Only Believe

The back to school rush has begun at our house. Wow, what a summer! I feel like I missed summer; and in a way I did. This will be a summer I will never forget. It will also be a year where I will not forget the first day of the school year. Today a miracle happened.

Four weeks ago on August 2 we left Children's hospital with them telling us that they we were to meet with a doctor at the end of the week to discuss putting in a feeding tube for Rachel. Four weeks later, to the day, she walked into school to begin her senior year! I am amazed at what God has done.

It was a doctor four years ago who sat across from me in her office and told me that I needed to realize that there are institutions for children like him. She looked at Zak. I looked shocked. She then told me that there was no way that she would keep him at her house if he was hers. She told me it was a disruption to our family and my other kids deserved better than this. Four years later, he walked into the school with a backpack on his back and a smile on his face. Grant it, he is entering kindergarten a few years later than the other children in his class; but a kindergarten classroom is a far way away from an institution!

"This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes."

Is it any mistake then that on Monday morning I met with the Lord before the sun or the children were up and this is what He had for me: "As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He saith...Be not afraid, only believe."?

There have been so many fears with both situations previously mentioned. Fears about Rachel's health. Fears about Zak's development. He gently has whispered, "be not afraid." I have tried to snuggle contented and confidently upon His shoulder. There were times when the restlessness of my heart caused me not to trust-and in my heart I have called to Him as others, "help thou my unbelief!" He would say again, "be not afraid, only believe." The words from His lips- a request- one that required trust, because I could not see how, or when, or if.

On Monday morning watching two of my children walk in to start a school year that to me- even just weeks ago looked impossible - He spoke again. The same words. "Be not afraid, only believe." This time His words were not a request. His words were a reminder. "See Martie, be not afraid, only believe."

I can not even begin to express my gratitude for a God who works in my life and loves me. Today, watching His miracle, my faith grew.

Only believe, only believe

All things are possible -

Only believe.

Only believe,only believe

All things are possible-

If we only believe.

I serve a miracle working God. I need not fear. Only believe!

Thanks for stopping by,


Moving Forward

We are amazed at the goodness of the Lord. Rachel is doing better each and every day. She definitely looks like she is not so sick. She has been sleeping - in her own bed - upstairs! Her appetite has gotten back to normal. The headaches are sporadic - not constant; and not causing o much pain that she is nauseated.

She has been back to practicing her music - so good to hear that coming from her room! She has been reading - and comprehending! There have been times in the last few days I have wondered where she was - only to find her on my bed reading, and enjoying, a book.

We are trying to work at building up her endurance levels. She has been practicing her writing - and her hands are getting stronger each session she has! She has been requested to go up and down the stairs several times throughout the day. Anna has enjoyed having her oldest sister be able to pick her up. (She still struggles a bit with this; but we are a far cry better than we were two weeks ago!)

We are making plans to send her back to school on Monday. This has been a bit of a hard decision for me. She has been so sick for such a long time - that there is fear there that she not overdue; however, I am confident that it is God that is healing her body through the nutrition and supplementation we are using - it will be God who will continue to build her up and give us wisdom for her school year.

I am truly amazed at the goodness of God to us! It is neat to see how Rachel has grown through all of this also. She says she is going to write down something everyday that is beautiful about that day. One entry for each day for one year. A reminder of how wonderful it is to be alive and living out her senior year. I am anxious to read her observations. Sickness - prolonged sickness - has a way of changing ones perspective!

Thanks so much to everyone for praying. Please continue to pray as she builds up her stamina.



Best of Friends

Truly they are- "Best Friends".
There is no one on the face of the earth who understands Zak like Anna does.

Back Home

We have received some answers in regards to Rachel's health. It was good to be able to know what we are up against and get a plan of attack in helping Rachel get back to feeling better.

Rachel does have acute inflammation of the brain caused by a virus. She also has spinal fluid leaking causing her brain to lack all the fluid it needs. The doctor also found a bacterial infection in her body and a decrease in her red blood cells. There is also issues with her thyroid. The doctor visit was beneficial in regards to the fact that we were able to find the answers for which we had been looking; and point us in the direction we need to go in getting Rachel better.

We have chosen to go a more natural route in Rachel's health care. I can not believe the peace of mind that has come in that decision! Our plan of attack is to get her body up to peak levels nutritionally. Our goal is to get into her body all the vitamins, minerals and enzymes that it needs to work at that peak level. We believe that if the body has everything it needs to work at those levels, it is designed by God to heal itself. Because of the length of her illness and the amount of medication she has had to take because of the pain, her body is depleted in several key areas.

While we are thankful that we have some answers and know what direction we need to go; we also understand that she has been very sick and it will be a while before she is back to feeling like she was before she got sick. We have a rough road ahead of us; but at least we have some direction as to which way we are headed.

Thanks so much for all your prayers, notes, calls etc. I am overwhelmed by how under girded we have been because of all the prayers!


Comic Relief

Zak will always be comic relief for me. The week Rachel was in the hospital I was reminded of how much that kid makes me laugh. I missed his jokes. Perhaps, the reason he makes me laugh so much is because he says things and does not even realize that he is being funny.

That is what happened the other night after his bath. I had allowed him to take in a few toys to play with in the tub. (The toys were completely selfishly motivated on my part. I had a lot to do; and figured that a tub full of toys would keep him in one place for a long time!)

After the bath was done and he was finished putting on his PJ's I went in and was picking up the toys and putting them into an old ice cream pail. He was so happy when he saw that I was leaving them in the pail and in the tub! It was then that his unknown humor made me laugh.

Zak: You leaving those in the tub? (looking at the pail in my hand)

Mom: umhumm (Continuing to pick the toys up)

Zak: That will be great! You are a great Mom because you are going to keep my toys in the tub for my bathing.

Mom: (Just laughter. Something made me laugh when I heard the word 'bathing' - like swimming; but bathing.

Zak: Why are you laughing?

Mom: I like your word bathing

Zak: Well, I like that you are leaving my toys in for my bathing

Mom: (Still amused) Well, why don't you do your teething now (handing him a toothbrush)

Zak: Mom! Teething?

Mom: Well if you can say 'bathing', surely I can say, 'teething".

Zak: (Closing his eyes and shaking his head back and forth) Mom, you are as funny as a Dodge truck. That's how funny you are - as funny as a Dodge truck.

I am not sure how funny a Dodge truck can be; but to Zak it must be pretty funny. He laughed the whole time the toothbrush was in his mouth. With him around, I am never at a loss for a smile!

Heading Out

God has opened to door for us to take Rachel to a doctor in Minnesota. We are in awe at all that has happened to make this possible. We do not know what we will find out there - or if there will be answers or not; but we feel very clearly that it is His will for us to proceed in this direction.

Please be in prayer for Rachel as she makes the 10 hour trip that God would strengthen her. The movement in a car is very difficult for her. We are trusting that God will her body the strength to make the trip.

It was supposed to be that I would be taking Rachel by myself. God has worked it out that Rob will be able to go. I am so very thankful for that. It will be wonderful having him there with me and another person with me if Rachel gets sick on the way.

God has allowed for all the other kids to have places to stay while we are gone. A detail that was worked out in a matter of minutes. (Not a small feat when you have five kids!)

We also are seeking another opinion from a neurologist here in the area. It appears that God has allowed us to find a Christian neurologist. Rachel's pediatrician will be speaking with him on Thursday. We are praying for God to work accordingly in this situation; and for us to be able to get an appointment with him either Friday or sometime the first part of next week.

Thanks so much for your prayers for us. They mean so much. The cards and gifts have been such an encouragement to us during this time. How great our God!



The Choice

Sometimes you pray and wait for answers. The waiting seems long; and those of us with weak faith begin to question. The odd silence - the illusion of distance seems so very real in regard to a God that normally seems so close.
There are tears. Fears. Unanswered questions. More tears. Added fears. Questions about those previously asked - but never answered. The cycle is endless. Feelings rule the mind. Absolutes are questioned. The questioning seems appropriate. Faith seems futile.

Then the Holy Spirit reminds of the past - - when He worked before. When seas of doubt and fear were spread open revealing dry ground of absolutes wherewith one was able to step out and see His power.

The past - when my heart felt more pain than I had ever experienced - only to reveal hidden blessings years and years later.

How two years of waiting and trusting brought the dream of adoption into a reality - on the very day He intended.

How a tiny baby was given to a family; and how God knew months before she was born that this was her home - even before her very existence.

Each of these times faith has been strengthened. Times when God worked through the impossible and showed His power and love. Each and every time faith has grown.

There are times in the past four months He has seemed so far away. My heart, leading me astray told me it was so. I have struggled to think truth. There have been times when everything seemed so wrong. Absolutes seemed shattered.

My thoughts brought me into the cycle again. Tears. Fears. Questions. Tears. Fears. Questions.

Then the Holy Spirit reminds me that I can choose. I can chose to believe despite the doubt. I can look back and see He has NEVER failed - NEVER! He won't do it again. He will allow my faith to grow this time too.

So, though I don't know 'how' He is going to work through all of this - I choose to believe that He IS and He WILL!
My God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above anything I can ask or think.

A Night Out

I think one of the hardest things about going through a time of crisis in a family is that normal life goes on. My thoughts are constantly thinking about Rachel. I have gone over things in my mind time after time. Trying to think of what is making her sick and how to get her better. I think about it when I am getting supper around, when I am throwing in a load of clothes and doing dishes. I tuck the little ones into bed and as we pray I am going over and over Rachel's condition. I go to bed praying for her, I dream about it in my sleep and I wake up asking her how she is feeling today.

So much of my life and thoughts are one focus right now; but life goes on. There are other children to care for. School supplies that need purchasing. Laundry that still needs to be done. A bathroom that needs cleaning. There has been a backed up toilet that needed a plumber called to fix. (One little boy found some neat little things under the sink that he thought made great boats!) There have been bat exterminators to find and price as we have had two bats in the house in the past week. A car that needed repair and follow-up doctor appointments for Zak that needed to be rescheduled.

Balancing it all has proven to be most difficult. Abbey has been such a blessing and a help to me. So much has gotten done because Abbey has risen to the occasion and just did what needed to be done. I could not even possibly list all the things in order to thank her. She has in some ways become me for the last month. What a blessing that has been.

Yet, Abbey has needed me. Her shoes were in desperate need of replacement. Hair accessories had been promised to her weeks ago. Still they had been left not purchased because I had been needed somewhere else. Dates had been set for a Mom and Abbey night out. Four times they had been canceled; all of them having been planned on a day that we had to take Rachel back to the doctor for an unplanned visit. Four times I told her that we would have to reschedule our date. All four times she said she understood and in a completely gracious spirit stepped in without complaining and took over in the house.

This weekend the date had been set. Friday - Mom and Abbey night out! Thursday we were in the ER with Rachel. I had my doubts if Friday would work out after all; but alas, Friday night came and it was possible for us to go.

We had such a wonderful time. We ate dinner out. We sat and talked. About school. About YDC. About how she wants to cut her hair. We laughed. We shopped. Looking at comforters she liked for her bed, trying on several pairs of tennis shoes until she found just the right pair.

It was wonderful to spend the evening with her. To tell her how proud I was of her. To tell her how much of a blessing she has been to me. It felt nice to focus on Abbey for a few hours. Knowing that she needed my thoughts to be about her for a little while. It was a thirty minute drive back home and I think she said seven times "Thanks Mom, for taking me out tonight. I had so much fun!" It was nice to tell her I had just as much fun.

It was nice to know that Rob was taking care of Rachel for a few hours and I could just focus on Abbey. What a wonderful night we had out together.

Back to the ER

Rachel's headache got worse last night. Finally around seven it was decided that we needed to take her in and try to get her more comfortable. The ride there was very difficult for her. The movement of the van made it very uncomfortable for her. It is a 30 minute ride to the nearest hospital.

They got her right in and the same doctor that had transferred her to Children's Hospital a couple of weeks ago was working. It was nice to have a doctor that was somewhat familiar with her case there. He said we needed to start IVs and get some medication in her to try to help her headache.

She was so dehydrated from hours of throwing up that day and not being able to take in fluids, that her veins were very difficult to get into. It took the nurses four different attempts before they were able to get an IV going. It is becoming harder and harder to find a vein on her arm or hand that has not been blown from previous attempts at an IV.

Once we got the IV in they were able to get some medication in her to help the headache. Shortly after the medication was in the IV they were using started to back up. They decided to stop the IV and try to hydrate through her drinking water now that her nausea was somewhat controlled.

As I sat in the ER room with the lights turned down and just a little light streaming in from the hallway I took out my Bible and started to read and pray. I prayed that God would continue to work in our lives. Continue to complete, to mold , to bring us into the image of Christ. I confessed sin that came to my heart. I begged God for healing for Rachel. I told Him how tired I was of seeing her sick. I asked again for Him to raise her up, then I asked Him to help be surrendered to His working in our lives at this time.

Then I read. I felt God leading me to read Phil 2.

"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings..."

I prayed for God to give me the grace to do that. To lay surrendered completely to His working in our lives - without murmuring; but rather in quiet confidence that God is at work here. I can trust Him. I then felt the Holy Spirit leading me to read Romans 8.

"There is therefore how no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit...

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,m nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be ale to separated us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

As I drove home well after midnight this morning, Rachel sleeping in the seat beside me, I was in awe at the beautiful scene before me. The stars were so bright in the country sky. So many many stars. It was breathtaking. It is neat to know that the Creator of the stars, the God who keeps the earth and galaxies running smoothly cares for me. He sits beside me at each hospital visit and He understands my desire to see Rachel completely better. He knows what He is doing in our lives right now. It is not mine to understand why or what He is doing; it is for me to rest and trust completely that His way is best for me.

Update on Rachel Thursday 8/12

(Rachel - Aug 2009)

It has been quite a week for us here. Rachel was taken back to the emergency room last Friday. She was in for her follow up appointment with her pediatrician and the doctor told us she needed to go back to the hospital.

We headed back to Children's for the day. They put in IVs and started trying to get her headache to subside. They were not successful. After several hours there they decided to send her home with more medications.

The doctor's have become frustrated at not being able to come to the bottom of all this and it has not been the easiest thing dealing with them. I have tried to contemplate how to write about this here on the blog - (thus, the delay in posting). I want to remain as edifying as I can about the care she has received by the medical doctors. I will leave it at: it became clear to us on Friday night by some comments the doctor's made that the medical system does not have the answers we need to get Rachel better. We are seeking and praying about alternative treatments.

Rachel has been in a lot of pain; and since July 13 she has lost over 20 pounds. After we went home on Friday with the pain medication she took a nose dive. We think that all the pain mediation they had her on caused her body to become toxic. It appears that she suffered from Serotonin syndrome based what happened with her throughout the weekend. We had to take her off of all pain medication because the effects on her body were unbearable. (She suffered such horrible muscle spasms that she fell out of bed one night.)

We are doing our best to get nutrition down her. She is suffering such nausea that it has been hard to get something to stay down. She has thrown up - or should we say heaved for hours on end. She was doing better yesterday. She was up walking, reading, did her hair and overall we had a very good day. We have started her on some nutritional treatment. Yesterday it appeared that it had really helped her. However, in the evening she went downhill. She started aching, having trouble walking again, trouble reading and this morning woke up feeling worse than she ever has. The headaches and neck pain have been horrible. She again has endured hours of throwing up. We are believing that this 'setback' is actually a sign that her body is trying to get rid of what is making her sick.

It is hard to watch her suffer so. I wish I could take the pain away - or do something to make it better for her. We have been able to locate a naturopathic doctor in North Dakota that will get her in on Wed. We are praying that we find some answers and that she is strong enough to make the trip next week. We also are praying that we are able to get some fluids down her here today. It has been next to impossible.

Thanks so much for all your prayers and support. We have been overwhelmed with the compassion of God's people.


Update - Thursday PM

There still is not much change in Rachel's pain tonight. We were hoping the procedure would help things a bit; but that has not happened. It has been hard to see her hurting and not be able to do anything to help her.

She still is having a lot of trouble eating. We meet with the doctor tomorrow. They told us we would be discussing a feeding tube at this visit. She has lost a lot of weight here in the past 3 weeks. However, she is swallowing better than she was - so I am hopeful that we will be able to give it a little more time before having to do a feeding tube.

All PT and OT therapy has been canceled until the doctor clears her to resume again. This is hard; because she needs the therapy to get strong for the start of school. In some ways we are loosing ground that she had gained in the previous therapy sessions now that she is back in bed completely.

We are looking to God for answers. Thanks so much for all your prayers. The many emails and comments that you all have sent have been either read to Rachel or she has been able to read them on her good days. They mean so much to her and to us. Thank you! We can sense your prayers and know that God is working even though we are unsure of all the details. What a mighty God we serve!!



Rachel updated Wed PM

When we returned home from the hospital on Monday night, Rachel was having great trouble with her headache, backache and nausea. We had hoped that once she got home and got some rest these things would ease up. That was not how it was to be.

Tuesday was not a good day as the headache was worse than ever. However, we were able to get a small bowl of mashed potatoes down and one yogurt! (This is about all she has had to eat since last Thursday.) So while we were making progress on the swallowing; we were not getting anywhere with the headaches.

This morning I woke up to find her with the same horrible headache. Rob and I had agreed to wait through the night, and then call the doctor in the morning if the problem was the same. The doctor told me to take her to the nearest ER. We left at 10:30 AM. It was not a fun ride for her.

The started an IV and got some hefty drugs into her to try to stop the pain. They did not even touch the headache. It was agreed that she needed to be transferred to Children's again. They had doctors waiting for her there. When we got to Children's they agreed that it was a spinal headache from the spinal tap she received on Sunday morning. They took her in and did a blood patch. This is where they take blood from her arm and insert it into an area just above the where they got the spinal fluid for the spinal tap. The blood then clots and seals the leak that is coming from the spine.

They gave us the option of staying at the hospital until the headache was gone - anywhere from 2-3 days - or going home. We agreed that if they could get her medicated enough to make the trip home we would rather have her home with us. They did. We are back, 12 hours after first walking into a hospital this morning.

She has to stay completely flat on her back until Monday. We have a follow up appointment with a doctor on Friday - they will allow her to go to that. She then has to come home and go right to bed. PT and OT has to be canceled till they are able to get the headache under control. We are hoping to start her therapy again on Monday. It is hard to see these canceled because the therapy is what is getting her stronger for school. We are trusting that this is just a bump in the road and not a set back.

Just wanted to fill you in on life here. Thanks so much for your prayers. God is good. Before Zak left the hospital tonight he asked Rob if he could pray that Rachel's trip home would not hurt too much. When he prayed it was so sweet and sincere. God answered his prayer - the trip home was bearable for Rachel. We were excited to tell Zak that God answered His prayer. Such a comfort to know we can take everything to Him in prayer - and that He cares!

Thanks for stopping by - I am so glad you did.


Home Again!

Rachel was allowed to go come home last night. We are glad to have her home! She is still having trouble swallowing her food and we have to continue to work on that. They are thinking that the virus messed up her throat and are giving it a little time to see if the issue resolves itself. If it does not get better in a few days then they are planning on putting in a feeding tube.

Please pray that we are able to see this issue subside and that she is able to continue to take steps forward in getting better.

This has stretched our family; but we are thankful for the grace of God that gives us the power and strength to go through these hard times. I have seen God working in the lives of my children through this as they have to step into the gaps and fill in areas that they normally do not have to worry about. Abbey has stepped up to the plate and been such a blessing to me. I can not believe how much of a little homemaker she has been. She pretty much has been me in the house since I have been gone. I came home to a clean house, laundry and ironing all done and dessert ready and waiting for me. James spent the day helping Dad at work - - and loved the one on one time with Dad for the day.

God is good - all the time. We are excited to see how He is working this for our good. Thanks so much for your prayers. God's people have been such an encouragement to us.



Back to the Hospital

Rachel was readmitted to Children's Hospital on Saturday. She is having trouble swallowing and just generally was not feeling well. They reran a spinal tap. They were unable, after 3 failed attempts to do the spinal tap on Saturday night in the emergency room. The decided to admit her and did a spinal tap early Sunday morning with the assistance of Xray. The fourth attempt was finally a success!

The spinal fluid came back fine. They were suspicious of meningitis; and we were thankful for the negative result back from the ST. They feel that she has come down with an acute viral infection. She has been on IVs since Sat.

They are planning on running a swallow test this morning. She has been unable to eat since Thursday. She is getting hungry - and we need to figure out why she is having trouble getting anything to go down her throat. We are praying for definite results to this swallow test.

Rachel was in quite a bit of pain last night in her lower back. Having a needle inserted into your back at least four times - tends to lend itself to back pain. They have been able to control the pain with Tylenol and Ibuprofen intermittent. She finally was able to fall asleep around 2 this morning.

Thanks so much for your prayers.