"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I think I'm gonna be a GIANT!

Yes, I'm coming to that conclusion. I think you all noticed that AJ was not a happy camper on Halloween night. Well, this week, I rushed him to the doctor with 104.9 fever. My sweet baby has an ear infection and swollen lymph nodes. This was Monday night.

Needless to say, there was not much sleep for him, nor I, on Monday and we all had to get up bright and early yesterday, so that Anna Grace and I could make the 6 hour roundtrip drive to Tampa for her first appointment at Shriners Hospital.

The alarm rang at 6 am and I felt like I had never gone to sleep. AJ was cranky, still running a high fever, Anna Grace and Kai joined in the crankiness, but had no choice to get up and get ready to each go to their corresponding place for that day. AJ to my sister/Mom to be watched while I went to Tampa, Kai and Amanda to school and Anna Grace and I on the road trip.

I took the kids to school and drove the hour to my sister's house to drop off AJ. Then hopped on the highway and started heading north. I never listen to talk radio of any sort just because my brain is usually in overload. I enjoy the silence sometimes, which doesn't come often, while I am driving. Anna Grace was playing with her toys in the carseat and I sat there driving in total silence. It was nice. Those of you that know me and my quiet time, it doesn't last long before thoughts start filling my mind.

I started thinking about AJ being sick, Anna Grace needing her hand surgery and what will now become frequent 6 hour schleps to and from Tampa for her medical care, Kai's upcoming surgery and the fact that his cleft surgeon is yet in another part of the state 4 hours away. I was really starting to go into how-am-I-going-to-do-this frenzy. I thought to myself, "You can't do this. It's just too much to have all of this going on at once." It really wasn't a pity-party because whenever I feel I'm doing something for my kids, regardless of the efforts, I will walk through fire to get them what they need. But, I was tired and with that came thoughts of why God would send these children to me, that evidently would be better off with a more "capable" person to handle their needs, someone with more experience.

So, I began to pray. I first prayed a rosary, since I have one hanging from my rear-view mirror, and then I just began talking to God. Pretty much just asking him what would make him think that I could do all this, when at times, I have a hard time keeping up with myself. All throughout my prayer time, I felt peace. I felt peace that AJ was going to be ok, that Anna Grace's trips/surgery/treatment would all work out, and that Kai's surgery will also be well. God was in control.

This leads me back to the talk radio comment. Since we had driven outside of the radio airwave ranges for our local station, I started pushing the SEEK button on the radio. The more I pushed the button, the more garbage music I heard. So, I shut it off. Anna Grace continued playing. Suddenly, I had the thought to find a Christian talk radio show. So, I switch to AM radio and sure enough, I found one. What stopped me was that when I switched stations, the words I heard were, "How are YOU serving God?" Hmmm....well, since I have 3 kids at home, I no longer have the time to contribute to the ministries at church. I guess I'm not serving Him, which I am embarassed to even say.

The radio announcer continued on to say that we make excuses not to serve God because we are lazy, because of fear and mostly because we feel inadequate and not worthy of serving a God so big. Ahhh, yes. That's my excuse. I really try and be a huge advocate for my kids, between Anna Grace's hand issues and Kai's speech, throw in some AJ mania and Amanda's teenage hormones, and you have a perfect recipe for a potential disaster. How could I handle it all? Well, the next thing I hear is, "God equips those He calls." This next part stuck to me so much that when I got home at 9:00 p.m., after an incredibly long day, I had to look this up.

"Moses stuttered. David's armor didn't fit. John Mark was rejected by Paul. Hosea's wife was a prostitute. Amos's only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning. Jacob was a liar. David had an affair. Solomon was too rich. Abraham was too old. David was too young. Timothy had ulcers. Peter denied Jesus 3 times and was afraid of death. Lazarus was dead. John was self-righteous. Naomi was a widow. Paul was a murderer. Magdalene was a prostitute. Jonah ran from God. Miriam was a gossip. Gideon and Thomas both doubted. Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal. Elijah was burned out. John the Baptist was a loudmouth. Martha was a worry-wart. Samson had long hair. Noah was a drunk, and Peter and Paul both had short fuses."

Wow! Yet, God used every single one of these people. The announcer continued on to say, "Do you know why God used them? Because each and every one was willing to serve." That's all God needs, your willingness. The rest He takes care of.

At that point, I felt like a ton of bricks were lifted off of me. Can I handle all of what is going on? Yes, and it's because of two simple reasons. 1) "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13 and 2) because I am willing to serve Him always. I just want to reiterate the "through Christ" because I know for a fact that I could not do it alone.

I felt I was being spoken to directly. So, I continued to drive and listen intently to radio's message. Finally, as I approached our destination, the announcer says, "when God puts trials and difficulties in our path, is when we most grow spiritually." Hence, the title of this post, "I think I'm gonna be a GIANT!" It been a tough road these past few months. But as I told a friend the other day, before we went to bring home Anna Grace, I felt like my well was drying out. It took realizing the drought that I was going through for me to surrender it all and let the rain pour down upon me. I no longer thirst. The Lord has quenched that, therefore I have grown in faith immensely during this time. I am so thankful to our Lord for my hardships.

(Ok. I know this post is long, but again, it's my journaling and I need to be able to back and remind myself of these incidences where God clearly speaks to my heart and allows me to see the whys of where I am in my life.)

Finally, we arrive at Shriners. I have to say that I was so very moved when I walked in and saw easily 30-40 children, from babies to teens, with limb differences and orthopedic issues, all there being treated at no cost. For those of you not familiar with Shriners, the Shrine of North America is an international fraternity of approximately 500,000 members throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada and Panama. The Shrine's official philanthropy is Shriner's Hospitals for Children, a network of 22 hospitals that provide expert, no-cost orthopedic and burn care to children under 18.

I digress. I sign in Anna Grace and shortly afterwards we are registered and sent to x-rays. They x-ray her hand and we are told that we will be called shortly. About 20 minutes later, a nurse calls her name and we head into the examining room.

The "greeting nurse" comes in and explains to me a little about Shriners, speaks to Anna Grace for a bit and then informs me that the nurse practioner that works with the hand surgeon will be in shortly.

A few minutes later, in she walks. The kindness in this woman's face beamed even before she said a word. She told me she had read Anna Grace's file (I took her Chiina medical info along with records from her pediatrician here) and that she was so moved by her. Anna Grace was, as usual, her charming self, yet maintained her distance. Mama had whispered to her about 10x during the visit that "no one carries Anna Grace". The "greeter" nurse came back in with gifts for Anna Grace, which included a Barney CD. Well, Anna Grace is a huge Barney lover and in a cute, hard-to-understand, way will sing (hugs and kisses included) the I LOVE YOU song from Barney. She was so happy with her CD that she broke into song when it was handed to her. I must admit, she's an adorable ham. We all clapped at the end and I turn back to the nurse practioner who was literally wiping streams of tears from her eyes. She apologized and said that she so wished that Anna Grace's birthmom could know how happy and well cared for she is. My sentiments exactly.

Anyways, she was examined by the NP and we were told the surgeon would be in shortly. For those that are not aware of Anna Grace's hand issue, she has syndactily of 3 fingers on her right hand, which basically means 3 fingers are fused together. The surgeon came in and although I admit I was not thrilled with his bedside manner, only because he was so rushed, he seemed to be very knowlegable in his field. He informed me that the surgical correction involves cutting the tissue that connects the fingers, then grafting skin from the forearm around each finger. This will have to be done in stages and we will be begin with her pinky/ring finger. Because the hand has so many nerves, it is a very painful procedure. Gosh! Is there ever a procedure these babies go thru that is NOT painful?! Her hand will remain in a cast for 2 weeks and we will be doing the Tampa road trips approximately 1-2x per week for the first 4 weeks. That was the good news.

The bad news, and this is where I am so thankful that I prayed and was reminded about God being in control, is that they don't feel that she will have much mobility with those fingers after the surgery, even with therapy. This is because one of the most common defects of Poland syndrome is that the affected hand is usually underdeveloped. She has missing bones in 2 of the 3 fingers that are fused and the other 2 fingers are very small. That said, I will not quit before trying, so she will continue before and after the surgery with occupational therapy. If we see that in fact, her mobility (and she has great use of her hand now) is limited, than that is God's will, but I can't in all good conscience, accept the fact that it isn't going to happen without even trying.

The second bad news is that because Shriners is based on donations and will not accept any monies for treatment, they have a huge number of patients. Therefore, we will have to wait approximately 8 months for her surgery. The surgeon who will be handling Anna Grace's case is the only hand surgeon there. Yesterday morning he had 5 surgeries and then saw 35 patients between 1 - 5 p.m. That answered my question of why he was so rushed when he saw us.

I was asked if I wanted to be put on a "short notice" list, which means that at any given moment we could get a phone call saying that there was a cancellation for surgery and that she could be taken. I, of course, agreed. I left there very much at peace that God is in control. His timing is always perfect and whether it's 8 months or 8 weeks from now, whenever her time for surgery comes, is when the Lord had it planned for her.

Afterwards, the nurse practitioner answered my page-full of questions and we headed back home, only to pick up AJ at my Mom's with 104 temp and having to put him in a cold tub to bring the fever down. I eventually made it home at 9 p.m, after leaving the house at 8 a.m., I am so thankful that we have accomplished one more step in handling their medical issues and that along the way, God nudged me again into trusting him and believing that He is in control. What a relief!

PS - I will try and post one last time before we head to Orlando tomorrow morning for Kai's surgery. Please remember to keep him in your prayers. THANK YOU and GOD BLESS!

1 comment :

Grace said...

Please don't be pulled into thinking that because you aren't ministering in the "church" that you aren't doing God's will. God has called you to be a keeper at home, to raise your children to be Godly young men and women who will serve Him. This is the task of a life time. To everything there is a season, a time, and a purpose under heaven. Right now your purpose is to love those kids so they can grow up and spread the gospel, please don't take that task lightly.


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