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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Girl, Who’s Your Daddy?

If you don’t want to take the time to watch this three minute video, below is a paraphrased transcript. I thought you might like to have Priscilla’s answer to her own question. 

I added my own comments below the transcript.

“When you feel like you can’t handle the task at hand; and you ask yourself, Girl, who’s your daddy’s?. . ., And what if, when you got a good look at your God, remembering who He is and that you belong to Him, listen, I think until the Lord stops me from taking platforms and ministering to women, I will say this until the day I die, reminding myself as I do when I am quietly alone and I look myself in the mirror and say, Girl who’s your daddy?; you know what I tell myself, I tell       myself… ”

“He is the First and the Last. The Beginning and the End. He’s the Keeper of creation and the Creator of all. He is the Architect of the universe and the Manager of all time. He always was, always is and always will be unmoved, unchanged, undefeated, and never undone. He was bruised but brought healing. He was pierced but eased pain. He was persecuted but brought freedom. He was dead and brings life, risen to bring power, and He reigns to bring peace.”

“The world can’t understand Him. Armies can’t defeat Him. Schools can’t explain Him. And leaders, they can’t ignore Him. Herod couldn’t kill Him. Nero couldn’t crush Him. The new age cannot replace Him. And Oprah cannot explain Him away!”

“You remind yourself that He is Light, He is Love, He is Longevity, and He is the Lord.”

“He is goodness and kindness and faithfulness and He is God.”

“He is Holy and Righteous and powerful and pure.”

“His ways are right, His Word eternal, His will unchanging and His mind is on us.”

“He’s our Savior, our guide, our peace, our joy, our comfort, our Lord and He rules our lives!”

“I serve Him because His bond is love, His yoke is easy, His burden is light and His goal for us is abundant life.”

“I follow Him because He’s the Wisdom of the wise, the Power of the powerful, the Ancient of days, the Ruler of rulers, the Leader of all leaders.”

“His goal is a relationship with me.”

“He’ll never leave you, never forsake you, never mislead you, never forget you, never overlook you, and never cancel your appointment in His appointment book.”

“When you fall He’ll lift you up. When you fail He’ll forgive you. When you’re weak He’s strong, when you’re lost He’s your way, when you’re afraid He’s your courage, when you stumble He will steady you, when you’re hurt He’s going to heal you. When you’re broken He will mend you. When you’re blind He will lead you. When you’re hungry He will feed you. When you face trials He’s with you.”

“When I face persecution He shields me. When I face problems He will comfort me. When I face loss He will provide for me. And when we face death He will carry us all home to meet Him.”

“is everything, for everybody, everywhere, every time and in every way.”

“He is your God and that, Sisters, is who you belong to.”


 

I don’t know about you, but every morning when I crawl out of bed, I know I can’t handle the task at hand. But, I do know,… I do know that I can trust in the One who is able…

the thing is…

I don’t want to.

Or more accurately, I don’t want to have to, or need to, trust in Him for the task at hand.

I don’t want to go where my life is leading…

At All!

I just don’t want to go there.

And, given my history—given the prognosis that lies ahead for my daughter, can you blame me? Can you really think that all I’m doing is throwing the longest lasting pity party known to man?

Really?

If that’s what you think…

it’s not personal to you.

Try to imagine living with my daily reality—not the deaths of my three kids—not the progressive disease that is destroying my surviving child’s body—No, not that. Put your children’s faces on those bodies. Imagine you are really living my daily life.

And if…

if…

you still think I’m throwing a pity party, then, please, keep your criticism and judgement to yourself. Because…

Every.

Single.

Day.

I need to…

Remind myself…

Who My Daddy Is.

Every Day.

That doesn’t make what’s coming my way okay.

Not at all.

But…

It makes it bearable…

most of the time.

I need Priscilla Shirer’s answer. I need her words. I need the reminder of exactly who my Daddy is.

Maybe you need her words too…



Who’s Your Daddy? by Priscilla Shirer

Taken from the DVD Bible Study Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed. A Study of David. Video Session 1. By Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore and Kay Arthur.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Faith

 

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Six Stone Jars and a Cup of Forgiveness | Light & life

Today’s post comes to you from the blog Light &
Life; just click on the source link in red below to see the article in its entirety. I’d encourage you to check out Julie’s About page before you leave her site to see if you’d like to explore further or simply visit her site at thereluctantbaptist.com.

I love the literary use of foreshadowing and you’ll find some of that here. The article is a little bit of Easter on a late summer day. I don’t know about you, but I could do with a little bit of Easter several times of year. So without further ado . . .

“I heard something beautiful in church yesterday as we read the story of Jesus’s first recorded miracle at the wedding in Cana. If you know the story, you know that there was a wine shortage. …”

Source: Six Stone Jars and a Cup of Forgiveness | Light & life

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in Faith

 

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Lessons on Suffering

Pauls-thorn-in-the-flesh

It was the Spring of 2013, and I was struggling with the myriad of difficult circumstances our family was facing and attempting to reconcile my spiritual beliefs in light of those circumstances.

Gracen and Katie had been diagnosed with ARSACS, a rare and progressive form of muscular dystrophy a year before. Their prognosis was not encouraging. We saw increasing deterioration in Gracen’s health, which seemed to be moving faster than we’d expected based on the limited amount of information available. Bethany had completed her freshman year of college at the University of Central Arkansas and was growing increasingly cynical toward the faith of her youth. And David’s job was in jeopardy. He is the sole breadwinner for our family and we were unsure if he would qualify for unemployment benefits. Needless to say, I was a tad stressed.

Funny how none of the things above was my personal problem. Each one was a battle for those I love most deeply and as a wife and mother, their suffering became my own. The curse of empathy is the ability to personalize another’s suffering as your own and that’s exactly what I did. Every physical setback Gracen and Katie experienced resulted in grieving the lost abilities for my daughters and for myself. Each time Bethany attacked a biblical truth, I ached and feared for her, for her future, for her eternal safety and for myself knowing her choices might lead me to endure painful consequences alongside her. And I was well aware how a man’s job impacts his self-esteem not to mention the burden of financial insecurity.

One morning I sat out on my back patio with my bible and smartphone and began searching the scriptures for what God’s Word said about suffering. This is what the Apostle Paul wrote about his own trials:

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing, I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”  —  2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (KJV)

When Paul asked God to remove the thorn in his flesh, this was God’s response:

(2 Corinthians 12:9)  “My grace is sufficient for thee . . . “

“My strength is made perfect in weakness . . . “ KJV

Or in another translation

“My power is perfected in weakness . . .” NASB

006-jesus-gethsemane

Christ praying and sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane

In 2 Corinthians 12:7 Paul tells the reader the purpose of the thorn in his flesh. I find it interesting that Paul knew and understood why he was suffering, just as Christ did in the Garden of Gethsemane, yet both Paul and Christ asked for their suffering to be taken from them. That tells me that understanding God’s purposes doesn’t make suffering any easier to endure. Knowing why doesn’t make the hurt or the fear go away. The truth is that, in our humanity, we are desperate to escape pain in spite of recognizing God’s greater plan.

In this particular case, the purpose of Paul’s thorn in the flesh was to keep him humble. Paul understood that the normal human response to being singled out by the resurrected Lord—and receiving the sheer abundance of revelation he received—would commonly result in pride; a very destructive character trait.

Paul described the thorn in his flesh two ways:

1)  As a gift; well he doesn’t actually call it a gift.  He simply says it was given to him which implies to me that it was a gift and its purpose implies it was a gift from God (to keep him humble).  Funny how a message from the enemy to buffet a believer could be seen as a gift from God when it serves His purpose. And it was a good thing because it saved Paul from the pain and destruction pride brings. Maybe some of our sufferings are considered good from God’s perspective because it saves us from a fate that is far more detrimental to our overall well-being or damaging to our character.

2)  As a message from Satan to torment him.  It’s as if God allowed Satan to afflict Paul, just like God allowed Satan to afflict Job.  The Bible is riddled with such instances.  Satan intended this thorn in Paul’s flesh to hurt Paul just as Satan, via the conduit of his brothers, intended harm, even death, for Joseph.  Satan was also allowed to bring Christ to the cross, although Jesus laid down his own life in obedience to God.  Satan’s intent was to destroy God’s plan of redemption but again, God thwarted Satan through Christ’s resurrection which defeated the power of sin and death in men’s lives. It appears that two plans are being implemented simultaneously with very different goals. Satan’s goals are destructive but God is well aware that Satan has set out to destroy His children and God uses Satan’s own devices not only to thwart Satan’s plans but to triumph over them. Isn’t that the most satisfying form of serving justice and meting out righteous vengeance—to turn your enemy’s own evil plans against him? It’s pretty much the ultimate slap-down.

Although the message Satan wanted to communicate to Paul isn’t directly outlined, we can extrapolate it ourselves based on what we’ve heard other broken believers express through trials. Here’s a reasonable sampling:

1)  God doesn’t love you or He wouldn’t have allowed this bad thing in the first place

2)  If God really loved you, He would have healed you from this affliction

3)  God isn’t as powerful as He claims because He obviously can’t heal you or He would have

4)  God can’t protect you from me (Satan) – I’m more powerful than God

Just like Job, when Paul didn’t respond to suffering the way Satan expected, Satan added to Paul’s affliction.  2 Corinthians 11:23-27 says that Paul suffered more than any man for the sake of the gospel.  Paul:

1)  Received 39 stripes on five separate occasions at the hand of the Jews

2)  Was beaten with rods three times

3)  Was stoned once

4)  Was shipwrecked three times

5)  Spent a full day and night in the ocean on at least once

Throughout his journeys to spread the gospel, Paul’s life was in danger from robbers, fellow Jews, Gentiles and false Christians wherever he went and however, he got there.  He suffered from cold, exposure, manual labor, sleepless nights, hunger & thirst all while shouldering the concerns of the churches he planted.

Satan uses affliction to:

1)  Discourage and torment believers

2)  Derail efforts to spread the gospel

3)  Cause believers to doubt God’s love, kindness, and power

I recently read a very interesting article about John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” The article examines the Greek words in this verse to aid in gaining a better understanding of the scripture. Click on the following link for an eye-opening read from the Renner Ministries Blog:

The Devil Has a Plan For Your Life!

God uses affliction to:

1)  To prevent us from becoming prideful — 2 Corinthians 12:7 (See above); Or maybe to prevent us from developing some other trait that damages our character or is personally destructive.

2)  To save His chosen people:

“Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. . . God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.” — Genesis 45:5 & 7

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” — Genesis 50:20

3)  To provide His children with the assurance of their own salvation:

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” —  Romans 8:16

4)  Conform us into the image of Christ and share in the fellowship of His suffering, His consolation, and His glory:

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  — 2 Corinthians 3:18

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son . . . And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. — Romans 8:28-30

“And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him.” — Romans 8:17

“For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. . . And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” — 2 Corinthians 1:5 & 7

“But rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His glory.” — 1 Peter 4:13

5) To produce endurance, develop your faith, and lead to increased spiritual maturity:

Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing. — James 1:3-4 AMP

6) Enable us to comfort and encourage others who are suffering:

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” — 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

7) To display the works of God:

“His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus replied: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” — John 9:2-3

crown-and-thorns8)  To earn eternal rewards that will far outweigh the temporal suffering we experience in life:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” — 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

Why is it important that we understand God’s purpose in allowing His children to suffer?

I think it’s critical that we realize that God uses affliction for a variety of purposes and each trial a believer encounters may serve a completely different purpose.

One thing I have discovered through child loss is that fellow Christians often try to encourage the grieving by reminding them that their current suffering will allow them to comfort another hurting soul somewhere down the road.  This may or may not be true. Depending upon the circumstances, the level of trauma involved, or the personality of the bereaved, God may never intend that believer’s suffering to be used to minister to another. The experience may be so negative that the individual may not be able to support and encourage another. The pressure to minister may re-victimize the believer or the individual may not be able to talk about their situation without inciting fear in another thereby doing more damage than good.

I have also discovered that those who are called to minister to others generally are not capable of taking on that role until a significant amount of healing has taken place in their own lives. Discernment is definitely required before encouraging anyone to minister to another as a result of their trial and also required for the tested, the survivor, to know if God is really calling them to this type of ministry or to minister to a specific individual. Ministry is about more than shared experience. Personality and approach matter.

Of all the purposes of suffering I uncovered in my research, all but one can generally be confirmed in hindsight. The one that can’t—when God allows suffering in order to prevent something He deems more damaging to His child. There are some things we will never be able to understand or explain.

Suffering almost always leads to the why question. But ultimately, having a definitive answer doesn’t make the suffering less painful or even lead a believer to embrace the pain for the joy that lies before them. Knowing why is less important than the fruit God produces as a result of affliction. Understanding why may come in hindsight, but even if it doesn’t, I believe there’s always a purpose, whether I approve of it or not, and God allows it for our individual, eternal good.

As Ruth, my grief counselor, pointed out to me recently, at creation, God proclaimed everything He created “good” not “perfect”. Why would Adam be made caretaker of all of creation if there were no problems to resolve? Had there been no problems, Adams job would have been superfluous.

Perfect is a life without problems, without suffering. Good is a life that includes problems, inconveniences, and even suffering. It’s a life that matures through time and experience. It’s a life that includes overcoming adversity, recognizing our dependence upon God, helping our fellow man, bringing glory to God and earning eternal rewards. We don’t earn anything unless we work for it. And God’s grace is sufficient to enable us to live a good life in spite of trials, afflictions, and suffering.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2016 in Adversity, Faith, Grief, Muscular Dystrophy

 

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Pre-Move-in Day Challenges

move-in-dayAs the day dawned Friday morning it finally dawned on me how little time I had left with Gracen before the fall semester begins.

I sucked in a shallow breath.

Dread settled deep within.

The funny thing is, I’d been aware of this encroaching date all along. I just refused to think about it. I gave it an intellectual nod when the thought of her back to school date came up and quickly pushed it out of my mind.

But thoughts like those have a way of festering beneath the surface of one’s psyche. I’d noticed the signs—typical stress reactions for me. Nights spent reading that stretched into the wee hours of the morning or even until daybreak, the soreness at the tip of my tongue from rubbing it on the inside of my lower front teeth, the itchy feeling beneath my skin, a desire to write then frustration swelling when I was unable to put anything down on paper as my mind flit from one concern to the next. Creeping anxiety.

But it wasn’t until this morning that I counted the remaining days. Today, Saturday and Sunday. Move-in day—Monday afternoon. Then I will turn my back once again and hold my breath waiting and hoping.

Waiting for that phone call.

Hoping it doesn’t come.

You know, the one where a university official calls to tell me Gracen’s been hurt . . .

or worse.

Oh yes, worse is always on my mind.

Then again maybe you don’t know.

Maybe after you dropped your child off at college and piled back in the car your worries were vastly different from mine. Maybe you fret over poor judgment, too much freedom, a lack of academic commitment, or maybe you are more concerned about the echoing silence that will greet you when you once again cross the threshold of your home.

All those things bother me too, especially the silence, but mostly because I fear it could be permanent—that that last hug might really be the last hug—ever. That thought lurks.

The other lurking thoughts are regrets. Regrets for missed opportunities. Really for forfeited opportunities. Those I consciously chose to skip for reasons related to anxiety and depression . . . I’m ashamed to admit.

And that’s really it I think. Fear and shame constantly assail my heart and soul.

I should be handling this better.

I should be healing instead of falling apart more and more as time goes by.

I should be able to make decisions.

I should be less afraid of people; of social situations. What does it matter what anyone else thinks?

I should quit escaping into fiction.

I should, I should, I should, I should not. And every un-distracted minute is filled with shoulds, should nots, and fear—because anxiety is just a synonym for fear.

She’s sleeping late. Is she breathing?

Is she safe in the shower?

Will she be safe when she returns to school? Not safe from others. Not safe from impulsive decisions or risky behavior, but safe getting out of bed, getting in the shower, getting dressed in the morning. Safe doing all the simple tasks we routinely do without thought.

And fiction and sleep are the two activities that shut out the shoulds, should nots and fear.

But there are times when I can’t focus to read or write and sleep eludes me and that itchy, tingling feeling under my skin about drives me insane. I find myself frantic for some escape. Trapped inside this human shell while inwardly keening for release.

Now I understand why people drink to intoxication—the befuddled mind is their escape and they are pleasantly numb.

But there will be no escape for me. Just repeated hopping up to leave the security of my bedroom for some distraction only to find the available distractions (talk, TV & pets) annoying so I flee back to my bedroom. A shower maybe, but the pounding water doesn’t shut out my thoughts. A drive . . .

to the crosses . . .

only to feel frustration rise.

Oh to be able to rip the top off my head and let all the painful, toxic thoughts and emotions escape!

I don’t know how to do this, Lord! I don’t know what to do let alone how to do it. I spin in circles like the Tasmanian Devil and hear only silence from You. Unbearable silence. I’m defeated by the truth that there is no fixing this. There are no good answers. No paths without pain. No solutions whatsoever. I need You to speak, to step in, to do something—something I can see—something that won’t hurt. Something that reveals a purpose for this madness.

Something that carries me through Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Something that prepares me for the silence I’ll return home to and wake up to Tuesday morning. Something other than the dread of that phone call coming; of the remaining pieces of my life-shattering at my feet.

I just need . . .

Something.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2016 in Adversity, Faith, Muscular Dystrophy

 

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Déjà Vu Day Arrives

save-alarms
The alarm rang at 4:15, shocking me awake from the four restless hours of sleep I’d managed to get prior to waking Gracen. Time to dress and leave for the hospital for her scheduled appointment to have her wisdom teeth removed.

The day went much as I’d anticipated.

It’s just a hospital I told myself when I first noticed the Mercy sign glowing in the predawn sky.

An inane conversation followed, “Maybe this time we will arrive early enough to get a handicap parking space.” (No such luck Monday when we arrived for her pre-op appointment.)

“Score! Right in front of the hospital entrance.” (Not many people out at 5:00 a.m.)

It’s not an emergency—nothing serious—just wisdom teeth—I told myself as I exited the car and unloaded the wheelchair from the trunk.

Deep breath in.

Exhale.

One foot in front of the other.

Whoosh! The pneumatic doors slide open. All’s quiet at the front desk: nary a volunteer in sight. Elevator ride. Registration. One more elevator ride to the third-floor surgery waiting room.

Thank God for social media and a smartphone! Facebook status updates and videos meet the currently limited duration of my attention span. Reading is simply not possible.

“Gracen Boxx”, the intake nurse calls and we are off. Double doors swing wide after a card key is scanned and we enter the surgical pre-op area which I silently note is eerily reminiscent of the ICU corridor at Freeman Hospital, just a slight bit narrower. I quietly suck in a deep breath as I follow the nurse who is pushing Gracen’s wheelchair to room 323.

Scrubs.

Tile floors.

Medical equipment.

A tech, Kim, enters the room, lowers the bed as far as it will go, and places a gown on the bed along with a plastic drawstring bag in which to store Gracen’s street clothes. The anticipated snick as the curtain is drawn follows as Kim exits the room and Gracen and I left alone in the small cordoned off space.

We gown her up, make a quick stop at the restroom next door then I maneuver the wheelchair into place, lock the wheels, move the foot pedals out of the way, lift Gracen to a standing position and perform an efficient quarter turn before seating Gracen on the edge of the hospital bed. It’s just a wee bit too tall requiring that I boost her up and back before elevating her legs and spinning her another quarter turn to lay prone.

I indulge in a deep breath before shifting the tray table and a chair down to make room for the wheelchair to sit in an out of the way corner.

Sit down!

In comes the pre-op nurse, Jennifer.

The blood pressure cuff velcroed in place.

Temperature taken.

Pulse and oxygenation recorded.

When did you eat and drink last?

When did you last take this medication and that medication individually until the list of her normal meds is thoroughly reviewed.

The dreaded IV is inserted and a steroid injected into the port in her left hand.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Doctor Baker enters the room in blue surgical scrubs. He greets us, asks if we have any questions and reassures us that all will go smoothly.

Next up the Anesthesiologist quickly followed by two operating room nurses. I hug and kiss my only surviving child and whisper, “It will be okay.”

hospitalbed2And then it happens. . . the moment I most dread . . . the wheel locks are released and Gracen is moving away from me. “I love you”, I call out to her retreating figure.

The first set of doors swing open, my eyes track the progress of her bed. A second set of doors swing wide . . .

and I pray.

It’s just a simple one line prayer that spontaneously whispers through my mind as the first set of doors begin to swing closed and she’s gone. . .

beyond the reach of my care.

I swallow hard.

Breathe in.

And begin pushing Gracen’s empty wheelchair back down the hall to the surgical waiting room. The fact that it’s empty is significantly sobering to me. It’s a stark reminder of what I fear most—a day when it [the wheelchair] becomes permanently empty.

I’m doing fine, I tell myself, and it’s true.

Then just before I enter the waiting room my mind flashes to another woman I know of whose husband years before was admitted for knee surgery, and something completely unexpected and terribly wrong happened and he never returned home to his wife and children. A painful, life-altering and devastatingly tragic loss of a godly husband, father, son, and beloved coach.

I swallow hard.

I know deep down in the places of my heart that I refuse to examine too closely, that this too could happen to me. Hasn’t it already happened three times before? An inconceivable cord death and the firstborn child we’d looked forward to with such anticipation never came home from the hospital. An unexpected motor vehicle accident and Bethany and Katie never even made it to the hospital. The incomprehensible diagnosis of an extremely rare and progressive disease. I know all too well that life is fragile. That it can be snatched from my feebly grasping hands oh, so quickly, so unexpectedly. I wish I could un-know it. How I wish I could return to my prior state of blissful ignorance!

Deep breath.

I find a seat, drop into it and retrieve my tablet.

I force myself to concentrate.

Ten minutes later David appears and I can breathe just a little easier. Just a little deeper.

I didn’t expect him.

Didn’t ask him to come.

But he read my blog post about this day and concluded that he was needed in spite of the seemingly innocuous nature of this surgery. The same procedure performed years ago by the same doctor in his office on my oldest daughter, Bethany. David was not present that day.

Life has changed in irrevocable ways.

I’m different.

My soul is bigger than it was before—filled with knowledge too wonderful for me—and my soul has shrunk in equal proportion by the invasion of personal experience with the fallen world—a world filled with sin and death. 

I’m very different.

Painfully different.

In no time at all, Dr. Baker stands before us. The surgery is over, it went well, no unanticipated surprises and Gracen is waking up.

Shortly thereafter we are called and escorted back to room 323 which we find empty.

We wait impatiently and then she appears, pale and groggy, but breathing. No neck brace, no breathing tube, no stitches in her face, no shards of glass shimmering in her hair. I stand and touch her cold forehead. Ask if she’s warm enough and request additional heated blankets for her feet and calves because her circulation is poor and they are often cold to the touch.

I take a seat.

Reply to a text or two.

Faint-WomanTen minutes or more pass waiting and watching Gracen’s sleepy eyelids open to half-mast then flutter closed again. And then, out of the blue, I begin to feel faint. I can feel perspiration begin to form on my upper lip and forehead. I feel like I’m going to hurl any second and I ask David if I’ve gone pale.

The tech coincidentally enters the room right after, takes one look at me and asks if I’m okay. She gets me a cold wet cloth with which I mop my face and the back of my neck. David begins to fan me then turns to Gracen as she mumbles a question around her gauze-filled mouth.

She wants to know if I’m okay.

The nurse enters the room. The tech sent her in. I tell Jennifer it’s just stress. I’m embarrassed to have such an out of proportion response to a simple and reportedly successful procedure. I feel the need to explain, but I remain mute. Does she really need to know what makes this simple surgery so stressful for me? Is my pride that important?

I begin to feel marginally better; try to find a comfortable way to sit with my head back or forward toward my knees. There’s no place to recline.

I’m shocked by my physical response. Shocked that I continue to feel faint and nauseous. Begin to wonder if it’s something I ate, but all I’ve had is coffee since four in the morning. David gets me some peanut butter filled crackers from the waiting room, which I slowly begin to eat hoping they will settle my stomach.

Every time I try to sit up I feel faint and increasingly nauseous once again.

Eventually, the nurse disconnects Gracen’s IV, heart rate monitor and blood pressure cuff. David heads out to get his laptop from his car then pull mine to the patient pickup area. (I’m not safe to drive. We will figure out how to retrieve his vehicle later.)

I’m not at all confident that I can get Gracen dressed and into her wheelchair without passing out, but I manage it weak knees and all.

I hate that I have become so weak before her very eyes. How much confidence can she have in my ability to care for her after this? I’ve managed multiple trips to clinics and hospitals and two trips to the ER one of which required a call to 911 and an ambulance ride without such a staggering reaction. Am I just getting worse instead of better two and a half years later?

I follow the volunteer pushing Gracen out to the pickup area hoping she won’t faint and tumble out of her wheelchair and that I won’t pass out in the hall.

And I breathe a sigh of relief as David pulls up just minutes after we exit the hospital. I load Gracen into the front seat and climb in the back leaving him to stow the wheelchair in the trunk.

As I lay my head back in the car, I notice I no longer feel nauseous, no longer feel faint and we haven’t even exited the parking lot. But I’m no longer in that place.

That building.

The facility David and I were transported to and treated with such care and kindness—Mercy Hospital in Rogers, Arkansas. The ER Doctor, nurses, and techs who treated us, cried for us, and prayed over me, for us, and for Gracen.

I am filled with gratitude, respect, and appreciation for the men and women who served us and serve this community day in and day out and yet it’s a reminder of dark and stress-filled days.

A reminder of what’s been lost.

A reminder of the high yet worthy price of love.

And I don’t need reminders.

Every waking breath I draw remains charged with the tension of love and loss and fear and faith. Every single breath is weighted with emotion sitting heavy on my heart.

A text message comes in just before we arrive home from the grief counselor, Ruth, both Gracen and I see. I tell her that Gracen did much better than I and am surprised by the response I receive to my recitation of my unexpected reaction a few hours later. “Yes, we [mental health care professionals] would anticipate a fairly significant trauma response as described in your piece last night.” (She received a pre-release copy of my blog post describing how I expected to feel at this time.)

Ruth’s response is as liberating as it is knowledgeable. Maybe it’s liberating because it’s knowledgeable. And as a result, my mind soaks in this truth . . . regardless of what others think; I’m not a freak, just a badly traumatized mother who manages to hold it together 99% of the time.

Now if I can just learn to extend myself a little grace, to reject feelings of embarrassment and humiliation the 1% of the time when my biochemical response is triggered by unavoidable sights, sounds, smells, words, and fears. Maybe that would represent more of a victory than trying to master my body’s biochemistry.

And Gracen—she is doing well.  When we first got home, I told her we needed that communication device we’ve been selecting and justifying to Medicaid right now.  I couldn’t understand a single word she was trying to speak.  But, the bleeding has stopped and she no longer has a mouth full of gauze.  She’s much more understandable although she sounds pretty croaky due to the tube the Anesthesiologist threaded through her nose and down her throat. We’re also managing pain well and she’s not terribly swollen, although we’ve been told that will get worse before it gets better. So Friday and Saturday may not be very pleasant. One day at a time is my mantra these days so we’ll just let tomorrow worry for itself to the best of our ability.

Many thanks to all who prayed for Gracen, David and me today.

“The insistent prayer of a righteous person is powerfully effective.” ~ James 5:16b (World English Bible)

 
6 Comments

Posted by on August 12, 2016 in Adversity, Faith, Muscular Dystrophy

 

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Déjà Vu

 

IMG_1304The alarm will sound around 4:15 a.m. so Gracen and I can get out the door by 4:55.

It’s just a hospital I’ll tell myself as we pull into the parking lot Thursday morning.

It’s not an emergency—just a planned procedure normally performed in an Oral Surgeon’s office—but better safe than sorry when your child’s health is already compromised.

Nothing serious—just wisdom teeth—I’ll tell myself as I exit the car and unload the wheelchair from the trunk.

Deep breath in.

Exhale.

Game face on.

One foot in front of the other.

One foot in front of the other.

5:15 a.m.

Carpeted floors. Upholstered chairs. Pre-procedure registration.

Bump as the wheelchair handles vibrate beneath my hands when the carpet ends and the sterile tile takes over. Another bump before the wheelchair glides smoothly over the floor as we pass oversized electronic powered doors.

Scrubs.

The smell of disinfectant.

The quiet buzz of nurses while keyboards click.

The blood pressure cuff.

Thermometer.

Pulse and oxygenation recorded.

When did you eat and drink last?

Take your medications?

The gown placed on the rolling bed and the snick as the curtain is drawn.

Gracen and I left alone in a small cordoned off space.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

One step at a time.

Game face.

I’ll bend and lock the chair’s wheels in place so it won’t roll away from us then lift Gracen’s right foot off the foot pedal flipping the pedal up as I place her foot on the floor prior to up turning the pedal out and away from the wheelchair (tripping hazard). Then repeat the procedure with her left foot.

She’ll lean forward as I reach beneath her arms grasping her around the back and pulling her to her feet. Gracen’s arms will wrap around me clutching at my back as I help her disrobe before reseating her, readjusting the foot pedals and align the wheelchair perpendicular to the bed before moving the foot pedals out of the way again. I’ll place my right foot between her two feet before lifting her to her feet again and pivoting to perform a quarter turn to set her on the waiting bed. Hopefully, it will not be necessary to actually lift her up onto the bed. That’s just harder. She’s a tiny thing but it’s all dead weight. I’ll place my hand behind her neck and turn her head toward the pillow as I simultaneously lift her feet up swinging her body around and laying her onto the bed. Then I’ll figure out how to maneuver her body all the way up and onto the pillow at the top of the bed before unlocking the chair’s wheels once again, flipping the foot pedals back in place and then finding an out of the way place for it to sit in the small space.

I’ll hand Gracen her cell phone, pack her discarded clothes into the plastic bag provided before placing her clothing and my purse on the wheelchair’s seat. It might as well be made useful while it sits vigil with me in the surgery waiting room.

Gracen and I will wait as the nurse and Anesthesiologist prepare us for what comes next. Eventually, they will release the locks on the bed’s wheels and push Gracen away from me and behind the door leading to the operating theater. My eyes will follow her until the door closes and she can no longer be seen—no longer be reached.

Swallow hard.

Deep breath in.

Exhale.

Rise and push the wheelchair filled only with Gracen’s clothing before me into the waiting room. Find a place to park the chair out of the way of normal foot traffic. Drop into an upholstered seat.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Don’t think about what’s happening now.

Don’t think about what might happen.

Don’t pray. You’re not strong enough to shoulder any more deferred hope.

What benefit are my prayers if Gracen’s predetermined number of days have been reached?

Reach my trembling hand into my purse and withdraw my sanity protection device—a simple e-reader.

Distraction, distraction, distraction.

Praise God for fiction!

All I need is a sure fire way to engage my mind with anything beyond what might go wrong. To fill my mind with letters and words mashed together telling a story with a happy ending.

All I need is a distraction from the triggers inherent in my immediate environment reeling me back in time . . .

IMG_5553to the stretcher, I lay upon,

the rumble of the wheels bumping over the pavement,

the whoosh of the automatic doors sliding open,

voices talking above and around me,

the charge nurse’s greeting

and the echo of my desperate voice asking. . .  “Where is my daughter? Is she still alive?”

It’s only a hospital.

It’s not an emergency.

Gracen’s life is not at risk.

At least I think it’s not. . .

 
4 Comments

Posted by on August 11, 2016 in Adversity, Faith

 

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