A lack of faith

Today we graduated from Lactation support. My newest baby, Will and I have had some trouble nursing and we had to see lactation weekly since his birth four weeks ago. He has gradually improved and now they said we can stop supplementing with bottles. I am thankful for that but I left there feeling less than confident about feeding my baby, the most basic of mothering duties. It got me thinking about why I feel nervous about feeding him. I think it comes down to a lack of trust in myself and my mother’s intuition. With my other babies they nursed and gained weight and that was the end of it. I never thought one minute about how much milk they got an one feeding or anything like that, I never doubted if we could be successful in nursing or whether I’d need to use formula. There is nothing wrong with formula, for the record, but what my issue is here is that when Will didn’t gain weight, in fact he spent weeks loosing weight, my faith in my body to produce what he needs was shaken. In fact I have spent years having my faith in myself as a mom shaken by well meaning doctor’s, nurses and the general good conscious of the public.

I feel like as a society we have been subtly attacking mom’s intuition to know what is best for their babies for decades now. Let’s take SIDS for example. That is something I think most moms worry about quit a bit. Every year they come out with new ways to prevent SIDS and new things we shouldn’t do. Fourteen years ago when I had my first son he had colic. He slept very poorly in a drop side crib with bumper pads. Then when that didn’t work well, they gave him reflux medicine and told me to let him sleep in his carseat so that he could be sitting up. GASP! All those things have since been declared unsafe and that they may cause SIDS. It was not that long ago that parents slept with their kids and now there is a long list of things you must not do to keep your child safe. And if your sleep deprived self happens to give in at 2am and sleep with the kid on your chest or something you are putting their life at risk and should be arrested for being a bad parent. It’s all based on fear and guilt. I am not saying we shouldn’t do what we can to keep our kids as safe as possible and all that, but I think all this hoopla is making parents scared to do anything and doubt themselves at every turn.

Another example is birth. When I had my oldest son years ago I wanted to do a natural, non-medicated birth. I told them that when I got to the hospital and they laughed at me. They said I couldn’t do it and I should just take what modern medicine had offered, pain relief. I ended up giving in. Years later I decided to do an birth center birth so that I could prove to myself that I could birth medication free and I did. That was four years ago with my fourth child. After that I had a stillbirth and everything changed. My faith in myself and my body was shaken. They couldn’t figure out why I lost Andrew, and therefore couldn’t tell me how to keep that from happening in the future. I felt broken, physically and mentally. So, when I got pregnant this last time with Will I was terrified. I didn’t trust my body at all not to mess it up again and lose this baby too. I went to a regular OB where they labeled me advanced maternal age and high risk and sent me to a specialist. That didn’t help my mental state. By the end of it I had developed cholestasis and they said I needed to be induced at 37 weeks or I was risking the babies life, so I did. It was the right call, but it left me feeling as though I couldn’t trust my body at all. So, when the time for birth came I just didn’t feel empowered or like I could trust the process as I had with my birth center birth because everyone told me my body was not to be trusted. My instincts were not to be trusted. Then Will was born and we ended up with the breastfeeding issues and again my body didn’t measure up.

So, many women feel this way. So many women are told subtly and not so subtly that they don’t know how to be a mom, they don’t know what’s best and they cannot trust themselves. The doctor’s tell you every single thing about how to care for a baby, when years ago mom’s learned this from other moms. They didn’t doubt themselves. They knew their babies and they did what was best for them. Now we have tons of opinions and regulations about how we should parent. We don’t trust ourselves anymore and we have lost our ability to parent well.

We need to take back our power and confidence as moms. We need to not live in fear and guilt, if possible. We need to trust ourselves more and everyone else less. You got this mama, have faith in yourself.

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Dogs, guilt and the really important stuff

I have major doggy guilt. We have a 1.5 year old lab/mix who is literally crazy. Like on medication crazy. She is very hyper, so much so that we cannot have her inside unless she is in her crate or tethered to the wall, otherwise she will just run like crazy all around the house jumping on furniture and people. So, she stays outside most of the time. I feel really guilty about this. She is a really sweet dog but no one can stand to be around her for more than like 15 minutes because of how hyper she is. We all try to spend some time with her everyday, but it’s hard. I see all these Facebook posts of other people and their sweet well behaved dogs and I wish we had that, but we don’t. I wish I had more time to spend with her, and I wish she would magically be calmer, especially now that the weather is getting colder. I realize that I am doing the best I can with the time I don’t have right now, but I still feel guilty about it. It’s my own self making me feel this way. Why do I do that?

I have now birthed and nursed five babies. Little William is 2 weeks old and you know what? We haven’t got this nursing thing worked out yet. I have never had any issues with nursing my babies, but this one is different. He had a tongue tie which we got fixed over a week ago, but he’s still struggling. He just doesn’t nurse well or at all, and so I have been forced to pump and give him bottles. This really breaks my heart to be honest. First off it’s just hard. It’s a 1.5 hour process of trying to get him to nurse unsuccessfully, feeding him the bottle and then pumping for the next feeding and hoping I have enough milk for him. Now, before everyone starts telling me to just give up and give the baby formula, realize I am doing this because I want to. It’s hard, but it’s what I want to do. Do I have formula on hand in case I can’t do it? Yes. But I want to try. I am seeing a lactation consultant tomorrow and hopefully she can figure out what the issue is so we can fix it. In the meantime, I am trying not to travel in mommy guilt. Your mind says you somehow failed as a mom if you can’t breastfeed. To be honest I never really understood this until now. Sometimes there are circumstances where you can’t breastfeed and that’s ok. I think we put alot of pressure on moms as a society to do things a certain way as a mom and sometimes it’s just not possible.  I was reading this mommy blog about a mom in a similar circumstance to mine who ended up pumping exclusively and never did get the nursing worked out. She said something that struck me and applies to all areas where we place unneeded guilt on ourselves for something we cannot control. She said, “Jesus will not ask you when you get to heaven whether you breast or bottle fed”. Amen! It just doesn’t matter in the long run. Jesus will not ask me what school my kids went to or what grades they made. He will not ask me if my house was clean and the laundry was done. He will not ask me if we ate organic whole foods or McDonald’s every night. This stuff seems so important but really in the long run it’s not. Jesus knows I am doing the best I can at the moment with what I have. As are most of you. Don’t allow yourself to give yourself a guilt trip over stuff that just doesn’t really matter. If you start to travel down the road of guilt ask yourself if this will matter in five years. If not, then let it go. Give yourself some breathing space and do what you can with what you have in the moment. If it isn’t turning out like you planned or wanted, just let it go. Pat yourself on the back for trying and move on.

Will’s Birth Story

I wanted to share Will’s birth story. It’s a practice in faith and healing. I guess I should start before we found out we were pregnant. Two years ago we decided we would like to have one more baby. We spent 6 months trying to get pregnant and finally did, but then at 21 weeks we lost the baby. We went through a stillbirth, which forever changed us, and we will never forget our little Andrew. We went through some testing after that and the doctor’s didn’t have good news. They told us they didn’t know why we lost Andrew but they were doubtful we would ever be able to get pregnant again due to our test results and if we did we likely wouldn’t carry the baby to term. I accepted that, after some time, and were moving on with life. We had 6 wonderful kids and we were thankful. My mom had just moved in with us and was requiring constant care, so I saw God’s hand in the timing of it all. Then, in February, I started having some symptoms that suggested I might be pregnant. I was in denial about it but decided after a few weeks to take a test, which turned positive. I was shocked to say the least. I decided I wouldn’t tell anyone just yet because honestly I didn’t really believe it myself. A few days later my mom went into the hospital for the fourth time in 6 months and I started bleeding. At that point I just accepted it was another miscarriage and was thankful it hadn’t lasted long enough for me to get too attached or have to suffer another stillbirth. I know that sounds jaded but when you have lost four pregnancies you get to this place. I went to the doctor to confirm what I thought was the case only to have them tell me that everything with the baby was fine but I had a hemorrhage in my uterus that was causing the bleeding and could cause a miscarriage. So, I went home to wait and see what would happen. They didn’t give us much hope given our history. Weeks went by and the bleeding continued and everyday I wondered if it was the end, but the pregnancy continued. Around 9 weeks I prayed for healing one Sunday and the bleeding got worse. The next day I went to the doctor for an ultrasound and they said the hemorrhage had healed itself and the baby was just fine. We were cautiously optimistic at this point, because we had lost two babies in the second trimester before so we never feel “safe”. Around that time, my mom got sicker and had to be put into a nursing facility. I was stressed to say the least and my legs started itching. I went to the doctor and they ran blood tests and determined it was anxiety. Great.

Fast forward to 18 weeks pregnant. On a Monday in June my mom was ushered into the presence of the Lord. On Tuesday morning we had another ultrasound and found out we were having a boy. This did not surprise me. A few weeks before I found out I was pregnant I had a dream where I was talking to our Pastor’s father who was very sick and on his deathbed. I told him I was pregnant and it was a boy and we would name the baby after him and Glenn’s grandfather and also my cousin, the baby’s name would be William Travis. We were overjoyed after the ultrasound that the baby was healthy and they went to plan mom’s funeral. The ups and downs of this season have been immense.

Fast forward again to 36 weeks pregnant. They had done many many ultrasounds and tests up to this point because of my history and so far all was well but this whole time I continued to itch and it was increasing. Finally they did a blood test and determined I had Cholestasis of Pregnancy. It’s a rare liver disorder that affects pregnant woman where your liver just doesn’t work right and causes lots of serious problems but also itching. Due to the seriousness of the condition for myself and baby Will, they told me I would need to be induced at 37 weeks, that was in just one week. Given what I had been through, this stressed me out to say the least. I was nervous when we went into the hospital on Sunday October 14 for my induction. I had never been induced before and then my experiences in hospitals of late have been traumatic with Andrew’s birth and then my mom’s passing. This was complicated emotionally for me.

We arrived for the induction and I was already contracting. I thought that was great news, but it wasn’t. They couldn’t use the regular medication they would like to use to begin an induction because of my contractions so we had to go a different route which might be slower and hopefully would not effect Will negatively. I began the medication around 9pm on Sunday and had contractions every 2 minutes until around 2pm Monday afternoon at which time I asked for an epidural because they were going to break my water which I knew from experience makes the pain much worse. I was exhausted at that point and just needed some sleep. I was also not progressing very fast and knew it could be hours before he was born. At around 6pm Will’s heart rate began to drop with every contraction. They were very concerned. They started trying to turn me different directions and see if it would help but it didn’t. So, they decided to do a procedure where they put the amniotic fluid back around the baby to see if that would help. If it didn’t they would need to do an emergency C-section. I was quietly freaking out. Those of you who know me know I don’t make a big scene if I am stressed but you can see it in my eyes. My blood pressure sky rocketed and I knew I needed to get myself under control before I made this situation even worse. I prayed and took lots of deep breaths and it stabilized but Will was still in distress. The doctor told me we needed to deliver this baby as soon as we could, but I was only 6cm at this point. I prayed and prayed and an hour later I asked them to check me again. The nurse thought I was crazy because there was no way I was ready to deliver in just an hour, but she was shocked to discover I was. I began pushing and within six pushes he was delivered. That is what a lot of prayer and determination will do of a mama who is terrified.

I cried and cried after he was born, it had been such a long journey of loss to bring us to this point. When I got to the hospital and into the room where we would deliver I noticed the little baby warmer in the corner. When we had delivered Andrew there was no warmer, because there was no need. Over the next few days of being in the hospital I had many little moments of remembering Andrew and my mom. I ate an Italian ice that was the last thing I ever fed my mom. Just a million tiny moments of loss. Loss changes you. I will never be the same person I was before all this, but I hope I can honor their legacy by moving forward bravely and raising this beautiful child God has given us. William means “strong warrior”, this child is a fighter and he is strong with the strength God has given him. Loss makes you realize what you have. We do not take for granted the kids God has allowed us to raise. We also do not take for granted our typically developing children and the loss of raising a child with special needs.

I was listening to a sermon on anxiety. I will not pretend this last year has been one that was free from anxiety. In fact had I not been pregnant I would be on anti anxiety meds for sure. It’s been a year. But this pastor said that we have anxiety because we confuse our responsibility with God’s sovereignty. God has given us the responsibility to raise our children but ultimately we are not in control of what happens to them, that is His sovereignty. I am not in control of their lives, that is God’s job. I get anxious by thinking I am in control when I am not. That is the biggest thing I am learning through all this. Let it go. God has got this whether I like the outcome or not, He has got it. And should the worst happen, He will see me through, because I will tell you sometimes the worst will happen. We have lived some of that worst, but we made it through because God gave us the strength to do so. And now we have a joyous moment in the midst of tears, because God has allowed it and we are thankful.

 

2 years ago

Two years ago today we were at the hospital giving birth to our stillborn son, Andrew. It was by far the hardest day of my life, even more difficult than loosing my mom this past summer. My mom’s passing has brought up the grief of loosing Andrew all over again, and also the fact that in just four more weeks we will meet our newest little addition to the family, William. People have asked me if being pregnant and having this new baby very soon will help with the grief of loosing Andrew. It will be a nice distraction for sure, but William will never be a replacement for Andrew. I will always have a son that I lost and nothing will change that. I will always grieve for him and I will always remember each September 29, his short little life. We have had four pregnancy looses but Andrew’s by far was the hardest. There is nothing as traumatic, that I have experienced, like being induced and delivering a stillborn baby. I will never forget leaving the hospital that day, sitting in a wheelchair and waiting for Glenn to bring the car around. I sat there as I had four times before that waiting for Glenn with a baby in my arms, but this time, my arms were empty and so was my heart.

The months after his birth were a blur really, of just trying to get out of bed each morning, having cried most of the night and putting one foot in front of the other because I had to. I had to keep going for my other kids who needed me, but I was a shell of a person during that time. We went to counseling and that helped, but time was really what helped the most. Then a year went by, and I couldn’t believe it. One year after Andrew’s birth, I found myself in the same hospital with my mom who was very sick and then started a journey of her decline and ultimately her passing away and here we are again, another year later. I pray this will not be another year of loss, like the past two have been. I pray we will soon meet little William and all will be well with him and his birth. It’s been very difficult to believe that all is well with him. The doctor’s are watching me very closely with weekly non stress tests and ultrasounds to make sure he is doing well. We never got answers as to why we lost Andrew and that’s so difficult. Everyone is hopeful that since we are now 35 weeks with William that all will be well, but having been through so much loss lately, I have to fight the voices in my mind that say it will not turn out as I hope. I have battled anxiety this pregnancy like never before and it has manifest itself in physical symptoms and I work hard to keep under control. I will put one foot in front of the other and not give into fear these last few weeks until I hold my little William. It’s all I can do.

Loss changes you. We are not the same people we were before we lost Andrew and not even the same people we were before we lost my mom. I’m glad we aren’t. God is teaching us empathy for people who are in this situations. Everyone will loose someone special to them at some point and for most people they will loose multiple people. They loose a parent, or spouse, or a child. Each of those losses are different and yet the same as well. We know now how to allow someone to grieve in their own way and in their own time. There is no timeline on grief and there is no right way to grieve. The fact is though that we all must grieve, if we don’t it will come up later. So, today we remember our sweet boy, Andrew. We thank God for his life and all it has taught us and we look forward to seeing him again someday. IMG_4107

What Happened? (Part 2)

When I went home Thursday night I knew I needed to talk with Hospice, but I just wasn’t sure how to go about it. I knew I needed help and at that point I knew it probably wouldn’t be long before she passed on, but no one had said that to me, they were still hopeful for recovery at that point. When I walked into the hospital Friday morning there was a lady there from Hospice. God, again, had worked things out. We talked and I cried, in the middle of intensive care. I don’t like crying in front of people, especially not a ton of strangers at the hospital. She said she felt Hospice was the best next step as they didn’t think there was anything else they could do for her. At that point I was going to try to bring her home and then have some nurses come in to help. I talked to the hospice lady on the phone at length about finances, which were a huge concern, and about the nursing care at home. She said nurses only came twice a week. I knew I couldn’t care for her in her current state the rest of the time by myself. By this point I was 18 weeks pregnant, with a surprise baby anmed had 6 other kids at home to care for. But I knew mom had said to  over and over again she didn’t want to die in a nursing home. It was so difficult. The other issue was that she had never signed a DNR. A DNR means Do Not Resuscitate. So, if you were to go into cardiac arrest they would not try to save you. It’s a way for people who are terminally ill to die peacefully. She had never signed one. In order to go into Hospice you have to sign one. She had given me Healthcare Power of Attorney, so I had to make the very difficult decision to declare her mentally unfit and sign the DNR against her wishes. I grew up in a hurry during this time. It was SO difficult!

This was all Friday morning. While I was at the hospital I went into her room to visit her. She was in and out of consciousness and very combative and honestly, mean. It was by far the most difficult day so far. That afternoon I was sitting outside waiting on my kids to get home from school and just crying. It had been a horrible day. The hospice nurse called me and said they had evaluated her and she would qualify for Hospice house. It’s a place run by hospice where you can go if you have a week or less to live, usually. Not only did she qualify, which meant it would be free, but they had a bed at one near my house and she would be transported there the next day. God saw my situation and worked it all out ahead of time. I was terrified of taking care of her and of our financial situation as nursing care can be very expensive and God worked it all out. The next day, on Saturday, she was transferred to Hospice and my husband, and cousin and his wife were able to be there when she arrived. We got her settled in and she was coherent and peaceful, so much better than she had been the day before. We were able to talk with her and pray with her and she said, she loved us all.

On Sunday, we all arrived early at Hospice. We brought our kids, because she had been asking to see them and they hadn’t been allowed to visit her in the hospital. By the time we got there we were unable to wake her. She was unconscious. The doctor told me she had a day or so left, maybe. Someone was with her all day on Sunday and then I came early Monday morning to sit with her again. My pastor came to pray with me and she was still resting peacefully, but her breathing was a bit shallow. They told me it would be that day sometime. My friend Kim arrived at around 10 and my cousin came as well. We talked and prayed  and just sat. By 1pm my friend realized I hadn’t eaten all day and went to get me some food. Just as she came back we realized mom’s breathing was not the same. We knew it was the end. So, we all gathered around and my cousin read scripture and we prayed and cried. Finally she was quiet. I put my hand on her chest and realized she was gone. I was so glad to have two of the most important people in my life with me in that moment. I was relieved that she was finally without pain. Earlier that day I realized she was having some pain and the doctor came in and gave her pain medication. They asked me if she had seen everyone she wanted to and they couldn’t figure out why she was hanging on. They told me to tell her she could let go. So, I did. I won’t even pretend that was easy. I begged her to let go. It was very very difficult. But finally around 2pm she let go and ran to Jesus.

We waited for the funeral home to come, which took a couple hours. So, I ate a frosty. I think she would find it hilarious that I was sitting in the room with her waiting on the funeral home eating Wendy’s but I needed to eat for the baby’s sake, even though I didn’t want to. There are no rules about grief. You do what you feel you need to at the time and don’t worry about what other people think. The funeral home came and we all processed behind her as they put her in the car and we said goodbye. You cannot understand what it’s like to watch someone die unless you have done it. I feel like I am apart of this club I never asked to be in. I realized my own mother had never watched someone die, how strange to have done something she never did. Some people say they wish they could have the chance to say goodbye to a loved one, but I’m not sure everyone realizes that to be able to say goodbye you must be there while they are dying. That is extremely difficult. It’s not at all like the movies, where it’s short and sweet and all that. It’s long and drawn out and honestly shocking. It’s not what is supposed to happen. We were never meant to die. It’s just unnatural. Apart of me feels like I have PTSD from it or something. It was very difficult and I won’t pretend otherwise.

The next day Glenn and I had an appointment for our big ultrasound. We found out we were having a boy and he was doing just fine. Then we went to the funeral home with my cousins to plan the funeral. That was a day of extremes to say that least and I won’t pretend I didn’t have a panic attack at the funeral home. I did. It was hard. And funerals are way more expensive then I realized and have way too many decisions. The funeral was on Saturday and I actually did pretty well through it. I wasn’t sure how I would hold up, but God had grace and I survived.

Since that time I have been seeing  grief counselor with Hospice and that has helped. Life has been busy and now we are 6 weeks away from the delivery of our baby boy. And just a few days away from the one year anniversary of my mom’s first hospital visit. What a crazy year. What an emotional year. I still deal with anxiety and panic attacks at times. Grief is crazy how it sneaks up on you at the oddest times. I know there will be hard days ahead, but God is with me and has sent me so many people to hold me up through this journey and I am grateful. My mom lived a long and full life and she is greatly missed but I rejoice that she’s in heaven and I will see her again one day.

What Happened? (Part 1)

On June 4, 2018 my mom went home to be with Jesus. I don’t know about you but when I see obituaries in the paper, particularly of young people I want to know what happened. Why did they die? I guess that seems weird or morbid or something but I think it comes from a place of wanted to control things. Death is out of our control and scary. We want to know other people’s experiences of it, so that we can understand it more and maybe not be so scared. It’s not that I don’t have faith that I will go to heaven, it’s the process of leaving this earth and getting there, that scares me. It’s like labor. When a baby is being born it’s scary. You don’t know what will happen. Anyway, many people have asked me what happened with my mom, since it seemed to those around her that she passed away rather suddenly. So, I will tell her story.

On September 29, 2017, I found myself in the exact place I didn’t want to be, the ER at Presbyterian hospital. You see, exactly one year before, I was at Presbyterian giving birth to our stillborn son, Andrew. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. So, one year later I was sitting in the ER waiting room at the same hospital listening to this baby lullaby that is played each time a baby is born at that hospital. It was pure torture.

Two days before, my mom went to the hospital for a routine heart procedure. It’s basically an echo cardiogram from the back side of your heart. You swallow a camera and they look at the heart with it. It’s very routine and simple and very low risk. While she was there they discovered she had a fever, and upon testing that she had an UTI. So, they gave her antibiotics and sent her home. I called her the next day and she was still feeling bad and running a fever, but since it hadn’t been 24 hours since she was on antibiotics, I didn’t think much of it. The next morning, I called her again. She was running a higher fever and still feeling very poorly. She didn’t tell me at the time but she had also not been able to walk for the past day or so. So, I told her to call her doctor and see what they said. She called me back almost immediately and said she was on her way to the ER and a friend of ours was taking her, and could I meet her there. So, I packed up my 2 year old and headed to the ER. I am convinced that if I hadn’t listened to my intuition that something was wrong and called her, she would have died within hours.

When I got to the ER our friend Don was in the waiting room. So, I went to sit with him. One hour passed, then two, and they still wouldn’t let us see her. I knew something wasn’t right. Thankfully, I had my rambunctious two year old Luke to distract me. Finally they called us back and we went into the intensive care area of the ER. It’s not that it said “intensive care” anywhere but I’ve been in enough ER’s to know how this works. She was clearly very sick. They said she had a UTI and Blood infection known as sepsis and her kidneys were not working well. I knew that was very bad. They were transferring her to the intermediate cardiac unit as soon as there was a bed. So, I said goodbye but honestly she wasn’t really with it enough to really know I was in the room and Don stayed with her for a while. I came home to make dinner for my kids and then go visit the grave of my son Andrew we had lost the year before. We were placing his headstone at his grave that night. I did all that honestly believing I might not see my mom again.

The next day I went to the hospital, and she was doing better and that day after that, even better. I was shocked, honestly. Then they told me they were going to discharge her the next day. At this point she was doing very well but really couldn’t walk well or take care of herself. Up until that point, she was living alone completely independently. I knew she couldn’t go home alone. So, my cousin who just happened to be at the hospital visiting that day (God works these things out) and I convinced her to move into my house. We told her we thought it would just be temporary but I knew that was unlikely. So, on the way home from the hospital I called Don again and asked him to bring his truck and help move in my moms stuff later that day. Through all this he was there at every turn doing whatever needed to be done and for that I am grateful beyond words.

The next day I picked her up from the hospital and moved her into our house. Thankfully we had a spare room we had just a month before moved our youngest son out of, again God works these things out ahead of time. Thus began the great adventure of living together for the next nine months. I will not say it was all easy. I love my mom and she loved me but we were still two adult women trying to live together who are both fiercely independent. The hardest thing about it is slowly becoming the parent to your parent. I realized quickly she couldn’t do a lot for herself physically and she was forgetful mentally. I tried to allow her to do what she could for herself but always tried to walk behind her, figuratively, to make sure nothing was missed, usually without her knowing it so I didn’t insult her. She didn’t realize she wasn’t completely up to par. That is a delicate balance, especially for me. I have two special needs kids so I am used to managing peoples lives, particularly those who have physical or mental needs. It was hard not to treat her like another child. Some days I found myself in my garage crying because the weight of it all was just too much. Emotionally, I was grieving the loss of our previous relationship as we tried to figure out this new territory.

The next month was full of doctor’s visits and me cleaning our her house to sell as we both realized quickly it wasn’t a good idea for her to live alone anymore. She had been failing physically for a while but never told me. I was busy to say the least. Then in November she got sick again and was in the hospital with a UTI again. One step forward, two steps back. She came home just before Thanksgiving and we went on to have a wonderful Christmas and celebrate her 82nd birthday in January. I am beyond thankful for those moments together, since it would be our last holiday together. Then in March she went into the hospital again with another UTI, was released only to go back two weeks later with the same thing. She stayed a week each time. In late March she was released and did ok for a little while but was back in the hospital in April. At this point I realized her heart wasn’t doing well. I asked the doctor’s how long they thought she had, but no one could say. She had lived with heart failure for years but now it was progressing. I knew in my heart it wouldn’t be long.

They sent her home in April and when I went to pick her up she was barely able to get into the car. I was very concerned at this point and scared, to be honest. I didn’t know how I would care for her in this state. She came home and was only home four hours when she fell twice trying to walk with her walker. I then made the difficult decision to put her back into the hospital and then into rehab at a nursing home. You have to go through the hospital to be put into rehab for Medicare to cover it. I learned a ton about Medicare rules during this time. So, I called 911, which I had done so many times they knew us by name. They transported her to the hospital again where she stayed a week and then I got her transferred to a rehab facility two doors down from us. God again had worked that out in advance. It was gut wrenching to tell her I couldn’t care for her anymore. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. I called my mother in law and she came right over and just let me cry, after they took mom away in the ambulance.

When mom first entered rehab she was doing well. She had physical therapy every day and she was making some progress. At that point she couldn’t get out of bed on her own, even with a walker. As long as she made progress Medicare would pay for rehab but if she didn’t progress they wouldn’t. Finally a few weeks into her stay the social worker called me and said she was refusing to do her therapy and they were going to have to kick her out since Medicare wouldn’t pay for it. So, I went up there and talked with her about it. We had a coming to Jesus meeting. That was on a Friday. On Sunday Glenn went to visit her and he said she just wasn’t herself. So, I went to visit Monday and I too noticed that she was sleeping more than usual and something wasn’t right. By Tuesday I was convinced something was wrong and asked the staff to have the doctor look at her but they couldn’t find anything wrong, but I just knew there was something. On Wednesday I got a call that she was in the ER with a nose bleed. I am convinced God had sent the nosebleed just so we could get to the hospital. When I got there she was sleeping pretty much all the time and they said her heart wasn’t doing very well and she would be admitted to intensive care. The next day, on Thursday she was still in and out of it, but they were hopeful she would come around. That day when I was there she woke up and was talking to me and asked me if I saw the party they were having out her window. Her window was 5 stories up and below was a parking lot. There was no party. It was then that I remembered she had told me two other times earlier in the week that she saw parties outside her window. I realized at that moment that she was seeing Heaven. It was so awesome to witness her seeing heaven but at the same time humbling because I knew soon she would be crossing over.

Jordan

Our son Jordan got his name from the river Jordan in the Bible. I gave him that name because he was born at a time in my life when God asked us to step out in faith into something new. And in the midst of us obeying what He asked, for me to stay home with our young son Sam even though we had little money, He gave us a new  unexpected blessing of Jordan. God knew when Jordan would arrive before we did. He knew He was going to bless us with another child, even though we weren’t planning for it. So, He asked me to quit my job and stay home with Sam knowing that’s what I would need to do anyway after Jordan was born since we couldn’t afford childcare for two kids. We stepped out in faith that God was going to provide and then He blessed us. Obedience always precedes the blessings. 

If you look at the children of Israel when they crossed the Jordan river to get into the promised land you can see a picture of obedience and disobedience. The people of Israel could have been in the promised land when Moses was leading them 40 years before they did, but they disobeyed God and didn’t have faith that God would provide for them and so God didn’t bless them with the promised land but chose to wait until the next generation to allow them to enter. So, in Joshua 3 we find them crossing the river Jordan with Joshua as their leader, after Moses died. Joshua was an interesting choice for a leader. Back years before Moses had sent twelve spies to scout out ahead of the people to see what was coming and what people they would face in this new promised land. 10 spies came back saying it couldn’t be done because the people were too many and too large. They thought the people should turn back and not obey what God said. 2 men didn’t agree and said that they could take over the land, Joshua and Caleb. At this point Joshua was already set up by the Lord to succeed Moses but God was going to allow Moses to lead the people into the promised land but chose not to because Moses and the people believed the report of the 10 spies that this was too hard for them to do.

So, Moses dies and then we see the Israelites finally ready to cross the Jordan into the promised land. Only Joshua and Caleb were still alive and leading the people to cross the Jordan. An entire generation had died wandering in the desert because of believing they couldn’t do what God had instructed. Are you believing what the Lord has said you could do, or the opinions of those around you who say it cannot be done?

Joshua prepares the people to cross the Jordan. This is the harvest time which means the Jordan was over a mile wide and very deep. God commanded the priests to take the Ark of the Covenant (which represented God’s presence) and step into the river and then the waters would part. These are not the same people who saw the crossing of the Red Sea. They had heard about it from their parents but didn’t see it for themselves. Not that it had helped their parents faith that much since they were the same people who believed God couldn’t help them defeat all the giants in the promised land, but anyway.  So, stepping foot into this river had to be terrifying, but they believed what God had said He would do, so they continued forward. The priests took the Ark walked into the water and then the waters parted. The waters dried up for 20 miles wide in order for the people to cross. What I hadn’t thought of was how muddy it must have been and how steep to walk down to the riverbed and back up to the other side. It was a mile long walk in the mud or rocks. They had all their possessions and livestock and children. The priests had to stand there in the middle of the river holding the Ark until everyone had crossed. Can you imagine how scary it must of been to just stand there knowing how much water was being stopped up and could come crashing down at any moment. They had to trust God wholeheartedly. I find it interesting that God made them stand there for most likely a few hours while all the people crossed. Do you ever feel as though you are standing in the mud of life for what seems like an eternity? God has promised you something and you have obeyed but along the way you get stuck in the mud? Man I have. You are thinking it will be all unicorns and roses following God but instead you end up stuck in mud and just standing there waiting for forever. Finally the people crossed, and then God tells twelve men to go back into the river and get one boulder each and carry it. That was a huge task, we are not talking about about little rocks here and it was a mile just to cross the river and then they had to carry these stones to their campsite for the night and build a memorial. God wanted to remind them of what He had done. He knew that in the days ahead of having to march around Jericho and defeat many armies they would need to be reminded with something tangible of what He had brought them through and that He could be trusted. Sometimes we need to make a memorial for ourselves of what God has done. Something tangible to remind our selves of His faithfulness as we continue on in our journey.

God’s promises are not without difficulties in the journey. It’s never easy, but always worth it. Are you trusting God for something He has promised? Are you doubting He can do it? Or are you remembering what He has done in the past and continuing to walk forward in faith to claim your promised land?

MRI

Tomorrow evening I am going to have an MRI of my brain. I am not looking forward to it, I am not in love with small spaces, but I also don’t do well with sedatives so I just have to deal with it and get through it. So, why am I having an MRI? Well, about this time last year I started having odd symptoms, mostly gynecological in nature. I had just lost Andrew, who was stillborn at 21 weeks, so the doctor’s didn’t really thing much of it when things were a little off. As time went on and I was in more pain they decided I had PCOS. They ran lots of blood tests and discovered my hormones were low, so they sent me to an endocrinologist, basically a hormone doctor. She ran more tests and found out that my adrenal glands, which are responsible for making most of your hormones were not working right. There is a disease called Adrenal Insufficiency where your adrenal glands pretty much don’t work at all, which can be really serious and life threatening because those adrenal glands produce hormones that control blood pressure and insulin. So if they don’t work right it can put you into an adrenal crisis where your blood sugar and blood pressure fall dramatically and you can go into a coma. The only way to treat that condition is lifelong steroids, and hormone replacements. Fortunately, I am not in adrenal insufficiency yet. I am close though. So, they are doing this MRI to check and see if maybe my pituitary gland is damaged. The Pituitary tells your adrenal glands to work, so you can see why that would be important. If it is damaged there isn’t anything they can do except put you on steroids, but at least then we would know why my adrenals aren’t working. There is only a slim chance that this is the case. The most likely cause for my adrenals not working as they should is stress. Like long term stress. Your adrenal glands produce a hormone called cortisol during stressful situations. It gives you the extra boost of energy you need to deal with stress. If you are stressed for too long, your body overproduces cortisol and then if you are stressed long enough it just stops producing cortisol at all. My body is not producing enough cortisol, which would suggest it has been under stress for a while and is just giving up.

That sounds bad huh? Well, it’s not wonderful news, but I am thankful we have caught it before it got really bad and I ended up collapsing or something. So now I just have to figure out how to reverse this and take care of myself. Not sure yet how I’m going to do that, but after the first of the year I’m going to go to another doctor who will hopefully be able to give me some steps to take. I am needed by so many, I have to take the steps to take care of myself. I cannot keep putting myself on the back burner and keep on going. I know none of the moms and wives out there can relate. hahaha. At any rate, prayers are much appreciated as I go through this MRI tomorrow and in the weeks ahead as I figure out the next steps to take to take better care of myself.

Grocery bags

On Wednesday night Glenn and I were talking about the future and money. Never an easy topic for anyone, but our conversation went much like it does in most people’s houses. We were concerned about how we were going to make ends meet in the future. Will there be enough? How can we make sure there is enough? What are our priorities? How should we move forward? Will God really supply all our needs? It’s not a finance thing, it’s a faith thing. It’s not whether there are enough dollars in our bank account but is there enough faith in our souls to believe we can move forward in the way God has called us and believe he has it covered, even if it doesn’t seem possible. “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. It’s right there in black and white, we just have to believe it. Anyway, at that time we were finding it hard to believe. We were making plans about how we could fix the situation ourselves rather than just trusting and resting in his provision. It’s a dangerous place to be when we try to run ahead of God, just ask Abraham.

The next morning I was running out of the house to get groceries quickly before I continued with the million other things I needed to accomplish that day. I got to Aldi and realized I had forgotten my grocery bags. (If you’ve never been to Aldi, you need to take your own grocery bags, as they don’t give them to you there) So I decided I didn’t have a choice but to just get the groceries I needed, which was enough for all 9 of us for a week, and just put them into the car loose. I knew it wasn’t ideal but it’s all I could do. So, I got my groceries and rolled my cart out to the car. At that point I was thinking how nice it would be to not have a minivan but to have a trunk where I could put these groceries and they wouldn’t roll everywhere by the time I got home. But life must go on so I began to put groceries one by one into the van. Just then my sister in law walked up. She asked me where my bags were, and I told her. She said, “you know, I was driving here wondering why I brought all my bags when I only need a couple things”. She brought me her bags and I was rescued from lost avocados rolling all over my van that I would find only weeks later because of the smell.

I realized in that moment that God doesn’t just care about the big things, but the small things as well. In the grand scheme of life those grocery bags weren’t that big of a deal. It wasn’t a life and death situation, well maybe for the avocados. I could have dealt with the situation and it wouldn’t have been that big of a thing. I wouldn’t have remembered it a year later. But God. God saw my situation and sent my sister with bags. He cares not only about the cancer diagnosis or the lost job but he cares about the forgotten grocery bags. It was a situation I had gotten myself into after all, it was me who had forgotten the bags. But he saw me in my sad situation and probably felt pity. He knows I’m running around like a crazy person because my life is crazy with a husband, six kids two of which have special needs, a mom to care for and a crazy puppy. He knows I’m just barely making it some days. I don’t have to tell Him, He sees it. I didn’t even pray about the grocery bags. I didn’t think it was something that required prayer. I probably should have but I was trying to clean up my own mess, my way. It is my default after all, to try to clean up my own situations. I am far too independent and self sufficient, at least in my own mind. But He knows that, He made me like that. He sees me trying to figure out how to make ends meet and gently tells me, through grocery bags, that He’s got this. He’s got even the grocery bags. I didn’t NEED those bags, but they sure made life easier. He even cares about those things in our lives that would make our lives easier, not just our clothing and food.

Are you trying to run ahead of God and figure out how to make ends meet in a situation? Just rest in the fact that God sees it. He has a plan, even for the smallest details. He cares about it all. He will reveal his plan at the exact moment you need it. When you are loading the groceries into the car, He will supply the bags, but you have to step forward in what He has called you to. You have to step out and buy the groceries even if you don’t have the bags to put them in yet. Faith requires action first. Take the step He has told you to take and He will be there to supply what you have need of.

What’s your “thing”?

I am reading a book on spiritual warfare. It’s called Spiritual Warfare for your Family by Leighanne McCoy. “Why are you reading about spiritual warfare?” you ask. Well, to be honest. I am desperate for answers in my life. Desperate for peace in my house. We are really really struggling with our son Josh. He has Intellectual Disability and a host of other issues and he is destroying the peace in my house. He throws monster fits and rages and it’s an every day multiple times a day thing. You never know what will set him off, we all walk around on eggshells. I hate to have people over because you never know when it will happen. He steals, lies and just wreaks havoc on my house and I’m tired. Like bone tired. It’s been like this for about two and a half years now and I’ve tried everything. We have done counseling, therapy and medications. We have prayed and prayed and nothing is working. So, in my desperation to find answers I turned to books about spiritual warfare. Don’t get me wrong here, I do not think there is a devil behind every corner and all that, but I do think that Satan is alive on the earth and does do his best to destroy lives and cause problems. Satan wants us to think either two lies, one is he isn’t up to anything in the earth or he is behind everything. It’s neither one. But I do recognize I don’t know enough about the subject having grown up Baptist we sat mostly in the camp of don’t talk about Satan and he won’t have any control in your life.

I had a feeling that while Joshua’s issues are biological in nature Satan is using that to his advantage and causing strife in my house. It’s leaking into all of us around Joshua because we are all angry at him and tired of his chaos. I don’t want this for my family. Josh has always had issues but they just got much much worse when my husband Glenn started preaching at church, I don’t think that’s a coincidence. It’s one of the ways we know we are heading the right direction in our lives, because Satan is mad. At any rate, I need answers. So, I started reading this book and I really like it. One thing I just read that just really had a lightbulb moment. The author was talking about making idols in our lives, things we hold higher than God. I had always thought of idols as things I love more than God like my husband or something I want, but she was talking about how she was consumed with worry for her daughter over the poor choices she was making. She spent more time worrying and praying and crying over her daughter and lost her focus on God. Her heartache became her idol. Once she confessed that and started praying for her forgiveness it changed her view of the situation and she realized that God had it under control and her burden was lifted. Lightbulb! My heartache and worry over my son and his behavior have become an idol in my life. I spend way more time worrying and praying about him than anything else and that has got to change. I cannot change my son, oh how I wish. That is God’s job, but I am spending time worrying about it like I can change him. I’m trying to do what is impossible and loosing my focus on what is important, God. If I spend more time focusing on God and less time focusing on my son’s issues I will not become so angry because I won’t care so much. That sounds bad initially but it’s what needs to happen. I am worrying about my son’s future and how hurtful he can be and not focusing on God. I have to change my focus. It won’t change my son’s behavior but it will change me, which may in turn change Josh’s behavior. Spiritual warfare battles are waged in my mind. I have control over what I allow in and what I believe. Satan is feeding me lies about my hopeless situation when I serve the God of hope and I am choosing to believe them. Satan says it will always be this way and my son will grow up to be a felon if he even makes it to adulthood. And I believe that. Not anymore. I will not focus on my issues but the one who can solve them. 

So, what’s your thing? What is the thing that consumes more of your attention than God? What lies are you believing?