Sunday, February 19, 2012

Great is Thy Faithfulness

(Or: What a Sick Child Taught Me)

**Disclaimer: this blog post is much different than our usual stuff. But in the end, this is our journal of our kids' lives and so we've written about something that has been important in our lives in the last few weeks. Bear with us as we deviate from our usual posts and take a moment to reflect.**

For about two weeks, we walked through a pretty rough patch with Kate. And when I say, "pretty rough patch", I am downplaying the effect it had on our home - and on me and Kate, more specifically.

It doesn't take much time knowing me to learn that I have a deep-seated, highly irrational fear of vomiting. And yes, I just wrote that, which means this post is about to delve into the realm of gross. But I'll keep it readable, I promise.

For two weeks, Kate dealt with vomiting spells and we could not seem to get to the bottom of it. All of the tests the doctor kept running kept coming back normal, and Kate acted mostly normal all day every day. But every night, like clockwork, she'd get ill. She was absolutely miserable. She feared going to bed because she'd get sick every night about 2 hours after she fell asleep, she'd refuse to eat or brush her teeth for fear those things might make her sick, and she'd start shutting down as soon as we started our bedtime routine. She's never had an easy time gaining weight and she lost a pound a week during this time. The doctors didn't seem hopeful that we'd get a solution from the many, many tests we ran and we desperately needed relief and answers for our sweet girl. She is a serious trooper but the longer this lasted, the more we all wore down - her especially.

During the thick of it, when the best answer doctors could give us was that this would be a long journey with perhaps no real answers, we were all hitting a wall. Jordan was carrying the weight of the comforting and dealing with her illness because of my fears, I was having some issues with anxiety, the baby is/was teething, and poor Kate was just hanging in there the best she could. Even though Avery slept through the episodes every night and was at school most days, even her life was affected by all of the time spent making appointments, going to appointments, rearranging life to try to make Kate more comfortable, etc.

There was a point when I felt that we'd get lost in the mess and the complaints and the frustration and I realized that I had two choices: succumb to this or find God in it. I never doubted He was near to us, but often the waves of illness and anxiety would cause me to lose sight of Him. I began to meditate on the idea of God's faithfulness and wanted to answer for myself the question: "If I know God is faithful, how do I see His faithfulness in this time? When this is all said and done, what will I be able to report about His faithfulness?"

And I'll be honest; I had a moment of fear that if I sought ways God was being faithful, it would seem trite or contrived. But you know what? As soon as I started to look for God's faithfulness, it was everywhere, and it helped my soul so much during the rest of the trial. I doubt I'll remember all of the ways He loved us and carried us through the time, but here is what I can remember:

*Before this all began, I was at a Bible Study where I specifically knew God was preparing me for something challenging to come. The topic was too close to home and although I didn't want to imagine what I'd have to go through, several truths from that night came back to me over the weeks to come. God took special care to speak to me through the lesson and bring it back to my mind.

*One of the quotes from the Bible Study (Gari Meacham's Watershed) stated, "Sometimes God changes the situation, and sometimes He changes the person in the situation." How deeply this became true for me: somewhere after the terror and then the frustration, I began to be left with compassion and love for my poor, sick baby. The exposure of night after night gave me a lot of time to see past the fear. The fear never went away, but it became more transparent so that I could think just a little more clearly in the midst of it all.

*From the beginning, we knew that this was not something life-threatening or dangerous to Kate's immediate health. Although this was a hard road to walk, we were constantly aware that this journey was nothing compared to what others suffer and that God keeps all things within the bounds He has predetermined.

*I'm married to an amazing man who wants to bear the brunt of the load for me. When I need to lean on him, he is more than willing and more than strong enough to let me.

*The slew of doctors and nurses and technicians we saw were primarily amazing. The ultrasound tech, the GI doc, the entire set-up at Texas Children's - Kate was very well taken care of and most often we left without answers but feeling cared for.

*The people who surrounded us in prayer and with kindness through this all. We barely had energy to reach out to people, but the few emails I sent to ask for prayers, the few places I did show up during the day and had time to give a quick run-down on what was happening - it was all so comforting and we felt like our friends and family were walking alongside us. We were never alone.

*The Saturday in the middle of the thing, my parents took all three children for the night. They handled all of our kids' many needs and Jordan and I were able to have one amazing, sleep-filled, semi-relaxed night in the middle of our chaos. It rejuvenated us and let us keep going.

*We were growing deeply concerned about Kate's weight loss and anxiety, as well as how tired she was beginning to be during the day from her nightly episodes, so we heeded James 5:14's directive: "Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord." We had one of our pastors come over and join us in prayer, asking God to heal our baby. Wouldn't you know it, that was the first night Kate was able to sleep through the night without an episode.

In the end, we never really did get answers: what we know is that we have a great GI doctor who we'll probably see many times in Kate's life. There are several possible ailments that she may have but the testing for them would be much more invasive and for now, what we need to know is this: no matter what the condition or ailment, it is a slightly-more-common-than-you'd-think effect of her ailment that when she gets sick, it will take her GI tract longer to recover than most children. There are several things the GI doctor is willing to try on her if and when this happens again, but for now, we know that she has worked through this bout of illness and has a fabulous doctor to return to as it becomes necessary. And even that reveals God's great faithfulness - He walked us through fire and gave us healing, but we are not so free of this that we forget how much we need Him.

The Lord has done good things for us and we are glad. Psalm 126:3

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Crazy Love

Mom and Dad must be going crazy. Didn't they say NO WAY to cats in our house? And can't they see how much we've got going on around here as it is?

But on Valentine's Day, when I was visiting Nana and DD's house, Nana started packing up the kitty's things. She told me that Lucy is coming to stay with us...! Mommy and Daddy decided that if the thing we wanted most for Valentine's Day was a kitty... then the kitty that is already trained and grown is the best choice. And Nana and DD have joked for a while that Lucy is free to a good home...

Mommy keeps repeating that we're giving this a trial run. But really, the cat makes us so happy and that makes Mom and Dad happy. And she's not so much trouble so far...

Mommy says Daddy is the one who started talking about the kitty coming home first. Now I know he must be going crazy! Or else he really loves some girls... enough to let us have our very own kitty. Maybe he's crazy in love.

Hope everyone's Valentine's was wonderful!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy 7 Months, Reese!

On Reese's 7th Month Birthday:

*Our at-home unofficial weight is 17 pounds on the dot.

*Reese is in the process of getting one more tooth - her front left vampire tooth, as we like to call it. Much like Kate, she's saving the middle front teeth for later in order to make a statement.

*She crawls some - not full-blown crawling but one or two steps and then a lunge towards what she wants. We can still sort of contain her but our days are numbered!

*She eats almost all fruits and veggies in puree and really loves smashed but not pureed food that she can feed herself. She was introduced to Gerber puffs and LOVES them. It's like baby candy, I guess.

*Reese reaches for people when she wants to be held and it has led to a lot of extra holding, which may have led to her being slightly spoiled. But who's telling? :)

*She giggles and belly laughs at the funniest things: watching someone jump rope or hearing Avery yell at Kate. We never know what will trigger the laughter but once it's started, we'll all fall all over ourselves acting the fool just to get some more. Her laugh is infectious.

*Reese continues to be our people person. She's always seemed to like people and respond with interest and happiness when she is approached, but it is becoming more apparent the older that she gets - she just loves people.

*Our little lady is babbling a lot now and likes to mimic sounds in her own way. So much fun to have her squeals, babbles, and giggles fill our home!

Happy 7 months, Reese!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

100th Day and the Night that Almost Wasn't

First things first... I'm officially 100 days smarter! Yessss!

For the 100th day of school we had lots of fun activities. One of them was to wear a shirt with 100 of something on it. Most of my friends chose things like jewels, googly eyes, stickers... but of course, I had my own ideas. I knew immediately what I wanted on my shirt and I never wavered...

100 kitties!

You may remember from when the cat visited last April, but I LOVE cats. I want a cat so badly. Dad says no. Mom says no way. So instead of owning a cat, I wore cats. 100 of them.

The teacher next door to my class really likes me. Mom asks what I mean when I tell her this and I say, "She just likes me special. And I like her too." When she saw my 100 cats, she gave me a sheet of cat stickers. I carried those stickers ALL DAY long. To lunch. To music. To 100 day rotations. I didn't peel a single sticker off the whole school day. And the second I walked in the door at home, I sat down and used the stickers to make a card for my teacher and a thank you for the teacher who gave me the stickers. Mom was impressed. Apparently she thinks my Emotional Quotient is much higher than I let on.

Then there was this:

The Father Daughter Dance at Stanley!

Last Friday, Daddy and I got all dressed up and went to the Stanley Ball. It was actually at the high school since there were so many girls and dads who wanted to dance.

When I got home from school, I told dad, "We better change real quick! How many minutes do we have until the Ball?"

Um. We had 3 hours.

While I was waiting to get ready, Kate came down with a stomach virus and the baby screamed nonstop from teething. While the parents tended the other kids, I acted like I was at a spa. I was not fazed by a little hiccup.

Then, when it was time to fix hair and makeup, a storm blew in and knocked out the lights in our house. No worries. The sick kid and grumpy baby were both temporarily asleep, so Mom and Dad and I got ready by candlelight. I even got to put on makeup in the car.

"Dad," I asked, "Even if the lights are off at the ball, won't that be ok? Because sometimes dances are supposed to be dark, right?"

Dad promised that no matter what, he would find me some electricity and we would have a good time.

We made it to the Ball and the lights were working fine. I danced with my friends, with daddy, ate so many sweets, took pictures, and even saw real princesses! They came to sing to us and show us how to do a special dance with our daddies.

It was heaven, I tell you.

And since the lights were off and the sick kid and screaming baby were both miserable, Nana and DD came out to help Mom while Dad and I were gone. I was thrilled; they got to see all of my pictures once I got home and help tuck me into bed. What a special night that almost wasn't!