Tag archive for "stress"

Get Out of the Boat!

Faith

Get Out of the Boat!

25 Comments 01 April 2010

“‘You have so little faith,’ Jesus said.  ‘Why did you doubt me?'”  Matthew 14:31

You would likely not be surprised to know that when you tell people you are expecting quintuplets or that you have quintuplets, you open the door for those people and many others to give you advice, offer their support and encouragement, have a nice laugh in bewilderment, or any combination of reactions ranging from shock to awe.    Meeting people, seeing their reactions, hearing their stories, and learning from their words of wisdom – this has been one of the more enjoyable pieces that has been added to this puzzle we now call our life.  Our lives have been opened up like never before and in response, many have opened up their own lives to ours and for that we are extremely grateful!  We never realized the potential of community in our own lives until that day when poor Dr. Silverberg (God bless him, I think he nearly had a heart attack that day!) dutifully counted out the five future fabs that were then growing in Casey’s belly!

One of the more frequent versions of the casual counsels we have received goes something like this:  “Don’t worry, God only gives you what he knows you can handle.”  And believe me, these words have served as great comfort at many of the more stressful, chaotic, and otherwise difficult moments during our great adventure!  What a thought – to know that the God of the universe knows that you can handle your current circumstances, believes in your abilities to succeed, and trusts you to do what will serve his purposes best can be incredibly motivating.  It kind of makes you believe you can run through a brick wall or…walk on water…or something like that!  Trouble is, I believe that this sentiment could not be farther from the truth of how Christ expects us to react to the challenges we face and how he works in our lives through the obstacles that threaten to wipe us out…

For some of you, I imagine you might have to pick yourself up off of the floor after reading that last statement, but stay with me a bit longer and hear me out.  Here is how my thinking goes…

(And let me preface this by saying that I am no Biblical scholar and I am not an expert on anything about which I am speaking.  These are only my thoughts based on my experiences and the teaching I have received, nothing more.)

Here is how I see it – God does not trust us…he knows us all too well for that!  He knows our abilities, he knows our talents, and he knows our weaknesses and he also knows that we are just about guaranteed to screw up most of what he asks of us.  And he is perfectly ok with that.  What I believe is that, knowing our inabilities and our fears and our weaknesses, God intentionally gives us challenges that are way above our pay grade.  Way, way, way, way above it in many cases!  I absolutely believe he did that individually with me and with Casey and even with Little Miss Sunshine, Eliot McKenna, and also with us collectively as a family.  Do you really believe that God would test us just to confirm for himself that he knew we could handle it all along?  Again, I’m no expert, but I do not believe this is how it works.  Rather, I believe he tests us in order to force our hand, to create circumstances in our lives which cause us to make the decision, one way or the other.   Do we leave our own ambitions and judgments and understanding behind us and lean on him like we have never leaned before?  Or instead do we continue to do things our way and shoulder the load with no guiding hand from above?

Those who follow my tweets and Facebook postings may have seen me post something along these lines in the recent past:  “Get out of the boat!  Fix your eyes on Christ and dare to live the life he has planned for you!”  Of course I am referencing the Bible story in which Peter the Apostle, a normal human being by all other accounts, walked on water.  It is an amazing story of Christ’s power over the natural world we live in, but here is the deal:  Peter can’t walk on water, just as you and I can’t do the same and Christ knows it!  And if our Lord had not been there to lift him up when Peter’s personality got in the way of his connection with Christ, we would be telling a different story today about that stormy night at sea.  No, Peter didn’t do a thing on his own, except cower in fear as the waves crashed around him before answering the call from his father out on the water.

Think about this…in four months time I started a new business, welcomed two new soon-to-be sisters into our family when my parents took in two foster children, found out we were having quintuplets, and started an MBA program about which I was already concerned given the expense and the time it would require.  I’m not telling you this in an effort to brag on myself; believe me, I have little to brag about.  I’m telling you this to illustrate just how far God will go to prove to you how impossible this life can be when you live it without him.  I’m telling you this to illustrate the amazing power his hand can have in an individual’s life, if only you first accept the call, just as Peter did.  I started my business nearly two years ago and the other three dominoes fell shortly thereafter.  And two years ago, I was wholly inadequate to respond to any of the challenges that were then careening around the bend, their course set for a head-on collision with me and the rest of this little family.  I was wholly inadequate to handle those challenges, except for one very important detail…God was in control…then, now, and always.

Casey and I are normal people with normal needs, wants, abilities, weaknesses, fears, failures, successes, desires, and demands.  Actually, I am all of those things; Casey on the other hand is absolutely amazing in every single way!!  I however am a normal person who encountered far from normal circumstances and responded the only way I knew how – I gave it up to God (and of course the same is true of Casey, except for that “normal person” part).  And while the road has never been easy, (not for even one single minute!) the ride has been wholly extraordinary in only a way that he can deliver.

So, my intent in writing this blog today is not to offend or upset anyone or necessarily to change anyone’s opinion on life and Christ and all things in between.  I simply wanted to offer a different perspective, one that has enabled us to have peace amidst our own stormy nights at sea.  It is a comforting thought to trust that God would not give you any more than you can handle and I do not blame anyone for believing that to be true.  But I do hope that you will consider what I have said.  And I also hope you come to know as I have that the true power and potential that lies within all of us lies firmly in Christ’s hands, not ours.  And if we would like to unleash that power in our own lives, all he asks is that we get out of the boat and dare to live the life that he has planned for us.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”  Proverbs 3:5

God Bless,

Ethan, dv

Faith

Where Do I Begin…?

11 Comments 02 May 2009

*Author’s note: the last time I wrote a blog with a similar theme as this one, I unwittingly created a bit of a stir. To those who know what I’m referring to, I want you to know that all is well and there is no need for concern. Happy reading!

The title says it all, I do not know where to start. It’s been a long two weeks since I updated the blog with anything truly substantial and a lot has happened in that time. I apologize for not updating sooner, but I’m guessing you’ll forgive me :). Two weeks ago…ah, yes, that is the day Baby Bright Eyes finally came home, the six pack was finally complete, and everything in our happy little world was officially turned upside down.

So again, where do I begin? Right now seems as good a place as any so here we go. It’s 11:27 pm on Saturday night. Casey has been in bed for 45 minutes and I’ve been trying to get this blog going for the last :27. This is my fifth time to sit back down, laptop in tow, after getting up to bounce Ryan in her bouncey seat, each time saying a little prayer that she’ll just give me an hour. So far, the prayers have gone unanswered. The other four are fast asleep, each in a bouncey seat of their own, snoozing away the hours until their next bottle.

I’m up, listening to some nonsense that’s playing on the TV (why do they play nothing but junk after 10 pm??) while Ryan is sleeping – finally, face down across my lap between my stomach and the laptop. And I type away. I am up because I am pulling the first shift tonight while Casey gets her 4~ish hours of zzzz’s for the night. The next feed begins at midnight, assuming they all cooperate between now and then, so I’ll be lucky to finish this blog in this sitting.

There used to be a schedule to all of this, each of the babies had a set time and an order in which they fed and they pretty much stuck to it…not anymore. Now, if we can just get them all fed and quieted down within the two and a half hour time we have allotted for them to feed, life is good…exceedingly good. If all goes well, my head will hit the pillow around 2:30 and I won’t have to get back up until around 7:00. Reality is I’ll probably get in bed a little later than that and I’ll likely get up a time or two to calm one or two or three of the babies before Casey’s shift begins at 4:00. And that is how it goes on nights when we do not have help. It is now 11:41 and, as if an invisible spirit just went through the room and pinched all of the babies at the exact same time, Jack, Brooklyn, and Lila have all started to fuss. I’ll be back…

Good morning! I’m back and it is now 9:51 on Sunday morning. Jack is in the cradle, the girls are all sleeping in bouncies, Casey is getting dressed, Eliot is playing downstairs, and I am upstairs, bouncing Ryan with my left foot and hoping that Lila’s fussing doesn’t turn into a full blown baby freak out. If I randomly type something like “Schlitterbahn” in the middle of a sentence, it’s because Eliot has just come upstairs and asked me to help her name her dogs that she just bought from my pet store…(Schlitterbahn is one of the names we’ve come up with so far). Ryan and Brooklyn woke up this morning around 6:30 so Casey got them into bed with us and bought us another hour of sleep. The rest of them started fussing around 7:45 so that is when the day officially began.

All of the babies are eating every four hours and we still wake them up through the night to feed, whether they want to or not. We could probably stretch them out a little longer at night, especially Jack and Brooklyn, but the problem is that if we do not keep them on a regular schedule, I think we would be handing care of the asylum over to the patients. I’m only half kidding when I call this place the asylum because the babies all completely lost their minds around this time last week and just about drove Casey and I to commit ourselves. Call it a growth spurt, call it babies being babies, whatever it was, it was nuts for all involved. What used to be a relatively peaceful existence turned into utter chaos and is just now starting to settle down a bit.

Side note – you think my perspective on life has changed slightly over the last six weeks? Read that sentence before one more time and you’ll have all the proof you need. Yeah, the one where I described life with five newborns in the house as “relatively peaceful”. Knowing what you know about our lives these days, could you ever even come close to describing it as relatively peaceful?? Yeah, life has changed, just a bit, and along with it so has our perspective.

Alright, back to the story. For the first 3 or 4 weeks since Jack came home, managing the babies’ care was about as easy as it could be. They were all like little alarm clocks that ran on formula instead of being wound up. every three hours, the formula on the clock would run low and its alarm would go off. Fill it up with formula, and the clock re-sets itself and goes into snooze mode for another three hours. Other than the occasional leaky clock or minor maintenance work needing to be done (aka: bath time, tummy time, or cuddle time), piece of cake. The nights were long only because we had to get up to feed them, not because they were up screaming for some inexplicable and inconsolable reason.

Like I said, relatively peaceful…until last Saturday. That is the day the babies, apparently in a collusive agreement, decided to flex their collective muscle and launch an assault on our sanity. Fussy? Check. Sleepless? Check. Inconsolable? Check, check! Baby team solidarity and commitment to the cause? Oh yeah! The four hour feeds became 1-4 hour feeds; the sleepy little angels became angry little devils; night became day, day became mayhem; minor maintenance became major overhaul; relative peace became a relative grip on reality. Honestly, I think it was just a growth spurt that they all went through…at the same time. They all wanted to be held all the time – even easy-going Jack, Britton was eating every two hours (more on that in a minute), and Ryan decided to scream for two hours at a time, several times a day. Collic? Gas? Who knows, but anyone who has been through it with their baby (we also did with Eliot) knows that it sucks, no other way to describe it. Oh, other than helpless, frustrating, and exhausting…

Ok, we’re done with dog names – Schlitterbahn, Feliz, Boy, Pinkers, and Princess – and now we’re onto watching Hotel for Dogs, carefully narrated by Miss Eliot McKenna. Picking up on a theme here? One of the casualties of this new life of ours was the dog we promised Eliot. She hasn’t forgotten that one and may need therapy someday to forgive us for it… ;-)

Britton has now been home with us for two weeks and she is doing very, very well. The NICU reluctantly released her to us with careful instructions to zealously guard her daily formula intake. Two ounces of her own special mix, every three hours, only given by mom and dad – no volunteers or other family. If she doesn’t take it down, insert a tube in her nose and get her the food that way. Those are the doctors orders…not easy, but better than keeping her at the NICU and struggling to get up there to see her every three or four days. In the NICU, whether she took her bottles or was being fed through the tube, she was having a heck of a time keeping her food down and gaining weight so we really had to be vigilant. After about 12 hours at home trying to keep her on the three hour schedule, we made the decision to pull back to a two hour schedule and feed her less with each bottle…’round the clock. That is six hours spent every day feeding one baby. I might have said this once already, but I’ll say it again – not easy.

Well, I’m very happy to say that after about 12 days of two hour feeds, Baby Bright Eyes is gaining weight as she should, keeping her food down (mostly), and is now back to a three hour schedule!! It is such a relief to see her finally beginning to thrive! She actually sleeps now…with both eyes closed…amazing! I am also very happy to say that whatever demon had entered our home over the last week appears to have left as all of the babies seem to have calmed down a little over the last 24 hours or so. Except Ryan. I’m afraid her tormenting spirit will be with us for awhile…uuggg :(

Despite this week’s craziness, the babies really are doing very well. Brooklyn still has the sweetest little cry I’ve ever heard and, as Casey told me this morning, she is by far the best cuddler. Britton is a total diva, but amazingly cute, alert, and ready to party! Jack – Chillmaster. The little guy is so relaxed about everything, rarely fusses unless he is hungry, and simply seems to be content with life. Lila, another chill bug, but more alert and social than Jack. Ryan, as before during the NICU stay, is competing with Britton for H.D.I.C. – Head Diva In Charge. Ryan doesn’t fuss, she screams, but good lord, she is beautiful! I’ll probably get skewered for saying this, but at this point she is the prettiest of the five, not necessarily the cutest and certainly not the sweetest, but without a doubt the prettiest little thing I ever did see!
Here are their weights as of Friday:
- Brooklyn – 8 pounds, 7 ounces
- Britton – 6 pounds, 10 ounces
- Jack – 10 pounds 2.5 ounces
- Lila – 7 pounds, 14.5 ounces
- Ryan – 8 pounds, 5 ounces

You can probably tell by what you’ve read so far that the smooth edges of our life are not so smooth anymore. I’m guessing you can sense a bit of frustration through my words and you are sensing right. Life with the Fab Five plus Little Miss Sparkplug is tough and it has taken its toll. We are tired, stressed, ready for things to calm down, and hoping that those calmer, relatively more restful days come sooner than later. Casey and I pass each other in the halls and are barely aware of each other even when we are arms length apart in our own bed. Everything we do now – from showering to eating to playing with Eliot to brushing our teeth – is done in a hurry, usually with a baby or two in hand. Our bodies ache, a sure sign of the worry, stress, and long nights that are now as familiar to us as anything else. We miss each other terribly, we miss our church, we miss our family and friends, and we miss the comforts of our former lives.

Yet, every time I’m at the peak of my frustration, times like last night when I was trying to write this blog, and the words “I can’t take this anymore” begin to form in my head, something stops the thought from completing itself. Every single time, without fail, the thought retreats. Maybe it is the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me or maybe it is my faith in the One who brought this mayhem into my life, I don’t know exactly because I haven’t felt this disconnected spiritually in a good while (kind of hard to squeeze a daily quiet time into the new normal). But when I feel as though I’m coming to the end of my rope, something gently reminds me of how good I’ve really got it. Something always reminds me of how heartbreaking and life destroying this story could have been. Something reminds me that no matter where I am in life, no matter how challenging everyday living has become, someone somewhere has a steeper hill to climb…no matter what.

We have become a living case study in James’s teaching in the first chapter of the New Testament book that bears his name. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds!” Read the rest of the thought outlined in that chapter of the Bible and you’ll discover that the key to navigating the storms of life is to be happy, right where you are, no matter what is happening in the world around you. That is the challenge that God presents to us in those few words at the beginning of James and that is a challenge we are proud to have overcome for the moment. Yep, we are stressed, more so probably than we ever have been. We are tired and we are looking forward to a better day (which hopefully comes tomorrow!). We’ve been through some tough times before, some very rough patches, none as challenging as this one, however. But here’s the part that is different this time around: we’re happy. We are not bitter, we are not angry, and we are nowhere near regret.

We are in an odd sort of storm, maybe like a hurricane with several eyes where the sunshine shines through with random regularity, I don’t know. I’ve tried to come up with an adequate way to describe the tempest that swirls around us, but to date that’s the best I’ve come up with. Yes, this time in our life is HARD! But it is also the most gratifying, electrifying, and exciting time we’ve ever experienced. Our main complaints are so minute in comparison with what could have been thrown at us. And the steady mantra of “short term pain, long term gain” maintains its presence at the forefront of our minds, providing a nugget of wisdom and comfort that can be gained only from life experience.

No infections, no illnesses, a seemingly well adjusted, though completely nutty, four-year-old firecracker, great help from generous folks volunteering their time to help us through it all, abundant love for each other and for the babies, relative financial security, donations that still come in from time to time, a mini-community rallying around us, relationship with the God who made this all possible…five precious, beautiful, amazingly perfect little babies. We have so much to be thankful for that the thought of being unhappy seems as ludicrous as does the thought of having five babies at one time. Ha! Crazy, right??!

Be happy, right where you are. It hasn’t always been this way for us, it’s something we learned. Or rather, it is something we were taught through a conscious deliberate effort on the part of the Great Engineer. When we opened our hearts to Christ, he opened his arms to us and this peace amidst the storm that we now enjoy is the greatest gift he gave (oh yeah, that and the whole eternal life through salvation of our soul thing…). He’s been good to us and given us a good life, as defined only in His special way. Sometimes it seems as if he has asked a lot of us though he has promised much in return. But when you boil it down to the basics and you strip away all of the baggage that we bring to the journey, life becomes a lot more manageable. Truly all he has asked of us is to love on these five little babies, to love on each other, and to love those around us as a witness to his power in our lives. That’s not asking so much, now is it? :)
It is now 4:25 pm on Monday. It has taken me no fewer than 20 sittings to get this blog done. I am typing this one-handed because my left arm has been occupied by Mr. Jack for the last half hour as I attempt to hold him off of the bottle for as long as possible. For some reason, four of the babies decided to eat at the same time (maybe that evil spirit is not quite done with us yet). Casey is upstairs feeding two babies while a volunteer feeds a third. I think Britton is the only one of the five not being tended to at the moment. The volunteer is leaving soon and we have no one else coming until tomorrow morning…it is going to be an interesting night.
And so the mantra continues its steady beat…hard work always pays…short term pain, long term gain…be happy right where you are…someone somewhere has a steeper hill to climb…God works for the good of those who love him…consider it pure joy…
God Bless,
Ethan

The Fab Five

I Was Going to Update the Blog, but…

1 Comment 27 April 2009

Choose one:
- I was feeding a baby
- I was changing a baby
- I was trying to calm a baby
- I was sleeping
- I was too tired from not sleeping
- I was brain fried from my Finance class
- I was playing with Eliot
- I was showing a first time volunteer the JonesLife Operation
- Most likely, I was feeding a baby

Ok, so life is a little busy now, but I just finished my finance final exam…side note: it was brutal…which means I should have some more time soon to update everybody on the happenings of the fab five. It’s craziness x 5 but also good x 5…

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

The Fab Five

8 Comments 11 April 2009

Hey everybody! We’re alive and well, just a little sleepy! All is going very well with the rapid transformation of our lives and assimilation of four (and eventually five) babies into our little world. Our theme of the week is “control them or they’ll control you…”!! Kidding…a little. Seriously, it’s all about the schedule these days. Keep them on schedule, get them as much formula as you can get down them in 30 minutes and life is good. Do not follow the schedule, let them slack on the bottle and you can be certain your life will be very chaotic for the next several hours! Side note, why don’t they make baby bottles squeezable?? Is that wrong?

Here are a few pics of daily life in the Jones house. We can’t seem to feed Jack enough formula lately so he decided to take a bite out of Brooklyn’s head!! That’s Ryan with Eliot in her bed – she has been taking one of the babies down to her bed before night time while we read to her. The picture of Eliot by herself is at her school’s Spring Fling where she sang western songs with her class and played lots of games. Nana has been down a few times to pull some overnight shifts for us…thank you!! Only thing missing from these pictures is Baby Bright Eyes Britton…come home soon, baby girl!!

I actually don’t think Britton is ever coming home. It’s really surprising to us that she is taking this long and I think it’s time to crank up the prayer machine! She’s doing ok, but it is believed that she has acid reflux which is making it very uncomfortable to eat. Actually, the nurses and doctors have told us that if we didn’t have four other babies, Britton would be home by now. Apparently they think throwing a high maintenance baby in the mix with four others would be a bit difficult. Got to give the NICU staff credit for thinking about that…once again, they are AWESOME!! Please pray that Britton conquers the bottle and battles back the reflux so she can come home soon!

Because of the reflux, she takes about half a bottle then throws in the towel…great if you’re on a diet, awful if you’re a three month old baby! She has been on Prevacid for about a week now and it has helped some, but not enough so they are doubling her dosage as of yesterday and increasing the calorie count of the formula she is getting. She was on 22 calorie formula, now she’ll be on the 24 calorie. Amazing that 2 little calories per ounce could make a difference!

The four at home are doing fantastic! They are all eating very well, sleeping very well, and growing very well!! So well, in fact, that we are in the process of moving them from a three hour feed schedule to a four hour feed schedule…yeah!! That simple move will free up four hours per day…can you believe that?? It doesn’t help a ton with the sleep, but it is very helpful, nonetheless.

The volunteer help continues to be incredible as well! The only reason I get to write this blog right now is thanks to volunteer help. Everyone who has pitched in has been great and we are starting to get a few regulars that are really learning the system well and helping out a ton. The nights are still pretty rough as the overnight help is hard to come by, however. We have hired a night nanny to help us out two nights a week starting in two weeks. Hopefully by doing that, it will take a little pressure off of our moms and the others who have been helping out with nights and we’ll all survive the next couple of months!!

So far, Miss Eliot appears to be handling everything with ease though we have seen our share of clinginess from her. We are keeping a close eye on her state of mind and making every effort to keep life relatively normal for her as we move through this process – she makes it very clear when she feels she hasn’t gotten enough of the focus! She got to go to an Easter egg hunt this morning with Casey and later went with me as I did a couple of things for a project I’m running. We are also enlisting her help whenever we can with the babies and she really seems to love doing that…as long as it doesn’t involve poop, she’s in!

I know I sound like a broken record here, but we continue to feel amazingly blessed with everything that is happening right now! Life is busy, hectic, and very challenging at the moment, to be sure, but there are about a million different ways that it could be much, much more difficult. God is good and he is carrying us through to a better day…one with a little bit more sleep… :)

God Bless,
Ethan

The Fab Five

Getting Closer, Getting Prepared, Getting Stressed

4 Comments 08 March 2009

Don’t let the pictures throw you off – no babies are home yet – but we seem to be getting closer every day to the first of five big homecomings. We do not have a definite date yet for any of the babies. The pictures above are of Jack and Brooklyn having their car seat test. They put the babies in the car seat for an hour with the monitors on to make sure the seat doesn’t cause any issues with their breathing and heart rate. All of the babies had this test yesterday and all passed! They have all also cleared their hearing exams!

There is talk of Jack coming home towards the end of next week, possibly along with Lila which would be awesome! But every time we think the course is set, there is a minor setback with one of the babies or one of them decides to make a push to be the first one home. Today’s setback – four out of five babies had spontaneous heart rate drops today, all except for Jack, but he continues to have them while feeding. And today’s push – Ryan is stepping it up with the feeds and if she continues, she will definitely compete for the first one home. Our hope is that they come home soon, but more importantly that they come home when we are 100% certain that all of their issues are resolved, of course!

Our other hope is that they all make it home as closely together as possible. As it is right now, Casey and I go to the NICU every afternoon together. However, once a baby is discharged from the NICU, they can no longer return. This means that Casey and I will have to start alternating when we go to the NICU so that one of us will be able to stay home with the homebound baby. Since it is certain that the babies will not all be ready to go at the same time, we are hopeful that their individual discharges all happen within about a week’s time of each other.

In preparation news, we had the first of two JonesLife Volunteer Orientations this past Saturday at our house. In all, 22 volunteers came to the house so we could meet them all, show them the house and baby care area, and go over all of the general guidelines for how all of this craziness is going to operate. We have organized several infant CPR classes for the volunteers so that most of them have now had some level of training. We are planning one more orientation for two weeks from now and we expect about twice the number of volunteers this time around. This Saturday’s group was very engaged in the discussion, came ready with questions, and seemed to be excited about the pending homecoming. Casey and I are very happy with the way things went and were quite impressed with the volunteer group!

In other preparation news, it looks like I’ll be trading in my truck this coming week for a Ford Expedition EL (the “EL” stands for Extra Long!). It’ll be a sad day to wave goodbye to the truck that has served me well for the last 5+ years, but what must be, must be. I’ve driven a truck since my sophomore year of college and hope to get back into one sooner than later, but we couldn’t make the numbers work this time around. I’ll be taking over Casey’s Tahoe for the next couple of years and Casey will take the reigns of the mini-bus…once the back up alarm has been installed. Please join me in a brief moment of silence as we say goodbye to my beautiful Betty Ford…
I’d be lying if I said the stress wasn’t getting to us…it is. Though it is not overwhelming and we are keeping a positive spirit as we look forward to life with five plus Eliot, please pray for us to continue to keep our heads straight and our focus clear. We are so thankful that the most dramatic life event that we have experienced in our lives to date has been and will continue to be overwhelmingly positive! Yet it doesn’t come without its share of questions and doubts about the future. And for those times when our vision is blurred by the weight of it all, we will continue to lean on our faith, our family, our friends, and our new-found extended support system that comes to us daily through blog comments, emails, Facebook posts, cards, and phone calls all offering love, support, and encouragement for the challenges that lie ahead. Thank you to all for pitching in and helping out, no matter what shape or form that help has taken, we are forever grateful!!!!!
God Bless,
Ethan

Faith

God Did This

10 Comments 19 February 2009

The stress got to me today. It hasn’t happened very often and it usually doesn’t last long when it does, but when it comes, it comes like a flood – abrupt, painful, and pervasive to every aspect of my life. Today it was more like a tsunami. While these episodes have yet to be crippling, the suddenness with which they come and the relatively minor events that seem to trigger them always leaves me wondering if I’m falling back into some old habits, my old ways of “dealing” with stressful events in my life. It frightens me to think that maybe I’m not ready for all of this, that maybe I’ve tricked myself and others into believing that it’s all going to work out just fine. What if my faith isn’t strong enough to carry me through? What if the reason that we’ve been able to enjoy this adventure up to this point is simply that we haven’t yet been hit with the fatal wave of circumstances that is certain to wipe us out? What if we can’t possibly handle what’s coming our way? What if our marriage suffers? What if Eliot is overshadowed, over-stressed, and overwhelmed? What if my career, my company doesn’t succeed? What if, what if, what if…

Stress and, more specifically, recognizing the stress in my life has been an issue for me for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been pretty good about sucking it up, dealing with it, ignoring the pain…fill in whatever other cliché you can think of here. Problem is I never dealt with the stress; I just got really good at not allowing myself to feel it; essentially I was ignoring it. Sounds great, right? Never feel stress again…who wouldn’t want that? Unfortunately however, I learned the hard way that you cannot confine this talent to just the stress in your life. At least I wasn’t able to; maybe others can, but I couldn’t and didn’t. I also learned the hard way that ignoring the stress is not the same as dealing with it and just as the rubber on your tires only has so many miles it can handle so also does the tread on your soul. The miles add up, the tread breaks down, the soul falls apart…

While I was busy ignoring the stress in my life, I was also ignoring the wounds that were being inflicted by stressful events in my life. To make matters worse, my ignorance of my own stress level allowed these wounds to grow instead of heal. The hurt, anger, bitterness, and frustration from these events was building up inside of me and never found release. Possibly worse than that or at the very least equally unhealthy is the fact that I was also ignoring the needs of those around me – close friends, family, and strangers alike. Without even realizing it, I was shutting people out of my life, including those closest to me, and I slowly became aware that I was living alone, inside the very constricted, cold walls that I had built up over the years. Walls that were initially intended to protect me were now walls that confined me. My growth as a person, as a member of the community God created, had become like that of a fish, restricted to the size of the container that bound me.

Well, as you might imagine, you can’t go on living life this way until something eventually gives. And give it did…big time! I’ll spare you the details, but know that thanks only to the Lord above, the effects of a life lived this way, though certainly life altering was not life destroying. And the damage that was done, with help from good friends and good people in my life, was quickly undone and I was soon well down the path of reclamation and restoration of a soul that had lost its way.

I learned a few lessons along the way – I learned a little about life and I learned a little bit more about the God who made this life possible. Now that I look back on the course of events of my life, I know that I was never alone in all of this. Though I never asked for it, never would have admitted it, and oftentimes was never even aware of it, I had a lot of help in keeping it all together when it very easily could have all fallen apart. There was a hand at work, busy filling the cracks and holes in my life that had begun to accumulate as a result of my choices and the bumpy, dark, and dusty roads I decided to travel. Back then, I never stopped to reflect on my life, I just kept moving, onward and upward…or so I thought. I never stopped to give thanks and I never stopped to consider just how blessed I was.

These days I do look back – almost daily – and I do give thanks after carefully considering just how blessed I am. I consider how fortunate I am to have the wife that I have and I consider all of the ways that she was designed perfectly just for me. I also consider how amazing my daughter is and how her attitude and happy-go-lucky-ready-for-anything nature will be just right for the challenges that lie ahead. I consider how truly incredible my parents are as are many of the other folks they brought into my life who have all contributed to the person I am today. I consider how amazing it is that the people who have selflessly and tirelessly carried us, cared for us, and loved us from the day the Quint Invasion began entered our lives only 18 months prior.

When the tidal wave of emotion and stress comes over me and sends me reeling into a backwash of doubt and anguish, these are the things that I consider. And after careful consideration, there is only one conclusion that I believe any man who has his wits about him and has in place a rational view of his role in this world can come to: God did this. God chose to knit me together in my mother’s womb, to place me in my parents’ care, to bring me together with my amazing wife, to bring Eliot into our little world, to bring us to Riverbend Church and the Marriage Builders group. He chose to smooth out the rough patches of our lives, to challenge me, shape me, mold me, and to love me too much to leave me the way I was and am today. And he chose to breathe life into those five little babies that now breathe life into ours.

So this is how I make it through and this is how I know I’m not falling back into those old, dangerous habits. When the stress strikes, the world begins to tighten its noose, and the air suddenly gets really thin, this is the place I always return: God did this; there is no doubt in my mind. God did this and he will see us through. How he’ll do it, how he’ll answer the what if’s that seem to come up every day, no one can say. To be honest, I don’t know much of anything beyond how I’ll handle today. And, strangely, I’m comforted by that. It takes some getting used to, but yes, I’m comforted by the fact that I have little clue as to what road I’ll be traveling when I wake up tomorrow morning. I’m comforted because I believe that this is exactly where he wants me – living one day at a time, living a life completely dependent on him. God did this just as he has always done this, with or without my permission. God did this and he will continue to do this. God did this, and with his continued guidance and direction on my life, we’ll continue to be able to do this…somehow, some way…one baby step at a time…

God Bless,
Ethan
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