In some ways it feels like just yesterday, I was sitting here writing a Memorial Day post and update on Townes. The good news about it feeling like yesterday is that I remember it, which means I had come out of the “fog.”
I have friends that always described those first few months with a newborn as a haze.
“Like I don’t remember much” or “it all blends together” or “it took me awhile to realize I hadn’t even showered…in a couple days” and once they saw my very perplexed and somewhat concerned reaction it was always followed with “at some point, you resurface, you reenter the world functioning again.” I remember thinking, ‘oh good, something to look forward too.’
While for us, maybe our first few months looked different, and some may argue we were getting more sleep than most, at least initially (always look for the silver lining in your circumstances), much of it does seem like a haze. While certain instances and memories are clear and vivid, the concept of time during those four months is cloudy. But, alas, maybe you can relate too, as during that time we were all navigating new terrain.
These past few weeks I have been thinking about the power of music. It is fascinating to me that generally speaking its hard to memorize even the simplest of quotes or even scripture. It doesn’t mean we can’t do it, it just seems to prove more difficult than expected. But put these things to a beat and you won’t forget it.
Music also has a way of branding us. No, I don’t mean by the type of music we listen too, but I mean it becomes seared on our hearts like a stamp. For example, a song you haven’t heard in years suddenly comes on the radio or shuffles through on Pandora or someone mentions a cherished album or artist and instantly you are somehow transported back in time to a place, to feeling, to an outfit, to old friends, to an old house, a party.
I can name so many songs that would do it –
“I saw the Sign” by Ace Base plops me in my friend’s room listening to her boombox to her first tape (yes tape…not even CD, not a thing yet). We are singing at the top of our lungs while her older (much more mature) sister bangs on the door and asks us to be a little quieter, but we are too excited because the smell of her mom’s famous chocolate chip cookies is drifting
Someone mentions DC Talk and suddenly I am standing in the basement of another friend’s house for a church lock in in a tie dye shirt
“We are the Champions” comes over the speaker and immediately the feelings of losing the basketball State Championship Game feels like just yesterday but then at the very same time elated and celebrating remembering that we returned the very next year to beat the same team. Suddenly I am a champion, and the feelings sweep over me like a wave, and it feels good to relive that moment.
“Sweet Caroline” starts playing and I am in the beautiful country of Botswana, the wind in our hair, the sun shining, riding with my family through countryside belting out the song because it was our safari guide’s favorite…and he requested it.
Music creates nostalgia.
Good, bad or indifferent music drums up (pun intended) emotions, memories, thoughts.
I don’t have a musical bone in my body or rhythm for that matter. When I sing its always slightly off key and harmony, well that’s just a lost cause but I love music. I love concerts. I love how music can transform you, how it speaks to your soul, shifts your mood when you need it too.
We could have a whole day’s conversation I believe on music and its inherent connection to our spirit. After all, God, himself created it and as some theologians believe charged the Archangel, Lucifer, over it. Ezekiel 28:13 “You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering…the workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.”
Maybe another day, we will bang on that symbol; but, for now, I want to contemplate worship.
So much has happened in the last month. For better or worse, things around me have started to look “normal” again…
For one, there is traffic – hello, why was I not given a warning? And for two, I am saddened to say I have now worn button pants more times than my yoga pants in a week. That’s how I really know the pandemic is slowly fading.
Scott and I had the honor of connecting over dinner with a family in town whom we share a connection, organ donation. While our stories are completely different and again not journeys, we would have chosen, the Lord so carefully orchestrated this dinner. I hope to share the story one day, but I want to share this for now, I was reminded of the depths of our Father’s love and the lengths he will go to ensure he meets the needs of his children by how our dinner came about.
What a blessing it was for this momma’s heart, a momma of an organ recipient, to hear from the momma of a donor. To listen and hear from this family about their experience and their perspective on the life saving measures of organ donation helped begin to heal the part of my heart that is broken for our own family. And wow, is Jesus ever a part of their story. It is simply amazing. We may even have an opportunity one day to meet, their son’s recipient family as they have a special and close relationship with them.
We dedicated Townes’ at church a couple weeks ago. And while, Scott and I both feel as if we dedicated him long ago, it was nice to return to our church with Townes and participate in an event that maybe years ago we would have taken for granted to publicly dedicate him as a child of God and celebrated a fabulous Mother’s Day. I will never take for granted the gift I have received to be chosen as this special little boy’s mother.
Townes has started screaming with so much excitement when one of us arrives home, the videos I will replay on repeat when the days comes that instead of screams, I receive big eye rolls. He has started crawling on the dogs beds to cuddle and I think my heart may explode. Balls and food are his favorite things and he is becoming a social butterfly like his daddy.
And best of all, we have learned that the harvest will be plentiful as Townes will be welcoming not just one cousin in the fall but THREE!!!! AHHHH!!!! What a joy and what a celebration! Both of my brothers and their wives are expecting little girls, three weeks apart and Scott’s sister and her husband are expecting Baby #2 on Turkey Day!
So many times, over this last month, praise and worship songs have come on and I have been overcome with unexplainable emotion. Even during one song, “Waymaker” Townes started kicking his legs (something he does when he is excited) and I almost couldn’t keep it together.
The feelings of gratitude were so intense. What I witnessed when Townes showed recognition was that he remembered too. You see, we not only played “Waymaker” at the hospital continually, I used to play it while I was pregnant. Sometimes I played it over and over and over again.
Some days, I was able to sing the song confidently and other times it was through tears – you see the words that make up the lyrics are very personal to me.
You are here And You are
Moving in our midst Way maker, miracle worker
I worship You Promise keeper, light in the darkness
I worship You My God, that is who You are
You are here You are here
Working in this place Turning lives around
I worship You I worship You
I worship You I worship You
And You are You are here
Way maker, miracle worker And You’re healing every heart
Promise keeper, light in the darkness
My God, that is who You are
So after about the third time this last month when just the instruments at the beginning of the song brought me to tears, I wanted answers. I knew these weren’t tears of sadness but rather only of joy, of love, and of gratefulness for the Lord’s goodness. And every single time, the words transported me back in time to different moments in our journey. These songs were reminding me of my son’s testimony and of how his life is tiny miracle after miracle.
In a flash, it felt as if I had found a comfortable seat in front of a movie screen with a big bag of greasy, buttery popcorn to watch a movie reel of each instance the Lord showed himself in small and bigs ways in my son’s life.
One time, Scott and I were at church very early after hearing the diagnosis. We only had each other, and the song began – I remember Scott took my hand and we raised them to the sky as if to say, only you and we believe. That was just the beginning.
Other times it was to and from the doctors or on walks with the dogs in the morning and then it was over and over again in the hospital. What I was feeling was more than nostalgia, my spirit and soul were reliving the goodness of God. The songs are my connection to the outcome of my faith, the worship itself is my connection to the Father.
David is known for many things; one of them is for many of the beautiful writings of worship and praise within the Psalms – oh how he reminds us who our Father in Heaven is even during trials and tribulations (and trust me, if you have read any about David’s life you know he had them, a lot of his own doing, what encouragement!).
David reminds us in Psalm 23 who the Good Shepherd is, what we can expect from him and to whose house we belong and in one of my favorites, Psalm 103, David fills us up with awe and wonder for our Father in Heaven.
Scattered all throughout scripture we can find nuggets of truth illustrating for whom we have been purposefully and intentionally created and for what, music, worship, and praise. Isaiah 43:21 states simply, “The people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.”
I was listening to a sermon by my pastor the other day and he was teaching on worship – he stated simply ‘when we worship, we position ourselves to receive from the Lord” And it hit me, when we worship, we are reminded that he is the GREAT I AM, he is a miracle working God, he is a healer, a protector, a promise keeper. When we sit in these truths with our minds focused solely on the benefits offered to us as his children because of who he is, not who we are.
The greatest revelation began to form. I have often been asked, ‘how did you do it…walking forward with Townes’ diagnosis not knowing the outcome? With all the uncertainty?’
This is not to minimize our hard days or even the grief we walked through because we did experience those, it’s to say that the Lord in this moment revealed to me ‘the how’ we were able to walk forward with a belief of Townes’ full healing, with a peace and a certainty we couldn’t explain.
From the time we learned of his condition to well after we came home from the hospital, we only listened to Praise and Worship music. We only allowed those words to enter our ears and it was those words that placed a seal on our hearts. Found within these songs are assurances of hope, covenant truths of to who we belong, promises of love, of healing, of the impossible becoming possible, of miracles. These songs are filled with testimonies of who God is and what he has done.
Entering into worship shifts our perspective. Worship has a way of lifting our eyes off ourselves and back to the one with whom anything is possible. Instead of looking down our eyes must gaze up.
I share all of this because, while this month has been filled with many highs there have also been disappointing moments, times where we experienced deep sadness and grief from the news of others close to us and even for some, we do not personally know but their journeys all too familiar, and then others that produced uncertainty for us.
We were recently referred to a nephrologist (a kidney doctor, yes news to me too) because our transplant team was concerned over one of Townes’ levels directly correlated to his kidneys.
As an organ recipient, one of the things you are told is that there is a chance at some point another organ may be needed. It may be needed because the medication transplant recipients take every day ‘may’ put pressure on the other organs, making them weaker.
Always the ‘what ifs’ which we choose not focus on. To the first transplant doctor we met, when the word ‘transplant’ was fresh, new, and scary, Scott said, ‘well doctor, thank you for the information but for now we are just flying this plane and when it comes time to land it, we will.’ Just meaning, we cannot focus on all the possible outcomes we cannot control but only the step in front of us. So we continue to walk that same way now being on the other side of ‘transplant’ – we choose not to focus on all the possibilities that could happen, all the ‘what ifs’ – not until we need too.
So here we were coming off the high of a successful biopsy (no signs of rejection) and passing the one-year mark to learn Townes to learn we needed a referral. So, over those few days, I desperately needed the revelation the Lord graciously provided, the revelation of understanding what put my feet on solid ground – worship.
Worship fosters hope. Positioning ourselves to worship ushers in the Holy Spirit, invites Jesus himself to join us, and makes room for our Father in Heaven to work on our behalf. Worship gives us direct access to the Trinity.
And we are ever so grateful that the nephrologist is not concerned and views his levels as normal; now we are just lucky enough to have another doctor on our team and one whom I so enjoyed meeting. But what a reminder: how good is our God that he would pursue me to provide this wisdom when I needed it?
So, I have decided anytime I don’t know what to do because the world is telling me the worst, most depressing and upsetting news…I will choose to worship. Will you join me?
I wish you and your family a wonderful Memorial Day. I have many extended family members who have sacrificed themselves to service and gratefully my family never experienced loss because of this service but today we honor and salute all those individuals who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Those families, those mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends who have experienced loss and grief so I can spend this day splashing and playing with Townes and my own family and friends – and oh boy, the ribs will be delicious.
Until Next Time,