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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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

Our Needs Are Met…Ahead of Time Part 3

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Emotions are running higher than usual for me tonight.  I remember where we were two months ago at this time, and it’s hard not to re-live the experience of the diagnosis.  Maybe writing the remaining ways in which the Lord provided for our needs in this third blog will help.

A few weeks prior to knowing George had Type 1 Diabetes, we thought Shane might have an open door to a new job in Portland Oregon.  I lived there for seven years and all my family and several close friends would be nearby.  This job would pay more.  It was difficult, but all I can say is the Lord made it clear that we were not to pursue a big move like that.  And then came the diagnosis.  If Shane had a new job we would have had a season of no medical insurance.  The insurance  from Shane’s employment at Lowe’s has been exceptional.  And to top it off, his manager has asked us to give copies of our medical bills to him so he can present them to higher management and possibly offset the costs for us.

Along with that, we have been humbled and blessed to receive checks in the mail for the exact amount we need for monthly prescriptions.  Two months in a row.

While on the topic of prescriptions, I need to mention a sweet gift from the Lord to me specifically.  I had a miscarriage a few years ago, and during that time I went to a particular Walgreens for my prescriptions.  I hate that Walgreens.  I rarely go inside because of the memories it invokes.  But it is cheap, and that is where I had the doctor send Georgie’s prescriptions.  Weeks prior to all this, one of my dearest friends decided to come for a visit.  He is more than a friend, he is our family.  He just happened to be here when I had to go to the hated Walgreens.  He came inside with me.  He stood by me as I paid for the numerous bags of needles, insulin, blood sugar test strips, syringes, vials, glucagon and I don’t remember what else.  He cried with me.  And after we cried, he made me laugh.  And after that I’m pretty sure we cried again.  I could NEVER have done that by myself.  And I could never have planned his visit to fall on the exact day I had to fill those prescriptions.  Only my loving Father could provide that for me.

I have just a few more that I will quickly summarize, then I want to end with a story that illustrates perfectly how the Lord provided before we even knew we needed it.

  • Georgie is an extreme extrovert.  God created him this way.  Neither Shane nor I are this way.  He loves people and loves communication.  This is a gift God has given him to help him as he learns to manage this disease on his own in the next few years.
  • I didn’t know it, but I already have two friends who have sons with T1D.  When they heard about Georgie, they contacted me and have been a source of encouragement, help and hope.  I also have friends with T1D who have been helping me more than I can express.
  • About four years ago, a godly couple prayed over Shane and me.  It was encouraging and prophetic.  But one part never made sense to me until a few days ago.  Hope was rummaging through a drawer and she brought me the notes I took from this prayer time.  It said, “As God’s design for George becomes clearer, it will make sense why Melodi was chosen to be his mother.”  I was chosen to be Georgie’s mother.  And God wants me to know it.

Now I can write my favorite portion of my provision-ahead-of-time story.

After our time in the hospital we were discharged and sent directly to the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes (BDC).  One of the top research facilities for T1D in the world.  It was late afternoon and we were still in shock, exhausted in every sense of the word, fragile mentally and emotionally.  But we had to meet with a doctor and nurse and learn several things before heading home for the night.  Only to return in the morning.  For eight hours of training.

George was completely traumatized at this point.  The hourly finger pokes, an IV in each arm, countless blood draws, hunger, thirst, fatigue….he was a mess.  And hysterical.  I don’t like to talk much about his screaming.  Or his weeping.  Or the desperate look of confusion that would come over his face.  Or how he would cry out, “Mommy!  Mommy!”  He hadn’t called me that in many months.  By the time we arrived at the BDC, anyone in scrubs sent him into hysterical screaming and he would hide in my arms.

And then we met her.

I was dazed when we were ushered into the lab technicians room.  I remember seeing a small woman in scrubs trying to talk George into getting onto a scale so she could weigh him.  And he went absolutely nuts.  He would not let her touch him, and wouldn’t let us near him either.  I started to fall apart but then I heard something.  I heard the Name that has been my refuge for as long as I can remember.  I lifted my eyes and saw this woman with her arms raised to Heaven praying, “Oh Jesus.  Oh Jesus.  Help my Little Brother.  Be with Mama.  Be with Daddy. Let them know that it will be alright.  Everything will be alright.”

Somehow I found myself in a chair with tears streaming down my cheeks as I watched her envelop my son in her arms.  She told him that she would never hurt him.  That Jesus loved him.  That she was here to help him.  And Georgie instantly calmed down.  For the first time in nearly 24 hours he wasn’t screaming.  Because he knows that Name too.  And felt His presence as immediately as Shane and I did.  Amazingly he allowed her to weigh him, measure him and give him a finger poke.  No crying.  No screaming.  Just peace.

She turned to me and said, “Everything will be alright, Mama.”  And I wept.

She has worked at the BDC for several years.  Diabetic herself, she has learned to comfort others through her own affliction.

And the best part??  The absolutely incredible miracle part??  Her father’s name was George.  When he passed away, she had his name tattooed on her ankle.  Little Georgie always wants to see it.  Once he wanted to ask her if she was a real angel.  (Because I refer to her as our sister-angel.  I honestly don’t even remember her real name yet.  I just call her Angel.)  So he asked her if she was a real angel.  She stared at him with tears in her eyes and said, “No, Little Brother.  I’m not a real angel.”

But you never know.  You just never know.

All I know is that this lovely woman was put in place years ago by a loving God who knew I (and countless others) would need her.  Desperately, desperately need to encounter the Prince of Peace who so abundantly flows through her precious care.

Thank you for reading.  It has been a healing experience for me to write these past three blogs.  Looking back and acknowledging the work of God in this way is heart-changing.  Thank you for allowing me to do it with you.