

Our family has gone through some pretty big changes lately: A move and the need to find new jobs.  Some things have happened that we wouldn't have chosen, but I'm not as stressed about those changes as I might otherwise be.  I am just glad that the family is together, safe and healthy. 

The hubby and I have weathered so many storms in the past few years, we've become experts at battening down the hatches.  I have real peace that the storm will pass and the sun will shine on us all again soon. Until that time, there is something good to be found in the rain.