Lord, Make Me Smarter

Watching my kids excel and thrive fills me with so much joy. Especially when they exceed what I could even imagine as possible. Of course, we know that even the impossible is still possible with God. We have watched miracle after miracle take place in the lives of our children, and that continues even now.

As a homeschooling parent, I get to see where my kids are thriving and struggling on a regular basis. I can help them find new ways to figure things out and encourage them to work outside the box to find solutions. That doesn’t mean I know how their knowledge and skill lines up with their peers in public education, though. That is where the required annual testing comes in. Annika completed hers a couple weeks back and blew me away with how advanced she was in certain areas. I knew Elijah would take longer to test with his different needs. He struggled greatly at first. The test anxiety was brutal. It took more than a little reassurance that the test is simply a tool to show me what he needs to learn, not something intended to give him a bad grade. It wasn’t until the third day of testing that he relaxed and even became excited about it. The results spoke for themselves. For the first time ever, he not only scored at grade level in a majority of subjects, he scored above in some areas. It blew me away!

Happy boy!

Annika has been continuing on, doing so well in her studies. She has also been having a blast with Daniel. They have such a special bond. She will roughhouse with him, tickle him, cuddle with him in bed, and run around with him on her back. That is really saying something, since he is huge! We have also been continuing our movie nights. This last weekend I convinced her we needed to watch Singin’ in the Rain. She was not so sure at first, but I knew she would love it. She appreciates the classics almost as much as I did at that age. I will often hear her cracking up after turning on I Love Lucy, so I knew Donald O’Connor would definitely be appreciated. I was not wrong. We laughed and enjoyed the amazing talents of that fantastic trio.

My babies

The last couple of weeks have been a tad overwhelming. Not only had we been doing testing, but I had also been trying to connect with the nurse coordinating the upcoming procedure Daniel will be having. I had received a notice that insurance had denied the procedure, and I still had not been told what time we were supposed to get Daniel to the hospital. Yesterday the nurse returned my call. The doctor had been on vacation when the denial was sent, so now they are in the process of coordinating with the insurance. Thankfully, she assured me there will be no issue and it should be approved and resolved by the beginning of next week. She will also have a firm time to give me once that approval comes back. So reassuring to have that sorted out.

As the week is coming towards a close, I have been looking back at just how amazingly good God is, and how He continues to pave the way. But it is always in His time. His timing is perfect, and we are wise to wait upon Him and His perfect will. To not jump out on our own ideas. I had been discussing this very thing with Daniel’s therapist earlier. My brain told me that I should have quickly jumped to get the blood work done when the original genetic tests were ordered. But something in me stilled my actions. That was right when Covid had first broken out. We would have potentially been exposing all three of us to Covid. We would have struggled with the masking issue, as Daniel cannot and will not wear one. It would have been a difficult experience for him struggling against a mask and having his blood drawn. To make matters even more intense, insurance ended up refusing to cover those lab tests. So, we waited on God. Last week the kit from a different lab came in the mail, and we were able to collect saliva instead of blood in the comfort of our own home, and insurance is covering it so we will not have to pay anything out of pocket.

Every day as a wife, a parent, and even just as a daughter of the King, I find I need wisdom. Going through this life is hard. There are new challenges every day, new choices that sometimes carry serious consequences with them. I need God-given wisdom to make those right choices. Thankfully, James 1:5 assures us that if we lack wisdom, all we have to do is ask God and He will give it generously. God giving wisdom was not limited to Solomon, though we know how greatly God blessed him because of that very request. I remember hearing Beth Moore say in a Bible Study once that she prays, “God, make me smarter than I am!” I think that sums it up nicely.

Proverbs 9:10NKJV

So, what is wisdom? Merriam-Webster defines wisdom as “ability to discern inner qualities and relationships, good sense, generally accepted belief, accumulated philosophical or scientific learning, a wise attitude, belief, or course of action, and the teachings of the ancient wise men.” That is what most people will agree on. But I am more interested in what God tells us about wisdom. So, what does the Bible tell us wisdom is? I especially like what Proverbs 9:10 NASB1995 says. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” That fear of the Lord isn’t the negative be scared and horrified type of fear. It is that positive, be in awe and amazed and terrified in the best way of just how holy and magnificent He is. No sin can stay in His presence, it would burn right up in the fire of His glory. It is that fear that causes us to turn away from evil, refusing to be wise in our own eyes. (Proverbs 3:7) Job 28:28 ESV says And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’” Matthew 7:24 ESV Jesus makes this statement, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want to lean on my own understanding and be swept away by the chaos of life.

What does that wisdom look like? James 3:17 ESV tells us “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV says “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Wisdom is pure and gentle, follows after God and His will. People living in wisdom are sincere, ready to listen and willing to learn. They are willing to grow and recognize nobody has all the answers. There is humility and kindness in wisdom. The Bible also describes wisdom as being far more precious than gold or rubies.

The Bible is filled with stories of God giving people wisdom. I love the beauty of that very wisdom being carried out when those people recognize that very wisdom is from God. I love the words of Daniel after God gave them the discernment to interpret the king’s dreams, thus saving their lives. “To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”Daniel 2:23ESV

If you are like me, constantly facing decision after decision knowing that you need wisdom, that’s okay! Remember, you can ask. You can wait before the Lord, delight in Him and His will, and He will pour out His wisdom over you. He loves you so much! I pray that as you go in to the weekend, you are filled with the Hope, Joy, and Wisdom that comes from God. As always, feel free to like, comment or share.

He Inhabits Our Praise

This last week has brought so much relaxation, peace and joy. My heart has been filled and overflowing with thanks and praise to God. God has been pouring blessings out in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones, bringing answers to prayer and exposing areas to work on and grow in.

Daniel has come so far!

Sunday last week was the kick off for both the Seahawks regular season games and the second season of the Polaha Chautauqua hosted by Kristoffer Polaha. The number of people tuning in live grew from the previous year, and as I suspected, there was a large number of people requesting to go live. I had no intention of requesting to go live, as I knew there would be so many people. But by the third time both Annika and Elijah requested, I gave in. I hit that request button and he pulled us on right at the end. Not only did we discuss Daniel’s upcoming procedure, upon Elijah pleading with him to make a new Mystery 101, he shared that not only is he going to be in another Mystery 101, but he will be in a Christmas movie as well. We were able to discuss the friendships that have been forged over the summer and the beautiful fellowship the Bible study group has experienced. He also said some incredibly kind words to me during that time that I will hold in my heart, because I felt seen and known and that I am growing into who God wants me to be.

18 years ago
The kids dressed up for our anniversary and surprised us with a beautiful gift

Monday marked the 18th anniversary of the day Jarrod and I said “I Do.” (To read the amazing story of how we came together, you can click here) To celebrate our anniversary, Jarrod took Monday through Wednesday off to just enjoy some relaxation and family time. We ordered Olive Garden and even a couple mini specialty cakes. I am not a cake person, but Jarrod though it would be fun if we ordered a cake similar to the one we had at our wedding. I gave him a couple Psych inspired t-shirts, he gave me a few books. There were sports games to watch, a family game night to be had, Jarrod went to see a couple movies in the theater, and I read. During those days off, we were also able to get the genetic testing done. The lab sent a kit to us, we were able to get the samples collected at home and sent back out. In 10-12 weeks, we will hopefully have more answers, or at the least, have a lot more ruled out! I also received word from a loved one that had been facing a couple very serious health problems that everything had been cleared. I admit, I cried in my thanksgiving to God. Somewhere in this last week, I also asked Kris what the next topic for the Chautauqua would be. He was ready with an answer. I think he has come to expect my asking that at this point. The first topic to discuss? Worship.

Worship is such an enormous topic, I doubt I can touch on all of my thoughts in just one post. Not only has the Bible study group that originated from within the Chautauqua been discussing worship for the last several months, it was also touched on last week in a separate Bible study group that I have been blessed to join virtually with One&All Church in California.

Psalm 145:2-3 NASB1995

So what is worship? Worship is defined simply as the feeling and/or expression of reverence and awe for a deity. As a believer in Christ, for me that is adoration for the one true God. Worship has everything to do with who God is, and nothing to do with circumstances. We were made to worship. John 4:23 ESV says “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” This morning in my Bible study, we were reading from Micah and this stood out to me. “But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me. Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love.” Micah 7:7-8, 18 NASB1995 It is all about God. Who is like Him? Who can compare? He is a light for me, always, shining in the darkest places. He deserves all honor and praise!

In everything, there is always a reason to thank and praise God. Even when we can’t see what He is doing behind the scenes. Even when it hurts. Because He is good and He is God. Our praises don’t always look the same. Some sing a cappella, some with instruments, some sing from their seats and others standing up. When we are rejoicing and feeling beyond blessed raising our arms and shouting praise to when we are in those hospital rooms receiving crushing news, knees down on the ground tears falling and heart breaking and all we can manage is a “thank You that You are not surprised. Thank You that You are here and won’t leave me.” He inhabits every one of those praises. “So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.”Psalms 63:4 NASB1995

It isn’t all about singing songs, either. It is about living your life in surrender to God. Romans 12:1 reminds us it is about presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice in worship to God. “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:14-17ESV

We have experienced great lows and overwhelming highs, and through it all we have continued to praise Him. We have lived in somebody’s basement after losing jobs and not being able to pay rent, and we have experienced giving birth to a beautiful baby after being told we would not be able to conceive on our own. In both of those seasons, we praised Him. We have watched our child be placed in the NICU, have surgery and receive a heartbreaking diagnosis and we have watched that same child beat everything declared over him. Through it all, God is still God. God is still good.

No matter what you are walking through, God is still there. The God who created the universe, who knows every hair on your head, who sees every tear you cry and sent His Son as a ransom for all who come to Him-He is still there, He is still worthy of all praise. In every high and every low, praising His Holy name is what we are called to do, and yes, He inhabits those praises. I pray that as you read this, you are blessed beyond all measure and filled with the Hope and Joy that come from knowing and being in relationship with Jesus. As always, feel free to like, comment and share.

Waiting: Not for the Fainthearted

Fall is in the air, and I love it. While the calendar may say fall does not start for a few more weeks, the winds have already brought change. The colors of summer are giving way to warm autumn tones, the scent of apples fills the air, and all things pumpkin have returned. I love every season, so I love the beginning of each one. I love winter, the hush of freshly fallen snow. It reminds me of the purity and gentleness of Jesus. I love how each snowflake is unique. God takes the time and care for every snowflake to be different than every other, how much more care must He put in to us? I love fall and the season of harvest. Harvest is a beautiful reminder and reward for all the rains we endure and the hard work of planting in spring-whether you plant in to a physical garden or an area of your life or ministry, through the dry heat of summer and days spent growing and maturing in the sun (or better yet, the Son) harvest comes.

Colors of Fall

The approach of fall is by no means the only excitement we have had around the home. This last month, Annika and Elijah both ended up getting glasses. Elijah has a noticeable prescription and needs to wear his glasses for anything he needs to focus on. He has noticed a big improvement in well he can see things now. Daniel has had an explosion in vocabulary, and continues to make the funniest faces. I am still a little shocked that my baby turns five next month. We also had the chance to see dear little Asher and hold him for the first time. We love him so very much. The kids loved getting to cuddle their new little cousin. While he is not biologically related, he is in our hearts where it counts. We were all overjoyed that the wait to see him again was over.

My funny boy

Waiting is not easy. I think everyone can relate to that sentiment. My kids have a book by that very title, written by Mo Willems, which depicts the struggle and feelings so many of us face when we have to wait. Yet waiting is a part of life. It seems that is even more true in the life of a believer. We are often reminded to be still, to wait upon the Lord. But so much good comes out of waiting, even when we don’t see it right away.

Lamentations 3:25-26 NASB1995

My Bible study group and I have been recently going through various difficult circumstances that have caused us to be in a period of waiting on the Lord. We just completed two different studies that correlated so well to our different situations. As we have dug into the Word and continued to support each other in prayer, we have come to realize just how amazingly good God is. While we are all in this pause while we wait for a fresh move or direction from God, we are growing. God is using this time to mature us, to season and temper us, and make us more moldable to His will. I like the way Paul gives the instruction in 1 Timothy 4:13-15ESV “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them,so that all may see your progress.” As a group, this is what we have been coming together to do in our different seasons of waiting.

Sometimes it can be discouraging, waiting for something that your heart wants so bad. But some things just take time. It is much like when a couple who has been desperately trying for a baby but year after year experiences heartbreak. Then one morning they discover they are pregnant. The joy overflows. They go into overdrive, and within just a few months, they are all set and ready for baby. But they still have half the pregnancy to wait. But during that wait, big changes are happening “behind the scenes.” That precious baby is having vital organs develop, gaining protective layers of skin and fat, and growing so that that sweet one can survive outside of the womb. In the same way, God is often at work behind the scenes of your life. He is growing you, preparing you, or helping you learn to rely on and lean in to Him in a precious new way. When we encounter the One True God, we don’t leave unchanged. Nor should we! Sometimes it feels like things are moving slowly, but don’t lose heart. Psalm 23:13-14ESV reminds us “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Likewise, 2 Peter 3:9 ESV tells us “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Don’t lose sight of hope in the wait. One of the verses that touched the entire group has been Micah 7:7. The ESV puts it like this “But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” What are you putting your hope in? If you are in a season of waiting, I encourage you to look up.

So it Begins

You know that feeling you get, thinking you have plenty of time to mentally prepare for a really big project, and suddenly the timetable is pushed up a month? That was how I felt this last Monday. I had been planning to begin our homeschooling year the first week in September. Monday morning, the kids told me they wanted to start the school year that day. I am thankful we physically had everything we needed, even if I was not mentally ready. We had a later start since it was not mentioned until after 10, but we were still done by 4:30 that afternoon. We did realize our pitfall that led to a struggle during the final half hour, though. We saved the read aloud story for the final subject. Everyone does so much better if that is done first thing in the morning, especially if we can do it before Daniel is downstairs. The rest of the week worked out much better. We started with our read aloud and Bible lesson while the kids ate breakfast, followed by history the lessons.

Breakfast with the Bible

I failed to catch “first day of school” photos, but did get pictures during the first week! Elijah has hunched shoulders in his photo because I had to tell him a joke and make him laugh in order to catch a real smile.

My middle schooler!
Laughing 4th grader

We decided to do a four day school week, which definitely makes for longer days. But then we get the three day weekend. I am incredibly proud of the kids (and to be authentic, proud of myself, too) for how hard everyone worked this last week. We started working before 8 in the morning, and some days we were not done until 5. Okay, there was one day that went until 5, and that was the day we put the balloon solar system together. We had already done the same lesson last year, but it had been so long that we decided to repeat it to reorient ourselves with the curriculum and prepare for the second lesson.

Our solar system for this year. I even tried to put them in their respective orbits around the sun.
Most of our core curriculum

With needing to fit so much curriculum into each day in order to have a four day week, it has definitely been a long and exhausting week, especially with it being the first week back from break. Fitting in preparing meals, taking care of animals, taking care of Daniel and cleaning around the study time has left me getting creative in when breaks occur and the kids getting creative with what they do during those breaks. I realized on Thursday that we needed to make it a point that there can be no electronics until the work is done. But they both came up with their own ideas! This week has also definitely left me tired. Yesterday when we finished our last subject, I very nearly cried.

Elijah taking a break

This year being our second year homeschooling, I feel more comfortable and knowledgeable in what we are doing, and more interested in what we are learning. But I also feel more drained than I can remember ever feeling last year. I have found myself having a shorter fuse for Daniel’s maladaptive behavior some nights, to the point I had to leave the room and take some deep breaths so that I would not take my exhaustion out on him. I was then reminded that raising my children is a full time job. Adding in homeschooling, that really hits how much of a full time job it is; especially homeschooling a child with special needs, that requires even more one-on-one attention and focus. In the past when they were in public school, I would have several hours to get household things done, have down time to recharge, etc. Now all household chores must be done around their education, and down time goes on the back burner. But raising these children up right is the single, greatest task I could ever be given. The Bible reminds us to raise children up in the Lord, and when they are grown, they will not depart from Him. (Proverbs 22:6) Matthew 18:10 and Mark 10:14 also remind us how precious children are to the heart of God. Psalm 127 talks about what a blessing children are to those who have them. That leads me to believe fully that when I am doing my best to teach them, to guide them and encourage them, even when I am exhausted, that is an act of worship to God. (Colossians 3:23-24) That thought occurred to me as I was doing my Bible study with my Chautauqua friends. It is so true. I am doing my best to steward the precious lives God entrusted to me, and I am giving it my all as unto the Lord. When the day comes and I am standing before Him, I want to have done my best to present myself before Him as one approved, not ashamed. Will I stumble and be frustrated? You bet I will! I am definitely flawed. But I will get up again, repent, apologize to my kids and do my best to keep moving forward.

Colossians 3:23-24 NASB1995

If you find yourself feeling stuck or frustrated in your current position, remember to turn your focus to God. If you are in the place He has planted you, do everything as unto Him, for that is the heart of worship. It is all about Him. To all of my teacher friends and homeschooling parents, I just want to tell you-I see you! Rest well, my friends, a new year has begun! I pray that as you read this, your heart is filled with the Joy and Hope only Jesus can bring. As always, feel free to like, comment or share!

Just a Piece of the Puzzle

This last week has been a thing of beauty. The Chautauqua group got together via zoom so that we could discuss how we can have joy and peace during times of turbulence. As we shared our stories, we were able to bond over past hurts and see all the ways God has provided good things, even in our darkest moments. On Wednesday morning, my mom and I went for a walk on a trail in Point Defiance park off of the 5 Mile Drive. We walked through what looked to be a tunnel made of trees. The lush vegetation and hush of the woods gave the sensation that we had been transported to the Forest Moon of Endor. While on our walk, we came across a man who had served in Vietnam. We were able to talk for a few minutes, thank him for his service, and hopefully give him the human connection he seemed to need for the day.

Trail in the Tree’s

Wednesday evening, the kids and I had our greatly anticipated annual get together with Elijah’s former care team from Spokane. These people are incredibly dear to us. If you read When You Can’t Blame Yourself and Taste and See, you already know about Lisa and Michelle. But to recap for those who have not read them, Lisa began working with Elijah the week we brought him home from the hospital. She began working with him long before he even opened his eyes. She helped us teach him how to safely eat, including nursing. She helped educate us on exercises that could help him become more aware and active in his eating, train him in the suck and swallow. She helped us find methods to break down foods so he could more easily swallow them as he grew. She helped him learn how to eat from a spoon. She worked with him every week until just before his first birthday. Michelle began to work with Elijah as soon as his feeding tube was removed. From the time he was 13 months old up until the time we moved, she would come and get his measurements, plot his growth, and we would discuss his diet. She would help us find areas where we could increase his vegetable intake, and decrease in areas where he was getting too much. Chris was his physical therapist from I believe the time Elijah was 8 months old up until we moved. Annika would wait for his arrival and almost pounce on him. (To be fair, she was all of three years old at the time.) Chris would hand Annika his phone so she could play fruit ninja while we worked with Elijah. He provided excellent strategies to encourage Elijah to crawl, to sit, and to walk. All three of them were always just a call or text away. They invested so much time and energy in to our lives, and I know we were just one family among many. Being able to catch up with them every year and show them just how far their hard work has made an impact is such a blessing.

Care team zoom

As we head into the weekend, I am looking forward to the upcoming Chautauqua get together on zoom. One of my dear friends is discussing different personalities and how we all have something to offer. It is really much more involved than that, but that is the title of her topic. She and I, as well as a few others from the Chautauqua Bible Study group, have been discussing the different personality types for a while now. The different strengths and weaknesses, things we are drawn to or avoid. The same group of us were also discussing the different spiritual gifts. A number of us ended up taking a few different tests to see what our strengths were. I find all of these things fascinating. I have known my personality type for years, but still retake the test occasionally. I am an ISFJ according to the MBTI based on the types described by C.G. Jung. According to the four temperament theory, I essentially split the difference between being phlegmatic and melancholic. What is interesting is that while I am introverted and need quiet time alone to recharge, (that’s the “I”) I love to socialize with small groups of people. I am sensitive, but logical in that I analyze things like crazy. Being phlegmatic, I am laid back and have a tendency to procrastinate…while the melancholy in me has a specific way everything should be done, and I have a tendency towards anxiety. (That being said, I believe we have already covered my anxiety issues at length.)Yes, there IS a right and wrong way to load dishes or put them away. Please don’t be offended if my near OCD on this issue causes me to go back and “fix them” after you help me.

So, if I am introverted, wanting to put others ahead of myself, wanting everyone to feel they belong as well as having a tendency to avoid conflict at all cost, what would you guess was among the top three spiritual gifts listed on the tests I took? Yes, tests, plural. I took more than one, and evangelism was listed in the top three for each. That had me scratching my head a little bit at first.

To me, I kept picturing evangelists as being outgoing, extroverts. That is absolutely not who I am. That said, I do love Jesus, and I love His Word. It always comes in to my conversation, because it is a part of who I am. You see, while these personality tests are fascinating and can help me understand more about myself and grow, they do not describe all of who I am. My personality is just a piece of who I am, and as I continue to grow in Jesus, He will continue to fashion me more into a vessel He can use. Ephesians 2:10 tells us we are His workmanship, prepared to carry out the good work He has called us to do. Hebrews 13:21 tells us He equips us with everything good so we can accomplish His will. While the introvert in me screams to stay quiet, to not say anything that may be found offensive, the bigger part inside my heart reminds me that Jesus warned we would be rejected. But it is not really me they are rejecting, it is Jesus and His Words. (Matthew 10:22) All I can do is stand firm on His Word, and share the truth in love. To me, it must always be done in love. Because Jesus IS love. He is 100 percent just, and 100 percent love. He cannot be divided. So I will continue to share, even when it makes me shake and question myself. Because I want to be obedient more than I want to be comfortable. When those anxieties rear up, I can take them to Jesus, because He cares for me. (1 Peter 5:7)

Personalities are fascinating, and I love studying them. But they are just a piece of the puzzle God created in you. Don’t let your personality dictate who you are. Give God that authority. I pray that as you go in to this week, you will feel blessed and filled with the Joy and Hope of His presence. As always, feel free to like, comment, and share.

Joy in Anxious Times

It feels almost as if summer just began, and yet here we are. Summer is quickly drawing to a close as August begins. Over the last two weeks, Jarrod and the older kids have gone on their camping trip, we have had an appointment for Daniel with the cardiologist, and thankfully connected with the geneticist. August promises to be full and wonderful, as well. August kicks off with me hosting the Chautauqua group on zoom (the group has been taking turns hosting in Kris Polaha’s absence) followed by watching the new Mystery 101 with Jarrod and the kids. This coming week we will be having a virtual get together with Elijah’s former care team in Spokane. The rest of the month holds a family reunion, VBS, and a women’s retreat.

Enjoying the lake

Just before Jarrod and the kids packed up the car to go camping, we had the visit with the cardiologist. Daniel did so well! He held still and cooperated for both another EKG and an echocardiogram. Thankfully, no holes or defects were found in his heart. The next step will be a heart monitor implant to check for arrhythmia. But being able to rule out a heart defect brought a breath of relief. We had to wait until just a few days ago to hear back from the geneticist. Oh but the relief that came when we finally did. We still do not know what is going on in Daniel, and there is still concern. But we were finally able to confirm the condition that was mentioned in both the MRI and a previous genetic test has been completely ruled out. That condition limits life expectancy to just a few years following a diagnosis.

Krabbe ruled out!

I confess, tears filled my eyes at that email. I was fairly confident it had been ruled out, as I remembered them doing the test. But to have the MRI say part of the abnormal result could be due to that condition? It was also pointed out to me that sometimes things test negative…until they don’t. My mind also kept going back to the early days with Elijah. I was so sure PWS would come back negative, but it didn’t. I almost did not trust myself to be confident that the results from earlier genetic tests had completely ruled out Krabbe. Especially since it had showed a mutation on the gene. I never doubted God, but this path we are on with Daniel is so different than the one we were (and are) on with Elijah. God has revealed different things to and in me during this season. This journey has been almost harder, with more twists and turns. It would be so easy to just give in to anxiety. But God. God is faithful. He is my anchor on this stormy, chaotic sea of uncertainty. He shows His beauty in the every day things. he brings tranquility and keeps renewing my joy every day.

From my Wednesday morning walk with my mom

There are so many unknowns right now. Will the medication continue to prevent Daniel’s seizure episodes? Is there an underlying heart condition that could prove difficult? Are they even really seizures? Will Elijah continue to thrive in his homeschooling? How can I help his metabolism get just a little bit faster and utilize the food he does eat? This year for homeschooling is going to be a little fuller and richer, but that means being a little more intentional with how things are set up. How much flexibility do I give the kids in setting their schedules? I want them to have buy in and take ownership of their education, but I still need to be responsible for seeing it through well. How well is Daniel going to do with the more structured preschool program I have for him? That does not even begin to address Annika being eleven and entering adolescence. That alone has me entering turbulent waters.

It would be easy to be overwhelmed by all of the questions, to throw my hands up in despair. Yet I am reminded of king David. God anointed him as king, but he went through some seriously hard stuff while waiting to be crowned. His king-and father in law- tried to kill him on more than one occasion. He was hunted down like a dog out of jealousy. His wife was even given to another man! But in all of these things, David remained steadfast and filled with joy. The Psalms are filled with songs if David declaring his joy. Psalms 16:11 ESV says “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Joy is deep, great pleasure. Yet it is not the same as happiness. Happiness is dependent on circumstances, and is not consistent. Joy is different. Romans 15:13 ESV says “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Galatians 5:22 ESV reminds us “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” it is a fruit of the spirit. I love what Proverbs 17:22 ESV says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Nehemiah 8:10 refers to the joy of the LORD as our strength. God does not want me to focus on my circumstances and grow weary in despair. Yes, the circumstances are hard. But my focus is to remain steadfast on Him, His presence, and the promises that He will never leave me. In His presence, there is fullness of joy. As I focus on that, remain tethered to His Word and truth, I can’t be swept away. Yes, there are still concerns and struggles. Jesus never said life would be easy. Quite the contrary. We do not bury our heads in the sand and ignore problems. I tenaciously go after answers, researching the best solutions for all of my kids and the different situations that come up. But because I have Jesus, there is deep joy no matter what.

Family Time

As I continue stepping out in joy and obedience, God shines a light on these beautiful moments. Hearts overflow from a grateful heart at all of God’s blessings. Focusing on all the gifts we are given, we are able to more clearly see how beautiful and rich our life is, no matter the circumstances. Are you in a sea of uncertainty, feeling overwhelmed by chaos and anxiety? I encourage you to dig in to Jesus a little deeper, cling to His Words and promises a little tighter. Weeping may last for the night, but His joy comes in the morning. Praying you are blessed and renewed as you go forward this week. As always, feel free to like, comment, and share.

Power and Peace

Have you ever noticed how much more you appreciate the little positives in your life after you go through seasons of struggle? Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to relish the little delights, to keep them like a souvenir in my pocket to reflect on. This last week has been an interesting blend of excitement and relaxation, frustration and peace, disappointment and joy.

For the last month, we had it planned that Daniel and I would go camping with Jarrod and the kids. But after the test results came back last week and needing to wait until we get into the cardiologist for a better idea of what is going on, I began to question that decision. If some of the more significant episodes Daniel has had are truly heart related and not seizures, the medication won’t help prevent that. Would it really be wise to take him so far from medical care? Daniel made the decision for me, though. For three nights in a row, he screamed quite loudly until after 9:30pm. A tent is going to do nothing to muffle his screams, especially next to a lake where the volume would just be amplified. So Daniel and I will be staying home after all. This decision was necessary but sad to make. On the plus side, Daniel has his cardiology appointment this coming week, and Jarrod and I will both be able to be with him. We are thankful that we will be getting some clarity and answers as to what is going on in Daniel’s body, as well as thankful that Jarrod can come to the appointment. It is not often Jarrod is able to go with us to appointments.

Cuddling with my pillow while watching videos

This last week has also included some wonderful fun for the kids. Our church decided to run a three day science camp for the kids in the community. The kids learned not only about science and the way things work, but about some of the science in the Bible. Elijah was overjoyed not only to go, but to see an old friend from school. Annika was ecstatic that as a sixth grader, she was able to go as a helper. So much excitement and joy each day.

Last day of science camp

Over the course of this last week, I have been reminded not only about how enormous and amazing God is, but how near and calming His presence is as well. He created this amazing universe by simply speaking it into existence. He made this planet and everything in it. (Revelations 4:11)But He is also that still, small Voice that is as close as my very next breath. That has been so important to me this last week. It has been overwhelming with everything going on with Daniel. I keep waffling back and forth between what I think is better, the unknown or knowing. If there is a life changing diagnosis, than while not knowing, we can be oblivious and go on enjoying our time with Daniel. But then in knowing, we can be sure one way or another. It could be nothing serious and we can be relieved. Or, it could be something very serious, and at least we would know and have some proper ways to care for him. My mind keeps going back and forth, and then remembering to take it to Jesus. Through all of that, Jesus has surrounded me with amazing people. Family, friends that are family, friends from the Polaha Chautauqua, and a beautiful support group of amazing ladies I have been regularly praying with and was finally able to join for a zoom session. Through the last few weeks, probably some of the hardest ones I have faced in a long time, God has shown His tender love towards me through deepening some of these relationships. I have lost track of how many messages I receive on a daily basis from loved ones just wanting to tell me they were thinking of and praying for us.

Photo credit: Eileen Hovanesian

Recently, one of my sweet friends was at the coast and took some amazing shots of the ocean and sent them to me. They were all stunning, but this one stood out to me. This image of the ocean feels like a reflection of the awesome beauty, tranquility and fierce power of God, all in one. Just like the water caressing the shore, God is that still small voice. He brings peace to those who call on Him. (Isaiah 26:3, 2 Thessalonians 3:16) Like the wave crashing over the rock, God is powerful, able to do far more than we can think or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20, Hebrews 11:3, Jeremiah 32:37) It’s an amazing picture and thought to dwell on. When life is crazy, I can trust Him. I can trust that He has the power I can lean on. I can trust He can bring me peace when I feel mine is all but gone. Isaiah 40:31 ESV says “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Likewise, Psalm 136:12 ESV says “with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for his steadfast love endures forever; “ He is all powerful, yet all loving.

If you are going through a season of struggle, lean in to the One who can give you true strength. You can trust that He has the power to handle whatever you are carrying and the peace to renew your heart. Lay your burdens at His feet, and pick up His peace. No, He didn’t promise life would be easy. But He did promise to never leave you nor forsake you. Praying you are blessed and filled with Joy. As always, feel free to like, comment and share!

The Path Gets Longer

Some weeks are more jumbled than others. This last week, for instance, has been incredibly full and busy. So busy that I am finding it hard to even remember everything I did on Tuesday. On Monday, we had to take Daniel for his pre-procedure covid test. Wednesday I went on a walk with my mom, Thursday I spent with Daniel at the hospital for his sedated EEG, EKG and MRI followed by lots of snuggles with him in my bed as the sedation medication wore off. Friday was spent discussing the results and having some family time. For the most part, something happened every day.

All the good things
Flavors from the French Quarter

The highlight of Tuesday was cafe au lait and beignets. A couple weeks back, I received the most delightful package from a dear friend. She wanted to share a flavor of her hometown with me, and she did it by using my love language. Coffee. It’s true I had to wait a while to try the beignets due to the high heat, but wow, was it a delight partnered with that coffee! What’s more, I think God used that special coffee and treat as a means for me to relax and enjoy the goodness of God. It was a blessing to reflect on all of God’s blessings while going through all the testing and questions with Daniel this last week.

Thursday morning started very early for us. Because of the sedation, Daniel could have nothing to eat or drink that morning. I waited until it was time to go to get him up and dressed. His therapist was able to meet us at the hospital at 7am, for which we are all thankful. Daniel tolerated the day so much better than we could have imagined! I fully believe it was the many prayers offered up on our behalf. (So many people prayed, I woke up to messages from many people sharing they were praying for us!) For a few moments he did cry and ask for a car ride, but he was able to calm down while being held in his therapists arms and looking out the window. While being held, he also cooperated with the nurse who was able to get his oxygen saturation readings. On top of all that, I don’t remember him asking for anything to eat or drink the entire time we were there. That is amazing, in and of itself.

Getting all the vitals
Ready and waiting for sedation

At 8:30, the time for sedation was upon us. Here is where we really felt God’s calming presence. Before I explain, I want to share that the entire staff mentioned more than once how amazed they were at the ease of placing his IV. The last time he had this procedure done, I ended up needing to have him in between my legs with my legs wrapped around his and my arms wrapped firmly around his chest. His therapist holding one arm down while one nurse and a child life specialist held his other so a nurse could safely put the IV line in. that was all after numbing cream had been applied and done it’s job. This time around, we opted to omit the numbing cream. That process had seemed to frustrate him last time. We started out with the same position, him “in my lap” with my legs crossed over his and my arms around him. His therapist simply holding one arm down and his other hand held by one of the nurses. He went back and forth between watching the toy held up by the child life specialist and watching as the nurse put the IV in. He was completely calm the entire time. He did not struggle or try to pull away at all. We truly felt the prayers! Once he was sedated, the EEG tech went straight to work and had him all set up and going.

EEG time

After the EEG was done, the nurses came in to hook him up for the EKG. In no time at all, I heard the nurses and the sedation specialist say “perfect! Beautiful picture.” I thought perhaps that meant everything looked great on the EKG. That made me feel a moment of relief, because let’s be real. I wanted an easy answer. I wanted the EEG to reflect the seizure so we would know precisely which medication is best-because the anti seizure medication appears to be working- and I wanted another clean MRI and no issues on the EKG. It would be so much easier to have the only thing pop up be something we have found a treatment for already.

Time to wake up!

After the EKG, it was time to wait for the MRI. The MRI took roughly half an hour and we were finally done for the day. It was time for Daniel to wake up, eat and drink so we could go home. Daniel did wake up, but wanted to keep laying down on his pillow, and he did not want to eat or drink. Thankfully, since the staff knew this was not our first experience with sedation and these procedures, they were willing to let us go. Especially after they observed Daniel forcefully shoving the cup of juice away and climbing back on to the bed. After I had Daniel dressed, one of the nurses helped me to at least get a syringe full of juice into Daniel’s mouth. Low blood sugar is not something we want to mess with. After we had that done, we were on our way.

Daniel truly does have a hard time coming off of those meds. For the rest of the day, he was in my bed watching videos and slowly eating and drinking. But constantly reaching to hold my hand. It was beyond precious.

Cuddles and hand holds

Thursday night We received the MRI results, and some of it was concerning. I was expecting the results to read the same as before. I expected to read there was nothing of significance to report. Friday afternoon we had a follow up with the neurologist to go over all the results. She didn’t have the EKG interpretation back yet, but she had the EEG and MRI results. The EEG did not record anything out of the normal. The changes in the MRI were very subtle, but present. The problem is, the neurologist has never seen anyone with the disease the MRI indicated was possible, nor any of the other differential conditions listed. So the neurologist is not certain if those changes are benign or serious. So back to the geneticist with those results. The neurologist did say that she is happy the medication is working, but wants to increase the dosage since the levels in his system are not quite where she is comfortable having them. Friday night after the clinic closed, she called again. The EKG results had just been interpreted. Right ventricle delay. No further notes, so again, she is not sure how significant or benign that finding is. A referral has now been sent to the cardiologist, as well. Instead of having answers, we now have more questions and the path to finding answers may be an even longer one.

In one of the Bible studies I am doing with my Polaha Chautauqua friends, a couple of verses stood out to me just the other day. I think every time I read in Romans, something different has the potential to stand out. In addition, I think a friend had just made reference to these verses to me the day before.
“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:26-27‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬ This verse also stood out. “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:37‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

I think those stood out for me especially right now because of where we are at with Daniel. I am just so tired. The uncertainty and lack of answers for Daniel. Sometimes I just don’t know HOW to pray, but I have an intercessor, and through Him, I am an overcomer. If you are going through something yourself that you can’t wrap your mind or heart around, if you have Jesus in your heart, you have an intercessor who speaks to God on your behalf. As a believer, we have been blessed with a relationship with Holy Spirit who speaks peace and joy into our hearts. That peace and joy are deep and true, and they don’t depend on our circumstances. I pray you are filled up to overflowing with the Hope of Jesus. As always, feel free to reach out, like, comment and if you feel so led, please pray and share.

Wednesday Wanderings and Wonderings

A few weeks back, my mom and I started getting together on Wednesday mornings for coffee and a walk. We have walked along the beach near where I grew up, as well as in the wooded areas of the park. As we walk and take in the beautiful scenery, we share about the different things God is doing in our lives. We have reflected on all the ways God had provided during the pandemic, the heat wave, how far God has brought Daniel, and the unique ways God has connected people through social media. We have also talked about how amazing it is that God has been opening doors for not only Daniel to receive medication to stop his seizure like episodes and get all of the needed testing done, but he also opened doors to get Annika seen after her recent fainting/seizure episode.(I will share about that below, I needed to wait until a time when Annika was comfortable with others knowing.)

Looking out over the Puget Sound

We still don’t exactly know what happened with Annika. The geneticist agreed with Annika’s primary that it is really hard to tell, as syncope and seizures have so many overlapping characteristics. Here is what I do know. Saturday morning, before the heat came, Annika had been doing the dishes while I helped Daniel with his breakfast. Annika mentioned she was feeling dizzy and walked towards the dining room, but she didn’t quite make it. I thought she had tripped and caught herself from falling based on what I heard. I asked her a few times if she was okay, if she had tripped. She didn’t respond. When I turned to look at her, I didn’t immediately recognize a problem. When she still didn’t answer after I asked her multiple times, I looked closer. Her lip had a momentary bluish tint and her eyes were glazed. When I reached her and lifted her head and felt her forehead, she still didn’t respond. That was when I noticed that her arms were gripping the baby gate, and they were shaking. A few moments later, she came out of it and slid to a seated position against the wall. She said she had suddenly become dizzy and felt herself black out, though she did not realize how long it had lasted. She has felt fine since, but was definitely lethargic for the rest of the day. She did report she has blacked out once before, also while doing the dishes. The hot water may be the connection. The doctor said he is not opposed to send her to a neurologist given Daniel’s history, but he is more inclined to wait and see if it happens again. It is also possible it is hypotension and would require a cardiologist instead. So we wait and see. But as I said, she has been fine since and enjoying the summer.

Pool time fun!

How many times have we had to “wait and see” over the years as parents? Sometimes it can be tricky, that waiting. It can be so easy to start to fret and worry about the unknown. But Romans 8:15 ESV reminds us
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” Thanks to that adoption, we can also trust what we read in Isaiah 41:10 ESV “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Hole in the tree

Reaching out in to the unknown…my mom told me a story about how a number of years ago she had put together a treasure hunt for a friend on her birthday. She had hidden a small bag with little gifts into a tree, in a hole like the one pictured above. Most people are going to walk right past and not be tempted to reach into a hole like that. Why would they? It is most likely filled with spiders, earwigs and other creepy crawly things. Yet her friend trusted that something special was there, and she was rewarded. I think for believers, the unknown is like that. It can still be daunting, and it’s true you may get some unplanned and seemingly unpleasant surprises on the way. But as a believer following after God into the unknown, there is an even greater reward. God is going to uphold you with His righteous right hand. He isn’t going to drop you, and nothing takes Him by surprise. If you are struggling with the unknown, if fear grips you and robs you of your breath, I pray that you are filled with Hope. Jesus came to restore and redeem us, to graft us in to His family. You don’t have to do it alone. To quote the Polaha Chautauqua theme song my friend Kris and his son Caleb wrote, “Life can be scary and sometimes hard…but you’re not alone….you don’t have to travel this big bad world all on your own, cause it’s better when we do it together.” It’s better when we do it together, together with God. Praying you have a beautiful week filled with Joy. As always, feel free to like, comment and share.

No Sweat…Okay, Maybe a Little

Heat waves. Last week, my neck of the woods made history due to a record breaking heat wave. It was intense. As a general rule,western side of Washington state doesn’t tend to reach 80°F or above until closer to the end of August. But on June 28, it reached above 100°.

Thank you, Accuweather for keeping us in the know🥵

Thankfully, I had brought the air conditioner up to Annika’s room prior to the heat spike. Annika’s room takes the brunt of the heat, the room feels much like an oven on hot days. Her window faces the sun for most of the day, and of course, heat rises. After Annika’s fainting spell on Saturday (or possible seizure episode) last week, we want to make sure we keep her as cool as possible. More on the situation with Annika in a later post.

Tuesday morning started with my sandal breaking as I went up the stairs to get Daniel. I chose to wear it anyway, just used a little bit more caution in my steps. But it was already close to 80° by 8:20 am, and wearing socks and shoes was less than appealing. I didn’t bother putting anything on Daniel’s feet when I brought him down. As a matter of fact, it was so hot, I only put him in a dry pull up with no clothes at all. Desperate times, my friends, desperate times.

Of course, the heat was so high that the air conditioner only brought the bedroom temperature down to the mid 90s. Too stifling and stuffy to put Daniel up there for his quiet time. He definitely did get tired though, or possibly the heat wore him out. Daniel decided to take matters in to his own hands. My little man grabbed a pillow and laid down to sleep in the middle of the floor.

So hot, the sweat just drenched his head

The heat ended up being so significant that our freezer and fridge had too difficult a time keeping up. The freezer decided to take a break. Our ice cream and popsicles in the freezer melted, leaking down in to the fridge. This definitely created a sticky mess. Not only that, the popsicles had been purchased as an added step to help keep the kids hydrated and cool. But they were gone. At that point, it would have been easy to give in to despair. Don’t get me wrong, I was frustrated for sure. But at the same time, I was filled with complete trust and peace. I was in the middle of a text dialogue with my Polaha Chautauqua Bible study group when I made the discovery, so I mentioned the situation to them and asked for prayer that God would fix my fridge.What happened next was so amazing.

Over the next hour, I had friends independently asking to help purchase a new refrigerator, friends in the area offering the use of a mini fridge, and a friend who surprised us by having ice, popsicles, ice cream (replacing those that melted) and fruit to be delivered. When the delivery came, my kids squealed in excitement, digging in to the fruit and popsicles at the same time. What’s more, the prayer and ice did the trick. The unit seems to have recovered. Following the refreshments, the kids went out and rinsed all the sweat off in the sprinkler as the sun set.

It looks like Daniel was struggling, but he wasn’t really. He kept going to Annika to be carried in.

On days like last Monday, it would have been easy to grow despondent. To feel like things just go from bad to worse, to feel that there is no reprieve. But while the enemy may be out to steal, kill, and destroy-that is not what God is about. God is in the business of redeeming and restoring, of speaking life and bringing abundance. Every perfect gift is from Him. Philippians 4:19 in the ESV says “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” God did just that, above and beyond all we could have imagined. He used a sweet sister to bless us with a sweet treat, a refreshing reminder that the Lord is good. Revelation 22:1 tells us He has streams of abundant life coming from under His throne. I want to be like a tree firmly planted near those waters.

On Wednesday morning, I went for a walk with my mom on a trail in the park near where I grew up. I had to take a picture of the creek. It’s always moving, the water bringing life to the vegetation around it. The greenery around it is lush, the water beautiful and crystal clear . You can hear the gentle rush of the water flowing over the rocks. God has that and so much more for us. He has so much life, so much clarity to give us, and so much to say. We just need to stop and listen. To quiet our hearts and minds from listening to all the negative voices. To choose to listen to the words of life He is declaring over our circumstances. God doesn’t promise a life without problems and pain, but He does promise to never leave us nor forsake us. To provide for us and meet our every need.

Praying you are having a beautiful week. If this post finds you in a situation of brokenness, please don’t struggle alone. Find somebody to talk to. A pastor, counselor, prayer partner. Find somebody you can share all the hard things with, who can listen to your pain without judgment. But I pray on top of those things, you find somebody who will remind you of what God says about you and for you, and what God’s word declares. As always, I pray you will be filled with the Hope and Joy of Jesus. Please feel free to like, comment and share!