How can I describe the last 21 days? Maybe, "Whoa!" or "Phew!" or "Wowzer!"
The very short version is this:
Difficult birth that did not go as hoped or planned,
beautiful baby joins our little family,
recovery from birth that did not go as anticipated or envisioned,
very sick toddler then complicates an already emotional and physical recovery,
toddler needs lots of care (and lots of sanitizer),
baby and toddler need to be kept separate (somehow),
superstar daddy takes extra time off work to look after the needs of his family,
amazing community of friends and family completely envelop family
and make one very difficult 21 days into something more than doable...
In fact, I'd call the whole thing down right blessed.
I'll tell you a little story. This year we have been lead to pray for direction for our family. Sometime in October our conversation revisited the subject, as it often has in recent months, and Raymond told me he felt that "things are just going to start happening after the baby is born." As in, we'll find clearer direction, somehow, after his arrival.
Then was the birth of our son. A very difficult birth. And I'll confess something to you: As the main participant in that event, the one going through all the intense fear and pain, in the days immediate following, I found it difficult to want to trust in God. We've all heard the the quip "God will not give you more than you can handle." (It's really just a spin off of 1 Corinthians 10:13, and perhaps a poor one, but it's a popular sentiment.) Well, the birth we had was what we got gave, and yes, I did 'handle' it. I mean, I am here, whole, and well, but if God thinks that I can handle something like that, then to be honest, I began to feel like I did not want to entrust myself to His will. Why? Well, I'd just rather not have to 'handle' anything like that ever again.
In addition to my fragile feelings in the days following Miles arrival was a confession Ray made to me after we'd come home from the hospital. He told me he had had a vision during the labor that disturbed him. It was a vision of a menacing storm rolling in. Now, anyone might certainly be prone to such a vision during such an event, as intense as it was and the number of scary unknowns we were dealing with at the time. The thing is, Raymond has a gift beyond anything that anyone would call naturally given for these kind of things. A spiritual gift. So when Ray has a vision like this, or a feeling about something, we tend to look at each other wide eyed and consider ourselves admonished to vigilance.
Now, when you tell an already shell-shocked mommy about an impending storm... I'll tell you that I did not take that information well. Not well at all, and I really let it scare me. We were both nervous. And when Calvin came down with his illness (it was oral herpes), Ray called on our pastors, our good friends, to come over and pray with us. Peter and Gale reminded us of what Paul shares in 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." Perhaps Ray's vision was being used by the enemy to steal and destroy our joy, but if it was from God, then we need not be afraid of anything.
Well, I will tell you of the outcome. We did weather a storm. It could have been menacing. But, we hardly noticed, shielded as we were by our community of friends and family.
Ray's parents graciously cared for the boys and had them stay at their house as we recovered in the hospital. Our home birth midwives, and our midwife who delivered Miles at the hospital, have helped us to understand our birth and have supported us so completely, physically and emotionally, as we recover and adjust. Melisa and Nick, and Isaac and Becky hosted Calvin at their homes during the first few days after the birth while Charlie went to school. Amber and Kiko got busy organizing meals for us, and continued to do so for an additional week as we dealt with Calvin being ill. So many people volunteered to bring us meals--really awesome meals, and we've quite a few new recipes we need to try. Our dear neighbor, Chelsea, helped me with bedtime while Ray was away at a gig. My sister-in-law, Renee, came and spent an entire day with me to look after Calvin when Raymond absolutely needed to work. Ray's brother Russ took time off from his job to work in place of Raymond at Ray's job. We even had a friend give us his tithe (which rounded out our budget perfectly--perfectly!--for the month).
From every direction our family, our church, our community has surrounded us with help and food and prayer and, well, anything we needed. The storm came and went, and we have hardly felt it's severity. If anything, we have been shown what we certainly knew to be true but is now confirmed to us intimately, that our community is the kind of place we can confidently face any kind of trial, because even if we feel we cannot handle what is put before us, we don't have to face anything alone.
So, Thank You Community! Thank you so much for your care. Thank you for lifting some of the burden (and for just plain making it possible) for Raymond to care for our family and our home and all the little extra things we didn't anticipate. You brought us meals, cared for our boys, did our dishes, ran our errands, and more. Thank you for the prayers, the remedies, the phone calls, counsel, and generally lifting us up and loving us. Thank you for walking beside us during such a tender and special time as we welcomed our dear little Miles Benjamin.
And mostly, we thank you for embodying the guiding direction we've prayed so intently for all year... for helping one little family understand so clearly the place and direction that is Home.