Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wrapped in His love

Today has been one of the worst of days and one of the best of days.

Neil's back has been bothering him for a few weeks. We've tried all kinds of things but when he woke up this morning it was suddenly unbearably awful. He couldn't move and I finally convinced him to stay home and just sit in a hot bath while I called around town and tried to find someone who had a same-day appointment for something that might help. Miraculously, I found an appointment with a massage therapist five minutes from our home. And the appointment wasn't even during naptime!

I drove Neil there and the boys and I walked around a nearby park while we were waiting for him. It was breathtakingly beautiful and wonder of wonders, Luke actually walked with me instead of collapsing to the ground in a heap like he usually does. I felt refreshed and rejuvenated--and bizarrely the boys were also willing to eat the lunch that I'd packed for them, which NEVER happens.

After I picked Neil up, I drove him around campus to take care of some of his projects and collect what he needed to work from home. I got everyone settled at home, checked my email, and saw an email from my pediatrician that Nathan's flu shot was finally in stock--we had just been to her office yesterday and they still had no vaccines for his age, so we spent the next couple of hours yesterday morning going around town trying to find a flu shot for him to no avail. Her email said that they'd just gotten a few vaccines this morning and that she'd thought of me when she saw the text about the vaccines' arrival. I immediately called her office and got an incredibly convenient appointment time that meshed with everything else I had to do this afternoon. Once I had that settled, I decided to go for a run during naptime since everyone else was sleeping and Neil was home. I ran a route that I haven't been able to run in months and had some really good mulling-things-over time. Very restorative and one of the things that I kept thinking very clearly was that I needed to email my department head about my teaching schedule next semester.

When I got home I raced through putting dinner together, hopped in the shower, and then sped off to school to pick up the kids. I came back home, woke Nathan up from his nap and put him in the car. We dropped the girls off at their ceramics class and started towards Nathan's flu shot appointment--we'd only driven a few blocks when the car suddenly filled with smoke. I pulled over and before I could even get the hood up a couple of people had stopped to help. I borrowed one of their cell phones (I do have a really ancient phone but its battery only lasts about an hour so I never carry it) and called Neil at home. Normally I wouldn't have been able to get in touch with him, since he would be in his lab, but today I actually knew where he was! At least six people stopped and asked if I was okay and if there was anything they could do to help in the ten minutes while I was waiting for Neil. Once he got there with the Jeep, I was able to take the boys to Nathan's appointment while Neil checked out the van. By the time we needed to pick the girls up, it had cooled down sufficiently that Neil deemed it safe to drive and we made it almost all the way home before it started smoking again and we transferred everyone to the Jeep.

Once we were home, Neil made a few calls around town and found that this particular part--which he had replaced last week and had basically exploded in the car--was in stock in one local store. When it had gone bad originally, we had to special-order it and wait almost a week for it to arrive. I was able to pick up the part tonight and brought it back in time to have some fun family time before bed (the kids start their fall break tomorrow and I'd promised caramel corn and a showing of the 1949 Legend of Sleepy Hollow).

At some point during all this I posted a Facebook status about how grateful I was for all the silver linings I'd seen in what was actually not a very lovely day, but that I had constantly felt the Lord's love through all of the unexpectedly miraculous occurrences that followed something that was otherwise awful.

When I sat down to start grading after the kids were in bed, I remembered the earlier feeling that I should email my department head. So I did. Minutes later I got back a very kind email saying that he thought I'd known that I had to take a semester off from teaching due to university guidelines about the number of consecutive semesters of employment for my particular job designation, but that he hoped I would be available to teach again next fall.

Friends, you can imagine how devastated I was. I have worked like crazy throughout all of the time we've been in grad school to try to give our family some semblance of a normal life that doesn't reflect seemingly endless higher education--I've wanted us to be able to be free from arguments about money, I've wanted to be able to go on vacations that bind us together as a family, and I've wanted to be able to go to the grocery store and feel like it was okay to spend money on foods that would keep us healthy. We are so fortunate in that we have no car or student loans, but this has been the result of a lot of hard work--and I felt like all of that was just being swept away from me, especially as Neil and I have really been worrying about our budget lately with mounting costs of living while his graduate stipend is still the exact same that it was 8.5 years ago when we started.

So. I cried a lot, and started brainstorming different avenues and trying to figure out what I could do, and then as I was driving out with Neil to go try to bring the van home again I started praying for peace, and I realized what had been happening all day...the Lord knew what was coming. And he knew how devastating it would be for me, and how I would need a lot of faith to get through the impending job search and ensuing weeks and months of major changes for our family.

And so he gave me this day. A day where I saw his hand at every turn of events. A day where I saw tiny miracle after tiny miracle click into place. A day where I felt--over and over and over--like there truly is someone in heaven who cares so deeply and so intensely about the things that are important to me and the things that are difficult to me, no matter how small those challenges are in the grand scheme of things.

And so I know that things will work out. I know without any doubt that whatever will happen will be the best possible outcome for our family, because I absolutely know that the Lord loves us, and he cares, and he is watching out for us. And I am so grateful beyond my ability to express it that he gave me this day so that I could know that in my very soul.

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