It all started when I was pregnant with our first child. I was miserable - well, aside from the miracle of the growing baby that God put in my belly (that part was AWESOME!). I was sick. I was totally nauseous in first trimester and this got really bad, actually turning into pain, towards the end of my 2nd trimester. It turns out, I had a bunch of sludge in my gall bladder. This meant a fat free diet. What? No ice cream sundaes in the middle of the night? No greasy spoon breakfasts? Nope. I basically lived on dry cereal, egg whites, fruit, salads (hardly any dressing) and roasted chicken. Let's just say, I didn't gain much weight, which I was thankful for after she was born.
After my water broke, and I spent 12 hours at the hospital waiting for our precious baby girl to kick it into gear, we found out that her head was turned side-ways. That all ended in a c-section (aka major abdominal surgery) and then 4 weeks later, my gall bladder was removed.
This was the first two surgeries in a very long line. Within the next 2 years, I had foot surgery twice, knee surgery and then had to repair the ulcers that formed inside because of all the medicine.
So after the 2 abdominal surgeries, which limited how much I could lift, and then 3 surgeries on my lower extremities, which limited how far I could walk - I learned to lean on my heavenly Father and my wonderful husband. Talk about putting an end to my self-sufficiency. This was something I couldn't fix.
I felt like my warranty expired when I turned 30 (which happened when I was pregnant).
If that wasn't enough, God blessed us with two wonderful daughters that have had their own unique challenges.
We found out when our oldest daughter was about 6 months old that she had food allergies and then around 2 years that she had additional food sensitivies. Many times, I have to just pray that she will be protected because I can't always be there to monitor what she is eating.
Our youngest daughter (we only have 2) was born with dysphagia, which is a fancy word that means she has problems swallowing. This is HUGE for a baby! She aspirated when she drank, which is another fancy word that meant she didn't know how to breathe and drink at the same time, so some of the milk went into her lungs. On top of that, she has (silent) reflux. So she was miserable - and let us all know about it.
All of the other "stuff" happened to prepare me for this. This was hard. When she was real small, I would lay awake at night because I could hear her reflux and then choke. She was sleeping the way the peds recommend. Swaddled and on her back. But she sounded like she was going to choke to death in the night. Thankfully, I got online and found the tucker sling. This put her at an incline, which used gravity to reduce the reflux. She still choked sometimes, so we had to put her on her side (propped up with a blanket).
So all this to say that God took me (and my husband) through tough stuff that we were unable to fix so that He could work on us. What I have learned is that when life is perfect, I tend to rely on myself and my own strength to get me through. But when life is hard - real hard - I am on my knees in constant prayer. So something has changed in my heart, by the grace of God. I now thank God for my life, my husband's life and the life of our girls each and every morning. I pray for the Lord to strengthen me in my walk and to show me His ways and His priorities for my life. I know that He is so much greater than I can ever even imagine, and I think about that. I remind myself how Great our God is and how He has a perfect plan for everything. I know through the suffering and hardships, I can trust in my Creator.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." [Isaiah 55:8-9]
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. [Romans 8:28]
So now, I am not so self-sufficient. I get my strength from the Lord and He supplies my every need.
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.