Overcoming with Joy

I am so excited to share this post today. This is a topic I have been wanting to share for quite a while, but the timing was not quite right. In part, I was simply waiting for my roses to bloom to give the full effect. I promise, that will make sense. The other reason I needed to wait had to do with waiting on a conversation to take place. Today that conversation took place, and I am so excited to share part of it with you. But first, a sneak peak in to what our family has been up to lately.

The last couple of weeks have been busy with trying to finish out our homeschooling year strong, spend time out in the sun, and enjoying the opportunity to go to the park. Annika and I completed the WorldVision 6k for water on May 22. Thanks to such wonderful donations, between the two of us enough was raised to provide water for five people! Such a huge blessing that could not have happened without the willing generosity of others. Over the last couple of weeks, we were also able to drop off a meal and get a peak at our new nephew, too. I admit, that was a highlight. Annika was able to go see a movie one night which was a blast for her. While she was gone, the boys and I watched an Octonauts movie together. It has been so much fun to soak up all these moments.

Doing the #Global6kforwater with our friend Lisa from the #PolahaChautauqua
Enjoying bubbles at the park

Over the last few weeks I have also had the chance to watch something beautiful happen in my backyard. Shortly after we moved in, I noticed what looked like a small rose bush. I wasn’t entirely sure what it was though, because there were no flowers. If it were a rose bush purposefully planted, it was an odd space for it. We were still in the season that there should have been evidence of it having flowered, but the only things visible were thorns and leaves. I was told it was likely it was a rose bush that went wild due to lack of care, and probably would not flower anymore. But I didn’t want to give up on it. A year later, I saw one rose bud on it. But shortly after, Jarrod mowed the lawn, unaware I wanted to keep the little rose bush. So that was mowed right down, too. I was so sad! This year I noticed it had grown back. It was still small, but growing again. Then the neighbors decided to remove their hedge so they could extend their privacy fence. In doing so, they released a part of the rose bush that had apparently been growing up and vining into the hedge. There was a good ten feet of leaves and thorns on a stick suddenly stretching across my yard. It actually took me a moment to realize it was a part of my rose bush. I decided to go ahead and trim it down to a manageable size and zip tie it to the fence. I wanted to give this rose a chance to grow, to blossom. I was amazed at the outcome.

Progression over the last month
Full of flowers

Watching my flowers come back reminded me of the passage in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. The ESV says it like this, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;” Darrell Evans has a beautiful song called Trading My Sorrows that uses this passage. I keep thinking about that song, these verses. This ties in to why House of Hope in Orlando stands out so much to me. The ministry they have there is amazing.

Today I finally had the chance to touch base with Angela Lloyd, the Executive Director of House of Hope. This “meeting” between us has been in the works since I think about January. But life has been so busy and full for both of us that it was put on hold for a while. Angela and I first connected through the Polaha Chautauqua, as she was a guest in November when the topic of faithfulness was discussed. Her story with her own son (also a Daniel) was so similar to mine, it felt like she was telling my story! I reached out to her that very night, and over the last handful of months we have been building on that common ground. We found common ground in our faith, in our experiences raising differently abled children, and our heart for the youth. You see, House of Hope is a ministry that reaches out and helps turn the lives of hurting teens around. It’s a place for at risk youth to get that chance they need to have love poured in to their lives simply for who they are, where they are. They minister to the broken youth who have gone through traumatic ordeals and started making destructive choices, and teach them to let Jesus in to mend their wounds. I asked Angela if she could describe her favorite thing about being involved with House of Hope. She shared the most rewarding thing is watching the transformation happen in the lives of these beautiful children. They come in angry, guarded, and lashing out. But through the unconditional outpouring of love and speaking the truth to them, they blossom and grow. They are not the same when they leave.

Just like my roses, these kids have been beaten down and discouraged. Trauma has left them feeling they can only have their thorns exposed. House of Hope provides them with the love, pruning, structure and stability to let their inner beauty show. To be vulnerable enough to blossom in to who God created them to be. If you are looking for an amazing ministry to invest in, please consider House of Hope. You can learn more about their amazing history and what they do, as well as see how you can support the ministry by checking out http://houseofhopeorlando.org

If you are struggling this week feeling crushed and downtrodden, I pray that you would lay your burdens down at the feet of Jesus and choose to carry His Joy and Hope in your heart instead. You are loved, so much more than you know. As always, feel free to like, comment and share. Have a blessed week.

His Grace My Strength

Elated. Overwhelmed. Encouraged. Bone tired. Worn out. Drained. Simply weary. Feeling like a dishcloth wrung out and hung to dry. All of those words sum up my emotions this last week. It truly has been a roller coaster of ups and downs, loop-the-loops, and unexpected twists and turns. Not a bad week, but a very full one.

Enjoying the fire

Monday started with Annika and I heading out early to start walking, preparing ourselves for the World Vision Global 6k walk we are participating in this Saturday. (5/22/21) Tuesday morning I had the follow up with Daniel’s neurologist. She ended up concluding that we definitely do need to start Daniel on treatment based on the symptoms he has been displaying over the last nine months, but we also need to get a better look at what is happening to cause the symptoms. Daniel had been too active during the EEG to read anything from it, so another sedated EEG is in order. She also wants him to have another MRI, so that is also going to be done. The doctor has also ordered an EKG because she is concerned his heart may be involved. Based on the results of all the tests, a referral to a cardiologist may also be in the works. Thankfully, all of these things will be done at the same time so he will only need to be sedated once. Wednesday morning Annika and I switched up our walking route and went the opposite direction so we could get to the pharmacy for Daniel’s medication. After getting home and getting Daniel ready for the day, feeding him his oatmeal, we were ready for the moment of truth. How difficult would it be to get him to take the medicine? It is a liquid which Daniel has always struggled with. From the time he was an infant, he spits the liquid medicine out. What little bit we could get him to swallow in the past, he would often throw up. This time, while I can tell he doesn’t like the taste, he has been taking it like a champ. Swallowing it willingly, no struggle. I say I know he doesn’t like it because he heads to the other end of the room and says “all done medicine” when he see’s me pull it out. Yet when I tell him we aren’t all done and he needs to take it? He comes and swallows it!

So proud of my big boy!

Thursday was spent on the phone with all the labs and specialists, coordinating to get the appointments scheduled. I was sent on quite the run around at first. I finally ended up connecting with a wonderful sedation coordinator who was very creative. She was able to work it out so the EEG will be done much earlier in the morning than the EEG lab is usually willing to schedule them for. It is arranged for such a time that Daniel will not be awake and hungry for too long. Such a blessing! God clearly went before us and opened that door. Even so, it left me drained towards the end of the day. So completely relieved and thankful, but also suddenly remembering the feeling of hearing the doctor say she is concerned it could be his heart. It is just a lot to process and take in.

After getting all of the appointments settled and the kids in bed last night, I connected with my #TeamPolahaChautauqua walk buddy so we could make our action plan. Annika and I were so excited to realize one of our friends from the Polaha Chautauqua is also registered to walk in the #Global6k, and lives within a half hour drive from us. As a matter of fact, she lives just minutes away from some of our family. We decided we should use this wonderful opportunity to meet face to face, and the three of us will walk together.

Annika is so excited to walk 6k so Prudence doesn’t have to. Through Annika participating in the WorldVision 6k, clean drinking water is going to be made accessible much closer to this young girl’s home.

In this last week, I have been so encouraged and supported in prayer from so many people. One friend said that as she was praying for me and all of the things we are going through, the verse in 2 Corinthians 12:9 came to mind. I really like the way it reads in the NASB 1995 translation. “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” Now this friend couldn’t know this verse has been something I have clung to for years. From the time Elijah was in the NICU and I was burning the candle at both ends to make sure I did everything possible for my little man, while also continuing to be the best mother I possibly could to my little girl, and staying strong for Jarrod. That was the verse I clung to, when I felt so empty, broken and exhausted. God whispered that verse in my ear, and it was a lifeline. His strength is what I can lean on and walk in. His grace will continue to carry me when I feel like I can’t go on. This has continued to be what I lean on, even now. Because on my own, I just can’t do it. But Him in me? There is nothing He can’t do. Then this morning when I began my Bible study, I sensed a theme. Today’s passage was in Matthew 11:28-30. A reminder that I can come to Him with my burdens, lay them at His feet, and He will give me rest.

His light pierces the darkness

Today I leave you with this. Are you carrying burdens that are just wearing you down? Worry, fear, anger, shame, guilt, or even responsibilities that aren’t yours to bear? I challenge you you to lay whatever it is that you are carrying at the foot of the cross. Only take on what He tells you to. He will give you rest. He will give you the grace and the strength you need to walk the path He sets before you. You may be facing a dark storm, but He will be the Light that shines bright and leads you through the darkness. I pray you are filled with the Hope and Joy that comes from a real relationship with Jesus.

How Do You Handle Disappointment?

Everyday I am reminded just how blessed I am to have these three beautiful children. Are the days always easy? Not by a long shot. But they are rich and rewarding. Annika is my amazing, gentle hearted helper. Elijah is my keep going and don’t deviate (until it is his idea), everyone gets to have their place guy,. Daniel…he is my precious bundle of excited energy. They are so unique in their strengths, yet similar as well. They all like to have some time to themselves, yet also want to spend a lot of time together. They have such an incredible bond with each other, and I am blessed with such special, unique relationships with each of them.

Me with each of my babies

Mother’s Day I woke up to discover Annika had made me a plate of French toast for breakfast, and she and Elijah had each made me a card. Annika had also made a word search puzzle for me, and made sure I had a pen ready when she gave it to me. After eating my breakfast, taking care of the pets and feeding Daniel, Annika and I headed to church. The sermon was spot on and coordinated so well with the study I had just finished with some of my Chautauqua family. After service, all of the ladies (including Annika) were given a red rose upon leaving.

Handmade cards from the kids

While Daniel was upstairs for his quiet time, the rest of us played war. It was the kids first time playing, and they have decided they love it! It was an absolute blast, and there was much laughter when there was a “war within a war.” After our game and I had brought Daniel back downstairs, it was time to cut his hair and give him his bath in preparation for his EEG the following day. He didn’t cooperate as much as he usually does for a cut, but I think it still worked out all right.

War within a war

Monday morning came early, yet I still managed to sleep past my alarm. Or my phone messed up and the alarm did not go off, even though I triple checked that it was set, volume up very high before I went to bed. I had wanted to make sure I did not oversleep. That said, I stayed up later than I was supposed to, and 4:30am came and went with me still asleep. I woke up in a panic at 5:40 that I didn’t have Daniel up yet. I need not have worried, though. He had indeed been awake for awhile, looking out his bedroom window. Daniel had also been up later than the minimum of 10pm, as is his usual, even with melatonin. He was quite happy to have so much attention from me bright and early Monday morning. So much so, he kept me from drinking more than half a cup of coffee in the two hours we were up before leaving for his EEG.

This sweet face

Daniel did so well for his EEG! The technician pointed out how well he had done, especially with his special needs and no other support person. He only pulled three electrodes loose, and two of them were not even held down under the gauze. He did not have a fit or a meltdown, no kicking or screaming. That’s the good news. The less positive news is that they were unable to trigger a seizure. Ironic that that is bad news, I know. I had been hopeful (though also not incredibly optimistic) that they could trigger one. It would have been helpful for the neurologist to pinpoint a good medication. So this was disappointing. I am thankful, however, that I talked to a nurse from the clinic ahead of time who assured me that regardless of the results, it makes the most sense to start him on some form of medication now.

After Jarrod picked us up, we did a Starbucks run so I could be properly caffeinated. I was groggy and a little let down from the lack of answers, so the day passed with me in something of a fog even with the Starbucks. I know I only shared the results-or lack thereof- with a handful of people. So if I didn’t touch base with someone who wanted to know, I apologize. It was nothing personal. After feeding the kids supper and giving Daniel another bath to get the gunk they use to attach electrodes from his hair, I got the kids to bed. I thought I had timed it perfectly for bedtime. But apparently my own fatigue, and that of the early morning for the kids, I ended up getting them to bed over half an hour early. The boys had no complaints whatsoever. On top of that, at the encouragement of my pastor when I was giving him an update, I turned off my phone and plugged it in. I needed to let both my phone battery recharge, as well as my own internal battery. So I relaxed for the rest of the evening and just let myself unwind. It was so needed.

This morning as I was allowing my mind to wander back over yesterday and the disappointment of not getting an answer for Daniel’s seizures, I was reminded of a passage I had read in the Psalms just last week. Psalms 70:4-5 in the NASB1995 says “Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified.” But I am afflicted and needy; Hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay.” Even when disappointment rises, even at facing the prospect of my baby having more seizures, I am rejoicing and choosing to be glad in the fact that God has not abandoned me nor called me to walk down this road alone. Not any part of my path. He is with us, He will continue to go before us and open the doors that need to be opened and close the ones that need to be shut.

If you are struggling with disappointment today, I pray that you turn to God. Trade your sorrows and shame at His feet. Call out to Him and rejoice in His goodness. Praying that you are filled with so much Hope, Joy and comfort from the Prince of Peace today. As always, feel free to like, comment and share.

All Things for Good

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you have just been so overwhelmed with the goodness of God? That pretty much describes how I feel looking back over the last several days. From friends having successful medical procedures, being given helpful feedback and editing recommendation and tools as I continue working on my novel, friends recovering from Covid, being able to spend time with dear friends around our new fire pit, to a wonderful, joy filled relaxing Sunday-it has just been a beautiful week. Have there been hard things, too? Absolutely. But even in those hard things, we can find reasons to be thankful. So I have just been taking it all in and processing.

Enjoying life together
Special mother daughter outing

After church on Sunday, Annika and I went for a special treat at our local donut shop. We picked up a donut for her and a coffee for myself, and discussed the sermon on our walk home. We had a delicious meal delivered from a local Mexican restaurant and listened to the Polaha Chautauqua. We played a game of Clue, which was quite hilarious with all the jokes flying around. The game ended up taking much longer than anticipated, so I quickly threw together a meal of fried rice for everyone to enjoy before having the kids get to bed.

Checking out his list of clues before making his guesses

Monday we had our appointment with genetics. It was fairly straightforward, just going over the lab that we will be having done. Over the last year or so, they have changed which lab they go through and how it gets processed, so it will be a lot less involved as far as the paperwork goes. But, unfortunately, since it is a different lab and I believe also a different primary insurance provider, we are now in the waiting game. With the previous test we were going to do, we needed to fill out six pages of paperwork, but due to a specific program in place, it would not need to run through our insurance. There would have been no cost. Now there are only two very simple pages we need to sign, but it will require insurance to give prior authorization. So now we wait.

EEG lab form

Today I received a special answer to prayer, despite the temporary setback with genetics. I was able to touch base with a nurse from the neurology clinic. I confess, I have been a little concerned about the upcoming EEG. Daniel really doesn’t sleep much as a general rule, even with taking melatonin at night. On an average night, he is still moving around and talking after he goes to bed until after 10pm, and it is not unheard of for him to wake Annika up before 6am. So for him to have his normal sleep pattern and somehow naturally fall asleep around 9am for the EEG? Yeah, that just does not sound realistic. I have been concerned that they may require a clear picture from an EEG before starting him on medication, and with Daniel I just am not sure how that is going to go. It’s hard to imagine him cooperating with them to put the electrodes on his head. During his first EEG, he was sedated and they waited until he was unconscious to hook him up to everything.I know God goes before us and has been opening doors left and right, so I believe it is most likely that everything will go as planned. But I like to think ahead and have contingencies in place, too. That’s probably why I almost cried for relief while also wanting to laugh from joy earlier. The nurse called from the neurology clinic and said that even if Daniel won’t fall asleep or struggles too much with the attachments, they will just do the best they can to get as much information as possible. They would like to get a clear picture so they can have an idea of the best medication for him. But even if it is inconclusive, the doctor will at least start him on some medication, even if it means a period of trial and error to find the best anti seizure medication possible for him. So thankful God continues to prepare the way. It makes me think of Romans 8:28 ESV “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This verse from Ephesians has also been playing through my head today, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,”( Ephesians 3:20 ESV) God has done abundantly more than I could have imagined. I have been watching Him answer prayers not only for me and my children, but also family and friends, both near and far. This last week has caused me to pause, to reflect, and to be thankful.

What has your week been like? Has it been filled with blessings? Or have sorrows drowned out your ability to see them? Earlier today in my Bible reading, I was in John chapter 20. It always amazes me how nobody recognizes the resurrected Jesus at first. I know many passages refer to the fact that Jesus had not yet revealed Himself to them, but I still find it astonishing. In this passage, we see a distraught Mary thinking Jesus is the gardener and has hidden the body of Jesus. Part of me has to wonder if her eyes were filled with too much grief to see the blessing standing before her. How very natural that can be. It can be so hard to see past our grief and heartache. Yet God still has blessings for us, and He is still unconditionally good and loving. If you are struggling today, I pray that you take courage. Know that you do not walk this world alone. I pray you are able to find Joy and a reason for Hope, and that you will know how loved you are. As always, feel free to like, comment and share.

Battle Tested

Have you ever had a week where you just felt like you kept running behind schedule? This week has definitely felt that way. It hasn’t been a bad week, just seems like a long one that I can’t keep up with. The desire to get on and post a new entry here in the blog kept coming up, especially with my goal to write three a week. But as I would pray for the right topic, I never had anything that stood out to me. Writing with no theme or topic didn’t seem right, so I just waited. In the meantime, I had fun just enjoying life with the kids and connecting with a handful of people to pray.

“Upside down Daniel!” (And Annika)
Annika and Elijah playing uno during a break from their schoolwork
The kids and I played Life, Elijah very happily won

This last week I have been amazed yet again by how small the world can end up feeling sometimes. Maybe small isn’t really the right word.More like interconnected. In the past year, despite all the lockdowns and quarantines, I have gotten to know several people that I otherwise would not have known. People that I just click with. I was having a conversation the other day with one such friend, making the comment that I thought it would be so much fun to have a family dinner night together because we had so much in common. Even our husbands seem to have some similarities. But then there was that “oh yeah” moment, since she and her family live a good 2k+ miles away. While it’s true we likely won’t meet in person anytime soon, it is still exciting when we do get to have our get-togethers. I have a group of beautiful friends I do Bible studies with. I also have a beautiful group of ladies that get together and have an anxiety support group/class, going through Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado and another book. Even though my schedule prevents me from joining their group meetings, they include me in their prayer group and their zoom prayer meetings as often as my schedule allows. Studying the Word and seeing how it all connects and prayer. That’s where my heart is.

Yesterday I discovered that one of the pastors Jarrod and I hold in high regard has a podcast available. We attended the church he pastored for quite some time. When we lived in Spokane, we would listen to his sermons on the radio. He has since retired, and for awhile, I couldn’t find his sermons anywhere. So finding the podcast last night was a special treat. There are not very many sermons available on it yet, as it looks like they just started putting them on this podcast a month ago. I believe there are around a dozen or so right now, about eight of them on depression. Timely for the days we are in. As I was listening last night to one of these older sermons, the remark was made that during a specifically hard situation, you don’t just want somebody who is timid in their prayers. You want somebody bold and tenacious. I want to clarify that he was not trying to say the prayers of the timid don’t matter. But this actually started my mind on thinking about something. 1 Peter 2:2 admonishes believers to be as babies, to long for spiritual milk so we may grow into our salvation. 1 Corinthians 3:2 (ESV) says “I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready.” We all start somewhere. We all start with “milk” as babies do. We start with the sweet and simple things. But as we start to mature and grow in obedience, God reveals layer after layer of His Word and character and draws us in, more and more. We get those front teeth, and we can nibble on the bread and veggies found in His Word. Things that have a little bit more of a bite, and we have to work a little bit to digest. But then we come to those molars. We get to the meat. Sometimes it’s hard to fully wrap our heads around, and we have to chew it over for awhile. But we start somewhere. I think it is the same way in prayer. You become more bold as you mature.

Another analogy I thought symbolized growing in prayer is that of a soldier. A brand new soldier, right out of boot camp reporting to the front lines. Even if the soldier is courageous and willing to go in the trenches and fight, they may still feel timid and unsure what to expect. (Yes, I know trench warfare is really a thing of the past, but go with it.) The soldier may be terrified, or feel inadequate. They are just one person, what can they possibly contribute? But the next time they come to battle, after having successfully accomplished their mission, they come with a bit more confidence in their step. They know it’s still dangerous. It’s still a battlefield. They have their scars from the last time, but they also know they partnered with the right Commander, and they chose to participate in the effort to see the enemy defeated. So they are a little less afraid. Time after time as they step in to the trenches, they become more bold. They may know they don’t always win every skirmish. But they keep showing up. Because every time they show up, there’s another chance to get to partner with the winning team, and they get the opportunity to see victory. Eventually, they are battle tested and true. They are confident in their Commander, trusting He will guide them and keep them in peace. Trusting their Commander to direct them through the trenches, going side by side to boldly reclaim territory the enemy had tried to steal.

That is how I look at prayer. You keep going back. As you do, you grow more bold. What’s more, it grows your faith. That’s what I felt convicted to share tonight. It’s okay if you feel shy or timid in your prayers. It’s okay if you are still fresh in your walk with Jesus, taking in the milk of the word. Just keep going. Keep talking to Him. Keep listening. Keep stepping out in obedience. As you do, you will find yourself biting in to a deeper level of the richness found in His word, as well as growing in your prayer life. Before you know it, you will realize you truly can do just as Hebrews 4:16(NKJV) says “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

I pray that as this week closes, you will be filled with peace and a renewed hunger for the Word of God and thirst for His Spirit. Praying you find the Joy and Hope that come from knowing Jesus. You are loved! As always, feel free to like, comment and share.

Making Straight the Path

The other day, Jarrod and I were talking about just how far God has brought Daniel. But on top of how far God has brought Daniel, we were talking about how if we had just listened to what the doctor had said, Daniel would not be where he is. On more than one issue. Please take note right now, this post is not meant to criticize the doctor or anyone in the medical field in anyway. I have a lot of respect for all in the medical field. So with that in mind, please allow me to share our diagnosis story.

At first, Daniel was developing as many children do. I did notice he really had very little interest in toys, other than throwing them. He loved interacting with people and animals, though. He was very talkative and social. By 13 months he had a number of words he said very clearly. One thing that was definitely not normal was the fact that the little dude just did not sleep. He would occasionally fall asleep and doze for a cat nap in his bouncer, but other than that, he did not sleep. I had also started noticing that every now and then while we were at the table having dinner, Daniel would have these moments of being pale and having a spacey look on his face. It only lasted a few moments and I was the only one to ever see it, so it was written off as my imagination.

So attentive to sis August 2017 (10 months)
Happy one year old
He loved dressing up to coordinate with Bubba

But by 14 months, something happened. Daniel systematically started losing his words. He started becoming less coherent and more frustrated. For a while he would scream to communicate everything. Then he got to the point that besides crying or screaming in frustration, he made no sound at all. Eventually, he even seemed to lose recognition of the fact that other people were around.

May 2017 (17 months)

Because of our experience with Elijah and learning the value of early intervention, we had requested an evaluation with one of the birth to three programs local to us and got the ball rolling before his pediatrician suggested it. I had also started leaning strongly at the desire to have him evaluated for autism. The therapy group also mentioned they thought it would be a good idea. When we had Daniel’s 18 month check up, the doctor told us he wanted us to wait. He said he wanted us to wait until he turned two, maybe he was just developing more slowly. He said that if we took him in, he would be diagnosed as being autistic. That just didn’t make sense to us. If he was showing signs of being autistic, wouldn’t knowing about it early on to start seeking services be better than waiting? Added to that, Daniel had lost skills he once had, that was not the same thing as simply developing more slowly. The therapists let us know that an evaluation did not require a doctors referral, but the wait lists were rather lengthy. After hearing from relatives who had been down the path with their own children about how long they had to wait (often six months at a minimum), I got busy calling. I was blown away at God’s provision and how He was opening the doors for us. We were able to get in for an appointment in June 2107, just a few weeks after I called. I was told they make children under two a priority to be seen and evaluated. We went in and the specialist pointed out things Daniel was doing that we were not even aware were characteristics of autism. We left her office with a diagnosis of Daniel being on the autism spectrum and instructions to go put Daniel on the waitlist for every ABA clinic possible, because there is typically an 18 month to two year wait list. But of course you know what happened. God went ahead of us and prepared the way, yet again. Because of our flexibility and Daniel being so young, they were able to have him scheduled for an intake at the beginning of August with services starting the first week in September. He started receiving ABA a month and a half before he turned two. If we had waited until he was two to have him evaluated, he would not have been evaluated until he was around two and a half. The coronavirus would have also likely caused a delay in getting him services for ABA, meaning it’s possible that he still wouldn’t be receiving them now if not for us taking him in when we did.

The week he started ABA. So quiet!

With the seizures, because that is what his spaced off looks turned out to be, that is once again a story of God opening doors for us. the doctor was hesitant to refer us to neurology, because as I said, nobody else had noticed them at first. Doctor thought maybe I was imagining it, or maybe Daniel had indigestion. He did have GERD as a baby, not an unreasonable thought. But after Daniel had more than one therapist witness an episode and wonder if perhaps he was having some kind of seizure, the doctor was willing to take a closer look and send us to neurology. The doctor thought maybe he was just having headaches, but said the neurologist would know better. The same day we went in to ask for the referral, I also asked if we could start Daniel on melatonin since he just did not sleep. We got the go ahead and started giving him melatonin. It was like magic! He slept!

When we saw the neurologist and explained all of the things we had witnessed with Daniel and showed the Data we had collected, she said it sounded an awful lot like absence seizures to her. She told us what to do to confirm if that was indeed what they were the next time he had one. She ordered an EEG and referred us to genetics. She believed it is possible that the autism and seizures could be linked to a genetic disorder. The EEG ended up being inconclusive. After meeting with the geneticist, we were told it is most likely the melatonin was helping Daniel get the sleep he needs and thus not having him get to that seizure threshold. The neurologist said she was happy with him not having them anymore, and if that is what helped, great! But she also said to call back if ever they became concerning. Recently, they have become concerning. Much more frequent and symptoms are more severe. I called the neurologist on Monday, and by Thursday night she had called me back after hours. She said it’s time to get Daniel on medication. She ordered up another EEG to take place in the next couple of weeks while she is on vacation to see if we can isolate the best treatment plan to be discussed the day after she returns. I’m grateful, because with Daniel’s penchant for climbing -often in places he should not be- the thought of him having a seizure and collapsing is very chilling.

Daniel’s first EEG

We are praying this EEG yields answers. I honestly believe it will. Because again, God has just been going ahead of us every step of the way and opening these doors for us. Like I said at the beginning, I don’t have any problem with the pediatrician. But it’s once again a situation where we needed to advocate for our child and seek help when the doctor didn’t think it was necessary. I think laying the groundwork when we did made it possible to get things going so quickly now. During a time when it is hard to schedule things with covid guidelines in place, we are just sailing right into appointments. God is going before us. It is like Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us. Trust in God completely and He will direct your steps and make straight your path.

If you are facing uncertain circumstances and it just looks scary, I want to encourage you. You aren’t meant to do it alone. God is a strong tower, and Jesus tells us His yoke is light. You aren’t meant to go through this life alone. I pray that you are filled with the Hope and Joy of Jesus, and lean completely in to Him. As always, feel free to like, comment, and share.

Fan the Flame

What a week it has been, and it is only Thursday! After Daniel had his absence seizure on Monday, the last couple of days have involved a lot of correspondence with the specialists. We will be having virtual visits with both the geneticist and the neurologist in the next few weeks. We will then be looking at another EEG in addition to the full blood panel that Jarrod, Daniel and I will all be having. But it hasn’t been all medical talk. We have also spent a lot of time enjoying the nice weather. Grilling, reading, playing, and just having fun being together outside. As a matter of fact, at one point on Wednesday, the kids were just having fun sitting together and asked me to come and take some pictures of them.

Big smiles!
Silly faces
Giving Bubba some love

This morning Daniel had a moment of frustration. He was actually quite put out. I had gone upstairs to get him dressed for the day and bring him down for his breakfast. He could see one of the cats was waiting outside his door and wanted him to come in, so I opened the door and in came Gadget. Daniel got very excited. I’m pretty sure Gadget is his best buddy. Gadget is one of the most tolerant cats, yet still incredibly feisty. He is also incredibly affectionate.

Once Gadget was in the room, Daniel quickly laid down, scooted over to make space for Gadget by his head, squinted his eyes and smiled. A moment later he opened his eyes in confusion. Gadget had not come to lay down next to him or nuzzle his head. So he tried to call Gadget’s name and click his tongue. Gadget decided he was quite happy in Daniel’s bed, and did not want to move. Daniel tried again to call him, then turned to me for help. I picked Gadget up, Daniel got back in position, and waited in anticipation. Gadget walked off towards Annikas room. Daniel, quite perturbed, propped himself up on one arm, more tongue clicks, more grunts, and finally, a “Gadget…love you!!” He was quite upset and trying to get Gadget to come cuddle with him. Usually when Gadget nuzzles him, I say “aww, does your kitty love you?” I think its possible he believes a kitty cuddle is called a “love you.” When Gadget proceeded to lay down on the other side of the room, Daniel started to pout and tell me he was sad. It was one of the sweetest, saddest, funniest moments I have seen. Thankfully, when quiet time rolled around, Gadget was right where Daniel wanted him. He really has been basically a therapy cat for Daniel. A really good one.

Curled up together
Ready for quiet time

In addition to all the medical appointments made this today, today also brought a shift in the weather, bringing it back to the misty, drizzly chill the Pacific Northwest is known for. It likely also means a break from using the bbq grill. I had used it every day, Saturday through Tuesday. I even made my tacos and cilantro rice on it! But, I don’t want to waste my time or energy by cooking outside in the wind if I can help it. You see, Sunday evening I had been grilling turkey burgers out on the grill. I ended up getting quite frustrated after about an hour, though. The burgers were lukewarm, hardly charring on the bottom and still most definitely not properly cooked. I could see that it was lit, I could see the flames if I looked at the right angle. So what was the problem? The wind. The wind was coming in through the back vent, and that has no way of closing. So I had to reposition the grill to keep the wind from getting in and sucking the life out of the flame. Within fifteen minutes, the burgers were done. That actually reminded me of a couple of verses from Revelation. Revelation 3:15-16 in the ESV says it this way “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.’” I don’t want to be lukewarm. Just the way I don’t want to eat lukewarm meat. But just like the wind messing up my bbq, in our Christian walk, we can allow the things of this world-the worries, distractions, and desires, suck the life out of our flame. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.”1 John 2:15-16 ESV. Matthew 5:13 ESV says “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” 2 Timothy 4:3 says “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,” I don’t know about you… but I don’t want to be lukewarm or without flavor. God has a purpose for me, just as He does for you. If you find yourself needing to check your thermostat, that’s okay. We all need to, from time to time. If you find yourself lukewarm? It’s okay. Reposition yourself. Close out the distractions that are putting your fire out, and ground yourself again in the Word of Godard ask Him to fan that ember up in to a flame again. I pray that you are encouraged and filled with the Hope and Joy of Jesus. Know you are loved. As always, feel free to like, comment, and share.

Providence at Work

Not too hot. Not too cold. Sun shine, yet a cool breeze. Busy and productive, yet laid back and relaxed. Those descriptions all fit this past weekend.

This weekend Jarrod had both Saturday and Sunday off, so it was a little less stressed than Our weekends can sometimes be. I was able to use the weed eater Saturday morning, and after lunch I was able to get the lawn mowed. Jarrod went to pick up our new grill and bring it home. While he went to pick up the propane, I worked on getting the grill in to a good position and started cleaning it up a little. After we had the grill going, I made some marinade for chicken, soaked some ears of corn, and chopped up some potatoes and red peppers. Once that was all on the grill, a green salad prepared and chocolate covered bananas in the freezer, the table was pulled out from the garage and wiped down. We had quite the feast outside, including Jarrods parents who were able to come for a visit and help us enjoy our new grill.

After Jarrod’s parents left and the tables, chairs and grill had all been put away in the garage, the kids and dogs had a blast just playing in the warm sun. We all enjoyed the relaxed time of fun absorbing some vitamin D. We ended the night by watching a little bit of the 10th Kingdom with Annika.

Catching the last sun of the day
Saturday fun

After a breakfast of turkey bacon and French toast on Sunday morning, Annika and I went to church. Thankfully, I discovered that by adding a drop of raven to my mask, I am able to wear it a little longer without having the asthma hit my lungs badly. It was such a wonderful time for both Annika and me. It was also fun in the timing. You might say it was providence. Just yesterday morning, the Bible study on Acts that I had been doing with a group of friends from the Chautauqua wrapped up. Guess what book the sermon was focused on? Acts! (To be fair, not a surprise. It was the 51st sermon to date in our church’s walk through the book of Acts.) The sermon tied in so well to what I had just been studying, and some of the points my pastor made I had also taken in my own notes during the course of the Bible study! That kind of illuminates one of points my pastor touched on. Providence.

This morning, Daniel had another absence seizure. He had just had one a couple days ago, too. Another one just a short while before that. They have been happening more frequently lately. Recently, it seems he is starting to recognize when he is about to have them. It doesn’t change how hard it is for him to go through them, though. Today it occurred while he was outside with his therapist, Annika and Elijah. I was inside preparing lunch, and Jarrod was washing the breakfast dishes. Elijah ran in to try and tell us what had happened, but he was in too much of a panic to communicate clearly. When Annika, Daniel and his therapist all came in, we were able to get a better understanding of what happened. Daniel had just been heading in to the little play house, when he suddenly started holding on to one of his writs, arms crossed in front of his chest while he said “what’s wrong, what’s wrong” and started walking towards Annika. (On a side note, we all believe he was saying “what’s wrong” because that is what is often said to him when we think he may be having an absence seizure, as opposed to him actually trying to ask what was wrong.) Both Daniel’s therapist and Annika noted he was starting to lose his color, and when Annika got to him, he collapsed in her arms. His therapist remarked that even his legs went white, and he was starting to make swallowing motions as if he were nauseated. When she picked him to bring him inside, he went completely limp to the point she thought he was asleep. A few moments after laying him down inside, he did curl up and go to sleep.

My sweet boy

Providence. You may wonder why I bring that up again. The passage used in yesterday’s sermon was Acts 23:1-11, and the title was “God’s Got a Plan.” I want to share some of my notes, which I basically paraphrased as close to what my pastor said as I could. I think I can quote this first part, though. “God’s providence. It is God for us. God for His people, working behind the scenes to bring His plan together. Doesn’t matter if it makes sense to me.” Some of the other key points I jotted down are that when God works miraculously, it goes counter to the natural, super imposing His will over the natural. Providence is going with the natural, weaving His will in, moving it towards the supernatural. We should be praying for the miraculous, but watching for and recognizing providence. So again, you may be asking why I would connect providence and Daniel’s seizures. To be honest, I don’t have a full scope on the seizures yet. I’m still praying for healing. But, I am recognizing this small piece. You see, Saturday evening Annika had been crying and grieving over something, praying for a situation that broke her heart. I knew I had to be able to take her to church so she could be surrounded by others who support her. Even if it meant my lungs ached from asthma. (So glad the raven proved helpful against that!) Yesterday, she was in church and was able to feel her burden lift. She needed that, because today she told me feeling Daniel collapse against her and lose all of his color was the scariest thing she had ever experienced. But she was able to let the worry go, to remember God has a plan.

If you have been going through a hard season that just doesn’t make sense, I pray that you will take courage. Pray for the miraculous. I for sure always do. But then keep your eye out for God’s providence, too. I pray that you are filled with the Hope and Joy that comes from a relationship with Jesus. As always, feel free to like, comment and share across social media.

To Everything, a Season

This last week has brought up so many memories. Just looking from where things are today and comparing life to last year, two years ago, or more is mind boggling. Side be side comparisons are fascinating. Not to do so in a “oh, I want to go back to where I was,” because God has brought me through and from all of these places. But more as a way of looking back and remembering all the ways God has blessed me with and caused me to grow.

Today I was reminded of something that had occurred a year ago. It was so funny, I had also shared it on social media. Now please, as I share what happened (a year ago today) feel free to laugh… because my kids and I all did, even as it was happening. It had started with Jarrod having a tire blowout on his way home from work (he was working the graveyard shift at that time), so he had to have it towed to the shop, and then wait for the shop to open before coming home. We already knew the brakes needed to be worked on, too, so decided to just get all the things taken care of while it was in the shop. After he made it home, I had to run to the store because the kids needed more lactase tablets and Daniel needed more pull ups. Daniel had just started out growing the 3t-4t, so I grabbed some 4t-5t. That day he had pooped…a lot. He basically lived on gluten free instant oatmeal. I offered him everything else, but mostly, he just ate oatmeal. Anywhere from 3-5 packs a day. So again, he pooped a lot. (The doctor had said he had something called functional diarrhea?) Back to the car-Jarrod got the call to pick it up at 3pm, about four hours after he had finally gone to sleep. He had less than an hour to pick it up. He went and picked up the car, came home and tried to stay awake, but ended up falling asleep around 7:15. Of course, that was just as I was trying to eat my supper (which was also made later than planned, I had had a midday iep meeting for Elijah, since this was before I started fully homeschooling, and that meeting threw off my daily groove…) So I am eating supper, and suddenly Annika started calling for help. Remember that 4t-5t pull up situation, and all the poop? Yeah… after Daniel’s quiet time, he had pooped and leaked through, so I put him in the bigger pull ups. They fit nicely, except they were just a tiny bit loose, to the point that the butt flap actually went between his lil bum cheeks, and he ended up pooping…a lot… while sitting on Annika’s lap. So Annika had a bunch of his poop…on her leg… right after her shower. I got him off of her, and then he had poop plop on the carpet, and one of his books… I finally got him in the bathroom, started getting him wiped up, started filling the tub, and he tried getting in before I had adjusted the temp or even filled it up enough. Well, he decided the water was too hot, so he bolted out of the bathroom in to the kitchen-naked. With me running after him, yelling “naked baby! Naked baby!” So Annika would know and not look… I grabbed him, kicking and screaming and take him back to the bathroom… this happened twice before I got him in the tub. Of course, this was back when Daniel really had no true communication skills. That’s why it has been so much more fun to remember. I had to look at some videos from a year ago and compare to more recent ones. It has been fascinating. Including how he engages with his siblings.

Just a year ago, Daniel’s vocal verbal skills…
Just so you know, at this time “tickle,” “toilet,” “cracker” and a few others ALL sounded the same
From December, but still shows how much he had grown in such a short time
Playing in the sun yesterday

The last few weeks have also brought some big changes for my sister. She and her husband and son moved to Hawaii. Last night we still managed a “girls night” though, my mom, my sister and myself. Vastly different from a handful of years ago, when we all sat on the couch at my parents house watching a chick flick (I want to say it was Pride and Prejudice, but the televised version with Colin Firth) and eating toast with hagelslag. Since then, we have all moved to different homes, my mom remarried, and my sister and I have both had a child. (Her first, my third) Last night, our girls night was done virtually, but there was still plenty of laughter.

Girls day six years ago
A shot with all smiling…
A photo to show how much we crack ourselves up…

In some ways, life was simpler in the past. But, the more we grow and experience life, the richer our lives can become. When you train your mind to take every thought captive, surrendering it to God, your life is filled with so much more peace. When you choose to be thankful in every circumstance and focus on the blessings of God instead of despair, joy infuses into your very being and radiates out. Some days there will be sorrows. Days where your child has meltdown after meltdown and you can do nothing but stand by as they cry. Some days there can be scary medical issues. Things like horrible asthma attacks, seizures, and ear infections. There might be job losses and the struggle to come up with the finances to meet the needs of your family. Sometimes loved ones will move far away, or even harder, pass away.

But other days will be filled with such happiness. That long awaited marriage, or the birth (or adoption) of that long awaited child. That new job or promotion that lands in your lap, the new friend that you just “click” with. Watching your child achieve milestones you were not sure they ever would. Some day you may even have your non-verbal, autistic child lose the non-verbal title, and melt you so completely by coming up to you and saying “I love you” and give you a kiss.

Daniel kisses

The last few days, these verses have been ringing in my head from Ecclesiastes 3. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to buildup; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 (ESV) If you are in a season of planting, of being broken, or of mourning, please don’t give in to despair. Lean in to Jesus. Anchor in to Him as you grow through this season. The times of healing, of being built up and rejoicing do come again. I pray you are blessed and filled with the Joy and Hope that comes from knowing Him as you head in to the weekend. As always, feel free to like, comment, or share across social media.

Lessons from Paul

Routine switch ups can seemingly make or break a family like mine. Considering the boys very big need for structure with their special needs and the reality that even little disruptions can be a huge deal for Elijah’s brain chemistry, little changes can throw off an entire day. Sometimes changes can throw off an entire week. Then, there are other days like today. Days where a significant change can make the day go so much more smoothly.

Today we decided to try starting our schoolwork at 7:30 while Annika and Elijah ate breakfast, before Daniel was up for the day. While they ate French toast, turkey bacon and egg whites, I read the final pages of Across Five Aprils and our section for the day in The Landmark History of the American People (volume II) and discussed what we learned. It was the most engaged Elijah has been in a history lesson in a long time, and he seemed to comprehend more of what was happening. When the kids were done with their breakfast, they washed up and did their spelling lessons. After that, I got the table cleaned up and the area ready for Daniel’s therapy. By the time the kids had lunch, all we had left for the day was a Bible lesson and math! They enjoyed how it freed up their day so much that they have requested to do the same thing tomorrow. Annika was so excited about it, she already set everything up for tomorrow.

Starting the day off strong!

This afternoon Annika, Elijah and I went out and enjoyed the sun. For awhile, the dogs were out and having a blast with us, too. Daniel was upstairs having his quiet time, but he did have fun outside earlier in the day. He seems to have bounced back completely from his most recent absence seizure this last Sunday. He didn’t even mind Gadget trying to cuddle with him while I tucked him in for his nap. In fact, he seemed to be enjoying it!

Fur baby loves

With this morning’s switch in routine, my morning routine was also switched up. I had to wait to do the Bible study I am participating in until after I had helped Elijah with his English, and Daniel was busy with therapy. But I was so glad to get back to the study. I mentioned in my previous post that some of us from the PolahaChautauqua have been doing a study on the book of Acts together. It has been a really good reflection on just what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Today we read in chapters 16 and 17. One of the big things I took away today was that Paul and Silas were beaten and chose to worship. Their praises brought power, because where two or more are gathered in His name, He is there. (Matthew 18:20) But then what happened? The earth shook from their praises, the door was opened and their shackles loosened. So the guard runs in, and seeing the doors opened, he automatically assumes the prisoners have escaped. This would make his life forfeit. So the guard is preparing to end his own life when Paul and Silas call out and stop the guard from killing himself. But it went beyond them just saving a life, they stayed and saved the life of one who had just been beating them. One who had just inflicted such pain on them, they stayed to keep HIM from ending his life. What’s more, they shared the truth of the gospel that led to eternal salvation. But that didn’t mean they let those in power get away with treating them wrong. They still defended themselves! There were still consequences for the terrible actions taken against them.

Those passages had me thinking. Actually, had me feeling a zing in my conscience. It’s so easy to reach out in kindness and show love to those who are nice to us, but it’s not so easy to do that to those who are blatantly, purposefully hurting us. Sometimes we need to pause and step back. As the saying goes, “hurting people hurt people.” Back in January I wrote a post titled Choosing to Love. While that post still perfectly describes my sentiments, it isn’t always easy to know how to do that. Sometimes there is a need to keep a healthy boundary in place, and that might hurt somebody on the other side of it. But that’s where you have to check your heart. Are the actions ones that need to be done to maintain mental health, or a healthy relationship? Or are they being done out of spite ? Maybe a knee jerk reaction from a place of hurt? The good news is that if you find yourself with a zing to your conscience when you contemplate that, that is likely conviction. As followers of Jesus, we don’t have to feel guilty. In fact, Galatians 3:13, Romans 3:25, Romans 8:1, and 2 Corinthians 5:17 all remind us we have been made new in Jesus, and through Him there is no longer any condemnation for us. But the devil, he is a liar. Guilt leads to despair. It just is not from God. Conviction, though. Conviction is a gift. It just doesn’t feel good at the time of conviction. Ephesians 1:4, Romans 6, John 16:8, John 14:26, Romans 8:9 and Hebrews 12:6 (among so many others) all remind us that God sends conviction into the world. He loves us, and wants us to be in relationship with Him, but that can’t happen when we let sin get in the way. Conviction is the way Father God disciplines us and draws us to repent, to turn around and walk back to a right relationship with Him. It’s our call to go and sin no more. We all sin, we all need forgiveness. But it’s that conviction we need to know where we have stepped of course.

If you find yourself questioning whether you have been able to forgive so completely as Paul and Silas did, don’t worry… you aren’t alone. I think it’s so much a part of human nature to want to shut people out and throw bombs over the wall to keep them from ever coming back. “Hurt people hurt people.” If you find yourself in that boat, I pray that you would be encouraged to know you aren’t alone. But also be challenged to go from this place and grow. Be a light that shines the love of Jesus in to the darkest places. I pray that if you are in a place of brokenness, you reach out to Jesus and find His Hope. As always, feel free to like, comment and share across social media.