Face like Flint

I just got kicked out of an eczema support group on Facebook.

I was acting as sort of an awareness raising vigilante for the dangers and prevalence of topical steroid addiction amongst those who suffer with eczema.

Like, “LOOK!  Guys I have the answer.  You can get completely better!!  Your steroids have been causing your worsening condition all along.  Now you just need to go through this hellish withdrawal!!”

Obviously I wasn’t met with much enthusiasm.  The people who administrate the group are familiar with TSW and for whatever reason, have decided against it.  Not only that, but because of the suffering associated with it, they label it as “dangerous” and “misguided” and the people, like myself, who try to sound the alarm, are promptly booted from the group.

My reasons for wanting to warn people is simply that I wish someone had warned us before our level of dependence on steroids got as bad as it did.  We could have avoided so much pain and suffering for our son.

But the road is a hard one, no doubt.  And many try for a time, before going back to steroids and concluding that TSW doesn’t work.

I’ve gotten some unexpected feedback sharing my blog within my TSW support group.  People commending my husband and I for doing a good job.  It is great, in a sense, mostly because it’s vindication.  When we entered into this, it was going against medical advice.  It was going it alone.  It was entering into some pretty bleak and abject suffering.  We felt very defensive about our decision because while we knew we were doing the right thing, we felt a lot of heat over it.

But at this point it is finally paying off.  My son is getting better.  There is a spark of vitality and health that strengthens every single day.

23472799_10159682046900074_6533435632338179710_n
He was thrilled to get a McChicken before school~

In our case we found the answer to our prayers, to our searching, but it meant pressing through a whole lot of pain and difficulty.  “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51  Another version says, “He set his face like flint.”  Jesus knew full well what he was getting into and he pressed into it.  He was resolute.  Because he knew the joy set before him.  He knew the end game.

 

My husband and I never wavered, not once.  We knew that God had led us to this point.  We knew Gabe had to go through this withdrawal.  We were of one mind, and there is so much power in that.  Gabe, young as he is, he understood and was 100% on board too.

We’ve gone through a pretty extreme trial, but, we all go through stuff.  We all deal with pain.  That’s why we need hope.  We need to know the end game.  We need to know our Shepherd.

Often, the only way out is through.  We have to be resolute.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2-3

I know there are those who don’t get their healing.  At least, not here on this earth.  But we know the end game.  We know in whom we have believed.  We know this life isn’t the “be all, end all”.  It’s like a cosmic waiting room we bide our time in until we can get to the real deal.  And hardships help to wake us up to the eternal consequences and weightiness of how we live our lives here while we wait for the children of God to be revealed.” Romans 8:19

Advertisements

Enduring through Trials

I was thinking yesterday of the things that have helped me weather the toughest thing I have ever gone through- my son’s extended and very difficult skin condition.  A quick rundown- he was on very potent steroid creams (black box label kind of thing) and we realized that they had basically destroyed his health.  Now we are trying to help him heal from the damage.

God taught me a lesson years ago about the importance of gratitude.  I had heard a radio program where the author Ann Voskamp was interviewed about her book, One Thousand Gifts.  She talked about how gratitude had pulled her out of depression and totally changed her life.  I didn’t even read the book but I was deeply impacted by that one hour interview.

It totally remolded my approach to life.  Every day I do look for the good and offer up thanks and praise to God.  It’s so ingrained in me that it’s my automatic “go-to” response.  There’s been many, many times where my son was crying in pain or just being negative about his (admittedly, terrible) circumstances.  I comfort him but am quick to guide the conversation back to the things in his life that are “good and perfect gifts”.  I truly, firmly believe that thankful attitude has helped us both get through this- and with a good measure of joy.  21557760_10159385235250074_8017605279174650947_n

The biggest battle we face is between our own ears.

We need to take in the truth and renew our minds every single day.  I don’t always have time to read the Bible but I do play the local radio station, Faith Radio 900, every day.  It’s got great biblical teaching that really helps me stay on track.

God is also speaking to me about taking every thought captive and casting down vain imaginations.  When a thought enters our mind that shouldn’t be there, we take action to cast it down.  That’s much easier to do when you are actively filling your mind with the truth of God’s Word.

I also pray frequently about the other battleground- my heartWordly wisdom would tell you garbage like “follow your heart” or “the heart wants what it wants”.  The Bible has this to say in Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”  If we blindly follow our whims, impulses, desires AKA our “hearts” we are setting ourselves up for disaster.  We can’t always trust our feelings or even understand them.  Not only that, but feelings are so fickle and quick to desert us after leading us into a mess. 

I pray often that God would give me a soft, malleable heart.  “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

We especially need to pray over our own hearts during times of testing.  The 3rd chapter of Hebrews talks about how the Israelites hardened their hearts in their time of wilderness testing, and the tragic outcome; “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.”‘

What this says is that our times of testing and trying are our times of refinement.  We all come to God and are completely accepted, however, we all have junk that needs to be dealt with.  Junk that would surface at the worst possible time and destroy or hinder our testimony.  If we are faithful to soften our hearts and work with God through tough times, there is a promised period of rest on the other side.  God’s rest- which includes blessings, peace, joy, etc., but this also means that if we don’t cooperate we will never reach these “green pastures” that God wants to lead us too.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

So, whatever you’re facing today, don’t give up.  Press in.  Follow hard after God.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

Suffering and Heaven

18920650_10158894564500074_8516742202078951748_nYesterday I took just Gabe out shopping.  I don’t often get to spend alone time with him and I was reminded what an amazing kid he is.  He has such a tender soul.  He wants to run an orphanage when he grows up… but he also wants to drive a Ferrari, so… 😉

We had a fun time, just the two of us.  On the way home he kept asking me about Heaven and what it’ll be like when Jesus comes back.

I explained to him that Jesus will appear in the sky with great glory, riding the clouds.  That every eye will see him, even those that pierced him.  That we will rise to meet him and be changed, to be like him.  That there will be no more sickness, death, pain…

I got choked up and so did he.  He said, “Mom, I can see him coming.”  I said, “honey that’s the Holy Spirit showing you that it’s true.”

You see, just the day before he had been in a lot of pain.  In between tears and sobs he had asked, “if God loves me, why am I suffering so much?”

The conversation, and the sweet presence of God, was something we both desperately needed.  Something that I need more of.

In my own suffering I tend to turn away.  I feel like I can’t take anymore disappointment at times, without losing hold of my faith.  But yesterday, it was like He peeled back the curtain obscuring eternity and gave us both a glimpse of our future and the end of suffering.  I felt a glimpse of the eternity and wonder awaiting us, and looking over at Gabe’s tear-filled eyes, I know he did too.

I know that Gabriel is being molded in ways I can’t even begin to comprehend.  I know he has a huge call on his life.  Even at the age of 8, there is a level of tenderness, empathy and hunger for knowledge of God that is amazing…. probably as the result of all the suffering he’s had to endure.

We can got lost in the hardships we face but we need to remember that life here is short and eternity is long.  We can’t choose the trials but we can choose how we face them.  Our God loves us.

 

.

Waiting

So I did go in on Tuesday to see where my thyroid was at and to test for the presence of anti-nuclear anti-bodies (which indicates the potential presence of an auto-immune disease).  I had my first strange experience of having a doctor that is (probably!) younger than me.  I am 29 but she looked about 25!

It is also strange that now we can see test results online with only google to help us figure out what it means.  My ANA test was positive.  I haven’t heard back from the Doctor though.  So I am in the limbo period.  I’ll probably need more tests to figure out exactly what is up.  0e1407027_waiting-series-graphic

Today I am feeling just exhausted.  I am pretty bummed because this has affected my quality of life so much for most of my 20’s.  Summing up much of the last decade in my life I would use one word- tired.  And with three kids I can’t exactly nap or sleep in.

My little guy Gabe is going through the ringer with his eczema.  He’s been having trouble sleeping every night and keeping us up too.  I let him stay home on Tuesday because he had been up much of the night and scratched himself raw.

So we are at a real low point.  It’s been pretty brutal.  It kills us to see him suffering day after day.  He is going to see a specialist next week and hopefully we’ll get some answers/help with this.

In times like this I am grateful though for my husband.  He is such a good dad and a loving partner.  Having that support through tough times is everything.

We are trying to see glimmers of hope through this.  It’s been tough though.  Not gonna lie.  We get really frustrated that God hasn’t yet answered our prayers for Gabe.  We’ve started wrapping him up in seran-wrap and packing tape at night so he doesn’t scratch all his skin off at night!  Almost funny, like a little plastic wrap mummy.

I don’t know for sure if I have lupus yet.  Obviously, there is something auto-immune going on with me- causing the fatigue and hair loss.  Hopefully I’ll have more answers soon.

So it is what it is.  We could definitely use prayers, especially for Gabe.

Valley Of Weeping

Sounds kind of ominous, doesn’t it?

The title actually comes from a portion of Psalm 84, the Valley of ‘Baca’ or weeping.

The NLT says it like this,

“When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs.  The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.  They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.

Arrid landscape in Death Valley National Park with dry, cracked ground.

Today I felt really crushed with exhaustion.  It was a long, rough day.  Gabe (our 6 year old) woke us up repeatedly last night.  He has anxiety and gets scared.  He’ll often end up sleeping next to our bed just so we can all get some sleep!  Then this morning he was crying when I was helping him get his socks on.  Why?  Because he ankles are so inflamed and scabby and oozy with eczema that his socks get painfully stuck every day.

When I was treating him last night I told him to not worry, that we wouldn’t give up on trying to get him healed.  He looked at me with his big brown eyes and said, “but what if you did give up?”  I assured him, tears in eyes, that we are his parents and giving up is not an option!

I think about the heart of a parent.  How our hearts ache for our kids when they are suffering.  How we share their joy (probably 5 fold) when they triumph.  It is very reasurring to me that God refers to himelf as our Heavenly Father.  He aches with us when we hurt and he cheers when we overcome.

Going through the valley of weeping is part of life.  We all have heartaches and private pain.  We all struggle.  But it is in those places that God wants us to find our strength.  Those places become springs of blessings to us.  Those places lead us to God himself.  Those places make or break us.  It’s where the rubber meets the road.

But I know in whom I have believed.  I believe in a God that heals.  I believe in a God that weaves all the broken pieces together into a beautiful tapestry.  Often we just can’t see it at the time.  It just looks like a mess.

The pain does remind us that this isn’t our home.  The pain helps us to sharpen our focus and reset our priorities.

The Bible promises, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” Psalm 126:5

And also that, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Cor. 4:17

God is doing something glorious, something eternal.  The good will far outweigh the bad.

My husband told me once that if we knew all the answers from the beginning we wouldn’t need trust.  So we do trust, even without the answers, because our God is trustworthy, in control, and GOOD.

praise_god

New (Fall) Leaf

I haven’t blogged in forever….  I have been busy.  But more than that I haven’t really had anything all that great to say!

wpid-20150909_190313.jpgHonestly, I really dread summer.  The hot weather, the kid craziness, lack of structure just wears me out.  My boys went back to school on Tuesday.  Two words: thank. goodness.  There has been peace and quiet in my house along with a wonderful, mellow autumn breeze.  I feel so refreshed.  Quiet, calm time is medicine to my soul.

I am starting a new mini-venture next week; teaching the rainbows (little kids) wednesday night class at church.

We had a beach grill out to kick of children’s ministry.  It was such a gorgeous night.  Just beautiful and majestic with thunder and lightning on the horizon.  wpid-20150909_190232.jpg

Like the seasons changing I feel God’s love breaking through here and there.  I got pretty depressed for much of the summer.  I’ve been struggling with feeling angry and hopeless with my son’s eczema.  We have tried everything and anything to try to help him and it just keeps getting worse and spreading.  Sometimes I feel like God has led me ‘where I don’t want to go’. John 21:18  Sometimes God does lead us through things that we never would have asked for.  He doesn’t clean us off in a cosmic tub he refines us in fire.

I’ve gotten angry and have not been on speaking terms at times.  True.  But I also feel like Peter when he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68

I understand going through pain that never seems to end while Heaven seems deaf to your prayers.  But God accomplishes something in us that can only happen through enduring through trials.  Let’s be honest; we would all be pretty shallow in our faith if we had zero problems or struggles.  But God wants strong christians with rich, deep faith and compassionate hearts.

wpid-20150909_190203.jpgHe is good.  He is good.  He is good.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13

All who keep on trusting will see his goodness.

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