Saturday, August 25, 2007

Real or Plastic?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. II Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV)

I've taken a break for a couple of days and wanted to take some time to update you on Eliana and some progress we've made.  I wanted to start though by saying that I'm doing much, much better.  Thank you to all of you that have been praying.  I think that the stress of anticipating the move - and watching everything being boxed up - was just overwhelming to me.  It was something I needed to deal with - to wrestle out with God.  I needed the time to turn to Him - alone - to find answers and also to find peace.  I needed to find the truth in my heart that He is here, He is with me and He will comfort me and flood me with His peace.  And He has.  I have sought Him and found Him just as He has promised.  He has filled my heart with His peace - for days now - and I am thankful.  It is a sweet thing to be resting in His arms.  I wish I had relaxed and fallen into them sooner! 

I have been very real and raw with my emotions.  I've struggled at times as to whether or not I should hit the submit button with some of my entries.  (I think I mentioned this in an earlier post.)  I've wondered if I would be misunderstood, judged or criticized by others.  Overwhelmingly though, I am sent notes of encouragment, prayer and love.  Today I received a CD with songs to encourage me.  (Thank you Cyndi - and I'm praying for you!)  One sweet sister shared with me that it helped her to see my struggles.  It helped her to realize that other Christians struggle with their feeling and circumstances.  That even though we may experience pain and sadness we do learn to trust and hopefully come through with a stronger faith.  Isn't that just like God?  To use something that seems hopeless and full of despair to comfort and encourage someone.  Thank you Father!

I've also had to remind myself that I am really only accountable to One.  I need only to live for the approval of One.  A sweet friend talks about the "audience of One" in relating how we should live our lives.  We aren't to seek the approval of others - though it is a nice thing.  We aren't to live our lives for others, but only for God.  In doing this we will obviously be helping and serving others.  In all of this, even the struggles, I've been trying to do what He has called me to do.  I am thankful that He will let me know what it is that He requires of me - even though at times I do not understand.  I am thankful that even when I'm not sure, that I can trust Him to be with me, guiding me, loving me and sometimes carrying me.  

There are times though when being vulnerable comes with a price.  It is those times that I've wondered if it would just be better to deal with it privately.  It is what many people do and there is probably nothing wrong with that.  Unless it isn't what He has for me.  It may be easier to let God come to me - or more likely me to  Him - in His timing.  Would it be better to leave out the struggles, the tears and questions?  Would it be better if I only shared the end results - the times when God has taught me or helped me or filled my heart with His peace when I least expected it?  Would it be better if my lessons were just that - mine?  I've been asking God that.  

I received an email devotion this week that talked about being real or plastic.  Well, who wants to be plastic?  I don't know anyone that aspires to that!  On the homeschool message board I'm part of, we have talked about being real and how hard it can be to find "real" even in the church.  We've talked about why it is that people feel like they need to present a front of having it all together.  I think sometimes it may be less of a pretense and more for protection.  I know from my experiences that when you have been wounded, it can make it much harder to want to be vulnerable again.  It would be easier to be silent rather than to risk laying your heart bare and hoping that it doesn't get hurt again.  Though isn't that what Christ did?  Layed it all out for us - and was wounded and criticized and worse in spite of - or perhaps because of - being real.

The devotion went on to talk about the scars that we carry as a result of the difficult times in our lives and how these very scars are a witness to others.  The scars are a part of who we are.  We can hide our scars in various ways.  This protects our heart - but also keeps others at a distance.  It also fails to allow God to work in the lives of others that could perhaps learn from our scars.  It fails to put us in a position to help others as they are struggling.  

No matter the hurt or ugliness we have as a result of pain in our lives - these can be redeemed by God!  He doesn't want me to ignore or run from the pain, rather He wants to meet me and comfort me in the midst of them.  Then when we are able, He will use us to comfort someone else. 

Isn't that amazing?  God wants to use us in spite of our past - the pains, the poor choices and the times that we have failed.  Satan wants us to believe that these things render us useless, but the truth is that God uses these very failures to show witness of His love, His strength, His peace and His redemption.  

This devotion really spoke to my heart.  Isn't it cool how God so often sends just the right thing to you?  I was wondering about my usefulness and about the benefit of being real.  I was encouraged that this is what He wants.  Yes, it may come with some pain, but He will be there when it does come to comfort and hold me. 

So despite the wonderings, I'm wanting to be real.  There have been benefits to being real too.  I've had people share with me that God has used my experiences in their own lives - one in particular in a life-changing way.  How amazing is that?!  It is clearly God doing that - not me!  I am humbled to know that in the midst of my struggles that He can be glorified.  Thank you Lord.

I promised news on Eliana.  We saw the surgeon, Dr Rice, on Friday.  It was one of the shortest - if not the shortest - visits I have had at the doctor's office!  He looked at her site and confirmed that it is indeed granulation tissue - though not "bad".  It is something that just happens and will probably happen again.  He cauterized it with silver nitrate.  (It's like burning away the bad tissue.)  It didn't hurt her at all!  I'm to continue to do this (treat it with silver nitrate) every 2-3 days until it is gone.  If it reappears then I will do it again. 

I shared with him that Eliana was doing better eating.  She is routinely eating double what was her best feeding prior to surgery.  Dr. Rice said that was the goal and he thought she'd have it down in the next couple of months - but not to hold him to that!  LOL  I hope and pray that He is right.  He didn't want to change out her button which is nice, but I wasn't ready to go to that either.  He said the goal was to get it out in 4- 5 months after surgery so that she wouldn't need another surgery to close her up.  He said that he hoped this would be a good motivator for us.

Well, I thought on this throughout the day yesterday.  I do want her to eat more and more orally.  I'm doing what I can do - or at least I think I am.  Praying for wisdom if there are changes that I need to make.  We won't be seeing our feeding therapist of the next three weeks due to various vacations.  I would love to surprise her with some exciting feeding break-throughs!

Yesterday was her best day to date - well, since she got her NG tube in February.  She took 10.75 ounces.  That was just one ounce short of being HALF of her total amount for the day!  I was thrilled!!!  We sometimes do less as she is asleep during her feeds.  I'm wondering if I should try to start waking her for all of them?  We'll need to ponder on this one. 

Prayer requests:

*Continued improvement in eating.  I sometimes set small goals in my mind - which is silly since I have NO control at all over this.  I'd love to see her get to taking at least 1/2 of her foods orally.  She is frequently doing about 1/3 right now.

*Healing for her button site.  I think she has been in pain as she has not wanted to lay down on her tummy.  I'm hoping that this will be healed soon.  (The silver nitrate is a mess - and it stains - so it will be great to get rid of that!)

*Peace & God's vision as we try to get back into some routines with schooling, meals plans and hopefully soon field trips.  I have not been out with the children much at all since Eliana's been born.  We haven't gone out at all with her feeding pump.  I'm hoping though to do that sometime soon. 

*Yielded - I am praying that I would continue to learn what it means to be yielded to God.  Listening to His voice and following His paths for my life.  I wish that for all of you as well!

Thank you again for your patience with me as I've struggled.  Thank you for your love and encouragment.  I am thankful for the many, many times that others are the hands of Christ in my life.  It is a beautiful way to see the body of Christ in action.

With love,