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Perfect Peace In The Eye Of The Storm

Updated: May 21, 2023

I just watched my oldest, who is 7, get put to sleep with anesthesia. Her eyes started to dart a little and her breathing seemed exaggerated, her chest rising too high and falling too low, and then within seconds her eyes were closed and I was being ushered out of the room. This is Dahlia's third adenoid surgery and this time she's also doing turbinate reduction, but it doesn't get any easier. I still went to the recovery room alone and had a moment of overwhelm, panic and tears over watching my child forced into sleep with anesthesia. I took deep breaths and prayed in incohesive bursts for calm and faith to trust it's a totally routine outpatient surgery and that she'd be done in half an hour. I focused on being grateful she was being operated on by one of the best and that we have access to such great medical care.

Every night we read a devotion with the girls. It's "The One Year Devotion for Preschoolers". It's short and sweet, but the word choice is perfect for young minds. We've been doing it for a couple years now and most of the time it addresses a topic we faced that day. Last night's verse was from Isaiah 26:3, NLT

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!"

This verse hit home in a lot of ways. It tells me the secret to maintaining peace in my home is by fixing my thoughts on Jesus. Even when my barely 3-year-old is screaming in her crib because she's "too big" for a nap, I can have perfect peace when I take a deep breath and focus on a verse that calms me...far, far away behind three sets of closed doors. Even when the first interaction between my two oldest after school is bickering over who gets out of the car first, I can have perfect peace when I correct them with, "The first shall be last," instead of bickering back.

If my thoughts are fixed on Jesus I can live in the eye of the storm. I can be the example I want to be for my girls. I can show them how to keep it together when things aren't going my way; by focusing my thoughts on the things of the Lord. This can refer to repeating a verse I have memorized, opening my Bible every morning, choosing worship music at home, a quick prayer for patience, disciplining based on what the Bible says and not out of anger, listing my blessings when I'm prone to grumble, or being thankful for God's grace and mercy when I screw up instead of brooding on the screw up.

If I trust in God I can have perfect peace while my oldest is undergoing surgery and the other three are doing who knows what at home for hours on end with a nanny. Honestly, I think I was more concerned about the nanny than them! It feels like I'm asking a lot to put a needy, teething 14 month old, a tantruming 3-year-old and a volatile 5-year-old in the care of one individual for an unknown amount of time.

There's that sneaky mom guilt trying to force its way in. Here I am at my kid's third surgery in five years and I'm not totally present. I'm distracted, worrying the fussy baby is crying that cry that is only for Mama and can only be consoled by Mama. I feel guilty leaving the baby and I feel guilty for feeling guilty!

I often struggle with balancing my time between my four girls. The three and unders require the most time and attention because they completely rely on the adult for their basic needs. They can suck us dry with their constant demands, like their dire need for a snack (I just cleaned up your breakfast. Eat what's in your hair while I look for something else). Or the many swift snatch and grabs to the potty (don't pee on me!!!). I break a sweat every time I wrestle my one-year-old into her car seat (I admire the tenacity, but you should really know what's coming by now). And when they're sick every other week? We go dark and enter survival mode. It's draining and all-consuming, so I hold tight to Galatians 6:9,

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Even though the time invested in the 3 and unders seems futile, it absolutely counts. Think of it more as an outpouring of the way Jesus loves and cares for us, right down to our basic needs. As for my bigger girls, at some point the time spent with them went from being about quantity to focusing on the quality. When they're little the days are long, but the years are short- so they say. Then at some point, perhaps its when they start a full day of school, the days darken too quickly and there just isn't enough time between homework, activities, friends, and food prep. And let's not forget about those 3 and unders who are up from their nap and hungry again! I want to pour into my kids and make the most of what little time I have to lay a strong foundation.

This guilt that has me torn between my children and feeling like I'm always letting someone else down is about my need to control and fix everything for the best outcome possible. I'm insane to think I can be everywhere and everything to everyone. It's not sustainable, healthy, or Biblical. God is in control. I need to get over myself and my constant state of worry. Many of us are very familiar with Philippians 4: 5-7,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

His Word tells us that he wants to carry our burdens, 1 Peter 5: 7 says,

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

He wants to free us from the tangled web of worry that will suffocate us, Matthew 6:34 says,

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Me being there gives me a false sense of control. I was there when Dahlia had her first adenoidectomy when she was 2 1/2 and it still went terribly wrong. Elena was only 5 months old and we still had night nurses and monitors on her when she slept because of her unexplained central apnea. This was one of those times that I was with Dahlia, but my mind was also on Elena, wondering if I was in the right place. The surgery was meant to be outpatient and over in less than 30 minutes, but it had been close to an hour since I left her side. I was beginning to panic and no one would give me any information. Finally the doctor came out to see me and said, "Dejó de vamos a observar por una noche...". I'm sorry, did you just come out here and tell me my child stopped breathing when I have not even seen her yet?!

The memory is foggy now, but I demanded to be taken to her and she looked so small and helpless in that hospital bed, confused and angry, yanking at the IV crying. I just held her til she calmed, sang to her and assured her she was okay now. Since she stopped breathing during the surgery they needed to observe her over night. I had a sick infant at home who refused to take a bottle. Dahlia needed me to comfort her at the hospital through the night after her surgery, but Elena needed me for sustenance. I tried to find a way to get Elena in the hospital, but it was impossible. I even considered staying in a hotel down the street with the night nurse so I could come and go. I eventually succumbed to my husband staying with Dahlia and me going home to Elena. I left bawling, an absolute mess, actually resenting my infant for needing my breast when all Dahlia needed was my presence after almost 6 months of everything revolving around Elena.

I spent the night alone in my bed, but with a stuffed animal and blanket from Dahlia's bed that smelled like her. The guilt was tearing me apart and the ridiculous resentment of my infant, who needed me every second of every day in her illness, was making me physically ill. When Dahlia was cleared and came home the next day after an awful night in the hospital, I was beyond relieved. I thought I was back to being everything to everyone again. I hadn't slept in 6 months, I barely ate because of my special diet for Elena's comfort, I lived in a constant fog that was only interrupted by jolts of panic when Elena's alarms would sound on her monitor.

I wasn't in control of aaaaaaanything. I was fooling no one. It was God who was in the OR with Dahlia when she stopped breathing, not me. It was God who made Elena cry out when she was 3 days old and choking in the other room, which brought us to the ER where we discovered the apnea that most certainly would have resulted in SIDS. It was God watching over Elena every night until the apnea became pauses, the pauses phased out, and the endless vials and medicines finally started disappearing from my kitchen counters. It was God who healed Dahlia after six days in the hospital at age 2 1/2 from a UTI that should have affected her kidneys, but somehow didn't. It was God who kept Elena alive at just 2 months old when we were unaware she had RSV when she was already fighting for oxygen from her apnea. What control do I have? How can I possibly get us through all this on my own? Life is going to happen to us and to my kids. My only move is to entrust them to God, who loves them even more than I do, and to teach them to rely on Him too.

Dahlia in her first adenoidectomy attempt. Elena being tested overnight at 2 months and the results showed no progress after a long, uncomfortable night. There were burn marks from some of the sensors the next day.

My super awesome NIV Life Application Bible includes commentary that helps me make connections to my life that I would otherwise miss. My one chapter the other day was Hebrews 11 and verse 23 says, "By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict." Ok, they were courageous for their child, that's cool, I'd do the same. And then I read the commentary,

"Moses' parents trusted God to protect their son's life. They were not merely proud parents; they were believers who had faith that God would care for him. As a parent, have you trusted God enough to take care of your children? God has a plan for every person, so take up the important task of praying for your children and preparing them to do the work God has planned for them. Faith allows us to entrust even our children to God."

This is why God had me take a week to write this post! This is what it all comes down to. My job is to pray for my children and to make little disciples who are prepared to do the work he has planned for them. My faith needs to be bigger than my worries.

In 2 Chronicles 14, King Asa reigned in Judah and he was well outnumbered against the Cushites an "army of thousands upon thousands." When the girls were having one death scare after another over the span of 6 months, I was running on fumes and I felt like I was up against thousands upon thousands. My worries were overshadowing my faith. I wish I had the wisdom of Asa to pray as he did in verse 11,

"Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you , and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you."

That is a powerful, provoking prayer. Needless to say the Lord completely destroyed the Cushites and handed all their assets over to Asa. It should have been an absolute massacre, but instead they completely dominated against the odds. It took me time and reflection after the fact to realize how God carried me through those six months of life-threatening illnesses in my two oldest girls. I came out stronger than I ever would have been in my Christian walk and it's how this blog was born and how a mom support group was created back in Mexico. I was victorious, it just took me a minute to catch my breath and see it. These things of "mere mortals" are no match for those of us who stand with God.

He is leading us as parents, it says so in Isaiah 40:11,

"He tends to his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."

I can rest knowing that I can turn to the Bible for guidance because God is gently leading me in raising my girls. Trying to be everything to everyone breeds guilt and fatigue because it's an impossible task. Only God can be our everything. My girls need to be taught and shown that God is their everything, not me, because I'm only human. I'm going to mess up and there will be times that I can't be there for them. But with Him as our #1 we can reign victorious because he does not let "mere mortals prevail." He wins every time.

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