If this is your first time receiving our newsletter, you can get up to date by going back and reading the previous newsletter in the “Writings” tab of our website. In short, the twins were born in June. A week later, Martha experienced severe postpartum hemorrhaging, nearly died, and had to have an emergency hysterectomy.
Needless to say, as we were on the cusp of an 18-state, 10,000 mile, 40-concert tour a mere 25 days after Martha got home from the hospital, not to mention the 3 infants we were going to be traveling with, two of them 5 weeks old, and the other 20 months… well, let’s just say we had a long line of people questioning our sanity. We looked at each other and did the same occasionally. In my husbandly defense, I did leave it up to Martha to have the final say of going or not. She was determined to go forward with it as soon as the doctor released her to drive again.
Use your imaginations to conjure up two already emotionally and physically depleted parents, one of them legally blind and susceptible to retinal migraines and vomiting under stress. The other having undergone months of a physically grueling twin pregnancy, two major surgeries and major blood loss days before leaving on the trip. Take these individuals and pile them into a 30-foot box on wheels with a talkative toddler just getting used to massive family changes. Add a newborn who is very sweet when awake, very unhappy in the process of falling asleep, and who has the appetite of a Barbie doll, thus adding pumping and bottle feeding to the mix. Finally, add another newborn who is the exact opposite, ceaselessly hungry, who happily… vigorously… spits up two ounces of milk for every one ounce he drinks.
Pile up on top of that the job of entertaining the babies for 10,000 miles, and the unloading/setup/soundcheck/concert/tear down process - sometimes twice a day. Then there was motorhome maintenance, cleaning, meal prep, limited opportunities for doing laundry… and finally, there were the diapers. In the beginning it was at least 20 diapers a day, some of which had exploded in the car seat. The advice they give parents who are at their wits end is to walk away and take 5 minutes. This is the part where we throw our heads back and laugh. Walk away where? There’s babies in both ends of this thing! People suggested before we left that we get a nanny to take with us, but the local mental institution didn’t have one on parole. Even the baby monitor we bought from Amazon shipped itself back at the thought of being part of the circus.
So. Why are we giving you a rundown of what sounds like an absolutely miserable two months? Just being real here… writing the above paragraphs was hard and we took a week between writing them and writing these. In precious quiet moments between the noise, we’ve talked together about the grace God providentially provided for the moment and the difference between the miraculous and the providential.
During the hardest four months of our lives, we saw the difference in detail, up close and personal. So many times we were at the end of our tether and there would be a special word of encouragement, a home cooked meal delivered to the motorhome with enough leftovers to make an extra meal on the road, a special concert with a super kind audience who would worship and then pray for us, a much needed break from the concerts, a beautiful sunset, the babies waking up just 30 seconds before we pulled into our destination, a Cracker Barrel gift card, and yes, three times we managed to get all three babies asleep at the same time.
Being real again here… just about every day there were points when the stress would get to one or the other of us and there would be a misunderstanding, a sharper word than necessary, hurt feelings. We felt our broken humanity acutely. But there was the grace of God again, changing our hearts, giving us the ability to soften, to ask forgiveness, to give forgiveness, to see the other’s point of view… and giving us the wisdom to grab another cup of coffee.
An even more amazing issue to me is the following. Since I was a teenager (just a little while ago), I have always had to deal with retinal migraines stemming from my congenital eye defects. These were debilitating, lasting at least several hours, making me unable to function for the duration, generally ending in vomiting, and resulting in making my eyes weaker and more susceptible to migraines the days afterward. About half of my annual homecoming concerts, I’ve had one afterwards. On all of our previous long trips, I’ve had to deal with them. The extra stress of travel always gets to my eyes no matter how careful we are. On this trip I had anticipated and dreaded migraines even more, for obvious reasons. I’m truly amazed to report that I did not have one, either on the trip, or in the stress of getting home and settling back in. I have no doubt that it was God’s gracious answer to our need and your prayers, and we greatly appreciate the time that you faithful readers and supporters gave to lift us up.
(We beg you, please don’t stop until these kids are older…like out of the house.)
Was any of that God mounting a white horse and charging into our situation, making mountains move, parting rivers, and burning up our enemies? In other words, was it miraculous? Nope, because we still had plenty of spit up and poop and sleepless nights, and tiredness, and did I mention spit up? A divinely touched bib or two that miraculously stayed dry and clean would have been handy.
No miracles, but God made Himself evident in the everyday workings of our lives and showed that when He didn’t move the mountain, He’d give that extra shove to get us over the hump or give us the tools to tunnel through it. Miracles are great, and God uses them for His glory too, but what amazed us on this trip was how every day, in an innumerable amount of ways - a few that we saw, most that we won’t know until we get to heaven - God orchestrated the little things and the big things, the imperfect and the obtuse things, the mundane and the invisible things to fulfill promises He has made to His children, to us. I’ve seen Him work this way for the past 13 years in this ministry, but His providential grace has never been more evident to me than in those 10 very long weeks.
I never thought we’d be writing a post about the Providence of God in regard to the very regular grueling happenings of a family with infants. I guess it may seem rather simple, even a dull thing for anyone to take the time to praise God for. The thing is, He knows and I’m learning that we are much weaker than we think ourselves to be. In truth, we would not make it out the door of our house without His goodness keeping us. That’s true whether you are mentally taxed to the point of tears, fighting a dreaded disease, dealing with marital woes, or praying for wisdom to talk to a family member about Christ. We are totally dependent on the momentary, providential graces of our eternal God.