936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
“Do you feel this lump right here?” I lowered my daughter, four months old, down to my mother-in-law who sat at our kitchen table. She ran her finger over the tiny knot on the top of Aurora’s head. “Yes, it feels like maybe she bumped it on something.”
All I needed was her first word. Yes. It wasn’t in my head. And there was indeed a lump on her’s. Panic pulled my heart into my stomach, and I went where every mother goes when she finds a puzzling bump or bruise. I went to Google, specifically, Google images. And that is where my mind remained, sweating the What-if’s, for the next two days.
The next morning I took my girl to the doctor. “Yes, I feel it.” I studied her pediatrician’s face. Her eyebrows furrowed into a perplexed look.My heart quickened. She doesn’t know what it is.
“It hasn’t grown?” She asked.
“I only noticed it this week.” I replied.
“Well, we have the option to ultrasound it.”
“I would feel better if we did.” I told her, then I texted my husband.
We left the office with instructions to wait for a phone call within one week to schedule the ultrasound. I disobeyed those instructions, and called later that day to get her on the schedule. There was an opening the next morning, and I counted the hours until an answer. Each of those hours dripped with fear.
The following morning the drive to the hospital felt all too familiar. I flipped on my turning signal, and as I pulled into the parking lot, I thought about the countless trips we had made during my pregnancy for this very reason: ultrasounds. An attempt to understand the scary. In the final months while she was growing inside of me, Roary and I would make this trip two, three, sometimes four times a week. They would look at my girl inside of me, and have no answers to offer. I prayed continuously throughout each of those visits, and this one would be no different.
I set her down in her carseat next to me and we waited. The technician opened the wide double doors, and a look of familiarity spread across her face. “I know you!” she exclaimed. It was the same woman who had come to know my daughter over those countless ultrasound visits. We spent many scary moments together. And now she would meet my daughter face-to-face for the first time, and ultrasound her for, I prayed, the last time.
“It’s right here”, I explained, moving my index and middle finger over the bulge, “It’s small. The doctor was surprised I even noticed it.”
It took her a moment to locate the bump, then she squirted that warm gel into my baby’s white-fuzz hair. I looked away from the screen and into my girl’s eyes. God, don’t let there be anything.
There were a few silent moments, much like the ones I will never forget from while she was inside of me. I finally turned my eyes to the screen. I saw the slight rise and fall in the middle of her scalp. “It corresponds with the skull fissure. There is nothing else there. The radiologist will take a look at it, but I see nothing alarming.” Oh thank you, God.
A few hours later our pediatrician called. “That was the quickest I have ever seen an ultrasound done!” I was determined, I said to myself. And terrified.
“Everything looks absolutely normal.” She assured me.
“Thank you. I can breathe again.”
We hung up, and life began to move again, until, of course, the next peculiar bump or bruise.
Throughout those two days when every fearful thought gripped me, and I begged God to take care of the girl He’d surprised me with, the one He had faithfully protected throughout our uncertain pregnancy, I came to the realization that I had been asking the wrong question all along.
From the moment I noticed the bump until the pediatrician called with the prognosis, I had been asking, “What if?”
What if she is sick?
What if she needs treatment?
What if we lose her?
What if this is nothing, but then something else happens to her?
All along, I should have been asking a very different question, one I am practicing from here on out.
What if….. will I still believe?
If the ultrasound technician had paged a doctor and rushed her into further examining, would I still believe?
If the doctor called back with a very different prognosis, would I still believe?
If they had made the choice to take her out at thirty-three weeks back when I walked into the hospital with mild contractions and they admitted us, would I still believe?
If her clean bill of health changes in coming days, will I still believe?
Bringing a child into the world is the most frightening thing I have ever done. And that fear does not remain back at the hospital or birthing center, it follows us home. We pack it up right along with those diapers and sanitary pads, and we carry it with us.
This, I believe, has been my greatest struggle in motherhood. Do I believe God? Will I believe, even if?
If our story unfolds differently from what we expected or hoped for, will we still believe in the valley?
This is an ongoing battle in my heart and mind. This recent scare reminded me that I need Him ever more every day, lest I be overtaken by my fear. It was this struggle that led me to pen these words several years ago:
“In the face of what we cannot control, we must believe that God has instructed us over and over again in His Word do not fear for a reason. We must believe in a God who loves our babies so much more than we can grasp, in a God of unwavering faithfulness, in a God who has everything under control.
‘I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.’ (Psalm 34:4)”
He does this, I have found. He delivers us from all of our fears. He delivered my own family at each and every one of our appointments with my daughter. And He is delivering me, day by day, from fear itself.
He comes alongside of us and helps us to “not fear anything that is frightening” (1 Peter 3:6b). He releases us from the fears that threaten to steal life out from beneath us.
Each time we step into those shaky waters and ask ourselves, “What if”, we must follow it up with this all-important question, “will I believe?”
We must live like it now, uncertain moment by uncertain moment, in imperfect belief. We must proclaim with the man from the crowd in Mark 9, crying out to Jesus in the midst of his greatest fears, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
This is the cry of a parent’s heart that the Lord takes mercy on. He knows the depths of our fears, and the limits of our faith, and He meets us right there, in our unbelief. And He teaches us to believe, even if.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!