Thursday, June 12, 2014

"What's so wrong with that"

These are the words I heard after confiding to someone a couple years ago that I was too scared to have another baby.  I said there was always a chance that the next baby would be like Dominic and I just couldn't take that risk.  The response came quickly and simply; innocent and with pure intention.  "What's so wrong with that."  Those words cut my soul.  They made me pause, flush with red glow, turn interior and admittedly get a little embarrassed and mad.  What did I just say?  Is my whole understanding of life and the value of each and every human person a sham?  Do I really wish that no one else like Dominic be born into our family? Did I actually love Dominic and his handicaps like I said I did?

I remember pausing and looking at this person with the knowledge that all is pure to the pure, and this comment was just that: pure.  Dominic was not a burden in this person's eyes, but an amazing blessing from an all-powerful and generous God.  Most other people would have tilted their heads and nodded with that sort of pitying agreement that one doesn't mind at times like this.  But not this person.  This person spoke truth.  And truth isn't comfortable and fluffy.  Truth about ones self, when it comes from looking into the deepest recesses of one's own heart is miserable, bare, vulnerable, uncomfortable and sometimes even awful.  It was these words which cut into my soul, leaving in their wake the bare naked reality of my closed heart.

It isn't often that something strikes you so deeply, wounds with that beautiful blade of raw truth, that you remember exactly where you were, what the room looked like, the expressions in the faces around you, and your gut feeling when this event took place.  I have a hand-full of these memories, most occurring as a child, and this statement added to my collection.  Why in these few little words was I so convicted?  It is because of this: these words were spoken in love, all comforts and niceties aside, with no regard to making me feel happy in an earthly way, but in an eternal one.  The memory is vivid in my mind and since that day years ago I have pondered this question with uncomfortable sincerity.

It is true another child would make things more difficult.  It is true I will always have a huge infant to care for in Dominic (God willing as long as we have him).  It is true that my resources may be at times completely spent emotionally, physically, and monetarily.  But it isn't all about me.  Any parent knows this job isn't about them.  It is about these tiny little eternal souls that we have had the privilege to co-create.  About their good, and theirs alone.  And when we tend to their good, we in consequence enhance our own good.  It's a great design, don't you think?

And so it happened that through these almost three years the fear of "what if" has lifted in my heart and I have become aware of my smallness in this world.  I have learned that in this smallness God has chosen me to mother this baby saint Dominic.  And it is precisely in the smallness of his forever infant-hood that he has touched countless souls, shown the face of God to those who can not see it elsewhere.  Who am I to close myself off to another gift if that is what God desires?  And so it is in this that I found my real fear and surprisingly it is not of having another child with special needs, it lies in my selfish desire to be free.  It all boiled down to me: how will I do it, how will I transport a baby and a wheelchair, how will I care for two infants at the same time, one just much bigger than the other, how can I ever be independent with another child.  And the answer came, as it always does, in the sweet stillness of my heart.  My life is not mine, in fact it's not about me at all, but rather about all those I am called to serve while on this earth.  About loving the Lord the best I can in the situations He places me by serving those he puts in my path.  About the little jobs done lovingly which come with being a housewife and mother, however unglamorous they may be.  This is what I am asked to do, what we are all asked to do.  Serve where we are. 
Dominic joyfully finding his newest friend, baby Polly.  He wouldn't keep his hands away from her the whole time she was by him.
In this light saying yes to the possibility of another child is a no-brainer.  Another baby would do nothing to Dominic but make his days filled with joyful squeals.  He laughs hysterically when a baby cries and seeks them when they are laid down next to him.  The other children have been praying for another sibling for years.  They see another baby not as a burden that will take up their resources but as a priceless addition to their personal wealth. Another sibling is the best gift we could give them.

And so it is that we are over-joyed to announce the newest Short baby due Christmas 2014. We are humbled that the Lord has chosen us again to foster another eternal soul who will, God willing, spend his eternity praising God with the Angelic Choirs.  My prayer is that this baby is healthy, but in all things, God's perfect will be done, not mine.
This is a profile with the baby lying on his/her back, looking up.

Monday, June 2, 2014

My dad taught me all I need to know about God

Remember back when you were a kid to your first trip on a roller coaster.  It was hot, the ground smelled like tar, your dad's huge arm was wet with sweat but you didn't mind- that is what held you in to the roller coaster seat.  He knew he couldn't trust the safety bar to do the job so he strapped you in behind his strong arm; you were safe.  The car started, you were going up higher and higher on the tracks until suddenly you reached the top of the drop off.  Now stop.  You had so much faith in the protection your dad had over you, but now suddenly when you can see the entire amusement park, when you can see two cities away, you had the smallest glimmer of a doubt.  Could he really hold you in?

This is how I can describe these past almost three years, but more precisely these past 6 months.  There have been ups and downs, twists and turns.  Sometimes I know my Father is there, other times I panic wondering if he has really got this under control.  I have squeezed free of the safety of His arm, trusting myself more than him, just to fly into a complete panic and seek refuge again.  I have found that under His strong arm is scary, but I can hide, knowing I cannot be harmed, but outside of that protection is terrifying.  Outside of His grasp is utter chaos, mortal danger, certain death.  I am a stubborn child; He is a patient Father.  I escape, He waits.  I seek refuge, He embraces me once again, holding me tighter than before.

A few months ago I was certain our life was about to come crashing down.  I just knew Dominic's time was up.  I was in a state of panic, mistrust, and utter agony.  Dreadful mourning.  Mike told me not to presume God's will- I responded no presumption was present- I just knew, this was it.  I didn't write because I was too vulnerable; cut open, bleeding.  I didn't want to hear everything was going to be okay, because it wasn't.  It just wasn't.  Finally I came to peace and waited.  But nothing happened.  Why?  Why did he wake up every morning?   Why did he come through surgery okay?  Why did the surgeon say everything was great?  This isn't the plan!  I am ready now- if you're going to take him, then DO IT!  Nothing.  Stillness.  I fly into a mistrust- a sort of crisis.  I thought I knew God's plan.  I was ready, I begged, He didn't listen.  Where was He?  Didn't He care?

Once I prayed for peace and my heart was quieted, I heard Him, a whisper in my soul.  He had been there the whole time.  Trust.  Trust is what he asked from me.  Complete abandon.  Just like when I was little.  The roller coaster would start the fast descent and all my panic would vanish.  It was just my dad and me.  I held on to his big, strong arm with all my might, a smile across my face knowing everything was going to be okay- my dad had me, nothing could hurt me.  I may have been shaking from the fear of the unknown but I knew I was safe.  He had me.  No matter what may come around the next bend, my dad protected me and I knew it.

God is like this.  We are like little children being held in to that roller coaster.  He does not let us see what's coming after the next hill.  He doesn't say we'll have easy lives with no hardship or sickness.  He doesn't say terrible, awful things won't happen to us.  He says "Trust Me.  I'm enough."  All we have to do is hang on, knowing whatever may come He is there... and He won't let us fall.  He holds us tight, like my dad did.  If we remain in Him, trust in Him whatever may come, He will never fail us.  Though I tremble in fear, peace surrounds my soul knowing I belong to Him alone.  I am His daughter and that makes me immovable.  Even the gates of Hell can not overcome me if I hide behind his great, immovable arm.  When the awful time does come when Heaven rejoices over their newest saint, I will no doubt be crushed.  But I will remain safe under the protection of my Good God.  I will look up to Him and He will say to me "Trust Me, I've got this."  And God willing, I will.

I thank my dad with all that I am for teaching me how to trust my Heavenly Father.  The father's job on earth is to show his children some of the truth of our Father in Heaven.  He has made it natural for me- I learned to trust my dad which makes trusting God that much easier.  Thanks for holding onto me tight.  You never failed me.

Thanks Dad,
Your  Dega Bear Hunter
A boy and his dad