Looking forward

Life surprises you sometimes. Yesterday morning, for instance, I woke up and there was a newborn calf standing beside her mother. A heifer, even. My net worth went up about a hundred dollars just like that. My happiness meter went ding, ding, ding. She made pregnancy and childbirth look so easy that I had a good mind to slap her.

I love new babies on the farm. This thing about having human babies, though, was a different kind of surprise for me. None of my pregnancies went like the kind in the magazines with “Five foods to eat for a smart baby” on the cover. I didn’t glow; I didn’t nest; and I didn’t smile. Smiling was for happy people and toothpaste models, neither of which were me at the time.

Those years of pregnancy were hard. I vomited so long and so hard that I’m sure my leg muscles came out with the Phenergan. And if I had nerve to stop the laugh track and put on the creepy music, I would tell you that there were times I wanted to die so that the misery would end. Like a runner in the middle of a marathon, pain can make you feel like you’ve hit a wall and you’re not going to make it. If you keep going though, sometimes there is a second wind surprising you right around the second turn. And sometimes, you just drop.

Like I said in my last post, I got a surprise last year. One day I didn’t have a sister and the next day, I did –just like that. The shared childhoods folded into each other, and we didn’t have to try to think of something interesting to say to keep the conversation going. There she was– a friend who liked me because I’m loyal and fun and not because I made all the same lifestyle choices that she did. Pure awesomeness.

And just like that, one day it was over. The baby was born and the nausea was gone. My sister was here, and then she was gone. SURPRISE!… ugh, surprise.

Sometimes I wonder about the thing inside of us that keeps us going when misery is the easier choice.

There are surprises around the corner, and I wonder if it is hope that makes us look for the good stuff, even when we don’t always know we’re looking. Is it hope that helps us pay attention, that keeps us looking forward?

Last month, I read Unbroken. It’s a story about a U.S. soldier in a Japanese torture camp. The details are horrible. Since I spend my days vacillating between being a weenie and the incredible hulk, I figured that the latter would win and I would curl up in a ball and die if I were put in that situation.

But my husband likes to remind me (when he is not busy convincing me it’s improbable I’ll die in a murder mystery and that I don’t have to roll down the windows whenever we drive over a bridge) that God sends comfort to the afflicted, not the ones playing party games on a Friday night.

After bad things happen, I think it’s hope for present and future grace that causes us to get up one day and make a pizza with feta on it, not because that makes anything better but because it means we’ve not given up. In Hebrews 11, the faithful are commended for their desire for something permanent and lasting: “But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.” (v. 16) And sometimes I think that it’s the prayers of the saints that delivers this comfort to us when we can’t reach out and grab it on our own.

Something bigger than duty causes us to fold a dishtowel in perfect thirds and give it a pat pat for good measure. We keep going. We do the next thing. And then all of a sudden, things are back to the new normal. Ordinary days creep back into your life in a slow way, as if to remind us that taking just one more step forward is the right thing to do.

20 Responses to “Looking forward”

  1. 1
    Janet

    We only had two months from my sister’s diagnosis (brain tumor) to her death. All the more reason to encourage others to be always forgiving and reconciling with loved ones. It sounds cliche but it is so true…our time is short. Love, live, forgive, smile, forget and like you said so well, have hope. Love you, Amy. Thank you for sharing and for the encouragement today. :)

  2. 2

    Praying for you, thanks for the bit on HG too.

  3. 3

    Amy, I think another thing is God’s grace. I realize you are no leaving that out, but looking in another direction. A long time ago I made a comment that I did not think I could go on if something every happened to my husband. A wise older woman told me that God has not given me the grace to live without my husband because I still had/have him. Hard things do come, and then God gives us the grace we need to walk through that circumstance. My life is living proof of this for me.

    Congrats on the new baby. Wish we lived closer. Our milk cow is dry and not due until the end of May.

  4. 4

    it is so good to see you back here. your voice was missed. praying for all that you (and all of us) need for today.

  5. 5

    I love the way you think. Thoughts like this are SO YOU:

    After bad things happen, I think it’s hope for present and future grace that causes us to get up one day and make a pizza with feta on it, not because that makes anything better but because it means we’ve not given up.

    There are more, but I won’t list them. I just enjoy your writing so much. Maybe someday you could write a book. You should at least have a regular column somewhere.

    Keep writing, Amy. It’s good for you and it’s good for your readers. You minister to the mommy soul.

    ((hug))

  6. 6

    Beautiful writing Amy! I laughed out loud at wanting to give the cow a slap! :O) And sometimes when I pat the towels I’m folding I wonder if there is something wrong with me! lol Something inside tells me to ‘just get the job done’ when I should be patting them all and thanking my God for everyday blessings. Thinking of you and praying for healing and for God to carry your burden of grief.

  7. 7

    Amy, love your perspective on the new calf! ;) The last paragraph really speaks to me, where I am right now, “we keep going. we do the next thing”. Praying for healing for your family, as Mel said, for God to carry your burden of grief.

  8. 8
    Lois

    ah yes. “Do the next thing.” How many times have I said that in this past year? I’m so glad I read it once –probably because of a reference you made, maybe, to that poem that Elizabeth Elliott quoted with that title.

    And your wanting to slap the cow brought a smile to my face too.

  9. 9
    Dora

    I read Unbroken as well, and recently noted that Tim and Kathy Keller reference it in their wonderful new book ‘The Meaning of Marriage’. What an amazing testimony of grace and forgiveness – although there were times when it was extremely difficult to read.
    So glad to be reading you again.

  10. 10

    I hear echoes of Elisabeth Elliot in your “do the next thing”.

    I’m glad your net worth just jumped $100. You know you’re priceless, though, eh?

  11. 11
    Jennifer

    Amy,
    So good to hear from you. I have missed your extremely unique and “hitting home” perspective. I grieve with you on the loss of your sister. God will heal and bring joy again.
    Thank you for sharing. Sending love and blessings to you and your family. :-)

  12. 12
    rv

    so beautiful, funny, deep, and so real….

    You’d be a great friend for me….loyal and fun….fabulous combination! Just for the record…I’m rooting for you and I suspect all of us here are.

    Thanks for sharing one of your gifts with us.

  13. 13
    Julie

    Good words, Amy.

    Encouraging words, with wit and wisdom, grieving and grace, all mixed together – like life meets us.

    Thank you!

  14. 14

    Amy, your writing is beautiful and try. Grace gets us through.
    Congratulations on your baby calf.

  15. 15

    A friend sent me to your post today. Thank you for this persepective. I am grieving the loss of my 12 yr old boy in an accident.

  16. [...] // God sends comfort to the afflicted, not the ones playing party games on a Friday night. [...]

  17. 17

    I appreciate this post. It really captures how you find yourself still living even after an unspeakable loss. And it can be good too. God’s blessings :)

  18. 18
    Cathy Clear

    Such wise councel from your husband…God comforts the afflicted, not those who are playing board games on Friday night.
    I lost my husband 18 months ago and though I miss him terribly there are days I feel as though God has me enclosed in a bubble. Every once in a while He gives me a brief glimpse of what my grief might feel like apart from Him and even those glimpses knock the wind out of me. He is such a faithful God…always faithful…never failing.
    I love your baby calf. There is just something about new life that warms the heart and in the spiritual sense, saves our soul.
    Praying the same thing for you in the loss of your sister as I have been praying for myself since losing my husband…”Lord, please help us to grieve in such a way that it gives you glory and works for our eternal good.”

  19. 19

    Amy, thanks for your honest words and heart. I like it that so much of what you say is so much of what we all feel including the desire to roll windows down while crossing a bridge. As I go through this life and all of it’s bumps, curves, and wrecks I am constantly reminded that this is not my Heaven…praise God!
    Blessings to you and yours as He heals your heart and conforms your likeness to His, Julie

  20. 20

    Dearest, dearest Amy. I am one of your most loyal blog followers. I’ve been there when you were puking and now when you are crying. I am really “looking forward” (no pun intended, heh.) to where you will go next. Much, much, love–


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