I haven’t done much reading lately. It’s weird, because I LOVE to read. I stopped sometime during my pregnancy, mostly because my brain just couldn’t focus at that point. Yes, I know there are studies that have denied that there is a “pregnancy brain,” but I don’t buy it. I couldn’t think straight. And then when I went into the hospital, I felt so lousy that reading was even more difficult. So while I’ve had the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan for almost a year now, I have yet to read it. I know I tried to start it a couple of times, and now I’m starting over with it.

Please note: I have yet to read the whole book, and this is not intended to be a review of the book. Rather it is a reaction to one of the sentences at the beginning of it, but I think it’s profound because of what he claims: “I hope reading this book will convince you of something: that by surrendering yourself totally to God’s purposes, He will bring you the most pleasure in this life and the next.”

Um, yeah, ok.

I don’t disagree with the idea he is promoting, the “surrendering totally to God’s purposes.” But let’s be honest, surrender doesn’t necessarily bring about pleasure in this life. I’ve started to see glimpses of that lately in my life, the way God has answered long-held prayers of mine through the extraordinary circumstances of Samantha’s life and death. And “pleasure” is not what I find in the answer to these prayers. Yes, I’ve surrendered. I can’t do anything but surrender to God under the incredible weight of this sorrow. But “pleasure”? What a joke.

One of the first answers to prayer is sadly, about finances. I’ve been worried for a long time about money, mostly in terms of getting out of debt. And while you would think a prolonged illness of a child followed by funeral expenses would bring about financial hardship, the opposite has actually been true. People kept sending us (or bringing, when they visited) money while we were at the hospital, to help with parking or food or whatever. And we have pretty good insurance. So once our out-of-pocket medical was reached (which I think happened even before she was born), we didn’t have to worry about medical bills. Between the money people gave and the fact that we just weren’t spending money on anything but our meals and parking while she was in the hospital, we came out ahead, enough so that we could pay off the plane tickets for Travis’ family that we put on our credit card. That move of charging last minute airfare was a step of faith, wanting them to be able to meet her. Finally, we learned the day of her funeral that the death benefit through our church body’s benefit plans (which includes retirement and health insurance) was actually doubled because we are both employed by the church. The funeral was less expensive than some, so after paying off EVERYTHING involved, we will still be able to use some of that money to add to the memorials that others have sent and make contributions to both our church and the Group B Strep Association.

But I would much rather be living with my money worries than missing her.

Another prayer that has been answered is my prayer about writing. I’ve been writing off and on for this blog for a few years now, with limited focus and even more limited readership. Now I have followers and I have ideas. I’ve wanted for years to write a book but never had a story to tell. Now I feel like I have ten books in me just bursting to come out.

But I would much rather have writer’s block and be holding my little girl.

I know I’ve referenced this song before, but here it is again, because it fits so well. Laura Story’s “Blessings”:

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the achings of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?