Mom-Fails and Alamos

This is the story of a Mom-fail.

Every mother I know struggles with feelings of failure, inadequacy, and mild insanity from no longer being able to complete a task.  I struggle, just like everyone else I know. There are the house struggles that are never done.There are the books that weren’t read, the words that were too harsh, and big boy undees that didn’t stay dry. There is the Bible that didn’t get poured through, the friend that wasn’t called and the workouts that weren’t done.

Those aren’t the mom fails I mean.

Thursday I sat in a few waiting rooms in one of the best hospitals in the nation, hoping for a plan that would help my son. For months I have watched him physically struggle and waste away. Last month I could count every rib and vertebrae. It scared me. I changed his feeding processes, his diet, and tried every possible congestion remedy out there with minimal success. Despite the 1,000 daily calories, hours spent forcing food into him, etc. and both of us forcing smiles through the screams, he didn’t gain weight. Something inside his little body is preventing growth.

The doctors were excellent but baffled. It didn’t make sense. Hand after hand touched my shoulder with assurances that I was, indeed, doing a good job. “He is only as well as he is because of your efforts”, they promised.

All the assurances in the world can’t drown that out. In every triumph, joy and celebration there is a grain of pain.

On Thursday I handed my precious boy over to a stranger with the credentials and authority to assess my son. We discussed options and I waited. It was decided that nothing is left to do but do a scope to identify any problems and to install a feeding tube directly into his stomach. Wherever the nourishment is being hindered will be bypassed; it will go directly to where it is needed. Glory, Hallelujah. I want some of that.

IMG_7731 willduke

There was nothing left I could do. I had done everything in my power. That is saying something, Y’all.  Instead of exhausting myself and struggling for miniscule gains, I had to admit that this is a bigger problem than I can handle.

I admit, I wondered if I was failing at Faith.

I felt totally weary and restless. Why did God feel distant? Why did the balance of my responsibility and his sovereignty feel like a see-saw? Was this a test of faith I was failing? Was I, in fact going to lose my son? “Trust and Obey” is hard in the dark. God lets us have a storm, but then swoops in and calms it, right? Except for all those times where He doesn’t..for the purpose of His Glory and bringing others to Him through the testimony of others.. The name Lazerus comes to mind.


Even an Alamo battle, glorious as it may be, results in a loss. Sometimes I sit at this wooden kitchen table and close my eyes hoping that as I am surrounded and pressed in and feeling my fortification crumble that it will lead to a Texas-sized victory. That will only happen if I remember my Alamo. I have to fight with all I have, knowing I can’t win on my own and that it isn’t going to be pretty.


The Mom-fail isn’t that I can’t nourish my child adequately. It isn’t in my knowledge of health care or treatments. It isn’t in my inability to be father,mother, therapist, and  doctor  to two little ones who have had a whirlwind year– challenges that are difficult for the average family to fully comprehend. If I forget this fight, this struggle, this failing, my eyes won’t be on the victory to come.

The Mom-Fail is if my children see me struggling in this battle while refusing to accept the Grace that God is offering. If they remember how I held their tiny bodies and sobbed but never saw the joy and confidence that comes from trusting the Creator I have failed in my task. If I hide how I am being totally poured out, depleted, and emptied from them so that when they face the same thing they feel isolated and alone, I have done a disservice. If I keep this journey to myself because it “isn’t funny” and “no one wants to hear griping”, I am not witnessing to the Power of  Christ within me. I must do that. I MUST.


Anyone can see the Alamo now. It stands, rather small, in the midst of a busy city. You can have a picture taken at it, walk across the street to get Haagen-Daas ice cream and then walk along the RiverWalk. It’s a far cry from the noisy rage that it is known for, whether you view it as a loss or victory. The crumbling fortification stands as a reminder of a battle for others to see. I want to be like that.

The movie “Alamo” came out several years ago. The one scene that has stuck with me is one of Davy Crockett playing his violin. In the quiet rustle of stand-off, Santa Ana’s troops played music that ground against the fortified, for it meant the onslaught was coming. A tiny thing wore their Spirits down.  Crockett stood to his feet declaring that he just figured out what it was missing. He proceeded to play a sweet harmony that was breathtaking. The result? Men stood to their feet. The enemy didn’t fire. A Mexican soldier leaned over to another and identifies the player as “Crockett”.   When we play our part and glorify Jesus the Christ, the Enemy identifies us.

See it here. It’s worth the watch. No, I insist. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

The daily grind of two little ones, the fear and frustrations of surgeries and therapies, the assessments and wavering, the strain to hear the voice of my Savior through a storm… it is a song that is hard to drown out. Yet, if I can simply play the song that God is directing it will make a precious, sweet harmony that wouldn’t have existed without the song of the Enemy.  Rather than desire these struggles vanish, I must pair them with the beauty of Jesus’ gospel. You can’t have the gospel’s full beauty without the presence of what is saves us from.

Remember your Alamo. The war is won and I will stand with the Victor. What glorious harmony that will be.


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