“Oh, Lord, please let this next season be an easy one. We’ve been through so much and we just need a rest, we just need to get our heads above water. Jesus, please, let whatever is next for us be a breath of fresh air”
I prayed these words every day for five weeks as I sat in the NICU and held my impossibly tiny, naked newborn on my bare chest and waited for him to grow.
I never considered that our long hospital stay was, in fact, our breath of fresh air.
— — —
Five days before Edmund was born I boarded an international flight from Skopje, Macedonia to Portland, Oregon. I was 30 weeks pregnant, bleeding, and I knew our baby was coming soon but he couldn’t come in Macedonia — no hospital in the country was equipped to care for a baby that premature. So we booked tickets back to Oregon and an unknown future. As soon as I deboarded the plane I was rushed to the closest hospital and Ryan woke up to a Skype call telling him he needed to change his plane ticket and get to Oregon now.
Edmund was born perfectly healthy, with his dad by my side, and we basked in the joy of our new baby, at least as much as parents of a baby who was born too early can. But uncertainty piled on uncertainty. How long will Edmund be in the hospital? Will he have long-term complications? What home will we go to once he’s released? Where are we going to live? Where will Ryan work? Will we go back overseas? What is life going to look like now?
I sat in our little NICU room and waited for whiplash. Within four days my life had done a 180 — I moved continents, had a traumatic flight, and given birth to a fragile baby. I felt like the carpet had been pulled out from underneath our future and I couldn’t see beyond the four hospital walls that now made up my world.
But the whiplash never came. I felt God’s hand on me like I never have before as I sat for hours in a blue recliner holding my baby, listening to the beep of the pulse oximeter while chugging fenugreek tea and trying to be a mom to my other kids. God was with me and God was protecting me and my baby. He laid a promise on my heart: you’ll be alright.
I thought ‘alright’ would be a job for Ryan in Portland and a cute, long-term house for me.
Turns out ‘alright’ was living in my parents’ basement for six months until we could move into a tiny duplex in our hometown and a low paying job with crazy hours for Ryan.
Plus a high-needs newborn and a 2 and a 4-year-old.
This was not my definition of ‘alright’.
Though I never got whiplash in the NICU, my head spun once we were back in our hometown. I’ve felt called to live in Europe since I was 14 and here I was, back in the US after living abroad for most of my adult life. But it quickly became clear this was not temporary — this could be for the long-term. And while I wanted to stay somewhere long-term more than almost anything, this was the last place I wanted it to be. My heart longed to set down roots and dig deep into community but the thought of staying in our hometown brought me to tears.
Either we would live permanently in our hometown or we would be here for a while and move. Again.
I didn’t like either option.
But in God’s grace life and time marched on and healing followed behind.
Healing came in the form of new and old friends, counseling, a better paying job for Ryan, and an ever refining, ever clarifying vision for our future.
Both Ryan and I have seen God reveal more of who he has created us to be and what he is calling us to in these past two years. In his grace he is using this time to bring us to where we need to be and to love and serve him and others better than we could have before.
We now know that this is not our final stop and that our time here is indeed temporary, though how temporary we don’t yet know.
But we are here now. And we want to be here well. So we’re reaching out, digging deep, and growing — all the things our hearts and souls need, even if we’re here for only a short while more.
The last two years haven’t been the breath of fresh air I prayed for in the NICU but I am thankful for them. They’re another season in an amazing journey and they’re setting the stage for what’s next.
— — —
The last time I blogged was more than two years ago and, obviously, a lot has happened in those two years. I’ve missed writing and now that my kids are 2, 4, and 6 I hope to get back into it. I don’t have any overarching plans or grand goals, other than sharing what’s on my heart and mind with you. That mostly includes minimal/simple living, living for Jesus, rethinking our middle-class American norms, and hopefully international living and travel. I might speak some uncomfortable truths and I’m okay with that. I hope to do all that with grace, hope, and encouragement. I’d love for you to join me and I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments. I love the connection that comes from blogging, both as a writer and as a reader, and I’d love to connect with you.