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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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

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

 

The Saga Continues

So I watched er…listened to this video over the past couple days.  https://www.facebook.com/areyoucrooked/videos/2018168381763526/

The video is over two hours long so it took awhile to get through it.  Half of it was listening to it via Bluetooth while driving across the twin cities.  I didn’t see all the graphs and pictures but I definitely got the jist of it.

The video is made by Forrest Maready and he’s just a regular guy doing some pretty extraordinary things.  He is the dad of a child with autism and his wife has suffered with auto-immune disorders.  He’s been on a two year quest to uncover answers and this video (and a book coming out soon) is really the culmination of that.  He is very quick to point out that these are theories. 

For me it was really illuminating.  I, like many, have also suffered with auto-immune issues.  Which, I can trace back to the summer that I was 12.

Journey back in time with me to a wonderful era when the Spice Girls were huge.  The internet was confined to your clunky, slow home desktop computer.  Helicopter parenting was not yet invented.  I was a “free-range” kid before that was a thing.  We lived outside a small town in southern Minnesota and it was wonderful.  In the summer we disappeared into the woods behind our house for hours at a time.  We stayed out late catching fireflies.  We swam in a (gross) Lake Mazaska nearby.  In the winter we dug snow forts, sledded, went ice skating, all of that.  My mom always had me in sports.  I was a very athletic kid and would go to some sort of sport practice nearly every day. 527499_10152250637685074_1854436615_n

One of my favorite things to do was to explore abandoned structures with my friends.  Of course my parents didn’t know, but remember this was the 90’s and I was a free-range chicken, er….kid.  We liked to pretend an old one room school house was haunted and we’d spook ourselves silly and dare each other to go in alone.  It was great except for the time that I ended up stepping on an old nail.  It went through the sole of my shoe and pierced into the bottom of my foot.

I reluctantly told my mom who dutifully brought me in for a tetanus shot.

Now all of this was 20 years ago so this is a leap of connected memories and speculation but around that time I also developed debilitating asthma.

I had been an athlete and completely healthy.  But one night my mom said she found me in the hallway in the middle of the night wheezing for air.  I did tests which showed my lungs for very weak (all of a sudden…?) and got an inhaler and that was that.

But what if that wasn’t that?  What if that tetanus shot had just started a cascade that would continue to be unleashed?

I can also look back and see that something changed within me as well.  I had been a really happy kid.  I had a lot of friends.  But I would soon be plunged deep into depression and an eating disorder.  It was so bad that I attempted suicide multiple times as a young teen.

Now this is all speculation, of course.  But I did manage to dig up this study linking a two fold increase in asthma following tetanus vaccination https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10714532?dopt=Abstract

And this article explaining how the metals in vaccines can severely damage mental health http://whale.to/b/blaylock.html

As a young adult I mostly overcame these issues.  I forced my lungs to get stronger through progressively harder workouts.  I found faith and that helped with the mental health a lot.  I was really happy.

Then I got my pregnant with my second child and all hell broke loose.  My digestive system stopped working.  My thyroid went berserk.  I developed symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.  I saw many doctors but really had to do a ton of research myself into figuring out that I had celiac’s disease and some other food sensitivities.

The weird thing is, I grew up eating wheat and it was fine.  I probably had three-four servings a day!  But now eating it would make me curl up in a ball from the stomach pain, it would shut down my digestion, I would be too exhausted to complete basic tasks.

I remember my husband being puzzled, like, why are you so sick?  You eat healthy and take such good care of yourself.

The interesting thing I learned in the video mentioned earlier is that when aluminum (back to that again!) is injected it gets gobbled up by white bloods cells, or macrophages, if we’re being technical.  These white blood cells can lay dormant in your muscle tissue until some event triggers them to act.  An event like *ahem* pregnancy or illness, stress, surgery, etc.

That’s why so many women develop auto-immune disorders after a pregnancy.

Again these are all theories hobbled together from real research.

But if you, like me, have auto-immune issues or autism or perhaps other issues you could trace back to a vaccine- there is hope.  You can reclaim your health.  Give the video a watch.  He spend the first part talking about the bizarre phenomenon of the rise of the lopsided smile.  It sounds weird but hear him out.  He gets around to auto-immune disorders and aluminum later in the video.

It starts with doing a heavy metal detox.  You can even get testing done to check your levels if you’re not sure.

It may be as easy as drinking a silica-rich water like Fiji.  The silica water is able to safely bind to aluminum and carry it out of the body. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2216608/Drinking-litre-day-mineral-water-prevent-onset-Alzheimers-flushing-aluminium.html

Other methods include detoxing through sweating, detox baths, taking vitamin c, and supplementing glutathione.

It could be coincidence that I went from a healthy, happy kid to a suicidal, asthmatic mess within two years time of getting a tetanus shot.  IDK maybe I’m completely wrong.  If I find compelling evidence I will reverse my position and blog about that too.

In the mean time we need to really, really examine this.  Not just for the sake of our own health but the generations coming after us.  Because this is only going to continue to get worse if we don’t do something.

 

 

 

 

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.