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Hear my cry, O God,

listen to my prayer;

from the end of the earth I call to you

when my heart is faint.

Lead me to the rock

that is higher than I,

for you have been my refuge,

a strong tower against the enemy.

Let me dwell in your tent forever!

Let me take refuge under the shelter of

your wings!

For you, O God, have heard my vows;

you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name….

For God alone my soul waits in silence;

from him comes my salvation.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

(Psalm 61:1-5; 62:1-2)

The stages of grief are interesting. A week ago today I came to Houston. I came by myself and I felt like the world was ending. I think it was the literal and symbolic act of leaving David and Hannah. Literally leaving them was devastating. What was more upsetting was the symbolic action of leaving them for months. Kicking off this new, uncharted phase in our “heart” journey.

Once Monday came around, I was feeling more hopeful. I got to really rest and experience living in a big city for the first time. After all, three days isn’t so very long, and the kids would be fine with my parents and Brian. Once Wednesday came along, all my misgivings seemed to fade away as David and Hannah got to experience Houston. They went to the park, the library for insect story time, the splash pad, Urban Air, and rode a train. It was an amazing three days.

Yesterday we were at my brother and sister-in-law’s house for a Fourth of July party. It was a fun-filled day of swimming, but I started feeling more and more despondent as the day wore on. At one point while eating dinner, I completely broke down in tears. I wasn’t even consciously thinking about  them leaving today, but I must have been subconsciously thinking about it. I have been an emotional wreck since.

Saying goodbye to the kids as they drove off today…I felt like I was going to die. My chest felt like an elephant was sitting on it. When they drove off, I sobbed for a long time. Notice I say sobbed, not “cried.” I felt like my heart was literally breaking apart.

Some of you may be thinking– Geez, Staci, it is only for three days. They will be back Wednesday. That isn’t even that long. You’re being dramatic.

Maybe I am being dramatic. But I think I understand why this has hit me so hard today.

I am homesick. It is the knowledge that I can’t leave Houston. I can’t go home, maybe for months. I just want my life back. My routine, my house, my identity, my family–all of this has drastically and dramatically changed.

(As I write below, I reference that I am feeling “alone” or “lonely.” Let me clarify: I know I am not in this alone. I am constantly amazed by all the support I have received. For example, my mom has completely uprooted her existence so that she can bring my kids to see me for half the week. I don’t have the ability to care for them alone right now because I am supposed to be resting so Daniel doesn’t come early. It is only out of my mom’s generosity and goodwill that I am able to be with my kids at all. Another example-my incredible husband. He is putting so many miles on the car driving to Round Rock and to Houston. He is so capable and reliable and supportive. He is gentle and patient with me as I go through all of these really strong emotions. I couldn’t have a better partner, and I am so thankful for him. Another example–I am constantly amazed at the wealth of knowledge of my amazing uncle Elmer, who has just gone through complete hell in his own right. He can answer ANY question about ANYTHING technical. From his hospital bed with his legs split open he was able to troubleshoot virtually any RV maintenance question and direct me, someone completely ignorant of all things technical. Another example– my wonderful dad, who is taking care of our dogs and our house, and whom I really, really miss. I have spent virtually every day of the past year interacting with him, relying him babysit my kids every day. Now I am separated from him indefinitely, but he is still able to take really good care of things. I am very comforted in the knowledge that he is has things under control at home. There are tons of other examples of the support I have received; too many to list. I am deeply thankful from the bottom of my heart.

But, to some extent,  I am in this “alone.” Everyone else can go home; I can’t. I am the one who is carrying this baby and dealing with all of the hormonal and physical challenges. I am going to be the one alone here with him in the NICU, bearing the emotional strain only a mother can understand as I watch my precious son go through open heart surgery as an infant, as I am separated from my other two children. It is a unique feeling, and I am so thankful for other heart moms who have reached out to me, who DO understand this loneliness. You inspire me, and you are the main reason I am writing this blog. I hope I can extend the same loving kindness that so many have shown to me. Please understand…I do not feel like a “victim” here, and I am not complaining. I am just trying to explain why I use the term “alone” and “lonely.” )

I know I will “get over” this feeling of despondency. As the week wears on, things will get easier, I know. That’s what happened last week. But, unfortunately, I know that I have to feel this today. There is no escaping it.

It makes me wonder–what other “stages” will I be experiencing?

  1. First was the anger, denial, depression, and acceptance of Daniel’s diagnosis.

  2. Now I am starting all over with this “move” to Houston.

  3. The devastation of leaving the kids

  4. The understanding that I can’t come home for months

  5. ???

I need to spend more time in Bible study this week. One of the perks of big city living is reliable, fast, unlimited internet access. This is a hugely new experience for me. Brian and I have only had to use our data from our phones at our home in The Grove, so we haven’t had access to Netflix, Hulu, etc.

That has changed this week as I have been in Houston, alone, with little to no “responsibilities.” I haven’t had a constant stream of laundry, dishes, grading, lesson planning, playing, cleaning to do. My only job has been to rest.

Once again, I have proven I have little to no self-control because I have been spending most of my time watching The Crown on Netflix. While it is an excellent show, I have largely neglected all Bible study and devotional time.

This morning as I felt like the world was crashing down on me, I opened my Bible for the first time all week. I turned to Psalm 61 & 62, as shown above. It is the perfect prayer for me at the moment.

Then I turned to Romans 8. It is possibly the most comforting chapter right now. Here are some verses that particularly stand out:

  1. “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry ‘Abba! Father!'” (Rom. 8: 15) This speaks to me right now because I am filled with fear. This is a good reminder that (a) through Christ I am already victorious in the ultimate battle with sin and death and (b) I should turn to God, not as a some unfeeling, omnipotent power, but as my Father who knows and understands and loves. 

  2. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:26-28) These verses remind me that I am not in this alone. I have an amazing support system of family with me: incredible parents, loving husband, resilient children, amazing extended family. But more than that, I have the Holy Spirit, who “helps [me] in [my] weakness.” I know that all of this pain somehow works together for good. For example, it took this intense homesickness for me to open my Bible again. Even though I hate feeling this sad, apparently it was the only thing to spur me on, to remind me of the importance of prayer, meditation, and Bible study. 

  3. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Rom. 8: 35-37) As alone as I am feeling right now, I know that nothing has the power to separate me from my loving savior. That is an incredible, powerful reminder for me when I am feeling really sorry for myself and really lonely. 

  4. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38-39) One of the biggest fears that I alluded to above is the fear of…”what next?” What new hell lurks around the corner? Not just for me, no. For Daniel, for my kids, for Brian, for my family. As an extension of verses 35-37, these two verses assure me that NOTHING has the power to take away my joy. 

Please continue to pray for us all. All directly involved are experiencing unique, complicated emotions and facing challenges associated with our new routines.

Please continue to pray for Daniel. I don’t even like getting blood drawn and shrink at the discomfort of an IV; I can’t even fathom the pain he, as a newborn, will face.

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