the importance of holding on

We’re on day eight of fever in our house – two have the flu, one has strep, and two parents have a common cold. Yes, that’s three different sicknesses all up in this house.

I fought against it for about two days last week, wishing I could change what I could see was happening. I realized around Tuesday that this Thanksgiving break was not going to look like what I planned. Some things were canceled, expectations passed by unmet, and all three of my kids suffered terribly with coughs and fevers and wakings in the night.

On Saturday when I started to feel the ache between my eyes, the runny nose and the heavy limbs, I got a little teary and ridiculous about the whole thing. I cuddled up to the idea of disappearing in my bed and letting someone else take care of all the things and people needing attention. Will we ever stop wanting our moms when we start to feel sick?

Today we begin the recovery from the fog. For me, that means trying to remember how to form a sentence. I have a manuscript due sooner than I’d like to admit. Books aren’t written by good intentions, so I have some serious work to do.

But all these things are small, really. Our family will be well soon enough, the book will be written in time, and all these disappointments from last week don’t add up to much even when put all together. I was even able to finish The Distant Hours this weekend and I’m glad I stuck with it. Slow start, great finish.

I remember once my husband telling me whatever you hold on to will hold on to you.

I held on to disappointment some last week and it kept a pretty tight hold on me. Today I’m holding on to gratitude instead, not just for the gifts but to the Giver of them.

What are you holding on to today?


  1. says

    Remember when Reader’s Digest used to have a series called “Quotable Quotes”? Here’s one:

    “I held on to disappointment some last week and it kept a pretty tight hold on me. Today I’m holding on to gratitude instead, not just for the gifts but to the Giver of them.”

    Thanks for the reminder that what I’m holding on to will hold onto me. I needed to hear that!

  2. says

    Beautiful, Emily.

    Your husband’s words were wise! Today, I’m not so much “holding on” as I am “reaching for” – holding on will come later, but one step at a time…anyways, I’ve been holding onto grief for a month, and it’s been dragging me around for sure. But after a solid month of being out-of-my-mind furious with God (no quiet times, no prayer, nothing), I listened to a trusted friend who’s been telling me to try. I haven’t been able to look at my Bible for a month, much less pray. But this morning, I flipped to the concordance, found the word “hope”, and let Rom 5.1-5 sink in deep. Ah. So I’m reaching for hope…and tomorrow, I suppose, begins the work of holding onto it so that it can hold onto me.

    Hope you all feel better soon…and for the record, I don’t think we ever stop wanting our mums when we’re sick. You’re not alone in that :) Keep writing, friend – you can do it.

    • says

      Good to see you here today, Sonika. The work of grief is important – it seems like there are times when we need to hold on to grief and let it do its deepest work, even if that means being out-of-your-mind furious with God. Glad you are tasting a bit of hope today.

  3. says

    Feeling your pain sans the adults being sick. After my daughter was hit by a semi last week, she came down with strep and and ear infection and my son got a head cold. They were zombies for our family who flew in to see them from Ohio. I’m sorry you have all been sick and praying for you this morning, that healing comes alongside the flowing stream of words left on your manuscript. And its so true, how we really do have the choice about joy, or not.

    • says

      I still can’t believe what you’ve been through, Shelly. That statement “after my daughter was hit by a semi…” will never be normal, you know. I hope your girl is recovering, whatever that even means.

      Thank you for your kind words for me and my family.

  4. says

    You always bring a good word for the weary, Emily:) Today, I’m learning to hold on to my expectations with an open hand. It’s so easy to squeeze the life out of them in a death grip, but to hold them lightly gives them room to breathe and change when necessary.

    Feel better, friend!

  5. says

    I’m so glad you all are on the mend. And that holding onto disappointment thing? Yeah, I do it not even realizing the turmoil it’s causing. Thank you for the reminder to think on pure, good and true things.

  6. says

    I’m working on holding onto gratitude and the things of the Kingdom today. I was reading yesterday where Paul tells us not to hold too tightly to our possessions, our grief, or even our joy, and I’ve been trying to root that into my heart. It’s not easy for me, but it’s a goal.

  7. says

    Sorry it was such a hard Thanksgiving for you! We’ve had some like that -everybody sitting around in jammies with Kleenex in hand instead of having fun around a table full of turkey. I pray God will bring health back to your family, sanity to your mind, and strength to write your book!!!

  8. says

    We had the flu at our house and missed thanksgiving with all our children! How sad we were to be home alone with chicken soup!
    Yes, I still want my Mama when I’m sick!

  9. says

    Sounds like we had the same Thanksgiving. Sickness took over our house and kept us from what I think will be my grandparents’ last Thanksgiving. And then we had frozen appetizers for dinner (nothing else in the fridge/at the store at 4pm on Thanksgiving). Needless to say, I was hanging on to disappointment right along with you. But we are better now, and I will visit my family this week, and we will probably never forget the Thanksgiving when we had mozzarella sticks and wine for dinner. :)

  10. 17 Perth says

    Beautifully written. And I am so so sorry everyone is so sick! Prayers for your household that everyone starts feeling better. Maybe in a few weeks–you can have Thanksmas. :) My husband and I have done it before. It is a Thanksgiving meal closer to Christmas. :)
    What a great message in this post? Just recently I gave A LOT to God that I had been holding on to–regrets, etc. Thank you for the reminder.

  11. says

    I can relate to this. We had so much sickness in our house last winter, I learned to hold all plans loosely, half-expecting someone to wake with a fever each night. Your husband’s words are wise. I’m going to keep them in my pocket. Blessings to your family, Emily – for restored health and clarity of mind for writing.

  12. Holly says

    Thank you for the encouragement…and for your husband’s words…I am trying to let go of some things and now I know that as long as I hold on to them, they will have a hold over me. I pray I can hold fast to what is good (Romans 12:9) and let Him take hold of me…

  13. says

    Feeling that spectrum of emotions too – we had so much planned the weekend before Thanksgiving but when one of the triplets landed in the hospital for four days, everything else seemed irrelevant. Was just grateful to have the family all home for Thanksgiving – thankfulness in the extreme.

  14. says

    Hi Emily!! I just started getting into you as an author :) I’m 15 and really considering that book “Graceful”. Anyways, I feel like I’m holding on to fear. The fear of failing. The fear of rejection. The fear that I’ll feel guilty or shame if Im not near or close to perfect..if things aren’t “ok” that’s when Ill put guilt and pressure on myself to make things right. Yes, I am indeed a good girl…desperate to get out of my “try-hard” life. I’m holding onto fear and it’s something I NEED to let go of. Thanks for listening!
    -Melody :)

  15. says

    For Thanksgiving, our home had 2 virus, one broken arm ( from the week before) a one year old, a two year old and the flu. You know, you just try and get through, and pray when you finally get to stop, that you are still smiling – for Real!

  16. says

    Holding tight to dis-contentment (if that’s even a word). At home. In my job. I need to let go to see the joy in both.
    Thanks for the reminder, Emily.

  17. says

    Praying for you and your people. We had a season like that a few years ago – flu, strep throat, pink eye, stomach virus. I definitely wrestled with some major disappointment at moments. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor as we were finally beginning to come up for air. Exhausted, I cried out to God and asked Him if He could just love on me a little extra that day. Not in a demanding “you owe me” kind of way. Just a worn out daughter needing a hug from her Daddy kind of way. And He did. A friend called a little while later saying she had fixed a big pot of chili and had extra and would I like her to bring us some dinner. It was just the hug I needed. His goodness made me cry all the more.

    Praying He loves on you and your family in extra tender ways.

    And love the quote from your hubby. I keep picking up some hurt feelings. Better turn them loose before bitterness sets in.


  18. tina says

    Hi Emily,

    Just wanted to send you a quick note regarding your book Graceful. I recently purchased it for my 16 year old niece. She is exactly what you describe in the book, she doesn’t even know how beautiful and special she is. Although we have been telling her this since she was born!!! She absolutely loved your book, it really spoke to her and I wanted to make sure you knew, your words make a difference to people, keep sharing your gift!!

    thank you,

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