It is a frightening ugly thing to watch your small child have a seizure. Her little body jerks uncontrollably reminding me of a mechanical toy that is running out of batteries. The last couple episodes confirmed undeniably that the seizures come when she sleeps and my own rest has become disturbed.
Sanity can only be mine when I trust God. I spent 2017 battling fears and worries, but through it have more faith and strength than ever before. Micaela’s epilepsy has become my very own version of spiritual super glue, keeping my heart and mind fixed on the Savior.
A friend asked me if I have ever been angry about Micaela’s difficult journey. The honest answer is, “YES.” It isn’t fair that her sweet soul must fight for everything that comes easy to a “normal” child. She has spent the past year working, with endurance, on walking, talking, eating, and a hundred other developmental feats. To throw seizures into the mix feels like a punch below the belt.
But, at the end of the day, epilepsy is simply part of our family’s story and I can either be angry and resentful, or I can go to God, my Father, and find the peace and joy that will carry me through each and every day.
For many years, the story of the storm that Jesus calmed, has been one that I’ve turned to often in the Bible. You can find it in Matthew 8:23-7 and Mark 4:35-41. I can imagine the terrified sailors and panicked disciples. How long did they tug sails, tie ropes, and toss freight overboard before they ran to God? How very human of them, attempting to create their own safety. But true peace can only be found in God. With a single word He can calm the wind and waves.
We all face terrifying storms in our life that threaten to tear apart our world. God waits for us to come to Him. Any situation could become the spiritual super glue that will fix us to our Lord and build us into ever more beautiful souls.
What catalyst in your own world has become spiritual super glue, fixing you close to God?
Adela’s brown eyes were full of exultation and horror. She held out the tiny little tooth to me, her tongue moving over the excavation site slightly filled with blood and said, “It’s gone, Mommy.”
Poor baby. I had a hard time masking my own pain. My little baby was gone and had left to be replaced with this growing daughter. She held in her hand the very first tooth God had ever given her. It was gone, no longer a part of her little body.
I spent many hours talking to her over the next few days about the process of losing teeth. I told her she had new ones, adult ones, pushing their way upward. I told her they would be strong, wonderful teeth that she would use (Lord willing) the rest of her life. It was okay that little pieces of herself would fall away, for they would be replaced by something even better.
What an entirely human experience. It is a lifelong adventure. Little pieces of ourselves are being hacked away or changed so that new, better, more useful parts can be given a place in our life. We often cling to familiarity. We fear the pain that change forces on us, but it must happen. Life is in constant motion.
My mind remembers the passage from 1 Corinthians 13:11, ESV, when Paul said, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." We are called to put things behind us that aren’t necessarily bad, but are no longer fitting for our stage or season.
I admired Adela for the easy way she placed that tooth under her pillow, knowing that in the morning it would be gone. Gone for good. I pray that I know how to do that each time God shows me the things that must be left behind.
What parts of yourself have you let go of as you moved through different seasons of your life?
I loved doing a Facebook live video about setting goals. Enjoy. :) Note: The first 20 minutes are solid but then we had some audio/visual issues. We figured out what happened and thankfully will have a fantastic video this week. If you want to join us, it is at 7:40 pm Thursday, January 11, MST.
The thermometer I ordered off amazon makes a frantic beeping noise when it reads a fever. The alarm starts a rhythm in my heart and in my mind I hear the wicked ringing of the alert that goes off in the movie Aliens. We are under attack!
My thoughts always go into over-drive. What medicine should I give? When should I go to the doctor? Will there be another seizure this time?
It is awful. But it is teaching me to put my life in God’s hands.
It seems this is the struggle a great many of us have: learning to surrender our illusion of control and rest in God’s provision.
I know I would be insane, depressed, or addicted to something if I did not learn to give God the heavy burden of raising my girls. I love them so much and I fear that I will mess something up. Their lives are too precious to be raised by a mere human such as I.
Every night, I kiss Adela and Micaela on the forehead and pray. I ask God to protect them and to hold them in His great love. I tell God that I give them to Him, their lives and their futures. Only then am I able to shut off the light in their room and close the door with peace.
We should pray this prayer all the time. We must try not to spin the wheels of worry but acknowledge that when we have done all we can, that God is still Master of it all.
The other night, I got to share this with Adela. She asked me about the smoke alarms in the house and I had to explain that they were there in case we had a fire. Adela immediately became terrified and asked a dozen questions. It was right before bedtime and with large brown eyes she asked if I could sleep with her that night and if her Papa could become a fireman to save us. I chuckled but realized that all my reassurances had done little to ease her fear. I smiled and suggested we simply ask God to protect us. So we prayed together. Afterwards, Adela let out a big sigh and snuggled into her blanket. She was asleep in minutes.
I wonder if she felt God’s peace as I did.
Someday I truly hope I walk unfailing in this peace, resting in God’s goodness. It is my idea of perfect bliss.
Life is going to attack us and the only true shelter will be found in the Prince of Peace.
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
Have you learned to give you biggest fear or greatest worry up to God?
Micaela’s nails dug into my calf muscles. I didn’t know whether to cry or yell or both. She hadn’t napped and hadn’t stopped wanting constant attention all day. The house was in shambles, toys and dirty dishes everywhere.
For the first few months of this phase, we had respite care and I could find some emotional and mental breaks. But, when school started our amazing caregiver, Shaylee, went to college. That same week Adela started Kindergarten leaving me at home alone with a frustrated, angry, needy Micaela. I started to wonder if I was going to survive.
I think I began to fall into a mild depression. My bubbly optimism vanished and my mask of happiness began to crack and dissolve. During one of the sessions where I was teaching Bible Study to adults, someone encouraged me to start listening to an online ministry, seedbed.com. The first lesson I listened to about Psalm 13, moved my soul towards healing.
In this short, 6-verse David, the writer, goes from asking God how long he must suffer to praising God. The psalmist is able to do this because he clings to the memories of all the times God has saved him.
I listened to the words of the devotional and let out a deep breath of relief. There was something else to focus on, something else to pay attention to—remembering how God has intervened in my life. I was lost in the torment of the moment, the horror that my life would consist of this event over and over until Micaela moved out of this phase. Those thoughts threatened to seal the lid on lost days, weeks, and months.
Ah, but praise…
Sometimes that old adage “Thank God for your blessings,” makes you get stuck in the rut of trying to figure out all the things that are good about this moment alone. That can be difficult—very difficult. However, if we have been walking with God long at all, we have memory upon memory of being saved by our Heavenly Father.
As Micaela cried and yelled, I remembered Adela going through this exact same stage. I remember how lost I felt, how miserable. I remember worrying that I was handling it all wrong. However, God guided me through it and Adela today is turning into an amazing child that I love spending time with.
God is good. Hope is powerful.
Through countless hard moments and seasons of my life I am blessed to own the tagline, "But God was with her." And when I'm wading through the valleys, I know I am not alone.
But God was with him
Do you have memories of being saved by your loving God that give you strength during the hard days?
I didn’t know what to do with myself. For a few years now I have been very purposefully taking Sundays “off”. Of course, for a young mom, this is still an eventful day. I have little girls to tickle and feed, a husband to chat with, friends to call…yeah, it is just a different kind of demanding. I am busy, but I switch my focus from chores, writing, and child care to quality time with family and worshiping God.
This weekend my mother-in-law borrowed the girls so I would be able to care for the farm while Jovani was on a trip. As you can imagine, I packed Saturday with those jobs I can’t do with girls in the house. I kept a fast pace and felt great about what I accomplished. But Sunday…
Sunday felt eerie. What was I to do with all that quiet? After farm chores and church I felt like a little boat in the middle of a massive lake, dead in the water. I didn’t like the feeling.
I recently finished an incredible book, Your Best Life in Jesus' Easy Yoke. In one of the chapters, the author discusses people who are addicted to adrenaline. The description of such a person sounded like a workaholic. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me a workaholic is that man or woman who is never home, obsessed with their job, and gives their family a low priority in their lives.
But, as I read the chapter on Adrenaline Addiction in Bill Gaultiere’s book, I was shocked. How he described the person obsessed with being productive to the point where they panic if they are not accomplishing something, that was ME.
I think I pouted and argued with myself about this for a good two weeks before I simply accepted the reality: I am a workaholic.
I am a workaholic who prioritizes her family and is almost always home, but that doesn’t mean it is healthy. In fact, it is very unhealthy, because I struggle against the idea of rest. I struggle against giving God His agenda in my life. God doesn’t want us to always be going. He also wants us to spend a lot of time stopping, listening, and breathing. When I was honest with myself, I realized that I have a tough time trusting God. It seems easier to trust in my own power and strength. What if His will means I don’t get to accomplish my goals and dreams? What if the house is a mess? What if the laundry hasn’t been folded?
Bill Gaultiere’s book, Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke, encourages you to constantly live in the rest that Jesus offers. We shouldn’t be striving and struggling and worrying. If we truly live and act in the belief that God wants the best for us and will guide us in all things if we let Him, then life stops feeling like a struggle.
We also must give up that addiction to adrenaline. If we are resting in Jesus’ love, we won’t be getting our adrenaline fix. Like all addictions, it is hard to give these things up.
The road to healing will be long for me, but I am learning. Since reading Bill’s book, I have started to do things that God has asked of me for a long time such as letting the house get cluttered on the days when the girls are needing extra love and attention. Leaving dishes in the sink and using my last hour of quiet for devotional time. Most of all, I don’t write or work on my ministry if I feel spiritually disconnected or disconcerted. I am learning to trust God when He tells me I need to prioritize something that goes against my own thoughts or will for the day. I am learning to stop, breath, and let the day come instead of me attacking the day with my own agenda.
You might have an addiction to adrenaline that turns you into a workaholic as well. Take a moment and visit soulshepparding.org and take the Adrenaline Addiction test.
If your results are positive, stay tuned. We will be discussing this topic further in my next Monday blog post.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Do you see other qualities of yourself that point towards being addicted to work?
Devotion: n. love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person or activity (from The Oxford Dictionary)
What does your devotional time with God look like?
God wants to be as much a part of our life as He can be. He wants to find Himself on our minds and in our hearts from the moment we wake to the instant our eyes close in sleep. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to profoundly dedicate time to and with Him.
Lucky for us, that list is very long. Below are my favorites.
-Read your Bible. Study. Take notes. Stop and pray as you feel moved to do so. Talk to God about what you learn in his word.
-Read a daily devotional. Let the beautiful words of Billy Graham or the encouragement of Joyce Meyer guide your time with God.
-Pray. Have a deep, quiet, intimate conversation with our Heavenly Father.
-Write down your prayers in a prayer journal.
-Sing or listen to praise music. Let the soothing rythms and uplifting lyrics open your heart to God.
-Study with a group. Find fellowship with like-minded men and women. Learn with them and through them.
-Draw, doodle, illustrate Bible verses or prayer journals.
I was taught that devotional time should be a quiet, private affair. I learned that it was about silent study of the Bible and deep prayer time. To this day, I still find these two things to be helpful in learning God's word and connecting to Him. But as I hear how others spend devotional time with God I realize that it can be so much more. I love shaking things up when it comes to my daily devotions with God. I don't like to be caught in a rut in which I feel less alive during those minutes with God than I do the rest of the day.
As a mom, I admit to having to fight for my devotional time. My personality thrives on a quiet time with my Heavenly Father where I focus only on Him, but it is hard to fit a good block of that as I care for my husband and family. I’ve learned to get creative and self-disciplined. However, just as this season of my life is crammed with activity and demanding on my time and heart, it is for this reason that I need to grow with God. I need to walk with Him and learn His ways.
For most of us, the reason we haven’t found a way to do daily devotions is time. We feel we do not have the time for it. But we do. The Bible says that where our treasure is, there is also our hearts (Matthew 6:21). The things we treasure we find the resources to care for them, invest in them, and adore them. All of us can look back on our typical day and see many things we invest our resources in that do not include God.
So, where are our hearts?
My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways
How do you benefit from devotional time with God? Have you found a way to daily come into His presence?
“God, please bless me, greatly.”
All my prayers begin like this now. A dear friend leant me a book The Prayer of Jabez and it has completely changed how I pray.
Honestly, I’ve always been so hesitant to ask God for some things. I feel that I am not worthy or that some things are selfish or not in keeping with God’s will. So I just won’t mention them. Being bold with how I talk to God wasn’t in my make up.
And then I read this little book and changed my mind.
About seven days after I started praying Jabez’ prayer, I realized that I wanted to ask God for specific blessings for my girls. That morning, curled into a ball on the couch, I asked God, “Let Adela excel in her school work and be wise in her choice of friends. And, please let Micaela learn one great thing today.”
As soon as I said it, I felt an amazing stirring, like my soul was sighing. I don’t know if I was praying in God’s will or simply pleasing God with my heartfelt honesty, but it was a beautiful feeling.
Micaela did several new, little things that day such as movements to songs and isolating the movement of her index fingers. Adela came home and read her weekly reader book. Nothing crazy miraculous, but my heart would not let me forget that feeling I felt when I had asked bold things of my Heavenly Father.
Something in my heart has changed. Deep down I believe in the power and deep love of God and that He has spread it over my life. I am not waiting for a trickle of blessings to descend from Heaven but believe that His Miraculous grace surrounds all of me.
And boldness comes easy.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
Have you found you boldness when praying to God?
Once upon a time, I had a hard heart towards parents with different children. From children who threw tantrums to those with learning disorders, my mind turned judgmental towards their parents. Though I never spoke these horrible thoughts aloud, I am ashamed that they lived in me.
God totally weeded this out of my mind and heart when Micaela joined our family. It is one of countless ways I have seen God use the trials that come with being a mother of a Special Needs child.
Our trials can be dark and desperate times in our lives, but we have an opportunity to use them in the best possible way. When we ask God to open our hearts and minds to what we are living through, we will find that he is using our challenges to bring about beautiful changes in our world.
As we go through these hard seasons or as we evaluate them from the other side, we need to be intentional about using them to grow.
Trials help us:
I smiled as I wrote this list. I don’t mean to make our trials sound desirable, but I wanted to bring a little hope to one of you today. I remember the moments where I sat viewing the desperate chaos of my world and wondering if it would ever be okay again. And it was okay, it was better than okay.
We all need to let ourselves be molded by The Potter if we are ever going to become His work of art.
Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.
What have you learned through your own life struggles?
That tiny pouting lip almost undid me. Micaela looked so confused. So upset. The technician silently plastered the glue and electrodes, looked at his monitor, and re-positioned the wires connected amidst her mop of curls. Micaela sobbed. My arms shook from keeping her in place. I turned my head to cough.
We were both miserable.
The technician finally finished placing the wires. He wrapped her little head in gauze and said, “Okay. We’ll run the test for 45-60 minutes. Remember, we need her to sleep for at least 15. I’ll observe from across the hall and then come in to do the flashing lights at the end.” He started to leave and then turned back. “Oh, and don’t forget, she can’t move. Keep her as still as possible.”
And, with a flip of the light switch, he was gone. In the dim light Micaela continued to squirm and scream. Oh, God, I prayed, how is she possibly going to sleep after this?
I made comforting shushing noises, and prayed. Calm and peace entered me. It would be okay. I just needed to keep her in place. I put warm hands on her shoulders. The minutes ticked by. Every time Micaela seemed to settle, she would start up a fight again. Half an hour felt like an eternity and we were no closer to settling into unconsciousness.
I started to panic. We needed her to sleep. We needed answers. We waited four months for this EEG. God, please. Please help us. In my mind, I pictured all the friends and family that were praying for us, right then, right at that moment. It reminded me that God was there in the room with us and it was all in His hands. The panic melted away into calm once again.
Micaela’s eyelids flickered. Her body relaxed. Her breathing slowed. She was asleep.
I looked at the clock. We had exactly 15 minutes left.
By the time the EEG finished my arms were shaking from exhaustion but my heart was elated. God heard our prayers. And, He was working to our success before we even made it to the exam room. Micaela arrived sleep-deprived because I wasn’t able to get on the road to Albuquerque until late the night before. And then, at exactly 4am that morning, a framed painting fell off the wall breaking with a crash and waking Micaela. Funny, I was so sick that night that I wasn’t going to wake her up even though the EEG instructions said to wake her at 4am. God made sure things happened like they were supposed to.
And, I know, I would not have had the strength or peace to keep Micaela restrained for so long if God were not keeping me close to Him.
Sometimes miracles are big, huge, events, but other times, the miracles are the incredible series of little pieces falling in place to answer a prayer. That was us this week.
Because Micaela fell asleep, her neurologist found the part of the brain that has been causing the seizures and the information will help us establish a treatment plan for her. I am so thankful.
Thank you for those prayers. Sometimes we pray for others, not knowing if those words are heard, but I want you to know that God heard you and your acts of love helped us through a very difficult time.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Have you ever witnessed something miraculous in answer to a prayer for someone else?
Taking care of yourself as a mother isn’t complicated, but it does take dedication. Our hearts want us to focus only on others. Our minds worry that there isn’t enough time. Our bodies feel too tired to consider yet another task.
Remember two things: 1. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. 2. You are a beautiful child of God who deserves to be cared for, too.
So, next time you are feeling worn, look at this infographic and consider how you could be treating yourself to some better self-care.
A wife of noble character who can find?
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"...and God was already there with me."