Motherhood, Parenting

The Exceptional In The Mundane

This is my beautiful boy. In a week, he turns 3. I marvel at the miracle of who he is.

Yet here I sit in yet another Speech Session. Recently, I’ve experienced a strange mix of incredible pride in the person that my son is becoming, a protectiveness that wants to shield him from any hurt, and a sense of grieving “normal”.
I take pride in every new word- the two word phrases he strings together- the books we “read.”
My protective mode springs to life when I’m told “he didn’t respond to the questions, but he was listening to the story and got a treat.” I realize too late that I’ve forgotten to mention that he has APD & is Speech Delayed.
I grieve “normal” when he doesn’t understand how to play a game or what a child is telling him. Or when a child my son’s age spouts off paragraphs and I have to explain that he doesn’t understand.
Most of all, I sit and marvel at the miracle of my son’s life. I vow to be with him step by step and celebrate the milestones- even if they’re different than others. Each day is a miracle. I marvel at the love he has for others and his capacity to enjoy life. I’m thankful for the exceptional in every day 💜.

Christian living

What To Do When You Can’t “Do”

As a Pulmonary Hypertension and COPD patient, catching COVID-19 has been something I’ve avoided for a year and a half. Unfortunately, it’s something that I can avoid no longer

I battled Covid for 2 weeks and although I’m now negative, I’m still experiencing some unpleasant symptoms. My doctors suspect heart failure. The fact that I’m not “bouncing back” is scary. However, I know that God is Omnipotent and that He spared me thus far for a reason.

I wanted to share a few things that have helped me this month as I’ve battled exhaustion, fluid overload, and Covid.

1. Catch up on books!

There are a lot of good (or just fun) books that I simply hadn’t had the time to read. I was able to learn and grow by reading books that were encouraging.

Books I’ve Been Reading:

1. The Montessori Toddler

Helped me simplify my son’s toys- a lot!

2. Raising World Changers In A Changing World

This book is kinda basic in a way- but practical! A good reminder to prioritize! 🙂

3. The Monogram Murders

I’m a HUGE Agatha Christie fan and may have fan-girled over the fact that her estate picked a new ghost writer! 🤩

2. Reach Out To Others

Just because your lungs are lame, doesn’t mean you have to be! If you can’t make a card or call, you can still text or private message and pray for people’s needs. And send them Memes- of course!

3. Find Work Arounds

Since I can’t be very active, I’ve been working around it. I have my son bring his books and toys and we hang out in Mommy’s bed. We also have sing-along time and games designed to strengthen his speech.

Most days, I sit outside and throw a ball to my son or we’ll identify toys, planes, or sounds that we hear. That way, he gets a break from the indoors and so do I.

I also was able to teach sitting down at church and craft prep while seated. It’s a hard process, but I’m learning to DELEGATE to someone who can run what I plan 🙂

4. Be Crafty

Some of my favorite things to “craft” currently are crocheted amoeba shaped sponges and Prego jars that I turned into Fall decor. I’ve also started coloring sarcastic sayings that I may or may not “white elephant gift” family and friends this Christmas. Am I good at it? No. But I enjoy it and it relaxes me.

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Christian living

Expectations

As I’ve stated before, my 2.5 year old has Auditory Processing Disorder. When I researched the disorder, I was overwhelmed by the “could happens”, especially since my husband continues to experience some of them first hand.

Despite the “could happens,” my son is incredibly observant. He LOVES to sing. He loves being with people! I see him try to communicate & learn new words every day!

This observation reminded me of the story of Moses. He told God that he was “slow of speech” and God asked him “who made your mouth?”

When I was young, I was expected to have certain difficulties due to my disabilities and there were things I “wasn’t going to be able to do”. Despite this, my parents pushed me to be the best I could be, and because of this I was able to do more than the Drs. predicted.

Does this mean pushing yourself beyond your ability? No. I would never enter a race etc! What it does mean is doing the best you can to develop what you’ve been given.

It means seeing yourself and others with disabilities as more than limitations and seeing them as a whole person. I am myself with a disability- the disability impacts who I am, but it does not have to define me.

Just because someone has a disability or condition does not make them any less worthy of love, friendship, or compassion. Let’s start seeing people-not as what they are expected to accomplish in life- but as unique individuals equal to everyone else & valued by God.

Chronic Illness, Disability awareness

Lessons From The Club Nobody Wants To Join

For 9 years now, I’ve been part of a club no one wants to join. As my diagnoses list has lengthened, I’ve found myself in more and more of these clubs. I’ve also found myself in one as a mom. As a member, I struggle with balancing normalcy with intermittent scans, meds, checkups, and hospital stays.

However, I’ve learned quite a bit while being there.

1. It will clarify friendships.

People who are “fair weather” friends will disappear, but the ones who love and accept YOU will stay. They’re the ones who call to check in or just come by and let you talk. They don’t allow you to close yourself off from the world, and therefore show you that you aren’t alone in your fight. They educate themselves on your illness and ask questions. The most important thing is that they STAY.

2. It will make or break relationships.

There is nothing quite like progressive lung disease to help weed out people who are unable to handle your illness while looking for a romantic relationship. However, when you find someone that sees you despite the disease, it’s incredibly worth it!!

3. It will reveal your strengths

You have no idea how strong you can be or what you can endure until you have a chronic illness. Through all of my diagnoses, labs, Pulmonary Function Tests, and more, I’ve learned that I CAN live despite these things. I CAN advocate for myself in medical situations. I’ve also learned that I am more persistent and resilient than I’d ever imagined.

4. It will reveal your insecurities

When you get a “may be terminal” diagnosis, all your insecurities are magnified and you get a couple new ones to boot. You deal with weight fluctuation which changes your body image, you wonder if all you are is your illness at times because that’s a lot of what’s going on in life, and you struggle with your self worth because of the people who left.

The good thing is this. As you grieve your loss of normalcy, you find a new normal. You find new friends that have the same illness as you and a loving network of support and understanding. You also realize that you’re more than your illness and start LIVING again. You start to accept yourself and realize that you are still you with or without Prednisone. Most of all, you realize that the perception others have of you does not define you and that those who really love YOU will embrace your illness because it’s part of you.

5. It will reveal your spiritual status.

When you have a chronic illness, others won’t understand. However, you’ll find yourself drawing closer to God or drifting farther away out of anger. The decision is yours. For me personally, it drew me into a closer relationship with God than I’d ever had before. I got to know who God was for myself, and trusted Him in a way I hadn’t before.

6. It will enable you to comfort others in the same exact club.

Nine years down the line, I am able to comfort those who are newly diagnosed and others who are going through health struggles. God is able to use me to minister to others because I’ve been there and I understand. It may be possible that God enables you to do the same!

I hope this little blog helped encourage you and make you see life from the perspective of someone with Chronic Illness.

Much love!! Lydia

Christian living

Facing the Unknown

Unknowns

Recently, my son was diagnosed with something called Auditory Processing Disorder. (A condition where the brain misinterprets or doesn’t transmit signals to the ears and so a speech and comprehension delay occur.)

I struggle with wanting to see improvement in his speech right now, when reality is that it’s a life long issue just like my PAH or COPD.

As a parent, it breaks me that my son will be “different” and struggle in similar ways to me as a child. (Having a delay). I long to protect him from that pain.

However, as I started to internally ask God “why our son?,” my mind flew back to the times he wasn’t supposed to be a reality. The times we were told to “terminate” because “we don’t know how the pregnancy will affect him.” Or “your body can’t handle it.” The fight through preterm labor and the hours of labor and God’s protection.

God gave me the strength and faith to believe that He would do the impossible and He did .

I realize again and again that I have to continually put my son’s future in God’s hands just like I do my own. It isn’t a one and done process.

Today, my thoughts are again drawn to Hannah who asked for a miracle child and then had to fully trust God with that child’s future. Hannah didn’t have a chance to see the daily growth her child made, but instead had to be content with seeing Samuel once a year.

How easy it is for me to say “God I trust you with my son’s future” when it seems known! But the real test of my faith comes when I can’t fix it. The real test is trusting my child’s unknown future to an all-knowing God.

God has proven that He is able to take the brokenness in my life and use it to His glory despite the deficits I have. How much more able is He to use my son’s life for His glory? “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

My child is more than the one thing that is different. He has been beautifully crafted by a loving God. He is the result of crying and praying that our faith be made sight.

He is only 2, but already wants to be with the Teens at church. His smile lights our lives. His personality is precious and unique. He is whole and perfect in his imperfections.

I love the words “Every joy or trial falleth from above. Traced upon our dial by the Son of love. We may trust Him fully; all for us to do. They who trust Him wholly find him wholly true. Stayed upon Jehovah…”

Remembering the miracles and trusting God for more.

Christian living

     A Time To Rest

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Since being diagnosed, becoming a mom, and now a Pastor’s wife, I’ve discovered that life is a juggling of responsibilities rather than a list on which I can check off tasks.

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t LOVE to have a plan and stick to it! Maybe you’re the same way.

However, sometimes our “plan” differs from God’s. I found myself in that situation this week. Unexpected circumstances changed my list.

During this unexpected pause, I suddenly realized that I had become a Martha- so worried about what needs to get done and afraid to relinquish control- that I forgot to rest in Christ. Just rest.

Are you in a similar boat? Are you like a hamster on a wheel running so fast through life that you forget to intentionally rest in Christ?

When life changes and causes you to rest unexpectedly, it can either be a time of discouragement and frustration, or a time of encouragement and joy.

Here are some benefits to enforced rest:

1. We are able to really dig into God’s Word.

Oftentimes, like Martha, we can get so caught up in doing things FOR Christ that we forget to spend time WITH Christ. During a time when you can’t minister, God is giving you a chance to refresh yourself in God’s Word.

2. Your family is able to sit, listen, and be ministered to by other pastors (if a Pastor’s family) or if you’re sick, via social media (ours was via livestream).

In the Book of Mark, we see Christ Himself set aside time to be ministered to by God’s Word.

“And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”
Mark 1:34‭-‬35‭

3. We were able to relax and have fun!

Here is a verse in a similar vein, reminding us to take time and REST! “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” Mark 6:31

How can we as Christians minister to others if we are constantly exhausted? We can’t. We are instructed to do everything “heartily as unto the Lord” That’s not possible to do if we are not at our best.

The point of this is: Take Time To Rest in Christ.

Christian living

“Let” The Little Children

A mom came to church for the first time. She held a toddler in her arms. Her face was etched with exhaustion. She told me hesitantly that she hadn’t wanted to come before because she didn’t want her baby to disturb the congregation and didn’t want to leave him with family.

I told her I understood. I have a 2 year old and he was incredibly fussy until he stopped bottle feeding. The relief on her face was palpable.

You see, a year ago, I was that mom. Wary of the judgement I would face if he cried too loudly in service and wary of some moldy looking nurseries or nursery workers that were panicked because my son cried too loudly.

Church, anxiety as a mom is real. Church- we need to step it up! When the Disciples tried to step between Christ and the little children because they were “inconvenient”, Jesus reprimanded the Disciples and brought the children to Him and held them. Children are PRESCIOUS to Christ. Each child has an angel guarding them- that should tell us as Christians that we need to value children too.

When you hear a child cry in church, give the mom a smile of encouragement. When a new mom comes in, offer to help watch her child. It may be the only time that mother can grow spiritually without being surrounded by sticky fingers and Paw Patrol on repeat.

Church- be a refuge. Church- be like Christ.

Motherhood

But Grace Has Brought Me Safe: A Letter To My Son (written February 2019)

Dear Baby J,

We’ve been together for 8 months now, but you’ve been in my heart for so many years.

Before we knew you were here, I asked God to give me time. I asked Him to let me meet your dad when no one thought it would happen.

I was told it was impossible to have you and that I should give up. I screamed, begged, and cried to God asking Him to turn my dream of you into reality. I prayed for you. I didn’t know your name, but I loved you!

Doctors told me you would never be a reality or an option. They told me I would pay much too high a cost breathing for the both of us.

Your dad and I prayed for you for months before we were married and when we saw my Drs. they told me my body was stable and you were possible.

We waited and prayed and waited some more. God began a work in your dad and I. He strengthened our faith and taught us to love. He gave us love for children that wouldn’t ours by birth, but by choice. He taught us to fully surrender self to His will.

He gave us such a love and peace-one that we wouldn’t have learned to have otherwise. We asked Him to open doors soon to allow us to foster. When we surrendered to that possibility and stepped out in faith, He blessed us with you.

You’ve brought us closer in so many ways! Your dad and I asked God to protect you every night.

We can’t wait to meet you! The past few months have been hard, but you are worth every bit!

One of the scariest moments I’ve ever experienced was thinking that I would lose you. We spent the hour on the way to the hospital praying for God to keep you safe. It’s a terrifying feeling not being able to protect the one you love the most.

Thankfully, God spared your life and I got to see your beautiful heartbeat for the first time. I saw you.

This and countless other experiences caused me to reevaluate if I truly meant what I told God when I promised to give you back to Him. I had to question if I really trusted Him, even if you took you back before I met you.

Being with you has been a daily learning experience. I have to constantly give my fear to God and ask Him to take care of you, because I cannot humanly do so. I pray that God will protect you and allow me to be your mother.

Because of my conditions, I was assigned an O.B. nurse from my insurance company to help co-manage my care during pregnancy and to make sure we’re both doing well.

Today, I once again realized how God has held us both in His hand each week and how He’s shown His power through our lives. It convicted me. Despite everything your dad, you, and I have faced, God has shown Himself bigger than the impossible.

Drs. and nurses have met us both, and we’ve been able to share your story. I pray that when they hear it, they at least consider the possibility of a God who loves and cares for His own.

God has shown His grace and given us strength when we had none. He’s sent finances when we wondered how the bills would be paid, and He’s sent friends to encourage us when it was hard to be away from family.

You truly are our miracle. We love you.

Christian living

Why Am I Sick?

This is a question that I personally have wrestled with multiple times, and I’m sure many others have as well. While I’ve been given many pat answers and a lot of “advice, I simply want to give my opinion and why I feel the way I do.

Is The Answer Because I’ve Sinned?

No. More than once, I was told to “confess my sins” and God would heal me of my PAH. I begged for forgiveness and healing and was still sick. I was taken to a Psalm of David and another verse I was given was Isaiah 53:5 to back up this view

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” I was so riddled with guilt and anguish- all due to faulty Biblical interpretation.

Here’s the context: Isaiah 53 is a prophetic passage foretelling Christ’s death on the Cross. Being healed by His stripes references our healing from sin- not disease!! The Psalm I was led to was a confessional Psalm of David after his sin with Bathsheba. He was asking God to forgive his very obvious sin.

Not only is this mindset Pharisaical– if you’re healthy you’ve achieved a higher spiritual level so to speak- but it also does damage to not only chronically ill Christians who are struggling, but to those who unchurched- who are afraid and looking for answers- possibly for the first time.

Jesus Himself addresses this faulty thinking in John 9:2-3. A man is born blind, and the assumption is that it’s God’s judgement. Jesus answers the Disciples and shows them and us, that He is not a cruel God. “And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

The reason God allows all different trials, sickness, or maybe even death is for the same goal: to glorify Himself through us. It isn’t about US at all- but Christ working through us.

Is The Answer Because I Don’t Have Faith?

No! Let me be VERY clear. Do I believe God can and does heal? Absolutely!!! Is that always His will? No. The Apostle Paul was one of the most prolific authors in the Bible on faith. Yet, in 2 Corinthians 12, he states,”For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

If the Apostle Paul, who healed others simply by passing by, and wrote the Hall of Faith chapter, wasn’t healed, who are Christians today to judge one another as lacking enough faith to be healed?

I choose to believe that God is good and that He can work through my limitations. Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

For me personally, my illness has made me cling to Christ in a way that I otherwise never would have done. Life for me is a vapor in a very real sense and God is my refuge and strength from day to day.

Is The Answer Because God Has Somehow Chosen Me For A Life Of Pain?

No! Pain and illness started when man sinned. It grieved Jesus when people were hurting physically or mentally. I take great comfort in Hebrews 4:15a “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities…”

In the story of Lazarus, when Martha early on in the chapter laments that if Jesus had been there Lazarus would be alive, Jesus states that Lazarus will rise and then we see that Jesus weeps. Not for Lazarus- because He knows that he’ll live again- but for those who are mourning him. We serve a God of compassion- not a God who is vindictive or cruel.

In summary, God didn’t “call” me or anyone else to be sick. He doesn’t choose one person to suffer more than others. However, with the suffering He allows He gives grace to travel life’s journey. Another verse that I take great comfort in is the one below.

Thanks for reading! 😀

Uncategorized

[Un]Worthy

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Psalms 139:13-15

The first time I thought of this verse in reference to my own life, I was at a summer camp. I’d desperately wanted to go on the week’s hike but knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my cabin mates. A counselor offered to go with me on free time. I took her up on it.

As we were hiking, I confided that I didn’t understand why God had allowed me to be born the way I was. She mentioned Psalm 139:14 and told me that God made me just the way I am. She later mentioned running track. At that point, I knew she didn’t understand, but the verse has stayed with me.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve felt unworthy and unqualified not just physically, but spiritually. Little lies creep into my head telling me that I’m too broken. I won’t ever be fixed, so I am not worthy of love, my ministry, and cannot help anyone else.

However, that simply isn’t true. We serve a God who uses the broken things for His glory. We see in the Bible time and time again where God uses the imperfect.

In the passage I mentioned, I’ve seen the first verse quoted often. However, I don’t usually see the next verse quoted: For me, it changes the tone completely.

My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”

This verse gives so much comfort!! God knew my broken DNA in my mother’s womb and saw the lungs that would never fill fully with air. Yet, He chose to use me knowing since before I was born that I would be flawed and imperfect.

You may have an imperfection in your life or something you can’t control, and the Devil may sneak the same doubts into your head. However, you are valuable and God can use you.

Jesus states this speaking of our value to Him.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
Matthew 10:29‭-‬30

We are incredibly valuable to Christ!! A woman I think of often is Hagar. She wasn’t an Israelite, was a slave, was going to have her master’s child as a surrogate, and was angry at the whole situation.

She ran away into the desert with no food, water, etc. and God appeared to her and promised to make a great nation from her son. It says that then “And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?”
Genesis 16:13

God sees us. It’s a simple thought but beautiful in its’ simplicity!! God sees me. My pain, my flaws, my good and bad. God sees me and I matter to Him!

A great example of someone who was used despite his imperfections was the Apostle Paul. He stated this “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

In this verse we see the crux of the matter. It isn’t about us at all! It’s all about Christ and what He can do through a willing vessel.

Something that we can take comfort in is that God uses our brokenness for His glory. In John 9:2, we see the Disciples ask Christ “who sinned?” when faced with a blind man. Jesus’ answer explains it all: “Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
(John 9:3)

Sometimes God allows sorrow, pain, trauma, and sickness in our lives and it’s ok to wonder why, to mourn, and feel broken. However, God can heal us or use what we see as broken pieces if we let Him. God can allow us to comfort others and can use us to help someone else going through the same circumstance. The following verse is such an encouragement!

God has a purpose for our lives. He values us and will use us if we let Him