2018: Presence and Joy, Jessica

As I sit here at the dining room table, with my Bible open before me (along with a journal and a couple of open, website tabs), my husband is plucking away at his guitar. Song after song, he sings and he plays. And as he plays, I read verse after verse.

The Christmas tree is lit; the house is still; a candle burns; and our hearts are tender.

As planned, our day began with a trip to the hospital. With bags packed and the kids secured at my parents, we drove to our second, pre-op testing appointment.

Blood work…check.

Chest X-Ray…check.

EKG…check.

Vitals…check.

Meeting with the surgery team…check.

Meeting with the Anesthesiologist…check.

“You are cleared for surgery! See you tomorrow morning at 6:30 AM!”

Those words were music to our ears.

After having waited another month for this new surgery date (since the first one was canceled due to a contracted cold just days before his surgery date), we were elated. Breathing a sigh of relief, we headed for a celebratory lunch before heading to our hotel for the night.

With a pep in our step and relief in our souls, we rejoiced in hearing this news. When we first met this sweet, 14 day-old, baby boy (March 19th, 2018 to be exact), we knew he would need this open-heart surgery. And oh what a journey we’ve experienced and oh, what a wait it’s been!

And then my phone rang at 1:43 PM.

I could scarcely understand her words.

What is she saying? I don’t understand.

I’m not sure why I kept blinking as she talked. Maybe if I blinked she’d change her words? Maybe it would all be a miscommunication? A silly mistake? An accidental misunderstanding?

Keep blinking, Jessica. Blink. Blink. Blink. 

But she said it again.

“I’m sorry, Jessica. We are going to need to reschedule his surgery again. There is another surgery that needs to happen tomorrow morning.”

Blink. Blink. Blink. 

“We can reschedule it for December 20th.”

Blink. Blink. Blink. What is she even saying? 

I was in absolute shock. And truth be told, I still am.

I won’t share all the details of the rest of the afternoon but suffice to say, it was a flurry and blur of calls, cancellations, and new confirmation dates.

And here we are.

Singing the songs, reading the verses.

Opening my Advent devotional, I began to read. And as I read, I came to the following words found in Psalm 16:11:

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 

Immediately, the tears surfaced.

Why?

Because last year, on December 28th, 2017, I wrote the following words after reflecting on the past year and preparing for the one ahead:

———————-

So as I head into this next year, I’m asking the Lord for two more words. And so far, I’m hearing this…

2018: Presence and Joy, Jessica. 

And though I have no clue what awaits me in 2018, especially connected to these two words, I am starting by praying the following:

  • Lord, help me to intentionally draw near to your presence, listening and being still.
  • Help me be actively work to be present in the presence of others without distraction and without hurry.
  • Help me deliberately look for and choose joy, especially in the mundane and hard moments of my days.
  • Help me to consciously be a “joy-spreader” to those around me–in both my words and actions.
  • And may you, Lord, “make known to me the path of life [because] in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

———————-

Did you catch that? Do you see that?

The verse I claimed in the last days of 2017 are the very words the Lord has brought me in the very last days of 2018. Sitting at this table with an ache in my heart and a pit in my gut, HIS PRESENCE DESCENDS.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 

No words.

Silently, I started to reflect.

He was there in January when we said “goodbye” to our foster daughter of 8 months.

He was there in February when the grief was heavy and my LPCC exam was before me.

He was there in March when we said “hello” to a baby boy with a congenital heart defect.

He was there in April when we went to endless doctor appointments and countless specialists with our foster son.

He was there in May when we were told our foster son might have a form of Spina Bifida.

He was there in June when we struggled with some job stressors.

He was there in July when we were told our foster son might have a Genetic Syndrome and missing chromosomes.

He was there in August when we experienced significant feeding and weight gain issues with our foster son.

He was there in September when our oldest son accepted Christ and prayed for salvation.

He was there in October when we received the GOOD NEWS that our foster son was cleared of ALL genetic syndromes.

He was there in November when the first surgery was canceled and when our daughter repented and also prayed for salvation.

And He is STILL HERE.

Revealing His presence in December, He continues to show up, show off, and encourage in a way that ONLY He can and He could.

Emmanuel. God with us.

And though those are just the “biggies” that come to mind, He was there in a thousand other ways…some seen and some not.

Through the big and little…the scary and happy…the hard and lonely…the weary and good…the highs and lows…

EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF THIS YEAR, HIS PRESENCE WAS NEAR.

Friends, it’s been approximately 30,067,200 seconds.

I don’t know what the next 17 days of this year will hold, and I can’t guarantee that surgery will happen for our little guy in 2018, but here is what I do know…

He will not leave.

He will be near.

And in His presence, there is an eternal joy that cannot be stolen, squelched, or crushed.

Angels sing, praises ring to the newborn King
Peace on earth, here with us, joy awakening

At your feet we fall

Chris Tomlin, Adore

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5 thoughts on “2018: Presence and Joy, Jessica

  1. Thank you for your words. That were a much needed encouragement. God is with me everyday and in every situation and that is something I need to be reminded of when life gets overwhelming.

  2. This story is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your journal- and part of your journey. Someday your kids will look back on your words, and ponder and treasure them in their hearts. I love how He continues to show that He is the God.of.details. Bless you, dear sister, as you continue to open His word, seek His face, and follow Jesus- the good shepherd. Your family is a light to all around you. Be blessed- continually 💗

  3. Thank you so much Jessica! You, Don, & your family are an inspiration to all of us! Will continue to pray as the Lord continues to work in & through you!

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