I had looked forward to this time in my life forever. Marriage. I had found my Gilbert Blythe. Like most couples, we spent hours talking about our future, our family, and how we would raise our children. I had planned to have 10 little boys running around our home by the end of our first year of marriage. I was going to have fabulous, homemade meals every night, always put lipstick on right before John came home, wear an apron and possibly even heels. Our children were going to be polite, well-behaved, smart, etc., etc. More importantly, I was going to lead bible studies for women and be very involved in the Pro-Life movement. I planned to continue life as it was before children just with a baby on my hip.
Dominic was born 10 months later. I am the second oldest of ten children. Let me tell you, I thought I knew babies. Really, how different can it be? I loved my siblings as if they were my own. I couldn't wait to have my own babies to love. When Dominic was about a week old, they thought he was having seizures. Life...forever changed. Confidence...out the window. I will never forget the first time I saw him. A love I had never experienced before grabbed my heart. I truly couldn't believe it. Then, we were told he needs additional testing to check out "twitches" he had developed. I was a mess. He was completely fine, but my heart had a small wound in it.
My siblings were always very easy babies. They slept, they ate, and I don't remember them crying, ever. Well, God chose my babies to come in a different form. As wonderful as Dominic is now, he was a very, very fussy baby. He screamed everywhere for 6 months. All the while, my confidence in motherhood faded quickly. I felt as though I was surrounded by "pumpkin babies." You know, the kind that just sit there. I watched people in awe while John and I looked as if we were training for the Olympics in attempt to help this child not to cry so much. Even though he was so fussy, I still couldn't wait to have another baby. Well, Lillie was on a different level regarding intensity of crying. The first night in the hospital the nurses brought her to me and said, "She's been crying so hard for so long." I was walking around our hospital room at 3:00 in the morning trying to calm my 7 hour old baby. Oh no!
I was an even bigger mess. I brought Lillie home and wept. I wept at the time that was over with Dominic and I. I wept at having another fussy baby. On top of it, Lillie developed such serious health problems for the next 3 years. Little did I know what was down the road.
I didn't realize what God was doing with me. I was so filled with "me" that I didn't see the bigger picture. One day was particularly difficult. Lillie had vomited six times that day. I was supposed to be tracking her food intake and she had eaten nothing. I was so worried, so scared, so desperate. In the mail, my mom had sent me a beautiful letter of encouragement and a picture of Jesus sitting in a rocking chair holding a baby.
She wrote, "Lindsay, this is what I am asking you to do for me. I don't want you leading bible studies. I don't want you doing Pro-Life work. I need you to hold this sick, fussy baby." I can not be there to hold her so I am asking you to." I cried. I was holding her and I looked down and realized, "THIS is my path to heaven. THIS is what I am supposed to be doing. Nothing else."
From then on, I focused on loving her so beautifully. I knew no one would see us clean up throw up for the sixth time that day, but I will do it beautifully, patiently, and with so much love. God sees. He is always watching.
If you've not read the books With God in Russia or He Leadeth Me, go buy them right now. Fr. Walter Ciszek had BIG plans. He felt the call to the priesthood since he was a child. Additionally, he knew he was being called to convert Russia through his priesthood. Everything lined up so beautifully for him. His seminary years were wonderful and shortly after being ordained, he had the opportunity to go work in Russia. He couldn't believe it. God had guided his life so perfectly. Up to this point, his life had been pretty uneventful.
After a series of events due to the war, Fr. Ciszek spent the next 23 years doing hard labor in a prison camp. He saw many horrible things. His writings are beautiful and he too realizes that his plan was very different than God's plan for his life. He was so confused. Why did he go though seminary and feel such strong calls to the priesthood only to spend his years doing hard labor? He wasn't even able to practice his priestly duties. It was forbidden.
We prayed to Fr. Ciszek for Lillie's complete recovery. We truly believe he cured her. We will only know in heaven, but I knew he was with us everyday taking care of her. I felt his presence one night so strongly, it scared me.
What I learned through our journey with Lillie, I will never forget. First, I fell truly in love with John. I needed him. He was my calm. When you walk the road of suffering with somebody, you go to a different level of love. We sat for hours in doctor's offices together waiting, hoping, and praying. I would never trade that for anything. Secondly, we are made saints by doing our daily work beautifully. Not necessarily without tears, without frustrations, but with the resolve that God is teaching me something through this. Please open my heart. It may be a fussy baby. It may be a baby that doesn't sleep. It may be job insecurity. Whatever the issue, it is much bigger in the spiritual realm than we even know. The crosses I had picked for myself were along the lines of things outside our home. I didn't know that He was going to ask me to simply hold a fussy baby, be kind to John when I am filled with worry about a certain child, clean up vomit without complaining.
Everything that happens now I try to respond in my head, "I'm coming, Lord." I try to treat everything as if God is calling me. I see the house a mess, "I'm coming, Lord." I have a fussy baby at my leg, "I'm coming, Lord." I hear the baby crying for the eighth time in the middle of the night, "I'm coming, Lord." It is my goal.
Most of us will not die a bloody martyrdom for our faith, but we will be asked to die a dry martyrdom. Each day, one fuss at a time we can grow closer and closer to His heart. I want to be faithful in the small things. I hope at the end of my life He will say to me, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."