Wednesday, February 23, 2011

All Is (Not) Well

I have friends whose son recently fell off a 50 foot waterfall. They watched as he fell from one slippery rock to another, landing on his head near the bottom, battered and nearly unconscious. Over the next few months, they went through weeks of coma, not knowing if he'd ever wake again. They went through weeks of him being awake, but unable to move or speak or communicate. They've gone through months of rehabilitation, each small step a huge victory as their son learned to sit up, to stand, to walk, to say words, to do simple things like throw a ball and recognize letters. Essentially, their son had to live his entire first fourteen years over again, re-training his brain to do all the things it had already once learned.

Through it all, they kept a blog, a letter to all the concerned family and friends, detailing each day's struggles and successes. At the end of each day, they signed off, "We are well."

I think about that signature often, and wonder how, in the face of all that was wrong, they could say, "We are well." How, when I so often find myself thinking "All is NOT well today."

All has not been well in a while. I broke my foot and ruptured all the ligaments that hold my ankle together. I got the flu. The flu developed into a nasty sinus infection. That sinus infection developed into asthma. My oldest daughter got a cold. It turned into a sinus infection. My youngest daughter caught an awful cold. The first daughter then picked up a great case of strep at school. My youngest daughter countered that with the flu.

I haven't seen the outside world in nearly a month. We are out of milk. The car needs maintenance. I have a graduate school packet I need to get in the mail that I can't get to the post office to mail. I'm behind on my reading, writing, and blogging. In two days I'm supposed to drive my oldest daughter to Richmond to chaperone a weekend of All-State Choir, as long as she stays well and I don't catch the flu again, and my youngest is better. In four days we have company coming. All is not well.

I've had discussions recently with friends who wonder how everyone around them seems to be doing more than them. The admiration for others always starts with "It's all I can do just to ___" Fill in that blank with whatever it is you do. Because whatever it is you do, it's not as much as someone else. Isn't that what most of us think?

But the fact is that all of only have 24 hours a day, and most of us fill it with however much we can. Some keep cleaner houses. Some make more gourmet meals for their families. Some entertain. Some write 10,000 words a day (you know who you are!). Some go to school full time. Some work full time. Some are juggling the schedules of six kids (and those of you who do that are probably not reading blogs). Some read. Some are exercise and fitness enthusiasts. Some run businesses. Some homeschool. Some take the moniker of stay-at-home-mom to new heights.

And by doing whatever it is we do, other things slide. It's the rule of time. There is always more to do than time to do it, and I'm convinced most people I know really do the best with the time they have. How do I write and go to grad school and run a family of five? I have laundry that sits in the dryer until another load kicks it out. Then sometimes it sits in a hamper waiting another week to be folded. I cook things that only take less than 30 minutes to throw together. I have cobwebs in the light fixtures. I don't spend nearly the time I used to playing with my kids. I skip meals. I quit the gym. I don't read or write blogs regularly anymore. I shop a lot less and if I forget something at the store, we do without until the next week when I go back. Others in the house are having to do more.

Sometimes I am sinking. Sometimes I'm falling. Sometimes I'm treading water, keeping my nose just barely above the surface.

But in the end, what needs to be done gets done. And I realize a lot of things don't really need to be done. And maybe that's what my friends have taught me. When a crisis narrows your life to a hospital room and your son's future is dubious, maybe you can really see what matters.

Am I alive today? Are my loved ones alive today?

Then maybe all is well after all.


  1. Well said, Heidi. One moment at a time (she says to herself!).

  2. I'll be praying for an extra dose of "well" for your life today. :)

  3. I'm glad I'm not the only one who leaves laundry sitting for a week at a time.

    But you're right. There's only 24 hours in a day and we can only do what we can do and instead of thinking what's not getting done, look at what you've accomplished.

    Extra prayers for your friends family.

  4. It's always nice to get a reminder of the important things in life.

    All is very well today!

    Sending prayers your family gets a reprieve from the flu.

  5. Sickness has taken over my house too lately. All 3 of the kids still home. Bleh. The one away from home was sick last week. Yay. She's better. I love your perspective on this. All is well. All is well. We have to keep our priorities in mind and be grateful for what we have.

    Get well soon! Isn't that foot supposed to be better soon?

    I also have clean clothes waiting to be folded that have sat in the hamper for a week or more. What is it about housework? I seriously need me a housekeeper.

  6. Spot biggest struggle is the guilt between what I do spend my time doing and the other things that sit. If I'm cleaning, I feel like I should be on the computer networking. If I'm networking, I feel like I should be writing. If I'm writing, I feel like I should be playing with the kids. If I'm playing with the kids, I feel like I should be working.......the cycle never ever ends. All we can do is our best and catch up when we can.

  7. From my experience, grounded in my Christian faith, "all is well" has to do with Whose hands I'm in, not the circumstances of my life. It echoes the famous song, "It is well with my soul," which was written by someone in the midst of soul-wrenching circumstances.

    As waiting, "approved" adoptive parents, we were matched one month ago with a birth family. Last week, their baby boy was born. Two days later, they took him home. They couldn't go through with their adoption plan. They made it work... And we? We are no longer matched. We're back in the waiting pool of "approved" families. And yet we find ourselves saying,

    "We are well." Yes, we are sad, but we are well. We find ourselves fully trusting the goodness and sovereignty of God. His plan for us is amazing, and it is still intact. No one and no circumstance can thwart it. So we rest. And wait. And live in today. And cherish our marriage and our almost seven-year-old adopted sweet girl. And prepare for the younger sibling God has planned for her, in His perfect timing.

    I don't know why my life is unfolding the way it is, why I don't have the "quiver full" of children I dreamed of when I was younger. But I have never felt more aware of God's hand guiding my life. Before I first breathed, He had composed every line of the melody of my life, and despite my occasional impatience, He has also set its tempo. He also sees the end, the eternal picture, and I do not. So, I will trust my Composer to be my Conductor. Yes, all is well.

    And if He chooses to change what now appears secure (neither I nor my loved ones are guaranteed tomorrow), all will still be well. Because it is well with my soul.

  8. "Am I alive today? Are my loved ones alive today?

    Then maybe all is well after all. "

    Exactly. This is what's most important. Because sadly, it won't be like that forever. I try to enjoy it while I can.

  9. Jill...I need that.

    And this post, I needed that too. I also wrote of frustration and sickness today. What is with us all? I honestly think this winter has us all in a funk and it needs to be over.

    I pray for your friends. What a test. It's said that God will not give you more than you can handle...I think we all hope that we are not made to find out "what we can handle" and are in awe at others that are forced too.

  10. A piece from one of one of my favorite hymns:

    "Though hard to you this journey may appear,
    Grace shall be as your day.
    Tis better far for us to strive
    Our useless cares from us to drive;
    Do this, and joy your hearts will swell -
    All is well! All is well!"

    I've been kind of stuck in the daily cares funk, too. But the bigger picture is that things are more than well--but amazing. Life's amazing. Thanks for the reminder :)

  11. lovely post. There have been times when my house was always clean and I spent more time playing with my kids. There have been times when I've buried myself in project and yes, times when I've written 10,000 words in a day (my poor husband and bursting laundry hamper) but I've decided that there are seasons in our lives for everything.
    I too, am going on week FIVE of being "trapped" in the house by bad weather and sick family members.
    I know that there will be days or maybe weeks when writing isn't as important and my house will look better and my kids and I will spend more time playing.

    But you're right. I have a roof over my head, food in my pantry and my family around me. Really, that's what makes me okay. The trick is to remember that - which isn't always easy for me :)

  12. Wonderfully written reminder, Heidi!

  13. I learned recently that when I say yes to something, I am saying no to something else. It has really helped me keep my priorities in order. Yes, someone else will always seem to be doing more, but, as you said, well is being, not doing. I'll keep you and your family in my prayers that all is well, and more.