A Good Day

Yesterday was a good day.

My little girl turned five on Thursday and my mom and step dad came out last night.  They gave her possibly the best gift for her- a gumball machine! 18519821_10158791140855074_8977889329133441059_n Shiloh is a bit obsessed with gum so it’s perfect for her.  Gabe had a good day too.  His little friend came over and he got to play and have fun like a “normal” kid for the first time in a loooong time.  Then he felt up to playing outside with another friend for another hour and a half.  Lots of giggling and running around.  It made me so happy because since we quit topical steroids nearly three months ago he has been going through hellish withdrawals and had many days where he had to carry him because he was too weak and in too much pain to walk.

20170519_182541So he had a great day and got to have cake and ice cream!!  You can see there is still some redness and scabbing on his face.  But he has come so far from these days…  20170225_083718   I got another gift as well.  Gabe had been upset about getting disciplined by his dad.  He was really pouting but I went up and cuddled him anyways.  He said, “Mom, I like being around you because you are always really happy.”  That meant a lot to me because I have really struggled with depression but I don’t want it to affect my kids at all.  I’m so glad Gabe doesn’t see that.

 

One Day at a Time

This has rapidly become a “TSW” (topical steroid withdrawal) blog.  I know, I know.  Just shy of three weeks ago we were thrust into this world we weren’t aware of.

Now I look back and I can see that at least 90% of Gabe’s “eczema” we’ve been treating for ages was, in fact, actually symptoms of damage and addiction from the creams we were using.  How horrible is that?

It is vindicating to me, in a way; as a more natural-minded type of person.  I never wanted to use steroids anyways.  I did when I felt like it was the only option.  Now I know there are so many natural ways to treat eczema.

It’s a difficult process to go through any sort of withdrawal.  Though topical steroid withdrawal is particularly brutal.  Many adults going through this have gotten to lows where they are suicidal.  Because the pain is that bad.  The itch is bone deep.  You can go days without more than a few hours of sleep. Your skin looks absolutely horrific to the point where you don’t want to leave your house.

I feel like we have been extremely fortunate in that Gabe is still sleeping relatively well.  He is doing very well emotionally.  He seemed ok to me but I wanted to make sure and I was asking him questions about how he was doing “on the inside” with all of this.  He didn’t know what I meant so I said, “does going through all of this make you feel sad?”  He looked at me like I had asked him an inane question, “of course not, why would it?”  He has had a good deal of pain and discomfort but he has taken it in a stride.  He is handling everything so well.

We’ve been doing everything we can to help his body heal.  He was on antibiotics because his skin had gotten “staphy” at one point early on.  He’s been drinking a lot of kombucha to help build up his good bacteria.  I’ve also made a couple pots of super healing soup.  The combo of bone broth, veggies, and spices is so good for him…and it tastes good too!

We did get great news from the dermatologist we saw last week.  She has swabbed Gabe to check for pathogenic bacteria.  I was actually shocked when it came back negative.  She said Gabe had normal skin flora and that the Doctor said she thought our regime is working well, and to keep it up.  That is huge because the main risk now would be from a serious secondary infection (from staph or step) until his skin is in better shape.

We were doing two baths a day when he was in really rough shape.  Now we just do one, at night, with warm water, sea salt, ACV, and lavender oil (we avoid soap cause it dries him out).  After his bath I put on coconut oil, Egyptian magic, clove oil (just two drops, heavily diluted) and silver gel as needed.  Our magic potion ingredients- 20170307_221256.jpg

I’ve read that there isn’t much you can do to speed up the process of withdrawal.  But I don’t think that’s true.  I’ve scoured so many blogs and articles and I really think that you can aid the process of healing along in many ways.

A huge way to hasten recovery is with positivity.  I’m a faith person so I believe 100% in the power of prayer.  I know Gabe has so many people praying for him and that has carried us through to this point.  I also believe that our faith has kept us positive and joyful, even during our worst moments.  We are looking for and celebrating every sign of improvement.  We are looking on the bright side.  We are practicing thankfulness.

He is showing improvement.  I don’t want to jump the gun, because I know that recovery is cyclical, but we are happy, nonetheless.

This was his back about ten days ago- 20170227_171250

This was him today- 20170307_134034.jpg

His neck and torso were initially the worst spots.  Now they are looking much less red and inflamed.  Though it seems to be working it’s way out, down to his legs and up to his face and his hands.  His legs are almost purplish as the blood vessels are very dilated.

“One day at a time” has been my mantra and that is how we will continue to handle this.  We will do everything we can but ultimately trust that we are doing the right thing and that God is sovereignly guiding this process.

The good that has come has been that we have drawn closer together as a family.  We now finally know the cause of Gabe’s ever-worsening “eczema” and more importantly, we know what to do.

Update on Gabe

I ended up deleting my past 4 posts for a couple reasons.  My husband didn’t like that I was putting Gabe’s suffering out there for the World to see and also that we want to be able to do what’s best for Gabe without fear of outside forces *ahem* meddling.

My husband and I process things very differently.  He is very stoic and private.  I’m an open book and sharing (with as many people as possible) makes me feel better.  But I respect his wishes and I see his point.  We will probably share more when Gabe is well along his healing journey.  We do want to raise awareness.

But still, there is good news and darn it, I want to share!  Gabe is doing a lot better than he was last week.  A lot of the more frightening symptoms have subsided.  His skin doesn’t look nearly as red.  He still has a lot of healing ahead of him, but we are so encouraged.

His actual eczema is almost non-existent.  I still believe God touched him and healed his eczema.  We saw enough of an improvement that we were prompted to get him off the steroids- the medicine that was poisoning his body.  Now we just need to go through the withdrawals.

Like so often, healing is a journey.  It’s a path.  There are good days and bad days, ups and downs.  But you discover so much along the way.  The journey itself becomes sacred in it’s own way.

We have also found an online community of people on this same journey.  There is a lot of encouragement and help to be found.

I do believe that God is blessing Gabe with a quick healing.  Some things I am doing to help are…

-twice daily soaks in the tub.  Sometimes up to an hour.  We toss in Epsom salt and essential oils or olive oil and fresh garlic.  After twenty minutes or so his pores really open up and I think he has been able to do a lot of detoxing that way.  The steroids cause the skin to constrict, and he was on them for so long his skin hasn’t properly detoxed in ages.  TMI alert- the bath water takes on the characteristic icky ooze smell so associated with TSW after awhile.  It gets pretty gross.  I theorize that it’s toxins and trapped sebum in the water.

We’ve also been using a zinc oxide (diaper rash cream) on his really bad spots.  For the rest of his body it is Egyptian magic, coconut oil, silver cream, and a drop or two of clove or lavender oil.

He is on antibiotics because he had gotten ‘staphy’ on his arms and torso last week.  That looks a lot better and we hope this is the only time he’ll need them.

We met with a new dermatologist today.  She was very understanding and admitted she thought Gabe did have a problem related to the steroids, though she stopped just shy of labeling it as “RSS”.  She was very supportive of us treating him without steroids.  She wrote us a couple perscriptions that may come in handy.

Gabe is handling this all really well.  He has been such a trooper.  We explained to him what was happening and why, and he has been so brave in handling a process that is very painful and difficult.

 

 

 

For the Joy

I realize I’ve blogged a lootttt on the topic of suffering.  I write from where I’m at.  I write what is on my heart and what God speaks to me.  I write because I feel called to (and heck, I like it) and to hopefully encourage people.  I’ve written a lot on hardship and I feel like it’s a good thing because people can relate.  I certainly don’t think we should (or need to) minimize our pain.

Suffering is an undeniable part of life.  If you are walking this Earth with feet of clay you are going to have to contend with pain and difficult trials.

But I believe that suffering has an expiration date.  We are not here to suffer.  We are here to enjoy intimacy with our God and live in victory and freedom.

“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” Romans 5:17

Suffering is always a means to an end.  The end being that God is glorified.

As I was getting ready for church yesterday I was thinking about the story of Lazarus.  Lazarus was a very close friend of Jesus.  Lazarus had two sisters that were very close with Jesus as well; Martha and Mary (who have their own story, but for another time).

Lazarus had gotten very sick.  A messenger ran to get Jesus.  Jesus waited 2 whole days before leaving to come see Lazarus, the text says he waited until he knew that Lazarus had died.

Martha and Mary are understandably upset.  When Jesus does show up, Martha runs out to meet him.  “Lord, if you had been here, he wouldn’t have died!”

Jesus looks deep into her eyes and makes this powerful statement, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

They were just hoping that Jesus would heal him.  Jesus had different plans.  He went to the grave, where he had been buried 4 days prior.  He comforts Mary and Martha and even weeps with them.  He knows our pain, because it’s his pain.

“Roll the stone away.”

“But Lord, there will be an awful smell…”

“Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

So they roll the stone away and Lazarus is raised from the grave.

I got to church and what was the pastor preaching on?  The story of Lazarus and how it relates to us.  It was a God-thing.  We brought our son up to have him prayed for after the service.  This morning he looked a good 50% better with most of the redness and swelling gone and months-old wounds showing signs of dramatic improvement.  We know he got a special touch from God and we are believing that he will receive complete healing.

We serve an awesome God.  rays-of-light-shining-throug-dark-c

There is a powerful message in this story.  We may suffer, yes.  But we know that at some point Jesus is going to come into our situation and command some stones to be rolled away.  When Jesus shows up, he brings life with him.  He is our healer.  He is 100% good.  He is 100% for us.

Ultimately, for us who believe, we will be completely healed.  We don’t know the time table, but we know the one who does.  Jesus triumphed completely over death and the grave.  One day, death will be swallowed up.

In life we will always have an element of suffering.  We live in a fallen World.  I have my own share of suffering, as do you.  But I also have so much joy.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10

Suffering doesn’t get the final say.

 

Unredeemed Brokenness

I happened to hear Pastor Matt Bays on my favorite radio show yesterday (Live the Promise with Susie Larson) and was really taken with what he had to say.  He spoke with shocking honesty about the wretched pain of his past and his turbulent path of faith- fraught with doubts and addiction.

His pain spoke so much to my pain.  I (being the impulsive sort that I am) bought his book, Finding God in the Ruins, with amazon one click.

Tonight I sat down and read through a third of it in one sitting.

It really speaks to where I am, the dilemma I face.

I’ve loved and followed God (not always well, but I’m still here) for ten years and yet I still feel broken in so many ways.  My son still deals with daily pain as we struggle to keep the eczema and resulting staph infections at bay.  I still deal with so much internally that never sees the light of day.

I, like Pastor Matt, got to a point where I just couldn’t pray and believe anymore.  How could I tell people about a Great God that loves them and has a great plan for them- when I found those promises so lacking in my own life?

The truth is that so many of us struggle with a disproportionate amount of pain.  A quick, pretty verse isn’t going to bandage wounded hearts sufficiently. The faith formulas don’t always add up as they should.

I went to a MOPS meeting recently and… felt awful the whole time.  The women there were really nice, they were genuine believers.  But I got the sense that these were the type of women that came from great families.  Women that have never labored under the shame of utter brokenness.  Women that knew how to match boot socks to their purses.  I felt so horribly out of place.

See, there are those of us who don’t come from the best families.  Those of us who deal with the anguish of shame.  Those of us who need much more than an inspirational service or two to get us out of our funk.

I think my theology has been woefully inadequate to address my reality.

God is good but a significant part of our journey here, our walk of faith, is going to be hard and at times, agonizing.  Much more so than we’d prefer.

Early on in my faith journey I was a good faith-filled believer and believed 100% that God was going to quickly and miraculously deliver me from my emotional pain.  That definitely hasn’t happened.  For years I thought it was because I was falling short somewhere.  The teaching I listened to had me worried that there was some hidden sin or offense lurking in me that was keeping the tidal wave of healing and deliverance back.  Maybe that wasn’t it at all.

Maybe there are just things that got broken so badly and profoundly early on, that healed so wrong, that they only way to get it right again is to re-break it.  To wrench away what is wrong before it can be set right and begin to truly heal.  Not a bandaid but a surgery.

So I am embracing the pain in my life and looking for God’s purpose in it.  I still believe.

 

Faithfulness

I’ve been reading through King David’s life and there is a stark contrast.  He started out so strong and passionate for God but he left a mixed legacy.  His disobedience cost him dearly.  Firstly- he took on many wives and concubines.  (my reaction is ‘ew’)  This created tension and strife amongst his many children.  Logically, it just isn’t fair to expect many women to share one man.  How involved could David have been with all these children?  He was too busy making babies to properly raise the ones he had.  Plus, things get really dicey when a throne is up for grabs.  His eldest son, Amnon, raped his half-sister, Tamar.  Absalom killed Amnon in retaliation.  David refuses to reconcile to Absalom, who subsequently attempts a violent coup against his own Father.  Yet another son, Adonijah, also tries to gain the crown illicitly.  It was a mess.

Why wasn’t one wife enough?  Abigail seemed like a really cool chick.  He should have just stuck with her, IMO.  “He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray…” Deuteronomy 17:17

The kicker though, of course, was the situation with Bathsheba.  Bathsheba was a married woman.  Her husband, Uriah was apparently a man of great integrity.  He was serving David faithfully.  So how great the betrayal when David committed adultery with her.  Not only that- he killed Uriah to cover up the resulting pregnancy and evidence of his crime.

As punishment for this great sin; their child dies.  God did forgive David.  2 Samuel 12:13  But I think David was a broken man.  He became a shell of his former self.  The condemnation from his sin ate him alive.  He went from being the youth that valiantly charged at the giant to a man that put up with verbal abuse.  When Absalom tried to take the kingdom, David immediately took his people and ran.  He should have stood his ground.

While fleeing the confrontation he allowed Shimei (a relative of Saul) to throw rocks at him and curse him out.  His men wanted to kill him but David allowed the abuse.  If he curses, and if the LORD has told him, ‘Curse David,’ then who shall say, ‘Why have you done so?'” Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite?” 2 Samuel 16:10-11

I believe David was filled with shame that paralyzed him from confronting any immorality because he felt like a hypocrite.  He never confronted Amnon for the rape of Tamar.  He didn’t rebuke his children when they were going astray. 1 Kings 1:6

When he was on his death bed he passed on a laundry (or more like ‘hit’) list on to his son, Solomon, of people who had wronged him- whom he had failed to confront in life.

I think the greater tragedy is that he apparently never recovered from the moral failure.  I don’t believe this is ever God’s will.  “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5  “For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.” Job 5:18

Know God as redeemer.  I don’t know if David ever really got there, or if he was haunted by his sins the rest of his life.

Because of the cross we don’t have to stay stuck.  We don’t have to put up with the Devil throwing stones and cursing us out.

The Bible says that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us.  Goodness knows we should try to live faithfully.  But, we all stumble in many ways.  And God is faithful, thank goodness, even when we are faithless.

Moral of the story…  Don’t let Satan bully you into living paralyzed by shame.  God wants to redeem it (whatever ‘it’) is; for His glory.  David’s story ended on a sad note but because of the Gospel- the power of God unto salvation- ours don’t have to. Calf-leaping1

“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” Malachi 4:2

He Rescued Me

I just read ‘Stormie’ by author Stormie Omartian.  Our church was getting rid of a lot of books and so I picked it up for free.  The copy was yellowed and dusty, from the year I was born- 1986.  Her story is truly miraculous.  I was thinking about my own rescue story and my heart started pounding with a Holy Spirit rush to share more of my own story.

I know God choses us according to His own mysterious ways.  There was little in me that would cause Him to care, to reach out, to rescue.

I was 20.  I had a whole backpack of ‘issues’.  I had been involved in the occult.  I was a thief.  I was heavily involved in sexual sin.  I was selfish and there was a lot of anger and ugliness in my heart.  The Devil had a stranglehold on me and I had allowed it with every sin, every step away from the God I had known as a little girl.

My parents had gone to a Spirit filled church when I was little.  I had received Him into my heart and I remember feeling his presence.  But over the years my parents stopped going.  A lot of things happened.  I believe it was a very targeted, intense satanic campaign against our family.  My Mom turned to alcohol and partying.  My dad emotionally ‘checked out’.  There was a lot of anger, yelling, and outbursts of violence in our home.  They eventually divorced.  When things started getting really bad we just ran further from God.

So, at about 19 or so I was a teen mom.  My Grandma Judy helped me so much.  I would call her when I as overwhelmed as a young Mom.  She would drop everything to come and help.  She started talking to me about God and Jesus.  I was a bit interested but quite honestly I didn’t want to leave my sinful lifestyle.  I had a lot of rebellion.  She must have kept praying though because I was starting to feel things.  I could feel this war going on for my soul.  The devil was working hard to keep me but Spirit of God was breaking through.

When my little sister practically dragged me into a church, everything changed.  I tentatively raised my hands during worship.  I felt the presence of God there, knocking at the door of my heart.  I started to sob and repent for my stupid, rebellious ways.  I felt the love of God wash over me.  All I could do was cry as his love melted my heart.  How could I resist this?  Why wouldn’t I want this?    I surrendered my life again to the God of my life.  I was filled with the Holy Spirit and transformed that day.

This is my story and it is 100% true.

I was totally hooked on experiencing God but I found it hard to leave my old life behind.  I was still living with my mom who was still drinking and partying.  I had to learn a new way of life, new coping skills.  It was really hard to get out of sexual sin.  The one sin that affects you more than anything else.  1 Cor. 6:18  I share because I know so many can relate.  I found out years later that molestation had occurred very early in my childhood. Satan dug a pit for me and I fell in.  A deep sense of shame and self-hatred had propelled me to make really bad choices.

I share because I know a heart-breaking number of people can relate.

I had surrendered my heart but cleaning up my train-wreck of a life was going to take time.  God knew I needed a safe place.  Home was still tumultuous and not a good environment for my young son.  I needed love and a sense of security.

God changed my heart from being attracted to ‘cute jerks’ to a new desire to have stability and love and marriage.  I remember telling my sister that and she looked at me like I was crazy.  But God was moving.  Soon after I met Tim.  Tim was kind, stable, a believer and just a great guy (and cute!).  Most of our courtship took place at church.  It was part of my personal rescue plan.

“God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing…” Psalm 68:8

We got married really quick and God gave me a safe place to grow and heal.  Tim has loved me through thick and thin.  He took on my son and became a Father to him.  I got the loving family I always wanted. fullWedding Day 4-21-07

My sister (the one that dragged me to church) Sasha,

my Mom (Lori), me, Tim, Michael,

My other sister Erica and her son

My testimony is that God loves us at our worst.  He loved me when I had rebelled, sinned against him, and spit in his face.  My life is a story of his incredible grace and mercy.

God wants to turn around the things in your life that were intended to destroy and for his glory turn it around for your goodHis love is a rescuing love.  He is redeemer, healer, and provider.

“‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!” Ezekiel 16:6

God still does miracles.  He binds up the broken-hearted.  He delivers us and breaks every chain.

I started praying for my mom (though it seemed hopeless).  She is now sober and restored.  She is such a huge blessing in my life and to my family, and I love her so much.  She has her own miracle-rescue story.  God is amazing.

No matter what you have done, what’s been done to you, or what you are facing- God is bigger.  He loves you in a way we can’t comprehend.  He is good. 

“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” Exodus 15:13

I remember at times feeling so hopelessly messed up, like no amount of therapy could help.  Receiving the Holy Spirit into my heart and God’s love did what nothing else could do- in an instant.

God not only saved my soul but he gave me a new life.

The awesome thing is- God is no respecter of persons.  He has no favorites.  Acts 10:34 Colossians 3:25  God has a personal rescue plan for all of us.  He came to seek and save the lost. Luke 19:10

“Everything the Father gives me will come to me, and I’ll never turn away the one who comes to me.” John 6:37

That is my testimony.  I still love Jesus.  He is still healing and delivering me (daily!) mostly from myself. 😉  Do you have a testimony?  Do you want one?  Jesus died on the cross so that you could.  My hope and prayer is that you find this great salvation as well.