Eyes OFF of the Prize (Part 1 of 3)

To say these past few weeks were testing is an understatement. I had been on such a spiritual high for the most part that I almost forgot what it felt like to feel so low for longer than a moment or two. Ironically, the real low did not come until after the obvious challenging circumstances.

The year began with some challenging extended family issues. As I find more peace and joy in the most tumultuous circumstances, it becomes more of a challenge for me to not become severely irritated with others at times. I know everyone is on their own walk, but when it seems that people are choosing to be unhappy, it drives me mad. Then I pray… for forgiveness on judging, for love and understanding like Jesus, and for others to know God so real that they can know His peace and joy at all times. My irritation soon dissolves to compassion, at least for the time being.

Then came February. Oh, February, how you rocked my sanity. So the twins were born February 10th and Nicholas passed away February 11th. The week leading up to their birthday and his angelversary is normally filled with anxiety. The first year I wondered if my mental breakdown would come that day. It didn’t. The next year, same thing. In fact, I started realizing that the week leading up to this day of mixed emotions far outweighed the actual day. We always celebrated with just us, holding a party with others off for a later day. The following day, I would wake up early to spend some quiet time with God. I’d make myself walk through the night Nicholas died… holding him in my arms for the first and last time and being so empty, physically and emotionally. I’d walk through every moment very slowly, making sure everything was sinking in fully, if it had not already. I’d do this because I still hadn’t had my mental breakdown and from what I had heard from some, I “must not be dealing with it.” I know that’s a lie. I know that the world says there’s no coming back from something so devastating. Yet, I know God’s truth; how He gives joy in the midst of our pain. That’s a whole separate blog entry.

Well, before my week of scheduled anxiety could even come to pay its yearly visit, something else attacked my spirit. Sophia had been sneezing for a day or two over the weekend. I didn’t think much of it. For the past three years, I have not taken Sophia in for even a cold. Now the symptoms would come, but I would simply rub her down with some essential oils and it’d subside. I always say, “We don’t get sick in our house,” which is totally unheard of in toddlers with a history like Sophia’s. Over the past few months, I had been diving deeper into healing books like “The Believer’s Authority,” so I was REALLY not giving any time to the absurdity of sickness. This time Sophia progressively got worse. I continued rebuking snot, in the name of Jesus, and reminding myself, that “It doesn’t matter how it looks. It doesn’t matter how it feels. It only matters what God says and He says we are healed.” By Tuesday morning, I had to call Brian shortly after he left to work. Through tears, I ashamedly said, “I can’t let her go to school like this. Please turn around.” I assured myself that we would wake up the next day with no symptoms. I mean, I was oiling and playing healing scriptures over her like nothing else. At one point, I even started checking the oils to see if they had gone rancid. I was just that surprised that she was still incredibly miserable, coughing and sneezing.

Wednesday morning came. Nope, still not better. I cried and once again, ashamedly asked Brian to stay home. I told him that I would make arrangements for my classes to be covered the following day. That is what really made me feel like the ultimate prayer warrior failure… I was PLANNING on her still being sick the next day. I felt so defeated. The enemy kept whispering in my spirit,”Ha! You can’t even speak a mountain of snot down and you really expect her brain damage to be healed? Her to do ALL things?” I cried more. Thursday, I took her in despite most of her symptoms having subsided. She had an ear infection, second to some type of virus. Great, “failure as a mom” added to the list. We went home with everything, besides my self-esteem, looking up.

Once, a great friend explained to me, “Confusion comes from the devil.” From that I learned that every time I am confused about the staggering differences I’m encountering between God’s word and my circumstances, I go back to the basics. The basic truths from God. He loves me. He loves my children more than I am even capable of loving… and I LOVE them. He makes ALL things work out for the good of me. I can trust Him. He is my provider.

This led me to realize that if He was allowing this sickness in Sophia, then it had purpose. It had to, right? Now this was going against a lot of the reading I had invested in over the last few weeks, but I pursued this thought. I googled “the benefits of colds.” Sure enough, articles of why it’s good to occasionally be sick popped right up. I clicked on one and it explained the benefits of colds. Basically, when we get sick, the virus attacks our weaker cells. It overtakes these weaker cells, kills them, and excretes them from our bodies when we sneeze and cough. So after our sickness has passed, we essentially have a new and improved body, with those weaker cells removed. Okay! I’ll take it! I thanked God that He was cleaning house in Sophia’s body, making way for the greater healing He’s told me about for her. I mean, it’s not like she was hospitalized or anything. Happily ever after now, right? Wrong.

That night, she rested so peacefully. She remained propped up on pillows but breathed without challenge, unlike the worrisome previous nights. Although Sophia had not been on an oxygen cannula for nearly two years, we had only recently taken her off of the pulse oximeter at night. We decided to go ahead and hook her up this night. Her oxygen saturation, which is usually in the mid to high 90’s danced around right at 90. I checked the sensor, placing it on a different toe… then on one of her fingers… then on my finger! I frantically watched it drop into the high 80’s. I called the 24-hr nurse hotline and waited for my return phone call. I checked her nail beds… not blue. I watched her breathing… not labored. If I moved her, her sats would pop up temporarily, but I couldn’t just rotate her like a rotisserie chicken through the night. I waited… I prayed… I cried. I commanded her lungs, with the greatest authority that I could muster up, to operate according to God’s perfect design. I had seen it happen before. Luckily, Brian had opted to sleep in another room since her pulse ox alarm kept going off. Lucky him… missing out on my loud, authoritative demands to her lungs. Her sats dropped further. Now they were hanging in the mid 80’s. I pleaded with God, sobbing. “Make her breathe. I know You can. I’ve seen it. Make her lungs work again. You told me she’s healed.”

We had a dear friend from the NICU who had recently visited the ER. Her daughter had recently went in with a virus. It ended up being RSV, the Big Bad Wolf of colds. I remembered all the little lives RSV stole during our NICU stay. Her daughter had to be sedated and intubated for a week, leading to a month-long hospital stay. I remember my heart aching, thinking of how that must be to watch your child revisit that dreadful ventilator. It shook me to the core and now here we were, possibly facing the same nightmare. Ironically,after Sophia being off of her oxygen cannula for so long, I finally made arrangements for the oxygen tanks to be picked up. Literally one week prior, the medical supply company came out and picked up almost a dozen dusty oxygen tanks, along with the oxygen concentrator. I was SO mad. Really? After two years of not needing oxygen, I let it go. Now, I could give her an oxygen boost, if only? Ugh!

A return phone call from the hospital came. The nurse said that any oxygen levels under 90 were dangerous. I needed to take her in. As I went to the closet to get dressed, I fell to the floor. I cried and begged God one more time. He heals, right? I didn’t understand. As I got myself together, I reminded myself… I can trust Him, no matter what. As I brought my clothes into our bedroom, Sophia’s sats dipped down into the high 70’s. I quickly picked her up, adjusting her. Her sats bounced back up into the 80’s. “Okay, okay, okay! I’ll take her in. Please don’t make me have to try to remember CPR. I’m going!” After that, I was calm… like “am I really all of a sudden okay?” calm. I was finally walking blindly. I woke Brian to tell him that we were leaving to the ER. He helped me load Sophia into the car. Reversing out of the driveway, Sophia’s pulse oximeter showed her oxygen at 93. I smiled to myself. Of course, she’s okay now. I continued to drive though, not wanting her to drop again once I laid her down in bed.

As I drove, K-love played on the radio. I felt God’s peace overwhelm me. I started crying again, but this time out of gratitude. How do you do that God? How do you take my frantic, out-of-control, can’t-deal-with-anything self and make me strong, bold, peaceful, faithful? I knew I might be taking Sophia in for them to stick that dreadful tube back down her throat. I knew that I was possibly going to revisit the most horrendous time of my life. Yet, I was okay. I really was. Yes, it took a few sob sessions and a closet tantrum, but how is that? That quickly… as soon as I let go of the fear.

God quickly shifted my thoughts to the article that I had read about the benefits of colds… how our weaker cells were being cleansed out. He highlighted how the “colds” of life were uncomfortable. The “sneezing, coughing, weakness”…. It felt miserable but our “weaker cells” of our spirit were being cleansed out. The spiritual virus attacked us in our weakest spots, allowing us to address them, and clean them out. I cried harder. How awesome that the God of our universe would take the time to fill me with peace and show me a spec of His perfect plan.

To be continued…

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