Valentine's Day 2002 my boys caught our house on fire, ending my chances of eating at Kobe Steaks for the first time. We had a 1st grader and 3 preschoolers; so Mama needed a date in a big way! Our babysitter for the evening was the 14-year old daughter of one of the elders at church. This was her first gig for us. After 1½ hours into our 2 hour wait for a table, John got a phone call. I hear him say: "We are on our way." (Pause) "I'm glad you got the fire out, but we have a policy that any time there is a fire, we come home."
The boys had decided to leave their room, where they had been sent by me for bad behavior before we left, to nab Scarlett's Valentine goodies from her school party. (Scarlett's class was full of over-achieving moms who made individual decorative paper sacks of candy for each child. So she had 19, since her mom was the only one who thought that was stupid. If you are one of these moms, please forgive me, and remember that I had THREE PRESCHOOLERS at home as well.) The boys built a lovely campfire on their bedroom floor, using the "child-proof" lighter and her ultra-flammable candy bags. Thankfully the sitter did catch them - but not before they burned a hole in their bedroom carpet. (We left that charred carpet there for years as a reminder.) You will be glad to know that we didn't completely overreact, even though Valentine's Day was considerably down-graded from Kobe Steakhouse to Chili's Take-out. Each Valentine's Day after that I would strongly encourage my children to not cause us to have to return early.
This past Friday night I kept dreaming I was hearing somebody crying. Finally at 2:00 AM, I woke up to very real sobs, which I followed down the hall. I found my precious girl, my oldest child Scarlett crumpled up on the floor of the bathroom crying in pain. She couldn't move or straighten out at all. I just knew we needed to go to the hospital because I had never seen her in such pain. I woke up my husband, and my youngest daughter came down the hall. She said she had been trying to decide when to wake us up. I told my sons where we were headed. Nicholas slept in the living room with his phone by his side so he could be updated. So the 4 of us sped off to the hospital as gently as my husband's truck could. On the way, I sent out a Facebook request and a couple of group texts for prayers.
We were hurried to an exam room, where the nurses and ER doctor took superb care of my girl. Relief came in the form of morphine and the simple fact that everyone was taking her situation seriously. After the CAT scan, we were faced with a difficult decision. The scan was unclear because it didn't show a good picture of the appendix. The doctor gave us two choices: 1) Go home, watching to see if she got worse. 2) Stay at the hospital where she could be observed until a second scan could be done 24 hours later.
In that moment, John and I really did have a difficult decision that many people make based on money. Believe me, money doesn't grow on trees in Baconland. However, money wasn't the only thing on our minds in that moment. My mind went straight back to my sister's appendix bursting. When her appendix burst, her pain eased. That very fact scared us! I looked at the doctor and asked her what she would do if this were her baby. She said that even though the appendix was probably just a 20% chance of causing the pain she would stay if this were her child.
The facts didn't pull us in either direction. We needed guidance as to how to best lead our adult child. I had asked for prayers, and they had poured in through Facebook posts and texts throughout the night. With a huge sense of peace, we felt led to stay overnight and to do the safe thing for our daughter. Every prayer lifted on our behalf had given us peace. When I asked God to show us what to do, I felt confident that staying overnight was the correct answer and so did John.
However, due to a packed house we were stuck waiting in the ER exam room until a room opened up. So we settled in for the night with the Turner Classic Movie channel soothing us, Scarlett resting peacefully from the morphine relief, John in one chair leaned over a metal tray, Savannah on the floor, and me in the other chair. Just as I was dozing off, the shift change occurred, waking us up.
The new ER doctor gave us updated information from the CT scan. Everything she said pointed somewhere other than Scarlett's appendix, giving us a list of questions with no answers. As she left, she said that the surgeon would be coming to introduce himself just in case we ended up going that route. In about 15 minutes, a nurse came in to tell us they were about to take Scarlett to surgery. What?!
This was the point that Mama Bear came out, "My daughter isn't going anywhere until I meet a surgeon." Then guess who walked in! After visiting with him, Scarlett felt very comfortable letting him take out her appendix. He was completely honest that the indicators that he saw pointed to the appendix, but he wouldn't be certain until it was out. I felt better hearing that than the idea of treating a ton of things that just didn't make sense to me. So off to surgery Scarlett went.
As we walked into the Surgery Waiting Area, we ran into an elder from our church. By now it was around 10:00 AM, and I just couldn't believe he was there. Word travels among loved ones, doesn't it? We sat down to wait, and three more friends showed up. God blessed us through them as we waited for news that the surgery had ended successfully. Scripture came alive in those moments:
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:11-18
We were blessed to live a moment of God's love being made complete in those around us, whether physically present or spiritually present through their prayers. If you look at verse 12 above, it says that "God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." I have often wondered exactly how that happens, until just recently I took the time to keep reading to verse 17, which explains it plainly: "This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In the world we are like Jesus." Those who loved us and lifted us and our daughter up to the Great Physician were being like Jesus, giving us the most perfect love ever this Valentine's Day.
Scarlett came through her surgery great. After a night in the hospital, she is recovering quite well on the couch, while binge-watching House of all things. God has certainly blessed our family. The Holy Spirit helped us make a good choice for her health. Furthermore, our extended family and spiritual family lifted us up in prayer, giving us the strength to get through a long weekend.
I believe the love given us helped us cast out the fear we had felt in the beginning. We loved our Father and trusted Him to take care of our girl when we truly were helpless. Yes, this Valentine's Day I felt extremely loved. Thank you, Father, for blessings in the middle of pain.