Monday, June 9, 2014

Why Having Everything I Ever Wanted Hasn't Made Me Happier...

As I reflect on last week I am finding it hard to articulate my thoughts. 

Last Monday we took our middle son back into the clinic for a second opinion. That led to a trip to the E.R. and ultimately being admitted into the Children's Hospital. The rest of the week Sam and I juggled back and forth being at the hospital with our son and being at home with our other four. It was all I could do to remember to bring clean clothes back and forth for our son. The other four went days without a bath and the gallon of milk in the fridge somehow stretched long enough so that no one starved.

Nephrotic Syndrome

Three days later our son was able to return home on Thursday just in time for the potluck that he had really been wanting to be home for. For now he was diagnosed with Nephrotic syndrome and over the course of 10 days gained 14 pounds in fluid. He has numerous meds to take over the next 6 weeks, his little body has still been swollen from his ailment and we will be juggling clinic visits while monitoring him at home as we continue to pray that his little body begins responding and things start to function properly in his kidneys.

These are the moments when you realize how much you've taken having good health for granted. I realized a few other things that I had been reflecting over for months prior too...

If I could be honest the last year of our lives has been plush.

I knew it but I didn't know it. 

I know that last sentence sounds crazy but let me explain. We have definitely gone through our share of hard times in the past (among other things, experiencing three consecutive miscarriages will definitely make you question if there really is a God and if he's really good.) But then our lives turned around in a big way and suddenly dreams came true. Our family was bursting at the seams, so to speak. We had five healthy children, a roof over our heads and I had nothing to worry, wonder or complain about. Except things like my internet being too slow, not having enough hot water for my shower and the kids not cleaning up after themselves. Ya know, first world problems when life is going good (roll eyes here.) 

With so much time to think about, nothing worth anything, most of my thoughts turned well, towards me. What will make Sarah happier? What will benefit Sarah the most? How can I make my life better. Anything that didn't answer those questions just become inconveniences and took away from my precious time.

Have you ever been there? 

Honestly, I've taken so much time to focus on making our immediate family's life better that I've been frustrated because it never seems as if we are going to reach an end point. Over the past year I've been realizing that having everything I ever wanted hasn't made me has made me more selfish, self-centered and discontent.

Our lives seem to be either consumed by legitimate crisis and concerns or things are going well and without a crisis in sight we have a TON of time to think about our own personal most of the time, we do.

But whether we are in crisis or not, there IS something else that we can focus on.

Our Neighbor

In fact, over the past week it was the people that gave of themselves that impacted our family in an extreme way. The hospital volunteers who almost brought me to tears every time they would pop their heads in the hospital door and ask if we needed a break. The friend who drove four hours to come and help because she figured having one extra adult around couldn't hurt the situation. The numerous friends and family who were praying, texting, offering encouraging words and stopped by to visit our son and give him something joyful to talk about the rest of the day.

The people who loved their neighbor are the ones who changed our lives. 

In the Bible Jesus talks about the greatest commandment. In it he mentions the words "love" & "yourself" but not in the way you might think. He says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Honestly, that is sometimes easy for me because by loving God a lot of times it meets MY needs.) This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself .' "

I am so good at loving myself but I think God already knew that about us. Instead he says, love your yourself. As I walked the halls of the children's hospital and saw the tiny crib like beds, children who were dealing with life threatening issues, teenagers who were watching tv instead of playing ball outside, my heart broke and I wasn't as focused on our family's crisis or on me.

You see whether we are going through crisis or life is good I think that taking the focus off of us and helping others...helping our neighbor is where true joy comes from. 

In fact, I kind of think God was onto something.

Loving your neighbor takes time and effort. I also know that a lot of times we have to be intentional about how our time is spent. I've shared a few ideas about how we've loved our neighbor here and here. I'm looking forward to sharing a lot more.

How have you found ways to love your neighbor? Does it come easy for you or have you had to be intentional about it?

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  1. I was in your situation many years ago when my then 1 1/2 year old was at TX Children's for a partial lobectomy. Now, my oldest is entering his 3rd week of basic training....It is in these times when your vision seems clearer, (when dirty dishes, crumbs on the table and rings in the tub have absolute zero importance) and you see that there is NOTHING....absolutely NOTHING as important as your family....something we all KNOW all the time....but really KNOW when something like this happens..... Big huge hug to you and yours....

  2. I can relate. For me, the times when life is moving along oh so smoothly and I am not in some sort of crisis are the times when I get lulled into thinking, "God, you can go take a break from being in charge of my life- I've got this." I look to Him less, depend on Him less, am filled with His Spirit less... until He allows another crisis in my life to bring me back to the dependance on Him my soul so desperately needs. The tough times in our lives are what tend to bring us back to His plan and His priorities.

    I have one more thought for you regarding, "loving your neighbor." I am certain that in God's directive for us to love our neighbor as ourselves, adopting our "neighbor's" children, brining them into our families to love and raise as if they had been born to us, and pouring our lives into doing this well, would be one of the most beautiful examples of loving our neighbor one could come up with. As a fellow adoptive mom, I have to remind myself of this whenever I am tempted to believe that what I am doing with the minutes of my day is somehow insignificant to the Kingdom. And in my very unglamorous life of a stay at home mom, I can be tempted to think that quite often. But, in truth, you are loving your neighbor every minute of every day, simply by the path you chose to take in obedience to Christ. It seems to me that adoption just might be the very definition of loving your neighbor. Just wanted to encourage you in that.
    I gather from your post that your son is doing better. Praying for God's complete healing and that this experience draws you and your family ever closer to Him.

    1. Kristen,

      You are so right. Thank you for sharing your perspective and encouragement!


  3. Good luck through your son's recovery - Nephrotic Syndrom is though to deal with but with good organization and discipline, you will be fine! I know - I have been living with it for 7 years (It got triggered at 21 years old for me, so later than most, since it usually affects young children.) I wish you all the best through this process - it is not easy but as your child seems to have a great support system, so he will be fine!

    1. Thanks Celine for your encouragement. I'm sorry to hear that you have had to deal with this too. :-(


  4. Thinking about your son today...if you don't mind me asking, how is he feeling? Hopefully much better.

    1. That is sweet of you to ask Nina. He is doing good. We are still waiting to see how his treatment goes with the meds that he is taking but the swelling has gone down significantly which is great! :-)



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