This is Us.

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This weekend we had family pictures done.  I waited anxiously all day for the sneak peeks to be posted.  Once they were, I paged through them ooo-ing and ah-ing over each picture and telling Darren to “look at this one” over and over.  But, when it came to this photo, I didn’t have anything to say.  It took my breath away.  This is us.  To some, it may just be a picture of two people holding hands.  To me, its a symbol of so much more.

When I stood at the altar and said my vows, I really had no idea the depth of the words I was saying.  I meant them the best way I knew how in that moment, but I had no idea.  Almost 9 years deep, our marriage has been through so much.  More than many marriages face in a life time.  But through it all, there was us.

Through college.

Through my parent’s divorce.

Through the loss of our church.

Through new jobs.

Through death.

Through birth.

Through miscarriage.

Through health struggles and sickness.

Through natural disaster.

Through times of financial need and plenty.

As my family crumbled and my sense of self waivered, you were there, holding my hand.  You didn’t have to stay, to pick up all the lost and shattered pieces.  You stayed and helped me piece each shard back into place.  You have shown me patient and unconditional love.  You have shown me, I am worth fighting for.  You have shown me, I am enough.

I have doubted many things, but I have never doubted us.

What I see, when I look at this photo, is two people who choose, every single day, to love each other.  Some days that choice is harder to make than others.  But we choose it, continually.  We choose to stand, united.  You and I.

Our world has crumbled around us time and time again.  Banging and crashing and begging us to fall with it.  We haven’t fallen, because we haven’t let go.

I look at how far we have come in this 8 3/4 years of marriage and my heart bursts.  Not a moment has been easy, but every moment has been worth it. Thank you for standing with me.

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Matthew 19: 6  What God has joined, let no man separate.

**Photo credit to Amelia Zobrist Photography

 

 

Just a quick update.

IMG_0636.jpgI never take time to update when things are good.  Its not that I’m not grateful, its just that writing is how I process hard things.  When things are good, I don’t feel so inspired to take time to write it all out.  But, I know so many have partnered with us in prayer and I feel an update is in order.

The new jobs are so great.  Darren is home on the weekends.  Every.  Single. Weekend.  That alone has us over the moon.  The stability of a predictable and dependable pay check is pretty great too.  He is enjoying the work and the new friends he has made.  He has really been blessed with several strong Christian men on his crew that continuously build him up.  My job definitely has its crazy and unpredictable moments, but overall, the workload is light and we are figuring out how to maintain a normal life despite the unpredictability of being “on call”.  The financial security that these new jobs has offered is so incredibly freeing.  I was never discontent with our financial situation.  We have always had food to eat and a roof over our heads.  We have never gone without a necessity.  That being said, living in a constant state of not quite enough is stressful.  The last three months, there has been money left over after paying the bills.  No strategizing how we were going to make it stretch.  We aren’t wealthy by any means, but there is enough.  Enough is a very good feeling.

Enough has allowed us to afford some much needed things we had been putting off for months.  Its allowed us freedom to invest time in others by way of having them for a meal or taking them out for a meal.  Being able to take care of ourselves well, allows us to invest in other more fully.  Its so rewarding.

We have a plan to be debt free in a year.  That may be a lofty goal.  It may take us just a bit over a year as we needed a few months to get back on our feet, but we have a solid plan and its so exciting!  Just last month I paid off three medical bills we had been paying on for several years.  THREE!!  The debt snowball is rolling!!  We are working hard to find balance between allowing ourselves a little room to breathe, and building a financially secure state.

We are purging our belongings striving for a more minimalistic state of living.  Too much stuff leads to unnecessary stress.  Getting rid of the excess has been so freeing!  We hope to redecorate the house over time.  New pain, less clutter.  Ah…the thought of it just brings me so much calm.

Health wise, Levi and I are in a sort of holding pattern.  Due to our previous financial crunch, we put things on a bit of a hold.  Now that we again have health insurance, we have to get back to work.  I will be scheduling Levi’s urology appointment with Lurie’s.  For myself, I have chosen to delay further diagnostics to focus on self care.  Eating better, sleeping better, further reducing stress.  Eating has become really difficult.  Its not that I don’t want to eat, but I have no hunger (or thirst most of the time).   Eating causes nausea and an increased heart rate  which makes the passing out more likely.  The doctor thinks this may be due to some mineral deficiencies.  Ive lost quite a bit of weight so I’m really working hard to maintain and focus on eating well.  But at the same time, I don’t want diet to become a fixation.  Again balance isn’t easy.  Hopefully, some new supplements will fix me right up!  I’m getting very mixed advice from my local docs and having real trouble finding someone to step up and help me manage my care.  Its likely another trip to Cleveland will be in my future.  I’m just wanting to plan this trip well, making sure I see the right people and know what questions to ask.  Id also like to take Levi with me to see genetics to get the EDS3 diagnosis official for him.

Overall, we are just in a really good place.  There is so much excitement in starting new.  So much potential.  It feels like Darren and I are really starting to build the life WE want.  Filling it with things and people so intentionally.  We are discovering a sense of self and that’s empowering.  We hope that you will continue to pray Gods direction over our lives.  Specifically, it is our prayer that God will continue to provide us with ways to serve those around us and that we will be receptive to those opportunities.  We want to live intentionally in all things!

Lukie Turns One

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Tomorrow, my baby turns one.  I cant really wrap my head around that, because, it seems, that he was just born.  I know thats something everyone says, but its exceptionally true this time.   I feel like Im just coming out from under that new baby fog and now he’s so grown!

I love watching him grow.  Every day there is something new that we make him do over and over a hundred times, because we all just think this baby hung the moon.  But, with every new milestone met, there is a hint of sadness, knowing that its the last first, for this family.

I have 4 beautiful children.  They are my world.  Thats the problem.  I have no idea how to be without a baby on my hip.  For as long as I can remember, there was always a baby.  It started when my youngest brother was born.  I was 9, almost 10, and he was mine.  I know now, how crazy I drove my mother trying to be his mama, because I now have a little mama of my own.  As he grew, there were church kids and neighbor kids to fill my arms.  And then there was our Eva.  If I could go back in time, I would go back to when she was tiny and I would relive every one of those moments and commit them to memory much better than I managed to.  I would tell myself to go ahead and feel how good motherhood felt, even though it seemed my world was crashing around me.  My parents divorce, trying to figure out married life, trying to get careers started, buying and renovating a house.  We had so much on our plates.  By the time Levi came, we were established.  Motherhood seemed second nature.  Transition was easy.  But, as we dealt with his health issues, he developed a big resentment towards me.  “Mama makes hurts” he would say.  Now things with Emma were all around easy.  She was a delightful baby.  Always happy as long as she could cuddle.  Darren and I were both working and working too much.  Adjusting to three kids was intense.  By the time she was 4 months old, I knew I wanted to be home with her, with all of the kids.  I felt like, I got it right with her.  Things were so fluid.  I nursed her until she was almost 2.  We co-slept.  So in tune.  We were a unit.  And then back surgery and POTS threatened to take away my mobility.  I spend a good portion of her second year on the couch.

You could say, that there are things I wish I could change about each childs first year.  You cant go back in time, you can only move forward.

And then the miscarriages.  I knew that if there were another child, I knew, I wanted things to be so different.  I wanted life to be slower, more intentional.  I wanted to sink into the sweet newborn smell and really take it all in. I wanted to be so present in every moment.  Loss has a way of changing you completely so that you understand, so well, the things that actually matter.

When I found out I was pregnant with Lukas, I was so afraid.  I was afraid to get attached.  Afraid to plan.  Afraid to feel really.  I was in a sort of denial for most of the pregnancy.  I was just not sure my heart could handle losing him.  I wanted to embrace the pregnancy.  I wanted to  experience it all fully, but I just couldnt let myself.  I had hoped, through his birth, that I could find healing of sorts.  I wanted an all natural, empowering birth.  Nothing about it went as I had envisioned it.  That first look and first latch, I had dreampt of it for months.  I dreamed about how I would hold him and just love him so big because he was here.  Instead, I shook, too weak to hold him myself for some time.  Then there were after birth complications and pain.  And the babymoon I had dreamed of, coming home, well, that never happened either.  Instead, we were thrust into life as a family of 6, with a dad that wasnt present because when harvest comes, the farmer must go, ready or not.  None of it, none of it went like i had planned.

And through it I learned, that thats life.  I learned that being able to roll with the ups and downs of life was crucial to being able to actually enjoy it.  I realized that I had a choice to be miserable because nothing was going my way, or to make the best out of what I had. I had a perfect example of how to do that in my Lukas.  Ive never seen a baby as relaxed as he was.  Content to go here or there any time.  Content to be handled by this sibling and lugged around by that one. Content to just be held and be.

He and I, we quickly molded.  Our connection is strong.  Its so good.  He has healed my soul in ways I cant even put into words.  He has shown me, that I am enough.  Im not a perfect mother, but I am perfect for him.  To see those eyes look into mine, and feel his soft hands running up and down my arms while he nurses.  Its simply what feels like home.  Its not that I love him more than the other kids.  Of course I love them all so completely.  Its just that, I love him so much deeper than I knew how to love before.  Realizing that I couldnt take the gift of a child for granted, realizing that every pregnancy wasnt promised, realizing that my health wasnt guaranteed, all of these things have given me a new appreciation and understanding of just how precious his little life is.

I know, that Lukas will be the last child.  Its not what I want.  I want to continue living on this baby high.  I want to continue to have somewhere and someone else to put my focus on.  I want to continue to exist in this identity, the identity of a baby mom.  I have no idea how to function without a baby.  I want to continue to sit on this baby induced high.  I want another chance to perfect this thing called motherhood.  The days ahead are uncharted.  Its frightening.  Frightening, because I have no idea what Im doing.  Ive had 4 chances at being a baby mama, and I finally feel like I have it sort of figured out.

What it basically boils down to, is that im feeling like a child being pulled out a a candy store.  I know whats here is good.  I finally even know what candy I like best, and I dont want to leave!  But its time, its time to leave.  Change is frightening, because its unknown.  Its so easy to remain in your comfort zone, but remaining there, doesnt allow for growth.

So here is to the next stage.  The days of nursing and baby wearing and co sleeping and sloppy kisses and kissing boo boo’s, they arent gone, but they are numbered.  The days of being needed to tie shoes and button shirts are counted.  The last Ulrich is entering toddlerhood.  He’s growing up, whether his mama likes it or not.  And as he grows, Ill have to grow too and we will discover this new stage together.  <3

Happy birthday, Lukas Abram Ulrich.  You complete us with your laid back personality and love to cuddle; with your ability to make us all laugh and your ornery attitude.  We love you so much!

Is God a liar?

Do you believe that God created the universe?

Well, yes, of course.

Do you believe that He created man?  Created you?

Yes.

Do you believe that God makes Mistakes?

No.  Thats what makes Him God, right?

So then, if you believe that God does not make mistakes and you believe that He created you, then you are not a mistake.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Psalm 130: 13-15

I know, I have a purpose…I know…but I dont feel like I am enough.  I feel inadequate.  I’m too fat, too ugly, to mediocre, too skinny…I dont like my eyes, my chin, my hips.  Im too shy, too awkward. There are things in my past Im not proud of….The arguments of inferiority are many, but the reasons all the same.  I feel inadequate.  Im just not enough.

Self esteem is something so many of us struggle with.  The feeling of being inadequate.  I know, for most of my life its been a very real struggle for me.  Ive felt like I wasnt smart enough, Ive felt like I wasnt physically desirable.  Ive wondered if I was nice enough, fun enough, exciting enough.  Adding true limitations from chronic illness and miscarriage to that already damaged self view and I was really struggling to love that face in the mirror.

Am I enough?  I didnt feel like I was enough.

But then, the above conversation happened with a friend.  He told me, to assume that I was inadequate, was to assume that God somehow made a mistake.  And if I believed that God made a mistake, well then, I dont believe that God is who he says He is at all.  If I believe that I am inadequate, then I believe that God is a fraud.

Those words hit me like a ton of bricks.  Believe God is a fraud?!  Absolutely Not!  That simple conversation changed my outlook and my heart.  I still have days and moments of self doubt.  But, I am able to quiet those feelings by finding peace in the promise that my God does not make mistakes.  I am enough in Christ.

Moses is a great example of how someone who was seemingly inadequate by man’s standards, is exceptionally equipped for the plan God had for him.  Moses, was an adopted prince, turned nomad murderer.  An outcast.  No one to claim him, but the beasts of the wilderness.  Moses mistakes allowed him to be in the exact position God needed him to be to do great things.  God told Moses, through the burning bush, that He needed him.

“But who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

And God said: “I will be with you” 

God lays out His plan and commission for Moses.

Moses answered: “What if they do not believe me or listen to me?”

Then God proceeded to give Moses miraculous signs to prove He was in control, to prove He could be trusted.  God took the time to prove himself to Moses.  Lets not forget this entire conversation is occurring via a non burning, burning bush.  In my opinion God went above and beyond to prove his authority to Moses.  You wont believe Moses response:

“O, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past, nor since you have spoken to your servant.  I am slow of speech and tongue.”

If I were God, I would probably be getting a smidge annoyed by now, by Moses whining and lack of trust.

The Lord said to Moses: “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go, I will help you.”

But Moses is acting very much like my three year old, and continues to protest.

And Moses said: “O, Lord, please send someone else”

And like most parents who have asked their kids umpteen times to do one simple thing, Gods anger burned against Moses.  Ill give the “catch up” version of Gods response.

“Look, Moses, Ive got this covered.  Your brother Aaron, who is a great speaker is on his way to meet you.  He’s going to talk for you. Ive given you the ability to preform miracles and some pretty specific instructions on how and when to use them.  Now get a move on it!”

And like most children, once they have pushed their parents to the brink of rage, Moses decides, very begrudgingly, to comply with Gods request.  But he continues doubt and question.  Moses repeatedly cries out to God about His plan to deliver Israel.  Time and time again, God reveals His plan to Moses.  Time and time again, God proves to Moses that He is in control and that His plan will prevail.  And we all know how the story ends.  God does deliver the people of Israel and He does it by using Moses, a guy with a stutter who had a history of being a murderer.  A guy who, lets face it, was previously failing at life. So, if God can use Moses to do big things,like deliver an entire nation from slavery, I think He can use just about anyone to do anything.

And then there is this, not only, does God not create mistakes, He also provided his perfect son, to die for us as a sacrifice, so that, when He looks at us, He doesnt see sinful and ugly  and self doubting people.  When He looks at His children, through Christ, He sees perfection and absolute beauty.  When you receive the gift of grace Christ offers, your sins are cast from you, your imperfections covered, fully and completely.

Repeat after me:

I AM ENOUGH IN CHRIST.

Say it again:

I AM ENOUGH IN CHRIST.

If you are like me, you may need to say it at least 300 times a day to remind yourself.  But its true.  Its always been true.  God does not make mistakes.  God can use any person, in any circumstance to do really big things.  Our feelings of inadequacy dont change the fact, that God is God.  We can choose to dwell on our imperfections, limitations and insecurities.  We can choose to continue to feel inadequate.  OR, we can choose to take peace in knowing that we are enough.  We are made perfect in all of our imperfections.  God doesnt care if you stutter, He doesnt care about past sins, He doesnt care about physical appearance.  What God cares about is having you near now and into eternity.  God loves you.  All of you.  We are enough in Christ.  Say it.  Claim it.  Find peace in it.

 

Finding Rest

I kind of hate how this is such a dark and depressing place.  Im really not a depressed individual.  I quite love my life, despite its ups and downs.  But this blog is my space to reason and name the feelings I sometimes feel.  Its healing to me to write.  Its a space to admit my pain and put purpose to it.  To name it and claim it.  I suppose, I should make a point to write about some happy things at some point to balance it out, but the truth is, hard things are my inspiration to write.  In times of happiness, I just want to be present to enjoy it.

My heart has been very heavy this last month, for reasons I cant publicly discuss.  Not being able to discuss it, seems to make the burden 10 times heavier. But as always, in tough times, there is room for growth.

In discussing the problem with my husband last week, he said something that might as well be the theme of our marriage.  He stopped and said, “I love you.  I know, no matter what we go through, we can go through it together and that makes me love you.”  He’s right.  In the 8 years we have been married we have endured more than some do in a life time.  Its made our bond strong and deep and Im grateful for that.

Being married and being a mother has taught me so much about the character of God.  It was hard for me to understand unconditional love, until I had experienced the human equivalent.  In the past two years, it seems like my life is one big, dramatic trial after another.  Each time I think I may have overcome and life may resume to “normal” something else comes up.  Ive come to the conclusion that perhaps this idea of normalcy is just a myth and that life is truly just not as easy as I had expected.  I often wonder why God allows these trials to come.  I struggle with the idea of being “good enough” to pass whatever test this is so I can move on to easier times.  Thats not really how it works though, is it?  In fact the Bible tells us In Matthew 5 “Blessed are the persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  We are told, that living a life honoring of Christ will not be easy.  We are also promised we will not have to carry the load alone.  Looking back, I can say with certainty, that I am thankful for the trials we have endured, because I understand, of God, exactly what my husband said to me.  Knowing that He walks with me, and seeing that evidence in my life, grows my love for Him.

Last night, my 7 year old was asking for help with a homework paper.  It was obvious that she didnt need help as much as she just wanted the answers so she could move on to the next activity.  I explained to her, that I needed to see her attempt the assignment on her own.  “Im here to assist you in working through it, but I wont give you the answers.  If I did, you wouldnt be learning the concept.”  While I would love to give my children anything and everything to make their lives easy, as a parent, I recognize that isnt loving.  Loving them, is requiring them to be responsible and allowing them the space to do things on their own, so that they are prepared for life to come.  I walk with them, but not for them.  Isnt our relationship with Christ the same?  I know, because He loves me, that He would like for me to live a life free of trials, but because that isnt reality, He instead teaches me to endure the trials and walks through them with me.  Its much easier to understand this, as I parent my own children and can understand that parental role.

I struggle often, both in my relationships with people and Christ, with being a people pleaser.  I often act as I think I am expected, instead of whats true in my heart.  Its been a process, in the last year and in the present to start to learn who I am and act as me, not what I think is expected of me.  This shows in my prayer life.  I often pray what I think God would want to hear from me, instead of whats on my heart.  Thats so silly, considering He already knows what Im thinking.  Im not sure who I think Im trying to fool.  The honest truth is, Im tired and weary.  This current issue is weighing me down.  And while I can give it over to the Lord and I can have faith for resolution and faith in His plan, Im tired, and I just dont feel like pressing on.  Im sure all the mothers reading can understand that.  We all have had those days. You love your babies so much and quitting isnt an option, but dang.  You are tired and you just dont want to pour the cheerios and do the laundry and cook the supper and go to the store and all the other big and small things mothers do.  Every step and motion is just an absolute test of your might.  Thats just how Im feeling about life in general at the moment.  Just plain ‘ol flat out weary.  Even the good things feel heavy because of the weariness.

A friend told me this morning that its ok to pray like Christ did in the garden.  “Father let this cup pass from me, but not my will, but yours.”  That struck me, as I reflected.  How weary was Christ in the garden?  How fearful?  How unsure?  He knew what he needed to do, but he didnt want to do it.  He was obedient, despite.  If Chist can admit to God how weary and unsure He was, then I can too.  God already knows what is on my heart and in order to have real intimacy with him, I need to be honest and open with myself and him.  I reflect back on so many of the bible “greats” and remember how many times they cried out with weary hearts.  There is great comfort in knowing that its ok to feel tired.  Its ok to admit that I am not strong on my own.  In fact, its good to admit it.  Its even necessary.

So my prayer today is exactly that.  Lord, if its your will, take this burden from me.  Im weary and tired and I need rest.  But Lord, I know your plan is bigger than me.  I know your plan is good.  I have faith in that.  So, thy will be done.  But Lord, if Im going to keep pressing on, I need some strength.  Like, a heap of it, because Im so tired.  In all things Lord, may my actions and words bring glory to your name, so that others may know you and your love.  Amen.

Psalm 18:6 But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.

Thy Will

I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done

I know you’re good
But this don’t feel good right now
And I know you think
Of things I could never think about
It’s hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you’re God
And I am not
So

Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done

I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store
I know you hear me
I know you see me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Good news you have in store

So, thy will be done

Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done

I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord

Have you ever had a song that just pinged your soul? Stops you in your tracks, takes your breath away kind of moment?  Hillary Scott wrote it about a miscarriage she experienced.  Having experienced that myself, the first time I heard the song, I listened through sweet tears of agreement.  It sums up how I feel and felt so perfectly.  Ive enjoyed hearing it every time, like a new layer of healing is peeled away.

These last two years have been so intense.  Hard and beautiful and blessed and horrible all at once.  Its been so much to process and think through and attempt to understand and learn how to embrace.  Its been mountain tops of goodness and valleys of pain. There have been so many times where I have found myself on my knees giving back my desire for complete control to the Lord.  But, like any human, there are those corners of my heart that I dont give up so easily.

Since he first became sick at 12 months, Levi has been a very special burden.  I have known since that first fever, there was something just not quite normal about this child.  Doctors repeatedly tell us he is “fine”.  He is just a little outside of normal in many areas.  Ive always known they were missing something.  On the outside, he is a vibrant and healthy child.  He runs and plays in the mud like any other 5 year old boy.  On the outside, he looks fine.  But, if you know him well, you know there are many subtle things, like his inability to fight off a common childhood sickness without medical intervention,  or urinary incontinence, or the frequent unexplained ulcers on his face, that make him complicated.  Having the Ehlers Danlos diagnosis helps explain so much of these abnormalities, maybe even all of them.  But, without an Ehlers literate pediatric doctor, the detective work has been completely up to myself.  Always reading and researching and fighting to connect the dots.  Im exhausted.  Many days I feel like I cant take one more step on this journey.  We have made some huge strides in the last six months with diet and supplements and tongue tie revision.  Huge steps.  I rejoice in every win.  But still, there are big issues, like the incontinence, that simply cant be ignored any longer.

After seeing the new urologist last week, I was so excited to have a doctor that I feel will listen and fight with me.  Hallelujah!!!  But then, not having insurance for another month means waiting even longer for answers.  That means more medical bills on our already taxed budget.  Im afraid of what those answers may be.  There will very likely be some form of surgery, either to remove whatever is blocking the bladder from emptying or, on the spine or brain, if the problem is neurological, like we fear.  My heart breaks over needing to put my little Levi through anything else.  He’s done enough!  He’s been through enough!  I just cant.  Cant feel it, cant think about it.  Cant go on.  But, thats not an option is it?  I have to go on.  Go on pushing and fighting for answers and direction.  Go on driving to doctors here and there and running tests on this and that.  I have to push on until there are solid and clear answers.  I want to be able to hold my boy and not worry and fret and wonder.  I want to be able to rejoice in him playing and laughing and not wonder about what is going on in his body.    I need to allow myself to look past the problem, and see the boy.  Relinquishing that control completely, is a daily battle I fight with the Lord.  I want to hand him over and to understand that Levi is God’s son, not mine.  God has a plan for him.  He is not mine to control.  I try.  I speak the words and I try to own them.  I know the truth in my heart.  My human nature still fights for control, despite.

We were driving to Bloomington for what seems the 30th time in the last week, and I was thinking and mulling over everything as I drove. This song came on the radio.  At first I became teary eyed thinking about Hillary and her love for her unborn and understanding exactly how she felt.  And I listened, for probably the first time, to the words entirely. I was thinking to myself how well this could apply to other areas of my life.  My mind turned to Levi.  And then, from the back seat, I hear my Levi belting out the words with all of his might.  Singing, in that hoarse and raspy voice:

“Thy will be done.  They will be done.”

I had to pull the van over.  I sat there, on the side of the road, sobbing as he sang.  I cant tell you in words what happened exactly.  I felt a lightning bolt in my soul.  I couldnt breathe.  The tears flowed from a spot in my heart, so deep.  The Lord used that moment to break me.  Break me right in half.  Its as if this song is exactly my prayer for Levi and he used my sweet boy to answer me so clearly.  His plans are for him.  Goodness he has in store.  Ok Lord, I hear you.  Thy will, not mine.

I know you’re good
But this don’t feel good right now
And I know you think
Of things I could never think about
It’s hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you’re God
And I am not
So

Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done

I wish I had the satisfaction of knowing that there is a happily ever after coming.  I wish I knew that all will be resolved and well in just a short time.  I wish I knew that the resolution wasnt major surgery.  I dont know that.  All I know, is that I have to keep pressing forward and remembering that even though I cant understand why I, and Levi, need to be broken for the fulfillment of Gods perfect plan, His plan is bigger than I can see. His plan is good.  He loves Levi more than I can.  He loves him eternally.  No matter the outcome, it is good.  I choose to have faith  in that.

Thank you Lord, for using a simple song to speak to me so clearly.  I hear you.  Thy will be done.

Two steps forward, three steps back

The stress lately…its eating me alive.  Being at work two days a week seems trivial, but when you have been home for the last year, its a difficult adjustment.  Going to work this time of year, makes it exceptionally hard.  The garden is overflowing and needs weeding and picking and the food I pick cant actually sit on the counter forever.  The corn needs to be picked and cleaned and put away for the year.  The applesauce to be made.  Then peaches and green beans.  The kids want to go to the pool and to the park and I need to catch up on adult things.  I want to spend every minute of the last of our summer soaking them up.  Finding balance is difficult.  Im so glad this is short term.

Monday, I was working hard to get caught up on all of the adult things I had been putting off, like paying bills and making phone calls.  It was about 11am and I was still in my nightgown.  The dog was being needy.  Whenever I dont feel well or he doesnt, he sits on my feet.  He attempts to have a seat even when Im trying to walk.  He had been doing this all morning.  I was feeling a bit under the weather so I figured that was the reason.  He kept going to the door and whining.  I thought he needed to go out.  I told Eva to open the door for him and let him out and I would get my shoes and go out with him.  As soon as she opened the door, he took off.  Down the street and into the corn field.  Gus is a runner.  He runs often and has a history of running far.  He always comes home.  It was hot, I knew he wouldnt be gone long.  I started walking down the road after him calling.  No sign of him.  I was in my jammies, so I decided to get dressed before looking further.  I noticed on my walk back that the cat was in the tree, where she often goes when scared, but didnt think much of it at the time.  I went in the house, threw on some clothes and got in the van and drove to the neighbors looking for the dog.  Again, no sign of him.  I couldnt really leave the kids alone, so I drove back down the road and parked the van, knowing he would come back eventually.  By the time I was in the door, he was back.  We opened the front door to let him in and I heard Eva gasp.  “He’s bleeding!!”  Now, Eva has a long history of being ridiculously dramatic.  I was expecting a small scratch.  My jaw hit the floor when I saw gaping holes.

I brought him in and put him in the tub to rinse him off.  The bleeding basically stopped.  I saw at least three puncture wounds and they were deep.  I knew the fact that they werent bleeding was not a good thing.  I called my brother in law and asked him to come over to help with the kids so I could better assess the damage.  Gus started hyperventilating.  The more I tried to rinse and see where he was hurt, the more worked up he got.  I knew if i persisted he was going to pass out.  I decided to take him to the vet.  I knew he was hurt worse than I could see, when he couldnt jump into the van to leave.  He loves van rides.  Normally, as soon as I get to Bloomington city limits, he is going nuts.  Whining and barking and trying to see.  This time, silence.  I kept talking to the back of the van wondering if he was still alive.  I was so relieved when we got to the vet that he lifted his head to greet me.  But no barking, no vigorous pulling or frantic sniffing.  he just laid there limp in my arms.  I knew it was bad.  The vet whisked him away immediately and told me to go home, he would call when he could sedate him and assess the full damage.

At 5pm, we went back to pick him up.   Now, I love Gus, he was my first pet and has always been my baby, but Im not one to get overly sensitive about pets.  He’s “just a dog” but when they brought him out to me on that stretcher and I saw how hurt he really was, I turned to a ball of blubbering mush.  Three bites, six areas of wounds, each area with several open puncture wounds.  Most of his coat was shaved to reveal over 40 staples, 6 drains, too many stitches to count.  He literally was lucky to be alive.

As I recounted the happenings of the day, I started putting pieces together.  Last week something tried to get a chicken.  Chicken made it, but she’s mostly naked.  Feathers all over the yard.  The cat has been very edgy and skittish the last few days.  Gus hasnt run away in months.  That day, he gave no regard to my calls and took off with intention.  He knew something was out there and he went after it.  He was sitting on my feet to protect me!  Cue the guilt.  I had been so mad at him for running and interrupting my day.  I didnt really need him, my little 30 lb puggle, to take on the coyote hidden in the corn, but he did.  Dogs can really teach us big lessons.  No matter how I ignore him or get frustrated with him, he is loyal to a fault.  So many big lessons there.  He’s just a dumb dog, but he loves me and us, despite anything.  So much so, that he will stupidly try to pick a fight he wont win.

Bringing puppy home was an ordeal.  The kids were so upset by looking at his wounds.  He was still very groggy from anesthesia and nippy and growly.  I discussed with the kids that the meds may make him very grumpy and to just let him be this evening.  When we got home, he was all nuzzled under the back seat of the van.  I couldnt wake him enough to get him out.  So, we sat in the van with him for 30 minutes waiting for Darren to get home.  He couldnt come at him from behind because he would bite and there was no great way to grab him without causing pain.  He couldnt get to him from the front without taking out all 4 car seats and moving the seats all over the van.  What an ordeal!  We carried him in the house and put him in his bed in the kitchen.  He laid there limp and groggy all night.  The next morning, I had to go to work, so left the kids and the dog with my grandma.  I had no idea how ruffled the kids were by the  whole ordeal until I got home.  Grandma said the kids were afraid of Gus being anywhere near them.  Afraid to get bit.  Afraid to hurt him.  Afraid of him in his cone.  Afraid he would get blood on them.  She pretty much held the kids all day.  Poor Grandma.  Im sure she was more than ready to go home!

Things have calmed down a bit now, except with Emma.  Poor girl is simply terrified of everything now.  Every noise and shadow has her on high alert.  Gus went back tot he vet since he hasnt eaten since Monday.  We had to be gone several hours today, so thought it best to leave him in the care of the vet so he could get his pain medicine on time and they could monitor his need for hydration.  Tomorrow he will go back to surgery to remove the drain and close those holes.  Im so happy for this.  The purpose of the drains is to keep the wound bleeding and healing appropriately.  But keeping the dog off of my carpet isnt an easy feat!

In the midst of all of this, we learned that due to Darren’s job change, our medical insurance ran out.  We had been attempting to sort this all out since he quit his job, but have been getting the run around.  We have the option of COBRA, but its very very expensive.  Levi was supposed to see urology at Lurie’s Childrens Hospital today.  We have waited months to get a referral and an appointment.  So we went and we paid for the visit out of pocket…all $320 of it.  OUCH.  But it was worth it.

The doctor took a very good history of the incontinence issues that have been developing over the last two years.  He was very concerned at the lack of work up our previous urologist did.  He was concerned specifically that he had been potty trained and has lost ability over time.  He noted some abnormalities on the VCUG from 4 years ago that the previous uro had thought was not significant.  He disagrees, and actually feels its a very significant finding and likely related to the Ehlers Danlos diagnosis.  We know, based on his physical exam and the “pee log” we kept over the last week, that he isnt emptying his bladder.  So, the objective is to determine if this is because something is blocking the urine from leaving the bladder or if there is a neurological issue.  It seems most prudent to move from a least invasive procedure to most invasive if needed.  So he ordered some simple non invasive tests to rule out obstruction.  But, here we are without insurance.  UGH.  So, do we purchase COBRA and do the tests now, with our previous policy where the deductible is met, or do we wait until September when the new insurance with the high deductible starts.  Either scenario leaves us with a huge out of pocket expense.  I also havent done the stress test or brain MRI I need.  So, the total cost is something to consider.

Just this morning, I was working on writing us a new budget, now that Darren and I have started our new jobs.  I had a plan to have us debt free in a year.  Key point there is HAD.  The amount of money we have paid out in medical bills in the last 5 years is astronomical.  Im very thankful for insurance.  Very.  But, I wish it truly made medical care affordable.  So, in the last week, my dog has had very expensive emergency surgery.  We have self paid a specialist and the eye doctor for three of us.  I paid off one medical bill and im fixing to acquire several more.   Im trying not to complain and be thankful that we do have access to care and well paying jobs.  I fully understand these are “first world” problems.  I know there are many, many with more financial barriers than what we have.  But, Im frustrated.  I want to get answers for Levi and for myself.  I want to get past all of this.  I want to be able to move on.  I want to find financial stability.  Seems you can have one or the other.  Answers or income.  Not both.

Sometimes you just have days when the weight of the world gets heavy and you just need to vent.  I need a minute to breathe and regroup and refocus and those moments are few and far between in a mom’s world.  Hence, why Im typing this at 1am instead of sleeping.  I know all of this will work out in time.  I know me worrying wont help a bit of it.  I know.  I know. Being patient has never been something I was good at.  I suppose God will keep giving me opportunities until I figure it out.

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.