Sometimes, unexpected things happen. My plan for December was to put up several Christmasy blog posts. I was planning on having lots of free time to do things like make a gingerbread house, look at Christmas lights, and make a snow fort. I was planning on things being normal.
God had bigger plans.
Life Was Easy
Up until December 5th, my life was pretty simple. It was going well. Of course I had schoolwork and boy drama and such, but everything was fairly calm in my life.
It’s easy to forget about God when your life is easy. I mean, why would you need a Savior if everything is going perfectly? Right?
So… Where Exactly Was I?
December 5th, a Monday, is when everything started changing. My mom started feeling really ill. I’m talking about intense cramps that felt as if she were in labor, hour-long bathroom trips, and no appetite whatsoever. It was very hard to see her in so much pain, but I figured it would blow over in several days.
I was wrong. She progressively got worse and worse. Wednesday night, she asked me to stay home from school the next day so I could take care of her. Of course I said yes, because I wanted her to feel better and I figured I could help. But I couldn’t do anything to help.
My dad and I took her to the ER that night. I felt so helpless, more than anything. What could I do? Now, if you know me personally, you know that I am one of the most squeamish people in the world. I mean, I passed out in sixth grade simply because a video in science class had a person describing what your throat looks like with strep. Yeah.
Until that Thursday, the 8th, I hadn’t been in a hospital since I was born.
The Time in the Hospital
My mom was in the hospital for exactly one week. I was surrounded by medical terminology I didn’t understand, a hurting mother, and a heart that felt strangled anytime I thought about her. Seeing someone you love in pain is not fun. At all.
The doctors found out that she had small bowel syndrome. Scar tissue from surgeries performed years ago had built up and blocked her small intestines… which doesn’t feel good, as you can imagine.
After two IVs, an NG tube, blood tests, and everything in between, it came time for surgery. They tried fixing it with less extreme measures, but to no avail. The surgeons started with laparoscopic surgery, but because of where the blockage was they had to open her up. The hardest part about that surgery? It was on my parents’ 23rd anniversary. (Not the best present in the world, but at least a very memorable one.🤷🏼♀️)
My mom and I are very similar, which means that going into surgery made her terrified. Doctors aren’t her thing. She was unbelievably strong.
Now, my best friend’s mother is a nurse at the hospital, and she was there almost every day to check on my mom. From the minute we even went into the emergency room the first day, she was right there as an advocate to comfort my mom. Explaining medical terms, breaking down a potential timeline, and doing whatever she could to help. She brought in a mini Christmas tree and poinsettia halfway through Mom’s stay at the hospital to boost her spirits. Julie, if you ever read this, thank you for being the biggest blessing to my mom. You have no idea what it meant.
Mom spent a few more days healing in the hospital, and then on Thursday the 15th she finally came home.
The same day Mom came home, my sister also returned from college. Although Mom was sore and had a stapled stomach, she was doing alright.
She continued to improve for a day or two… until that weekend. The pain medication my mom was on had caused a bad reaction in her system, and she was throwing up almost every hour. My sister and I both don’t do well around things like that, and my dad had work a lot. Which is good, money must be made. But I would often just look up at the ceiling and go, “God, really? Me, one of your most squeamish children, having to constantly clean up vomit? Your sense of humor right now does not amuse me.”
All I could think was how unfair it all was.
The second we figured out that it was the pain meds causing the reaction, we stopped giving them to her. Our good friend from the hospital, Julie, came by and checked on my mom and discovered that she had gastritis as well. Her symptoms were only for a few more days, though. Thankfully.
And now? My mom is still recovering. This past week has been hectic. My dad and sister have also helped out a ton… it wasn’t just me. They are huge blessings in my life! But what with finals, baking around two types of cookies every night to get back on our cookie-making schedule (which, I’m proud to say, we pretty much made every kind of cookie we normally do)? It’s been insane. Many of my family’s friends and neighbors have been SO kind and brought us food. We didn’t ask anyone to, but over 6 of my parents’ friends have cooked meals for us.
Every Christmas, we go to visit my grandparents in another state. I was afraid that wouldn’t happen this year… we’ve done that for as long as I’ve been alive! Fortunately, my mom is now feeling better as the days go on and we are leaving tomorrow morning.
Things are slowly getting back to normal. My mom, bless her, is gaining back strength after her surgery and the gastritis. This had been incredibly hard on her especially, but she’s doing well.
Seek and You Shall Find
The Bible says that if we seek pure things, we will find them. This includes God, of course. These recent months, I’ve been getting frustrated because I haven’t been feeling God much. Reading my Bible has been anything BUT a priority, and I’ve been self-absorbed. Why wasn’t I finding God? The answer is simple: I wasn’t seeking Him. That was a hard realization for me.
The majority of this month has been very difficult. Even to say that is an understatement, but you know what? I’m glad that I had this trial. Am I glad my mom got sick? Or that she was in so much pain? Or that I had many teary nights because I didn’t know what was going to happen?
No. But in my walk-in-the-park esc life, I didn’t have a “reason” to desire God. I knew Him, I loved Him, and accepted Him. But I didn’t care about dwelling in His presence or spending hours praying or anything else that I knew would bring me closer to Him.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a month where I spent as much time in prayer as I have this December. It was full of uncertainty. Uncertainty is terrifying, but it’s also liberating if you give the situation to God.
Prayer has power is a phrase I always tell myself, and like a “good Christian” I believed it… But I didn’t really know what it looked like when played out. I’ve really seen the power of prayer here. When people would come to the hospital to pray over Mom, I could see how it physically improved her, the moment words started leaving their mouth. Each night (and hour) that I was praying, God wasn’t only comforting my mom’s heart but also my own. The hardest month of my life (thus far) has turned my eyes back to Christ. And I so needed it.
🦋 🦋 🦋
Guys, if you don’t know who God is or you don’t have a relationship with Him, please consider it. Up until about age 9 I didn’t care about religion whatsoever and was proud to “never have read The Bible” (even though I did as a little kid).
God has shaped my life in unmeasurable, innumerable ways. He is a loving Father who will put a trial in front of you and say, “Okay, my child. It looks big and scary, but I’m bigger than anything. Take my hand, I’ll carry you through this. Look to me, you will be alright. This is for your good.”
What kind of father would give their child a crazy-hard task that they didn’t know how to handle, wish them luck, and leave it for them to figure out? God gives us hard, hard battles… that’s not news. We know that. But what I was constantly reminded of this past month is that God will never put you up to something if He won’t carry you through it.
There may be pain in the night, but joy DOES come in the morning. Trust that. Trust God.
I’ll try to get another post up between now and Christmas, but we’ll see. Like, it’s three days way. (OMG, CHRISTMAS IS 3 DAYS AWAY. EVERYONE FREAK OUT!) I hope this post spoke to some of you. It wasn’t meant to be a “my life is so hard” type of thing, because honestly? This situation could have been 1000x worse. Thank God it wasn’t any more serious. I wanted to show you guys how God’s goodness was so evident in this trial more than anything else.
Life is hard, but God is so, so good.
Blessings! Lauren Joy