“I used to believe that God could bring good things from hard times, almost like a cosmic consolation prize for having endured something unfortunate or unfair. Now that I’ve walked with Him this far through this fight, I am certain of this one truth: Some beautiful things can only be found in the hardest times.” Bo Stern in Beautiful Battlefields
I’ve been reading this great book by Bo Stern, whose husband was diagnosed and eventually died from ALS. Her words have been both comforting and challenging to me over these past months, as we’ve walked through our own battlefield of Epilepsy and the resulting change it has brought in our daily lives. It is true that God uses our battlefields to bring about beauty in our lives, and lately I’ve been pondering just how blessed we are to be walking hand in hand with our Savior through this season.
Thank you for praying for Shad’s appointment on Tuesday. We prayed for good communication with the doctor and that he would have some new ideas on how to ease Shad’s symptoms. We praise the Lord for Doctor Laniger and his caring, listening demeanor. His staff was also very helpful and attentive to our needs and questions. After looking over Shad’s records, Dr. Laniger explained to us his plan for helping Shad be seizure free. He and the team of epilepsy specialists at University Hospital will re-do the tests that Shad had done this summer in order to take a deeper look at where Shad’s seizures are coming from. This will include a more thorough MRI, which is scheduled for February 1st, as well as another EEG monitoring study, which will be scheduled for mid-February and will involve admission to the hospital for 3-5 days.
After these tests are completed, the Epilepsy Team of specialists will consider whether or not Shad could be a candidate for surgery to remove the part of his brain that is causing his seizures. The team there has a 90% success rate for patients who’ve undergone surgery and come out seizure-free, so we are encouraged by their expertise and wisdom in this decision. Of course, surgery will not be considered if they don’t think it will help Shad or if the risks outweigh the benefits. Shad will go back to meet with Dr. Laniger on April 17th to discuss the results of the tests and the opinion of the Epilepsy Team.
As you can imagine, this information was a lot for us to take in over the course of the half an hour in Dr. Laniger’s office! It seems completely overwhelming to think of brain surgery!! Yet, we have put our lives, our futures, in God’s hand. We trust His direction and wisdom will come one step, one day, one test, one decision at a time. He could work through doctors, through procedures, through medication, or through supernatural healing– but ultimately, it’s all HIM!!
In the midst of all this new information, God is teaching me to practice thankfulness. Here we are, adjusting to our new life and ministry in Missouri. The last of our appliances were delivered yesterday (washer and dryer!). Shad has helped me get pictures and verses hung on our walls to make our house look like a home. Friends are abundant here, and so many have gone out of their way to encourage and love on us and our boys. We have a wonderful church family here who love us and pray for us. Our team of supporters have stood behind us and loved us through this season with grace and understanding. Epilepsy has deepened the love that Shad and I share, and I truly believe we take each other a little less for granted than we would if he were completely healthy. God led us right to Dr. Laniger, a kind doctor who is quick to listen, and his team, who are highly qualified to deal with Shad’s specific type of epilepsy. Yes, we have many opportunities to practice thankfulness these days!!
Last night (well, actually early this morning), I got an unexpected pop quiz in Thankful Heart 101. Shad jumped out of bed suddenly and bolted out our bedroom door, and I heard the boys’ voices from down the hall. I glared half awake at the alarm clock: 5:01am. Being the awesome mother I am, I waited in bed for him to come back rather than jump up to see what was going on. When he came back in the room a couple minutes later, I asked if everything was OK. And then I heard those words that sends chills up my mommy spine: “Braden’s sick. He’s in the bathroom throwing up.” Ugh.
At this point, I feel bad for my hero of a husband, who is always the first to wake with sick kids. I get up to help, and offer our poor boy a washcloth, a cup of water, and reassuring words. After a few minutes, Braden told us he felt a bit better and told us we could go back to sleep and he’d be fine (awesome son that he is). As we went back to bed, the knot in my stomach grew bigger. The barrage of negativity in my mind was overwhelming. “Great. Now we’ll all be sick by morning. I’ll have to cancel all our plans for the weekend. And what about all the dirty sheets and towels we’ll go through? And my dryer is not hooked up yet. Lovely. And oh, the battle of trying to keep the bathrooms clean and disinfected, and the being cooped up inside with sick boys, and the unspoken dread in my heart wondering when my cookies will be tossed…”
Suddenly, in the midst of my inner turmoil, God’s truth rang clear in my heart. “Sarah, I am good in this. I am here. You are not alone.” So, I began to pray, to release my anxiety to God. Yes, being sick stinks. (No, literally. It stinks.) Yes, it’s not the easiest time to be a good mom. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized God’s hidden graces in it all. Braden could have been sick the day we had to drive an hour and a half to Shad’s appointment on Tuesday. This could have happened in the wake of our move from Michigan. Grace.
My mind wandered farther. Braden is a healthy kid. Sure, he is sick right now, but it’s not life-threatening. We have what we need to care for him. He has a comfortable bed to rest in, towels and a warm bath to clean up in. Both a mom and a dad to love him and sit up with him, to pray with him and comfort him. Grace.
And isn’t it just like God to give grace upon grace? It’s been twelve hours since that 5:01 am wake up call, and Braden has thrown up a total of one time. He woke up feeling hungry, and he’s eaten half a pound of dry cereal, half a bag of Fritos, two cups of apple juice, and some Gatorade with no backfire. Grace. I rejoice in how God spared my boy from something much worse. I pray that through these moments we can teach and model for our boys how to search for whispers of God’s goodness in grace in our circumstances. Not just when the nausea subsides. Not just when the doctor gives easy answers. Goodness in all things. Grace in all that touches our lives.
We appreciate your continued prayers for our settling, for the medical tests coming next month, and for our hearts to keep learning all God has for us in this season! Thank you so much for your outpourings of kindness to us through giving, prayer, and words of encouragement!