The Storm Before The Calm

Do you have moments in time that you race back to when life seems to get very overwhelming? Moments when you were truly happy? Times when everything, right then, was truly wonderful? I do. For me, it was right before leaving Brazil to come back to the U.S. to start college. It was May. I was at the beach with my family when I decided to go off by myself and climb this mountain. (Why do so many of my stories involve climbing mountains?) I got up to the top and started smiling. I was seeing the beach and the small beach town differently than I had ever seen it before. I couldn’t hear anything but the wind rushing by me and the waves crashing into the rocks below. I often times talk about my love for clear blue skies…that moment helped to solidify those feelings.

I go back to that moment because it was then that felt like God had His hand on my right shoulder. Yes, I’d screw up along the way, but He would be there. Yes, I’d stop going to church for a while during college and later on after the quads were born. But there was also a sense in which God knew I’d need Him. He wasn’t scared for me, yet reassuring me that the cross meant something.

Tonight, after a long day of work and an evening with friends, I am back home alone with 5 sleeping children. Liz is still in the hospital. This makes for night number 6. Since the end of February of 2005, we have spent countless nights apart. These nights of fear, anxiety, frustration, loneliness, and fatigue have become all too familiar. Being left alone in the world of one’s thoughts can lead to the “what if” game far too often. But thank God He is a night owl. There is a satisfying peace to be had when you talk to God out loud in the dark and stillness of the night. There is a calm that is undeniable when I picture God watching over me the way I watch over my kids at night. I don’t give God enough credit for love. I use it, talk about it, want some of my own, but hardly ever do I specifically thank Him for His directed love towards me.

Look, my life doesn’t make sense in reality or in the comic section of the USA Today on Sunday mornings. But faith by definition is based on not understanding a direction. I don’t know if and when Liz is ever going to be 100%. I don’t know if Hudson will ever be able to use his left hand normally. I don’t know what I’ll be doing when I am 40 or much less, know where I’ll be living. I don’t know if Candice will ever be able to talk normally. But one day in the near future, the Donny that is up on that mountain by the sea is going to turn to the Donny of today and tell me I can’t visit here anymore. I need to learn to fall into the arms of a loving God and not into the easy comfort of a past memory.

Liz had some tests run today. Nothing was seen today that wasn’t already expected. Other than assuming that her pain is in direct correlation to the amount of scar tissue her body has built up over the last four and a half years, they aren’t sure what is going on. Ok, so let me make sure I understand. My wife has been in the hospital for 6 nights now and we are going to assume there’s nothing to be done. That’s fine, but if that’s your answer, talk me through how this is the best you got. My chest gets heavy when considering the fact that I have a folded-up wheelchair taking up space in the walk-in closet. There is a walker nearby. There are syringes in the bathroom drawers. Our collection of hospital cups, had we kept them all, would be more than the number of kid cups we have; and that’s sayin’ something.

So, I’m here. I feel like I constantly need to be taking inventory of my life. Not to get bogged down by the weight of my circumstances, but instead to see God’s favor at work. I’m 30. Have a wife and 5 kids. Friends and family that have shown their faithfulness. I never thought I’d see the day where I wasn’t having a Mountain Dew. I never knew really how to exist without TV. And I never wanted to thank God for my struggling moments. Man, I don’t know how this is all going to shake out, good or bad. I’m more scared than I’ll ever try and let on. But I can guarantee you this much, I have more to smile about than most. I don’t sleep much any more. And when I do, it’s not as restful as I would like. I find myself worrying for and about others. I thoroughly enjoy praying for others now. My days are full, but the days of many are pain-filled.

Weary I come to you tonight, Lord, and strengthened I walk away with You…


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