21

My feet moved my body down the long corridor from sheer muscle memory. Walks down hospital hallways were ones that had become the norm in the year prior to this day. The beeping of machines, the whispers of nurses, the rolling wheels of carts and patient transport beds.. all of it… felt like home…

in the worst kind of way.

My friend stood waiting for me, alone and distraught, her frame highlighted by the EXIT sign on the door behind her. Her eyes said “make this all go away, tell me this is all just a bad dream.” She trusted me because of the similar path I had walked and her hope was that her ending would be the same as mine. Earlier that day her 14 year old son had been involved in a bike/car accident. He had left their home on a beautiful fall day to ref a youth soccer game. He did not survive the hit from the car making a turn too early. His future that looked so bright had come to an end.

A year prior our 7 year old son was lying in a hospital bed. Hit with a different kind of health crises. A mystery illness that left him paralyzed from the neck down, unable to eat, speak or move. We received no answers from the multitude of tests administered. We hung on to the hope of our God that heals and answers and provides. We talked of the party we would throw when he was healed. We knew that when he was able to talk again he would have so much to say. Every prayer we prayed was answered- not always in the timing or way we would have hoped but ultimately our son was healed. In our family he is literally ‘the boy that lived.’ This son, our only son…the one with a heart of compassion for the down and out, the game loving, poetry writing, hard working, college junior, our son… who next week will turn…

21.

Something feels significant about this birthday something that causes me to pause as I look back over my years of parenting not only my son but all three of my children. I would never wish for a parent to experience what we did or my friend for that matter. The pain we felt as we watched the unexplained suffering of our child at moments felt like it would wreck me. I do wish though for all of us that we would have the gift that came from that season.

PERSPECTIVE:

Brevity of life – I thought I understood this but this time taught me to own this truth. We are not promised any day given and each one is truly a gift.

Everyone has a story. Living on the pediatric floor of a hospital for a month introduced me to all kinds of childhood struggles. Rooms full of children battling their own monsters.

I’m not in control: As much as I worked to keep my children safe, this little mystery illness snuck right into our home like a bad cold in winter. No warning, no reason, no nothing – not even a national pandemic. He just got sick – really sick.

I can control some things: I learned to focus on what I could do. Pray. Turn off the noise. Seek God in everything. Sleep, shower and show up for my son. Communicate with my husband. Create a routine for our girls. Accept help in every from from anyone who offered – no shame.

God can take it. I mean God can really take us… the real us, the angry at our situation us, the “why are you not fixing this now God” us. I discovered the more real I was with God the more real he was with me.

God is faithful. Recently a bible teacher shared these peace giving words.

“Every life stage and phase will bring its own brand of challenges that build our faith. Without tests of our faith, we do not fully experience God’s faithfulness. Unless you know how desperately you need God, human understanding and solutions still look appealing. My trust in God goes the deepest when I trust him with the people and dreams that have a hold on my heart. God can be trusted with everything, especially with what I value the most.” BSF Lesson 24 notes.

21.

14 years more than we thought we might have. 14 more years of growing and trusting and releasing control of a life God entrusted us to raise. 14 years of life lessons that have served me through the twists and turns of life. God has not wasted one hurt or one tear or one disappointment. Our season with our son prepared me for the walk I took with my friend. Her journey has not been the same as ours. Her prayers for healing were answered with the eternal victory we have when we die in Christ. Her sweet son has enjoyed 13 years in the presence of his Savior. She once said as much as she wanted him back he would probably be mad if he had to live out the crazy of the world in which we live. Perspective – a powerful thing.

It seems my list of friends with life trials grows longer by the day. I just have to look out my window at the surrounding houses to remember the issues that many of my loved ones are enduring. In the face of these current circumstances I pray and I praise and I remember. I look back on my seasons of hard and remember the gift of perspective I’ve been given. I celebrate each lesson, each provision each answer.

And today… and all week… I celebrate my son. The one that teaches me about perseverance, and love for all people, and boldly living out a life of faith in Jesus. The one that is always ready to play a game, go for a walk, lend a hand. The one that introduced me to all things boy, and swing dancing and CATAN. I’ve loved every one of the 21 years I’ve had with you Jonah and I will thank God for everyone he blesses us with in the future.

Happy Birthday Week.

I love you, Mom.

Ice Cream; Jonah’s love language:) Happy 21!

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