Welcome to the conglomeration (wow no red squiggles....can't believe I spelled that right the first shot!) of my thoughts from this past week and a half. Things have been stressful and comments from other people have somewhat added to that stress. You forget that many people have a say and in the name of "encouragement" want their voice to be heard. Good people. Christian people. Well-meaning people will throw different phrases at you like, "You gotta work through this," "You'll be alright." Or try this one on for size, "You gotta think of all the good things," mixed with a helping of, "You STILL don't know when she will come home??" And the honest to goodness truth of the matter is that if you have not gone through this situation before.......friends you just do not know what it is like. I HAVE been blessed numerous times by opening a piece of mail and seeing, "My little one was born at 32 weeks and I remember...," or an email telling me that they too had to make treks to the hospital for weeks and remember.... Joel affectionately calls it my little "club." :) I am so thankful for all of those who have been willing to remember some hard, heartbreaking times just to seek to encourage me in the process.
In this type of a situation people can unknowingly make you feel like you are not where you need to be spiritually. So...I have been doing some soul-searching, getting into my Bible morning and night, seeking to envelop myself with Godly things, music and preachers and teachers that will help me "gird up the loins of my mind." I have to add here, that when you go through something traumatic, and add a heap of unknown and stress to it, you may KNOW that God is working, helping, loving, guiding etc. but you cannot convince your emotions and will of it. If you have never been in a situation where you have to CONVINCE your emotions and will of what is indeed fact, than you probably are not human friend.
I am putting in scripture daily, only to find that I cannot make the connection from my brain to my heart. There is a disconnect that leaves me knowing it, but not feeling it. And yes, my faith is weak. And here enters Dr. Robert Cooke.
My friend Tam and I love this guy. He is on the radio and his "spot" is called, "Walk with the King." The announcer always announces him by saying, "And now the late Dr. Robert Cooke.." This used to make me so angry. "This guy is an excellent teacher and yet this announcer has to publish to the whole world that he has a problem with punctuality??? Give him a break!" I would think. And then finally one bright and shining day I realized that being "late" meant being "deceased." Hey where I grew up, if you were "late" you were not there when you were supposed to be okay? Unless of course you were "fashionably late" and then you were cool. So this begs the question, Can deceased people be "fashionably late?" Should we say, the "fashionably late" Grandpa???? Ok back to my story.....
Robert Cooke is a breath of fresh air to me. On the way to the hospital I was catching his program and something ministered so much to me! He was expounding on the "grace of God," and made this statement, "People wonder if the grace of God is present in some one's life in a difficult situation. The fact that that person can function, daily going about their normal business SHOWS the grace of God in their life." Did you catch that? As a Christian, the fact that we keep "Keepin' on" amidst trying and heartbreaking situations shows the world God's grace on our lives. We CAN keep going on, even though we may feel like curling up in a dark corner somewhere. This spoke to my heart, reminding me that I do have evidence of God's grace alive and working in my life during this time.
Another way God has encouraged me has been through the Holy Spirit. Everyday, sometimes twice a day we make the trek to St. Elizabeth's hospital. I never used to think I could remember how to get one of my kids to the hospital in an emergency and let's just say I could get them there with my eyes closed now! Well, there is a certain building that we pass each time we make the trek. I can't imagine just how many times I have passed it now, but from the very beginning of our hospital visits the Lord has been speaking to me about this building. I look out the window as we pass it on our right and think, " I need to go and see if there is something I can do there." I told Joel how the Lord was directing. He thought it a great idea. Days would pass and I would think about it and not put feet to my thoughts....until yesterday afternoon. The night before God was again speaking to me about going, and I agreed with Him that I needed to. Well, it "just so happened" (wink wink) that I was making the hospital trek alone yesterday afternoon. Usually Joel and I go together after the kids are in bed. Here I was alone and in the middle of the day...a beautiful day I might add.
I drove and got to where I could see the building and arguably told the Lord, "Lord I don't know which exit it is." "Right here." He said. And there it was plain as day. "Lord I am not familiar with this part of town, what if I cannot find a safe place to park???" "Here's a parking spot RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE BUILDING'S FRONT DOOR." He said. I pulled in and smiled. Ok Lord. You win.
"Where on earth are you??" You ask??? I am at the Youngstown City Mission. For some time with all that has been going on with Alayna, I have had a desire (put there by God himself) to get out and help someone else and take my eyes off of my own needs. Why the City Mission??? Well because God led me there and because no one would know me. I can go and quietly serve and help without recognition. I can just go and pray and love and serve someone much bigger than myself.
I walked in and the tears began like a leaky faucet. The kind black man at the front desk listened intently as I told him that "I have a daughter in the hospital and God wanted me to come and see if I could be a help." I think he thought I NEEDED HELP and picked up the phone to call someone upstairs......no not God, just a woman UP THE STAIRS. He mumbled something like, "Yeah, uh a Deena Roylaty is here and uh she is goin' thru a hard time and she needs to talk." I thought, "Buddy you don't know the HALF of it!!" Up the stairs I went, trying to gain my composure so I would not appear to the NEXT person as much of a nutcase as I had to the last! Though after the formal greetings the faucet was turned on full force again. :) Oh well, when the eyes leak the head won't swell right??? ;) A sweet woman named Rose listened and gave me all the time in the world to gain my composure which seemed to ME like half of an eternity. I again conveyed that the Lord led me here and that I thought in my present circumstance that it was important to spend more time serving others and taking my eyes off of myself and my own problems. I smiled and said, "I cannot do deep cleaning until I am healed completely, but I can work in the kitchen, I can do just about anything else. Can you use me?" She was almost dumbfounded, but quickly and openly thanked the Lord for sending me, and even thanked me for being willing to listen to the Holy Spirit's prompting. She got me in touch with someone who will assign me a job and a day that works for me, prayed for me and sent me on my way rejoicing.
God speaking to me reminded me that I am still close to Him........even if at times I wonder where He is. He reminded me that "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps." Proverbs 16:9. I remember a poem I loved in high school.... "Tomorrow's plans I do not know, I only know THIS MINUTE. But He will say, this is the way, by faith now walk ye in it." God is directing me in minute increments because he knows I cannot handle the big picture. I just need to listen for His promptings and obey.
I am not quite sure how you can feel a myriad of emotions in a few hours, but you can. Or how you can feel so alone in a group of people that you know love you, but you can. Or how you can feel like you cannot make it through another day only to get up and pour cereal and keep going. Alayna's long hospital stay is not the only thing that weighs on me. There are other things that I need to process, other issues that God is teaching me while I wait her safe arrival home with us. He IS still working on me.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow'r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.