Letters to my Son

My Dear Brave Boy,

It’s been a while since I wrote you a letter.

Yesterday was a big day for you. After months of talking about it and studying what it means, you decided to get water baptized. So many things happened in order for you to get baptized.

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It wasn’t that long ago that you were afraid of water. I was so happy for you when you started learning to swim and overcame that fear. You have a lot of fun now with Sissy every time Dad takes you swimming. I could see the courage in your eyes when the pastor had you get ready to go under the water. There may have been a lingering fear or hesitation, but you pushed through and obeyed what the Lord was leading you to do.

That’s not the only milestone you have overcome lately. A few months ago you decided you were ready to learn all the steps of doing an insulin pump site change. It took time and effort, but you learned it all! And after nearly 4 years of tears, anxiety and even panic at times, you are able to do it yourself with almost no effort now. I don’t have the words to tell you how relieved I am, and proud of you. We rewarded you by activating your phone so you could go to your cousins’ house for your first overnighter without us. I could see the new maturity and grit in your eyes.

We have made it through some rough patches where you feel an overwhelming amount of negative emotions. I have had to remind you often that you and your sister are complete miracles, formed entirely out of God’s incredible grace and love toward us. I have enjoyed watching you embrace that truth and grow in your own relationship with Christ. Which is what led to your desire to take the next step and be baptized.

On a side note, it was hard for Sis to watch you get baptized without her. She wants to experience everything with you (even going so far as to say she wishes she had diabetes sometimes) because she loves you so much. Did you hear her say she wished she could wear her water wings in the baptismal so she could be “bap-a-tized” too?? We got a good laugh out of that one! Thank you for setting a good example for her to follow.

Once you were all dried off, new clothes on and heading back to service I asked you if the Lord had said anything to you, or if you felt different. Your answer brought tears because I know how much you have struggled with feelings of unworthiness, loneliness and self-hate. I had prayed that God would do a miracle when you were under the water. Something only He can do. I prayed for your heart. Those deep places only you and He know about. And He answered. When you came up out of the water, He gave you that miracle. You told me, “Mom. I feel completely forgiven. I feel so incredible.”

To feel completely forgiven. What a gift. Nothing separating you from the love of God. Now you have your whole life ahead of you, to live in uninhibited relationship with your Savior.

I can’t wait to see where He leads you. Because you are His. You are God’s boy.

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365 Days Later

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One year ago tonight as I put my son George to bed, I remember praying while he fell asleep. I knew something was wrong because he was excessively thirsty, hungry, fatigued and had severe mood swings. I was scared and unsure. When we got up the next morning, I weighed him and discovered that he was losing weight. We went to the doctor that afternoon and George was given a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes. And our lives have never been the same.

One year ago today, I was blissfully unaware of how to count carbs for meals. Testing someone’s blood sugar was a mystery, and I definitely had never been trained on how to administer insulin through an injection. I didn’t know the purpose of insulin, or the function of a pancreas. Long-acting insulin, short-acting insulin, lancets, test strips, pens (a fancy way to give shots), blood glucose records, food records, carb to insulin ratios, sick days, pumps, insets, cartridges, syringes, ketones, glucagon, and of course hypo or hyper-glycemia. All foreign. Like a foreign language in a foreign land.

365 days later it is now my native tongue and the T1D community familiar ground.

Some people told me that it would get better. That our “new normal” with T1D would get easier. That has not happened. I’m not sure it is possible with a chronic disease in which 24 hours a day, 7 days a week I am my son’s pancreas. And nutritionist. And nurse. And teacher. And mother. And comforter, and pastor/shepherd (although there is ONE much better at those roles, and I point George to Him every time I can). However, the way I respond to our new normal is better. And because of technology we can treat diabetes in a more straightforward way. For this I am extremely grateful.

A year ago tonight, I would never have fathomed going through some of the experiences we have had to endure. But there is the key phrase: Going Through. I have learned that grief is a season, not a destination. My stage of grieving now is such that I look back over the past year with an ache in my heart but faith and hope in my spirit. I have had some dark times. Anxiety. Depression. Isolation. Fear. Deep deep grief and loss. Sometimes it seemed like there was no light at the end of the diabetes tunnel. But none of those places were destinations for me. Those are not destinations for any of us.

What am I destined for?

365 days after a life-changing diagnosis for my beloved son, I can truly say that I’m destined to give God glory. I’m destined to lay all my pain, weakness, fear, sin and doubt at His feet and just worship Him. Because I learned this year that most of the time, that is the one and only thing I am capable of.

I learned that I’m far weaker and more fragile than I ever imagined.
I learned that I am completely dependent on His faithfulness.
I learned that He takes care of my son in ways I never can.
I learned a new level of teamwork and partnership with my incredible husband Shane.
I learned that He has uniquely fashioned my beautiful daughter to be on this life journey with us.
I learned that some of His people are truly truly His hands and feet. And He sends them to me exactly when I need them.
I learned that prayer is everything.
I learned that He is always speaking to me. Sometimes I listen.
I learned that He gets to be God all by Himself. This is the true definition of sovereignty.
Where there is anxiety, I learned how to ask for peace.
Where there is depression, I learned how to lift my eyes and worship.
Where there is isolation, I learned to receive help from others.
Where there is fear, I asked for faith.
The chasms of grief and loss do not go on forever.

365 days later it is no small miracle that I can lift my head toward my Savior and my God and declare, “My help comes from the LORD…He who keeps me will not slumber…The LORD is my keeper; the LORD is my shade on my right hand.” Ps. 121

Tonight when I put Georgie to bed, my heart ached. But my spirit was singing. He is healthy. He is learning how to walk with His Lord. He is a normal 6 year old boy. Who happens to have T1D. And we are all impacted by his little life, and his great courage.

“Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway.”
Dr. Robert Anthony

Letters to My Son

My Darlin’ Boy,

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I’m thanking God tonight for the past few weeks.  This Honeymoon Phase has enabled us all to take a deep breath and get grounded again after Hurricane Type 1 Diabetes hit.  You still only have two shots a day, we are learning more about the effects of certain carbs and proteins in your body, and your blood sugar has leveled out to a (somewhat) predictable pattern.  Your mood swings and reactions to blood sugar levels have lessened.  We see more glimpses of our familiar Georgie pre-diagnosis.  It has brought peace and hope to our hearts.

It seems like it might be a good time to sit back and relax.  But I don’t think so.

You have heard me talk about my years on the Track team.  And now you see me training for a half-marathon.  In every race, son, there is a strategy.  You want to start well, pace yourself, and maintain your position throughout the race.  And then there comes the time to kick.  You cannot wait until the end of the race to exert yourself and give everything you’ve got.  If you wait until the end, it will be too late and you won’t have the strength to bust through the finish line.  You have to start kicking while everyone else is still maintaining.  You may not even see the finish line yet, but you must set your mind, rely on your training and sprint to the end.  This is how races are won.  (Remind me to tell you the story of when I did the 300 meter hurdles and tripped over the last hurdle at the finish line.  That is NOT how races are won, by the way.)

Georgie, running a race is hard.  It is painful.  Especially if the race is long.  The longer the race, the greater the struggle to the end.  You were with me earlier this week when I ran 7 miles with you and Hopie.  You saw my pain and weakness.  Every race will have pain.  Diabetes is your race right now.  And I would give anything for us all to withdraw from the race.  But instead, we are going to kick.

  • Rather than numbing or escaping from the pain, we need to acknowledge it and deal with it in healthy ways.  Trying to find comfort in food, alcohol, material things, busy-ness, and yes even “religion” is not helpful.  The best thing we can do is to let it drive us straight into the Man of Sorrows.  The One who has endured more undeserved pain than anyone else ever has or ever will.  Even on the cross, Jesus rejected a sedative because He chose to face His suffering head on.  I will tell you this, we don’t need to be fake and paste a smile on our faces and say that we are OK with Diabetes.  But we don’t have to hide from it either.  Or get bitter because of it.  Or allow it to affect our race.  Pain can make our kick stronger.  And George, I already see you growing stronger because of your affliction.
  • Preparation is as important as performance and without it no race can be won.  Today I had the privilege of being part of your training.  You were having a very hard time and you mentioned wanting to hurt yourself.  Alarm bells went off in my spirit and I immediately went to my knees.  I prayed over you like I’ve never done before.  I did it out loud in front of you and your sister.  When I was done you looked at me and said, “Mom, I have no idea what any of that means.”  I just smiled and said, “You don’t need to know yet.  But God knows, and you better believe our enemy knows.”  You (because you want to be a Jedi Knight) wanted to know more about how to fight Satan.  I simply said that the best way to fight is to praise and worship God.  You immediately put your fists in the air and declared, “Praise You Jesus!  You are my King!  I love You!  Enemy you must get away!”  And little Hopie praised Him too.  And I just sat back and marveled at it all.  This is all preparation for you, my warrior son.  You will have some battles to fight, some races to run, and God is setting you up to know how to win.
  • In this race, God is always after one thing.  Your heart.  He wants a close, intimate relationship with you.  And there are many things along the road that can slow, distract or weaken you.  Don’t miss the relationship God wants to build with you through your pain.  You might hear some folks tell you that God will never give you more than you can handle.  That’s not Biblical.  There are a ton of things in this life that we absolutely cannot handle.  And that is the whole point.  Our lives as Christ Followers is not about what we can or cannot do.  It is about what He has done and is continuing to do so that He can have our hearts.  Forever.

My mom told me today that she is praying specifically that God will restore your body back to the way He originally created it.  Diabetes free.  I love that.  We all pray for your healing daily.  Sometimes hourly.  Sometimes even more.  But unless or until He heals you, this Honeymoon Phase will pass and the real race begins.  We will need to know how to run straight into Him.  We will have been prepared by spending time in HIs Word and praising and worshiping Him.  We will know how to kick.  So we can bust through the finish line and hear Him say, “Well done!”

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My miracle son, there is no one else I would rather run this race with.  You are my hero.

I love you with aaaaaaaaalllllll of my fart.  I mean heart.

Mom

The All Encompassing Word

“My Father, I think You are asking too much of me.”

It wasn’t until this morning that I allowed myself to verbalize it.  A little over two weeks ago our 5 1/2 year old son George was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. 

In the next few blogs I’m going to write a lot about his diagnosis, what it means for our George, our family and friends, how it feels, what we’re having to learn, how life has drastically changed.  But today I’m going to write about what hasn’t changed.  Because if I don’t force myself to remember the foundation my life is built upon, I will absolutely be blown away in the midst of this storm.

This morning I got my son ready for pre-school, just like I have since the beginning of the school year.  Except this time, I prepared a box for his teacher.  In the box is insulin, needles, glucose tablets, glucagon (in the event his blood sugar goes so low that he is unconscious), alcohol swipes, his blood glucose meter and test strips and lancet, snacks labeled with exact amounts of carbs, juice, orders from the doctor and emergency numbers to the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes. I talked with him about the nurse who would be testing his blood sugar level, reminded him not to share snacks, and made sure he could verbalize when he gets dizzy or tired.  As I put his “I have Type 1 Diabetes” medical alert bracelet on, I found that I couldn’t breathe….I finally broke down and prayed, “Lord, this is too much.  You’re asking too much of me.”

Even now as I sit here writing, his teacher and nurse are texting me blood glucose numbers and letting me know how much of his snack he ate. 

So much has changed.  Some days I feel that everything has changed.  But some things remain the same.

  • God’s character doesn’t change.  He is good.  He is love.  He is faithful.  He is powerful.  He is Provider.  He is Healer.  He is Comforter.  He IS.
  • God’s Word doesn’t change.  The morning following his diagnosis we were in the hospital still.  I awoke to an old song running through my spirit, “The Lord is my keeper, the Lord is the shade on my right hand.”  It was from Ps. 121.  One of God’s many promises to me that never, ever changes.
  • God’s requirement of me doesn’t change. 

Although today, I feel that He is asking way too much of me.  I honestly cannot do this.  Giving my beloved little boy 5 shots a day, even more finger pokes, explaining why certain foods are no longer healthy, calculating insulin for carbs and blood sugar correction, watching closely for any symptoms of highs or lows, buying my little girl a toy medical kit because all she wants to do is give shots to her baby dolls…and the absolute hardest for me:  watching George grow up too fast, having to face life way too early, and seeing changes in his little personality as he processes through what Type 1 Diabetes means for him right now.  Its TOO MUCH.  Way too much.

But then He speaks to my heart as only He can.  And He simply says one thing.  “Come.”  That all encompassing word of hope, life, peace and joy.  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”  Matt. 11:28-30

The only thing He is requiring of me right now is to come to Him.  Because it is too much.  I cannot bear it.  I cannot carry this.  So I must let Him carry me. 

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Difficult yet Effective

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This year has held some changes for me (and my hubbie), one of which is our journey to physical health and fitness.  We have not “arrived” at the fitness destination by any means, but we have both lost weight and established healthy eating and exercise habits.  For me, it has been about 11 months since I fully committed to this emotionally, physically and mentally.  It has been absolutely life changing.  I will write more about all that in a different blog.

What worked best for me this year was to do a DVD at home while my little girl napped every morning.  I chose one by Jillian Michaels, and after 11 months I completely have that thing memorized.  Sometimes I get frustrated because I can hear Jillian in my head…and I don’t know if I can ever get her out!  At one point, she starts off an exercise for abs by saying, “Now this is NOT easy.  But it IS effective, and that’s why you’re GOING to DO IT!!”  And so I do it.  Because I’m kind of scared that somehow she will know if I don’t.  And she’s not joking.  It’s very difficult.  Very.

Tonight, out of the blue, I thought of that quote while putting my children to bed.  I was wishing it wasn’t Jillian’s voice echoing through my mind, when all of a sudden I realized it’s not just a Jillian-motivational-thing.  It’s truly a Christian-walk kind of thing.  Being a Christ-Follower is not supposed to be easy.  What’s easy about Jesus saying in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me”?  Or in Matt. 10:22 Christ promises “…you will be hated by all for My name’s sake”.  Um, that is not easy any way you try to look at it.

I’m learning that effectiveness is equal to difficulty.  It is that way in the exercise world.  A few jumping jacks here and there doesn’t accomplish a whole lot. But running uphill pushing two children in a stroller over a grass field for an hour in the summer heat at over 5000 feet….now that is difficult and effective.  The weight falls off and the muscles build up.  And man oh man do you sleep well at night!!  Not to mention the amount of buttered popcorn you can enjoy guilt-free!!

That principle of difficulty = effectiveness applies to our Christian life as well.  Big time.  In fact, Mark 8:35 states, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”  Talk about difficult.  Talk about effective.

I want to be effective.  I want to give God glory.  I want to live a lifestyle that communicates the gospel, the good news of His incredible love and grace, that I totally don’t deserve, but willingly receive.  Obviously this is something I will never “arrive” at, just like I will never  “arrive” at being completely fit and in shape.  However, here are a few ways we can embrace something extremely difficult, knowing it will be unbelievably effective:

  • Humility and Meekness.  Our hearts can be, and should be, in a posture of humility and meekness.  So many definitions to these words…but in simple terms:  Let’s realize the immense loving miracle of a Holy God providing a way for sinful people to be in relationship with Him for all eternity…by humbling Himself.  Not something we deserve.  At all.  So let’s follow His lead.  NOT EASY to let go of pride.  NOT EASY to retrain our worldview of entitlements and rights.  NOT EASY to give up self-preservation and selfishness.  NOT EASY to get over ourselves.  But oh if we do….the things we can do without because we realize our treasure is in Heaven, not on earth.  The places we can go and the people we can love because our heart is full of others instead of full of ourselves.
  • Serving.  This is another posture of the heart.  It’s not busy-ness.  Or religiosity.  Or always saying yes if asked to do something for someone.  Those things aren’t especially difficult.  The kind of serving I’m referring to is found in Matt. 5:44.  Jesus taught in this passage that we are to love our enemies, bless folks who curse us, do good to people who hate us, and to pray for ones who use and persecute us.  I would put that kind of serving in the extreme difficulty levels.  These are things we cannot do without the Holy Spirit’s enabling.  I do not run 6 miles unless I know I’m properly hydrated…and I would not attempt this kind of service unless I had spent time in prayer asking for living water to flow from my life to the life of the one who hates me…as I serve them.  Practically.  Consistently.  With humility and meekness.  It is a good thing to seek the Lord about this, and actively pursue serving and loving those who hate us.  I think even Jillian would agree that this is quite effective when done right.

I was going to come up with a few more, but seriously.  Isn’t that enough?  Those two have me so convicted and yet motivated…I’m not sure I could handle more.

I’m asking the Lord to change my heart daily, and help me to be in this posture of humility, meekness and serving.  Will you join me??  I’d love to hear your feedback if you’d like to comment about how you are choosing humility and meekness, or who you are serving and how you are doing it.  We can walk this difficult, yet effective road together.  It’s not easy, but it is effective. And that’s why we’re going to do it!!  Let’s live effective lives that give God the glory He deserves.