Friday, April 3, 2009

Not Here for Me

Well, today was a good day. According to the Pediatrician, Brynn is getting stronger abdominal muscles, which all babies do at 4-5 months of actual age (vs. corrected age explained in this post). This means, that all babies puke a little more at this age and Brynn is no exception. Unfortunately, the puking generally lasts until 6-12 months corrected age, which means I'll get 4 more glorious months of this than a kid born full term.

Today Brynn puked 5 times and although I don't want to paint a totally graphic picture, it will suffice to say that I had to change my clothes twice today--including my underwear, both top and bottom. Considering I was wearing jeans, an undershirt, an overshirt, and a zip-up sweatshirt, that's a lot of puke (more technically called "projectile vomiting"). With this new development, not altogether unheard of for GERD kids, we'll be keeping a close eye on her weight to make sure she's retaining the nutrients she needs to grow.

So why was today a good day, you may ask?

Because I had a wonderful conversation with God about it. As I was trying to manage all the emotions I was having about not only her increased vomiting, but also about several other set backs we've had lately, a lesson I learned a while ago came to my mind.

About seven years ago, a person very close to me suggested I serve a mission. For those of you not acquainted with my faith, you likely know what I'm talking about when I mention the two guys wearing white shirts and ties with little black name badges on. Well, less commonly known is that girls serve missions, too. We wear skirts and dresses and travel in pairs just the same. Anyway, when my friend suggested it, I wasn't too keen on the idea. I had a lot of plans and they certainly didn't include leaving for a year and a half to serve a mission.

Well, when I prayed about what God wanted me to do, I felt certain He wanted me to go. Resigning myself to what I thought would be drudgery, I said to myself, "Well, at least I'll learn a lot." Now, I don't remember more than a couple of times that I've felt chastised by God Himself (usually He encourages me to be a lot softer on myself than I am). But on this occasion, I felt an immediate rebuke saying as clearly as I've heard anyone speak, "Natalie, you are not going out there for you."

Whoa.

Initially, I thought that meant that I was supposed to serve a mission because there would be some person or people I'd need to help--and that if I thought I was going out there for me, I'd miss the opportunity by being too self focused. But after knocking on what seemed like a million doors and not finding anyone who cared to listen, I started to wonder--if I'm not here for me, and I'm certainly not here to help anyone else (because there's no one who wants me to talk to them), then why on earth am I doing this? It took me almost the full duration of my mission to learn what it really meant.

I was there for God. Not for me, not for the people, not for anyone else. I was there for God. And that meant that if I could focus on Him, the by-product would be growth for me, growth for others, and an overall good for the world that couldn't be accomplished any other way. When we serve God, everyone benefits. When we serve only ourselves, or even if we serve only others, the balance can easily be skewed and somebody misses out.

God never leaves anyone out. He even says that when you service other people, you are really only serving your God (Mosiah 2:17* and Matthew 25:40).

So anyway, as I was asking God what I was supposed to be learning from this experience with Brynn--and more particularly what I could learn from her incessant puking--I remembered that lesson. I am not going through this for me or for my learning only. Nor am I going through this for Brynn or her well being only. I am here, going through these hard things, for God. And if I can keep my eyes focused on that, then I'll learn, Brynn will benefit, and I dare say others may grow too.

If I focus on that, being cheerful is easy. Being faithful is simple. Trusting that suffering does, indeed, have an end comes naturally. I don't know if I believe God willingly afflicts His children, but I do know that if we focus on Him, all these things will be for our experience and will be for our good (Doctrine & Covenants 122:7-8*).

*For those of you who are not acquainted with my faith, an explanation of where we get Mosiah and the Doctrine and Covenants can be found here and here. And if I may put a plug in for those guys with white shirts and ties--be nice to them and let them in (especially on really hot or really cold days). They're just regular kids paying their own way to do a service for God before they go on with the rest of their normal lives. I promise they don't bite!

Love you all,
Natalie

PS Brynn is smiling more and more lately:

When we took our first walk (without oxygen!), I got to use this adorable pink coat before it got too warm. As you can see, Brynn liked the walk--and the coat!


This is Aunt Holly, who (with her husband Brian) happened to be staying with us during their move from NY to UT the very day Brynn got off oxygen! Hooray!

PPS Saturday and Sunday, Apr 4-5 is General Conference, a semi-annual broadcast from the leaders of our Church to all 12 million members across the world. If you're curious, you can click to listen to live streams or older clips here. Basically, we believe God calls prophets and apostles again today--much like He did in ancient times. Like Peter in the New Testament was an ordinary fisherman before Jesus asked him to be "fishers of men" (Matt 4:19), the guys speaking during conference were just "regular Joes" who had careers and families until asked to serve in this position. Only the top 15 receive any pay and even then, it's only a very small living stipend since they are always traveling for the church. Everyone else in Church Leadership, down the smallest local level, is completely volunteer. Though they're not trained orators or professinal ministers, I always enjoy hearing what they have to say.

7 comments:

LINGO FAMILY said...

Just want you to know that I personally am benefiting from your experience, your strength, your hope, and your faith. I have had a hard time with my purpose, my beliefs, my trials ect.the past 4 years. Your testimony, hope and strength through your life experience have helped me in many ways. I truly appreciate your sharing your life in this blog. Thank You.

Marie said...

Brynn's smiles are adorable!!!

Anonymous said...

Your post reminds me of a great website I used a lot while I was trying to decide about whether or not to let them put a feeding tube in Jessica. It was called Moms Wearing Puke. The original site/forum has closed for some reason, but they have a new one at www.mwpfriends.com. You might check it out.

Bonita said...

Oh, I love her smiles! They're contagious - I can't help but smile every time I see one of these pictures.

Anne said...

Thanks Natalie for sharing that message! If you don't mind, I'd like to use it in my RS lesson in a few weeks.

By the way...I'm so grateful that you 'resigned yourself' to serving a mission. You are definitely in my "Top 5 Most Inspiring Friends" and you have brought so much to my life.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Wow!!! Look how big she's getting! Her smile is just beautiful, Nat.

BTW - I was wondering if she could possibly have reflux? I've had a few friends with preemies (and full-term babies) who around this age developed reflux. The reason I thought of it was because you said you have to change your clothes multiple times a day - which all my friends did too. Anyway, just thought I'd mention it just in case it.

Matt, Tommi, Mattie, & Tayson said...

Natalie! You are always an inspiration! Thank you for your bright and shining example! I love you!