As this, one of our most challenging years so far comes to a close, I have spent a lot of time thinking about some of the lessons I have learned (and learned again) along the way.
1. You never really know what someone else may be dealing with in their own lives.
It is so common to focus only on what is relevant in our own world, that it becomes easy to overlook the struggles of others. I know I have probably misjudged people before if maybe they didn’t speak, weren’t the easiest to talk to,…etc. I have learned through my own experiences that sometimes-people are just trying to make it through the day without falling apart. No one has it all together! I need to practice more understanding and certainly more grace.
2. “It’s all small stuff!”
Growing up, we used to hear my dad say, (A)”Don’t sweat the small stuff.” (B) “It’s all small stuff.” He would say this anytime one of us would worry about something, whether it be big or small. It used to drive me a little crazy because to me-everything was a huge deal. Even when it wasn’t. As I’ve gotten older, I realized he really was just reminding us that all of the little things we would allow ourselves to “get worked up” over were just that,little things. In other words,“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt. 6:27) That philosophy and that verse have helped me so much this year in prioritizing what things are ‘big’ and ‘little,’ and how to better deal with both.
3. There is always something for which to be thankful.
Some days you just might have to look harder than others like on the days I’ll observe another child much younger than Lindsay easily walking, talking, playing,…etc. I have to stop myself from becoming overwhelmed again with the “whys, what-ifs”, and that awful word-jealousy. I then remind myself how far she has come, how lucky she is to have the best therapists, medical care, and family available and so close by.
I was reminded once again just last week about such thankfulness when we were at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. We had just finished with Lindsay’s swallow study, and I was feeling a little frustrated with the results. As we were waiting for her next appointment to have an EKG, I walked up to the gift shop to kill some time. On the way I noticed numerous mothers pulling their children around in wagons through the hospital. Some of these babies had clearly been there awhile and were attached to various tubes and such. Many would likely be there throughout the Christmas season and beyond. I immediately snapped out of my temporary “pity party,” and thanked God that after Lindsay’s next appointment, at least we would get to go home. The fact that her heart looked great in that appointment gave us one more reason to be grateful!
4. Laughter really is the best medicine!
We laugh A LOT in this house. I unfortunately/fortunately inherited the ‘gift’ of sarcasm. I find it nearly impossible to not be sarcastic at times! One of the reasons I loved teaching third graders for years was that they were at the perfect age to really get it! We would have so much fun going back and forth with each other. Not only have both of my boys inherited this ‘gift’ as well, but they are just plain funny sometimes! Allow me to share a few examples of what occurs daily in our house.
The boys have a “tradition” of getting a pizza with Chip every Sunday night. One night as they were eating Cason said, “I take my pizza very seriously.” He was completely serious! Along those same lines, Carter finished eating some Sweet CeCe’s one day and said, “That ice cream’s in a better place!”
Cason was studying his spelling words one night and came to the word ‘against.’ He pronounced the word like it looks and then said, “You know, like you ‘gainst’ too much weight!”
A few weeks ago while Carter was taking a shower, he asked me if he could stay in a little longer because he “needed some man time!” A few days later, he asked, “Mom, what are we?” When I asked what he meant he said, “Like reptiles, or something else?” One of my favorites was one day when he announced that “It’s called a restroom because people sit down and read the paper and fall asleep!” Finally, one night Carter plopped down on the couch and said, “Oh couch, we’ve had some good times together!”
Our boys give us plenty of material to keep us laughing on days when we desperately need it. Laughter has gotten us through a lot of hard days this year, and I plan to continue doing so!
5. I am stubborn. And independent.
This will come as a huge shock to those who know me well. 😉 I have to say though, I have been this way as long as I have been alive! One of my mom’s favorite stories to tell about me is from one Christmas morning when I was a little girl (3 or 4). After we would wake up to see what Santa had brought us, my entire extended family would go have breakfast just down the street at my grandmother’s house. Once we had eaten and opened gifts at her house, I kept complaining to my mom that I wanted to go home to play with what Santa had brought. Tired of listening to me, she said something along the lines of, “Well, go home and do it then!” So naturally, I put on the skates I had just received and was skating down the street on my way home when some nice man retrieved me and brought me back to my grandmother’s! He rang the doorbell and asked if anybody was missing a little girl! We have laughed and laughed about that over the years, but it was just a tiny indication of things to come!
While these two qualities have certainly gotten me in my fair share of trouble through the years, I truly feel God has also been using them to prepare me for what He knew to be in my future. He has also been refining me along the way. Were it not for my stubborn nature, I would have probably just accepted that Lindsay had little hope of succeeding. Ever the one to want to ‘prove doctors wrong,’ I am determined this child will defy any limitations placed on her.
Now, the independent part of me is still a work in progress. I do not like to feel as though I am ever a burden on someone, so often I will refuse help when it is offered. A lot of sweet friends this year have helped me begin to see that when people offer to do something for me, they WANT the opportunity to serve. I’ll just say-I am trying to do better at graciously accepting offers of love.
6. Prayer matters.
I know. That sounds ridiculous coming from someone who has grown up in ‘The Church.’ I have always prayed and believed in its power, but until this year I have never felt so much comfort from the prayers of others. When Lindsay was first diagnosed, Chip and I were both wondering, “What is there left to pray about? Does it even matter anymore?” Let me tell you, it does. It matters. Prayer changes things. It brings people together for a common purpose. Sometimes it seems as though we want to see something tangible in order to prove God answers prayer. Well, I have. Since beginning this blog, we have received word of prayers from so many people right here in Nashville and literally around the world in places like El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Lindsay has begun doing things in therapy that she has been trying to do for months. She has started pushing up from the floor to sitting, tolerated being in her “stander” for over an hour at a time, and she is ‘talking’ more in her own way every day. She is determined! She is proof that your prayers to our Heavenly Father matter. Please don’t ever stop believing in the power of prayer.
Thanks for staying with me as I share what important lessons I’ve learned in 2014. I hope you have time to reflect on what God has taught you this year as well. Here’s to more learning, loving, and living in the New Year!
Until next time…