Letters to My Daughter

My Lively, Joyful Girl,

You are almost 6 years old and I haven’t written you any letters yet. I’ve wanted to many times, but until tonight I didn’t have the perfect first message for you.

What a joy you are to all of us, sweet Elizabeth Esther Hope. Our strong shining star of hope. That’s what your name means. You are full of life and energy and you are the completion of our little family.

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Tonight we were praying together for some members of our church Community Group. Sweet, amazing people with real heart-wrenching needs. Circumstances that can only be altered by a miracle. Loss of pregnancies for one. Unanswered questions, waiting for a diagnosis for a child for another. Yet one more, standing with a husband whose wife has left him and there is a sweet little girl caught in the middle of another broken home. The circumstances would overwhelm us if it wasn’t for faith. Faith in a loving God whose number one character trait is: Good.  Sometimes it’s the only anchor we can cling to.

I can talk like this with you. We have had countless similar conversations. Even though you are not quite 6 yet. Because you have had to grow up faster than I wished. Faster than I ever dreamed.

When I was praying for our loved ones, you (as always) noticed my tears. You kept asking me, “Are you almost crying?” I kept answering, “Yes, Sweetheart. Tonight I am.” And then you did an incredibly thoughtful thing. You held up your tiny palm and told me to blow. You had me take five deep breaths and blow on your palm. So I could calm down.

Just like I have had you do on my palm ever since you were 2. Ever since your brother was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Ever since our world never looked the same again.

I’m sure I will never understand what it is like being the sibling of someone with a chronic disease like you do. I will never understand what you have gone through listening to the cries, screams and terrors of your brother as he faces his fears. In the early days, Daddy would take you to the park so you didn’t have to hear what was going on. Now you just cover your ears, and then find a quieter place to play your worship music and dance (after blowing on my palm 5 times so you can calm down). I’m so thankful you can do that. Sweetheart, what a gift from God! You know exactly where to go in time of need!!

Tonight, after I blew on your sweet little hand 5 times in a row to stop crying, you looked at me with your wise eyes and said, “Momma, it’s ok. Remember when I told you I would have Diabetes too so Georgie wouldn’t be alone? It’s ok.” It was as if your sharing would help everyone we just prayed for. I wonder if you would take on everyone’s brokenness for the sake of their wholeness. In my heart of hearts I think you would.

You, my darling Miracle Girl are the unsung hero of our family.

I know you are young for this, but we just finished watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. You never batted an eye or questioned a thing. You told me that Sam was your favorite. And I know why. Because whether we like it or not, you are the Sam to our Frodo. We try to keep the burden from you whenever and however possible, but the fact is that Georgie carries a heavy weight at times. And you. You carry George. I’ve seen it time and time again.

You are so unique, beautiful girl. So strong and so wholesome. So determined to contribute your beauty to the world, our family, your brother.

I admire you. I love you. I thank God for you. Your Dad and I (and your whole family and extended family and well shoot…everyone who knows you!!!) will do everything we can to support you and give you the love and attention you need.

I prayed and prayed for a little girl. After 4 boys and a miscarriage….And here you are. Shining bright. Bringing strength. Giving Hope.

As only you can.

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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.

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

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My Precious Boy,

I’m sitting in our back yard tonight looking at the garden you helped me plant this weekend. Just a few hours ago, this patio table was covered with Star Wars Legos and you were teaching me all about them. I love watching your excitement! Georgie, you are so very loved. So valued and cherished.

God created you with an extra tender heart. You have a sensitivity toward others that runs deep.  You are usually aware of how others might be thinking or feeling. These are special things God has planted within you, and they will grow into beautiful tools that you can use to show compassion to many. They will also help you in your relationship with Jesus; having a tender heart toward Him, being sensitive to when He is speaking to you or wants you to do something.

Along with this, you are living with Type 1 Diabetes which has opened your eyes to a whole new world. You can empathize with people going through pain and suffering. In the past few weeks I have noticed that you not only empathize, but you act on it.  Which is true compassion.

  • When we read the Bible and pray you always want to pray for your Dad.  “Dear God.  Thank you for this beautiful day.  Please put joy and grace down deep into my Dad’s heart.  Let him know I want to play with him and I love him.”
  • I was struggling through some discouragement recently.  You could tell even though I tried my best to hide it from you. I will always remember how you told me that I’m beautiful and graceful and the bestest mom. You hugged me, kissed me and told me that you would help me all day long.
  • Your sister stepped on a bee yesterday. Your dad and I couldn’t get her calmed down, but you brought her water.  Then you brought a piece of bread and helped her eat it. You spoke soothingly to her about how the pain wouldn’t last long and everything would be OK.  She stopped crying and allowed you to care for her.  Because you have experienced pain, you knew how to care for someone in pain.  It was breathtaking to watch.

And Georgie, just as you reach out and care for others, I want to be sure that you know how many are reaching out and caring for you as well.  Today I realized this in a profound way.  Your grandparents from Lacey, WA are here visiting and taking care of your great grandma for a few weeks.  Your Grandma Patty had to learn how to give insulin shots to your great grandma.  When you realized this, you wanted her to give you a shot for lunch today.  My heart was in my throat because you haven’t allowed anyone to give you a shot except your dad and me since your hospital visit.  It was a huge step for you!  And for me.

So many people are ready and willing to walk this road with you.  Your grandparents here in town went to an all day seminar to learn how to care for you and give shots.  Your brother and sister-in-law are researching, learning, gathering recipes and doing all they can to be prepared in case anything ever happened to your dad and I.  My parents are learning as much as they can as well. Your uncle, aunt and cousins sent a huge box of goodies especially to bring us joy.  And above all…everyone is praying.  Contending for your healing.  Constantly.

I’m sure by the time you read these letters, you will know that one of my all time favorite books/movies is The Lord of the Rings.  Toward the end of the movie, when Frodo and Sam are trying to climb the last mountain that will take them to destroy The Ring, Frodo falls down under the weight of the evil ring and cannot get up.  Sam cries, “I cannot carry the ring for you.  But I can carry you!!”  And he carries Frodo up the mountain.

We cannot carry T1D for you, my brave boy.  But we can, and will carry you.  Because we are also being carried.  By the Creator and Maker of tender, sensitive hearts.  By the One who loves us beyond measure.