Scars Tell Stories

The most challenging part of parenting I have encountered so far is watching my children experience pain whether it is emotional or physical. When Moses was six weeks old, we learned that he had Craniosynostosis. His skull had fused while in utero which meant ultimately he would have a disfigured head and it would put pressure on his little developing brain. The solution was major surgery which would include cranial reconstructive surgery. The cranial reconstructive surgery would involve removing pieces of his skull and reshaping them as well as cutting little holes all over his scull to allow the brain to grow. Even though, the surgery sounded scary and painful, we knew it was what was best for Moses and never hesitated in our decision.

At eight months Moses underwent this incredibly painful surgery for an opportunity to have a better standard of life. The alternative was a shortened life-span, cranial-pressure that could cause severe headaches, blindness, and developmental delays. The surgery was a gift for Moses but it didn’t come without challenge. It required him to be brave and go through a painful recovery.

Moses’ surgery went perfect but it was painful for Tom and I to watch Moses’ recovery, he didn’t understand why his head hurt, why his eyes were swollen shut and why he was in a hospital bed hooked up to several different things. However, the surgery was a necessary pain so that he could have the abilities he has now. Craniosynostosis is part of his story.

We have used this part of Moses’ story to show him how brave he was and how his future was greatly impacted for the better through that surgery. The scar across his head acts as a reminder of how amazing it is that his life trajectory changed that day. Moses is incredibly smart, he excels in math, is inventive and has a long life ahead of him. We will forever be grateful for that surgery.

Teaching our kids that sometimes pain is necessary for growth, necessary for much-needed change and apart of life has been so important to us. There are painful times in life where we question the why behind what we go through. I often-times wonder if God is like Tom and me looking at our eight-month-old Moses who had no understanding of why we were allowing the doctors to cause him pain, he was unable to see affect it would have on his future. We didn’t enjoy watching our son go through the pain, it was heartbreaking but it was essential because we wanted the best for his future. We wanted Moses to become the Moses he was created to be. We allowed Moses to go through the pain of his surgery to avoid future pain that would have been more devastating.

We don’t always understand why God allows us to go through pain but we also do not have the big picture. Craniosynostosis wasn’t a punishment for Moses, neither was his surgery. However, he has greatly benefited from what caused him pain. He knows he is courageous and can do hard things. We learn through our experiences, what is inside of us. There are some really incredible strengths in us that we may not know exist until we are in a place where we have to use them.

We have incredible opportunities as parents to teach our children that life is not without pain and it most definitely isn’t always easy but they are brave and resilient. They can not only can get through painful times but they can actually come out of them stronger and grow in empathy and love. Sometimes there pain is essential to avoid future pain.

God doesn’t enjoy or relish in us being in pain. However, God has an incredible way of taking truly painful parts of our story and pulling out the good, even if that good seems so small. Whatever difficult and painful thing you are going through right now has the potential to bring out some incredible treasures within you that you didn’t know existed. It doesn’t minimize your pain and suffering but it gives bravery and courage to your story.

Just like Moses’ scar across his head, we have scars that tell a part of our story. What parts of your story can you now look back on and say I am____ (fill in the blank) and I wouldn’t have known it if I hadn’t have gone through that experience? Or, where can you say, I wouldn’t be who I am today without that part of my story? I most certainly can say that about many experiences. You may not be able to see any good that has come from your pain and that is ok. You may even want to scream at me while reading this, I’ve also been there. My hope for you is that one day, you will see the incredible strength and courage you have to get through it.

Imperfectly Beautiful

As you can see from the picture, I have this placard hanging in my house. You can see the cracks in the heart and it looks outdated and worn out. From looking at it, you wouldn’t know the story behind it or the journey it has been on. It isn’t perfect but it is Imperfectly Beautiful and it means the world to me…

Over ten years ago, I was holding the broken pieces sobbing uncontrollably. My heart was broken in a million pieces and I just so happened to be holding a broken heart that was so much more than a gift. It was a gift my brother had given me for Christmas. I had packed it so carefully and put it in my suitcase for safekeeping. Now it was broken and it would never be as it was again. Devastation was an understatement of how I felt.

We were moving back to the States from Australia, so we had packed up all our prized possessions and were stopping off at Toronto for some of our best friends’ wedding before going back to Montana, where my parents lived. One of our friends was bringing up our suitcase when he had noticed that the placard had been broken on the plane. Our friend had no idea of the importance that it held to me and was caught off guard by my uncontrollable crying. After all, it was just a placard, one I surely could replace. He didn’t know it was from my brother.

My brother, Timothy had passed away only a few months before that. He had passed away only 3 days after I had opened that gift. My mom had told me, he had spent a long time putting thought into and choosing that specific placard out. My husband and I had just been married in November and he wanted to give us a gift for our new home. Three days later he was gone and I was shattered. This was the last gift I had received from Timothy, it was so much more than a placard. It was one of the few tangible things of Him I had left to hold onto. Now it would never be the same, I couldn’t help but think that the broken pieces I held, that were once a heart was how I felt. I felt like my heart was broken and could never be put back together again.

My husband held me while trying to comfort me by assuring me it could be glued back together. However, I just wanted it to be like it was before it was broken. I wanted everything to be like it was before my heart was completely and utterly broken a few months before. Life wasn’t fair and it was hard to imagine it ever being good again. After all, does a broken heart ever look or even operate as it once did? Can something broken actually be beautiful or is it just broken?

You see, that placard represents my beautiful brother and his beautiful thoughtfulness but it also represents so much more. I survived one of my darkest seasons. Although I still feel the brokenness of his death and absence from my life, I AM HERE and I am so grateful for the time I had with him. I am ok and it is a part of my story, it isn’t perfect but it is beautiful. That season changed me, I am not the same person I was and that is ok. I found courage that I didn’t know I had in me, I found out that actually the human body can endure tremendous amount of pain and still survive even when it feels like you can’t. I also found that God surrounds you with the right people when you need them at the moment you need them. These are all invaluable lessons that have helped make me who I am today.

As you can see from the picture, it was glued back together carefully by my wonderful husband and it has lived on my walls in five different houses through many different seasons. There have been many seasons that have come and gone since that season and some very painful. There have been seasons where I have remembered to see the beauty in those difficult and unexpected seasons and then there are seasons of relearning, relearning to breathe and know that you will be ok. In these seasons, God has been so faithful to remind me of who I am and whose I am. Can you see my brokenness? Absolutely, I am still being put back together but not so I can be the same as before but so that I can tell my story, my Imperfectly Beautiful story.

We can’t always see the pain and heartache in each other that has shaped and made us who we are. We all have Beautifully Imperfect stories and it is no small thing that you are here to tell it. You have survived and maybe just maybe gained some invaluable treasures despite the pain and heartache along the way, I know I have. I don’t know what dark and difficult seasons you have gone through but they don’t disqualify you. They are a part of your story, just a chapter, not the whole story.