Labor and Reward

My son, Gabriel, had a tough journey from the start.  My entire pregnancy was very difficult and it culminated in a very dangerous birth.  We barely got to the hospital in time.  I was almost fully dilated and I think the stress of trying to get to the hospital and being jostled around a scrambling to a birthing room, caused an umbilical cord prolapse.  They told me I had to get him out NOW or they were going to have to do an emergency C-section because his oxygen supply was being cut off.

I pushed with everything I had and he came out, blue and not moving.  He was also tiny at 5 pounds, 10 ounces.  The newborns size clothes we had bought were too big!!1930389_117444265073_6519_n

The revived him and he was ok but later struggled with learning to walk and other tasks. He needed a lot of early intervention therapy.  He needed title one support in kindergarten and 1st grade to bring him up to grade level.

Just this past year has been an agonizing ride as we had to go through topical steroid withdrawal.  He missed a ton of school as he the condition was so painful and debilitating.

It’s been a tough, tough journey but we serve a faithful God.  A good God.

Many nights his father and I knelt next to his bed and prayed over him after he fell asleep.  You’ve never met a child more loved and adored by his parents! 397824_10151092514535074_1177420881_n

We’ve always thought he was amazing and smart and gifted, even if those qualities needed a bit of nurturing to emerge fully.

Well…. yesterday I opened a letter from his school inviting him to apply for the Quest program; a program for highly gifted students, because he was showing signs of exceptional giftedness.

I stood in my kitchen as tears filled my eyes.

Proud doesn’t begin to cover it. 

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 

Today when you face your struggles, remember that God wants to use them to prepare you for greatness.  He has an end game and it is GOOD.  Pray hard, believe, do your best and you will be rewarded. 

 

 

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Rest

I’m sitting here munching away on dark chocolate and it’s not yet 9am.  I just drank two cups of coffee plus a generous amount of cold brew.

Why?  Because I’m exhausted.

My husband has been gone on a business trip all week so I’ve been holding down the fort solo.  Which was going pretty well until last night.  Gabe had too much sugar (can’t blame him, a neighbor very thoughtfully brought over Christmas goodies) and was up just about all night long scratching.

I think he finally fell asleep but at 3 am my daughters bed-wetting alarm went off.  So I’m stumbling around in the dark trying to unhook this contraption from her soggy undies while it’s chirping loudly enough to wake the dead.  Gabe is awakened from his slumber and possibly the neighbors as well!

I finally just had to give him a dose of Benadryl so he could stop itching long enough to get back to sleep

I lay there for an hour afterwards and couldn’t fall back asleep until seemingly right before my alarm went off at 6:30.

So that’s why I’m drowning my tired sorrows in some lindt and starbucks.

I just realized all of this is very ironic because I’ve been meaning to write a follow up blog about rest.  My last blog was all about pushing through.  Grit and determination are important but no less important than finding rest.

In my TSW online support groups there is a lot of talk about PTSD, both for the kids who go through this nightmare and the parents who very much suffer along with their children.  I think we’ve been able to avoid it because we have really done everything we can to be there for Gabe, emotionally and physically.  If he was happy, we were happy.  When he cried, many times I held him and secretly cried too.  I’m a big believer in processing your emotions at the time.  Shoving them down leads to so many problems later.

But one lingering fear that still very much affects him is that he is afraid to sit and relax.  See, for months he would get brief energy bursts (where he could walk and function) and we’d be able to get out for an hour or two before he’d “crash” and it’d be back to sitting in the recliner for the rest of the day.  Because his adrenal glands were so shot from the long term steroid usage; sitting down would often mean he just couldn’t get back up again.  Which is terrible for anyone, but much more so when your a formerly very active 8 year old boy.

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He spent many hours here

Now he’s made tons of progress.  His skin looks so much better and he has loads more energy.  He can usually “go” from 9 am to 9 pm now.  A huge improvement where even an hour of being able to get up and walk around was a happy occasion.

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So he’s come so far but I think the fear of “crashing” is always with him and he is afraid to sit down.  Afraid that his energy will desert him if he takes a moment to rest.

I noticed this about a month ago.  I initially thought he always stood because maybe the dryness in his legs made it uncomfortable to bend into a sitting position.  But then I realized that wasn’t it.  He was afraid.  He would push himself all day and not sit at all except when in the car or on the bus.  It just couldn’t be good for him, especially since he is still recovering.

So in the evenings I started forcing him to come and sit with me.  He would resist it at first but pretty quickly he would curl his body close against mine and I would feel his tension melting away.  A deep sigh and a sense of peace would come over him.  What he was resisting was what he most needed.  He fought so hard all day to overcome but he also needed to embrace times of rest after all that valiant effort.

I think that’s all of us.

We think rest is zoning out or maybe shopping or eating or whatever.  And those things can be good and much needed but we need a deeper rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29

When we’re stressed, hurting, tired…. we don’t need to numb ourselves we need to seek this genuine rest.  I know it’s something I need, every day.  Not to check my Facebook for the 56th time.  Not to overdo it on the wine.  But to find this place of true rest that will restore my soul.

We need this time of rest built in to our lives because we live in a pretty harsh world.  Our default mode is to seek bandaids and self-medicate when we really need to get our bruised souls in the healing presence of God.

This is really a challenge to me but hopefully an encouragement to others to seek His rest throughout the day.  He isn’t going to force us (he isn’t a pushy, bossy mom like me) to lay down next to those still waters, but the invitation is there. 790ff8ab4f67275d6ed6d2cd987f1335

“Lord, you know our burdens and our heavy cares.  Heavenly father we pray that we would surrender and relax into your rest.  Help us to have a childlike faith and open our eyes to the wonder of your intimate care for us.  Thank you for loving us so, even when we resist and struggle against what we need the most. Amen”

Pushing Through

Right now my hands and forearms are fried into oblivion.  I shelled out $20 (so well spent) for a month of unlimited Cathe Friedrich workouts.  Having access to the entire collection is like being a kid in a candy store for this workout junkie.  I’ve been doing new workouts every day and my body is currently begging for mercy.

I just love a tough challenge and I love feeling like I’ve done my best.  I even like having sore muscles.

But at 31 there’s more aches and pains than I used to have and I had to go the chiropractor last month when my neck felt out of whack and all my stretching couldn’t fix it.  I found a new chiro and was hoping to get in and out of there asap but he insisted on doing X-rays.

Well, turns out, I have curves in all the wrong places.  My back has twists and turns like a nightmarish rollercoaster.  My neck isn’t much better.

Well, that would explain the back pain that I’ve had for years.  I often have to pause a workout and stretch my back or pop it back into place.  It just is what it is.  I don’t know if it was the stress of gymnastics as a kid, malnutrition as an eating-disordered teen, bad posture or a combo of all three but my back is whack (please forgive the awful pun!).

But I won’t give up on doing what I love and I won’t let it limit me.  I’m going to keep pushing through like I always have.

I’ve run into a lot of obstacles but I haven’t given up.  I figured out a diet that worked.  I found supplements to help with my auto-immune issues.  I found a foam roller to help with my back pain.

I wonder sometimes if that grit and determination is why God has allowed me to face the extreme challenges I have in my son’s health issues.  There’s been a lot of times that it felt hopeless but I wasn’t about to give up.  Ever.

“A large crowd followed and pressed around him.  And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.  She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.” Mark 5:24-26

This is my son’s story too. 25354063_10159835464640074_9156951997104848909_n He saw many doctors and the medicine just made him worse.  We were at wits end and we brought him up to the altar to be prayed over.  The next week God revealed to us that the steroid creams were the cause of his deteriorating condition.  We didn’t get the instant healing we were hoping for but we set off on a healing journey.

I think in life we all run up against obstacles that would try to beat us into submission.  Giants that screams at us to give up.  Times we seek healing in every natural avenue we can and get worse.  Those times we need to push through.  Like that woman who pushed through not just the crowd but what must have been a crippling social stigma as an unclean person for so long; to get through to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.

She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Matthew 9:21 

I want to encourage you to keep seeking, keep pushing because you have a God in Heaven that loves you.

We can push through hard times because our God is for us.

This Christmas season I hope you take some quiet moments to ponder at the wonder that the God of the Universe came to earth as a baby in the most humble way possible.  He did it for me, he did it for you. untousachildisborn6.jpg

 

Thoughts on Kindness

I don’t know why but I’ve been thinking of an encounter I had a few months ago.  I had taken my dog to the dog park and there was no one else there but an older lady and her Korean rescue dog.

So our dogs ended up playing together and she opened up to me about why she had gotten the dog.  The night of the presidential election she had been very, very upset about the results.  Out of her grief she had decided to get this amazing little rescue dog who likely would’ve ended up on someone’s menu in Korea.

Now, I’m 100% conservative and was pretty thrilled the night of the election.  No, I’m not in love with Trump but I’m hopeful that he can turn some things around in our country. But I’m a human being first and I just listened empathetically to this woman.  We had a really great talk and that wouldn’t have happened if I had labeled her because she had different political opinions.

People are people and we all need Jesus.  Yes, politics matter.  Knowing what you believe matters.  But our eternal destination matters so much more.  Jesus’ love is not constrained like ours, he doesn’t take sides.

“Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor. 13:13

 

Marital Madness

By all accounts we shouldn’t have made it.

He was divorced.  I was 20, freaking 20.  I had baggage and a toddler.  He was a Virginian (no, not virgin, lol) who didn’t know the correct term for a sweet carbonated beverage.  It’s POP, people.  We got married in a little court house ceremony in just under two months of meeting.

Yeah, it’s kind of nuts.

But ten and a half years later we are still here. 22780297_10159486090470427_6193062110503901663_n

This morning as I was drinking my motor oil-esque coffee I read a slide show about celebs speaking out about divorce.  Aside from the glitz, money and fame they are people too.  Common themes emerged- comparing divorce to a death and also this sense that they found marriage didn’t meet their needs like they had anticipated.

I’m not trying to be callous here.  Of course we all get married with the hope of getting some very real needs met.  But along the way the trials of life will bring out the best and (more likely) the worst in people.  Being inherently selfish creatures, when we get hurt we tend to go into self-protection mode. kategorisiz3-1 Over time, if forgiveness isn’t happening, we harden our hearts and start to see our s.o. as the source of the problems in our life.  At a certain point we think it’d be best to cut our losses and move on and be happier.

But still, divorce is like a death.

Why?

I believe it all goes back to the fact that we are created in the image of God.  God is a covenant-making God.  He is a covenant-keeping God.  He designed marriage (yes, it was HIS idea) to be a reflection of this covenant he made to his people.

He could have washed us all away in the flood and scrapped the whole mess.

He could have viewed Adam and Eve as failed prototypes and scrapped the “human experiment”.

He could have looked away and left us to fend for ourselves as we thumbed our collective noses at him.

But he didn’t.

See, a covenant is more than a contract.  It’s a promise.

“If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”

2 Timothy 2:13

Since we are created by a God and for a God that completely embodies true love we yearn for this love all our lives.  We yearn for a covenant keeping love that will never abandon us, even when we are less than lovable.

No human being could possibly meet or fulfill that deep soul need for that kind of love at the level that we need.

So many expectations are dashed, many marriages end… as we are all on this quest, whether we realize it or not.

The 5th Chapter in Ephesians addresses how spouses are supposed to love and serve one another because marriage is really an illustration (or is supposed to be!) of the covenant between Christ and his Church.  That’s why marriage is so very important.  A marriage is more then a contract, it’s a covenant.

I know my husband’s weaknesses and frailties and shortcomings.  But you’ll never hear me badmouthing him when my girlfriends start in on their husbands.  I feel pretty confident in saying we will never get divorced.  If things happen, we’ll work through it.  Just like we always have.  Divorce is not an option.

Because while of course marriage is for companionship, laughter, joy, intimacy and baby-making, memories…all wonderful things, but it is also for representing a working model of grace and forgiveness.  Your spouse is, in essence, a fellow fallen human being that needs a savior just as much as you do.  They aren’t always going to meet your needs.  Sometimes you’re going to get irritated and have to grit your teeth to keep from saying mean things.  Sometimes you’ll roll your eyes.  Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re giving more than getting.  Sometimes you may not talk for two days.

There are no magic formulas or guarantees but I’ve found that seeking Christ together has led to a strong and healthy marriage.  It’s enabled both of us to extend grace and forgiveness as needed.  Very practically, it’s been a source of joy and strength.

Every night, he reaches his hand for mine under the covers.  We pray together.  We are two humans that are far from perfect (certainly, no glitz or glam here, people) but we are on this journey together.  Having been joined together in a beautiful model of the eternal covenant God made to us.  That supercedes whatever might come against us.

Marriages aren’t supposed to end.  Love is supposed to endure.  And that is why divorce is always a sad thing and likened to a death…even if it’s dressed up in fondant and a trip to Vegas.

Regardless of your marital status you can have this great love that your heart longs for.  If you are single, you can prepare yourself to be a better future spouse.  If your marriage is struggling, it can get better as you consistently get your needs met, your “bucket” filled, and are able to love your spouse supernaturally.

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”  Song of Solomon 8:6

That love is only found in the covenant making God and his son, Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

Prayers and Doo-Hickeys

I feel like God often speaks to me in themes and the theme of the month has been on prayer.

It really started Thanksgiving went I went to visit my Grandma Judy for Thanksgiving.  My grandma is basically a saint in my eyes.  When I was a young teen mom she came to my rescue and worked her grandma magic many times at the drop of a hat.  I don’t get to see her enough because she lives a couple hours away.

So when she invited us for Thanksgiving of course I said YES (she is also an incredible cook….) but when the day rolled around my daughter, Shiloh, was on the tail end of a cough.  Which gave me pause because my Grandma and Grandpa are both on oxygen for their emphysema.  They also care for my Great Grandma who is 91.

I texted my grandma whether or not I should still come with a sickish kid and she said yes.  So we went and had a great time….. until that night when we got home and realized Shiloh had a fever and was getting sick with something else.

The next day I started coming down with the flu.  I felt absolutely terrible with worry that I am may have exposed my grandparents to a sickness that would be far more devastating for them than for us.

I really entered some fervent prayer.

In my praying I felt very undeserving.  I hadn’t been seeking God like I should…I felt like that kid that makes that collect call home on Father’s Day.

I said, “Lord, I don’t deserve this answer to prayer but please….do it on account of everything Jesus did for us on the cross.”  At that moment it dawned on me why we finish every prayer with “In Jesus name”.

See, we always enter prayer undeserving.  Whether we feel it or not.  It’s best to just get that out there.  We can’t possibly earn the right to “deserve” anything from God.  It’s just all based on his grace and goodness towards us.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

I had to bust out the Old King James for that one.  Our prayers are so powerful.  Especially when we double down with fervency.  “But I don’t feel very righteous.”  Yeah, I don’t always float around on a cloud of happy, holy emotions either…but-

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21

In Him we have access to the righteousness of God.  That’s why we ask that He answer our prayers in the name of Jesus- the name above every other name.  So when Satan tries to discourage us from praying we can tell him where to go because through Him we have access to the throne room.

My grandparents didn’t get sick.

Also, my oldest son has been doing really well.  I’ve been getting glowing emails from school.

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We called it his “doo-hickey”

And we witnessed nothing short of a miracle this morning…. my son Gabe has had a very troublesome blood vessel protruding from his cheek for months.  Almost daily he would accidentally scratch it and it would bleed like crazy.  It had grown and grown so I made an appointment to have it lasered off.

That appointment was supposed to be today.  I say supposed to because I cancelled it.  A giant scab came off his cheek and revealed that the vessel (which had been protruding quite a bit) had gone back under the skin and was healing over.

I had been praying that God would heal it so that we could avoid another traumatic visit to the doctor, and He did!

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Doo-hickey no more!

 

 

 

The Sunrise

My son, Gabe won student of the month at his school.  The theme was “courage”, which I thought was extremely fitting!

His school had an awards ceremony this morning at 8 am so we had to wake Gabe up way earlier than usual to get him there.  We couldn’t tell him why, since it was supposed to be a surprise.  We usually let him sleep until 9 and get him to school around 10:15 after a bath and various treatments…se we all had to get up pretty early to get him there on time.

As we were about to head out the door we saw the most beautiful sunrise.  Because of his sleep issues, Gabe hasn’t seen a sunrise in a long time.  He stood at the window and marveled for a good ten minutes. 20171201_071752Something about the sunrise inspires praise.  It’s a little bit of glory breaking through the bleakness.  It’s the light cutting through the darkness.

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The ceremony was pretty brief and there were a lot of proud parents there but I’d doubt that there were any more proud than we were.20171201_115819  For me, this moment represents so much.  At one point I told Gabe that he was so brave.  He said, “but Mom, I’m scared a lot.”  I said facing hard things and not quitting makes you brave.  If we never felt afraid we wouldn’t need courage.

God is faithful.  He promised to never leave or abandon us.

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5