Time has always fascinated me. How is it that there are moments from the past that can seem so insignificant at the time, but become monumental in the future without you even realizing it is happening?
For example: About 8 years ago I was at a church, sitting in their crowded cafe with my friends, and for some reason I turned around in my chair and there was a man standing behind me. We made eye contact and I quickly turned back around. I didn’t know him, had never seen him, and was embarrassed that it seemed like I was looking at him… and that was it. The moment was over and I gave it no more thoughts. Months later I accidentally ran into that same man in a parking lot at my school and even later that same man became my husband. That one short moment, which meant absolutely nothing to me at the time was a actually a glimpse into my future, my husband, the father of my children, my best friend, my ministry partner.
Thinking about time past always leads me to start thinking about future time. Days, weeks, months, and years are seemingly laying out in front of us, waiting for us to turn the page and begin writing the story. But the future is unpredictable and I often ponder if we knew what the future held would we run to turn the page or would we try and hang on to the day a little bit longer? I wonder if we knew who it was we would become in the future if we would be able to believe it or even envision it.
For example: Had you told me three years ago I would have two little girls, be living in Ohio, and starting a church I would have been extremely confused and probably wouldn’t have believed you. Somehow the future pages held titles for me like “Mom” and “Church Planter” which I like, but at times are still a little unbelievable.
I often ask myself the question, “Where will I be in 10 years?” Then I try and envision it and I never can so instead I think back to the past 1o years of my life and marvel at the journey, the growth, the milestones, and the change. I always conclude that if all of that could happen in the last 10 years, who knows what will happen in the next.
Time. I could spend hours thinking about it.
But moving on.
I was really saying all that to simply say, February was a month that came out of left field, a month which I never could have predicted and am still reeling from. I went into February excited for a lot of things happening with our church, feeling like I was finally starting to get a handle on my health (yes, I’m still sick and no, I still do not have any real answers), feeling like I was finally getting into a good routine with the girls and our family, and quite frankly really starting to feel like myself again (which is huge!) after thee years of pregnancy, nursing, mothering tiny people, and making major life changes. And then February kicked the crap out of me.
I want to tell the story. I just need to say it all, it helps me process. However, before I start I want to say this: my faith is deep and my love for God is unwavering.
It is truly my prayer that no matter what life throws at me or blesses me with that I will be able to have a faith like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were faced with death (Death! Which is even greater than pain, suffering, the terrible/horrible/unfair piles of poop life throws at us) or they could deny their faith and their response was (Randi’s paraphrase because I’m feeling feisty), “Screw you, I’m not giving up my faith. I’m not even going to defend myself. Throw me in the fire. God is able to save us. BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT, we still will not turn our backs on him.”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Okay, so they didn’t say “screw you” and actually they used the word Majesty…so I’m thinking they were more respectful than me, but you get the gist. The thing for me is this: I have had an experience with God. I prayed for three years for God to show up and show me who he was and he did. God’s love was something that was life-changing and something I have never experienced before. So while there are times in my life that I complain, cry, thrash, run away, hide, argue (all which I do not say proudly) at the end of the day I place myself at the feet of God and with open hands and open heart say, “Here I am Lord, use me.” The truth is that even in the midst of pain and suffering, if my faith is what I truly tell other people it is, the bottom line is that God is love, God is bigger, God is with me, and God is for me. I may face fires and God may deliver me but he may not. I will still worship because of who God is and not because of my circumstances.
So, on February 2 (Thursday), A spiked a high fever. At first we thought it was simply that and that she probably had picked up a virus. By early (1 am) Sunday morning, the fever had not diminished and she was not able to keep down any liquids or medicine. We took her to the ER where she clocked in at a 104.5 fever. Because of her history, they did a chest X-ray and were also able to give her medicine to settle her stomach which then allowed us to give her meds to bring down her fever. The X-ray was clear and the doctor also believed A had simply picked up a virus.
However, the thing to know about A is that she does not really get sick like normal kids. She has a history of pneumonia and asthma and generally even picking up a cold can lead to serious breathing problems. Knowing her history, we took her home, continued to watch her closely, stay in contact with her doctors, administered breathing treatments and hoped the fever would break. By Wednesday, I was on edge because while A hadn’t exhibited her normal symptoms when getting sick, she was continuing to seem worse and not better. On Thursday morning I took her to the doctor where she tested positive for the flu. However, because of her history, the fever and the duration of the fever they sent us back to the hospital to do another chest X-ray, just to be safe. The X-ray came back showing full pneumonia in the right lung. The doctors later showed me the X-ray we had done over the weekend compared to the X-ray when we went in on Thursday…it was night and day.
Everybody asked the same question, “How can something change so drastically from Sunday to Thursday?” I don’t know other, but I do know this: Parents, advocate for your kids. You know them, you know what is normal and you know what is not. Nobody else is going to look out for your kid like you are so speak up and ask questions. There were a number of points along the way that I wonder, would things have ended up differently (for the worse) if I had not said what I did when talking to doctors and nurses. And this is not on any medical staff (they were wonderful),it’s on me because I know my kid. I see things they don’t, it is my job to speak up.
We were admitted Thursday afternoon and I think everybody thought we would be there for a few days and at the latest be home by Monday. Long story short, the fever would not break, the antibiotics were not strong enough and A would not really eat or drink. We were finally released the next Friday though the X-ray, at this point, was not showing signs of improvement. Despite the X-ray, A was showing signs of improvement (she was active, eating and drinking) and the general rule is that an X-ray takes about three days to catch up with mood of a kid. Also, pneumonia takes a long time to clear and we were warned that it could be months before we saw a normal chest X-ray. The fever had been gone long enough and everybody felt that A was on the road to recovery. We left the hospital at 6pm on Friday and by 10am the next morning I was on the phone with her pulmonologist. The fever was back, she was lethargic, we had been up with her all night because her breathing seemed abnormal, and she kept clutching her chest like it was hurting her.
We were told to come back and by 11:30am we were readmitted: another X-ray, more blood work, and a CT scan. Early Sunday morning (Kris’ birthday…yay!) we were woken up and told that the fluid in A’s lung was much worse than they had realized and it was preventing the antibiotics from being effective. She would need a chest tube put in that day. After the procedure, A was moved into the PICU. This was the worst night for me throughout the entire ordeal. Sometime around 2am they began questioning if the chest tube was working properly, A was put on oxygen, her heart rate was high, her respirations were fast and X-ray came back to see if they could get a read on what was going on. At 3am I said to the nurse, “It may be because it is the middle of the night and I am really tired, it may be because every step of the way so far I thought things were getting fixed but they ended up worse, it may be because of everything happening right this moment but do I need to be worried?” Because she was a good nurse she assured me that my situation was not uncommon up on the PICU and A was okay. I curled up on the chair in the corner of the room, pulled a blanket over my head and cried myself to sleep.
On Monday, they talked to us about the possibility of doing a blood transfusion and it broke me. I spent most of the morning crying and called a dear friend and asked her to simply come be with me. Thankfully, the transfusion never needed to happen and the issue with the chest tube was that it was kinked from the way A was laying on it. (Insert all the praise hands here.)
On Wednesday they shocked us by telling us the tube had done its job and they took it out. Because they needed space in the PICU, that night we were booted to a regular room. It was determined that the reason A had relapsed (besides there being too much fluid on her lung that needed drained) was simply that the oral antibiotics she was switched to right before we were discharged were not strong enough. They let us know that because we were not drug addicts and seemingly good parents, we were good candidates for taking A home on with a PICC line in her arm in which we could administer IV antibiotics through. The line was put in Thursday, readjusted on Saturday (because it was too far down around her heart and nothing about this process has been easy or worked like it should) and we were released on Monday.
A familiar site!
Meanwhile, on the homefront, the church who uses our building (which sits on our property and who we share water/electricity with) let us know there was a pipe leak/break somewhere on the property and they believed it had to do with our house. Our water had to be shut off and we made plans to actually move in with my parents for a few days until the situation could be sorted out. On Tuesday we realized the first plumber had made a very big mistake. There was no problem with our pipes, rather we had a sump pump issue. Shutting off the water exacerbated the issue and over the weekend our basement had flooded- 10 inches of water across the whole thing…and we have a huge basement. Thankfully the water had not yet risen above the electrical outlets (it was very close) and we were spared a whole host of other problems. Also thankfully, the church who uses our building came over Thursday night and worked with Kris and myself to clean up and disinfect the entire space. I bought them Lifesavers and cookies which really pales in comparison to the great blessing and help they were.
This brings me to today. (Actually, also going on these past few weeks is that Kris got transferred to a new location for his job. It has been fine but also would be fair to say that it has added to the stress, confusion and unpredictability of February.)
We are moving back into our house today! A is doing pretty well. I say pretty well because she still has the IV and we still have to administer medication 4 times a day which at points causes serious stress for everybody. We are hoping to get an all clear on Monday and have the line removed.
We are limping into March, praying that we are closing the door on February and spring is coming both literally and figuratively. I want to say thank you to the people who showed up for us and held us throughout this month. I am certain that we are not made to live life alone and we would not have survived this month without our community: Mark and Carol, Katrina and Wayne, Melody, Jessica and Kris, Nick and Andrea, Debbie, Terri and Shelby, Joyce, Bethany and Logan, Molly and David, Jaqueline and Paul, Nikki, Melanie, Megan W., Megan S., Lyndsey, Erica, Brent and Alma, Joanne, Kris, Jane, Foothill, Gateway, Second Baptist, and all the family, friends and churches through Facebook who encouraged and prayed for us. We truly thank you.
By Randi Shepherd at (randishepherd.com)