In an effort to catch up new readers, and bring context to our story, I think it’s best to start from the beginning. Perhaps presenting what we’ve been through in a new light with some personal application for whatever it is you are going through personally. For those of you who already know, thank you for being patient. For those new to our lives, thank you for reading! This is how it all started.
Shortly before my husband Rich and I were married, an online phenomenon started capturing the hearts of females across the globe. It’s called Pinterest. For the male readers, I will explain. (If you are a male reader who doesn’t know what Pinterest is, first of all, How did you get here? Thanks for joining us). Pinterest is a website where you can “pin” your creative interests to “boards” of numerous categories.
For example, find a killer recipe for guacamole? “Pin it” to your “Recipe” board. Need a new way to clean your bathroom tile? “Pin” the ingredients to that all natural baking soda recipe to your “House” board. The options for pins and boards are endless and the deeper you get into the Pinterest community the more you realize that there are beautiful, simple, easy, and desirable clothes, recipes, vacations, and dreams at your very fingertips! Thanks to Pinterest, as we planned our wedding I knew exactly what details would be involved. I had found a mini grilled cheese bar, a milk and cookies station, a processional aisle made entirely out of sheet music, and whimsical bouquets that would prove how bohemian this Northern Californian really is! None of those details actually came to fruition, but boy did I pin them! I also knew what kind of honeymoon we would have, how to “decorate our rental home using only thrifted items”, how to “feed my family on $50 a week”, and how to have an “all natural hospital birth”, and the exact style of newborn photos that would make a GREAT addition to my “Future Kiddos” board. Thanks to Pinterest, I now had a beautiful visual of my life expectations to look at online.
When we became pregnant with our first child, I couldn’t wait to apply the on-trend and downright precious ideas I had discovered. We would take progress photos of my growing belly, being sure to include the produce item that corresponded to how large my baby was. “This week, baby is the size of a lemon…” The nursery would only include items that were exclusive to online boutiques and private vendors. And once baby was born, the fun would REALLY get started!
I would “vaccinate” my child with probiotics and essential oils and prayers, use only organic soap, and exclusively breastfeed. I would help my newborn grow into a child with the help of homemade puréed organic veggies, lots of exposure to different cultures (baby will simultaneously learn French, Spanish, and English), and lots of spontaneous trips to the beach, and friend’s houses for play dates. Our kid was going to be the trendiest, healthiest, most well traveled little genius this side of the Mississippi!
On January 11th, 2014 our dreams came true and I naturally delivered a healthy baby girl named Jane. Jane means “God has been gracious”. I kindly rejected her newborn vaccinations like I said I would, I put her in a Nordstrom onesie and super cute headband (because that is completely necessary for a 2 day old) and we brought home our healthy little princess.
The details of what took place after we brought Jane home are some that will never leave my memory. After a full day at home we were scheduled to bring Jane in to the hospital for her routine newborn check up. The night before the appointment we stayed up watching a Christmas movie with Reese Witherspoon in it. I remember the whole time during the movie Jane was not really interested in eating. I shrugged it off and figured we had the rest of the evening to try again. While in bed I continued to try to feed our fussy child. I had several texting conversations with friends during this time where I was assured that when she was hungry enough, she would eat. Thinking it may peak her interest, we fed her borrowed breast milk through a syringe. However as the hours went on into the early morning it was clear that her interest was only digressing and Jane was becoming more and more lethargic.
We got her dressed for her morning appointment and made plans to visit Target afterwards for a few items. Looking back I wonder who I was trying to impress by going to Target 3 days postpartum. Heck no techno. We checked into the newborn clinic, relishing in every “ooh” and “ahh” we received toward our new little human. The nurse’s assistant escorted us in to the exam room and we asked her the question on the forefront of our minds, “How do we get her to eat?” As first time parents of a newborn, this was the only observation we found pertinent. But our nurse, who had probably already seen about 20 newborns just that week and possibly hundreds in her time of practice must have made a different observation entirely. For after assessing Jane and taking her temperature, she quickly left the exam room and returned with a very concerned looking Doctor in blue scrubs.
As calm as she could, the doctor began to ask us several questions. “When was the last time she peed? Has she experienced any head trauma at home? How long has she been like this?” All I could think was, “I have known this child for about 72 hours, you tell me!” Obviously, that is not what I said and instead answered all her questions, very aware that the tension growing in the room was palpable. After our very brief, extremely fast pop quiz, the doctor told us as kindly as possibly, words that still send a lump to my throat, “This baby does not look good”. On that note, Jane was stripped down from her pj’s that I had so thoughtfully picked out, placed on an exam cart and ran by clinic staff with my husband following, to the adjoining emergency room. At that moment, I was not sure if I would be bringing my daughter home ever again.
As I sat in a wheelchair, the nurse assistant, who I know was a different faith from me by her head covering, frantically pushed me behind my daughter, telling me to, “Pray, just pray”. Guys, when your professional medical staff is running, sweating, and busting out religious terminology, you know that is not a good day.
After several minutes of unknown we were made aware that Jane’s blood sugar upon admittance was almost unreadable, and during that time she had been experiencing several seizures. But she was alive. She would be taken by ambulance to the nearest intensive care unit which happened to be 45 minutes away. Rich followed close behind her while my parents drove me to meet them. Jane had undergone a traumatic brain injury due to low blood sugar, possibly caused by a condition called hyperinsulinism, which soon resolved itself. This injury, however, had left her with sporadic and intractable seizures, meaning they cannot be controlled, and which we would later learn, are permanent. Our newborn’s first days of life would not include beach trips and photo shoots, but rather feeding tubes, Iv lines, blood transfusions, and medications. All I could think during that first month of my daughter’s life was, “I certainly did not pin this.”
While it inspires and stimulates, the problem with a Pinterest lifestyle is it does not account for the unexpected.
Jesus’ disciples learned this quickly. No, they didn’t have Pinterest boards titled “DIY fisherman attire”, or “How to multiply 5 loaves on 1 piece of silver or less”, but they did have expectations. And expectations always come with the risk of being unmet.
In the Gospel of Mark we find an account of an unexpected storm.
Mark 4:35-37 says,
35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But suddenly a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
This is just so fantastic. This is the 2nd year of Jesus’ 3-year public ministry on earth. He’s been healing sick people, doing magic tricks with water, making blind men see, and His disciples are just along for the ride. They’ve left their average, mediocre professions to be the ultimate roadies to the King of Kings. So when Jesus asks them to get in the boat, it’s easy. They may have been thinking, “Of course we’ll get in the boat with You, Jesus! Forget Steph Curry and Kanye, you’re the most popular guy around! Just look at all these boats who want to follow ours. Where You go, we go. Quick – before we go, let’s take a group selfie! #tourlife #imonaboat”.
Then the unexpected happens and the Bible says, “But suddenly, a fierce storm came…”.
You’re doing well, loving your job, but suddenly, the company is downsizing. You’ve anticipated growing your family, but suddenly you can’t conceive. But suddenly, you are diagnosed. But suddenly, the papers are filed. But suddenly.
The “but suddenly” moments are where many are capsized, sideswiped, and often taken out of their own race of faith. If you get lost in the injustice of your “but suddenly” moment, it’s not likely that you’ll stay in the boat, so to speak. In our “but suddenly” moments, I daily remind myself of a couple of things.
First, God is good.
There is someone who is out to kill, steal, and destroy you. But it’s not God! It’s just not who He is. In fact, it says in John that while the thief, speaking of Satan, would like to do the afore mentioned, Jesus actually comes to give life, and abundant life at that! He’s a creator and a giver by nature. His very character is faithful. The Bible says in 2 Timothy (Hilary’s Version) Even when we are faithless He remains faithFUL! It’s just who He is and He can’t help Himself!
The story of the storm tells us that Jesus told his disciples to get in the boat because they were “going to the other side”. It doesn’t say He said “Get in the boat, we’ll see if we make it.” Or, “Get in the boat, it’s unlikely we’ll survive what’s coming.” In a statement of pure confidence and assurance He says they are going to the other side. While He may have known a storm was coming, His intention was never to leave them to drown in the middle of the lake. His intention was always to get them to the other side.
It continues to say,
38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are going to drown!?”
Sidenote: The Sea of Galilee, on which this crew was sailing, is known for sudden, and even violent storms due to the cold air from the steep hills surrounding its borders and the warm air that gathers at it’s surface. It wasn’t uncommon for unexpected waves and wind to appear. Bottom line, this wasn’t in the brochure! However, because He is GOD, we know Jesus knows a storm coming. We know He knows that His disciples do NOT know a storm is coming. And yet Jesus chooses to take a nap, pillow and all. The disciples are in a panic and this guy is as cozy as can be. To quote Stephanie Tanner, “How rude!”
I just love the humanity offered in these verses. It helps highly emotional people like myself feel a little more justified. It says that the disciples wake Jesus up with their concern and their panic, yelling to get His attention. They don’t hide their fear. They don’t pretend that they are holy and prepared. They run to the only One capable of saving them and they do it loud enough to wake Him from His cat nap.
The second thing to remember in a suddenly moment is, be transparent with Jesus.
Its interesting that the majority of the disciples in this boat are fisherman by trade. This must have been one heck of a storm to leave them desperate considering they’ve literally trained all their lives for these moments. I imagine they ran all their resources, recalled everything they learned in fishing school 101, but were obviously left wanting because here they are melting down like children.
In my experience, I realize there’s only so much I can do before I just need to cry out to Jesus. Yoga class, latte breaks, and even the duty of church attendance only suffices for a minute. At some point you have to recognize that you’ve come to the end of your own abilities and as a wife, mom, father, friend, you need to cry out.
You know what happened when the disciples yelled for His help? He woke up. There is nothing like the cries of a desperate people to reach the ears of Jesus. There were crowds of people following Jesus everywhere He went but the desperate cry of a blind man named Bartimaeus is what caught His attention. Don’t exclude Jesus from how you feel just because your confession is sad at the moment!
In Psalm 18:6 David says “In my distress I called to the Lord…” Not “when I had it all together, I asked for help.” Or, “when I finally didn’t feel depressed, I went to God.” Jesus isn’t offended by your questions. It is OK to lay your unrefined thoughts out before Him! You may have been unaware that a sudden storm was approaching, but He was not. You cannot give Him an emotional burden so heavy that He cannot carry it. He can handle it. Your coffee group, your Facebook status or snapchat update can most likely NOT handle all the drama that ensues in your life. Now, I’m not saying to not have prayer support, and honest relationships. These are good and necessary. But people usually do not have the power or patience to silence the waves around your boat. But Jesus, He can always handle it. Even when it wasn’t on your Pinterest boards.
39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!”Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him?”