Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Frogs and Laundry and Other Weighty Subjects

 If you had told me years ago that I would be caring for a medically fragile child, I would have laughed and laughed and laughed and then directed you to my wonderful sister who is compassionate enough to shave the armpits of someone she barely knows. This. Is. Not. Me. 

 I was going to be an artist who did ballet and played Annie then I was going to own my own restaurant which for some reason was to have a stream out front with a bridge you had to cross to get to the entrance. Notice the lack of anything about caring for others as the main requirement. Funny that God has me here now. 

 We just finished another stay at the children's hospital. This time for a virus that was probably picked up from our first stay. Opportunities arose to discuss foster care with staff and dispel some of the myths plus encourage others to consider doing it themselves. Usually this elicits the usual "I am just too sensitive" at which I laugh. Being a heartless, unfeeling zombie is not one of the qualifications to be a foster parent. You will get hurt and you will love and lose. It is still worth it. Trust me.

 While in the hospital the first go-round, we acquired a Frederick T. Frog. It is a weighted bean bag used as a positioning aid or, in my little jellybean's case, to anchor a Wubbanub pacifier so that someone did not have to stand next to his bed all night holding it in his mouth. (Thank you nurse!) It has produced the added benefit of calming him down and helping him fall asleep. 
The Wubbanub on top of a Frog

 Unfortunately, this necessary item was not grabbed in our mad dash to the emergency room the day after Christmas and we had a rough night. Our new nurse scraped up another frog for us. (Thank you new nurse) Now we have a spare that I will keep in my new hospital bag that will be kept in my car. 

 Right now, we are settling in to life with a g-tube and feeding pump which really translates to "doing lots of laundry from all the mishaps with the syringe, forgetting to clamp the tube, and pouring formula into the bag in the middle of the night." One would think that squirting one's self with someone else's stomach contents would produce a quick lesson in doing things right the next time. One would think. Of course that one probably had more sleep than I. 

 On a quick day running errands, I went to the post office early thinking that I could sneak in unscathed with the baby in his carrier safely hidden under his special car seat cover. Nope. An older man made a joke about mailing the baby then promptly reached down and pulled open the cover before I could scream like the shower scene in Psycho. Funny thing is, he must have been shocked by my deliciously chocolate-colored jellybean because he quickly dropped his hand and turned away, never speaking to us the rest of the time. I have learned that people with the most hang-ups are usually the ones to infringe upon another's personal space without politely asking and are also the most easily offended. If only I could come up with something clever to say in response or even better, use it as a way to bring up Jesus. Again, my poor sleep-deprived brain fails me. 

 So, I am trying to catch up on the ordinary dealings of life and I think I have given up on trying to do classes for natural health studies for the time being. There is just never a moment to do the reading and when I do try, my eyelids have this terrible habit of closing and not opening back up for an hour or two. This proves difficult when trying to write a research paper. It is a little discouraging but this is just season I keep telling myself. 

 My hubby and I have been discussing the possibility of what would happen if something should happen to one of us. This came about because I fell down the stairs on Christmas Eve and had to lay in the floor for a while before I could move. Thankfully it was just a bad twisted ankle but it is giving me fits and my hubby was scared into thinking how he would take care of everything if it had been worse. Obviously, I am not worried about what will happen to me if I die. I know the answer to that thanks to my relationship with Christ. Of course, my hubby was thinking more along the lines of the things I do that he knows nothing about and would have to take over doing - like providing all the care for the little jellybean or dealing with our daughter's health issues. I had never thought about the fact that no one else really knows what all I do. Not that I think I am irreplaceable or that I do an incredible amount. It just seems weird that I might be getting close to what the Proverbs 31 woman does - quietly running a household that brings her husband respect and glorifies God. Am I at least facing the right direction? 

 I think the answer is more closely tied to how I ended up caring for others when it was not my inclination to do so - God has done a work and He is not finished yet. Come lengthy hospital stays, clutzy shenanigans, or discouragements, God is using every moment and always working for His glory. For that I am grateful and rest in that Truth. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The End...Sort of

 Home at last! Praise the Lord! After 10 days in the hospital, my sweet little foster baby was released. It was a roller coaster ride but that is the way it goes with babies born so early. Even though he is 7 months old now, he has lots going on being a micro preemie weighing only 1lb 4 oz at birth. One minute they can be fine and the next in the ICU. Somewhere in the middle of it all, my bout to maintain my emotions ended as well and I cried twice. Okay, almost 3 times but that third does not count because it was being provoked by the long goodbye of one our sweet nurses.

  The surgery on my jellybean's esophagus and placement of a g-tube went well but being on the ventilator was hard and took a while to safely remove. After that we battled strangling congestion which required more suction than I could count but feedings went great once they put him on a pump with a slow rate and so ends the hospital stay and almost constant acid reflux. 

 This is also the end of putting any food or medicine or anything into his mouth, at least for now. It should probably not bother me so much but it makes me sad since I love to feed people - it could be the Baptist part of me. Maybe the dysphagia will end soon. 

 As I try to catch up on housework, Christmas, and sleep, I realize that we are also about to end another year. I will be ending my stint as a home school mom this coming Summer as my last child at home graduates which will most likely end my season of staying at home. But only God knows what will come of that. The season with this set of chickens will come to an end as well since they are at an age of laying less and less eggs. Hopefully, this will also be a year of ending our losing streak with beekeeping as well. Apparently, I have come to the end of looking young because I have been asked if I was the grandmother of this little jellybean several times. Sigh. 

 So many endings and yet each one is also a beginning. No one can predict what the Lord will do this new year and the only course of action I have is to rest in His care knowing that He planned it all before creation. 

 Merry Christmas all! Happy New Year! May your endings and beginnings be filled with Christ. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

And Then...

 Don't you hate when you are going about your day all willy-nilly and then, BAM, you are at the hospital for a lengthy stay? My sweet little chunky baby failed his swallow test and may be getting a feeding tube so here we are waiting, praying for speedy test results, and seeking to have an abundance of grace for interacting with the many people that will be in and out of our lives during this stay. 

 I have had opportunities to talk about God's grace and I have had opportunities where it has been shown to me. Exhaustion is not something I do well with and so my emotions are in high gear. Yes, I did almost cry because of a bowel movement, or, better put, lack thereof, so I am teetering on the fringe of ridiculousness.Truly a Godly support system is awesome. 

 When you get to the fork in the road and cannot determine which way is best, your brothers and sisters can step in and intervene on your behalf and inject Godly wisdom into the situation. 

 When you hit the speed bump that causes life to slow to a crawl, your family in Christ can walk beside you and fill you with overflowing grace and Truth. 

 God has been so gracious to me in this area and walking in difficult times is a lot easier when you have someone continuing to keep you focused on Truth and encouraged in the Word. Paul does it all throughout his letters and he asks the churches to do it for him. 

 Clearly, we cannot be self-reliant. Honestly, we can't be "self" anything in Christ. You are either all in Christ, dead to self or not. Which is it?

 Day 3 of our hospital stay and quickly I am being physically worn. This is a very obvious sign that I need to be on guard for "flesh" flare-ups. Thinking that I can take everything on and forgetting God is a quick way to end up spiritually dry. It is imperative to be in the Word. One reason to be thankful for today's super technology is that you have access to God's Word, preaching, and worship music instantly at your fingertips but when you are in the middle of the storm and tumult, you need to have it in your heart and mind. 

 And then when your willy-nilly becomes turbulent and troublesome, you are better equipped for the ride no matter the outcome. So, maybe I will cry over digestion and maybe I won't but the key here is did I honor the Lord. Maybe we will be dealing with pneumonia, maybe we won't. Maybe we will end up with a more complicated surgery for a feeding tube, maybe we won't. Either way God is not in the business of handling our lives willy-nilly. There is order and purpose and plan and we can trust Him fully to carry our burdens. 

 So, I place my little Jelly Bean in His Hands and I remind myself that I am not made to bear the load AND THEN I rest. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It's All About the Sacrifice

 Woowee, it's a good thing no one has been around me lately. My attitude is atrocious and I am praying that the cause is my current sleep situation but still, there is no excuse. So I ask that if you are my sister in Christ, just pray for me when you think about it. Particularly in the area of faith and trusting God. Weakness has crept in and I struggle with watching my family members turning away from God. My mind has been bad the last two days. 

 On a side note, contemplation of the situation of this precious baby has made me realize something about love. Not the kind of wordly love that you can "fall into" like a mud puddle or "fall out of," like when you try to get out of a hammock. True love is one of those God-given abilities and it very much follows the characteristics of the love shown  by Jesus stepping down from heaven to live as a man and die on the cross. It is sacrifice and sometimes it is hard and sometimes it is painful but always it honors God and grows one in sanctification. 

 I would like to say that I have that. Boy, would I like to say that but truth is that I am still limping along in the sanctification department and am more self-focused than I dare admit here. Wait...I guess that was sort of an admission. Take for instance the lack of sleep issue or the fact that my baby girl has informed me that she will be moving out this summer before she starts college. There are feelings in there that do not honor God. That is not to say that God is not working in me. He clearly has done some work in me that has at times expressed true love. My prayer is that He makes me more pliable so greater work can be done. 

 This little baby is a good reminder that true love is more than words, more than material things, more than feelings. There are people in this little guy's life who say "I love you" but their actions say something different. There are people who give him things but it is not love. There are people who are full of emotions but it is not really about him. I sing "Jesus Loves Me" to him every night and pray that the truth of the song sticks in his soul because I know that even my best God-honoring intentions get tainted with sin at times. The best thing for him would be to know the love of the KING of Kings and LORD of Lords - not put his trust and devotion in a foster parent that is flawed and only on this earth for a temporary time. 

 With Christ, this little guy can offer whole-hearted forgiveness to those who have let him down. With Christ, he can live a life that blesses others and honors God. With Christ, he can stand before God as His child, forgiven and truly loved. 

 That is an acceptance and love that is far beyond any given by a person in this world. May each of you experience that acceptance and love this holiday by knowing Jesus.