11 Years: Lesson #1

11 Years: Lesson #1

Today marks the eleventh anniversary of the day when sweet Daniel was lifted from my womb into a world full of medical providers who would monitor him closely for the 36 hours he lived on earth.

Eleven years ago, January 26th was on a Friday.  And today, being a Friday seems hard to walk through my normal activities without remembering exactly where I was and who was with me on that day.   ELEVEN YEARS AGO!

Here is a picture of me about this same time (3pm on that Friday):

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The first time I saw and touched Daniel.

While time has/does heal all wounds, there are some scars that you never can forget the story to.  I am not the same person that I was eleven years and one day ago.  And praise God that I have grown closer to Him and understand more fully His love and grace today than my 27 year-old self ever did.

Yes, I just told you my age.

And even though I have been an absent blogger for, oh say, the last three months, I want to share eleven things that I have learned in the last eleven years thanks to the heartache of my son’s home being in heaven and thanks to a Heavenly Father who never gave up on me or my emotions or my broken heart.

So for those of you who are subscribed to this blog, you will get a notification for the next ten days because here is number one:

Lesson #1: Life is a gift.

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B & D

B & D

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We have this little friend who I will call “B.”  He comes and hangs out with us two days a week or so.  He has since he was eight months old.  Now he will tell you he is a BIG boy at his four years of age.

And this little guy is awesome!  His favorite thing to do as of late is to help me with everything.

A few days ago “everything” include dusting with sock puppets and wrapping birthday presents and making sure the gift had lots of tissue “hair.”  (Isn’t that what everyone calls the extra tissue paper we feel obligated to put atop each gift bag?  If it has a name and you know it, let me know in the comments below.)

So in our cleaning with sock puppets (mine ate more dust than his), he came across a round box.  And being the fabulous little gent that he is, he asked if he could open the box before he removed the lid.

I gave him permission and watched him open Daniel’s box. It was given to us at the hospital when Daniel died.  In it I have put things that remind me of him over the years.

Blue knitted caps that were given to us.

Blue and white stones used in a flower arrangement at his funeral.

An ultrasound picture.

B was thoroughly confused when I told him that the ultrasound was a picture of my baby Daniel in my belly.

Lets be completely honest:  ultrasound pictures are not the clearest.  I remember thinking one of my children looked like a primitive dinosaur at one ultrasound…

Anyway, I could tell that B was a little confused and he always desires to understand everything in the world around him.

So I offered to show him Daniel’s baby book.  B absorbed every picture into his brain as I explained that Daniels’s body could not survive here on earth and he had to go to heaven to be healed.  And I reminded him that we would see Daniel in heaven one day!

But B kept looking at the ultrasound pictures asking if this was an eye and that a foot.

Then he looked at me with all the honesty of a little fellow trying to figure out this great big world around him and said, “When I was a baby, I was in….” and he looked like he could not find the words to articulate what he wanted to say.  He looked at me a few minutes longer and I realized he could not remember her name.  I said his birth mother’s name out loud.

He said, “Yes, I grew in her tummy.”

And I realized that there are two little boys in my life who live apart from their birth moms.

Daniel lives in heaven with Jesus.  And B lives with his aunt who is all he has ever known as a mother.

And in both cases it is good.  God’s plans don’t always make sense to us here on earth but we can trust that He is always at work and we are never alone on our journey.

I praise the Lord for providing shelter and protection to my little buddies B & D!

The Lord is the strength of his people;
    he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
 Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
    Be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Psalm 28:8-9

 

Our Day

Our Day

Today I found a new mission in life.  I had never even thought this would be on my radar, but alas, today I needed drugs and I had to travel far and wide to find them.

Yesterday, I woke up with my left eye a little irritated.  I got ready like normal and even put in my contact lenses, but soon discovered that my eye needed a break.  So I took them out and opted for my new glasses.  I thought I would just rest my eye for a day or two and all would be well.

This morning I looked at my eye and realized it was really red.   While it did not have a thick mucus like I had had at a younger age when I had the dreaded pink eye, it was not normal.  I read online and found that if you have a bacterial infection in your eye, it could clear itself up, but it could also cause permanent eye damage.

No, thank you!

I also read online some home remedies for pink eye or a bacterial infection.  Let me just amuse you with these.  If anyone has tried any of these, please let me know how it felt to do this home remedy and if it helped.  But I’ll be honest, as soon as I read these, my eye was hurting more than it had before.  Just read what the internet will tell you to try at home!:

HOME REMEDY #1:  Mix apple cider vinegar with distilled water and squeeze a soaked cotton ball on your eye.  

No way, Jose!  Not me.  I believe in all things with Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar…but only on my skin or in my tummy.  Lo siento, amigo.  

HOME REMEDY #2:  Mix baking soda with distilled water and apply to the eyelids.  

No, sir!  I will not be trying that at home!  

HOME REMEDY # 3:  Mix milk and honey and create an eye rinse.  

Really?!!??  Do I need raw milk or organic milk?  Should it be pasteurized?  Homogenized?  Will my eye stick together?  Do I follow-up this treatment with a warm water rinse?  

HOME REMEDY #4:  Brew a cup of chamomile tea and remove the tea bag.  Let cool and then apply to the eye.

I would be more willing to try this.  It seems almost like a normal idea 🙂  

HOME REMEDY #5:  Dilute fresh lemon juice with cold water and use as a rinse.  

If lemon juice on a cut hurts as much as it does, what would that feel like in my irritated eye?  Who wrote this list of home remedies?  Did they try them out?  

As you can tell, my internet research was not helpful.  If anything, I realized that if my eye had any bacteria in it, I could have some potential long-lasting effects so I called my eye doctor this morning and was so thankful that they had an appointment this morning!  I was praising the Lord all the way there!  (Sorry/not sorry for the comic…it made me laugh!)

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After he did all of his looking at my eye, the doctor determined that I had a bacterial infection and he would treat it with prescription eye drops.  His assistant verified our pharmacy and we headed there.

Upon arrival, I noticed a missed call from our pharmacy so I listened to the message only to find out that they did not have the drops in stock but could get them in a day or so.

Hmmm.

Then I pulled up to the drive-thru window to discuss my options with the pharmaceutical assistant.   She looked on the computer and said that they had at the drops at their other branch about thirty minutes away.

Here is where I will just confess my laziness:  there were four other (Maybe more) pharmacies within walking distance of our regular pharmacy, but because my insurance is on file with them and I don’t mind a little drive (and actually had another errand near the far away pharmacy), I just opted to go to the other same-brand pharmacy.  The assistant said she would transfer my prescription and call to make sure they had it ready for me.

How delightful, I thought!

When I arrived at the other pharmacy, the staff there looked at me like I had a third eyeball and quickly let me know that they did not have the eye drops in stock.  What?!?  How had that happened!?!  But this pharmacy offered to call all the other pharmacies in the county and see if anyone had them.

They did not.

So we tried one more pharmacy back in Boone and alas, they had them.  The only problem was that I had four children in tow who I had taken to Boone and then up to Ashe county and I was not about to make them ride back to Boone to get these drops.  I would just have to wait until Dustin was heading home for him to pick them up.

And he did.  Not only that, when he got home with them, he opened them and has been administering my eye drops so that I don’t have to try to navigate the eye drops in the eye without touching the eye scenario.  He knows me well.

But as I was thinking about all of this, I realized something.  I think we all are searching for something.  Running from place to place to find what we think we need.  Today I needed medication for my eye and I went all around the High Country to make sure I had what I needed.

But how often do we go out of our way and all around the town to get what we think we need.  Acceptance by a certain group.  Approval by that one person.  Love (in whatever love language you speak).

I am thankful that I got these eye drops today – my eye is feeling better already after two treatments!  But I hope that instead of running after personal gain all my days, I run after Jesus and seek Him because I need Him.  Every Hour.  Every Day.

Nothing else can fill the void left when we do not pursue Him.  I want to run after Him every day of my life and encourage you to seek Him and find Him!

But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”  Deuteronomy 4:29

(And if you see me in the next two weeks, just remind me how nice my glasses look since that is all I can wear until my follow-up appointment!  Thanks!)

Our VBS week

Our VBS week

IMG_2756Last week we had planned to participate in a local VBS.  Ruthie and I were to be crew leader and helper since she is officially too old for attending VBS (cue the tears).

Earlier in June, Ruthie and I attended two training meetings, got our matching crew leader t-shirts, and began praying for the crew that would be assigned to us.

Monday morning we met the seven sweetest children who were in our crew!  Ruthie manned the clipboard taking attendance and giving out name tags as I met each child.

We learned the new VBS songs complete with movements and we had the greatest Monday!  Ruthie and I went home praying for our crew and looking forward to the next few days.

Then Monday afternoon, Ruthie laid down on the couch and almost fell asleep. When she woke up, I knew something was not right.  Feeling her forehead, I began to realize that our week’s plans might be changing.

By Friday afternoon, she was feeling back to normal, but VBS ended on Thursday evening.  Ruthie missed the last three days of it!

Thankfully, the VBS directors had volunteers ready to be substitute crew leaders in case a crew leader had to miss unexpectedly.  VBS went on without us, much to our dismay.

But on the second day of being home, Ruthie looked at me and asked me, “Why would God allow me to miss this?  Why would He allow me to get sick when all I wanted to do is help these little children understand how much Jesus loves them?”

That is a hard question to answer.

Why would God want us to miss an opportunity to share God’s love?

I held Ruthie close as the tears streamed down her face.

I explained to her that sometimes God allows things that we don’t think are best, but we have to trust that He is at work even when we do not understand what is happening.

There are several situations in my life like that right now.  Maybe you can relate – you cannot understand what God is doing or why a situation is as it is.  But we can take our frustrations and our desire for wisdom and understanding to Him and ask Him to fill our cups.  And He will.

Maybe not as quickly as we would like.  But He is always there working and our job is to acknowledge Him and to trust Him…that is what faith is, right?

This week I have asked for wisdom and understanding in the midst of situations I cannot explain.  I may not understand (or like what is going on), but I know God is with me and He will make my path straight.

For that I am eternally grateful!

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

 

 

Feel the Rain

Feel the Rain

I am so thankful that the Lord has not given up on me over the years.  He keeps refining me and taking me through situations I would never have asked for or wanted to experience…oh, but the Lord has plans for good!

One day in the middle of a lengthy wet spell, we were all getting a little stir crazy, some more than others in our home.  So when the rain let up a bit and someone asked to go outside, I said, “Yes!”

I figured a little wetness would not hurt…it could be a prelude to a real shower upon re-entrance to our dry abode!

When I looked outside, this is what I saw:

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I watched.   Stunned.  What was this child of mine doing?  Dressed in a pink and blue beret, a cute skirt, the smelliest sparkly Toms any child has ever worn and a beautiful wool coat with faux fur collar, just three sizes too small.

I just watched…wondering if I should make her come inside, but she was enjoying her time outdoors so much.  And honestly, I could tell she needed this freedom from our own four walls.

I snuck outside to get a picture of her in the rain, walking around with her hands held out, just happy as a clam.  So I joined her in the great (wet) outdoors, took her picture (unbeknownst to her) and asked her, “Lee, what are you doing?”

“I am feeling the rain.”

And such is life with her – she feels the rain in every situation.  When life is sad, her eyes fill with tears. When life is funny, she rolls with laughter.  When she sees an injustice, she burns with anger.  When she sees a need, she does her best to meet it.  When someone is sad, she gives them warm hugs.  She is not afraid to feel every emotion and to love every person she meets.

Before the Lord gave me Lee, I would steer clear of all these emotions and feelings…

God gave me Lee because He knew I needed her.  I needed to learn to feel the rain.  To live my life to the fullest and to enjoy every minute of it…whether rain or shine.

And I have learned to thank the Lord for both.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts, See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Psalm 139:23-24

I Done Went There

I Done Went There

I have thought and thought how to tell you this…and this title kept coming to mind.

I know it is grammatically incorrect.

I know the title is painful to read…but it just makes me laugh and smile and see the brighter side of things…now that I am on this side of things.  Let me explain where I went recently.

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(Ha!  It wasn’t anywhere like this.)

Almost two weeks ago my middle daughter began complaining of neck pain.  I felt of her neck after more complaints than normal and felt that her lymph nodes were swollen behind one ear.  Dustin wasn’t available that night, so I googled swollen lymph nodes and was relieved to understand that this was a good sign…a sign of the body fighting off some sickness.

So I put on my game face and started giving more fluids than normal and other natural remedies for sicknesses.

Her neck pain got worse so I took her to see my ex-roommate, now Physician’s Assistant, friend. (God bless her especially after all the text message exchanges we had last week!)   She administered a strep test (which was negative) and said the lymph nodes were doing their job and we just needed to give it time.

Oh, time…I love you so much.

By Thursday night, these nodes were still super swollen (and painful) and a low grade fever began.  I am typically not “that parent” who runs to the pediatricians office, but this was day four of my daughter being in constant pain and now she had a fever, I honestly thought maybe we had a negative on the strep test and we could get an antibiotic and all would be well in the world.

Hallelujah and Amen.

And Dustin even offered to take her to the Pediatrician’s office…so bless his heart, he went and sat among all the sick people and all their germs and their germs’ germs.

And he held our little gal’s hand while she had another strep test and a blood test for mono.  He gives the girls strength in situations that involve needles.  I just tend to be extremely quiet and sweaty which does not yield any assistance from Mommy when needles are around.  I just can’t.

I am sweating now just thinking of the needles.

Anyway, all tests were negative and again we were told there are SO MANY viruses that look like mono and act like it…give it a few more days.

So long story short…we ended up having 72+ hours of me administering ibuprofen or tylenol every three hours around the clock to keep her temperature between 101 and 102 (with medicine).  She could not eat ANYTHING for almost that entire time because of her swollen throat (you almost could not see her hangy down thing in the back of her throat…the uvula?).

And one steroid shot on Wednesday afternoon, made the world a better place.  By Thursday morning, we had no fever and our appetite began to come back.
And today when she requested Bojangles for lunch, I did not think twice about its fat or grease content.  If she wanted to eat it, I would oblige.

But here’s where I went.  Until we had this steroid shot, I would look at her suffering, unable to turn her neck, crying from the pain in her throat, trying to sleep but burning with fever and think, “Oh God, please don’t take another child from me!  I cannot lose another child.  I just can’t.”

That’s where I went.

I remembered those feelings of handing my deceased child to the doctors.  Of never seeing a chest rise and fall again.   Of coming home empty-handed and staring out the window in stunned thoughtlessness.

And I let fear take me over.

And I was scared.  Scared for her life and scared for mine without her.

I realize that I was tired and I had never experienced such sickness for myself or any of our children before this.  And I know that some people pull out the “OVERREACTING” card on me.

But to me, it is real.  Loss is a real thing.  And I can relive it very easily even ten years later.

It happens when I hear of someone else losing a baby or a child.  I am so overwhelmed with sadness and brokenhearted that I can hardly function.

And evidently it happens when I am faced with extreme sickness in my own family.  Sigh.

Just for the record, I have learned that when I recognize myself “going there”with my thoughts, I try to take them captive.  Using Philippians 4:8, I can ask myself, “What is true?”  (In this case, my daughter was sick, doctors were not concerned and she would more than likely make a full recovery – even google told me so!)  “What is right?”  And so forth and so on.  ( This is wonderful advice I got from Elizabeth George’s book, Loving God with All Your Mind.)  

Then I try to find verses to cling to in the current situation.

I hope by sharing this, you too, will realize when your mind starts taking you “there.”  Be careful of “What if” thinking and to focus on what is true…and trust the One who is carrying you each step of the way.  And praise Him even in life’s storms.

” Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

“Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
    Be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Psalm 28:9

 

Allergic to Cold

Allergic to Cold

Our first Christmas together, Dustin wrote me a poem.  He has a real gift for writing.  (Yes, that was a hint that he could write me more poems…)  I was touched by his expression of love in the poetic form.  

I have looked and looked and much to my dismay I cannot find the original poem he sent to me.  (See how much the poem meant to me!?  Truly, I am sick that I cannot find it!)  However, I remember (kinda) how the last stanza went:

“I look forward to with her growing old

This brown eyed girl allergic to cold”

Romantic…I know.   

I had never before thought of my aversion to cold as an allergy, but alas, it was true.  Just as I was allergic to the pollen, I was allergic to the cold.  

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In my efforts to keep from chilling, I had a game plan.  I wore long underwear and wool socks.  I slept with extra blankets and heated rice bags.  I always kept an extra layer or two in the car in case I ever was caught off guard by a chill in the air.  

And yes, I will confess here before God and everyone, that it was me who would occasionally turn the thermostat up one to ten degrees depending on the severity of the cold in our home.

Because the bottom line is this:  I DO NOT WANT TO BE COLD.

You know what I else I don’t want to be?  Sad.  I don’t want to be sad because sad means something has gone wrong, someone is hurting, a heart has been broken.  

But Is it possible to keep myself from being sad?  From having disappointments?  

The answer is simple:  I can’t.  And I am sorry to break this to you, but, you can’t either.  

You could try to keep yourself from experiencing events that make you sad, but, , your order may arrive damaged,  and your expectations may not go exactly how you planned.

I had to decide two things in my life.  

  1. It was okay to get cold.  As much as I disliked it, I could not prevent it.  
  2. It is okay to be sad.  

My job is to live my life to the fullest realizing that there will be hurt and pain and sadness and disappointments along the way.  It is my responsibility in these good times and bad to keep my eyes focused on the Lord.  I should never fear what I cannot control, but trust the God who loves me and will work all things for His glory…whether in cold weather or in warmth.  

And just a side note:  Now that I am older and have birthed several children, I am not as cold natured as I used to be…but I still dislike the cold.  But now I also dislike the extreme warmth…basically,I would like to have a personal thermostat to program so that I do not get over or under heated.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”  Numbers 6:24-26

“Steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.  Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”  Psalm 32: 10-11

“Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.”Psalm 119:165