Motherhood on the Altar

Thank you to all of you who have followed Gabe’s story and progress.  We went through a very rough patch this spring.  It was very tough, not going to lie.  He had staph infections all over his body and his chest was basically an open wound for weeks on end.  The staph was so bad that even three different antibiotics didn’t touch it.

We’ve tried some new treatments and he is actually making huge improvements!  His chest is 90% healed up and the general infected areas are about 60% better.  We’ve been using this antimicrobial spray and it’s really helped a lot.  Gabe is getting back a higher quality of life.  There’s of course other treatments we are doing so it’s hard to know how much each thing is helping individually, but we are just happy he is getting better.

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Michael, Gabe and Shiloh

They are all out of school now so we are adjusting to that!  It’s tough for me because I’m big on peace and quiet and my kids are decidedly not. 

Before school ended we had Shiloh’s first big IEP (individualized education plan).  I had basically all year to sort through coming to terms with the fact that her issues went beyond “quirky” and that she would need special help in school.  “Autism presents itself differently in girls.  It can go undiagnosed because autistic girls are better able to blend in….” the school psychologist told me gently.

I had many night this past year to process all this as I was getting concerned calls from her teacher.  I spent many hours lying awake at night trying to figure out how to fix it, where went wrong, what had happened… really struggling to come to terms with it.  It was really hard but I had all those months to process it before hearing that the team that examined Shiloh had come to the conclusion that she needed extra help at school, a lot of extra help, and that she would receive it under the heading of autism spectrum disorder.

Her teacher from this year included this note on her final reports and she is absolutely right.  Whatever Shiloh is up against, we are her parents and we love her.  She may be incredibly naughty, mischievous and a hand full (to say the least) but she is also very sweet, joyful, caring.

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My Little Lamb

As a mother the temptation is always to blame yourself when your kid has issues or is struggling.  It’s really hard to take yourself off the hook.  To forgive yourself for mistakes you made.  To realize that it was never going to be a pain free ride because you were bringing children into a very imperfect and pain-riddled world.

Motherhood is something you need to put on the altar.  All you can do is your best.  You’re not in control.  You just have to trust that Jesus is in control, loves your kids like crazy, and has a plan.  A good plan.

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Strength for the Caregiver

Last night was really tough.

My husband is gone on a work trip so I am left alone to manage Gabe’s night time wakings.  Last night he did not sleep a wink all night long.  I caught a few hours, interrupted, between him calling for me.  He finally passed out early this morning after moving to our recliner downstairs.

After my other two kids left for school I prayed and just wept.  Damn this horrible disease.  It’s not fair what it’s taken from him.  It’s not fair the heavy burden it is on our family.  Other people are out and about with their kids and I’m stuck at home trying to make what is not ok, ok and bearable.

It’s just tough and draining and exhausting in every way.

I’m sure other caregivers can relate.  So often your needs and wants are back-burnered (or even left to go cold all together) as the needs of your child or loved one take over.

He’s missed out on a lot.  It’s true.  But I know what also is true is that we have invested so much in this little guy.  Man, just the hours spent next to his bath, talking about everything.  Answering his thousands of questions.  

More often than not, the conversation naturally turns towards spiritual things.  We discuss Bible stories and theology, angels and demons.  He just has an insatiable appetite for knowledge.  His heart is so tender towards the things of God.  We often talk about what it’ll be like when Jesus comes back.

Would he be so spiritually hungry if he hadn’t had to go through all this suffering?  I don’t know.  But I do know that this trial has stretched me to grow.  I do know that on the other side of this thing we will be blown away by the goodness and faithfulness of our God.

I do know that God has entrusted me with this amazing little boy.  I do know that things are being worked out in heavenly places, things we don’t yet understand.  Our little tub side talks are building our faith and will become part of our testimony.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6

and… 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Cor. 1:4

 

Signs of the Times

The World it is a ‘changin’.

Today I was browsing through the girls section at Target while I waited on a prescription.  I was pretty disappointed in the offerings.  The shirts were cute, bright, colorful but just about every single one of them carried thinly disguised political messages and worldliness not appropriate for children.

I’m not a prude.

But when I cam across this shirt, complete with “save the world” and a sexy cut-out over the chest area I was straight-up appalled.  31753187_10160441488800074_4613049361306222592_nThis shirt was a small in the girl’s section.  The size my daughter wears.  She is five years old, people.

What is the World coming to?

I’m not one to boycott but c’mon, Target.  This is blatant sexualizing of our young girls.  This is evil.

Just like the frog in the slowly heating water, there are forces seeking to desensitize us to the advancing forces of evil in our culture.

A few weeks ago I was in the waiting room at the dentist office when I flipped through a People magazine.  I haven’t looked through one in a few years.  And I was shook, as the kids are saying nowadays.  There were certain messages and agendas being pushed on every other page.  It isn’t a just a shallow celeb gossip magazine anymore, it’s a delivery system for propaganda.

The point of all this being; our culture is becoming increasingly hostile to the beliefs held by people of faith.  In the future, we will not be able to quietly walk the line.  We’re going to become increasingly counter cultural.  We’re going to have to take our stand with the Word as culture becomes increasingly antagonistic towards it’s ancient wisdom.

Children need to be protected.

Sexuality is not merely a vehicle for our own physical gratification.

We’re going to have to draw a line somewhere.  Whatever that means for us, however we feel led.  I’m still very much a “Jesus loves you” type of believer but I also know that there is a coming judgement.  I also believe that we are heading into a tailspin that will signal the end of days.  At least, for Earth as we know it.

We need to interpret the signs of the times, as Jesus said.

In Luke 21 Jesus talks about an increase in wars and natural disasters and the persecution believers will face-  “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.  And so you will bear testimony to me.  But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.  For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.  You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.  Everyone will hate you because of me.  But not a hair of your head will perish.  Stand firm, and you will win life.”.. “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.  People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.  At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”Luke 21:12-19, 25-28

Does that fill anyone else with a sense of urgency?  I get goosebumps and I must admit that even as a little girl I had the sense that I would have to face these days.  Of course, Jesus said that no one would know the time or the hour.  However,  we can and should be wise and alert to the times.  Even if this doesn’t happen in our lifetimes it can’t hurt to live with a sense of expectancy and keep short accounts with our God.

“Dear Lord, help us to be lights shining ever brighter in this increasingly darkened culture.  Help us to kind and gracious but in no way compromising.  Grant us wisdom.  Give us your peace.  Thanks you that you won the victory and we have nothing to fear.  In Jesus name, Amen.” 

 

Spring, Hope

It was a really tough weekend.  A round of antibiotics had failed to heal up painful skin infections on my boy.  He wasn’t sleeping much because of the pain.

My husband and I have both been really weary.  Our anniversary passed (again) with a sick kid and heavy hearts.

We have both been grappling with our faith in this mess.  One thing though that I keep thinking about is the life of the Apostle Paul.  He went through so many crazy hard things, so many moments where he would have been justified in throwing in the towel and deciding maybe following Jesus wasn’t worth it.

“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,  I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” 2 Cor. 11:24-27

How has our Americanized, comfort-centered thinking colored our view of Christianity?  We think (if we’re willing to admit it) that if we are good people, pray, go to church, etc. that we should get some kind of a blessed (charmed) life.  When that doesn’t work out we are bewildered and our flimsy faith teeters.

But what if God isn’t after our comfort but in refining our faith?  What if he doesn’t want content pew-fillers but believers on fire for eternity?  Believers who realize that our time here on Earth is about so much more than seeking our own temporal happiness?

The prayer of my heart is, “Lord help me to learn the lessons you have for me here, in this tough place.  Do a work in me that can’t be accomplished any other way.  Our baby boy belongs to you and we know you hold him and his future in your hands.  Whom else have we in Heaven but you?  You alone have the words that bring eternal life.  Therefore, we will put our trust in you.”  

Spring finally came to Minnesota.  A praise-a-lullah!  Yesterday I took my kids to a (yet) deserted beach and had my son reveal his wounded flesh to the intense UV rays.  He actually slept last night and looks much better today.  20180423_153150We’re hopefully going to go back for more old school, helio-therapy.  healing power of sunlight

A verse I am praying is “He sent out his word and healed them..” Psalm 107:20  I am thanking God that he is sending out His word to heal Gabe.  We want to thank him in advance.  😉  In the mean time we do everything we can in the natural, while God works things out in the supernatural.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We believe in miracles but sometimes God has something better in store than that instant miracle.  He sees the big picture.  He is GOOD.  He wants our trust.  It matters how we respond to the trials he allows.  It matters for eternity.

Crown of Life

I’ve been in that familiar place again, battling discouragement.

My son has been battling for so long.  First eczema.  Then topical steroid withdrawal.  Now residual skin infections and rashes that don’t seem to budge for nothing.

God only knows the pain we’ve experienced.  I say “we” because there is no pain like watching your baby suffer.  God only knows the tears.  The cries.  The sheer wretchedness.

The battle rages on.

I was reminded recently that sometimes there aren’t any words.  Or at least, words that should be spoken.  I was talking to a family member about trying to find God’s purpose in suffering and was barely even able to speak my piece before being barraged with a tidal wave of insensitive, unwanted advice.  When someone has been through a trial like that, really- they just want to be heard.  I know it is in our human nature to try to give a quick answer (when there isn’t one) and sometimes trite words of wisdom do far more harm than good.  I’ve had to wrestle through anger and just sheer weariness.  So please, if you know someone going through a tough trial; just be there for them.  Don’t pretend like you know what they are going through or dish out advice.  Just listen.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

I try to be gracious because, really, sometimes we just have no idea.  I know I can look back on some things I said and did that were horribly insensitive, just because I simply didn’t know.  Walking through heartache, especially an extended season where there’s no end in sight, has a way of bringing humility that can’t be gained any other way.

What God has been speaking to me lately has been about the crown of victory.

“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” Revelation 3:11

If you are a believer, you have an incredible inheritance.  You are already seated in Heavenly places.  You have a crown and you are royalty.  God wants you to become an overcomer.  If we didn’t have battles to fight, Goliaths to overcome- our stories wouldn’t be very interesting, would they?  We have a crown on our heads but a sword in our hands.  There are battles to be fought, giants to be defeated. 93cc36ecef5a2ed8211337bd08e96c82

Keep your chin up.  Keep fighting.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book….Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles.”  Psalm 56:8, 2 Cor. 4:17

Gluten and Eczema

Awhile back I started my three kids on a gluten free diet.  For two main reasons- my 23 and Me test showed that my celiac disease is definitely genetic.  Plus, two of my kids struggle with A.D.D. issues and the other has horrible eczema/TSW.  There is a very strong link between gluten sensitivity and both conditions.

There was a lot of complaining for sure!  Especially my eldest, who said he’d rather deal with potential effects of eating gluten than cut out his favorite foods.  He’s slowly coming around.  He’s big on science and I took time to explain how gluten causes inflammation in virtually everyone, but that some people are genetically more susceptible.  Because celiac runs in our family, that would definitely include him.  Plus the gluten free offerings have gotten so much better and varied in the last few years.  When I first went gluten free the gluten free pasta was disgusting.  Now there are brands so good you can hardly tell or miss the gluten!

I definitely got part of my answer when I let my kids “cheat” about 10 days ago.  My middle son, Gabe, had a huge piece of pizza and some regular cookies.  The next day almost his entire body was covered in a rash that lasted for four days.

I’ve noticed my oldest is much more calmer and focused.  Now if I could just find a way to treat surly-teenager-itis!!

I think my youngest is having less meltdowns.  I say I “think” because it’s really hard to measure objectively.  I did notice on Easter, after eating way more sugar than usual, she was crying and emotional all night long.  *sigh*  What you feed your kids really does have a huge impact on emotional and mental (as well as physical, of course) well-being.

Another thing I realized is that when I switched my son’s laundry detergent it lead to a huge backslide in his healing.  I didn’t even think much of it at the time.  He was getting so much better so when his natural powdered detergent ran out, I just ran out and got some standard free and clear detergent.  He’s been getting worse ever since.  I bought some more of his old detergent and washed all his clothes and bedding.  Hopefully that will help! MSGR_PHOTO_FOR_UPLOAD_1522792350087.jpg_1522792352001

When you’re battling eczema it’s almost always a sign that your immune system is malfunctioning.  It’s not uncommon for you to have random allergic reactions.  A couple days ago I had taken Gabe and his friend to a movie.  We were all having a lot of fun but she playfully rubbed a stuffed bear toy she had gotten from a claw machine on his face.  On the way home his eyes started swelling up.  They turned bright red and rash-ey.  Much Benadryl and a bath later and he was still miserable.  The bear was probably “cheap, china junk” and covered in flame retardants, dust, and formaldehyde.

With eczema it’s not just a skin disorder.  It’s internal before it is ever external.  It’s so important to look after your gut health and avoid inflammatory foods that would make leaky gut worse.  Vitamin D is probably the best single thing to treat eczema and any auto-immune condition.  We take a form that also has vitamin K2 to improve absorbability.  We also use Now brand vitamin D cream on Gabe.  It doesn’t irritate his skin and it helps keeps his levels up.

Fish is also great too.  Because our guy is so little he reacts quickly to food and treatments.  For instance, yesterday he was “crashing” (getting itchy all over and tired) when I gave him some fish oil and he ate some baked tilapia.  He perked right up and had a few more good hours in the day (as opposed to spending the rest of the day immobile).  Our western diets are way too high in inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.  Think cheap vegetables oils.  We need some omega 6, but it needs to be balanced with omega 3s to keep our inflammatory responses healthy and appropriate.  The standard American diet has 16 times more omega 6’s than omega 3’s.  Omega 6 and Inflammation

To combat his you should throw out all your vegetable oils.  Corn, soy, peanut, canola, rapeseed….it’s all terrible.  Cook with butter, coconut oil, and at low temps with olive oil.  Try to eat fish at least once a week- especially wild-caught salmon, which is great because it is very high in inflammation-crushing omega 3s and it gets it’s pink color from astaxanthin- a potent antioxidant.

Of course fruits and veggies are so important too.  We try to buy organic in bulk, at least for the most heavily sprayed produce.

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to the veggies!

 

Just making these changes, and taking our son off of all steroids, eliminated his asthma/chronic pneumonia.  He still has a way to go but we aren’t going to quit until he is 100% healed!

 

 

Growing Up

I guess I’ve been feeling very nostalgic lately.  My oldest child, Michael, is almost 13 and…we’ll just say he’s rapidly changing.  Everyday when my facebook memories pop up and I see how he looked just a year ago, I am blown away by how much he has changed in just a year.  He’s shot up like 4 inches, gained like 15 pounds and is losing his boyish look.

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Look at that sweet face!
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Same two kids, five years later.  Now he’s too cool to smile.

He’s growing up.  He’s changing.  Most of these changes are involuntary, and the spring forth (often in the most awkward of ways!) like a force of nature.  Growing up is a part of life.  But growing spiritually is completely different.  It doesn’t just happen.  We don’t wake up one day spiritually mature by accident.  It’s a process.  It takes time, experience, and cooperating with God through the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

God wants us to grow up.

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13:11

This past year has been one of growing up.  Of throwing down the gauntlet.  For a long time I was struggling with my doubts and really walking the fence.  No wonder I felt so unsure and struggled so much to obey God.  I made the decision that I was going to pursue God, no matter what.  Daily I was going to seek, daily I was going to submit my will to His.

“My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”…Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.” Psalm 27:8, 108:2

I’ve got my alarm set for 5:30.  I’m spending an hour a day with God in the morning.  It has been completely changing my life.  No more waffling.  This is my commitment and I will carve out the time.  I want to grow up.  I want to be a mature believer that God can use mightily.  I want to go from the spiritual, infantile milk to the spiritual meat described in Hebrews 5.  I don’t want to live my life in spiritual diapers.

I want to be full of the Word, full of the Spirit, I want to advance the kingdom of God with every day and every breathe that I take.

“Lord, we thank you that you love and care for us regardless of our state or level of maturity, but we also know that you want us to grow up in the things of God so we can accomplish the plans and works you established before the dawn of creation.  help us to get off the fence, and to love you with all our hearts, minds, and strength.  Thank you that in living for you we find abundant life and you fulfill the desires of our hearts. Amen.”