We've recently had something new happen within our clan and it's been a difficult journey, though a time of fully relying on God's grace and wisdom and power. Sunday we gathered to celebrate and memorialize the very short life of our nephew and niece-in-law's 2 1/2 week old baby girl. She was born with a liver malfunction (the medical name for which I honestly do not remember) which was battled and which baffled for those short weeks (which seemed at times to be forever, especially to her parents). Zoe's five older siblings don't fully understand what happened to their much-desired and loved little sister, so pray for them. Zoe's parents have displayed a faith in their heavenly Father that amazed and convicted many as they shared online updates of developments, their observations, their awful pain in going through this and Scriptures and songs that the Lord used to comfort and strengthen them.
The whole journey has given me a lot of food for thought, the uppermost of which is how I kind of take my children for granted. I assume that they'll pretty much be around. I haven't been giving myself and my time to them in a focused and intentional way like I should. In several of the updates, Zoe's mommy shared how she wished she could be with her older children (they were with loving grandparents), just doing the simple, ordinary things with them like combing their hair and tying their shoes. Instead of seeing those things as another thing on the to-do list, they were connections with her children that she so desired.
Even as a homeschooling 24/7 stay-at-home-mom, we can lose focus on why we're stay-at-home moms. We can be so busy doing school, or cleaning up the messes, or trying to instill responsibility in our children that we don't look in their eyes, caress them as we teach, snuggle up close as we read those good books, laugh over spilled milk, hug each other as we gasp in amazement at the beautiful sunrise, ditch the schoolbooks and take a hike, make a mess while making cards for others, stay up late because you know the teenager needs to talk, listen to nonsensical 7-year-old jokes (that seems to be the year that all my children have made up real groaners) or just get in to their world instead of mostly insisting that they get in to mine.
On the updates website, I wrote the following to hopefully encourage this dear family:
Our family has been strongly affected by sweet little Zoe's short life and the beautiful testimony that you all had as you allowed us to travel the very difficult journey with you. We have prayed often and pleadingly not only for Zoe's healing (which she received in a different way than we'd preferred), but also for the peace that surpasses all understanding to be yours in Christ (which we have seen in you). We have held each other closer and given thanks for the time that we have had together. I have been more intentional in spending time with my children and have been strongly inspired to make more serious our desire to hide the word of the Lord in our hearts so that we may be equipped for whatever He might send our way. We have seen our church family unite around us and you (though you don't know them) in prayer and concern. We've seen our pastor and his wife feel with and for you as they remember their spina bifida baby's hospital stay and they give thanks for God's continued blessing in her life. We think your kids are some of the most blessed kids in the world to have you two for their parents and know that God would entrust this very difficult path to all of you because He can trust you all to be open to His care and leading, and though you might question His purpose and choice, you will not do so in rebellion, but in seeking to follow Him closely and to know His heart. We love and admire you.
I encourage you to rethink your time spent and relationships with your children (and spouse). God gave our nephew and niece much insight and wisdom as they walked this horrifying path, and they shared a lot of it at Zoe Grace Care Page, if you're brave enough to enter into their heartache. I know my eyes have been opened and I thank God for Zoe, though I never met her in this life.