Maybe, just maybe

        Yesterday, we had yet another specialist appointment for Daniel to not leave any stone unturned in our relentless search for answers. We met a very kind, compassionate pediatric cardiologist who confirmed what we already knew: his medical condition is not cardiac related. Definitely a relief since both my parents passed away from heart disease in their fifties. Relief, thankfulness flooded over us, but then the gnawing ache of, “Well, what is wrong with him?” returned with a strong intensity.  The cardiologist is going to consult with another specialist he works with and get back with us early next week. He admitted that the health issues Daniel has are “rare” and sometimes “we never know” what’s wrong.  Not exactly comforting, but the honesty was appreciated.

     Daniel, in his wise. mature sixteen years, has reminded me over and over again. 
“Mom, don’t get your hopes up just because it looks likes I’m having a better day, I still feel the same: tired.”  He even went on to give an analogy: if you have a flat plain and want to make a hill. You have to dig a hole to make the hill. To make it flat again, you put the dirt back in the hole. It’s the same dirt, might look different, but nothing has really changed. Quite the analytical thinker, but also very honest, he’s miserable but chooses to keep on keeping on.

    Maybe, just maybe, there’s a lesson for me in all of this mess.  What if he doesn’t get better? What if he has to learn to cope with constant fatigue? What if the medical answers do not come? What if, as a parent, I have to accept my child may not be like his peers and will need extra care or rest? There’s a song by Casting Crowns titled: Even If. Lately, God has been using that song over and over to confirm his sovereignty in my life.  “Even if the healing doesn’t come, You are still God.” 

     Maybe, just maybe, I need to step back and let God just be God,  Maybe, just maybe, I need to let go of the fact that I can’t fix him, I can take him to doctors, but I can’t fix the situation.  Maybe, just maybe, I need to recklessly abandon myself to pure, simple trust and not make it so emotional and complicated.  Even if healing does not come in a way I would like, I still love my son and God will still be God….holy, divine, sovereign, and perfect.

These Moments

      Exactly two years ago on President’s Day weekend, we began the mysterious downward spiral of Daniel’s health.  He was supposed to get up early and take the Math and Science Center entrance exam, instead he was so sick he couldn’t move out of the bed.  After a couple days of rest, ginger ale and chicken noodle soup he was up and back into his school and home routine. Slowly and ever so subtle, fatigue started creeping into his physical body. It was so gradual, we didn’t even notice or ever begin to think anything was wrong until he started taking naps every day after school.  This was the child who NEVER took naps after his first steps, NEVER slept through the night and went to bed building intricate Lego creations in his bed.

      A quick trip to our doctor showed an under active thyroid, medication was prescribed and we thought: “problem solved”.  But, no, the thyroid condition was only the beginning of a medical journey that has baffled every physician, and specialist we’ve visited in the past year and a half.  Traveling to Johns Hopkins Hospital only confirmed what we already knew: complex health issues, but no definite pinpointed diagnosis.

      As a mom, I am very grateful that the “awful” stuff like Lyme’s Disease, lupus and quirky diseases have been pretty much ruled out.  I’m grateful he’s still able to go to school on most days, though it is with medical accommodations. I also acknowledge that our situation could be far worse than it is, so, I look for moments to get me through the dark days, the frustration and the silent falling tears.

         Moments of watching him go outside to rake out the flower bed, feeding the birds and sweeping the laundry room so the dogs will have a clean room bring tears of joy.  Pleasure is found in moments of seeing him eat a full meal, play with the dogs and watch the History Channel on TV.  These precious moments of seeing him awake and trying to keep up with school work pull at my heartstrings daily.  Moments we so easily take for granted are savored, cherished and pondered. Of course, he’s 16 and doesn’t understand why mom gets teary-eyed when he takes out the trash. but it really doesn’t matter.  I’m savoring these moments and when we get to the other side of this mountain, I will remember these moments.

My Precious Man

        Since I’ve written about our children being the beauty from the ashes of my childhood, it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention my sweet husband as the greatest blessing to me in my earthly life.  Clif and I have been married a 24 years and in those years there’s never been a day without hearing “I love you.”  There’s never been a screaming match, raised voices  or sarcastic put-downs at each other.  No silent treatments or harsh words have crossed our paths together. This is not to say we’ve never disagreed, or had different opinions but the negativity I grew up with has not been repeated in my marriage.

      The precious man I married is still my hero, my best friend and the one who eats more chocolate than I do! He is one who stays calm and logical when I just want to cry in pure frustration.  His words are few and wise when discussing an issue.  Sometimes the pure logic drives me crazy because I tend to be more emotional and think with my heart on my sleeve.  He is one who always takes care of us, sacrifices personally and never complains when the housework spirals out of control when life gets crazy. 

      A husband who’s man enough to do the dishes, the laundry, pick up the kids and still send me a sexy text at work. He’s the one who listens to every venting session I have, forgives me when I screw up the checkbook, and tells me I’m beautiful when I feel very unattractive. Those blue eyes still make my heart skip a beat and I can’t wait to get home to him every afternoon.

     He likes TV…I hate TV. He spends hours on the computer…I only use a computer when I absolutely have to.  He loves anchovies on saltines…I have to leave the room because the fish smell makes me nauseous. He loves the mountains….I love burying my toes in the sand and listening to those ocean waves.  So different, but yet God chose him to be my husband,

       Every morning I bring him a cup of hot coffee. Back rubs are freebies. Cooking for him is one of my greatest pleasures. When I’m at the store, I usually pick up a little something for him just because I love him. Spoil him….yes, very much, but love him even more. During this illness with Daniel, he has been the rational one, the logical one and the worrier, whereas I’ve been the emotional one and the one who prays relentlessly.  Actually, we’ve kept each other balanced and grounded in a trial that could easily topple any relationship.

       It is purely coincidence that this blog is written right before Valentine’s Day, I don’t need a holiday to express the pure, everlasting love I have for my sweet man. I love him unashamedly and appreciate every single little act of kindness he does to bless my life. Of course. a sexy text now and them doesn’t hurt either!

Consider it joy

     In James 1:1-2, we are told to “consider it all joy….when you encounter various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”  For many years. I have totally misinterpreted that particular verse and have tried to force feed myself into a fake joy when I was dying inside. Now, I realize by reading other Christian literature, it means that I need to allow my emotions and feelings to settle down and to seriously think about a situation. This is when God adds His eternal perspective and His positive light.  I need to consider or think about a situation being joy….not get all wrapped up in the drama, fall into a negativity trap and certainly not profess “poor pitiful me”.  I need to step away and look from afar and see God’s Hands, God’s glory and His work into earthly situations that seem impossible.  He is molding me for His kingdom…not for awards on earth.  My trials may seem overwhelming at times ( ok, A LOT of times), but from an eternal perspective my faith is being tested, changed, and transformed into the woman He wants me to be.

      Unfortunately, I don’t always have a heavenly perspective. I don’t like my son being ill, exhausted and frustrated from the whole ordeal. As much as I hate to admit it, the sin of worry creeps in when the medical bills keep coming and my paycheck keeps shrinking.  No, I’m not looking at the situation eternally when my tears flow because he’s too ill to go to school.  The frustration levels are on overload and persevering in my faith is not my main goal when I’m making doctor appointments, picking up medications and still racking my brain trying to think of any stone we’ve left unturned.  Plus, Daniel is “Mr.Logical” when it comes to personality and our ways of dealing with his illness and the constant fatigue often clash. I want to love on him, hug him and pray over him. He wants to be left alone and wants a logical reason for this major disruption in his life.

      So, am I the perfect Christian in dealing with all of this? Am I a hovering mom? Am I a worry wart obsessing about all of it?  A resounding “NO” to all those questions that swirl through my head especially at 2:00 in the morning. I am a woman of unsinkable faith, a mother with devoted love for her children and quite honestly, exhausted right now.  Exhaustion and weariness doesn’t make me any less of a Christian, it overshadows my eternal perspective, but it doesn’t change my love for the LORD or doubt His love for me.  So, “considering it joy” is a process, and I can deal with a process, but not a fake, plastic” I’m doing just fine kind” of joy.  So, maybe, persevering is all I can do right now. Put the feelings aside and just keep going. Joy will come in the morning and I’m going to praise Him anyway.

What if….

       This week has been an emotional upheaval with the death of a sixteen year old young man to his battle with cancer.  Daniel was in Sunday School with him and participated in local missions projects with him.  School has been more than hectic, with deadlines breathing down my neck and upcoming paperwork looming over me. Daniel has had his share of moments between feeling halfway decent to crawled up on the couch wrapped in his quilt.   Though, I have to admit, he has been more alert this week than he’s been in a very long time.  I can’t really say he’s “better”, but he has been awake for longer periods of time this week. 

What if….it had been my son suffering from cancer and then going to heaven’s streets of gold this week?

What if….I didn’t have such a stressful job and could really enjoy my family more during the week?

What if….we don’t find a reason for Daniel’s fatigue and utter exhaustion for most of his waking hours?

What if….his healing does not come and we have to find ways to deal with it on a daily basis?

What if…I wrestle with God, like Jacob did so many years ago, and don’t give up or give in until I walk away with a limp?

What if….the answers we have searched for almost 2 years are not found?

What if… God is using this in His infinite wisdom for a far greater reason than I can even fathom?

Regardless of the “what if’s”, God is God…Holy, Magnificent, Wise, Perfect and All Knowing.  He alone will fight this battle for us. He alone will bless us.

Beauty From Ashes

      God’s Word promises to bring beauty from our ashes. Ashes of bondage to fear, intimidation and negativity in my life held me captive until I was in my thirties. Now, those ashes have been long swept away and replaced by beauty that still takes my breath away.  My children, Sarah, Rebekah and Daniel are the promises of God’s beauty in living proof.       Sarah is a ray of pure sunshine when she walks into a room. Her love for the LORD is so evident, so pure, so contagious.  Plus, she’s a drop dead gorgeous redhead! Creativity flows from her like water in an overturned pitcher. When she was in her toddler years, we literally had to lock away art supplies so our walls, floors and any area she could use for her canvas was not instantly decorated.  We still tease her because she always leaves a “trail” from room to room of her creative projects….a paintbrush, markers, pens, canvas, yarn and the list of Sarah “messes” never ends! Warmth, kindness and compassion radiate to all around her.  She knows God’s Word and don’t cross her on it…she’ll win hands down! Sensitivity and empathy are natural to her. She is the biggest and most loyal fan of I Love Lucy, gets SO excited about snow and LOVES Christmas. Sarah is…my irresistible  beauty from the soot and ashes of my life.

     Rebekah is southern sass, spitfire and attitude all in a beautiful young woman who loves Jesus and life to the fullest.  She has beautiful brown eyes and soft swirly natural curls that make the rest of us with super straight hair very jealous! Rebekah tells it like it is, laughs loudly and sings country music songs even louder. She knows every word to every Taylor Swift song out there and will stand for hours for a front row seat at free country music concerts. Rebekah is firmly grounded in her faith and shows her faith with reckless abandonment to all.  If there’s a goal to accomplish, Rebekah will go after it and not back down. She cooks, southern style, and loves to curl up with a good book. My “coupon queen” finds bargains to put extreme couponers to shame.  She may be an extrovert, but she’d rather work behind the scenes and not have any recognition for the work she’s doing for others. Rebekah is refreshment for my soul and pure, simple beauty from the ash piles of my life.

    Daniel, is the unexpected blessing in my life. We were informed we would not be able to have any more children after the birth of Rebekah. Then, lo and behold, Clif got downsized right out of his job and we found out we were expecting another baby! Daniel is solid, serious and an out of the box thinker.  His faith is firm, but not flamboyant. He loves being outside and can make a dead plant grow by his sheer determination.  Daniel is my outdoors man and loves to work in the yard. Every vegetable and flower that grows in our yard is from his meticulous care.  His brilliant mind goes a mile a minute and his knowledge astounds me. He’s a problem solver, a mathematician and a hands-on learner. Just the facts appeal to him and fiction bores him. His smile will melt your heart and those strong hands have helped me in kitchen, delicately fed baby pigeons and and have held babies without being nervous. Daniel is a runner, a researcher and relentless beauty from the dry ashes of my life.

     Ashes, dry, brittle, gray and useless…transformed into breathtaking beauty all by God’s Hands, His promises and His time.

Jigsaw Puzzle

     Feeling sort of out of sorts today, not physically ill, just mentally worn out and my patience has run out temporarily. We had four fairly decent days with Daniel feeling well enough to get through the school day; understanding that this status is still physically pretty miserable. Today, it was one of the days he simply could not get out of bed and couldn’t function at all. It’s those mornings when I see him in bed curled up in his covers, and it takes everything in me to get dressed in my “teacher clothes” and go to work. Yes, his daddy is here with him to watch him and to take care of him; but I want to be the one doting on him.  The reality of the situation is that his mysterious illness has snatched every single one of my sick days and personal days. In order to get paid I have to go to school…even when I have NO desire to do so. After February 15th, I do “earn” five more days of sick leave, but leaving him at home when I really want to stay with him has taken its emotional toll on me.

      Imagine a long table, filled with thousands and thousands of tiny, intricate puzzle pieces spread all over the table. That visualization is exactly how I feel at the moment….all the pieces are on the table, but I can’t even find the corners and frame pieces much less put the massive puzzle together. In the past few days, we’ve had medical letters sent to the high school for Daniel to receive some temporary accommodations for his intense work load. None of the doctors knew what the other ones had written, but they all used similar terms to describe Daniel’s medical conditions:  “unknown at this time”, “pending results”, “waiting on lab results,” “extreme fatigue,” “no treatment known at this time”.  The mama in me just wants to weep….WHY can’t these medical “specialists” figure out what’s wrong with him? Why has he had to suffer for so long without any answers? Why can’t they see how much it has negatively impacted his life?  Why can’t someone DO something to help him?

      Yes. I have prayed until I just couldn’t pray anymore and the Holy Spirit had to intercede for me. Others have filled the gap and prayed with us and for us. I know those prayers are being heard and answered. My faith does not depend on visible results or fancy fanfare prayers. Waiting is an active verb according to God’s Word. So, I will not passively and pitifully wait for medical answers, I will fervently pray, cry sometimes, and always take care of my boy who is almost a man.

      Jigsaw puzzle, scattered pieces everywhere, begins to take shape when only two pieces interlock perfectly. Praying the jumbled mess will become a masterpiece of God’s healing power, His provision and His everlasting glory.