Sunday, March 18, 2012

Getting a Shield Upgrade

 I swore I would never talk about the night Hope fell. I don’t want to think of it ever again. But, writing helps me process through it all.

Mom and I drove down to Florida for a week at our condo. Tim was coming down late that evening after he got off work. We were about 3 hours ahead of him. I couldn’t wait to get there. Since having Crew, I have really struggled emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I am horrible at the newborn stage. I can’t let my babies cry and I am not a “schedule-type-person”.  I am a bleeding heart for a newborn so none of my children have ever cried more than the amount of time it took me to get to them. Needless to say, it takes forever for my babies to learn to sleep.
I don’t think I get post-partum depression but I definitely get post-partum exhaustion… which may lead to depression?? But, who doesn't get depressed when they have not slept in 5 months and haven't had fresh air and are totally out of routine? I don't think it is a wacky chemical imbalance... I think it is lack of oxygen and sleep.

When Crew was 8 weeks old, he got RSV. That was HORRIBLE and only added to my exhaustion. I held him for 2 weeks straight and nursed him round the clock. He got used to that quick! Now, he is almost 5 months old and still not a good sleeper. He loves me and wants to be with me all the time, so he usually is. No sleep+a VERY active toddler girl+homeschool+ministry= TOO MUCH. I have been incredibly overwhelmed so a trip to the beach couldn’t come soon enough! The drive down was stressful with all the little ones and bathroom breaks, crying, nursing, etc… I was frazzled when we finally got to the condo. I had  Crew’s poop on my jeans from changing him on my lap and the kids were bouncing off the walls when we arrived. They always are after they have been stuck in the car for 8+ hours.

 I was unloading baby beds, bouncers, luggage, diapers, and the kitchen sink. When we came in, I realized that our fridge had broken sometime over the winter and it STUNK like a dead dog in the condo. Hope had a nasty diaper so I put her in the tub and got her ready for bed. When she got out, I let her go play in the boys room while I set up her pac-n-play. I was MAXED out. I called Tim and told him it was too much that I couldn’t do it without him. After I hung up the phone, I was going in to get Hope when I heard a THUMP. I ran in and saw her laying on the floor. I am not going to give many details because the images are burned into my brain and I want them OUT.

 I knew she was hurt. I couldn’t bare to leave her on the ground so I moved her. She looked white and like she  was passing out at first, Then she started to cry… hard. I was so scared. I told mom to call 911. We couldn’t find our phones. There was luggage everywhere. Kids everywhere. It was complete chaos and once again, all I knew to do was to cry out to Jesus. I must have said His Mighty Name 1,000 times as I prayed over her.  The 911 people were driving me nuts asking me 1,000 questions.  I gave them my address and they wanted to know what county I was in. I couldn’t think straight. They asked if it was Dade county. I said, “I don’t know. Just send an ambulance to the address I gave you, please!!”. They were not at all panicked. They seemed really slow to me. They transferred me to the wrong county and the Dade county people told me they needed to transfer me to the Walton County 911. It was terrible. Crew was screaming. My 3 boys were scared out of their minds. I was TERRIFIED. I wanted to get off the phone with the VERY unhelpful person who kept telling me to "stay on the phone, mam". I wanted to call Tim. Everything was spinning. 

The fire department arrived first. No offense to any firemen reading this but I didn't need the fire department. I needed an AMBULANCE! The fire department guy just kept telling me he couldn't evaluate her or tell if she had broken bones because he was with the fire department. The smarty pants in me wanted to say, "THAT IS WHY I DIDN'T CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT!".  The ambulance finally arrived. They looked at her and were trying to see if she broke anything when she started puking everywhere. So, they said, "We need to get her to the hospital". I said, "My baby has to come too. I can't leave him." So, the helpful fire department guys went to work.... getting Crew's car seat moved out of our van and into the ambulance. (I was thankful they were there after all!) So, Hope, Crew and I were on our way in the ambulance. Everything was still spinning. I was praying out loud over Hope while Crew was screaming his head off. Hope was quiet and starting to fall asleep. She puked again. I prayed more. The ambulance guy kept interrupting my prayers to get my address. 
The whole situation was a bad dream. After a FOREVER long ride to the hospital in Destin, we made it. They wheeled all 3 of us out. Crew had fallen asleep but woke up screaming again. I was nursing Crew and holding my precious baby girl in the Emergency Room. No husband. No help. Just my common companion...
F. E. A. R.

I realized at that moment in the ER how MUCH I love my sweet girl. Her life played like a movie in my mind. I realized that every moment with herwas a gift. Dressing her every day. Putting her hair in pigtails. Watching her laugh. Hearing her every new word. Her love for dogs and dislike for baby dolls.
She has such a fun personality. I learn from her. She is FULL of life. Full of confidence. Fearless. (Evan will tell me later that she had a HUGE smile on her face when she jumped off the bed while she was in the air). She isn't very girly but she does love accessories. She  breaks the mold and undoes the stereotypes. She is her own person, full of surprises. But, I will have to say I didn't love the diving-off
the-bunk-bed-headfirst-surprise though.
To the hospital, she was just a chart... A number in room...A name on a sheet of paper...another face on a work shift. Not to me.
And not to God.
She is SO precious to Him. He knit her together. Knows the exact number of hairs on her head.
As HE does you...
What a comfort the love of God is.

So individual. So intimate.

So here we were. The 3 of us all on a bed in the ER. My life seemed so out of control. I felt sad I couldn't be alone with Hope when she needed me because I had ANOTHER baby. I think that was the hardest part for me. She needed me yet she had to share me. It seriously made me want to be done having children for the first time ever. I want to be THERE for each child when they need me. I also wondered if the ER was calling child services to turn me in for, um, I don't know... having too many children? I had to call Evan (the brother she thought could catch her) and explain to him that this was NOT his fault. He was so upset. I was worried about him too.

The ER nurse came in and said, "wow, you have your hands full. Are these your only 2?" (or something like that). I told her we had 5. I closed my eyes and got ready to be handcuffed, halled off, and thrown into the jail (for mom's whose babies fall off bunk beds). BUT, to my surprise and by the grace of God she said, "oh wow. that's great! I am one of 8. My mom used to always say bad things happened when dad wasn't there." She understood.

God was so kind to have the exact nurse I needed at the exact time. She immediately took Crew, changed his diaper and held him the whole time for me. I was able to go in with Hope while she had her CTscan and be THERE completely while she was so afraid. (I can't imagine how mothers of children with cancer do it... only by grace).
God made a way for me to be with my daughter when she needed me. I am so thankful. I praise Him that He truly does lead us mommas gently and holds us close to His heart. Jehovah Raah... our amazing Shepherd. 

"He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
he gently leads those that have young."
Is 40:11

Another name for God is Jehovah Shammah which means the Lord is THERE. Just as we want to be "there" for our children, God is always "THERE". This is my boys favorite name. They love knowing that the Lord is there. Sometimes in Home School (better known as Home's Cool ;), the Lord proves to the boys He is there. In ways only they (and I) would know it. When it happens, we wink at each other and say, "Jehovah Shammah".
Well, the Lord was there in the ER with me and with Hope. We waited on the results of her scan. They had to make sure there was no "bleeding on the brain". Those are words you never want to hear as a mother. Tim finally made it to the hospital. The doctor came in and told us she had a concussion. Praise the Lord that was ALL. We had to watch her for 48 hours and keep her from falling and hitting her head for 2 weeks.
That is not an easy task with her.
So, Tim, Crew, Hope, and I piled in his truck and headed back to the stinky condo.
She was ok.
I wasn't.
The next morning Reece told me that he, Evan, and Lake had all held hands and prayed for Hope while we were being taken away by ambulance. He told me they cried out to Jehovah Rapha to heal her. That helped my broken heart. It is amazing to see how God uses trials to draw us AND OUR CHILDREN to Himself.
I was so proud of them. They are total warriors and Reece is such a great leader.
Meanwhile, everything inside of me seemed to start to crash. 
Condemnation, worry, fear, guilt, accusations from the enemy, etc... 
It was too much. I had been hit by a flaming arrow this time. Somehow, my armor hadn't protected me. 
I had gotten knocked down. 
And, it felt like I couldn't stop falling. It felt like a free-fall into a black hole. 
I don't know how to describe it other than that. 
My heart had broken and I couldn't find all of the pieces. I kept telling the Lord, "I told you I couldn't do this!".
The next night laying in bed I knew I seriously felt like I was going to have a panic attack and felt the Lord speak to my heart, "Reach out your hand". So, I did. With Tim asleep beside me, I reached out my right hand to toward heaven. I know that God reached down into the pit and pulled me back up. 
"though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand."
Ps 37:24
"To him who is able to keep you from falling"
Jude 1:24
"Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall."
Psalm 55:22
"you will never fall"
2 Peter 1:10
During the next week, God put my shattered heart back together. I began to wonder what I could have done. Maybe nothing? Maybe that will always be my response in crisis with a child. But, I believe the Lord showed me that my shield of faith was TOO SMALL. That is why I am getting hit. That I need MORE FAITH so that my shield is bigger. I am also trying to not operate out of fear but out of faith. That is easy in some areas of my life, but not with my family. 
Our family has had so many health scares.
Chronic illness, seizure, bacterial infections, asthma attacks, tornadoes, RSV, croup, sever food allergies, etc..

But, you know what the common denominator in all of these terrifying episodes has been? 
God's faithfulness.
He has delivered us out of each one.
I praise Him for that. 
May I walk by faith... not by fear.
 I encourage you to look at the pieces of your armor (Eph 6). Ask God to show you where you are vulnerable to the enemy's flaming arrows. 
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peaceIn addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." 
Keep moving forward! I told my friend Jennie, "I am moving forward. My knees are knocking under my big heavy armor, but I am moving FORWARD".
Jennie and I have both been hit with crazy things since starting the conference call Bible Study.
 A friend just called me and told me that since they had stepped out in faith to lead a financial class in a low-income area, their personal finances had been rocked. She recognized it for what it was. She was afraid. She said that she and her husband felt like there was a target on their backs. Well, good news/ bad news... THERE IS.
The good news is that we have been marked by the name of Christ. We are recognized in the spiritual realm.
I am fully aware that I am hated. 
But, what if you don't have a target on your back?
Those are the people in DANGER. If you are not for Christ, you are against Him.
There are only 2 teams. You are on one of those two teams.
"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are"
1 John 3:10
I know that is heavy but it is true. If you are not a child of God, become one right now by TURNING FROM SIN and placing your faith in Jesus Christ.
Yes, you will have a target on your back... but you are so safe.
If you don't have a target on your back, you are in MUCH DANGER.
I remember being scared out of my mind once when I was praying for a friend who just discovered her husband was having an affair. The evil felt like it was breathing down my neck.
It was really late at night and I had a long drive home. 
The baby was asleep in the back while I drove.
I was afraid.
But, then it occurred to me. And get ready because this is REALLY profound...
God is creator, the devil (I don't say his name) is creaTION.
This isn't a close match. One created the other.
And one is in submission to the other.

"We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him." 1 John 5:18

"Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand--with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him."
1 Peter 3:22

Does this mean we won't struggle? NO.
It is a struggle.
The Greek definition for this word Struggle in Eph 6 is a wrestling word...
wrestling (a contest between two in which each endeavours to throw the other, and which is decided when the victor is able to hold his opponent down with his hand upon his neck) 

Jesus said, 
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." 
John 16:33
trouble here is defined as: pressure, pressing together, oppression.

Trouble is inevitable. It is promised by Jesus. So, how do we respond? Do we fight back. Or are do we shrink back, being bullied into silence and stepping out of ministry. I know I haven't been. My stomach has been in knots with worry and fear. I actually broke out in shingles because of stress during this last episode... and now one of my kids woke up THIS morning with chicken pox. All thanks to my anxiety that triggered shingles. Fear and worry are unhealthy for us spiritually and physically. 

Do we fight like a victor... realizing the power and strength we have been given access to through our weapons and the Word of God?
You don't have time to go listen to a 6 week series on spiritual warfare when you are in a full nelson choke hold. You have to be prepared. GET OUT YOUR SWORD. Get in the Word. The sword will cut the ropes that have you bound and free you.
As we get closer to the return of Christ, things are going to get scarier. 
We have to know how to protect ourselves from being paralyzed by fear and how to keep moving forward with the gospel.
Time is short. Souls are at stake. 
Put on the full armor of God... and FIGHT. And, always remember that it is in HIS MIGHTY POWER... not your own.

"For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory." 
Deut 20:4

Now, lets focus on things that are right, pure, true, praiseworthy, admirable, excellent and lovely like...
New life! Jesus Christ... the ONE Who brings life to the dead.
He did it for me. He wants to do it for you.
He conquered death.
He experienced death so we would never have to.
Praise His Holy Name.
"I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!"
Rev 1:18 



Alexandra said...

Oh, boy, I HEAR YOU!!! I (only) have 2 kids, but I remember struggles with RSV, falls (and furniture coming down on my thought-he-was-spiderman son), stitches, pain, holding them and praying with them in the ER... truly, truly, it is only because God is with us that we make it out of those years with our sanity intact! (or mostly intact).
Praise God for his faithfulness, for leading you into a closer, trusting walk with Him through difficult times! And thank you for sharing pics of your lovely, gorgeous family with the world :)

Abby said...

Stephanie,I am constantly encouraged by your faith as you walk in this world but not of this world. You inspire me to raise my son to be godly and to hold on to truth daily. Thank you for being vulnerable enough to share your heart(there are so many of us who benefit from your words). I always look forward to seeing new posts and seeing your sweet family at church from afar. God is using you in mighty ways and I am so thankful for you today! P.S. My husband Tim is a firefighter and an experienced EMT too.... You will never have to worry about having to wait in chattanooga for the ambulance. They are all well trained and you should never get that excuse about " just being a fireman". I cringed that was your experience! Abby

Liel said...

Wow Steph! A little while ago when I was struggling in my faith, Jesus told me to reach out my hand, and then led me to the verse u were led to above. Jesus is so faithful to encourage us, isn't He?? Keep running, Steph. You're not in this alone.
Phil. 1:6

The Barnetts said...

Love this! My knees are knocking sweet friend, but forward we go!


Anonymous said...

I am a silent reader from Germany.
Just want to thank you for your blog today. I am a Mom of three healthy kids(7 1/2,5 1/2 and 4) and three tiny Babys in heaven.I lost the last one about three weeks ago. FEAR is also a big struggle of mine these days. Thank you for sharing so honest about how you are doing and what you are going through right now. I love how you cling to the word of God. Your thoughts have inspired and encouraged me to work more on my faith rather than trying to get rid of my fear. My the Lord bless
and refresh your tired soul.
Much love from Germany,

Anonymous said...

So thankful your precious Hope is alright! Can so relate on feeling self conscious with bringing many children to the ER. Even though I am a nurse, I feel as if, as a homeschool mom of four, I somehow have to justify all the children with me, lol! Your family is just georgeous, girl, and your words always draw me right to the Lord.