Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Plea of a Whisper

I walked out of a movie last night and Jesus kind of slapped me in the face. I've been putting off writing lately. I let months pass before I sit down and let my thoughts spill. Call it fear, call it spiritual warfare, call it whatever you want. But something gets lost between "I'm going to share this" and "Publish." I chicken out. I wrestle. I give up.

"Share your story." He whispers.

I don't want to. I say the same thing over and over. I can't share like_______ can. I'm not enough. You can't possibly use me.

"Share your story." He whispers.

No. I'm afraid. I can't do it. You can't possibly use me.

"Share MY story..."

So I will. Whether you read it or not, regardless of my fear or self consciousness, no matter what the enemy tries to instill in me. I will share. Because I can.

See, the last few months have changed dramatically for us. Things like a decent schedule, good pay and better health insurance were just a pipe dream for many years for us. We had a couple of those things here and there, but by and large, aviation is just a tough industry for families. Especially families like ours. While DFW was easier in some aspects, working around the clock did a number on Micah and we knew it couldn't last forever. Now don't get me wrong: Jesus has always provided for us throughout the years. Back when we couldn't afford milk on a regular basis, couldn't figure out how to pay for CF medications and couldn't stay afloat to save our lives - He was providing. Always.

When we moved to Dallas, my prayer was that we would eventually get to a place where Micah could rest. My husband is, by far, the hardest worker I know. Dallas was tough for him. While it felt like it was more restful for me after the intense East Texas chapter, he hit the ground running and didn't stop for the 3 years we lived there.

Jesus answers prayers. While they are not always answered in the way we think we want, He answers nonetheless.

I'm writing this from a brand new house in a brand new state. After the last 8 years or so, moving across the country, starting a new job and completely starting over with life seems, well... easy. Without going into too much detail, just know that this new job is a dream come true. Jesus placed this in our laps and we continue to be amazed with the details He brought together before we ever stepped foot on the airplane to come here. This chapter that we've just begun finally feels like rest. Real, genuine rest.

Everything from this home, our church, the move itself, the health insurance. Everything has far surpassed what we could ever think to ask for. And I'm thankful.

When I was praying years ago, this is not at all what I had envisioned when I asked for rest. In fact, we tried beating down a door that kept closing before this finally came to fruition. This is not at all what we wanted. And I'm so thankful. 

For a long time I couldn't understand why He would allow anybody to endure an illness like cystic fibrosis. Must less a child. I still don't always understand the why to so many of the things we've been through over the years, but I'm just beginning to understand the Who.

When you're in the midst of a valley, no matter how intense, it's easy to get lost in the darkness. When you begin to climb out, the darkness lingers and tries to pull you back in. Some days, it wins. And that's okay.

The biggest lesson I've learned in all of this continues to be this:

Because Hebrews 13:8 (Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.) is true, and because Psalm 100:5 (The Lord is GOOD! His love and faithfulness will last forever.) is true, then Jesus was good when Micah was in Afghanistan. He was good when He gave us Benjamin and revealed those almond eyes. He was good when we didn't know how to buy diapers. He was good when we had to move out of the rat infested house. He was good when He gave us Alexis and her 65 roses. He was good when I couldn't climb out of the darkness. He was good when no one else was there. He was good in the valley. He was good in the valley.


If He is the same yesterday, today and forever then HE IS GOOD. He is good always.

If your Jesus reminds you of all your shortcomings, makes you feel guilty for the Cross, expects perfection and a laundry list of rules... you've got the wrong one. Jesus loves you. Jesus LOVES you. Not because He feels like He must. Simply because He can.

Our life has continued to climb and we feel like we've made it to a pretty good mountain now.

Regardless of what's to come...

He was good. He is good. He will be good. Always.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Little Girl, Breathe Deep and Fight Hard

I knew it would happen eventually. I knew she would realize that what she does everyday is different than other kids. I knew I would have to try to explain cystic fibrosis to a toddler one day. And I was right.

"Mama, why do I have to do my vest a lot?"

I could see the wheels turning as she tried to understand. I explained it the best I could for her four year old little mind. My heart ached as I told her that she was born with something we call cystic fibrosis. I told her she could call it CF and that some kids even call it 65 roses. I told her that her vest and her cool masks kept her from getting sick. I told her that's why we have to go see her doctor friends sometimes.

I asked her if she felt better after doing her vest and she nodded. She said her favorite part was getting to watch a show and color.

I know there will be more questions the older she gets and some days I can't help but feel overwhelmed with how I'm going to answer those. See, CF sucks. It sucks to do treatments everyday and take medicine every time you eat. It sucks that your normal includes doctors and hospitals and not being able to play with other kids like you. Even my "half-full" perspective can't always find the good in CF.

Over the last four years, I've learned to push CF as far away as possible to give her the simplest life I can. I'll keep fighting for simple. I'll keep focusing on the present and loving my girl the best I know how.

Today, we'll snuggle and play and maybe even have a Mama/Sissy date. Lord knows I need it after a heart-wrenching explanation like that.

CF may suck, but life doesn't have to.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

39 Weeks

That's how long it's been since I've written in public. 39 weeks ago, I wrote about our newest surprise. 39 weeks ago, I was pretty pissed off. 39 weeks ago, I felt like I needed to crawl in a hole and hide for a little while. So I did.

I stopped writing, I got off social media for a while, I pulled away from everything and most everybody. I was overwhelmed and clung to the mundane and simple. I had one goal in mind: to take care of my family. So I did.

Both kids celebrated birthdays. It's hard for me to wrap my head around having a six year old and a four year old. I look back at pictures from when they were babies and I hardly recognize that life. It feels like a lifetime ago and yesterday all at the same time. 

This July proved to be one of the best we've ever had as a family. After some initial hiccups, Micah and I got to celebrate ten years of marriage and ten years of friendship with our dearest Greenwald's. Mexico was a welcomed escape from reality. During our week there, Micah surprised the heck out of me. We renewed our vows and celebrated our love for each other right there on the beach. I will never, ever forget it. 

Coming home after a month of goodness and traveling was tough, if we are being frank. Life slapped us both in the face and I'm not sure we have even recovered yet. 

Ben had surgery in August to fix the reflux of urine to his right kidney. We are hoping this repairs everything and eliminates his frequent urinary tract infections, but only time will tell. 

We've had roughly 46 doctor's appointments so far this year and many more scheduled for the next couple of months. I forget what a large part of our lives doctor's offices have become until I am faced with a number like that. Jesus has blessed us with wonderful doctors, nurses, pediatricians, dentists, eye doctors, orthopedists, pulmonologists, geneticists, urologists, social workers and therapists. I can't explain how grateful I am to have professionals that love and care for my kids the way they do. They are family. 

Ben and Alexis also started school this year. 

So far, homeschooling is a big blessing. They enjoy school and I'm loving the freedom and flexibility it has brought to our schedule. We are just taking it one week at a time. 

That's some of what you missed in 39 weeks. 

It feels good to write out loud again and I hope to get back into the swing of doing so more regularly. I feel like I'm in a constant state of arguing with Jesus about sharing our story or not. I know our lives are different, I know my outlook is different and I know I could share more than I do. But then I second guess and delete and convince myself that what I have to say has already been said. Then Jesus nudges and I ignore. On and on it goes. 

But I'm back and I'm not mad about it. Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Daddy's Girl and the Other Shoe

She may look like me, but she's so her daddy. She hates chocolate and loves adventure. She loves anything that flies and turns the music up loud. She'd give you the shirt off her back (or 'lovey' off her bed) and loves hard when you love her back. She's imaginative and a joy to be around. 

She's just so her daddy...

Alexis goes to the CF clinic every three months. It's been that way since she turned one. They take really good care of her at Children's and I'm always grateful for the "doctor friends" we get to see so often. She also gets a chest x-ray every year. It's just how it goes with CF. They monitor her lungs and will do so more often the older she gets. 

At her last chest x-ray, they noticed something different...

...and it had nothing to do with her lungs. 

Alexis' spine is starting to curve. 


Just like her daddy. 

Because CF wasn't enough for her body, my girl now has two battles to fight. Two battles that now encompass her entire body. Two battles that will be managed but not won. 

And frankly, I'm pissed about it. 

I'm not even sad. I'm angry. 

I hate that this is happening to her. I hate that, of all the babies, it's her. I hate that both of these battles will be life-long. I hate that it will only get worse. 

I hate it. I hate it. I hate it! 

I hesitated even writing this. I don't want any more sympathy. I don't want people to look at me and feel sorry for me and my family. I don't want you to tell me Jesus has a plan. I don't want you to tell me you know somebody with scoliosis. I do, too, and I see the effects of it every. single. day. And don't bother Googling "cystic fibrosis and scoliosis." It doesn't exist. And that's scary. 

I just need you to tell me that this freaking sucks. I need you to hug my neck and let me be angry for a minute. I need you to be Jesus to our family. That doesn't mean spewing Bible verses and asking me what we did wrong to deserve this. That just means you love us. You show up. You pray hard and you walk it with us. Don't make it complicated.

I won't apologize for this post. I won't. If you've been around for any period of time over the last five years, you know that writing is how I process. And this is me processing and trying to see past the anger. I can't see anything other than that right now. 

Believe me, I know we will reach the other side of this. If anybody has learned that lesson, it's me. I know that this is just the next valley to navigate. And this is the first step. 

Let's just call this one chapter 10. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

When the Other Shoe Doesn't Drop

In my experience, life isn't this easy. While this peaceful season of life we're in has been completely welcomed, it also seems unusual. I wake up most days in this state of thankfulness for where we are now, what we've overcome and how drastically Jesus has changed my heart. When we think of this "freedom in Christ" that is so abundantly present when you know Jesus, it's easy to associate that with freedom from things we can see. I love stories of redemption and breaking the chains of all kinds of addiction. You can see the physical change and it's awesome.

For me? There is freedom from worry and fear.
Freedom from comparison and discontentment.
Freedom from the bondage of religion.

But then I'm human. There are days when those things take over and I forget Who I belong to.
There are days when life seems uncertain and I wait for the other shoe to drop.

Because there's always been another shoe...

There are still nights that I lay in bed listening to Alexis cough, wondering what I'll wake up to the next morning. Nights that the words, "If there's ever a time she stops breathing, call 911 and then call us" ring through my head. I can see the nurses face so clearly in my head; feel her hands holding mine as the tears poured down my cheeks.

There are days I wonder what's going on inside Ben, knowing that this bladder issue may never resolve itself. Days that I examine his whole body looking for something wrong because he can't tell me if it hurts.

Days and nights I wait for the other shoe...

Because there's always been another shoe.

But then Jesus gently floods my soul with peace and joy; this distinct and undeniable understanding that He is for me, with me, never wavering in His love for me.

There very well may be another shoe. I have no idea what's coming.

I love that more often than not... I don't care.

I love that my heart knows where to run when it's heavy.

And I love that I know just Who has the other shoe. I trust Him with it. He knows what He's doing.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

I Don't Pray for Healthy Babies

There are phases in life that sort of restart every so often. When you're in your 20's and 30's, that phase is typically babies. Right now, there is another "round" of babies happening in my circle of friends and family. It's been so fun to watch bellies grow and see newborn pictures float around all the social media venues. Jesus said kids are a blessing and I love being a part of communities that recognize that.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "I don't care if it's a boy or a girl. Just as long as they're healthy." I've written about that before, I know. I commend you for saying that, I really do, but I have a confession to make...

I don't pray for your babies to be healthy.

Don't get me wrong - I don't pray for your babies to be sick either. I wouldn't wish some of the dreadful valleys we've been through on my worst enemy. Or maybe I would...

The thing is, those valleys taught me so much about life and about Jesus that I sometimes do wish people could experience those things just so they would find Him.

So while I don't pray for your babies to be healthy, I do pray that you'd find Jesus in the midst - healthy or not.

I'll pray that Galatians 5:22-23 would be abundant. That Jesus would show you true love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I'll pray that you look at that sweet baby and see them how Jesus does - His gift to you. No matter how it may be wrapped.

I'll pray that He'll give you the strength to put one foot in front of the other every day, never knowing what may be around the corner.

I'll pray that you would pour out His grace on them the same way that He pours His grace on you.

I'll pray that they would teach you even half as much as my babies have taught me.

I'll pray that you would recognize every day is a miracle. Even the hard ones.

And, dear friends, I'll always pray that if you do ever find yourself in a dreadful valley, you would recognize the little miracles, the joy at the bottom.

Because it's there.

You are so loved. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Reward

The conversation went something like this:

Him - "I think we're done [having kids]. What about you?"
Me - "Yeah, we won't be having any more of our own. I'd love to adopt one day, though."
Him - "It's just the older we get, the higher the risks, ya know?"
Me - "Right..."

The "risks." I knew exactly what that man at the park meant when he said that to me. Statistics tell us that the older the woman, the higher the risks for chromosomal issues.

You know... things like Down syndrome and cystic fibrosis.

I just chuckled. It's all I could do. After all, that man didn't know me from Adam's house cat so how could he have known my story? My children?

I heard the fear in his voice. With two perfectly healthy girls, it was terrifying for him to imagine what it would be like if that wasn't his reality. I watched him chase those sweet girls all around the playground and then my eyes ventured to my own kids. Playing, laughing, enjoying being together and my heart leapt with pure joy followed by a gentle ache. 

Because I get it. I get where he's coming from. I get where you're all coming from. You probably say those words often. "Thank God they're healthy." I commend you and I'm grateful you can say that. I would never wish sickness or hardship on anyone. It sucks. I get it. 

But then I think about my babies and how grateful I am for where Jesus has brought me because of them. A part of my heart wishes everyone could experience that reality. That precious transition from anger to laughter, pain to joy, fear to faith, heartache to hope. There's just nothing like the power in God's mighty hand and the way He can turn what seems like a disaster into something that showcases His strength so beautifully. 

That "risk?" That risk is why organizations like Planned Parenthood stay in business. That risk is why so many women fear the unknown and choose to never face it. 

But oh, my dear friend, please know... this sweet reward is far greater than that pesky risk. 

You are loved.