Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Allergic Child--Part 2

My sweet Olivia drank her first cup of cow's milk this morning. Last night she had a few bites of cheese pizza with her sisters. Thursday evening, she had a tiny slice of my husband's birthday cake and part of a Parmesan bread stick. Those things might sound like silly things to write about (or maybe you think I don't feed my kids very well!), but in our family, each of those taste tests were cause for great rejoicing. You may (or may not) recall that Olivia was diagnosed with food allergies last Fall. Specifically, she tested positive for milk, casein, egg yolks, and egg white allergies. It was tough news to receive, but we felt that it was also the answer to the many questions we had about her health. I wrote about some of what God revealed to me during that time here.

You may also recall Olivia's latest health issues we battled earlier this month (scroll down to read through the updates). When we returned home, Olivia was recovering from her bout with the rota virus, but Charlie and I noticed she wasn't bouncing back to her normal self. She was quiet and withdrawn. She had lost a lot of weight from the dehydration and didn't seem all that eager to replenish her depleted body stores. I began to feel absolutely desperate about her health. We had followed every instruction given to us by every doctor. We were very careful to keep her known allergens out of her diet (and ours!). We had prayed and prayed and prayed for her health to be restored, but she seemed worse than ever. The Thursday after we returned home from the hospital, the doctor from Riley North called. I sat down as he told me that he had received her lab results back and that he needed to talk to me about some of the results. My heart started pounding with fear. Lord, what's wrong with my baby? He went on to explain that Olivia had tested positive for rota virus, as he had expected, but she had also tested positive for an antibiotic resistant bacterial infection in her gastrointestinal tract. He said her numbers were off the charts and that she had obviously been carrying this bacteria around for months, possibly even a year. The bacteria is common enough that many people can carry it around without even knowing they have it. But, in Olivia's case, the bacteria grew unchecked for months. Then, when her ear infections flared up in January and continued to return for the next 4 months, the non-specific antibiotics we were giving her just made the situation worse. They killed off all the good bacteria that were giving her any ability to absorb food. Without the good bacteria, she wasn't getting any real nourishment. The bacterial infection also causes great distress to the intestinal tract, interfering with Olivia's appetite so she didn't want to eat either.

It all sounded alarming to me, but the doctor's next words were music to my ears: seven days of a specific antibiotic and Olivia would be a different girl. I almost cried. I asked the doctor a few more questions and thanked him profusely for being so attentive to my child. He said, "It is such a privilege to be used by God as He heals. Thank God that He has touched your little girl." Charlie picked up the antibiotics that afternoon and we began her treatment. Within 24 hours we noticed some changes. She was more alert and talkative. Within 48 hours, we had heard her laugh and she was more interested in her sisters. By Monday, she was almost back to her usual self.

As great as things seemed to be, in the back of my mind, I kept wondering how long it would all last. We had been excited about her health before only to be disappointed as she got sick again. I was also asking some hard questions: Why her? Why can't I be the one to suffer, Lord? How could you let this be part of the plan for her life? I knew enough to know that God alone is sovereign and doesn't have to answer, but I also have the heart of a mother, deeply interested in the welfare of her children, needing to know how to walk forward with confidence that God is working all of this for our good. Wednesday, a card came in the mail addressed to me from my friend and sister in the Lord, Linda. I had seen her at the produce stand Saturday and she was just sending a little card to say how nice it was to run into me. In the middle of the card, though, was this verse:

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

That was all I needed to read. It was the wake-up call I needed. The Lord wanted me to give Olivia back to Him because He was already holding her together. He wanted me to trust Him with her, knowing that He is good and faithful and in control. I sat down in the living room and prayed and gave my little Olivia back to the Lord. As I was praying, I felt the Holy Spirit lifting me and renewing my heart. I began to feel a sense of confidence that the Lord had indeed healed my child. How like God to have His hands out as I turn to Him, already working to restore my faith and our relationship. What an awesome Father!

So, does my child still have allergies? She isn't exhibiting any indications that she does. We are going slowly, giving her tastes of milk and eggs, trying to be careful not to overwhelm her system. We are continuing our strategy of a 75% allergy-free meal, but we are also letting her have things we would not have normally thought of giving her. We are rejoicing in the improved disposition and personality of our child and the knowledge that our God is big enough and great enough to do all things. He can heal. He does heal. We are trusting in Him.

I am rejoicing in You today, Father, for the wonderful way You heal. You heal in wisdom and with prudence. You heal completely and without partiality. You heal to make us one with You. You heal to restore us to You. Most importantly, You heal. You are the Great Physician. Thank You for touching my child. I give her life over to You, knowing that You are in complete control and that not a thing has happened to her that You did not already know of or perceive. You have crafted her and designed her to reflect Your glory. I pray that her life would entirely do so. Thank You Jesus, for being my Friend and Savior. Amen.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day, Hubby!

My husband is a great dad. He has been from the moment he first laid eyes on our firstborn. He changed her first poopy diaper, paced the floor with her in the middle of the night, learned to swaddle better than I ever could, he read to her, sang to her, and gave her the sweet nickname of "Doodle." His fathering instincts have always been so good. He always seems to know how to have fun with the girls. He is forever making up new games with the simplest of household items. He invented games at our house like "Hide-and-Seek Pony" and "Coming to Get You!" He used the snow blower this winter to create a five foot tall igloo, complete with window, door and flag. He faithfully reads to the girls from their children's Bible and is able to relate scriptural truth to them in a way they understand. He notices when they have newly painted toenails and is quick to kiss "owies" and "boo-boos." He is incredibly patient with all of them and is always reminding them of how special and unique they are. It touches my heart to see him pouring his heart into our three little girls.

My husband learned to be a great dad from his dad (who is a stellar grandpa, by the way!) and they both follow after the greatest of all fathers: God, our Father. Charlie's dad read the Bible to his children every morning over breakfast, prayed for his family, gave to others in need, and ministered to his children's friends. He walked out life in Christ before his children every day, teaching my husband the importance of obedience, sacrifice, generosity, love, and service. My husband has commented more than once that his dad has been a tremendous spiritual influence in his life. What a legacy my children have inherited!

Father, thank You for my husband, who every day reminds me that You have a plan for our lives and our family. Thank You for each and every way You have imparted Yourself to him through the Word and through others to make him into the man he is now and the man he will be tomorrow. Thank You for choosing me to be his wife. What a privilege! Bless him always, Lord. May our children be blessed, also. Praise to You, my Father and Friend. Amen.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Oh, My God!

Yesterday, the girls and I were window shopping (I was trying to figure out what Ruthie wants for her upcoming birthday) when Ruthie spied something on the bottom shelf of the bargain aisle. She picked up the toy and said, "Oh, my God!" We all froze and I looked at her with what must have been total shock. He hand flew to her mouth and a look of fear spread over her face. Her eyes welled with tears and she said, "Oh, Mommy, what did I say?!"

She didn't actually know that her expression was disrespectful, but she could tell from my reaction that she had said something I disapproved of. I was so surprised that she knew that phrase--we never say it in our home and I can't imagine where she heard it amongst our family and friends. I got down to her level and said, "Ruthie, we don't ever use God's name like that. God's name is holy and He deserves our respect and love. When we use God's name it's always in a way that shows love." She hugged me and apologized and said she wanted to apologize to God, too. So, right there in the Dollar General store, we prayed and she said she was sorry.

Later in the day, the girls and I talked about God's name. I told them that God has many names to show His many different character qualities. We talked about their own names and why we choose them and what they mean. Then they asked me what God's different names were. I have to admit, I knew some of them but wasn't entirely sure I was getting their meanings right. So, I told them I would spend time looking them up and we could talk about them today. Here is the list I came up with--not exactly exhaustive in nature, but names I thought they could relate to and possibly remember.

Let's all learn them together to remember how great our God truly is!

The Names of God
Hebrew: English:
EL Mighty, Strong
Elohim Creator
El Shaddai God Almighty or God All Sufficient
Adonai Lord or Master
Jehovah "I AM WHO I AM" or the self-existent One
Jehovah-Jireh The Lord Who Provides
Jehovah-Rophe The Lord Who Heals
Jehovah-Nissi The Lord Our Banner (in battle)
Jehovah-M'Kaddesh The Lord Who Sanctifies (makes holy, sets apart)
Jehovah-Shalom The Lord Our Peace (perfect peace)
Jehovah-Elohim LORD God
Jehovah-Tsidkenu The Lord our Righteousness (justice)
Jehovah-Rohi The Lord our Shepherd
Jehovah-Shammah The Lord is there
Jehovah-Sabaoth The Lord of Hosts (commander of army)
El-Elyon Most High
Yesha Savior
Gaol Redeemer (to buy back paying a price)
Magen Shield
El-Olam Everlasting One
El-Gibhor God the Warrior
Zur God our Rock

Okay, that's 22 names in both Hebrew and English. What a great thing for our children (and us!) to know. God loves it when we pray using His names. And, it helps us to tap into the vast resources of God's character. Just think, at the same time God is both Jehovah-Shalom and El-Gibhor!

My information was collected from a few great sites:

Thank You, Jehovah, for being Strong and Mighty while at the same time also being Healing and Peace. Help me to know You better. In Jesus' Holy name, Amen.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

When We All Get To Heaven...

At the lunch table, Emma and Ruthie started talking about heaven. Really, they were arguing about their "super-duper" powers in heaven. Here' s part of our conversation:

Mommy: What do you mean, "super powers?"
Ruthie: I want to be able to fly.
Emma: No, Ruthie, we won't be able to fly, just walk through walls.
Mommy: Well, you are both sort of right. We will be able to walk through walls and it might not be flying like birds but we'll be able to appear in places without using a car or plane. What do you think heaven will be like girls?

(Long pause.......)

Ruthie: Like home!
Emma: Well, Jesus is building a big house for us.
Ruthie: Yeah, and I want my room to be next to Mommy's.
Emma: No, I want to be next to Mommy!
Ruthie: No, me!
Emma: No, me!!
Mommy: Okay, girls, let's not fight over where our rooms are. It's God's house so we'll go where He wants us to go, okay? What do you think will be in the house Jesus is building?
Emma: Rainbows and glitter and princesses and flowers and grass.
Ruthie: Horses and sparkles and a castle and tulips and roses.
Emma: Yeah, we get to have white horses, right Mommy?
Mommy: Yep.
Emma: I'm going to name my pony Rainbow Sparkle Jewel Dancer.
Ruthie: I'm going to name my horse Harold. Can he be a unicorn?
Mommy: No, unicorns are make-believe, honey.
Ruthie: (disappointed) Oh.
Emma: I hope we all die at the same time so no one has to be on earth alone or in heaven alone.

(Long pause as I wipe my tears...)

Mommy: Well, someday we will all be in heaven together with Jesus and that will be better than anything we've ever experienced or seen.
Ruthie: Heaven must be pretty neat 'cause I really like what I got here.
Emma: Me, too, except for this bug bite.

Thank You, God, for using my girls to remind me that my reward will be in heaven. Thank You for making a place for me in eternity. Thank You for teaching my children that they are loved. In Jesus' holy name...Amen.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Bread Of Life

Charlie forced me out of the house Saturday night. I had been consumed with Olivia's care for so many days and I was beginning to show signs of both cabin fever and MFS (Mommy Fatigue Syndrome). The Strawberry Festival has been going on this weekend and the bookstore our church is starting had their grand opening this weekend as well. He encouraged me to go down to the bookstore and check it out. So, I put on some clean clothes, my birks and headed out the door. On my way there, I could smell my favorite fair food--funnel cakes (I know, I know. No comments, please, on how incredibly unhealthy funnel cakes are. Keep reading...). I decided I would make a brief appearance at the bookstore, grab a funnel cake and head home. I didn't want to be gone very long in case Olivia woke up and needed something.

The night air felt so good and fresh after being cooped up too many day in a row. As I was crossing the street, I saw my good friend Linda and we decided to go to the bookstore together. As we walked in, we were greeted by the sound of believers worshipping the Lord. Towards the back of the store, several young men were leading worship as people mixed and mingled and fellowshipped together. The sight and sound of them was music to my ears and a welcome sight for my sore eyes. Many people stopped to ask about Olivia and to offer encouragement--so like our body to be so encouraging! Eventually, Linda and I found seats near a couple of women from our Bible study and sat down to enjoy worship.

Maybe an hour passed by before I thought to check my watch. It was getting late but I wasn't tired anymore. The Lord has been quietly but methodically restoring my soul. I briefly thought about my other reason for coming downtown--the funnel cake, but I didn't want it anymore. I was filled with spiritual food, the Bread of Life. As always, the Lord saw my hunger and not only met it but left me fat and satisfied with the Bread only He can give.

"Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world." John 6:47-51

Jesus gave His body, His life, His flesh, so that I might live forever. This bread never gets old or stale or moldy. It is what my soul hungers for. It is what my spirit can feast on. Anything else won't ever provide eternal satiety.

Yesterday, Olivia wasn't eating very well. I had prepared all her favorite foods, trying to tempt her with something that might give her the nourishment she desperately needs. I found myself feeling frustrated as she threw one thing after another to the floor, crying "No!" I got on my knees beside her high chair and poured out my heart to God. I found myself saying at one point:

Why, God? Why won't she eat what is right in front of her? All she has to do is reach out and take it? Why won't she eat the things that will make her body well?!

And I felt the Holy Spirit responding:

Why, Jen? Why won't you eat what is right in front of you? All you have to do is reach out and take it? Why won't you eat the thing that will make you whole?

It's a good reminder. I do choose to eat the Bread of Life most times. But, there are still times (too many, I admit) when I choose to be satisfied with something far inferior. Jesus is all I need.
Thank You, Jesus, for reminding me that you will fill me and nourish me. Thank You for the many times this last week when You brought me to the table to feast. Forgive me for the times when I have refused to eat. Help me to hunger and thirst for You alone. In Your precious name...Amen.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Quietude of Home

Thank God, O women, for the quietude of your home, and that you are queen in it. Men come at eventide to the home; but all day long you are there, beautifying it, sanctifying it, adorning it, blessing it. Better be there than wear a queen's coronet. Better be there than carry the purse of a princess. It may be a very humble home. There may be no carpet on the floor. There may be no pictures on the wall. There may be no silks in the wardrobe; but, by your faith in God, and your cheerful demeanor, you may garniture that place with more splendor than the upholsterer's hand ever kindled.
Rev. T De Witt Talmage, D.D.
I found this quote on another blog I read often. So true, so true! It is better for us, sisters, to be quietly keeping our homes, raising our children, loving our husbands, than to be doing anything else. In the end, nothing will remain but that which the Lord redeems. Let us all be about the business of God's redemption! And let us all rejoice doing whatever the Lord provides for our hands to do!
Note: If you tried to follow the link above on my original post date, the link was incorrect. I excluded a very important dash. Thanks, Ann, for letting me know!

God Glorified

Just a little while ago, Olivia's doctor from Riley Hospital called. I guess it's routine for them to call about 24 hours after a patient is released to make sure everything is going well and to answer any questions about after-care. Anyway, after I answered his questions, I thanked him for all of his help and for trusting us to take Olivia home a little earlier than normal. He was very quiet and then asked me if he could share something with me. He went on to say that as he was going over Olivia's lab results and the nurses' notes, it wasn't adding up to an early release. But, he was having trouble with the thought of walking into her room and telling me that we would have to re-administer the IV. He came to the door and pushed it open just a bit. It was dark inside but he could hear someone talking softly. He was hearing me pray and this is what he remembers hearing:

...I know You are healing her, even now. Thank You, Father. Please, Lord, help me to accept whatever the doctor decides. Help me to submit to Your will as You speak through the doctors and nurses. Help me, Father, to trust You. My strength is failing but I know You are here...

I don't remember saying those words but that is what the doctor heard. He shared with me that he felt the Lord telling him to let us go home. He went to his office with Olivia's file and looked everything over again. He said that he knew he would have to find a way to justify what he felt the Lord leading him to do with medical evidence. When he opened her file again and went through the numbers, one of the reports had different numbers, different enough to justify sending her home. He then filed our release papers and came to tell me the good news.

Obviously, I was blown away when he shared this story with me. How great is our God?! I don't think I can even capture what I am thinking and feeling right now. But I can capture my praise and offer it to the Lord. Thank You, God, for Your mercy and healing. I love You...

Olivia--Saturday AM

We're home! It's so blissful to be here. We got home around 7:30 PM last night. Olivia began running another fever last night, but it was low-grade so no cause for great concern (although, I think I will be on high alert until she is completely well!). She was fitful through the night, but slept better in her own bed. I know I slept better in my own bed!

If you are still checking in and still praying, please continue to do so. Although we are home, Olivia is not back to normal. She's still feverish and lethargic. In fact, this morning, she only wanted to curl up on my lap and suck her finger--definitely NOT our little Olivia. I'm working hard to trust in the Lord, knowing that, despite what I see before me, He is indeed healing my little girl. I've been asking God to re-fresh my sight and open my eyes to all that He was and is and is yet to be.

Friday, June 8, 2007


After a lengthy consultation with the doctor and nurses, Olivia's doctor has agreed to release her this afternoon! Praise God for His healing hands!

Olivia is still carrying a fever and we will have to monitor her very closely over the next few days, but we can do it from the comfort of our home. Thank you so much for praying for her and being such faithful witnesses of the body of Christ in action. We are thanking God for each of you!



Olivia 2:30 PM

A new snafoo, hopefully one that is resolved quickly:

About 30 minutes ago, Olivia's IV began failing. She started complaining about something hurting and then I noticed her arm starting to swell slightly. Her nurse came in and tried to flush the line with no success. The removed her original IV and are going to ask the doctor what he wants to do next. The nurse says he will most likely want to get another IV line started to continue hydration therapy. What I want to do is try oral hydration for an hour or two to see how she responds. Her fever has not returned and she is acting like her old self. I know they are still waiting for two lab results to return, sometime within the hour.

So, if you are inclined to pray, please pray that the Lord's will be done. I certainly don't want to bring her home before she is ready, but I also don't want unnecessary procedures done. My desire is for her to come home and for no other IVs to be administered before she is released. I also desire for us to be back together as a family under one roof.

Thanks for being such faithful prayer partners!

Olivia 1:30 PM

Some of Olivia's lab work has come back and was encouraging. So far, no sign of infection. Her ibuprofen wore off around 11:30 AM and her fever has not returned (PTL). She has asked for water and fruit snacks (her very favorite treat!). She's been allowed to have the water but had to settle for jell-o and a banana. The doctor was just in and said that if her remaining labs come back okay and she agrees to eat and drink throughout the day, we have a good chance of going home later this afternoon or evening.

The doctor also said he had never seen a child with this sort of viral infection turn around so quickly. He said it usually improves very slowly over several days, not hours. I think we can all agree that the Lord has had something to do with that!

More later...

Olivia 11:00 AM

The nurses have been in to collect more blood for lab work and to collect a urine sample. We will know some of the results in a few hours. This morning, she is beginning to respond to the ibuprofen she was given. Her fever has dropped some and they will delay administering any more fever reducers to see if her fever climbs again. She asked for some ice water this morning (that made Mommy happy!) and she is complaining about being checked and re-checked.

She is resting now, watching cartoons and hugging her favorite bear, "Share Bear." A little bit ago she said, "Call Daddy?" which melted my heart. Hopefully she is on the mend and her lab work will come back normal. More later...


Two days ago, Olivia began showing signs that she was not feeling well. Vomiting, diarrhea and poor appetite. By evening, we began to be concerned and contacted our pediatrician. She recommended bringing her to the hospital for observation and IV fluid treatments. After we arrived, the doctor confirmed that Olivia was indeed dehydrated and most likely battling a viral infection. They administered the IV and began re-hydrating her, but she then began to carry a low-grade fever. The low grade fever climbed through the night and spiked as high as 104.9 yesterday. She also began refusing her sippy cup and was very lethargic.

This morning, the doctor has ordered a series of cultures and tests to be sure she is not struggling with a bacterial infection. This Spring, she sustained several ear infections before having tubes placed in her ears. As a result of the many ear infections, she was on several rounds of powerful antibiotics. The doctor is also going to check to make sure she has not developed a drug-resistant bacterial infection, a danger that comes from multiple antibiotic treatments.

Until Olivia's fever comes down and she is willing to eat and drink, we will be staying put here at Riley North (a division of Riley Hospital at Clarion North Medical Center). Thanks for praying for her and for all of us.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

More prayers they pray...

Ruthie: Thank You God, for this day. Please help my boo-boos to heal. Please help people to have Jesus in their hearts. It would be sad if they didn't know you like I do. Thank You for not letting it thunder last night. I know you are in the thunder but I think You are scary when You make all that noise. You sound too big to see me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Emma: Thank You God, for this day and help the people on the other side of the world like the people in the Ukraine to know Jesus in their hearts. Some people on this side of the world don't have Jesus in their hearts, either. Maybe I could just tell them and then they would know and they could be with us in heaven in those houses you are building up there. I want my house to be purple. I'm saving money in my piggy bank I made with Daddy to give to the kids in the Ukraine. If I find any pennies I'm going to put them in the special box at church but not when anybody but You is looking because I know if I do that, You will give me a special blessing. Mommy says that giving is a good enough blessing but I want to go to Disney World. Also, Holiday World and the Strawberry Festival and the Fall Festival. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Olivia: Praise Jesus! Amen!

A much needed respite...

I'm finally back to my blog! After Charlie's trip to Boston, he was on vacation until this past Sunday. It was wonderful to have him home with us and we were able to be available to our extended family, friends and neighbors--something we all love to do!

While Charlie was home, I felt the Lord quietly drawing me away from the computer and into His Word and fellowship. I needed to drink deeply from the living waters He so willingly provides for my thirsty soul. God is so good! Here are some "new" verses for me that the Lord has brought into my life. I've also listed a few questions to go along. Many thanks to those of you who e-mailed, wondering where I was! I'm back and better for having fellowshipped with our Lord!

"So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth." Hosea 6:3
Are you pressing on to know the Lord or are you just ambling along, hoping you are going in His direction? Do you hunger deeply after the things of God or is your appetite satiated by something ultimately less nourishing and satisfying?

"The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;" Psalm 19:7a
Are you allowing the Word of God to restore your soul, your emotional well-being? When your emotions run wild, do you turn to the Lord or to something else?

"The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." Psalm 19:7b
Are you sure of the testimony of the Lord? Are you certain that Jesus is who He says He is? Are you trusting in the simple wisdom of that knowledge or making things more complicated than He intended them to be?

"The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;" Psalm 19:8a
Is your heart rejoicing? If not, are you out of line with some part of God's code of conduct?

"The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes." Psalm 19:8b
Do you clearly see the way before you? If not, are you ignoring something God has clearly commanded? Are you trusting in the purity of those commandments and their ability to help you discern the path before you?

"The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;" Psalm 19:9a
Are you clean? If you are clean in God's eyes then He sees you covered by the blood of Jesus and you will endure forever. Are you living as if you will endure forever? Are you living as cleaned by His blood?

"The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether." Psalm 19:9b
Do you trust our Judge? Do you believe that He is Truth?

"They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them, Your servant is warned; in keeping them their is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also, keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; them I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression." Psalm 19:10-13
Are you regularly asking God for forgiveness of sins you don't recognize? Are you asking God to keep you from defiant, willful sin? Do you accept His acquittal?

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14
Are you asking God to allow your words and thoughts to be acceptable to Him, understanding His holiness and your own short-comings? Do you rejoice when He does, in fact, accept your words and thoughts?