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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Today is a Gift!

On our way to Ohio Thanksgiving week, the boys were watching Kung Fu panda and the wise old master said "Today is a gift, that is why they call it the present." I changed my facebook status to see if anyone could correctly name the source of that quote and, much to my surprise, it WASN'T the master, it was Eleanor Roosevelt! ;-) It actually comes from a longer poem. But the part I love is:

Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is a mystery.
Today is a gift.
That is why they call it the present.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Speaking of gifts, Isaiah had a birthday party last night at a local inflatables place for preschoolers called Giggle Bugs. OK, his birthday was 11/28, but we believe in procrastinating in our house. He had a choice of a party, or a present. He's not stupid, he picked the party so he could have lots of presents!

Anyway, we were all there, including Rebekah. A lady came up to me at one point and asked if I minded telling her about Rebekah. Rebekah was in the car seat in the stroller decked out with her 'cranial remolding orthosis' (Starlight side-opening band helmet), AFO's (ankle-foot orthodic splints - Jump Start Bunny in pink, of course), and, of course, her trach with the big old HME sticking out. She normally draws looks with just the trach, but today, she looked like a space cadet on a moon walk mission! (Couldn't resist the pun on inflatables/moon walks) :-) So I spent a few minutes telling her Rebekah's story and gave her my blog link so she could keep up with her. (Not that my blog is current, but I guess that will be my New Year's resolution! Then again... maybe not.) She asked me if I minded the looks (stares) and questions from people about Rebekah and I said that I didn't. I said that it gives me a chance to glorify God for our sweet precious gift, and to educate people on trisomy 18. (I don't expect anyone to feel sorry for us because of Rebekah. We love her so much and do believe she was given to us for a reason. So I really never have an issue with educating people, and I hope it is a door to discussing God with them.)

Later that evening, I relayed the Giggle Bugs conversation with Michael, and he said that when you only expect 24 hours (or less), then every day is a gift! If you recall, Rebekah's beginning was so rough, she stopped breathing before the cord was even cut at birth. The first several months were very, very hard. Today, when we think about Rebekah and all that she has already overcome, we certainly believe with all of our hearts that each day with her is a gift. And that is despite the countless doctor visits, hospital visits, calendar/lifestyle changes... (You see, when you have a 'medically fragile child', your time is filled up as care-provider and nurse, you leave the house less, invite fewer people over, inevitably miss things because you don't want to bring your child, have less 'me-time', and you can't just have anyone watch them... Lots of people probably really don't think about the massive family changes that result when having a special needs child. The divorce rate for couples with a special needs child is VERY high and scary!) But really, because of where our 'center' is based, this current life has become our new 'norm' and we've adjusted and move on happily - because it is so much better than the alternative!

But the whole conversation really got me thinking...

As much as Rebekah's life has caused what others would see as inconvenience and heartache, we have, indeed, celebrated everyday with her and do not complain because we feel blessed. But what if I applied that concept/behavior to my WHOLE life? I mean, setting Rebekah aside for a minute, what is the focus of my own attitude and view of my personal life?

Well, I don't do such a great job there. I am frequently unhappy with the way things go, stressed out and frustrated, wishing I had this or that, or unhappy with someone else in my life. But WHY? Well, I guess in my mind, I have an expectation that these other events and people in my life will be there for the long haul. So I have 'time' to be mad about it today because I can do something different tomorrow. But the truth is, NONE of us are guaranteed another day!

In fact, my cousin's ex-wife tragically died this past week from a head trauma falling down steps outside her house. She was in her early 30's. Her four year old was with her at the time. I am SURE she didn't wake up that day thinking 'today could be it!' And I don't know about her, but I know that I personally don't live each day like it could be it.

But between her accident and having this gift conversation with Michael, I've been thinking real hard about my attitude of gratitude. There are some people that I am harboring anger towards, there are some personal behaviors I have not been too happy with, and I certainly have not been modeling to my kids the level of gratitude I expect from them! So I am going to try to start each day making this part of my morning prayer - that I would truly believe and live like today is a gift!

This is the day the Lord has made, Let us be glad and rejoice in it.
Psalm 118:24
Each day truly is a blessing and a gift! And I am going to be more committed to living each day like I really believe that statement.

Don't waste your life thinking you'll fix it tomorrow, deal with your hurt tomorrow, get right with God tomorrow. TODAY is the gift. So why don't you join me on the quest to appreciate today for the blessing it is...

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.
Psalm 90:12