The children and I scooted outside to "blow the stink off of us" (a Grandma Fern expression) after fresh snowfall lit up the world in winter brilliance once again. After days of muck, ice slicks, and gray skies, the sun gleaming off a foot of heavy, white snow was refreshing. The girls went sledding on the back hill while I danced around with Caleb, snapping photos, and giving instructions on constructing a sledding track in spring snow. An hour later, Rosy collapsed in a pile to watch the heavy cloud puffs float by swiftly on the wings of a robins-egg blue sky. Her repose reminded me how peaceful it is to trust: to believe the world is whole, and good, and beautiful. As an adult, naïveté burned off like mist before the morning sun, the entirety of that trust escapes me. A world of black and white is one of the freedoms of childhood. Adulthood is fraught with shades of gray.

Every time we reach a new breaking point, there are His hands - and His wisdom - underneath it all. Assuring us that we can suffer more, and experience a deeper well of peace and joy than we even knew existed. Experience as nurses taught both Aaron and I, through observation of others, that there is always a deeper well of both surrender and sustenance. That propels us through the difficult days and seasons, those memories of wiser, stronger, sorrowful folk we have loved in days past. A simple fever is not leukemia; low potassium isn't a death knell. How "light and momentary", indeed, our own troubles appear in the face of the martyrs of old, and those suffering every day in gray, cold, hopeless hospital units everywhere.

Amelia's fever continues. It spiked up to 104.9 - a scary number to see, even for seasoned nurses - last night, despite medication. We recruited wisdom from next door in the form of my mother, successful raiser of four children prone to fevers, and resorted to more old-fashioned measures: sponge baths, lots of icy cold liquids to drink, and setting a timer to give a syringe full of electrolyte replacement every 5 minutes. It worked, and Amelia and I cuddled up in the guestroom upstairs for a few hours of slumber after 3 a.m. last night. My eyes are heavy this morning. But more fresh snow and a warm February sun dawned on Caleb's first birthday, lifting my spirits. That eternal reminder. The rising and setting of the sun, put in motion thousands of years ago by His great hand, and faithful to this day. A reminder, visual, sensational. He is here, always, unwavering, all-knowing, a Keeper of promises. Fevers and birthdays and cancer are not to be faced alone, in the dark.

This hand is bitterness.
We want to taste it, let the hatred numb our sorrow.
The wise hands open slowly to lilies of the valley - and tomorrow.
If hope is born of suffering.
If this is only the beginning.
Can we not wait for one hour watching for our Savior?
~ Held, Natalie Grant