Saturday, September 1, 2012

Looking For Manna

We've had a quiet few days. We've celebrated two birthdays! My birthday was made special by decorations handmade by my kids and gifts all wrapped up. Esther gave me a matchbox car, Rourke gave me a purple crayon, his wallet and nearly all the bills from his piggy bank, Zinnia gave me Frannie's purple necklace (she immediately was horrified that Zinnia gave it to me), and Frannie gave me a flower from her dress. Lydia was sleeping during all of this gift hunting and wrapping, but she drew me a pretty picture of me and Anthony on our wedding day. Rourke was so sweet, when I asked him if he was sure he wanted to give me such a gift he just smiled and gave me a hug. I'll sneak them back into his piggy bank in a few weeks. Maybe I'll let him take me out for ice cream or something though. I was also blessed by a surprise gathering for dinner with some friends a couple days before the day and blew out candles on a delicious white chocolate cake with raspberry sauce. I think it is the best cake I've ever eaten. Kyle commented that this from-scratch cake's secret ingredient was handcrafted love. I agree. To celebrate Anthony's birthday, we enjoyed dinner with Kyle at one of our favorite restaurants, Bisetti's.

I've been fighting the cold for the last couple of days and am very scratchy voiced and feeling pretty crummy. We had to miss our first day of school. The kids were troopers and thankfully I've got a little experience teaching, so we did our own Classical Conversations at home.

The cold I have (and the other girls have had) is different than the sniffly cold Esther had shortly after chemo. I hope we aren't passing around two different colds. So far the cold has cycled through all of us except Anthony and Esther.

Esther's chemo was bumped back a day and won't begin until the 5th. Because of the holiday weekend, Tuesday is a really busy day in the infusion center, so we'll start Wednesday. This round will be a bit intense. One of the drugs is a 72 hour infusion and causes mouth sores. I am thankful for the extra day. It's an extra day to heal, and extra day to do school, an extra day together. Please pray Esther does not get this cold and that I am well before we have to go. I'm not sure what we'll do if I'm sick.

It has been bittersweet to be home. I wrote the following in an email to a friend...

Being home these last (almost) two weeks has been both a relief and really hard. As the summer has been so non-stop, I haven't had time to really grieve the time away from home. To live in it a bit has been so disorienting because it just feels like we're playing house. I find my heart hard and fearful. I've been afraid to really dive in and give myself to my family for fear of it being taken from my grasp. How can life be both so normal and so wrong at the same time? God is working on me...reminding me that even my family is in His hands alone. He's made me a wife to Anthony, a steward of my own children, and it's in His wisdom to allow me to function within those roles for whatever amount of time is best. Working through a bit of school this last week has been with a lump in my throat, fighting tears. I just want to be my kids' mommy, to love them, cook for them, teach and train them. I do not want to share them, to farm them out with busywork to occupy their time while in others' care who are schooling and caring for their own children.
I imagine it's a bit like PTSD...when you're just surviving in the stress, the chaos, you make it. The breakdown happens after the circumstance has been calmed.
I read yesterday and was comforted:
"We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies." 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NLT).
A friend who is fighting breast cancer shared this with me on Monday. It's on my fridge and on my mirror and on the school room white board.
From The Message, II Cor 4:16-17
"On the outside if often looks like things are falling apart on us...on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us."
This dying is SO painful, but He is making new life through each of us, each soul in our families. The stress of being hunted by illness, by sorrow, is consuming, but in it we are never abandoned by God.
I re-read today in "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp, "Grace, it means 'favor,' from the Latin gratia. It connotes a free readiness. A free and ready favor. That's grace."

She says a few pages later in reference to the Isrealites, wandering in the desert and losing their gratitude and amazement of God's provision of manna to eat, "I think of buried babies and broken, weeping fathers over graves, and a world pocked with pain, and all the mysteries I have refused, refused, to let nourish me....Would I really choose manna"

As I've been surprised by a new grief on this journey I appreciated the exhortation to let God's free and ready grace nourish me. It is everywhere and I have a choice. I can allow my heart to be bitter, hard, self-preserving or I can choose to feel, to look for that ready grace. I can choose to not worry about tomorrow, to dive in and enjoy the ordinary moments God has given. I can be nourished and amazed by the miracles and mystery of manna, that food that appears each morning, sweet like honey. This was sweet manna to my heart this afternoon. May I live like these girls, may I dance and twirl at the joy of chasing my sweet girls in a game of tag because today I can.



  1. They are just beautiful. And so is your heart, and God's grace. Your words really encouraged me, Sam. I am in that place past the reality of the hurt...where I am amazed with God's grace but still grieving loss and wrestling with comparing and the "fairness" of life. I have to work to live in Truth and take my thoughts captive, or I fall into bitterness. Thank you for your heart. You are going through so much, but may you experience His peace which doesn't make any sense to human understanding! Love you all.

  2. So glad you were able to celebrate your birthday with your family all together. Oh the joy of the moments so often taken for granted in "normal" life! Yes, we are pressed on every side but still He is more and still He is enough. Whom have we in heaven but Him?