Sunday, December 20, 2015

Go and Wait... when the phone rings.

.... the phone rang for us. Kellie walked over to lift the black phone from the wall mount. I saw her expression shift to relief. We were going to see Sterling. 

The procedure had gone without complication and the Doc reported that it was fully successful. We walked down the hallway where Kellie was fitted with booties, an apron, mask, and hair covering. She went inside while I waited for the Doc to come give me the results. He came out, still in his scrubs, complete with a specimen dish that held the enflamed tonsils and adenoids, resting on a sterile paper towel.  He insisted that I photograph them. 

I laughed because having surgery here works the same way as when you have a part replaced on your car. They bring you the defective parts so that you can be assured that you received the service you paid for. With the evidence under my nose, I was fully satisfied.

Inside the recovery room, Sterling awoke, opening her eyes to see her mother. Sterling immediately examined Kellie and asked, "Why did you change your shirt?" Kellie laughed, realizing that a very clear thinking little girl had noticed that she'd removed her long sleeve shirt as the day warmed. 

Within the hour we found ourselves back in the room where Sterling had began the procedure with her own change of clothes. Tucked under the clean, white sheets, Sterling leaned up to break her fast since dinner the previous day.

Fresh from surgery, Sterling showed that no small operation was going to slow her down. Bottled water, a green Popsicle, and a cup of green Jello soon disappeared to her eager appetite. Sterling then started to wobble a little and said she was tired. We layed her down on the clean sheets and suddenly a fountain of green sludge erupted from her mouth!

The nurses came in to change the sheets and examined the content. They said that the results were perfect... all green, no red. Who knew that vomit was a good thing? We waited about an hour, and Sterling again had her dose of green, and this time it stayed in her stomach.

The next morning I found my way back to the hospital, made my way to the room... to find it empty. Kellie and Sterling were happily playing in the play room. 

Sterling Mei Shepherd, the strongest little girl I know. You're an odds beater. I have no doubt that God has plans for you. I felt the tension of the past 24 hours suddenly leave me as I got down on my knees and played with my daughter. 

This room was a sanctuary against all the angst and fearful hope that fills this place each day. The sounds of Frozen in español seemed to dance with the smiling voice of my daughter and the soothing backdrop of the freshwater aquarium. We allowed this moment to pour over us as we drank deep the relief.

This moment and space gave us the needed adjustment to view life with a thankful heart. Suddenly it felt like Christmas. My heart felt whole. She was beautiful. It was my job to be there. I was thankful that she was a priority in my life. 

Kellie negotiated the paperwork hurdles and the nurse came in to remove the line from Sterlings left wrist. I explained to Sterling, "They're going to take the line out. It is taped to your skin, and goes inside of your arm a little bit. They're going to put a little pressure on your arm, and then just pull it right out. It will feel a little funny. It won't hurt, but it will be weird." 

She looked at me sideways. I'm constantly kidding her and she thinks this is a funny joke. I explain, "No... really. The cool thing is that you can watch if you want."

And indeed... she did watch. And grinned. The whole time. The nurse was incredibly gentle and kind. She cleaned all of the "sticky" left on Sterling's arm and gently removed the line just as I'd described. 

I watched in awe of my brave little girl. Sterling teaches me how to engage life. Even the tough stuff, she somehow greets it with humor and enthusiasm. I know that she's changed me, made me a better father and human. I look back at the things that have shaped me over the past three years... moving to Guatemala, learning to be a pastor, "principaling" a school, saying good-bye to my grandparents, and countless new experiences. I've seen some miraculous things here. But... nothing has affected me so much as this tiny little human with the soul of a dragon. 

I see so many parallels in our life with these past 24 hours. "Go and wait." Yes. This is the command that God has wanted our entire family to learn. Our piece in life is simply to go and wait. The rest is up to God. 

Oh yeah... here's the last bit. When the phone rings, be ready to go. You'll see what bits He's removed from your life, and then you can begin to recover while He meets you, embraces you, and takes you home.

Merry Christmas. May the joy and peace of the season embrace you... and may you reach to embrace it back.

Checking out with a final reminder
of where our perspective should remain.

This was part 2 of 2. If you missed the first part of the story, just click

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