**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