Miracle Mondays: When Courage Sags

ryans-whole-family

Last year we were blessed to have “Mighty Mom” join us each Monday here at EMN, to add a little humor and insight. At least temporarily (until someone comes along to fill those funny shoes) I’ve dubbed today the first “Miracle Mondays,” dedicated to people and stories who inspire me … and I hope will inspire you as well.

As luck would have it, today is my sister Chris’ birthday (she’s the one in blue). For the past forty years or so, my courageous sister has inspired me. She’s two years younger than I am, but she recently became a grandmother. She calls herself “Gigi” (G.G.) for “Gorgeous Grandma.” Her son Ryan married his wife Misty and adopted her days-old daughter just weeks before being deployed to Iraq.

Chris lost her leg to complications from cancer when we were children. I remember going into the hospital room a couple of days after her operation, when her thigh was encased in plaster with a metal pole and a plastic foot stuck out of the bottom of it. When the doctors came to make their rounds, they threw back the covers … and found she had put a handpuppet on the foot. She waggled it at them, and launched into an impromptu puppet show. Show off.

This was classic Chris. Instead of wilting away in the hospital, she got out of her bed and was running the halls in days, tormenting the nursing staff until they begged the doctors to let her go home. Once she was home, returned to school as soon as she could, and before we knew it she had joined the cheerleading team (if she’d had her way, she would have gotten the spot at the top of the pyramid).

She was fearless. Instead of sitting in the chalet sipping hot chocolate, she hit the slopes and skied her way down. Instead of listening to the doctors who said she couldn’t have children, she married her high school sweetheart and went on to have two amazing kids. And instead of following in my mother’s footsteps and staying at home, she went to work and has managed to juggle the demands of both home and work with great determination.

To my knowledge, there are only a handful of times when her resolve has jiggled a bit. Typically, when problems arise she digs in her heels, refusing defeat — then plunges ahead when a solution seems to present itself. Like anyone, she sometimes makes mistakes. But it wasn’t until very recently that I saw another side: when her courage actually sagged, at least for a time. All the recent changes in her life had caught up with her, and knocked her down.

Everything in me wanted to fly to North Carolina, to give her a hug and ply her with chocolate until her mood lifted. I couldn’t, but I wanted to. Instead I sent her some tea and a good book, and called every week or so to check in. And prayed. And restrained myself from driving down to see her at Thanksgiving, when she would be spending a few precious days with her son and his new family before he was deployed. My mother found another solution: She had Chris send her a dozen of Ryan’s t-shirts, and fashioned them into a little quilt, for my sister to wrap around herself when she missed her son the most.  

Even the strongest women sometimes have times when their resolution flags. Whether blindsided by tragedy, or fed up with a million irritations that fly at us until the proverbial straw lands, we reach a place where our prayers bounce off the ceiling, the walls close in, and our courage sags. I recall one such time, two years into the foster-adoption process, when a social worker informed me that a biological relative of the children had expressed interest in adopting them if and when the parents’ rights had been terminated.

For three days, it was all I could do to get out of bed in the morning. The thought of losing them after two years … it was too much to contemplate. I had known going into the process that this could happen … and that, if it did, we really had no legal recourse. To lose them now was unthinkable … In the end, I had to trust. And in the end, we got our miracle.

So what do you do when you find your courage sagging?

You stop.  Don’t look farther ahead than necessary. Do not think of next week, or next year. If one day at a time seems too much, break it down hour by hour.

You discern. Try not to react until you have the facts. Focus on what is rather than what might be.

You focus.  What is God asking you to do today, this moment? Fold a load of laundry? Write an article? Pay the bills? Plan a birthday party? Channel your mental energies constructively.

You pray. God sees all, and has a plan for good. Trust Him with it.

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8 thoughts on “Miracle Mondays: When Courage Sags

  1. My courage is sagging alot lately. The state of the world the wars in the middle east and africa. The anti-life cultural of the west. I’m scared for the sould of my 2 1/2 year old baby boy. The world seems so dark and now people are on the mega-disasters and the end of the world kick in 2012. It’s so overwhelming. I pray every day for courage and hope. But it is so hard. I try to be upbeat and postive for my son and my husband, who thinks I just need to stop obessing about death and destruction.

    I will keep praying. I will try to focus and I will stop looking too far ahead but it’s hard.

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    • Dear Katerine: Thanks for writing! I’m reminded of the end of 1999, when the whole world was in panic mode over the world coming to an end. People were storing away supplies like squirrels in winter … Yet all along good John Paul II kept reminding us, “Be Not Afraid!!!”

      His wisdom, which echo the very words of Christ, can go a long way to quiet the restless heart … If we let it. Blessings to you! Heidi

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  2. to Katerine:

    God said that the end would come like a theif in the night…..meaning it AIN’T gonna come when everyone says it’s coming. So definitely not 2012 or 2000.

    to Heidi:

    what do I do when my courage sags? 1) have a good cry 2) find something, anything to laugh at. humor is the best medicine!

    your sister sounds like a hoot, and someone I’d love to get to know.

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    • Mightymom: Yes, Chris definitely got the “spirit” in our family. I think God knew she’d need an extra dose to get through life. Even though she’s my little sister, she’s one of the people I admire most.

      I agree about the humor thing. I’ve used the “sing, loud and in a different key, with the radio” more times than I care to count. It may not work for everyone, but it usually lifts my spirits!

      H.

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  3. Heidi,
    You could not have pictured your sister Chris any better…I have been blessed to be her friend for 7 years and admire her more than anyone I know. She truly is an inspiration to us all, and it’s God shining through her. Thanks for sharing her story!
    Rausa

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  4. Chris is quite a woman. We have been friends and co-workers for over 7 years and that is a gift to me. We talk, laugh and enjoy each others company and also share some of our sadness and fears we come up against. We can always lift each other up. We may approach life differently but we enjoy it in many of the same ways. She is my friend and it’s great to see her appreciated by others. Love ya, Pat

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