The past two weeks have been tough. I mean really tough.
It started when our two year old came down coughing on a Tuesday. Jack was doing okay, but by Friday, Ethan was coughing so hard that he was crying and didn't want to go to school. He is the kind of kid who is so tough that when he sliced open his foot playing barefoot basketball at the neighbors (we did have a discussion later about how this is not a good idea) he had to be carried home and left a trail of blood behind and he never once cried. He never complains so when something is this bad for him, we listen.
Halfway though school on Friday, Luke apparently came down sick and by the time we got him home, he had a fever. Saturday, our six month old foster daughter started coughing.
I had been feeling sick too since the middle of the week, but with my fibromyalgia, I get sick easily. It is so frustrating since all it seems to take is one random person coughing on me while I am out and I have a cold within a couple days. Living with four kids is basically an open invitation for any germ in a ten miles radius to come and infect me. But, I still have to be a mom and take care of everyone.
Monday morning, it was worse. Baby Girl was having trouble breathing and we found out at the doctor's that the bronchitis that had infected us was really RSV. This is the same virus that put Luke in the hospital twice when he was a newborn. It just causes cold like symptoms for adults, but it is dangerous for babies, especially those with all the health issues that Baby Girl has.
The next few days were consumed with breathing treatments, doctor's visits, and all sorts of communication with our social workers in addition to taking care of all our boys. At points, usually in the middle of the night, we were hourly deciding if we needed to take her to the hospital. Thankfully, she responded well to her breathing treatments. It took days, but we made it out of the woods with her.
In just a few days, our lives went from being normal to completely out of control. I had all these grand plans for those days, but they went out the window. In my sheer exhaustion caring for those kiddos, God wanted to get my attention.
I've been thinking a lot about how life isn't easy and sometimes we have the expectation that it should be so. Call it a product of our affluent culture, with its labor saving devices and near instant anesthesia, but it definitely reflects a universal human desire for instant gratification and comfort. A desire for comfort even at a great cost.
We sacrifice serving others and a life of significance for comfort. When we focus on our own comfort, we don't see the needs of others as much as we should. It is easy as a parent to see the needs of our kids and want to do what we can to meet them, but sometimes our desire to be a servant ends there.
It is why, completely honestly, that is bothers me when some people are surprised that I am a foster parent and I deal with a chronic illness. Our culture sometimes tells us that if serving is too hard, too inconvenient, too painful, or even if we just don't want to, then we don't need to do it.
This isn't what Jesus said. He Himself was a servant: He washed the disciples feet. It was a disgusting job in Biblical times; it was a job reserved for the lowly slaves and servants as everyone wore sandals and walked through filthy, muddy, and waste filled streets. And I thought cleaning up my boys after they have been playing outside was bad... If anybody had a right not to humble himself in this way, it was Jesus, the Son of God. Giving can also be an act of service: He was constantly pointing out people who gave all like the widow who gave her last two coins for God's work in Luke 21:2. It might not have been much, but it was all that she had.
I don't think I am responsible for the impact that I make. I'm just responsible for showing up and serving and letting God do what He will with it. Even when it is hard. Even when it is uncomfortable. Even when I don't want to.
This week I was exhausted with fibro and didn't want to get up in the middle of the night with my foster daughter; I wanted to sleep. But, we did it anyway. I know I don't have to do this, I could say at any moment that this is too much for me and let the social workers find some other place for her to go. But, I won't. I am fully convinced that God wants this precious little girl with me right now. It might be harder with chronic illness, but I can't let that steal my life away. I don't know what His plan is with it all, but I know we are doing the right thing by serving. He'll work out the rest. All that matters is that we follow His example.
Very seldom to great things just happen. They are usually born out of adversity and struggle. God shines so brightly when we give it all to Him. If we don't partner with Him in service, we miss out on getting to work with the Hero of this whole story. Anything less than this sounds, well... boring. Insignificant. Self-seeking.
It comes down to giving and serving as much as we are able, like the widow. I'm so thankful the kids are doing better, but it was an honor to get to serve them. It was so draining and I'm incredibly grateful to all of my friends who prayed for us, my mother in-law who made us dinner, and my mom who sent a care package. They were all serving too and God used it as a huge encouragement to me. When it all works together like that, it is a beautiful thing. God's plan always is. Even when it is hard.