When was the last time you felt just absolutely put through the wringer? Dragged through the mud and left for dead? Okay maybe that’s a little dramatic but around my house this past week, you may not find a more apt description-especially if you’re my wife!

I asked for a week off from work for this nice little “staycation” we had all planned out. My wife-Rylee quickly deemed this week “sickcation.”

Here’s the week, at a glance…

Day 1: My oldest son wakes up vomiting and feverish

Day 2: I blow out my back while working out (newborn cries nearly all day unless being held)

Day 3: I get what the oldest boy had (newborn refuses to be put down)

Day 4: Next son in line gets what we both had (newborn’s cries can be heard across the street)

Day 5/6: The 2 girls fall with only baby and mom remaining (I’m still sick and my back/hips feel like arthritis early warning signs. Did I mention something about the baby being upset???)

I took a whole week off from work limping around, waking up in pools of sweat and standing there waiting for the next kid to drop.

Suffice to say it has been a real delight!

That’s not to say we didn’t try to make the most of it… we pitched a tent in the living room one night, had a bonfire the next. We went to Disneyland for half a day (2 of us with over 100 degree fevers) and we moved the TV from the bedroom into the living room where we finally learned how to stream our shows from the tablet to the TV.

Amidst all the drudgery of injury and illness there’s, of course, a few things I’ve learned…

ONE. Everything is a theory unless otherwise tested

Another way of putting this could be, “everything is a test of faith.” I don’t know about how you view the world, but I am convinced that challenges and difficult circumstance are absolutely put in our path as a means for teaching us something and growing our faith.

For example, the theory of having 5 kids is fine when everyone is healthy and whole and the very very newborn baby does literally nothing but eat, sleep, diaper change. It’s something else entirely when 4/5 kids go down hard with the flu and THEN the newborn switches gears-decides to develop a slightly more complex “agenda” for running our lives!

I had a college professor who once said, “life comes in 3 speeds: hard, harder and hardest.” I never liked the quote and initially would have argued him tooth and nail on it; but I’m nearly 10 years from that semester and that little extra life has taught me that, while I’m not resigned to some form of default pessimism, I do have a respect for what the hard can do in testing cute little theories.

TWO. There’s lots of sick people out there. 

One night earlier in the week we had my in laws over-mom, dad, grandma and grandpa and two sisters. As I was praying for the meal I found myself asking for healing and it wasn’t until after the fact I realized how many people in the room really were afflicted some way or another and were in need of a healing hand.

And that was just one very small dining room! That’s to say nothing of the updates I track on Facebook and the church network of people who are seriously sick or in the midst of life-threatening stays at the hospital.

Being sick, down and out on your expectations or perfect plans gives you a much-needed sense of perspective and empathy.

I feel a growing sense of empathy locally (for the little ones in my house dragging on with their snot noses and dreary eyes) and globally (for those nieces, neighbors, co-workers and all of their respective family members).

Growing in empathy and prayer that extends beyond ourselves is a habit that will serve us all the days of our lives.

THREE: You can give thanks in every season 

Now I understand that I’m an optimist and almost never have a problem finding the silver lining, but this time I wasn’t the only one.

Rylee just kept saying, “at least you were home with us this week to weather the storm.” As in, ‘could have been much worse if you were at work this whole week and I was home alone with 4 sick kids!’

The truth is: we have lots of things to be thankful for… that the kids got it all over with in 1 week, that Rylee still hasn’t come down with it, that I have access to cheap meds, that we have help from family and friends.

There’s always someone who has it worse, there’s always a way it could have been worse and there’s always a silver lining.

Being thankful IN the season we are not thankful FOR is a habit that will serve us all the days of our life.

FOUR: Everything happens for a reason

I don’t know why this week played out the way it did with all of the fits and pains and broken expectations of the perfect staycation.

Maybe it was God’s way of forcing us to rest. Instead of breaking our backs pulling long hours at Disneyland, driving all over the County for the best free sights and sounds or going for broke over the full backyard camping experience-instead of trying to pack it all in for the perfect weeklong staycation… we rested.

All the kids napped everyday. We laid around most the week. We binge-watched New Girl and Veggie Tales. Despite the headaches and passing of bodily fluids, it was a somehow a forced rest.

I don’t know all his reasons all the time but I do know sometimes we’re given some sort of insight and “some sort of insight” from the Maker of heaven and earth is no small thing. AND that’s enough for me to go off. 

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