In the darkness of night

Between Judah and Malachi we never quite know what our nights will be like.  Two nights ago was Malachi’s turn to wake in the night.  And apparently last night was Judah’s turn.

For almost 4 years Judah was a perfect sleeper – often 11-12 hours each night. But when these seizures started in May they greatly affected his sleep. For awhile we had the seizures under control but a few weeks ago he began waking again in the night – agitated and having irregular brain activity, sometimes seizures.

Last night was no exception. By 1:00am Judah was awake…and continued to remain awake and quite unhappy til 5:45 this morning.

But in the middle of the night while holding Judah in my arms I had a sweet time with the Lord. Simply chatting with Him about the fact that a miracle is what I’m believing for…Picturing myself seeing Jesus face to face and setting Judah in His lap.  Sharing with Him that it seems the ONLY way we’ll see victory in this is from a supernatural touch. We’re doing all we can in the natural – he has a 24 hours EEG on Monday. Doctors are doing what they can to solve this. But even the smartest doctor cannot repair the damage in Judah’s brain.

But God can! I began to replay the miracles we’ve all read about. The man near the pool of Bethesda. He had dealt with his infirmity for THIRTY-EIGHT years! Much longer than Judah, but that wasn’t too hard for our God!

How about when Peter and John saw a man begging by the temple? He had been lame since birth! Much longer than our Judah! Yet he rose up and went walking and leaping and praising God!

How about the blind men? Their vision was far worse than Judah’s yet they received sight!

None of these things intimidated Jesus. None were too hard for Him. And neither is my Judah! Over and over these stories played in my mind. Over and over I replayed the many times He’s already done amazing works in Judah.  When the doctors told us he may not live – he lived.  When they told us he’ll be brain-dead, blind and deaf he exceeded their expectations.  When these seizures did begin to occur, the neurologist said he was more amazed that Judah hadn’t been having them all along.  Given the amount of damage in Judah’s brain any doctor would have assumed he had been having them for years.  The miracle of Judah’s speech – that his favorite words are Jesus, Hallelujah, Holy, Glory!  How alive his spirit is! That songs of praise and worship rise up out of his little spirit on a daily basis…

…And the confidence grew…and continues to grow….that truly, all it takes is one touch — Just one touch from my Jesus.

With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. ~Acts 3:8

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my eyes vs. my heart

He turns 4 tomorrow….. FOUR years old??! Seems like I made this 1st birthday slide show yesterday… 😦

These birthdays are bittersweet. We have so much to celebrate, yet they also are a reminder of skills that are lacking.

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To be real with you, at the time of his brain injury or even his first birthday, if I would have pictured him at age four I would have pictured him a little further along…like at least be able to sit up alone and crawl. But I was believing for more than that.
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And I certainly would not have ever considered the possibility of such a setback before his 4th birthday as the one we recently encountered. I wouldn’t have deemed it a possibility that seizures would suddenly return. And would have thought it impossible he’d lose the words and praises that we had waited so long to hear and had celebrated and rejoiced over time and time again.
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BUT God!! I know so many have been praying these past couple of months. Over Judah. And over us…
 
Because I do see with my eyes that he’s back on the medication we once celebrated coming off of. And I see with my eyes that he isn’t communicating like he once did. And I see with my eyes his sadness when he hears a song he recognizes and loves and isn’t able to sing along.  I see with my eyes that we have a ways to go.  I see with my eyes that my life didn’t go quite as I had planned or pictured…  
 
But with my heart I see Judah and feel a love for him unlike other loves.
And in my heart I see victory. In my heart I see my miracle.  In my heart I see breakthroughs.
And in my heart I see God is turning things around.
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Happy Birthday, my sweet miracle boy ~ Judah Forrest James Dearey

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“I’ll put muscle in the people of Judah; I know their pain and will make them good as new. They’ll get a fresh start, as if nothing had ever happened. And why? Because I am their very own God, I’ll do what needs to be done for them.” ~Zechariah 10:6

 

Finding Balance

Exciting news!! Judah’s story is being used to help inform other parents on the importance of vitamin K!  It’s now on the CDC’s website. Check it out!

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/vitamink/judah-stories.html

….Whoa!!  Wait a minute!!!  Did I just share a CDC website??!

If you know me at all you know I love a good ol’ fashion natural remedy.  I love herbs.  I love vitamins.  I love essential oils.  I love chiropractic care and massage therapists and holistic doctors and midwives and home birthing.

I think it’s so cool that I can give arnica (a homeopathic remedy) to my kids after they fall down or bonk themselves and they don’t experience much bruising or swelling.  I love applying RC (a Young Living essential oil) to my kids and seeing them breathe better and stop coughing.  I love that I can increase calcium and magnesium and drink some coconut water for potassium and the charley horses I experience at night during pregnancy go away!  I mean, really!  How cool is God that He made all of this available to us?!

But guess what else I now love?!  Balance!  It’s true, this once hard-core, all natural, home birthing mama is finding balance.

Two and a half years ago, in a matter of minutes, I was launched from an all natural world to a world swarming with medical doctors, hospitals, therapists, specialists and medicine.   Whoa!  What a complete shock!  There was no time to resist the change.  I jumped in.  I was determined to no longer question the doctors or their advice.  Just obey.

One of Judah's many precious nurses!  They were such angels to us!

One of Judah’s many precious nurses! They were such angels to us!

But I later realized that I, personally, could not jump from one extreme to the other extreme.  I could not jump from all natural home births to fully medicated hospital births (unless under the leading of the Lord or found medically necessary).  I could not abandon natural remedies to restock my medicine cabinet with only over-the-counter medicine.  There had to be a balance.  I could not put 100% blind faith into doctors alone.

Why?  Because the medical field is made up of imperfect humans just like myself.  Doctors make mistakes too.  There isn’t one perfect route to health.  There must be balance.  For example, after Judah was released from his initial stay in the hospital I noticed that his head circumference was growing rapidly.  I began reading about hydrocephalus, measuring Judah’s head, and looking at pictures of other children who had hydrocephalus.  I approached four of Judah’s doctors and pointed out how fast Judah’s head had grown.  They dismissed my concerns.  We called our pediatric neurosurgeon directly and told her how large Judah’s head was.  She insisted we not measure his head again since we had not been taught the proper way to do so.  She told us we were overly concerned and that we needed to relax and just wait to see her at our next visit.  That appointment was not until Judah was three months old.

The moment the surgeon walked into our room at that three-month check-up she instantly knew we had a problem.  She sent us downstairs for an MRI, and quickly began the process of figuring out how to schedule Judah for an emergency shunt surgery the very next morning.

Our sweet boy the day after his shunt surgery.

Our sweet boy the day after his shunt surgery.

A year later, one of Judah’s doctors showed me the MRI’s and pointed out the difference in brain damage from Judah’s initial bleed and from the hydrocephalus.  In those 2.5 months of being dismissed by doctors as an overly concerned parent the pressure of built-up fluid on Judah’s brain caused further damage.  I was devastated to see the difference and know it could have been avoided.

So now what?  Clearly neither side of the fence is perfect, so where do I take it from here?  My first step: Forgive and forget the past, and keep my eyes fixed forward.  I can’t afford to look back at my mistake or the mistakes of the doctors.  Would you know that since sharing publicly of the guilt I struggled with over not administering the vitamin K shot that I have not had one struggle with that guilt ever since???  Praise God! 🙂  And just as my mistake was unintentional I know the doctors’ mistakes were also unintentional.  God’s bigger than all of it!

Second step: Pray and find balance.  As I move forward I see my need for more wisdom and more prayer surrounding every decision made about the health of my family.  I can’t put God in a box.  He is not limited to only one way of bringing healing.  I have experienced supernatural healing in my body that came instantly in a prayer service.  I have witnessed God using a team of medical doctors to save my son’s life.   And I have used natural remedies successfully for a number of years……Balance…I am finding that balance…I’m so very appreciative of the doctors and therapists and midwives who have patiently walked with me as I ask questions, seek understanding, and, at times, take some extended time to seek the Lord before jumping in.  They’ve recognized that this is a new season for me and I’m thankful for their grace.

And I’m thankful for your grace as well.  The way you all have responded to me as I share this journey with you has been a tremendous blessing and encouragement to me.  Thank you! 🙂

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Mistakes, Regrets, and Finding Forgiveness

I don’t like making mistakes…at all!  As a girl I’d often fall asleep at night praying God would help me the next morning to have a perfect day with no mistakes.  I’d plan to make my bed, put my clothes away, obey everything I was asked to do (with a smile, I might add), perform well in school and in music and simply be perfect for one whole day.  Inevitably within minutes of my feet hitting the floor the next morning I had made some sort of mistake and I’d spend the rest of the day beating myself up over it.  The day seemed ruined.

It seems funny, but I lived that way for so long – a frustrated perfectionist.  Having children exemplified it.  Now, not only can I make mistakes that hurt myself, but mistakes that hurt my children.  Lord, have mercy!!  Like the time I was in the back room of our house lost in a phone conversation with a girl friend not realizing my two little boys were crying and searching for me, sure their mommy had left them.  Or the time our family walked into church only to realize we had left a toddler strapped in her car seat still sitting inside the minivan.   Sure, it was only a minute, but my heart broke to think she was sitting there so patiently watching us all walk away.  Good golly!

Chad has been so patient with me, often saying, “Krista, repeat after me, ‘I FORGIVE KRISTA.'”  I’d smile and repeat, “I forgive myself, I forgive myself, I forgive myself…”  But often in my heart I knew I hadn’t.  I replayed my mistakes over and over.  I think one of the hardest things for me to do is simply forgive myself.

My struggle grew out of proportion two and half years ago when I made a decision that some doctors would later tell me they believed could have prevented Judah’s brain injury.   This is something I have not shared with many, yet it’s been the darkest part of my journey with Judah.  So why do I share it now?  Because I’m determined to expose the enemy, the thief, the accuser of the brethren.  Because I know that freedom comes in revealing truth, not hiding pain in the dark.  Because I’m determined that 2014 is the year the Lord heals my heart, and this is an action step.  And I pray that my story will be a blessing to at least one person who may struggle with the same kind of regret.

Judah was born July 15, 2011.  We had called him our “praise baby” for months and his labor lived up to that nickname.  We praised God for a quick, smooth, beautiful water birth.  The children woke up soon after he arrived.  They all loved on him for a while then a precious friend stopped by to pick them up for a day of fun so mommy and daddy could rest and bond with Judah.  Chad helped pack everything up for the kids while my sweet midwife helped me fill out paperwork and get everything in order.  As you know, there are decisions to be made after your baby is born: when to clamp the cord, eye ointment, hepatitis B vaccine and the vitamin K shot, to name a few.

My midwife asked if I’d like to have the vitamin K shot.  I said, “no.”

I found myself hesitating for a brief moment.  Chad was busy outside of our room so I didn’t have time to confirm with him whether this was still our decision.  I dismissed my hesitation and stuck with the answer we had chosen for our past five children.  None of my children had received the shot and they had all been fine. . . why was I hesitating?  Until Judah, my children had been SO, so healthy.  I praise God for their health and see how easily I had taken it for granted.  We had never needed an antibiotic in those 10 years prior to Judah.  We never experienced an ear infection or anything more than a common cold or seasonal flu.  We might have used Tylenol a total of five times in ten years.  I truly took for granted how healthy we had been.  And my justification continued….I knew I didn’t have the typical risk factors…  My labor had been smooth without complications… And did God make every baby deficient in vitamin k?  In that moment I didn’t even remember all the reasons we had chosen not to do the shot.  I knew that way back when I first had Josiah there was speculation that the vitamin K shot was linked to childhood leukemia (that since has been proven false).  I did not do a good job researching the pros and cons of this shot, let alone praying about the decision.  And I did not think there was even the slightest possibility of anything wrong happening because of that choice.  Certainly a brain hemorrhage was nowhere on the radar.

Fast forward to our 911 call, our 10 days in the NICU, and doctors questioning us.  We are thankful they found answers and determined the cause of Judah’s brain hemorrhage to be Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding or VKDB also known as Late Onset Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn; but that news came with a sting.  “Had you given your baby the shot, this probably would have never happened….”  Those words would replay in my mind hundreds and hundreds of times.

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Some days are good….others are hard… Some days I feel such grace to see the positives in Judah – the joy and laughter he brings – and to celebrate what he CAN do instead of what he CANNOT do.  But then there are days that are so dark I feel paralyzed by the pain of regret.  It’s as if the enemy is on my shoulder saying, “Your life would be normal and easy if you would have just given him that one shot.  This is all your fault.  None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for you.”  When I’m not regretting skipping the newborn vitamin K shot, my head fills with other regrets.  Why didn’t I catch on sooner that something was wrong?   Why didn’t I call 911 sooner?  If only we had sought intervention sooner the injury would not have been so devastating.  Maybe he’d be fine!  Our life would be normal!

While two doctors have blamed Judah’s injury on not administering the vitamin K shot, I’ve had other doctors say that it cannot be proven.  They’ve looked me in the eyes and said, “Krista, you cannot live this way.  You cannot live with that regret.  We don’t know what caused it.  And we don’t know for sure if the shot would have prevented it.”  Chad has held me in his arms countless times reminding me I cannot live like this.  I appreciate all of their words; but I know that freedom from the regret has to be supernatural and from the Lord.  It is too big of a hurt for mere words to heal.

Coming into 2014 my one prayer was, “Lord, heal my heart.”

And He’s been working….I sense it….each week becomes easier… I’ve been able to open up and share with others of my struggle and recently able to go forward and ask my pastor for prayer as well.  The only words I could get out through my tears was that I was living in regret that I had opened a door to the enemy to so strongly attack my son.  He laid hands on me with compassion in his eyes and allowed the Lord to work.  As I soaked in the presence of the Lord my heavenly Father started speaking to my heart.  “Daughter, every decision you have made for your children has been made out of love.  You did not make that decision to harm Judah.  You made your decision out of love for him and out of what you thought was best in that moment.  You love your children.  You love your children.  You love your children.”

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It was such an epiphany for me.  Simple, yet profound and true.  In that moment after Judah was born I made the decision out of love.  I didn’t wish these circumstances on my son or our family.  If I could go back in time and change my decision, would I?  Absolutely.  But I can’t.  I need to move forward.

I have to remind myself that Judah’s injury was not a surprise to God.  It’s not like He and His angels were up in heaven wringing their hands in despair when Judah was born saying to each other, “OH NO!  What will we do?!  They didn’t give Judah the shot!”  No, instead, they sent in re-reinforcements.  Countless people who were praying and have been praying and standing in the gap for our son, for his complete healing, and for our family.  Instead He sees Judah healed, whole and complete, lacking nothing.  And He sees Judah’s little spirit that is SO alive unto God.  He sees that Judah’s future surpasses his time on earth and this temporal body he’s in to an eternity in heaven with eternal purpose.

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God’s working.  Not only is He at work in Judah, He’s at work in my heart.  And He’s at work in your heart as well.  He sees you.  He knows you.  He is absolutely head over heels in love with you.  Every sin, every mistake, whether intentional or not, is completely forgiven and washed in His blood.  You are free as well!!!!!

I love you!  Thank you for being a part of Judah’s journey….and my own.

“…being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:6

 

Look what The Lord has done!

 

Here are some before and after pictures from Judah’s MRI.  In the back is the original MRI at 3 months old. On the front screen is the MRI from Wednesday. The white area that you see is fluid that filled in where the brain tissue died away. You’ll notice that in the original MRI there is a little bit of brain tissue in the frontal lobe, but the rest was gone. In the front picture you can see considerably less fluid and lots more brain tissue!!!!  Our doctor said Judah has grown almost 50% of his brain back!

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Praise THE LORD!!!!!!!!!

And further good news is Judah’s vision has improved and his prescription was reduced! Oh Look What The Lord Has Done!!!!!!

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Look what the Lord has done for me! Luke 1:25a

Comparison

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

I’ve heard this quote many times and it’s often caused me to pause for a moment of self-reflection.  But this quote has taken on new meaning in the past 20 months.  Comparing my child who’s had a brain injury to a child the same age who has not had a brain injury will most definitely steal my joy.

I think we’ve all had moments we’ve compared our children to others, especially when trying to determine if they’re hitting their developmental milestones on time.  However, I’ve found in this season, more than any other, that I cannot allow myself to do this.  Nehemiah 8:10 tells me that the joy of the Lord is my strength.  It’s no coincidence the enemy would target my joy, is it?  He wants to strip me of my strength.  I cannot look at development charts that tell me the many things Judah should be able to do by now.  I cannot compare him to other children his age who are walking, feeding themselves, and talking.  I have to keep my eyes focused on the victories and not the defeats.  I need to keep my eyes fixed on God’s Word, His promises, and what He declares about my son.  He sees my son healed and whole.  He sees my son perfect, complete, lacking nothing. And as I keep my eyes on Him, His love for me, and His love for Judah I find my joy, my peace, and the endurance I need to continue this good fight of faith.

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“for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b

What’s In A Name?

When I was growing up I enjoyed hearing my parents recount the story of how they chose my name.  They’d remind me that my name, Krista, means “Christian – a follower of Christ.” My middle name is Grace, after my grandmother. I have many vivid memories of my grandmother praying with me, reading the Scriptures to me, and teaching me how to memorize the 100th Psalm. Still today, she encourages me to continue in the ways of the Lord. I loved knowing that my name had meaning – a meaning I wanted to live up to and fulfill.

From the beginning of our marriage, Chad and I have asked the Lord to tell us how many children to have, when to have them, and what to name them. He knows my children better than I do. He knows their purpose, their callings, their gifts and abilities. It only seemed fitting that He’d choose their names – names my children would strive to fulfill.

Each of our children love hearing the stories of how God named them. And I love telling them! Josiah was named after King Josiah. Isaac, our gift of “laughter” after a miscarriage. Ellianna, “God has answered my prayers” — my first baby girl. Rhema, God’s promise to fulfill His rhema words spoken over our lives. Adonai, God is Lord over every part of our lives. And Judah, “praise,” — I look forward to the day I can sit down with our little guy and tell him the story of his name. Judah Forrest James Dearey.

Four years ago, pregnant with our 5th child, I was reading through Genesis and a verse seemed to jump off the page. Genesis 29:35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.

Let me pause this story for a minute to ask: have you ever finished God’s sentences for Him? I chuckle as I look back over my life and see how many times God began speaking to me and in my naive excitement I took off running…completing His sentences….filling in steps 2-10 when He’d only revealed step 1. Can you relate? This particular morning was no exception.

I sensed God’s presence as I read that verse and in my excitement I ran to Chad, showed him the verse, declared that surely this pregnancy MUST be a boy! And we’ll name him Judah! And I’ll never have to be pregnant again!  (My 5th pregnancy had been my toughest – I’d later realize why, after delivering a whopping 10 pound baby.) And his name means “Praise!” We must be entering a season of “praise!”

I was thrilled at the thought of entering a new season of “praise.” Why? Because on that particular morning when I read that Scripture I had been spending my devotion time at a different table than usual – the dining room table of very precious, very gracious, very hospitable friends. Our family was….for lack of better terms…homeless. Through a series of events — the economy crash, poor investments, poor choices, a loss of Chad’s job, and having thousands stolen from us in an investment scandal — we lost our home, 30 acres of land, and 5 rental properties. A new season of “praise” was definitely in order.

A few days later we’d have our ultrasound and discover that once again I had gotten ahead of myself and of the Lord. I wasn’t pregnant with a boy! This wasn’t Judah! I was pregnant with A GIRL! We were shocked! Speechless.

That night as I crawled into bed (the bed of a sweet 7-year-old boy who was gracious to give up his room to our family of 6) I cried out to the Lord, “God! My goodness! Have I ever heard from you? I thought we were having a boy! Judah! Praise!! But it’s a girl?? I don’t understand. And I don’t know what to name her. God, I surrender. My flesh is tired. The thought of having more children seems like too much. But if you tell me to, I will have more after this. …But please, Lord, name our daughter…..”

In the night I had a dream. All that I remember from the dream was a bright light and beautiful voices singing “Adonai.” I woke up just enough to tell Chad, “Her name is Adonai.” He exclaimed, “That’s it!!!!”

The next morning Chad and I spent time discovering that “Adonai” was a Hebrew name used to describe God as Lord of your life, of owner of everything – giving Him total control of all. How appropriate!

Our sweet, little Addie!

Our sweet, little Addie!

We surrendered total control. God showed up and worked many miracles in that season. I wouldn’t trade our cute, spunky Addie for anything. But I was very curious how many more children would come before my Judah. I felt so strong in my heart that Judah was a mandate from heaven.

Our family of 7 - we all love little Addie!

Our family of 7 – we all love little Addie!

Fast forward to March of 2011.  It had been two years since those homeless days.  At 20 weeks pregnant with number 6, I went alone for my ultrasound and asked that the sex of the baby remain a mystery so our family could discover it together at the same time. Here is our video of the moment we found out we did indeed have our baby boy!

I had a wonderful pregnancy with Judah – a “praise” pregnancy.

Judah will be here soon!

Judah will be here soon!

On the morning of July 15, 2011 we delivered our baby Judah. We had a beautiful home water-birth after a 2-hour labor. A water-birth had been the desire of my heart. Throw in labor lasting for only 2 hours and that, in itself, was enough reason to name him “praise.”

Daddy and his new baby boy!

Daddy and his new baby boy!

We named our new “praise baby” Judah Forrest James.  I’m not ready to finish God’s sentences on the full meaning of Judah’s name; but so far Judah’s name brings me so much faith and encouragement.

“Praise” – I praise You, God, for saving Judah’s life! I thank You that You were not the author of the pain in our lives. It’s the enemy who comes to steal, to kill and to destroy! You came to give us life! You have also promised in Your Word that You will work all things for the good of those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. Thank You for working good in our lives. Thank You for teaching us how to praise You through the trials! Praise and worship brings victory! It brings peace! It brings joy and freedom!

“Forrest” is after my great-grandfather, Pastor F.H. Toliver. Before he passed away he wrote out his life testimony in a book for our family to pass down. We’ve enjoyed reading his stories to our children of how he found the Lord, when he was baptized in the Holy Ghost,the call of God on his life, tent revivals and healing testimonies.   I sometimes let my mind drift off and wonder if in those moments that Judah seemed to pass away from life here on earth to life in the eternal, did he see heaven? And if he did, did he meet Great Grandpa? Even if he didn’t, I love imagining my great grandfather peering over the banisters of heaven cheering us on as we stand in faith that Judah is healed and whole. I’m going to read Great Grandpa’s stories of faith, of preaching to the masses, of healings, and of revivals to our little Judah. Maybe Judah will continue in Great Grandpa’s steps.

“James” is our favorite book of the Bible. Specifically James 1:2-4: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.. At the time of naming Judah we thought we had persevered through life’s hardest trials. There was no warning of the attack that was about to hit our family. What a surprise it was to continue to persevere through more trials. But I will count it as joy. And I will stand on the promise that when perseverance has finished its full work, we will find ourselves perfect and complete, lacking nothing. I love speaking that verse over Judah. In fact, it’s posted on our refrigerator as a reminder that Judah is perfect, complete, lacking nothing.

Deep down, I believe Judah has an important calling on his life. It’s no coincidence the enemy struck as he did. But we have the victory! This is just the beginning of Judah’s story. The best is yet to come.

Judah's 1st Birthday

Judah’s 1st Birthday

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Hold Me Together

During the ten days Judah was in the hospital Chad and I took turns spending time at home with our other children. It brought healing to my heart to be with them, yet I also missed my little baby and longed to be by his side.

We did not tell our children many details of Judah’s condition at that time making those days at home even more of a struggle. While holding back tears and burying the pain I made every effort to maintain joy and faith in our home.

The most vivid memory I have of those times was a moment I felt like crumbling but instead made a decision to praise Him through the pain. We turned on the song “Hold Me Together” by Royal Tailor. Playing it as loud as we could we danced all through the house. I can still picture the kids’ faces and hear their giggles — so trusting, so unaware….so happy!

I smiled. I laughed. I danced. All the while, I cried out the lyrics as a prayer…

“Can You hold me together? Can Your love reach down this far? Can You hold me together? ‘Cause without You holding my heart, I’m falling apart.”

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him…”

Back to the Beginning

I was reminded this morning of a promise I made to God 17 months ago while driving home from Tampa General Hospital during those dark days after Judah’s brain bleed.  I promised Him I’d be willing to give Him the glory and share our story even if it made me feel uncomfortable.

It’s taken until now to muster up the courage to publicly share more of the painful details of our story.  I’ve shared bits and pieces, many times through tears, in occasional one-on-one conversations.  I’m not much of a writer.  In fact, it’s quite intimidating to sit down and write.  But I want to give glory where it’s due!  And share a story of the way God showed up in my darkest moment.

It was around midnight when Chad followed the ambulance out of our neighborhood.  I closed the front door, turned around to our peaceful home.  The kids were sound asleep, unaware of anything that had happened.  Over the next few hours I received numerous calls from Chad of the different tests they were performing.  When he called to let me know they were doing a spinal tap it began to sink in that this was more serious than we had first imagined.  I crumbled to the floor and cried out, “Oh God, save our son!”

His next call was even more of a shock…

“Honey, I need you to get up and get dressed.  They’re transferring Judah to Tampa General Hospital.  I’m not following them.  I’m coming home….  I was stopped and questioned by cops.  They think we hurt Judah.  Police and DCF are on their way to our home right now to question you and the kids.  I’ll be there soon to be with you.  Tampa General will hold off on surgery until we get there…”

I quickly got dressed and started gathering some things to take to the hospital.  Then began texting to find a friend to come watch our children for us.  When the garage door opened I went out to find Chad…not just Chad, but a police car parked outside our home…

Soon I found myself in what felt like a dream.  We sat down at our dining room table with a very nice female police officer (whom I later found out attends our church) and a man from DCF.  Recorders rolling, notebooks and pens in hand, they began asking questions.

Next, we were asked to wake our sleeping children one by one.  (It was approximately 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning at this time)  We weren’t allowed to say much.  Just bring them out to be questioned.  Our children were so confused.  Who were these strangers?  And what were these questions?

After this “appointment” Chad and I rushed out to Tampa as our sweet friends arrived to take care of our children.  We could tell by the tone and looks from the staff at the hospital that we were considered guilty.  Guilty of a crime we never committed.

Nothing made sense.  Nothing added up.  I felt as if I was walking through two nightmares at once.  Watching my son fight for his life…and discovering that in the minds of these doctors we were guilty until proven innocent.

That first day is a bit of a blur to me…lots of doctors, surgeons, a surgery to place a temporary shunt in Judah’s brain…friends, calls to family, prayers, tears, and lots of questions.

That evening Chad returned home and I stayed alone in Judah’s hospital room.  I prayed over Judah then crawled into “bed” to finally try to sleep.  It had been at least 36 hours since I had slept. I had just closed my eyes when the lyrics of a song began to play in my heart.  My hands raised to the ceiling as if He was the one lifting them for me.  I knew others were praying for me as I somehow found the strength to sing in my heart these lyrics from a old Point of Grace song…

“When it’s dark and it’s cold and I can’t feel my soul
You are still good
When the world has gone gray and the rain’s here to stay
You are still good
With every breath I take in
I’ll tell you I’m grateful again
And the storm may swell even then it is well
You are good
So how can I thank You
And what can I bring
What can a poor man lay at the feet of a king
So I’ll sing you a love song
It’s all that I have
To tell You I’m grateful
For holding my life in Your hands”

…I fell asleep….a miracle!

The next morning started off in a hurry.  Many came in and out that morning running tests, asking questions, checking Judah.  A pediatric neurosurgeon came in.  She introduced herself, looked at Judah, then turned to me to say, “They’ll probably be taking your children away.”

My heart sank.  I was alone.  Hurting.  There before me was my baby fighting for his life.  Tubes everywhere.  His eyes hadn’t opened.  He hadn’t moved.  I wasn’t allowed to touch him for fear of causing a seizure.  I began to sob as a sweet nurse tried to comfort me with the information that at least the children would go to friends.

She stepped out of the room to give me a moment alone.

“Lord!!!!  What is going on?!!!!”

It couldn’t have been a minute later a kind lady came into my room and asked if she could clean it.  I pasted on a smile, wiped my tears and apologized for crying.  She stopped, looked me square in the eyes, and said, “Don’t cry.  Just pray.”

She proceeded to empty the trash and mop the floors.  While she did so she prayed softly under her breath.  The peace of God filled the room.  My tears stopped and I sat in silence in awe of the way God showed up in that hospital room.

Before she left the room she came back to me, looked me in the eyes again, and reminded me, “Don’t cry.  Just pray.  If you believe in Him, and you trust in Him, nothing is impossible.”

Then she left…

It would be a few days, a few questions, a few doctors later that we received Judah’s official diagnosis “Late Onset Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn.”  Our case was eventually closed.  Praise The Lord!!

I often think back to that sweet hospital janitor.  Out of all of the hospital employees we met (doctors, nurses, surgeons, etc.) a janitor, what some may consider to be a less significant position, made the biggest impact and left the most lasting memory.  I pray I can make so great an impact as I go about my daily duties as well.

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

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