Dec 9, 2010

Heart Overflowing

The purpose of this blog has been to give those interested an insight into the life of a large homeschooling family on a dairy farm. The blog is set up so that anyone on the farm may actually post-Tim, myself (LeeAnne), or any of the children old enough to desire to communicate their thoughts in writing. Practically speaking, however, this blog has become my domain. This is why you will now find posts that are only tangentially related to the original purpose of the blog.

This is one such post.

I am on Facebook. Facebook, like all such social networks (online and local, flesh and blood networking opportunities) has a great deal to offer. One can remain connected and informed regarding the well-being of friends so far flung that previously one had to wait for the ubiquitous year-end Christmas letter. One can utilize Facebook as a social calendar, helping one to be more consistent and prepared for activities. In our case we also use it heavily to keep customers connected with farm news.

Like all networking opportunities, of course, one can also find outlet for sin and inappropriate behaviors from wasting time to gossip to downright infidelity.

That being said, I have appreciated the opportunities it offers and due to the many constraints on my time I believe I have been able to remain focused and not allow it to consume time not allotted to it.

One aspect of Facebook is the ability to become aware of events and issues far removed from one's life. Today's post relates to this.

A Facebook friend posted about a baby in a hospital in Texas that was struggling and needed prayer. I visited the blog and read of baby Ella. Baby Ella has several heart conditions. I was captivated by her picture because, frankly, for some reason she looked so much like our sweet baby Dixie to both myself and Dixie's siblings. We made baby Ella's page a permanent tab on the browser and check it every morning. We have prayed for Ella and rejoiced with her parents over each bit of progress made although they are totally unaware of our participation. It has been a privilege and it touches me when my children, surrounded though they are by their own siblings care about this little girl hundreds of miles away. It is not unusual for one of the older children to ask in the course of the day "How is baby Ella doing?" and when the youngers such as Liberty (8 yrs old) or Timothy (10) see me at the computer they ask "can you go to Ella's page? I want to see if there are new pictures there..."

It may be that situations like this tug at me more than they might because we have had children in ICU, from our premature babies to Sara who spent more days at Texas Children's Hospital than I care to recall with her brain tumor. I know the grinding exhaustion that comes from sleeping on hospital couches, the frustration of trying to gain any indication of how your child is doing from tidbits dripped unthinking from the lips of nurse, respiratory therapist, residents...and the fear when those tidbits seem to conflict with previously given positive reports. I know the longing for a normal life where the biggest stress is having to change your clothes yet again due to a diaper explosion or dinner started late because you were too busy snuggling with your baby.

Regardless of the reason, we have been praying for baby Ella.

Ella's parents have a bittersweet network of their own, that of "parents of heart patients". I would assume that they have met parents of babies who have done well and taken courage from this as well as frank reminders that their parenting experience will forever be different from the one they contemplated when they first learned they were pregnant. They have also experienced the anguish of watching parents go through the hardest walk of all--of giving up their children. They have shared regarding these other families and it has become a privilege to share in praying for them as well.

Over the past few days they have shared of more than one family whose children are seriously struggling. One child is headed for a heart transplant. The other child does not even have that option and his parents are having to release their precious son here on earth.

Being aware of the struggles these families are experiencing is a stark reminder of how truly blessed I am. We have had struggles. We do know the exquisite intermingling of pain and hope that is experienced in handing over your child for surgery. Yet I sit here today surrounded by children. My children are today--right now--healthy and strong. I know that this may not always be so, yet the more days that pass between those days in the hospital and these blessedly mundane, noisy and chaotic days at home it is easy to lose the knife edge of that awareness and take for granted the blessing of healthy children. You think you will never forget to be thankful for normalcy--but you do. Reading of baby Ella and her fellow heart patients have reminded me. As I change Dixie's diaper I am thankful that it is not made more difficult by tethers such as IV line and monitors. As I notice how heavy she is getting I am reminded to pray that Ella continues to gain well so she will be ready for her next heart surgery in January. As I discuss with our oldest, Katarina (22 yrs) the need to find the perfect "Baby's First Christmas" ornament for her baby sister I think of those parents for whom this first Christmas will be in the hospital--or worse yet, will find them with only empty arms and memories, their hopes and dreams bankrupt.

We cannot live consumed by the pain of others and the anxiety of "what if". To live there constantly is to reject the incredibly humbling gift that God has given of healthy children. To never visit this place is to make brazen assumptions regarding our relationship with God that we are immune and protected from pain such as this. Why should we think that God will never allow us to face the pain of losing a child when He did not protect himself from this pain? We share burdens by holding these precious parents before the face of God in prayer. We gain by being reminded to hold our children both more tightly--for we are not guaranteed we will hold them forever, save in heaven. We are also reminded to hold them with an open hand. They are not truly ours, they belong to God as surely as His own son was His and as such the only plans that we can be assured of for them are those plans that are also God's plans.

Remember this today in your busyness.

1 comment:

CamsShel said...

I miss talking to to you every day. Especially when you put up posts like this. I have so much to say, I feel the need to comment, but I can't get them formulated into comprehensive sentences...

Thank you.