If All of Life Were Sunshine
If all of life were sunshine,
Our face would long to gain,
And feel once more upon it
The cooling splash of rain.
Henry Jackson Vandyke
I was born in Kirkland, just outside of Seattle, WA. This fact alone is nothing special unless you consider my parents and siblings were all from Virginia. My childhood was spent playing from dawn to dusk in the city neighborhood of St. Charles, Missouri followed by my formative teen years in southern Maryland. My wife Monica and I met in Northern Virginia where I owned my first home. Our daughter Delaney was born in Rittman, Ohio, and her sister Danica was born in Rockville, Maryland five years later. “Glass half full” readers will appreciate how adventurous my life has been, while “glass half empty” readers might look upon this never-putting-down-real roots as a challenge. I tend to view the volume of liquid in my glass as whatever God has provided, nothing more and nothing less. But my soul aches against this simplistic truth.
My Soul is Still Searching
Thanks to blessings beyond what words can describe, we live in Tucson now. My daughters attend a Christian school and my wife no longer suffers debilitating pressure headaches every day. Hours upon hours of mowing the yard, raking the leaves, shoveling snow, or driving in inclement weather are of no concern here in the desert. I rise each morning with the light, anxious to stare at the ever-changing mountains as each peak slowly comes into focus while the sun travels across a pure blue sky. Tan ridges and valleys turn orange as the sun sets to sleep in the west. The firework finale is held each evening as the sun disappears, exploding its prism of orange, pink, and yellow rays of light far into the atmosphere. We step outside this borrowed home almost every night to marvel at how God does it again and again. The photos we post online do not come close to conveying the experience in-person. The many stars in the clear sky grow brighter each hour. My soul is still searching.
Wandering in the Desert for 40 Years
I haven’t written in a very long time, but when I did, I referenced my favorite book in the Bible as 2 Corinthians, where Paul encourages readers that God’s grace is always sufficient, and His power is strengthened in weakness. Our hardships and faith struggles have been well documented by my wife. But my private weakness, something I rarely share, is in not trusting the Lord enough even after all I’ve seen Him accomplish. I feel like I have been left wandering in the desert for forty years fearing each day and what’s to come. Every morning my last words to my girls as I drop them off at school are, “BE SAFE, BE SAFE.” Energized by the Tucson climate and a true chance to be more well, my wife is exploring more of her world, venturing off to the grocery store, a Bible study, or the writing workshop she just began. When we sit and talk in the evening, I am always fearful she will tell me she’s twisted her neck or spine. I live just one breath away from her or Danica needing another surgery.
When most men my age have achieved success in their career and may be thinking of retirement, I am still needing to update my job resume and plan for interviews. I’m faced with a feeling of shame and despair that I will never be able to fully provide for our complicated needs. When most families I know are secure in their home and saving memories, I am stressed about where we will live when our current miracle runs out. We have seven months left in this house. My soul is restless.
Hidden In God’s Hand
It’s been raining all day here in the desert. My wife has a headache though it’s a “Tucson headache” which means she can at least get out of bed, but her heart hurts where her shunt empties fluid. She is running mostly on adrenaline now. We will be driving almost two hours away for her first Arizona infusion on Wednesday. Her autoimmune encephalitis/PANDAS/PANS symptoms are worse every day. She’s gone too long between treatments. Medicare finally approved paying eighty percent of this very expensive drug. Driving far for health appointments is nothing new, but we feel the same dread every time. I plan to study the long six to eight hours during her drip for a new technical certification with hopes that I can find yet another job to support my family more adequately. Even if a new job just means being able to add primary insurance for Monica it will be better.
This morning, in Isaiah 2:49, we read, “…In the shadow of His hand He has hidden Me, And made Me a polished shaft; In His quiver He has hidden Me.” I feel like I have lived in the shadows most of my life. I’ve never seen them as protection or grace. Only since our move here have I gained the perspective to try and understand all our hard and so much love as a kind of holding or covering, maybe even safe hiding.
But I’m tired. So tired.
My soul longs for rest.
Slaying Dragons and Un-bounding Gratitude
Each morning I do what my father taught me. I wake up and slay dragons. I do the next thing one day at a time. I do not boast of my struggles, for when I am weak, for Christ’s sake, then I am strong. My gratitude for those who have walked with my family and I over the long years is un-bounding. It is with deep appreciation that I strive forward.
A wandering soul was born in the west years ago.
Now when I see a shadowy cloud seemingly lost in the blue sky, I will remember it can be shelter.
When I feel the desert rain, I will understand it is the watering of a rooting soul at peace.
*First published at monicakayesnyder.com, February, 2019. **Republished with permission
Dan has been married to his wife, Monica, for nineteen years. They have two daughters, Delaney (17) and Danica (12) and live in Tucson, Arizona. He works in IT. He enjoys physical fitness and passing on his love of art to his girls.