We get married for all kinds of reasons. Love. Security. Children. Fear. Loneliness.
We might take that walk down the aisle as early as high school graduation or as late as in the fall or winter seasons of our lives.
Maybe we chose our high school sweetheart, our best friend, a coworker, someone we met in Sunday School, or even a person from our past who becomes our future.
Some us had great examples of solid marriages to look to in our own parents and mentors. Others of us saw what we didn’t want to become and vowed to do marriage differently. But no matter why, when, or with whom we take the plunge, most of us are nowhere close to understanding what it really means to tie that lifetime knot. READ THE REST ON CROSSWALK.COM.Read More
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)
“Give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
This morning, I hopped out of bed, raced to the bathroom, and stood under the hot shower for fifteen minutes.
I know what you’re thinking. Big deal. I do that every morning. You’re so not jealous of my quarter-hour shower.
But maybe you should be.
A few months ago, that same morning routine went something like this:
I rolled over to face the wheelchair parked next to my bed, my broken ankle waking with me, the throb timing itself to match the staccato pulse blaring from the alarm.
I killed the sound and fumbled in the nightstand for another dose of pain medication that had worn off during the night. Which meant I actually slept a few hours straight. Pill swallowed, I started the forty-five minute countdown before it even began to touch the pain.
Shivering, I curled tight against the bottom sheet two pillows propped under my bad leg and tugged my sweatshirt sleeves down over my hands. The surgical site on my ankle, home to eight screws and a plate, couldn’t tolerate any weight. Not even a summer sheet. While my foot and leg burned all night, the rest of me froze.
When the throb in my ankle calmed to a much nicer ache, I scooted close to the wheelchair, and pep-talked myself through the physical process of getting up. After a brief struggle to sit, I slid off the mattress onto the chair, the ache in my ankle spiking, angry to lose its elevation.
Foot straight out and raised as high as I could hold it, I wheeled into the bathroom. Only to remember I’d forgotten to lay out my clothes the night before. If they weren’t on the counter next to the tub, where I had to sit to dress, I’d end up wheeling back into my room completely au natural.
And au natural in a wheelchair? So not attractive.
Clothes retrieved, I wheeled back in, and fought to close the double doors behind me. The shower door was easier. The trick came in reaching far enough in from a sitting position to turn on the water all the way. After a little effort, the handle moved around to warm.
And that’s when I realized my husband left for work without putting the shower chair back in the stall after he’d finished up.
There was no standing under the hot spray for me. There was no standing at all. Not from January to June on an ankle that broke, healed wrong, and had to be rebroken. During those six months, I lost most of my independence.
There’s a lot you can’t do when you’re down an ankle. Walk. Cook. Clean. Laundry. Stairs. Drive. Shop. Or reach anything taller than four feet. Daily things I’d taken for granted.
Now you can see why this morning’s quarter-hour shower was so remarkable. It had always been remarkable. I just never noticed until I couldn’t do it anymore.
After the doctor cleared me to put weight on my ankle, I started physical therapy.
One of the ladies I met complained about the exercises, having to go three times a week, and how painful rehab could be. One day she looked at me and asked, “What’s your deal?”
I grinned. “I’m just happy to be able to walk.” And I was. Getting out of bed and landing on both my feet was enough for me.
I’d never been more aware of the phrase—You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
And we don’t know what we have until it’s taken away. But what if we could use our loss to see life in a fresh way? What if I took the experience with my ankle and applied it to the other things in my life I tend to blow off as a guarantee? What if we were grateful now for the things we are able to do every day? What if we took time to see the average as remarkable?
How would that kind of thinking change our days? Our world?
What remarkable abilities do you not realize you have today? Make a list of the everyday, average things you do and thank God for each of them. Because some days, we’re lucky to hop out of bed and stand in the shower.
Colossians 3:15-17 (NIV)
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Looking for more posts like this? Check out Be Inspired.
Take time to love the mother in your life this weekend.
What makes a mother?
Too many things to mention. And we all have our own definitions. Our own ideas. And our own memories. Or we might have a void where those memories should’ve been.
But whether we can claim the usual definition of “mom” in our life or not, I bet we all have someone who filled at least parts of that role for us. It might be our father, grandmother, friend, teacher, or even a mentor.
Being a mother isn’t always about biology. Being a mother is about being there.
I had lots of plans for my life when I was younger. Motherhood wasn’t at the top of any of my lists. The label “Mom” was an afterthought. Then everything changed and “Mom” became the most important part of who I am.
I originally posted Baby Love (below) in 2012. It’s a good reminder to me that God does know best and the plans we have for our lives aren’t always the plans we’re supposed to pursue. Now that I’m a two-time Cancer Mom, this post takes on a whole new meaning. No matter how hard life gets, the one regret I will never have is my kids.
“A baby?” I gaped at the nurse in blue scrubs and slid into the chair, almost missing the edge of the seat. My stomach flip-flopped into my throat. I swallowed hard, fighting against the physical push to vomit.
The last week of bowing over the ceramic toilet seat hadn’t been the flu after all.
Pregnant? Pregnant? Pregnant? The word spun on repeat, distorting the more times I said it in my head.
I stared at the sign on the wall imploring me to Choose Life. Of course I would choose life—and relinquish mine in the process. Not a choice I would have made had someone asked.
A baby confused the decisions I struggled to make—decisions like staying married to a husband I wasn’t so sure I loved and starting graduate school in the fall. I’d already deferred a year. Would they let me back in if I took off more time?
Running away suddenly became a viable option, but dissolved as fast as it appeared. How did I run from my own body?
The nurse slid a box of tissue across the table. “We’ll write you a prescription for pre-natal vitamins.”
Sweat poured down my back, pooling at the top of the waistband of my gray sweatpants. I patted my eyes with yet another tissue, soaking up the tears that drenched my face, sure the nurse pegged me for single motherhood the way I carried on.
Why would I come here if I wasn’t on the road to unwed motherhood? Married, respectable women had real doctors and didn’t cry when the test came back positive. Married, respectable women ran home to knit booties to give their husbands over a romantic candlelit dinner.
Pat and I were 2,000 miles from home and I hadn’t known where to go. We had no doctors. No family. No friends. So I’d gone to the local pregnancy crisis center—after all, this was a crisis, wasn’t it?
“Do you need help finding a doctor?” The nurse patted my hand, her fingers warm against my cool, clammy skin.
I needed help with a lot of things—but right now, the need to get out of here and go home and fall apart more completely ruled over all of them.
“I’m fine.” I stumbled over the words. “Just surprised.” I grabbed a few more tissues and forced my body out of the chair. Please stand up, I begged my legs.
She placed a folder in my hands and squeezed my arm. “Call us. We’re here to help. Whatever you need.”
I was pretty sure no one could help me now. I was having a baby. That wasn’t just going to disappear like the flu.
A mirror hung in the waiting room by the exit door. My face matched the deep gray of my sweatshirt.
For the next few hours, I sat on the floor of our tiny apartment, head on the couch, and cried. I didn’t choose to get pregnant. I didn’t choose to be a mom at twenty-four. I didn’t choose to start a family and give up a career. I worked hard to get into graduate school. Pat gave up his job to move here. This pregnancy—this baby—had not entered into my plans.
And I hated kids. They were loud and whiny and snotty and dirty and everything that made my skin prickle. Babysitting was the worst job I ever held. How could I babysit for eighteen years?
Pat walked in after work and found me still on the floor, head buried in my arms on the couch cushions. Three empty tissue boxes sat next to me.
He rushed over to kneel by my side. Put his hand on my back. “What’s wrong?” Panic laced the edge of his voice.
My head was heavy. My throat ached. I couldn’t form the words, so I pushed the folder toward his hand.
He picked it up. “Choosing life.” Confusion swam in his eyes. “Are you sick? How bad is it?”
“I’m pregnant.” I whispered it like a confession.
Relief fell across his face and he relaxed beside me. “I thought you had cancer.”
No, I didn’t have cancer, but I did have something growing inside me that would alter my life forever.
I cried for the next eight months, certain I would be the worst mother in the world. A mother who didn’t cook or clean. A mother who screwed up the laundry. A mother who didn’t have a nurturing bone in her body.
The night I went into labor, we barely made it to the hospital in time for me to deliver. I was full of anxiety. I wasn’t worried about giving birth in the car, or the pain, or what would happen to my body. I was terrified I’d be the worst mother in the world—a mother who didn’t love her baby.
Thirty minutes later, my doctor—a stand-in for Bill Cosby—set my Kyle in my arms.
I held my breath and waited to hate my son and to wish to be anywhere but here. Instead, an unspeakable joy filled me—invading every crack and crevice of my heart with overwhelming love. Love I could never have imagined.
This wasn’t just any baby. This was my baby. Part of me. Part of Pat. A bond between us forever. This was my son.
Eighteen years ago, I celebrated my first mother’s day. A mother’s day I would have chosen to do without. But God had a better plan. He had the best plan. And that best plan is about to graduate from high school. And I wouldn’t trade one moment of being his mom.
In fact, it worked out so well, I decided to do it again. Twice. With Alek and Maddy, I’m a mother times three. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m still working on the cooking. But I can clean and do laundry and love on my kids right up there with the best moms in the world.
God knew my heart. He knew what I needed. He gave me a gift that I never would have chosen for myself.
What gift has God given you that came unwanted and unsuspected and turned out to be a miracle?