Wednesday, June 12, 2013

It's All In the Seed

There is power in our words.  The Bible says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. This passage in Proverbs is not referring to the life giving and judgment speaking mouth of God – it is actually referring to the “harvest” of human lips.  Proverbs actually says that the “tongue of the wise brings healing.”  I suppose I was always taught growing up that this was a spiritual thing and good for the soul alone, but Proverbs declares the truth that words actually affect the soul and the body.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.  Proverbs 16:24

How I love the Word.  The living Word of God.  It is the Word I long to speak out – the promises that I seek to declare over the “situations” of my life! 


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  John 1:1

In the beginning the Word – Jesus – spoke into existence all that is.  This is enough to send me into wonder for long periods of time.  The vastness of this truth hits me at times and I am just speechless at the complexity of the mind of God.  One such time recently I was reading about Hyssop in a magazine.  The magazine was highlighting the different medicinal applications of the herb which is good for respiratory distress and “oh by the way” can be applied in a compress to wounds for its analgesic properties.  This little bit of information sent me into a moment of marveling at God!  Though we may have realized these details “by accident” not one detail was an accident!

This is what brings me to a truth shared with me recently by a Spiritual Mother and mentor about “The Seed.”  She recently taught on the completeness of the Word spoken.  When THE Word (Jesus) spoke, and he told the flower; “you’re a flower,” that's all it took.  That was it.  Everything it needed to be a flower was there – and it was all there in the seed.  Sure the seed may need some water and soil and sunlight – but everything it needs to be a flower – its DNA – it is all there.  She was teaching that the same is true about what God speaks over us – all we need to become what we are to become in Christ is already in us – because He spoke it.  Though I love her application, this teaching became meaningful to me in a different way this past week.  It became the truth that we needed to speak out over our situation.

On September 29, 2012 the Lord spoke.  He spoke, and my children were healed from a lifelong medical condition that all summed up amounted to a whole heap of trauma for my young little ones.  BUT GOD.  He spoke on September 29, 2012.  He said; “HEALED.”  Though PTSD may be the symptom – the diagnosis is HEALED.  Dr. Jesus – THE WORD – the same Word who spoke the universe into existence – SPOKE.  

September 29, 2012 - HEALED!  Eating in a restaurant for the first time ever!

 Last week I met with a play therapist who specializes in attachment and trauma.  The meeting went great.  I sensed the anointing of the Holy Spirit on this course of action.   Simultaneously the children were out of control.  The situation was getting worse, much worse.  Though I had peace most of the time – something was building.   It was not fear as much as it was the familiar pulse of dysfunction (medical dysfunction in this case).  I was getting right back into the swing of it – like we hadn’t even left it.  But we had, and I had already learned that “un-well” – “different” – does not equal special.  No matter how much that lie from Hell tried to grip me – I knew better. 

I had asked for prayer last Sunday evening at a special church service – my request focused on discernment for knowing if this problem was “real” or “attack.”  This Sunday I asked our small group to pray for the situation and for inner healing to go with the children’s physical healing.  There were a number of prayer requests spoken for that evening and the prayer time was powerful.  That evening after our guests left and the kids were ready for bed, LittleR asked if he could pick the Bible story.  He flipped through his book looking at the pictures and decided he wanted to read about the “stinky river.”  Having never read through this particular Bible story book before I had no idea what the story was about.  As I read I was astounded.  The story was that of the “important” man named Namaan.  He had leprosy and sought out the prophet Elisha to receive healing.  He was a sinfully proud man and initially refused to wash in the river Elisha told him too – he thought his healing should have more bells and whistles.  Eventually he did as Elisha said and he was healed of the leprosy.  The astounding thing about the story is the way it was told by the children’s Bible.  The focus was on God’s ability to heal the physical and the emotional/psychological need.  

"God knew that Namaan was even sicker on the inside than he was on the outside... Their hearts were broken.  But God can mend broken hearts." - The Jesus Storybook Bible

All I could do was smile, and declare - “it’s all in the seed.”

Monday was the best day we have had in many days.  It was not perfect.  LittleR was still “teetering” on melting down a couple of times, but didn’t.  Yesterday, Tuesday, was the first day we have had since March (when this all began) that was simply put – normal. Today has also been normal.  NORMAL.

Thank you Jesus for the healing.  Thank you that there is POWER in the name of Jesus.  Thank you that YOU are the Word. 

John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Thankfully We Realized We Were Wrong

PTSD…it was like a quiet gentle whisper in my heart – an answer to the strange behavior that LittleM began exhibiting shortly after her divine healing in September of 2012.  LittleM suddenly became ultra clingy and seemed to regress in her developmental desires (for lack of a better description).  All of a sudden the “big girl” who wanted to dress herself, feed herself, and do big-girl independent things suddenly didn’t want to do anything on her own.  Meal time and potty time were the worst.  At first we fought with her.  We thought the right thing to do was to make our 4 year old ACT like a 4 year old.  We fought with her for about an hour every night to get her to eat her dinner on her own – she wanted to be fed – but we thought it was RIGHT to make her feed herself.  Honestly we thought a lot of what was going on was about that typical next-step-control stuff that preschoolers go through.  

Thankfully we realized we were wrong.  

That whisper – PTSD – was both the beginning of our realizing our major error and a peaceful sigh of relief.  Around the same time, my sister-in-law and I had a conversation about attachment.  I shared with her that I was suspecting some sort of attachment issues.  She began talking about the impact of feeding a baby/toddler on attachment.  We were driving home from an hour long trip to the “faraway grocery store” all the kid’s were asleep in the back of the van, and I felt like a huge light bulb just exploded above my head.  She shared what she and my brother had learned in the adoption process about the impact of feeding an adopted child to aid in creating a secure attachment.  I had remembered when my nephew came home from the hospital and them telling me that it was very important that they be the only ones to feed him – the only ones to meet his needs – “containing” him – helping him to bond and attach to them.  

As the days wore on after this I felt sick to my stomach.  I realized that every time LittleM had asked me to feed her she was really asking me to meet her need for a more secure attachment.  The fact that we were fighting with her day after day…missing the need entirely…and thus not meeting it…it made me sick.  Thankfully, I have an amazing mom who works professionally in a field that faces these issues with foster-care kids on a regular basis.  Thankfully she is also always my biggest fan!  She listened to me, reassured me that this was going to be ok, and helped me to brainstorm for a plan.  

It took a little longer to realize that LittleR was struggling with the same issues since he was displaying them in behavioral issues with some sensory “features” more so than the more obvious emotional pathologies of a female!  Nevertheless, we have come to realize that his “stuff” may be even more pressing than hers.  

Do you know how a child will get hurt at school or a friend’s house and hold in the tears, but as soon as he sees his mom he just busts out crying?  I feel like that is what we are dealing with.  PTSD is really the BEST way to describe it.  It is as though the twins were holding it all together while they were sick.  While they were so different than all the other kids, not able to eat, not able to use finger paints, go near new carpets – basically knowing that anything in the WORLD might give them a reaction.  They were surviving knowing that it was almost a guarantee that they would be in the doctor’s office just about every week.  They were surviving knowing that soon they would have another painful immunotherapy shot, more testing, or other traumatic procedure.  They were surviving knowing that we had to move in with grandma and grandpa because the only home they had ever known - the “mold house” - was not safe for them.  THEY WERE SURVIVING!  And then, all of a sudden…THEY WERE HEALED.  After a while…that sigh of relief…something began to happen.  PTSD…it was a quiet whisper.  

With the realization came an understanding that allowed us to immediately change our own behaviors as parents.  We have since allowed them to “revert backward” as far as they wish (all while trying to keep some sort of balance to not allow them to be damaged in some other way from having no boundaries).  This is certainly not easy.  It has its’ own kind of exhaustion.  There are times though, when I realize that we are being given back lost time.  When I can just let go of the way things are "supposed to look" I realize that the simple act of feeding my precious little ones is a gift.  

I know this WILL all be ok.  We are going to walk through this and on the other side I know my little ones will be whole!

I just feel impressed upon my heart to share what I wish I knew – what I wish some other FPIES parent or doctor had told ME:

Dear Nichole, 

Make sure you feed the twins.  This is a developmental milestone that they cannot afford to miss.  Even though they don't have any safe foods - you can still feed them.  It may seem silly or like a waste of time, but I promise - it will be worth it.  You can feed them water, breast milk, or formula FROM A SPOON – at least sometimes.   If they are are old enough to feed themselves once they do have a safe food, don't let them - at least not all the time.  It is so important for their attachment - for every relationship in their entire lifetime - that they experience YOU meeting this basic need.  You are faced with such a significant disturbance in the natural bonding process of a mother feeding her child.  Take heart, there are other things you can do to build a more secure attachment with them too.  You could try co-sleeping, baby wearing...there are other ideas too.  I know it may seem like a lot of work and a big commitment.  I wouldn't worry about what the books might say about letting them be independent or letting them "cry it out" and sleep theories.  It is of the utmost importance for you - in your situation - to make greater efforts and opportunities for them to bond and attach to you.  The simple truth is, you will be giving them an amazing gift. 

Someone who has been there

At this point, we are believing Jesus for complete emotional restoration and healing for the twins.  We will begin walking through doors trusting the Lord to open and close the right ones.  We are currently looking into play therapy and filial therapy with a focus on trauma and attachment.
Thank you Jesus for revelation, wisdom, and healing.

As a side note for parents of multiples:
 I believe our unique situation with FPIES exacerbated and made more obvious the need to have the eye contact while feeding that is natural for a baby at the breast (even if it is a bottle).  Since we had twins this was not often the case.  They were both fed at the same time and often with each of them lying on a Boppy pillow on each side of me.  They could see me and I would talk to them, but they didn’t necessarily have that consistent eye contact while having their need (hunger) met (this is the philosophy of containment – and is the essence/foundation of attachment).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Father's Love for Me

It is hard to believe that it has been 5 months since the twins were healed.  There are times when it still seems so unreal.  A couple of days ago we took the kids to get an ice cream at our favorite local ice cream shop.  Before we had LittleM and LittleR we used to go for ice cream pretty frequently (it is after all Shawn's favorite treat).  After we realized the kids couldn't eat food we didn't do anything food related.  I do remember one night when my sister was visiting us from Maine when we ran to grab a cone after the kids were in bed.  Another time I remember running after the kids had gone to bed and bringing an ice cream back for Shawn and I.  It certainly wasn't the same as the late summer nights Shawn and I used to sit on the benches and watch the night sky turn deep dark blue while laughing and soaking in the simple summer ritual of going for ice cream.  Sneaking ice cream after our 3 year old twins went to bed somehow wasn't so sweet.  It was nothing at all like the many times I can remember at Bruster's with my nieces and nephews.  Oh the running and dancing - the laughter and joy - all those oldies on the load speaker - we missed that didn't we...

But Saturday, it was all so different and so surreal.  LittleR finished his free baby cone super fast and climbed in the front of the car to sweetly implore daddy for some of his (he thought he was so smooth - like we had no idea what he was really trying to accomplish!).  LittleM joined us up front sitting on the little armrest in between the two front seats.  She sat there efficiently licking her ice cream cone.  This was the first time she actually got the hang of the lick and twirl maneuver we all take for granted!  I sat there quietly - just sort of struck but what I was looking at.  Shawn doesn't like to think about the past - how things were.  I don't want to dwell there, but I don't want to forget either.  I know these moments are sometimes surreal for him too, but I also know that as a mother - created to nourish my children - this all has effected me in a different way.  

It really has effected me.  I am so struck lately when I realize just how much this experience has changed me.  I don't think I can even express the ways in which it has.  What I feel most though is overwhelmed by my father's love for me.  I feel overwhelmed to know that he took the darkness of this journey and showed me hidden treasures. Beautiful. 

"And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness--secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name." Isaiah 45:3

Still he was ready and willing to manifest His healing touch in our lives.  I don't think for one second that it was the will or plan of God for my children to be sick.  I truly don't.  I find myself a part of a Pentecostal church - and believing in a God who is truly the same yesterday, today, and forever.  But thank you Father, that even in the darkness you met me right where I was and brought beauty from ashes.

"To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory." Isaiah 61:3 

These days we live like a normal family.  We try to eat really well - Weston A. Price style of nutrition, but at other people's homes or out we eat whatever is being served.  There are times when i battle "mommy guilt" that the nutrition is not perfect - after all before they were healed the kids' diet HAD to be perfect (all organic, all grass-fed, etc.).  But I am reminded that my hope is not in the food - it never was.  My hope is in HIM.  As he leads us we believe he will keep us.

Still, my heart is very heavy these days.  My heart is heavy for all of the families whose little ones are still not well.  My heart is heavy for the mommies who are tired and who don't know what to do.  My heart is heavy for the mommies who feel like they have or are failing their children.  My heart hurts for the hurting, the broken, those who can barely keep from breaking apart.  I know the darkness.  I also know that it is the Lord will comfort and lift you up.

"But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint."  Isaiah 40:31

And I am doing the only thing that I can do for these moms...I am praying for you.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Becoming the Proverbs 31 Woman

Today we were off to a great start: Showered, Dressed, Devotional time!  Beds made, Dishes done, Both bathrooms cleaned, Laundry washed, folded and put away, Floors vacuumed and swept, Living room dusted!  Sight Words and spelling flashcards done, Play-dough and Coloring time WITH the kids!

Sparkling Clean!!

Wow!  All that accomplished before rest time!  I can’t believe how much we are getting done with this new purpose driven day!

Beyond having a few great days with the kids and getting a TON accomplished in the house, the Lord had more revelation in store for me as he nudged me to re-read Proverbs 31.  

There is much to admire about the Proverbs 31 woman.  She is strong, dedicated, resourceful, tireless, generous, dignified, Godly, respectful, loving, and wise.  This is who I aspire to be as a woman – a mom and a wife.  I realize that I cannot live up to this picture of a woman outside of the Lords strength, but I also realize that God has a desire for me to work diligently toward this goal.  I believe that my being “Proverbs-31-like” is God’s best for my husband and children.  That is a sobering thought, and at the same time – exciting!  I know that with the Sprit of Christ living in me, I can have victory in motherhood/wifehood each and every day!

A while ago I realized that for me the Proverbs 31 woman was much easier to aspire to before children were part of the equation.   It is difficult to be this woman considering what I bring to the table.  I come from a broken home.  My parents divorced the summer after second grade, but their marriage was over before then.  Afterward my siblings and I were raised in poverty.  My father wasn’t there financially or emotionally when I was growing up.  This left my mother to be responsible for being both mother and father – nurturer and protector.  There is so much I never learned because my father was not there to fill his God-given roll in my home and in my life.  I am certain that at this time I don’t even know what many of those lessons are.  There is a flip side to that coin though.  At one point, in the scope of struggling to co-parenting with my husband, I realized that there was so much I did learn as a result of the way things were.  For example, being raised by a strong single mom, I learned that children don’t really need a dad.  I learned that moms are superior parents.  I learned that mothers know best.  I learned that fathers can’t be trusted.  The list of what I learned goes on… Of course no one expressly taught me these lessons, but like it or not we learn from life’s lessons both positive and negative.  As one of my favorite songs puts it; “We are made of love and all the beauty stemming from it.  We are made of love and every fracture caused by the lack of it.”

We are made of love, And all the beauty stemming from it.
We are made of love,  And every fracture caused by the lack of it.
               "Needle and Thread" by; Sleeping at Last

There was a time about a 1.5 years ago that I realized a little bit about how damaged this society of fatherless children really is.  I realized that while many parents are dedicating/giving their children to God – many of us fatherless moms need to give our children to their fathers – and we just don’t know how.  I began hunting for resources on the difficulty for women from divorced families to allow their husbands to parent – essentially to trust them.  I was surprised to have found nothing, but thankfully the Lord was leading me personally through the matter.  Since then Shawn and I have worked hard to correct some of the seriously wrong lessons that we accidentally taught our children.  Without realizing it, and in part thanks to our particular circumstances (having very specific health needs), our children learned that “mommy is the boss; mommy knows best; mommy has the final say…”  Unfortunately the end result was a lack of respect for daddy. 

I can’t say that we are through this valley yet.  The kids are still relearning a lot about a Godly family structure.  Thankfully the Lord began teaching us this lesson while they were still young enough to really reap the benefit of us figuring out how to “order” our family the way God designed it.  It has been far from easy for me to let go of control, allow Shawn to do things “his way,” discipline myself to act and speak respectfully to him – when obviously I know best! Ha!  I am still working on these things – but the Holy Spirit of the Loving God lives and breathes in me!!!

Proof of the progress came in a conversation with my almost four year old daughter today.
Me: "M, what did I say?"
M: "Yes."
Me: "And who is the boss?"
M: "Daddy." (serious voice)
I thank the Lord for his tireless pursuit of us – even when we mess up.  That is one thing I really missed from my earthly father – but my heavenly father - he is perfect.

It is not easy to live up to the Proverbs 31 woman.  Actually it is impossible.  No matter though – because I don’t have to do it on my own.  I am really blessed to say that with reignited desire I am allowing the Lord to order my days, my actions, my thoughts and even my emotions to his plans.  I have this sneaking suspicion that as I succeed in doing that he will succeed in making me look more and more like her each day!


Waking Up From Slumber

I have realized something in the last couple of days that has transformed my home life – overnight!

Fast forward to this fall when the children and I experienced miracle healings…

What a joy it has been to cook for my family!  Overnight my love for cooking returned and with it a vibrancy of life in general that I hadn’t felt for a long time.  But… Over the last few months I have come to realize that there was a “but.”   Nothing really changed on the home front.  I still felt like I barely had my head above water.  It has always been our practice to pick up the living room and kid’s bedroom before ending the night, but the other rooms of the house would always seem to be in different levels of disarray.  Suddenly I was not spending hours researching medical journals, sourcing safe food supplies, or trying to work through layers of pain and neurological symptoms, but I still couldn’t seem get anything done.  Honestly I was in a funk, and my funk extended from household duties into not managing to get anything done with the kids either.  I had asked my husband to pray for me and told him that I was certain my issues were adding to the acting out that we were seeing with the kids.  That was Friday.

Sunday at church the sermon really left me thinking about all of it.  When our Pastor invited people to come forward for prayer or as a gesture to the Lord of our desire for more of Him I went forward.  I sat there in prayer about this “funk.”  As a sat there the Lord gave me a very clear vision of myself sitting on my new sea blue sofa wide awake, but in a trance – staring at the computer screen.  The vision was perfectly timed as our worship pastor sang the perfect words; “wake us up from slumber.”  As is often the case with a vision from the Lord, I also had a clear understanding – an impression – of what the “message” was.  In an instant I realized that my problem was that I was walking through each day in a slumber.  I was awake, but I was not purposeful in my actions.  

I would stay up too late watching meaningless television shows all with no purpose.  I mean to say I didn’t necessarily care about the show I was watching, but actually felt I needed to watch TV in order to relax.  When the kids woke up in the morning I would stay in bed and snooze while listening with half an ear to them playing in their room.  They would come and ask me when I was going to get up.  After the 3rd or 4th time they would ask, I would pull myself out of bed.  They were fine – safe – but was this good for them?  I told myself that I NEEDED that rest so it was ok.  All the while I KNEW that what I NEEDED was to ensure I was going to bed on time to get enough sleep so that I could be the best mom that I am called to be.  (The Lord had been speaking this message to me over the course of a couple of months – I just wasn’t being obedient!)  Then after climbing out of bed between 8 and 9 I would put on a movie for the kids so that I could wake up.  In order to wake up I would then troll the internet – email, facebook, news… whatever.  Before I knew it an hour or more had gone by.  Eventually I would put the computer away, but the tone for the day was set, and I didn’t even know it.  The next thing I knew it was lunch time and NOTHING had gotten done – not for the house, the kids, me, NOTHING!  I felt terrible!  What I didn’t realize was that there was nothing purposeful about my days.   What I did realize was that this was the reason I was in a funk!

After church on Sunday, knowing that I had to do something differently, I set my alarm for bedtime.  That’s right, in addition to setting my alarm to wake up at 7am I also set my alarm to signal my time to get ready for bed.  This was a tip I had learned from a friend just last month.  This friend shared with me how she starts getting ready for the next day by going to bed on time.  What an ingenious concept!  Knowing that my body needs 8.5 to 9 hours of sleep to operate at its best I can actually set myself up for a good tomorrow today!  Hearing that alarm go off at 9:45 isn’t just about the signal that bedtime is coming up – for me it is more of a spiritual alarm – reminding me that this is about an act of obedience.  

Monday morning I woke up on time, took a shower, got dressed, and had 20 minutes of quiet time with the Lord before R woke up.  I am afraid to say that on occasion this is more than I have accomplished in an entire day!