I spent quite a bit of time on Easter Sunday trying to get a
perfect somewhat decent picture of the three little girls. Their outfits had been chosen with care, coordinating, but not matching. Fitting each child’s personality and they looked so cute! But this is what we ended up with.
Look at the camera, Claire! Look at Mommy!!!
Clairey!!! Nora!!! Look at Mommy!!!!
Claire, stop making that face! Lila, SMILE!!!
Clairey, please look at Mommy!
Okay, now we’re all looking and the baby is spitting up. And what’s on Claire’s face? Oh well, maybe I can fix it in editing.
CLAIREY, PLEASE LOOK AT MOMMY!!!!
Well, all right then. At least everyone is looking.
That was as good as it every got but I just smiled. Because I remembered the last time I got annoyed about a picture.
The very last picture of our family before my Nora’s birth and my surgery. I was so irritated that day. It hadn’t worked out for us to take the family pictures I wanted to take. Older kids had to go places and do things and everyone was being crazy when we stopped for this quick snapshot. The older kids wouldn’t keep looking and stop leaning, Claire wouldn’t look at all, Lila inexplicably burst into tears in the middle of the whole thing.
And I was mad. I needed a Christmas card photo and these kids were not cooperating.
This could’ve easily been the last picture of my family with me in it and if I could take back how irritated I was about it, if I could just see how much this picture would minister to me in the days to come…
My water broke less than a week later and I was admitted to Norfolk Sentara General where I would spend 20 of the next 30 days.
In my hospital room, I was so homesick. I missed my kids, I missed my husband, I missed my house and my own bed. I missed my life. I ran a slideshow of my family almost all the time. Sometimes my sweet nurses would stop and watch it with me for a little while, telling me how beautiful my family was. I stared at this picture, loving each face, wishing to be home.
And I’ve been thinking about that today. How sometimes disappointments and irritations wind up being blessings.
I think about my divorce and how my heart broke into a million pieces. How I felt so disappointed in how life had turned out, in what had happened. Disappointed in my marriage, in myself, in my ex-husband. So grieiving a life that changed without my permission. So sick at where we were and so afriad for what would happen next.
But what happened next is that I met John. And God redeemed the whole thing. God restored. God brought new life. And yes, my divorce was hard and disappointing and not what I wanted…but look how God restored.
I think about the babies I lost, about Peter and Asher…I think about how they have eternal significance and how God has promised to work all things together for my good. Even those losses. I wonder, if Peter had been born, would I have had Nora? If Asher had survived the pregnancy, would I have come home with one baby, two babies or no babies? This is a harder one, because I can’t see the full plan, the whole story.
But I can see what I have right now. And I am awash in blessing.
When did I stop counting blessings? When did I decide to stop being grateful? I pull out my gratitude journal and see that I’ve written NOTHING in such a long time.
No wonder I’m struggling so hard in the here and now. I’m letting the pain of recovery, the exhaustion, the stress, the trauma…I’m letting all of that speak loudest. I’m not even looking for joy.
And it all seems clear now. God wants to give me restoration. He wants to walk me through this valley. He wants to give gifts along the way. But I have to open my eyes to see them.
I have to choose to find joy and contentment, to find peace. It is there for the taking. It might take some work on my part but it’s work I must choose to do.
Who’s with me? Who wants to start counting joys today? Who wants to begin the Joy Dare and see where it takes you? All you need is something to write or type on and to open your eyes!
List your first five in the comments section! Start NOW!
1. Nora’s giggle
2. Claire and Lila singing, “Like a Lion”
3. Simply Vanilla scentsy
4. The coffee my husband made me this morning
5. The smell of spring