A Crooked Smile


It was a beautiful Saturday morning, our sunflowers were thriving and we were officially without health insurance. Jim and I sat and stared at the stack of bills on our counter. The shock and awe of the job and insurance loss was wearing off and we needed to come up with a game plan. We were down to our last $20 bucks in our bank account, our savings was nonexistent and most of our bills, if not all of them, were due or past due. Every time that I’d come home from work I’d be worried that a disconnect notice would be hanging on our front door, screaming to the neighbors, “We’re broke!” It was so humbling.

Still, I prayed. I would ask for a renewed heart of faith and not of fear, leaving no room for intrusive doubt.  I would ask for forgiveness for having such negative thoughts about Him not coming through for us the way I thought He should. How would I buy this week’s groceries or pay my car insurance? I asked for a trusting heart, not one that was ruled by worry. I tried to talk myself into the “everything is going to be okay” mentality.

Later into the afternoon, Jim and I were in the front yard talking to neighbors. Our kids were playing with theirs, scrambling between our houses. The next thing I heard was a huge SMACK and then I saw Sophia laying face-up on the ground.

“Oh, No! Sophia!” Funny how I had been praying for the health and welfare of Amaya and Josiah, because of their issues, it was Sophia who needed them too!

All four of us went running into her direction. Sophia had went barreling across our yard into theirs, where their lifted truck sat parked with the tailgate down. She didn’t take into account that the tailgate was opened and she ran full speed, face first into the sharp corner of the truck. It knocked her straight onto her back and she literally bounced off of the concrete. After the loud smack there was complete silence. That’s what scared me the most and why I ran as fast as I could. Just before I reached her the entire neighborhood heard the most blood curdling scream that you could hear outside of a horror flick. I squeezed my eyes shut in fear of what I might see.

She split her face open from her upper lip and into her cheek. There was blood, lots of blood. The neighbors brought a towel, I ran into my house for my car keys and shoes. There was no doubt that she was going to need stitches.

We threw all three kids into the swagger wagon (that’s cool talk for mini-van) and I headed in the direction of my mom and dad’s house. This was yet another time I would be ever so grateful that they only lived a block away. Amaya was crying for Sophia, not wanting her to go to the hospital. Amaya’s compassion for people who are sick or in pain is eons more advanced than kids her age because of her life situation, a silver lining. She didn’t want to see her big sissy go to the hospital. Josiah just kept saying, “Okay, Sissy. Shhh. Okay sissy.” He too, had a gift for compassion.

I dropped the little ones off at my parent’s house and drove like a bat out of hell towards the emergency room. Jim sat on his knees in the backseat, holding the towel against Sophia’s face, trying to keep her lip and cheek together. He was trying to talk her into not crying, but you know how that goes especially, when the kid sees blood.

“Can you show me your insurance card?” This was the dreaded question. I had two choices: Play dumb, give her my insurance card that ran out yesterday or straight up tell her that we had no insurance and no money. I did neither, I simply asked her to bill us as a cash patient. Much to my surprise, she said, “No, problem. Please give me your billing address.” Well, that went way easier than expected. Not a ton of paperwork, no background check, simply a statement of, “Bill me. I’ll pay later…” and everything was fine.

They numbed my sweet girl’s face, glued her cheek back together and stitched her lip closed.

What a relief! Maybe things would start getting better after all.

The next morning I woke after a very vivid dream. It wasn’t a normal dream, this one was different. It was real. I actually had a smile on my face when I rose, despite the pile of mismatched socks, missing shoes and crumpled homework. Our mornings had become chaotic. Our family was in disorder. Where I had once imagined scrambled eggs, toast, cartoons and lots of family giggles, I was living a life of finger pokes, carb counting, forced eating and uncertainty that they had enough fluids to keep them from dehydrating. I was becoming a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kind of mom. Not the way I wanted to be. I started to not care that my blood pressure would shoot through the roof and Id I have an excruciating headache by noon. My dream last night was a good dream, convicting, reassuring and…well, good.

In my dream, God and I were sitting on the familiar picnic bench at my favorite park. Relaxed, with His elbows perched on the table, head cocked to the side God smiled at me and said, “Really, Darla? This is the best wpid-screenshot_2014-10-04-16-54-28.pngyou can do?” All at once I got angry, not afraid to be talking our creator. I griped about my financial circumstances. He showed me how my fortunes were already overflowing. I cried about my grief, He showed me how He more than tripled my blessings. I complained of being overwhelmed, He suddenly brought me into my bathroom (weird, right?) and picked up my tube of toothpaste. It was a goopy mess. It was a never-ending glob of minty stickiness that overflowed, dried and hardened. He cinched His eyebrows up at me as if saying, “You could’ve at least put the cap back on.”

I guess I could have.

The next thing I knew was that we were walking through a church campus. I saw Jim there, he was teaching a children’s bible study. He was smiling and happy, happy in a refreshed ‘this is what I love to do’ kind of way. He was an ambassador for Christ for these kids; they looked up to him as he incorporated sports and active play into learning about God. I had never seen Jim in this light before.

I finally realized that God wasn’t buying my poor excuses, even the excuses I wasn’t aware that I was making. He cupped my face and commanded me to sleep, then rise and tend to my family and household, ONLY in the ways that He wanted. Not in the super-hero mom kind ways that were impossible anyway.

Later that morning, during carb count and grape distribution, Jim had mentioned how he had found a gob of Josiah’s hair on his pillow a couple of days earlier. I didn’t think much of it because I had cut a good square inch of skittle infested blonde locks the day before. Maybe I didn’t clean it up as well as I had thought.

After I had dropped the girls off at school, I took Josiah with me to pick up a few groceries. He was sitting in his usual spot in the cart, facing me with his arms wrapped around my next like a baby monkey. I always looked forward to our one on one time we had while the girls were at school. This time, as he reached up to wrap his arms around my neck, I noticed a dime sized bald spot on the top of his head.

I must have looked crazy, stopped in the middle of the aisle, examining my sons scalp, brushing the beautiful blonde hair back so I could get a closer look. Now my baby is going bald? Those familiar feelings of fear andwpid-2014-10-04-16.30.18.png.png sadness immediately returned. My previous ‘self’ pep talk was out the window. I felt like a huge joke was being played on me and again, I fell for it. Frustration raged through my body and I scooped him straight out of the shopping cart and headed directly to Dr. T’s office.

“I can’t believe this…” she said, as she looked at the top of his head.

Me neither, I thought, too discouraged to even cry.




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