This Isn’t How I Planned It!

This Isn’t How I Planned It!

Not an Educational Post…kind of…

My personal thoughts on the current climate from a biblical perspective.

: Tim Peterson on Unsplash

2020 has been the year I’ve actually been forced into working on my New Year’s Resolution. Well, to be honest I’ve never been one to have resolutions, but goals to work toward. Here I am, at the tail end of 7 months (more than halfway through) and I’ve been eagerly searching for ways to improve myself.

Almost as if I’m going through a total reformation, stuck at a stand still, there has been nowhere to go, or look to, but upward and inward. I’ve been committed to taking care of this old(er) body of mine, both inside and out – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. I’ve invested in expanding my world view and tending to my compassion and empathy for others.

It’s been a season of major self reflection and overhaul. I’ve had to make choices over what was right and what felt good. My mental well-being has had to take center stage and for the first time in a long time, I’ve had to put myself first. A reset button has been pushed.

I’ve been made more aware of my shortcomings, weaknesses and areas where I am way too hard on myself. I’ve put effort into not criticizing the things I don’t like when I look into the mirror. My value isn’t in how wide my hips are or what pant size I’m wearing post-baby (by the way, how did I pretty much only gain weight in my hips and butt?!).

More effort has been made to get outside regularly for fresh air and vitamin D. I receive so much clarity when out on my neighborhood walks. I’m unplugged from the things that might distract me and surrounded by the wonder and beauty of nature. Even on the hottest days, there is something so refreshing about getting out of the house and away from the noise. So much reflection of who I believe God to be in my life and where I see Him directing me takes place during these quiet moments.

One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is when God lead the Israelites out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. Here is a nation of people who had spent years being enslaved, mistreated and murdered by a hard-hearted pharaoh. God sends his prophet and mouthpiece, Moses along with his brother Aaron, to declare what God had planned for the future of his people and the Egyptians.

I can only imagine what it must have felt like hearing that hope would soon be fulfilled. Freedom and redemption was on its way, all that was needed was for the Egyptian rulers to unclench their fists and “Let His (God’s) people go!” After finally being “convinced” that it had to be done, Pharaoh wasn’t slow to change his mind and send his troops out to round everyone up and bring them back. But God was with His children. He moved before them as a pillar of smoke by day and fire by night. Direction, shade, protection and light. Then out of nowhere, a dead end…or at least that’s what it seemed to be.

Moses walked with his followers to the shore of the Red Sea, the Egyptian army right behind them gaining ground and nowhere else to go. Here is the part that stirs my heart the most. God reassured Moses that He hadn’t brought him this far to abandon them. His pillar of presence moves as a barrier between the Israelites and their enemy, then in faith and obedience Moses gets to participate in an amazing Miracle. With his hands holding tight to his walking stick high above his head, Moses watches as God changes the wind and rolls back the waters before them, forming a dry pathway to safety. They cross through and as the last Israelite steps foot out on to the other side, the water fills in covering the path and the Egyptians who had continued their pursuit.

Moses’ sister Miriam immediately breaks out in a song of praise. God had just delivered His chosen tribe and the first of many miracles in the desert was witnessed. Lack of faith (even after this phenomenal experience) and disobedient hearts leave the nation of Israel wondering the desert for many years. The sovereignty of God sends a never-ending supply of quail and manna to eat and quenches their dry throats with rocks that gush water. Like He promised, God doesn’t leave or forsake them. They never go without their needs provided for, even the sandals on their feet fail to grow old.

These unbelievable miracles were experienced regularly in the desert but they were only meant to last for a season. The people of God would continue to wander dry and barren land after escaping the bondage of the Egyptians, not realizing that they were the ones keeping themselves captive. Their grumblings and complaints about their God-ordained leaders only set them back further in their journey. Their disbelief in God as Rescuer, even with literal and physical proof of his provision right before their eyes only created a further divide and kept them from fully understanding the faithfulness of their Creator.

Water has the power to both give and take life; to bring health and healing or cause destruction and devastation. To produce and protect or drown out and demolish.

In the New Testament we find a story of a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Jesus offers her a water that would never run dry, a thirst-quencher that would bring unending restoration to her life. Healing, far beyond anything she could ever imagine. It confuses her for multiple reasons. 1. It was common knowledge that the Jewish people did not interact with Samaritans. 2. It was rare for proper men to publicly communicate with women, especially in the center and focal point of the village and alone – without his travel companions. 3. Jesus knew hidden, private and very personal details about her life.

Something was missing from this unnamed maiden. She was searching to fill a void in her life; to find love, protection, provision and acceptance. One failed relationship after another, marriages that ended and now a new male companion but her life continued to feel empty. A drought of the soul. Little did she know that in the midst of her daily routine she was about to finally meet the only One in which she would find complete fulfillment.

There is an area alongside our park intended to collect water run-over during the rainy season – a basin. During the winter and spring it actually gets pretty full and flourishes with all kinds of life. A definition of Basin is a wide, round open container, especially one used for holding liquid. The sign for the basin in our community proudly states, “OURS TO PROTECT,” (in all caps). At seeing this for the first time I thought to myself, are you 1. Remaining OPEN to the pouring in of Living Water? 2. Protecting that basin, at all costs, to prevent and/or prepare for times of drought? 3. Prepared to receive the healing and restoration that Jesus is offering?

Our basin has long since dried up, but I’ve found that even within some of the most desolate times, beauty can bloom.

Giving birth to my son was the scariest moment of my life. He was twelve days late and I was 39 years old, so the combination of the two forced the doctor’s hand toward induction. That morning seemed pretty surreal. We were up with our car loaded, out the door and off to Starbucks for a to-go breakfast before 6 am.

Arriving at the hospital still didn’t quite make any of it seem less dreamlike and it really hadn’t even set in as the IV for the Pitocin was being administered. The nurses, bright and chipper, let me eat and drink all the food and beverages that I wanted and monitored my contractions.

Some of the most intense ones didn’t bother me much, which only kept me in a state of non-reality. Eventually and out of the blue, Brody began to respond to them. He was not a fan and let us know by throwing a fit with each one, causing a stop to the Pitocin several times during the remainder of the day and into the night. Around 1:30 the next morning as alarms sounded, all the staff rushed into my room, began flipping me around in all directions then put me on oxygen and off of anything else until sunrise.

Come 7:30 am, just minutes into Pitocin being started once again and now 24 hours into this whole ordeal, alarms rang out again but this time the staff started suiting Jesse up and shaving me in preparation for surgery when the body flipping didn’t work like it had hours earlier. In tears I looked into my husbands worried face as they wheeled my bed out into the hallway.

What all occurred next can only be compared to a nightmare, as if what I’d experienced up to this point wasn’t traumatic enough. For whatever reason, the wheels on my bed refused to turn, stopping us dead in our tracks and unable to make it into the operating room. The doctor looked at me and in frustration said, “I’m really sorry but you’re going to have to walk in there.” Body trembling, confused and terrified I rolled out of my bed, walked in and climbed onto the operating table.

You know those scenes from alien movies where a human has been abducted and wakes up to being poked and prodded by strange creatures with bright lights all around them? Yep, that was me in that moment. My doctor and nurse held on and hugged me as the two anesthesiologists tried to insert the epidural needle into my spine FOUR times each (you read that right, EIGHT failed attempts at getting a needle into the correct location between bones in my spine).

Meanwhile I’m crying out about how this isn’t how I planned for things to go (as if I had any say), how unfair it all was and that I insisted on listening to my “Push Playlist” I worked so diligently on putting together, even if I wouldn’t be awake to hear any of it. I wouldn’t be awake or aware because now we were in an emergency situation. Brody’s heartbeat could no longer be found, the epidural wasn’t going to be an option and I was in complete panic mode. Before I knew it there was a mask over my face and then everything went black.

About an hour later I woke up in a fog to my nurse tugging on things; whether they were connected to my body or laying underneath me I couldn’t say. She was speaking encouraging words, nothing I could quite make out or understand but picked up in her tone and facial expressions. Then there they were; Jesse was standing at my bedside and he was holding our son.

I’ve been thinking about this event a lot lately, especially while out on my excursions. I don’t think I realized how much healing I needed, so much more than just physically. It was while out one morning, listening to my favorite band (only the best band ever, Needtobreathe) that my favorite song came on – Multiplied. I’m convinced this is Brody’s favorite band too because just as quickly as the song began his little legs started to kick all over the place, he began clapping his hands and singing in the most adorable chorus of babbles.

Instantly I was taken back to the very moment that I met him for the first time. In tears, Jesse told me that when the doctor returned my phone to him he happened to glance down at the screen and noticed the last song that had been playing, the one that was blaring through the speakers of the operating room as my son was delivered. It was this exact song. Come to find out later (I think the next day because I’m sure I was too tired and drugged up to notice then) I discovered that the doctor who returned my phone had also used it to capture pictures just seconds after Brody made his way into the world. I wasn’t cognitively present to witness one moment of his birth while it took place, but now I will forever have these precious images. So much beauty in the midst of chaos, confusion and fear.

A shift has taken place in my perspective over the last several months – over the last year, if I’m honest. Though there are days that seem much more difficult than I’d like, I’ve grown and become grateful for this time to Be Still. Excitement continues to grow and build in my heart too, because I know that God hasn’t gone anywhere and that His plans for me aren’t finished. Something incredible is about to happen; more beauty to be unveiled, more water to quench this thirst, more moving forward, more miracles before my eyes.

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