The last few days, I've been thinking a lot about prayer --- its purpose, its importance, its power in my life, and more importantly, how I can cultivate my life in a way in which prayer is weaved seamlessly through everything I do. It seems like lately I'm in a sort of tug 'o war with God, one minute trying my best to control my life in the way I think it should be, and the next minute, looking to Him with requests for help when I think I need some assistance in carrying out my plan. It's the order of events that sometimes gets me all screwed up. I first try and take matters into my own hands, in large part due to the fact that I've never been one to sit back and let things happen on their own. But, too often it seems, I go to God after I've already tried to make things happen myself. I'm the rebellious teenager crawling to my parents for help only after getting in over my head.
In church on Sunday, our pastor talked about prayer, more specifically, our response when God seems to answer our prayer. For various reasons, we have a hard time sharing with others those moments when God follows through on a plan, answers a prayer, or makes His presence known through the big and small miracles that occur throughout our lives. He's there and we know it, but we oftentimes struggle to accept that He wants us to go to him with requests and expect Him to work in our lives. It's what He does, and it's our job to be aware and share the daily things he's doing with others. To be salt and light.
Since Sunday, I've been praying with audacity - open and honest about my fears, my requests, and my ultimate trust in God's plan for my life. And although he hasn't exactly presented my requests on a silver platter, He's shown me His presence the last few days. He always has, it's just that now I'm seeing it.
Today, God gave me just what I needed. He gave me Cruz. I worked this morning, but had to take off after lunch in order to get Cruz to his two-year doctor's appointment. Now, the idea of taking poor Cruz to the doctor to get his finger pricked and sweet thigh stabbed with a flu shot is about the last thing I would have pictured as God's answer to a prayer, but I've learned throughout my life that he indeed works in mysterious ways. Through shots and all, my little boy gave me just what I needed.
Beau couldn't go to Cruz's 2-year check, and although I realize I am perfectly capable to go on my own, I invited Mom along, hoping to catch a quick lunch together and some much-needed 'mom time.' I was really expecting the worst, in large part due to the fact that both Cruz's 12 and 18-month check were pretty awful. He was well aware of the fact that we were indeed at a doctor's office, and he cried through the entirety of both appointments. He didn't want us to take his clothes off, screamed when the doctor tried to measure his head, and wouldn't let our doctor go near him with the stethoscope. By the time we even got to the true test, aka, the shots, Beau and I were exhausted and hell-bent on keeping him quarantined because quite frankly, anything sounded better than those shots.
And don't get me started on the finger-prick. The poor innocent lab nurse, who, bless her heart, was just trying to small talk her way through the obvious anxiety in the room, got a stare-down from this mom who was not in the mood to talk about the weather outside. And while the prick itself wasn't too bad, the slow squeezing to get a test tube full of blood while my son looked at us in completed desperation was another story.
Needless to say, you can see why taking Cruz for his two-year check wasn't exactly on my bucket list for the day. I prepared for the worst, and warned my mom that she was about to see her grandson in a whole new way. The minute we pulled up to the hospital parking lot, I looked for signs of recognition in my little boy's face. His big brown eyes were big, and he clenched my shirt a little tighter as we approached the massive revolving doors of the hospital. I did lots of 'mom talk,' building everything up to be super cool, while also doing my best to downplay the situation, all the while trying to hide my own fear and anxiety about waiting rooms, needles, and my poor baby scared and sad.
The minute we walked in that waiting room, I could sense that things would be different today. Cruz squealed at the sight of the fish "pool" and loved pointing out the animals in the mural painted on the wall. He thumbed through a Parents magazine with Mom, and seemed quite at home in this strange, sterile environment.
I thought things were about to go downhill when Cruz refused to stand on the 'big boy' scale to get his weight. He held onto me for dear life and stood shakily on his tippy toes until I rescued him. Once we entered the Finding Nemo room, however, Cruz quickly got over his fear, and turned on the charm to our favorite nurse, Sarah. Before I knew it, Sarah had worked her magic and had Cruz 'playing doctor' with her while she collected his stats. He listened to 'Superman's' heartbeat (I will never go to the doctor again without a character on his t-shirt), let her take his temperature, and even climbed back on that big boy scale for his weight. He put his full trust in this sweet nurse, and his vulnerability completely melted his Grandma and me. I don't think I'll ever forget the sweet look on his face when he listened to his heartbeat. He was concentrating so intently, yet every now and then he would glance up at Sarah with his big brown eyes without saying a word. So out of character for my boy, which I think made it so much sweeter.
He continued to be a trooper through the rest of his appointment, giving the doctor a high-five, and letting him see his 'muscles' underneath his shirt. I could tell things were about to take a turn for the worse when it was time for his flu shot, but my big boy continued to amaze me with his innocent strength and courage. With his hand clenched tightly around his sucker, he continued to cry out "all done" through his shot, but quickly recovered with a lick of his sucker and a reassuring 'mmm...' less than five seconds after his poke. Oh, to be inside that head of his wondering what the heck was going on.
We made it through the finger prick, thanks to a sucker, my iPad, and some silent prayers, and Mom and I zealously celebrated our tough guy all the way out the door. Cruz remained calmed, licked his sucker, and periodically reassured himself that all was in the past by proclaiming a very confident, "all done." We celebrated a successful appointment with a kid's meal at Burger King, and Cruz was sound asleep before I even pulled out of the parking lot.
There's nothing like watching your sweet baby go through any sort of pain to make your mama bear instincts go crazy. He was fast asleep by the time I got home, and I just couldn't bring myself to bring him back to daycare and go back to work. So, I worked from home with a sleeping boy next to me, answered emails to the sounds of his heavy breaths, and silently thanked God for my strong boy.
The rest of the afternoon was an unplanned, special one for Cruz and I. Beau had his networking meeting, which left Cruz and I to fend for ourselves, just the two of us. I gave him my attention, focused on play, and loved this time together. We painted with apples, snooped around in our favorite bookstore, and laid on our tummies and colored while we watched 'Dancing with the Stars.' A little temperamental recently, quick to get upset and frustrated when things don't go his way, Cruz showed no signs of this yesterday, and was his sweetest self all the way through bedtime. He held my hand in the parking lot to Barnes and Noble, covered his mouth with his hand and giggled when we played with a funny app. on the iPad, and fell asleep in my arms during bedtime stories in the recliner.
When I put Cruz to bed and kissed his cheeks, I couldn't help but think that I didn't think about my personal stress, or deadlines, or the things weighing on my heart all day long. Because just when I started to let myself go there, I turned my sights to this sweet, strong little boy in my life. It may have taken a flu shot and finger prick to get there, but I was so thankful for this day and the quiet reassurance that I don't have to do it all on my own.
I vividly remember a night shortly after Cruz was born --- Beau was at networking, and it was one of my first long day and nights alone with this helpless, fragile little being. I was nervous and fearful to be home by myself, and wondered if I could handle things on my own. That night, we snuggled on the couch and I watched a chick flick, my arms tightly enveloping this perfectly swaddled blessing. I remember feeling so at peace, and remember feeling God's presence there in such a real, reassuring way. Those moments become my tiny glimpses of Heaven --- moments where you celebrate peace and contentment and trust in its truest sense.
I'm a work in progress when it comes to prayer, but am learning to look for God's presence in my life in many different ways. He's there, through a finger prick, a lunch with Mom, and a chick flick on the couch --- and I guess it doesn't hurt to have a precious baby boy there, too.