A year ago today was one of the happiest days of my life as I witnessed the birth of my daughter. At the time, I had no clue how much my life was going to change. Becoming a father has already provided some of the highest and lowest times of my life, but if given the chance to do it all over again, I would gladly choose to do so!
I can still remember each moment, as if it was happening right before my eyes. I can still sense the mood in the room changing as my little girl was rushed to the NICU. As days turned into weeks and weeks into months, watching people arrive at the hospital, give birth and then go home with their newborns was very hard to watch and when we had to leave the hospital without our little angel, it was even harder. No parent should ever have to leave the hospital without their child. There was such a feeling of distance between us; add to that our fear, anxiousness, nervousness and you had an emotional hot mess. It was so hard to be thankful when all I was doing was worrying. People would ask how we were doing and we would say fine, but all that really meant was we were freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional. It was only when I began to rely on God solely that I began to rise above my circumstances despite them. I would claim Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply all my needs” because being anxious accomplishes nothing; instead we are to be in prayer about everything.
When we bring our needs before the Lord, the God of comfort and the God who provides, He will give us peace that transcends all understanding and He will make a way where there is no way. Living with extreme pain this last year, due to a vehicle accident that broke my back, I have been a prisoner of pain. Finally though, God has brought the surgeon into my path that will bring God the glory in healing me. I will finally be able to hold my little girl again without pain coursing through my body. Walking through these seasons full of bittersweet blessings, sometimes my human nature caused me to try and think my way out of my problems, instead of relying on God solely, as I did one year ago when He healed my sweet daughter. God is with us always, but when we constantly dwell on our problems; our peace can elude us as we replay our circumstances over and over again in our minds. I can still remember as new parents, wanting to hold and nurture Sydney; instead we were subjecting her to spinal taps and other painful tests. Having her in the NICU was not part of the dream I had envisioned, but I still trusted God. There were days we had no tears left to cry, but as long as I stayed focused on God who is mighty to save, I kept it together, but when I didn’t, my sadness turned into panic, anxiety, and fear.
The longer we were in the NICU, the more I picked up on subtle things I had not previously noticed. Obviously, one of the first things we could tell was the sex of other people’s babies based on if the parent’s bracelets were pink or blue. Also, if they had multiple ID bracelets, it meant they had twins or triplets. As each day passed, my bracelet became so worn you could barely read Sydney’s name or birthday. One of the saddest things I saw during our time there was a mother who had two bracelets one day and the next day I saw her, she only had one. I later found out that one of her babies had passed away during the night. No matter how worn my bracelet got or how beat down I felt, I remember never wanting to take my bracelet off.
I can remember how weak I would feel going back and forth to the hospital and it reminded me of the story in Matthew 14:30 when Peter got out of the boat to walk on water. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, he was able to walk on water, but as soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to look around, he began to sink. The same is true with the problems we face; if we stay focused on God, He will sustain us, but when we look to our own ways, we are sure to sink. Joel Osteen wrote, “In the natural realm we exchange money for the things we want and need, but in the spiritual realm, faith is what we exchange.” You see, our faith pleases God and it opens doors that no man can, especially when we are walking through the storm of the century. When we obey the word of God and believe His promises are true, we strengthen our faith and as it grows, God is able to do things in and through us we never could imagine. Looking back over this last year, one thing is abundantly clear: God loves us and He wants the best for us, even if that means we have to walk through painful seasons. As long as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and trust His plan, it doesn’t matter what the world tries to throw at us. I encourage you to stop looking to the world for answers and start looking to the Great I Am, the One who made the heavens and the earth. In Him you will find peace and you will know rest as He comforts you in His outstretched arms. He will never give us more than we can handle and He will give us just enough strength, mercy and grace to make it through each new day.
There is something so marvelous about seeing the world through a child’s eyes. As I went in to wake Syd up this morning, she had the biggest smile on her face and I as looked into her beautiful blue eyes, every thought escaped my mind and all I could do was smile back at her. After I picked her up, I began to realize that she was not only happy to see me, but that she solely trusted me and cast all of her cares upon me and I began to wonder how better our lives would be if we did the same with our heavenly Father.
Due to the nature of our history with the NICU, I feel a tremendous bond with my little angel and I realize that she is more than I could ever have hoped for. God knew exactly what my heart longed for and he blessed me with a miracle that gives me such joy. During this painful chapter of our life, God showed up in a big way; He provided in ways not possible for me to and He interceded for me in a time where my own strength was not enough. Being a fixer, this was a very hard time, but in it I learned to trust God despite of all my inadequacies.
Every time the doctors would tell us something else was wrong, every time they told us we would have to stay another week, every time we had to sign another consent form to run more tests, I learned to trust God even more. The choice was up to me if I wanted to fight alone or if I was going to allow God to reach into my life. When we choose to give our situation to Him and we trust in Him alone, there is no limit to what He can do in and through us. Then it is up to us to give God all the praise and all the glory and to share with others the miraculous things that God has done. It doesn’t matter so much when this happens, but that it happens. Many of us fail to complete this last step and it is one that is vital to bringing glory to God and accomplishing His will. Recording what God has done is a great way to look back and see where God has brought us and is a testament of His goodness and faithfulness, but it is also a way to give hope to others walking through similar circumstances.
While we will never know exactly what someone else is walking through, we can encourage them and be an extension of God’s loving arms. It’s when we give our problems to God and help others do the same that we will emerge from our fiery trials without even smelling like smoke. Today, I praise God for what He has brought our family through and when I look back in the sand and only see one set of footprints, I know that it was God carrying me through it. God heard my cries and my little princess is living proof that God answers prayers. It truly humbles me to know that the love I have for her is a mere fraction of the love her heavenly Father has for her.
Today is my birthday and it is hard to imagine wanting anything now that my daughter is home from her month long stay in the NICU. During our time there, I saw God do some amazing things and I know that He has a plan and a purpose for everything we had to endure. Through the pain and suffering we lived with every day, seeds were being planted in our family’s life and in the lives of those around us. God made His goodness and mercy known to us each new day.
Now that we are home, all I can think about are all the prayers that have been answered. A new day has dawned and it is one filled with life and new beginnings. This chapter has been one of the hardest we have had to endure, but it is one in which we grew closer to each other and closer to God. When I was weak, I would pray for strength and God would carry me when I could walk no more. When I was scared, I would pray for courage and God’s power would rise up in me. The more I hurt, the more I would seek the Lord. When I didn’t know what to do, I would pray and even when I did know what to do, I would pray.
When we begin to look past our own circumstances and trust in God, we get a glimpse of the bigger picture and of the Master’s plan. As we set out on this journey, we had no idea what God was going to accomplish in and through us; all we did know was that His way was the only way. Over the last month, there were many scriptures that ministered to me, but one of the most comforting verses was Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” There were so many times that my heart broke for my little girl, but I knew that I had to be strong for her and for those around me. Without Jesus to carry my burden, I would have been lost and crushed by the pain I felt. Looking back, I know that God was the only way we were able to stay strong. Now that we are home and somehow even more sleep deprived, I still look to God because no matter our circumstance, He promises to refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. To Him be the glory now and forever!
How we chose to see things will dictate how we react to them. Dealing with our daughter being in the NICU has been hard, but at lunch today this sweet girl saw my pink bracelet and asked if we had a little girl. I said yes and she asked if she was born today and I said no and told her that she was born on January 19th and that she was in the NICU. She quickly said she was sorry, but I quickly told her not to be because the way I saw it was that I got to hold and kiss my daughter 41 days before I should have been able to and that God knew the exact time she was going to enter this world.
What we must realize is that nothing ever happens unless God chooses to allow it to happen. We can never fully understand why He allows them to happen, but we can try to always look for the silver lining. Tragedies happen every day and when we become fixated on our trials, we can’t see past them and we potentially miss out on something great God is trying to do in or through us. I truly believe it is a little bit of both during our current chapter of life, but as I look back and see God’s faithfulness and provisions He has provided, I am assured of His sovereignty.
If given the choice of allowing good or bad things to happen in our lives, most of us would choose to allow only the good. There is nothing wrong with only wanting the good, but in our times of trials, we truly get the chance to see God in action and our faith has the chance to grow exponentially. When we trust that God has a plan, even in our pain, we grow closer to the Lord and a transformation occurs in us.
In the midst of our circumstances, it is sometimes hard to see the big picture. As I was leaving the hospital today, I ran into a friend of mine whose young son has been in and out of the hospital since birth and has already lived beyond when the doctors said he would. That in itself is profound, but what he said to me was even more. His father asked him who was taking care of him and his response was Jesus and that he was going to see Him soon. This was such an encouragement to me and a reminder that God can and will use everything we walk through to better His kingdom and accomplish His will. I want to encourage you that whatever you are walking through to always look for the good, especially when it only seems to be bad. Even though this young child knew his time here was limited, he made sure that I knew that Jesus was his heavenly Father and that he would see Him soon. This was exactly what I needed to hear, so I would realize that even in our pain, God can and will use everything we endure to better His kingdom.
The spirit of faith is in our words and when we have nothing left to hold onto, it is our faith that we cling to… We got some bad news tonight about our little Sydney and some breathing complications she continues to have. Shortly after her 5pm feeding, our little princess had another breathing episode which required stimulation and now she might have to spend another week in NICU. We have to wait until the morning for the doctors to look over the numbers and tell us what they will recommend. Initially a spirit of anxiousness came over me, but the more I looked at how far the Lord has brought us, the more I knew He will not forsake us now. We are praying for wisdom and discernment and that there be no doubt about the decision the doctors will make. Even with this disappointing news, I choose to praise God for where He has brought us. It’s a tough place to be because we want her to come home as soon as possible, but not before she is ready. If I didn’t have complete faith in God and His plans for my entire family, I know this news would be so much harder to handle.
In spite of this difficult news, I am choosing to offer my sacrifice of praise with thanksgiving. When we chose to praise instead of complain, we open the door for God to amazing things. I know beyond a shadow of doubt that God is working for my good and for the good of my family.
If I’ve learned one thing during this chapter of my life, it is that we should always find a reason to give thanks because there is always a reason, regardless of what we are walking through. Going into the hospital 7 times a day for 2 weeks, I have seen a lot of very sad things, as well as some very disturbing things. Without God in their life and working in their midst, I have no idea how they are making it. I’ve also come to realize that someone always has it worse than we do, so at the least, this is something we can be thankful for. I love the saying: Complain and you’ll remain, but Praise and you’ll be raised. Complaining gets us nowhere fast, but our faith in God assures we will arrive where and when He wants us to get there. I am trusting God with whatever the doctors are going to say in the morning and I am believing in Him for the complete restoration of Sydney’s lungs. I am praying that Sydney will be filled with His Spirit at an early age and that she will know as soon as she can that the Lord is the reason she is alive. It’s pretty cool when you think about it, getting to know and meet the person who saved your life. Keep us in your prayers and hopefully very soon, we will have some great news to report!