Where have I mostly disappeared to the last several weeks?? Preparing for and then receiving these two amazing little grandbabies. Our first. I am now “Mia” to Josiah and Junia (prounounced JUNE-nee-uh).
Here, my beautiful girl is absolutely glowing with anticipation of these two precious little ones quickly approaching their debut a month ago. Her loving husband right alongside her. Words to describe the holiness of this moment escape me.
We waited. We prayed. We watched. We rejoiced.
As I helped her and Jeremy prepare, I was so amazed at her grace and strength to carry them both at this stage. Indeed, she was clothed with strength and dignity.
There is something other-worldly about seeing your daughter give birth to her own children. Having the privilege to witness the difficult, sacred moments of labor as she and her husband worked together so beautifully was both joyful, for all the obvious reasons, and excruciating (watching your child in that much pain is hard!). Due to the nature of twin births and possible complications, she was moved to the Operating Room as a standard procedure when it was time to push.
That wait in an empty, quiet room that was once filled with her groans to give new life was so strange! I called on every scripture of peace, praying for the safe arrival of our first grandchildren. Thankfully, the staff allowed my husband, Andy, to join me in the waiting. To say we felt relief to finally receive a text photo that each baby had arrived safely would be a massive understatement!
I’ve cherished the recovery time her dad and I had with her while Jeremy stayed with the twins in the NICU (thankfully less than 12 hours for either of them). To hold and massage her shaking legs, to bring calm to the chaos that had seized her body and her mind was a precious honor. I’ve been there. I understood her state. It was another holy moment, one of comfort and care.
To behold these beautiful tiny faces is emotional. To have them here is surreal. It is also bliss. Every care in our personal world just melts away when they’re in our arms. What an honor to be apart of so much glory!
Our daughter said it so well when she posted, “Something about bringing such beautiful life into the world makes me want to simply worship. God is so good and we give him all the praise and glory!” Equally well said was our bonus son’s words, “I don’t even have the words to describe the past 48 hours.” All such true statements.
These two could not be any more different from each other already, and we love that about them! We wouldn’t want it any other way. They may be twins, but they are also uniquely created by a God who formed each one individually in the womb. Josiah and Junia have a purpose all their own to offer this world. Yet, together they will no doubt carry a special bond.
Fast-forward to coming home after helping care for the four of them for two and a half weeks (they live in another state). Amidst the holding, soothing, endless loads of baby laundry, household chores, making lactation treats and protein muffins, and late-night-shift-snuggles complete with lullabies I sang to my own children, I became progressively ill. The signs were recognizable, yet they were different.
In December of last year, after battling awful unrelenting sypmtoms for three months, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis – a form of Irritable Bowel Disease, and similar in ways to Chrohn’s, yet limited to the colon. This came on top of other significant, chronic gastrointestinal disorders, and severe adrenal gland issues I’d already had for a long time. It took another three months to find treatments that would work for me, yet not upset the delicate adrenal gland concerns. For whatever reason, despite consistent daily treatments, there was a noticeable, concerning shift in my sypmtoms this spring. That shift intensified while I was in Nashville for much of June.
On the way home last Sunday, overnight, I felt like I’d been taken from a bright world of light, and dropped into the darkest abyss. The disease tipped over into the severe category to a level I never knew existed. Most of Monday and Tuesday are a crazy, dark blur. All I remember is excruciating pain, feelings of delirium, extreme loss of fluids and blood (sorry folks, it isn’t a nice sickness), severe nausea despite meds 24/7, complete loss of appetite, and fever. I couldn’t stray any farther from the bed than the bathroom.
A trip to a couple of my doctors this week left me with two choices: the hospital, or in-home treatment with a warning from both to go to the hospital if anything worsens or doesn’t get better in 5-7 days. I received a couple bags of IV fluids, improved a decent amount, only to be hurled backwards the next day with all symptoms. This stuff is C R A Z Y. I do not understand it.
Why am I telling you this?
I imagine I’m not the only one who’s gone from light to dark. Who feels like someone turned the lights off. Who doesn’t understand. And who just wants relief.
While I drink my electrolytes to afford the comforts of recovering at home, when the hours are dark and long and feel never-ending, God breaks through with reminders of Truth. I’ll share them with you, in hope they will renew your strength, too.
- in the darkest 48 hours when all I could do was beg for relief in the tiny bursts of partial lucidity, when all else felt so dark and foggy, God whispered a reminder that he sees clearly in the dark. I am not hidden from him in my pain. Neither are you. “Even the darkness is not dark to You, and conceals nothing from You, but the night shines as bright as the day; Darkness and light are alike to You.” Psalm 139:12
- confession: sometimes it’s hard to hold on to hope when the body is wracked with pain, physical or emotional. I was reminded of my own words in the story HOPE: A Short Story for the Long Haul, and especially this Scripture, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength…” Isaiah 40:31a Hope in the LORD my friends. It is the only safe place to anchor hope.
- on a day I had managed to move to the chaise of our sofa, waves of nauseating pain swept over me for a couple hours once again. In my lack of understanding and plea for relief, I had to whipser a prayer of Truth, “God, I know you do not take pleasure in my pain…” as tears rolled down my cheeks. I repeat. God does not take pleasure in your pain.
- today I allowed a trusted friend to know how I’m struggling in all this, to bear my burdens and take them to Jesus. As a week has stretched on with only little imrovement, I told her honestly I’ve been battling discouragement, negativity, and irritation, not knowing how much of that is because I’m so sick or because of the steroid treatments. I had so many expectations coming home and this just knocked it all out. I was looking forward to writing again, getting back to the website building, time with my husband, fresh outdoor summer fun. Good grief, just food itself is a pleasure, yet it was taken. She texted this beautiful prayer back and gave me permission to share it with you, as we both hope it will meet you wherever you are:
"Father, please bring forward a wealth of encouragement! Keep the irritability and frustration far from mind, body, and spirit. Please provide discernment for her and the doctors caring for her as they move through this place of not knowing. Father, we know that YOU know! You know the pain, the suffering, the heartache, and the missed moments that comes with illness. You also know the perfect time for healing, for rejoicing and living our lives out loud. Please provide peace in the "not knowing" in this physical transition. Remind minute by minute who you are and who is truly, truly in control of all things, including physical well-being. We trust You Lord! We trust the plans You have for us, even when they don't make sense. Continue bringing all things together for the glory of Your name, Abba! This we pray in Jesus's name. Amen
- lastly, when I wrote this #bedtimeprayer last Sunday evening on the ride home, I only thought I knew how relevant it was as my heart was sad to leave my family in Tennessee. I had no idea just how much more I would need it in the days to come:
I hear you whisper, "I am with you." Many times You remind me You are close. Even in the busy, You are my heartbeat and the breath in my lungs for the task. Through every transition You are here, quieting my anxious thoughts. And just when I could really use a tangible example, You remind me of Your love. Thank You for this perfectly timed heart today. I love You, too, Jesus.
He IS, dear one. He IS with you. Whether you are in a time of rejoicing or pain. You are not alone. You are not unseen. You are not abandoned. God IS working on your behalf. His heart toward you is GOOD.