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When I was a little girl, I dreamed often. At night when I slept I had vivid dreams. When I woke up I kept on dreaming about what my future might hold (potential husband, traveling the world, becoming a writer, and someday having children). My mom was my confidant for both kinds of dreams. She has a gift for unraveling other people’s dreams and finding God’s voice within them. When I had a bad dream at night, she encouraged me to try and “find God in the nightmare.” She said that often, even in our worst nightmares, we can find a person or an escape route that symbolizes God’s presence in the dream. Sometimes what appears to be a nightmare is actually a dream given by God to speak to us in some way.

As I got older my daytime dreams took precedence over my nighttime ones, and some of them began coming true. I got married to the literal man of my dreams, traveled some, wrote a lot (but mostly for school), and began to have kids. When I had my first son, Asher, we moved away from my home town so my husband could attend graduate school. Being away from my family while I had children wasn’t part of my dream, but we adapted and became stronger as our own tiny family unit. Then I became pregnant with twins (what!?) and we pursued a job that took us even further away from family. A couple of years after having twins, my two-year-old daughter Nora was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Life spiraled into an existence I no longer recognized, but slowly we learned, we adapted, and we grew stronger.

Almost a year has passed since Nora’s diagnosis, the latest in a series of deviations from my original dreams – living away from family, having three young children in the span of three years, and having a child with a life-threatening disease. While time has taken the edge off these realities, there are still days when the challenges of all three coincide to create a waking nightmare sequence.

Tuesday of last week is a good example. It was 2:50 p.m. I needed to pick up Asher from school in ten minutes, at 3:00 p.m. The twins were fast asleep in the middle of a rare but welcome nap. I woke them and carried them one by one to the car with Nora screaming and her brother Abel still mostly asleep. I put both screamer and sleeper shoeless into the car. As I fought to buckle Nora’s writhing body into her car seat, her CGM (continuous glucose monitor) began beeping at me, alerting me to the fact that her blood sugar was at an “urgent low.” I needed to get sugar into her immediately, but the three-year-old was refusing to eat or drink anything.

Meanwhile the clock kept ticking. By now I needed to be outside the school to pick up Asher in two minutes. I had no one close by to call for help, so I called my husband, crying. As I drove madly to Asher’s school with Nora still writhing and crying that “It’s too hot,” “It’s too cold,” “I can’t move,” “I can’t eat” – still with dangerously low blood sugar – and Jordan called the school from work explaining that I’d be late and asking if Asher could meet me at my car instead of following the usual policy of me meeting him in person at the classroom door, I found myself inwardly repeating, “I can’t believe this is my life.”

In moments like these I can’t find any sense in God’s plan. I struggle to find where He is in the nightmare. Then there are moments like this morning when the beauty of His design reaches out, grabs me by the shoulders and gives me a good shake, and I see Him everywhere.

The Bemis family hiking at Mt. Hood

The Bemis family hiking at Mt. Hood

Right now I’m at the splash pad with my family, sitting in the sun and watching them play in the water that we didn’t expect to be turned on so early. Our new puppy, Lucy, is napping at my feet. I watch as Nora, still fully clothed in soggy jeans and T-shirt, wraps her little arms around Abel and squeezes him, overjoyed at this day and the sun and the surprise of the water. I find myself fully in the moment, taking in every detail. I see the outline of her CGM transmitter on her upper arm, her wet curls clinging to her cheeks and neck, her soaking wet “Monsters Inc.” undies (borrowed from her brother) sticking out from the top of her sagging, water-logged jeans. I watch as Abel, shirtless in his brown cargo shorts, takes turns leading Nora into the water, then following her as she takes the lead across to the other fountain. I look around till I find Asher in the field next to us, playing soccer and soaking up some rare alone-time with his dad.

I look again at my twins, at Nora’s CGM, at our new puppy, at all these things that we never planned but that make us “us” and my spirit worships, thanking God for all this color. Every unexpected twist in this life I never dreamed of opens up a new piece of the world to us. We are part of so many communities now: the twin community, the diabetic community, the community of People With Dogs, and we get to make so many more friends because of it. We belong to the world in a bigger way.

Last week (shoot, even yesterday) I would have told you the burden of it all wasn’t worth these too-rare moments of beauty or belonging. But today I have the new mercies and renewed joy God promised me, and I say, “Yes, yes, yes it is worth it.” I say yes to His plan.

But in saying yes, there is still a fight. Even as I pull out my phone to jot down this gratitude that is flowing out of me, I see a warning from Nora’s CGM that her blood sugar is again dangerously low. I have to press pause on my reflection time in order to test her blood and treat the low. I have to save these thoughts for after I save her life one more time. The trade-off is sobering, but even in this there is joy today. She gets to eat a yellow Starburst to bring her blood sugar up, and she’s thrilled about it! I am reminded again that she’s precious; her life is precious and I get to preserve it and care for it in such an intimate way each day. These life-saving moments are infused with purpose, and that is a gift.

I’m getting better at finding God in my nightmares. In moments like last Tuesday’s crisis I see Him in the kindness of the school secretary, in the strength of my husband’s support, and in the gentle reminder that there are friends I could call in a future emergency. And in moments like this morning, I am realizing that some nightmares aren’t nightmares at all. If I cock my head to the side, squint my eyes, and view things in the sunlight, I begin to see that this unplanned sequence of events isn’t actually a nightmare but a dream – His dream for my life. While it may not be what I ever would have chosen, it’s gaining beauty by the moment. Little by little, it’s becoming my dream, too.

About The Author

Hannah Bemis

Hannah Bemis lives in Spokane, Washington, with her husband, Jordan, and their three kids. She works as both a mom and as a private tutor, and loves writing about what God reveals to her through the chaotic and mundane events of everyday life. She and her family attend Turning Point Open Bible Church, also in Spokane.