Abby, Audrey, Charlotte

The Cartwheel

Last Sunday night we went to a dinner party to pray Audra off to Uganda (she leaves on Friday with the AMAZING organization Sweet Sleep). Todd and I were inside talking to her about the trip while all the kids at the party played outside in the yard. For some reason I kept saying I felt like I needed to go out there and I just had this kind of unsettled feeling about being inside. Well, a few minutes later we heard this ear-piercing scream and someone came in and told us one of our kids was hurt pretty badly. I remember that everyone looked white-faced as I ran down the steps and several people were saying that one of the girls had broken her arm.

By the time I caught up with them, they were in the front of the house and Audra’s husband Shawn was carrying Abby. She was crying and begging me to save her, and when I got a good look at her arm I knew why. Oh my WORD. There was a wonderful man at the party who is going on the mission trip and it turns out he runs Vanderbilt Children’s O.R., so he called and let them know we were on our way.

The car ride over to the hospital was one of the hardest times in my parenting life to date. Sweet Abby kept asking me to pray for her and sing hymns to her and Ellie was completely beside herself in the backseat. She was more upset than Abby was, and at one point she asked hysterically if she could die so Abby could live. Awful. Awful. We kept explaining that this happens all the time and that we were going to get her fixed right up, but unfortunately, their experiences haven’t always ended up that way.  All the while I am looking at Abby’s arm and trying my best to act like everything was fine and the truth was I was just trying not to pass out.

The weirdest thing is that she was literally DOING A CARTWHEEL when she broke it. There were all these people around and they said she landed on her feet and then stood right up and looked at her arm. She could tell it wasn’t right so she ran to Uncle Shawn and asked what was wrong with it. I think it hit her then what had happened and she screamed. I just felt so helpless.

Vandy was AMAZING. Every single person we came into contact with was fantastic and they made a pretty scary experience as calm and easy as it possibly could have been. Randomly, one of her doctors went to the same high school as me in Cincinnati and we were there at the same time but we hadn’t known each other. I just felt the presence of the Lord there and we all made it through, but it has cracked open a tender spot in me that I am struggling with.

I am a worrier by nature, and the first to admit that my thoughts can run away from me if I don’t get a handle on them. I believe the enemy preys on me in this way, and has for most of my life. I know I’m not the only one who can get caught up in all the horrible things that could happen to my family. I also know that the Lord I have given them to does not want me to fear the way I do.

I love these girls (all of them) so much, and in the most profound, tender way. Each of their spirits have such deeply carved sweetness and goodness that I find myself trying to protect them in ways I know I can’t.

I can’t shake the images I have of that moment when I knew one of them was hurt but didn’t know what had happened. What a mother feels when her child is in danger is a powerful, awful thing. And it doesn’t  help when the worst thing that could happen actually has happened to you. I don’t want to live my life in this place of worry, but like I said, I am struggling.

This past week I took Charlotte to Children’s hospital for a scheduled ultrasound so they could make sure she didn’t have any fluid in her kidneys (she had some there when I was pregnant and they expected it would  remedy itself). Unfortunately, the fluid was still there. The technician did not seem at all alarmed, and completely put me at ease about what she was seeing so I don’t believe there is anything we need to be worried about.

I left the hospital clinging to her and looking back and forth at least three times before I crossed a completely empty road. I checked her buckles repeatedly and drove under the speed limit. I talked to the Lord about my fears and He gently urged me to remember that her life was not determined by any of my precautions, and that while I need to be a mindful parent, any sense of complete control is a sham.

When we were taking Abby to the hospital, she reminded me of what the Lord calls us to do. She sat with me, full of fear, and she spoke to Jesus. She asked Him to heal her and to be with her. She told Him she was afraid and that she needed Him. I sat with my arms around her, wiping down her sweaty head and kissing her little cheeks and it occurred to me that this really should be my ultimate goal in parenting. I need to love them well enough, true enough, and deep enough that they will let me hold them while they call out to Him. What a beautiful image; we as mothers get to be the holders while our children commune with the great One.

I’m sustained by that truth right now.

I have been a terrible blogger and I apologize…my arms have been busy and my heart has been a little restless. I know I’m not the only one to feel this, so as I write these words I am praying for all of the mommies out there who have had to face the moment where they can’t “fix” things. I’m praying for all the mothers who have heard a doctor tell them that they won’t get to hold their little ones again. I am asking the Lord to reach down to all of us as parents and remind us that we are the arms of Christ with our babies. May we never take that for granted, and may we never forget the Father Who loves us enough to let us weep with Him.

I wish I could just invite you all over for some coffee and hug on you. I know from the status of my inbox that many of you are hurting and processing your losses today, and I just wanted you to know that you aren’t alone.

After a few hours in the E.R., the doctors re-set Abby’s arm, and judging by the pictures, it’s almost as good as new. It has actually been a joy to be able to help her do things she would normally insist on doing alone, and last night I was giving her a bath while we talked about how she was feeling. She had her little sling up on the side of the tub and she made a comment about how it stunk that she was hurt but that she was remembering that she didn’t have to do things all by herself. It struck me that I do the same. Woundedness brings a desire for communion with the Lord if we allow Him into that place, and I am grateful for that.

As I wrapped her up in her towel, I could hear Charlotte cooing from her bouncy seat in the other room.

I looked Abby square in the eye and told her I wanted her to make me a promise.

“What?” she asked.

“When you get your cast off, honey, I don’t want you to be afraid of doing cartwheels.” I looked her square in the eye, my hand on her arm. “What happened here doesn’t always happen, and if you let it make you scared…”

I listened to Charlotte for another moment.

“Well, baby, you might just miss out on a great cartwheel.”

She smiled and gave me a one-armed hug.

I can’t wait to see her do it.

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