A Monster and a Father

In the news today is the story of an enraged father lunging at the “pedophile doctor” who molested his daughters.  I couldn’t watch the video without getting tears in my eyes.  How betrayed the entire family must feel.  I can’t imagine that there are many feelings worse than knowing your children were abused by someone that you trusted.

They entrusted this man as a professional to help their daughters become top gymnasts, like so many other families.  He betrayed that trust in the worst possible way.

What stands out to me is the ripple effects of this one mans actions.  So far 140 women have come forward.  There are likely many more that were affected.

This one man used his tremendous influence and impact on so many lives for evil.

He is now facing spending the rest of his life in prison.  Maybe even worse, being completely exposed for the disgusting monster that he is.  Even beyond that, he is going to have to deal with the wrath of a righteous God.

“It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”  Luke 17:2

But on the flip, though one person can have such a negative affect- what impact can a godly person have?  Someone who is determined to use the impact and reach they have for good?  You can see the massive negative impact this one man had.  Let’s determine not only to not do harm but to leave a legacy and heritage of blessing, joy and love in our wake.  Let’s use whatever reach we have to be spiritual defenders of the weak.  Let’s determine to do what God calls us to stand in the gap for them in prayer and deeds.

“Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that through the power of your Holy Spirit, that you would lead these young women and their families on a path to healing and freedom in forgiveness.  I pray that any other predators currently getting away with similar crimes would be exposed.  I even prayer for Larry Nassar, that you would bring him to a place of true broken repentance.  That he would grasp the enormity of his sin and the irreparable harm he has caused and truly grieve.  Amen.”

 

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Change

If you’ve read my blog over this past year you’ll know my son, Gabriel, went through a really awful withdrawal from topical steroids.  It was so bed he was basically on bedrest for months.  Basically he had gotten addicted to very strong steroids and it made “eczema” spread all over his body and affected his entire system.  I really don’t want to post pictures but google “topical steroid withdrawal” and you’ll get this gist of how horrific and debilitating this condition is.

But now 11 months in and he is so much better.  

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My Little Goof

He’s not 100% yet but he’s come leaps and bounds from where he was.  So much so that we got a call from his school principal saying “Gabe’s looking great!  So… we really want him back in full school days.”  I told her it’d be a rough adjustment but we’d try.

Yesterday morning when I woke him up early it was so tough.  Because his adrenal glands were so messed up from the steroid usage, he has struggled horribly with insomnia.  We’ve (up till now) let him sleep in because he sleeps so poorly at night and for whatever reason slept better during morning hours.

But he has been making major strides so my husband and I agreed it might actually be helpful to try to force his body back into a more regular sleep schedule.  The first morning was rough but he actually did sleep a lot better last night and woke up much easier this morning.

It’s a huge step for him and milestone.  He still has a ways to go before he is 100% healed but we are so thankful for the progress he has made. 11825

A lot of times in life the path to healing is bumpy and hard.  There are times we need to push out of our comfort zones to reach the next level.  Change is hard but often necessary.

As Gabe’s loving parents there have been times where we comforted him and carried him (ha literally) but on this journey we’ve increasingly pushed him out of his comfort zone.  As he’s gotten better we’ve adjusted his treatment accordingly.  As he grew wings we’ve metaphorically pushed him out of the nest.  Times where we knew he was capable but it was his mind that was stuck.

How many of us are perfectly capable of making necessary changes but are still stuck in old patterns?  We were too sick at one point but we’re stronger now but still being held back purely in our minds? 

“Dear Jesus, you know our hurts, our pasts, our fears.  I pray that for all of us that you’d help us to break free from restrictive and sickly thought patterns.  Help us to embrace wholeness in every area.  Help us to find our wings and courage and fresh hope and get out of our comfort zones.  For your glory.  Amen.” 

Struggle Bus 2018

I was reading one of those cheesy diply slideshows this morning and saw this… strugglebusI literally laughed out loud.  “Riding the struggle bus into the New Year” could be the theme of the day.

Last night after putting the kids to bed my husband and I very unwisely watched a show about urban legends and serial killers.  We were spooked.  Plus there was a giant super moon (which yes, I do think adds an extra touch of crazy to the air).  Plus it has been absolutely, ridiculously cold with temps getting to 20 degrees below zero. 

I was drifting off in bed last night when I sat bolt upright in a panic, thinking I’d forgotten my dog outside in the extreme cold.  I raced down the stairs in a panic to find him lounging on the couch.

It took an hour for the adrenaline to wear off so I could fall asleep.  Then the kids kept waking up and everyone had weird dreams.  Not a great night.

It was so hard getting everyone up for the first day back at school after break.  Like, getting dragged behind the struggle bus hard.

I told my husband (a brilliant insight) that we should be more careful about what we put into our minds (especially before bed! especially on a full moon night!!).  He agreed.

It’s just basic, basic stuff.  Don’t put junk into your mind.  Also, don’t live in Minnesota unless you are a certain kind of crazy. MN cold

Tonight we’re going to skip Netflix and do a devotional before bed.

My big (ok, pretty much only) New Years resolution was to get really close to God this year.  I know it’s not going to happen by accident and I am going to be opposed by the enemy.

Anyways I hope all of you had a less eventful return back to normalcy after the Holidays.  I’m just going to close with a couple of verses, which are very applicable to my latest misadventures.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive…. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” 1 Cor. 10:23 Philippians 4:8

Where I’m At

I haven’t written in awhile.  Amidst the end-of-summer craziness and back to school hubbub, I just haven’t really had anything worth writing about or the time to write it.

But, miracle of miracles; my kids are all in school.  At this moment it’s just me, my dog, and a coconut mocha.

It’s a true miracle that Gabe is in school.  Yesterday he felt good enough that we decided it was the day.  His backpack had been packed weeks earlier.  He was scared but I coached him on what to say if anyone asked what was wrong with his skin.  I said if he started crashing at school to tell his teacher and I would come pick him up immediately.  gg

I dropped him off and got tears in my eyes.  He hasn’t been able to go to school since last February.  He’s come so far and there were days we felt like we would never get here.

He had a good day and was optimistic going back again today.

I had posted about it on facebook when a facebook friend commented, “GIVE GOD THE PRAISE!!!”.

I know she meant well but I felt an unexpected pang of irritation and anger.

A couple weeks ago I had been worshipping in my car and God had revealed to me the nature of the thing I’ve been battling for months, or even longer…

My trust in his goodness towards me has been seriously wounded and it was shaky to begin with.

There’s been so many hard things, so many painful things…and then this?  Even coming out (hopefully) on the other side of the worst of it…my soul has been so traumatized by witnessing suffering that no parent should have to see.

Sobs in the night.  Wounds that won’t heal  A true sense of hopelessness.

I know God is there, has been there.  But, it’s complicated.  I’m hesitant to speak to anyone about my feelings because I just can’t handle getting chastised or beaten over the head with platitudes.

I know what’s blocking my growth is my lack of submission to God.  But how can you submit when you can’t trust?

I’m still working things out.  I still believe.  I still listen.

This is just where I’m at and I have to give myself permission to be ok with that.

Sisters and Grace

Growing up I had two sisters (also a lone brother, pity him).  My older sister is 7 years older than me so I mostly looked up to her, followed her around, and attempted to read her diary (unsuccessfully though because it was in cursive, and I was 7).

My younger sister was only a year younger though so we were incredibly close but fought like you wouldn’t believe.

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We only looked sweet and innocent!

I’m pretty sure my parents considered adoption at points!

We’re both so much alike in that we are head strong, idealistic, and passionate.  We’ve gotten into many debates.  We’ve taken different paths.  At times those paths led us in wildly different directions.  We’ve done things to hurt each other.  I was the dutiful, worried big sister and she was the care-free little sister throwing caution to the wind.

But blood is thicker than water and we’ve always come back and managed to sort through our differences. cicisash

When you love people you find common ground.  You work things out.  You forgive.

Offense can sneak in and bring down families, churches, marriages, even ones faith.

I was wrestling with it recently (um, today, it was today) and I want to share how we can recognize it and deal with it effectively.

As soon as I realized I was upset with a certain someone I tried to quiet my emotions and keep my perspective.  But when you are offended your emotions get inflamed with hurt and anger and indignation and perspective can be quick to fly out the window.  My own tendency is to get offended and then try to figure it out on my own, like “why did that person do that?  What are they really saying?  What is their problem? (it’s always their problem, amiright?!)”…

But today I felt all that rising up in me and I stopped, dropped and prayed.  I did.  I put my hair dryer down and knelt right in my bathroom to pray.  “Lord, I don’t want to be offended.  I know it is a big deal to you.  Lord, help me to let this go.  Lord, please help this person.  Please give them clarity and grace and maybe a gentle smack up the side of the head with an anointing of perspective.  Amen.”

Normally I wouldn’t surrender it like that.  I’d analyze and over-analyze and get all tied up in knots over it.  I would sleep horribly and then feel even worse.  Because offense steals our peace.  It steals our joy.  It stops up the fountain of the grace of God from flowing freely in our lives.

But I did pray, and I felt so much better.  I let it go.  I didn’t pick it back up.

Often, people hurt us out of their own places of wounding.  Our insecurity causes us to act a fool at times.  It can control us if we aren’t careful.  I know I’ve sinned from that place.  I’ve needed grace a’plenty.  Why would I not being willing to extend it?

There are very serious warning about not letting offense come in and take over.

“Pursue peace with all men…that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  Hebrews 12:14-15 

Your bitter root is not staying contained.  That thing is going to wind its way around you until it chokes the life out of you and goes on to defile many.  Bitterness is something that we starve or nurture.  We need to pull it out by the root.  We need to deal with offenses as they come so that we don’t have any rotten roots growing wild producing rotten fruit stinking up our lives.

We’re all human so it’s safe to say that wherever we gather; stupid, insensitive things will be said.  People will feel left out.  People will clash.

We need to keep strengthening those forgiveness muscles.  Especially in those close relationships where you see people at their best and also at their worst.

There isn’t much sadder than the distance that results from a refusal to forgive.  People can genuinely love each other but lose years of precious time together because of the bitterness that took hold.

Also, (hello) it’s a major, major deal to God.

“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  Matthew 6:15

God isn’t going to give you this beautiful and costly gift for you to hoard to yourself.  We don’t siphon grace.  We live it out.  He forgave, so we can too.

Mini-Me Emo

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wish I had a mini-me!”?  lol  Me neither. 15977912_10158152160410074_5460029857167451154_n But it happened.  My son Gabe is so much like me.  He looks like me and basically has my personality down to his music taste.  True story; as a child my favorite song was “Take on Me” by A-ha.  Which is now his favorite song.  It’s so odd sometimes just how much gets passed down from one generation to the next.

I’m a sensitive introvert (an INFJ, to be exact) and I’m guessing he is too.  I swing between two extremes in personality- everything is wonderful and I love everyone…or woe is me!  Nobody loves me!  Life is horrible!

Basically wildly vacillating between these two extremes…

PinkiePieHiRes tickle-me-emo

I see so much of that in my son as well.  Finding out my personality type was extremely helpful in understanding why I think and act the way I do.

I know I write in a very serious manner but that is just part of my personality.  In my life I am really very goofy and silly and weird.  I love to laugh and would do just about anything to elicit a laugh.  But I also have this very serious, reflective side.  Lately, that part has been very much in the forefront in going through an extended health crisis with my son.

Under stress I’ve just not been in the best “head space”.  I think a part of me was upset when everyone else’s life just kept going like normal when mine came to a screeching halt.

INFJs are known for “door-slamming” when under pressure and I can look back and see I have done that multiple times in the past few months.  A door slam is when we reach a point of stress and frustration that is such that we completely cut people out of our lives.

Today I took a major step forward in repairing one such damaged relationship.  It felt really good.  I realized (ouch ouch ouch) that I can be a bit of (!!!) a drama queen at times.  I have compassion on myself though because I’ve been given this weird insight into how I am wired, because I see so much of it in my son as well.

I’m emotional.  I get hurt easy.  I tend to turn inwards instead of just outright addressing problems.  But I’m also caring and thoughtful and quick to forgive when I eventually do come to my senses.

Having children is humbling but also enlightening.  I know, for me, it has helped me to be more compassionate with myself.  I love my children so dearly but I see the humanness there.  Their weaknesses.  Their struggles.  But I love them so much, they are so precious to me.  I love them for who they are, not in spite of their humanity but because of it.  They are vulnerable and they need me and that only makes me love them more.

I think God sees us very much the same.  He loves us in our humanity, in our struggle.  He has a Father’s heart towards us.  It gives me a tremendous sense of comfort to think of God in that way.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” Isaiah 49:15

I think that is a word for someone.  I will not forget you! 

“Heavenly Father, help us to get a sense of how much, how dearly, you love us.  Help us to know and truly understand that you will not, can not, forget us.  You fashioned us uniquely in our Mothers womb.  You know us intimately and love us eternally.  Amen”

A Midsummers Night Blog

This is just going to be kind of a random blog about Gabe’s progress and life in general.

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Lindt chocolate ball,  mmm

Gabe is now 5 months into topical steroid withdrawal.  I know I left off with sharing what rough shape he was in a couple weeks ago (with what may or may not have been measles…) without any real update.  He did get better.  Now he is back to his usual TSW self.

His skin looks much better than in the early days (or even two weeks ago with mystery illness!) but his energy levels are still very low.  I imagine long term topical steroid use caused major adrenal gland suppression and it is just taking a long time for them to “re-boot”.

At this point he is still sitting in his favorite spot, the recliner, for most of the day.  He doesn’t want to go anywhere.  I can’t blame him.  Minnesota summers are hot and very humid and it aggravates his condition horribly.  Just 5-10 minutes outside will lead to a 20 minutes “itchfest” where he’ll scratch till he is bleeding and in pain.

One of the hardest things is feeling guilty because so much of my time goes to taking care of Gabe.  My other two children just aren’t getting as much attention.  We could have picked a better time to start!  I feel like we are all missing out on summer fun, seeing as how we spend most of our time indoors.

I know next summer will be different, will be better.

In the mean time I can’t wait for school to start.  I know moms aren’t supposed to say that, but it’s true.  I am truly an introvert, and I need a good deal of peace and quiet every day for a sense of emotional well-being.  Being mostly stuck inside all day with three loud children is very draining!  That plus the fact that many nights Gabe is literally up till midnight and then up again at 7 am, needing care.

As someone who is naturally prone to depression, I feel like I have been handling this all really well.  My husband is my support system for sure.  Plus my sweet dog (the subject of my last blog post) he is always there with his comforting presence.  And of course, God (!!!).

There has been quite a lot of pain along the way.  In that this condition is very alienating and I haven’t gotten as much support from other people in my life as I would hope for.  I have felt judgement (real or imagined) at our decision to take Gabe off of his potent steroid creams.

I know that ultimately it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  My husband and I are 100% on the same page.  We feel like God led us to this point.  I know that Gabe will heal and that will be vindication in itself, along with being our greatest hope realized.

In closing I think that so often we feel like if God is with us, the journey would be easier.  We feel like if we are hurting and exhausted, God can’t possibly be involved.  But that just isn’t the case.  Just like how he met with the Patriarchs in the desert, he meets with us in our “desert”.

“I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.” Isaiah 41:81

“Lord, help us to find your streams of life-giving waters in whatever barren wilderness we find ourselves in.  Help us to rise above our circumstances as we keep our eyes on you.  Do a work in our hearts as we submit the brokenness of our situations to you.  Help us to know that you are the prize we seek and that we have eternal value as your workmanship in Christ Jesus.  Amen”