Decisions, Decisions

On this day last year, we chose life for this happy, fun girl.photo (4)

We had to wait a week to see if her diagnosis would even be compatible with our choice. And honestly, the doctor’s recommendation sounded terrifyingly inviting and horrifyingly easy. I whimpered to Matt, “I don’t want a baby like this.”

How simple it seemed to cut the cord (literally) and count our losses. But we couldn’t. We wouldn’t. Because as logical as it sounded to others…even to us at times, it wasn’t right. Though we decided we were ready to get pregnant with Annie, we’d be embarrassingly naive if we thought her life was our choice. Her life wasn’t up to us and her life wasn’t for our pleasure or satisfaction either. So what if her life would make our life forever different than what we’d dreamed about in premarital counseling? Too bad if her life was an “inconvenience” to someone who wanted a worry-free reality. Reality doesn’t answer to dreams.

They kept saying we had time for “choices.” What they quietly withheld is that while we were free to choose, we were not free from the consequences of our choice. And so, what else would we choose than to cling to truth and to hope in the one who was holding Annie’s life in His hands, who did make Annie for His purpose.

The choice we had wasn’t to terminate Annie or not. The choice we had was to trust that God knew what He was doing, whether it felt like it or not. And of course, He did. And does. And will.

It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been cheap. It hasn’t been normal. It hasn’t been neat and tidy. In fact, Annie has a beautiful but jagged, light purple scar covering her chest that matches an ugly scar inside our hearts. And of course, saving Annie’s life hasn’t been all that convenient.

But it’s been worth it. every. single. second. of every. single. heartbeat. has proclaimed to a watching world that there’s something more than convenient. There’s something more than logical. There’s something more than easy.

There’s the Creator who’s writing a beautiful story of redemption in the face of our Annie. Just to continue proving that He is the author of this heartwarming story, it seems more than simply “conicidental” that on this one-year anniversary of choosing life, FamilyLife just so happens to be publishing an article about Annie tomorrow. Here’s the link: http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/parenting/archived-content/miscellaneous/somethings-not-right-with-your-baby .

I love this story that God is telling. There’s no way I could make this stuff up!

hard things

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I Hate This Place

I hate this place, I thought as I scurried down the too-familiar hallways of our local children’s hospital to meet a 30-hour-old baby with a heart like Annie’s. I took the sharp left turn to head toward the pink elevators and  tried to suppress the PTSD flashbacks that suffocate me every time I walk that path.

My leftover lunch lurched into my throat when I crossed the route where I chased Annie’s stretcher when she was 4 days old. I swallowed hard and fast, shaking my head to eject the memory, and keep my frozen pizza down. Ugh. It doesn’t shake that easily though. I prayed, “Lord, I want to be here. You have to help me. You’ve given me an opportunity I wasn’t ready for.”

My thoughts were silenced, and I was able to hear a conversation happening in front of me. An older woman held the elbow of a younger woman, holding her up as she trudged each painful step. She crept along at turtle speed, obviously dreading whatever was ahead. She nodded intermittently, agreeing with the older woman’s wise words. “It’ll be just fine, dear. Because we can trust Him. He knows what He’s doing, and He loves us. You know that? And I don’t like it one bit and I know you don’t either, but He’s still good. The good Lord has us in the palm of His hand and there’s not a place I’d rather be. Honey, it’s time to trust Him. I know it’s not easy, but He’s with you. You don’t have to be afraid.”

And there it was, right in the middle of the place I hate: the truth.  I don’t hear those conversations while cheering on the Warriors on Friday nights or shopping at Target or in the Chick-fil-A play place. We think we don’t need those truths when we’re in the Starbucks line or at the neighborhood get together.

But that’s all the more reason to love these hallways and the secret tears cried behind these walls. Maybe those hallways don’t have to be so hated after all. They’re not just hallways to elevators to ICU rooms with tangled, sick babies. They’re doorways to the heart of God. They’re invitations to sit right there in His lap, cry on His shoulder, and beg for His continued nearness because people like me that live stories like this know that’s all that could possibly get us through.  Maybe they’re hallways to rejoice in, even though we’d never wish for them. Maybe they’re quite sacred after all.

But I am glad that our life is at home now with Annie loving pat-a-cake with Audrey and being our little chef.

But I am glad that our life is at home now with Annie loving pat-a-cake with Audrey and being our little chef.

photo 3 (2)

Normal Nostalgia

We used to be normal. The kind of normal who fought over Matt getting home late from practice and fought over the rude way that I told him he was late. The kind of normal who saved him a hot plate of dinner anyway and shared all the day’s details over late-night whispers while one of us rocked our 17-month-old to sleep. The kind of normal who jotted two lists of names: one for a boy and one for a girl, dreaming about who the little Lane growing slowly in my womb would be. The kind of normal who only outwardly cared about hurting people and yet still claimed we knew what life was about. The kind of normal anyone is before normal collects in dust piles in a vacant home while you pay monthly rent to the Ronald McDonald House a thousand miles away.

We are not that kind of normal anymore. This year my newsfeed is filled with more than plexus, advocare, and pink-cheeked newborns. It’s a mangled mess of purple-lipped little ones wrapped in wires, dressed in bandages, laced with stitches, breathing through tubes. It’s filled with pleas for prayers or positive thoughts or warm vibes or ANYTHING that please might help save our baby in some way when another family gets news that can’t get worse in a day that can’t get longer.

This year, we are the kind of normal who doesn’t know if we have tomorrow. The kind of normal who knows what it means to believe in God when there’s nothing left to believe in. The kind of normal who wonders if our baby’s heart can endure her 20-minute carseat protest on the way home from Bible study. The kind of normal who honestly doesn’t know.

Even though our old normal is less than a year old, it seems as though it’s only something lived in a vague cousin to a memory. It’s so distant that it couldn’t possibly be a life we ever had. And our new normal is still so uncomfortable, I question how I’ve put the past so many miles away. While every day in some way I wish that I could erase all that’s happened, I’d really never want to go back to the day before the diagnosis.

Because that old normal didn’t have this sweet-spirited, smiling, bubbling, laughing, standing, kissing, snuggling, hugging baby in my arms.

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Those were arms that ached for normal, but didn’t know how much better Annie would be.