The First Week Home

Several people have been asking me how seven-year-old and I are doing since we’ve been home from the hospital for a week post type 1 diabetes diagnosis. We are both doing well. Seven-year-old is really taking everything in stride. Though she doesn’t want the shots, she still doesn’t complain about them. She is happy, healthy and ready for what this new life will bring her. She did say, “Mom, my life has changed a lot, hasn’t it? Life for our whole family has changed, hasn’t it?” I simply had to say, “Yes, it has, but nothing has changed about how much you are loved by everyone, and that never will.” She gave me a hug and went on her way.
Now to the more complicated question of how I am doing. I really am doing better, but let me see if I can explain how I’m feeling. I feel like those women who go in to the hospital with abdominal pain and get told, “You’re pregnant and about to give birth. Surprise!” Only, the “baby” I was handed is a sick, demanding one–a parasite, not a child, who will harm the child I love with my entire being if I don’t do everything it requires.
So, if I seem a little off my game, please try to understand; I am like the shell-shocked mom of a newborn, a mom who had no idea she was even pregnant. You wouldn’t ask too much of her, would you? You wouldn’t expect that everything she used to do without even thinking about it would simply continue to be done without things being dropped and forgotten. I am talking to myself, actually, not all of you. I know most people aren’t expecting much of me right now. But I continue to expect everything of myself. And maybe I shouldn’t.
So very many people have helped us out with meals, babysitting, gifts, and support in all sorts of ways, from putting away Christmas décor to writing out recipes when food was brought in so I would know exactly what was in it. Thank you for being my angels on earth, the ones God has sent to me in my time of need. I promise to do the same for  you someday.
Mostly, I’m just so proud of my sweetie. She thanks me when I give her a shot, even if it hurts her. Could there be a better child?
Seven-year-old was having a more difficult time with one of her insulin shots the other day. She hates injections in her thighs. It was time for the thigh shot, and she was getting super upset. I told her, “You are a warrior.” Then, I pointed to her sharps container and said, “Look at that jar. It’s your warrior jar. Each of the things in there represent a poke you’ve had. It shows just how strong you are.” So she asked me to take some tape and label it as her “Warrior Jar.” Here it is:
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This is the face of a newly christened type 1 diabetes warrior. And I am the proud captain cheering on my soldier, fighting her way through this new battle, with her every step of the way. I love you, my little warrior. We’ll fight this war hand in hand, with arms folded and heads bowed, together forever more.
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How Bedwetting Saved My Child’s Life

Seven-year-old suddenly started wetting the bed a few weeks ago after not having done so for many years. The first night, I thought it was odd, the second, I was annoyed. The third, I figured she must have a urinary tract infection so I hauled her in the doctor’s office. She very cautiously peed into the obligatory cup and the urine sample results came back. No sign of infection, glucose was present, but no ketones. The doctor asked, “Is there any history of diabetes in your family?” “No,” I replied, as my heart sank. “Any history of kidney or liver problems?” “No,” I said again. “Well, we’ll send her for some labs.”
Since we went in the day after Christmas, labs couldn’t come until the following Monday. They showed everything was good. At least it was if they didn’t know my child was fasting, which I had told the technician and the doctor’s office but somehow that wasn’t communicated. When the results finally came on Wednesday, they told us to make a follow-up appointment for after the New Year.
On Monday, I checked seven-year-old out of school for her appointment. She nervously peed into a cup again. The results were the same. High glucose, no ketones. This time a doctor whom I don’t normally see greeted us and said,”I just want to call endocrinology. And, I think I’ll do a rapid blood glucose here.” So she did. And the result were 411. For those of you who aren’t blood glucose savvy, a normal range is 80-150. “I’m so sorry”, the doctor said, who happens to have my same first name so I felt an instant connection, “but it looks like your daughter has type 1 diabetes. I am going to call the children’s hospital and see what they want me to do.” After another half hour of waiting for someone to get back to her from the hospital, they told us to come, now, for a direct admit.
That was two days ago. I walked into the doctor’s office with a perfectly healthy child who just wanted to get back to school for PE. I walked out of the doctor’s office with a the same, sweet wonderful child who, I was told, has a chronic disease— one that will affect her, and our whole family, for the rest of her life.
I was shocked, but I wasn’t devastated. How can I be when I feel so blessed? We caught her juvenile or insulin dependent or type 1–whatever you want to call it–diabetes before she had any major issues or life-threatening episodes. How many parents can say that? She was still fine until New Year’s, so we got to enjoy our holiday and start the treatment with the beginning of a new deductible instead of having half of it in December.
I have felt so many angels supporting me these past forty-eight hours. I know people have been praying for me. I could feel heaven close around my “bed” as I tried and failed to get some sleep in the hospital. And I could feel the army of angels around my little girl. They stood as sentinels, watching her bedside, making sure she was safe and sound.
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Seven-year-old is being such a trooper. She got out of the hospital last night and wanted to go back to school today. So, I got my first try at being her pancreas at school. I forgot the pen needle cap for her insulin pen, had to go home and come back. Score 1, Diabetes, 0, Mom. But still, I am going to get this. I have so many people offering help, meals, advice, love. Everything is falling into place for my sweet little angel.
So, if your child ever starts wetting the bed after not having done it for a long time, don’t ignore it. Take them in, immediately.

And ask your doctor to check for type 1 diabetes. Maybe bedwetting could save your child’s life

At the End of Our Rope

Boating is great fun, until it isn’t. I love going boating with my family. But we pushed it a bit too far two weeks ago and got ourselves into some real trouble.

The morning started out great. It was just our little family on the boat, and, since it was a Tuesday, we were the only boat on the entire lake. We all surfed behind the boat, had nice long turns and kept an eye on the sky. The forecast called for storms, but we had lucked out with sunshine so far, though the water was pretty choppy.

Then, after eating lunch, the kids begged to inflate the tube and go out. We thought it was only fair since three-year-old isn’t big enough to surf yet, so she needed her turn to go on the tube. The wind was kicking up, but we didn’t think that was too big of a deal since we were just tubing anyway. More bumps equals more fun.

Three-year-old, six-year-old and I were on the tube. Three-year-old thinks she is too big to be held while on the tube, so she had her own seat. When we started, the water was rough but manageable. Hubby took us out against the waves but slowly, so we were bouncing around, giggling. Then the wind kicked up even more and the waves got bigger. So, my husband turned us around. We were facing the other way going with the waves. The problem was, one large wave hit us from behind and the front of the tube went down into the trough of the wave in front. The tube swamped and all three of us found ourselves in the lake, with waves getting higher and harder all around us.

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I grabbed three-year-old as the tube swamped. She immediately started screaming and crying. I told six-year-old to swim to me, and I held them both.

But with both of them in my arms, I couldn’t swim. I couldn’t do anything but bob with the waves. My six-year-old’s lifejacket did a pretty good job. It kept her head above the water, mostly. She was scared, and panicking a little. As I kept seeing the boat and tube get farther away, I made a wrenching decision. I pushed my six-year-old as I hard as I could toward the boat and told her to swim. She kicked with all her might and made it to the swimmer’s deck; her brother helped her climb on.

That left three-year-old and I in the water, drifting farther and farther away. She was screaming and crying, and her life jacket did not keep her head out of the water too well. She kept getting her head submerged with every wave that hit over the top of us. And since her mouth was open, she would choke, sputter it out, then start wailing again, only to have the whole cycle repeated.

All I could do was keep her with me, pray, and wait to be rescued. You see, I have a confession to make. I’m not a strong swimmer. I can propel myself with my arms fairly well, but my legs seem to be useless in the water. My arms and all my strength were put into holding my three-year-old as high out of the water as I could. Plus, I don’t really do that well in crisis situations. I was scared, too. Not for myself, but for my daughter. With every choking episode, I worried she’d take in too much water in her lungs and drown. I kept saying, “It’s OK, Mommy’s got you.” But it clearly was not OK, and she knew it. Nothing I did could calm her.

My husband couldn’t get the boat started to pick us up. And did I mention we were the only boat on the lake? No one else could even come to help us. So, hubby hauled in the tube which was now unswamped, jumped on it, and paddled towards us.

I have never been so happy to see someone coming toward me in my life; we were going to be saved.

But then, there was a moment, a moment when we were literally at the end of the rope. The tube’s rope was still hooked to the boat and my husband was still too far away for us to get to him. The rope jerked him back and he could go no farther. He hollered to my son to unhook the rope. My twelve-year-old untethered him and my husband paddled the rest of the way to us.

My hubby hauled three-year-old up onto the tube and I got on, too. Then, he paddled us back to the boat which, thankfully, started up just fine.

My poor three-year-old was catatonic. She wouldn’t speak or even move once we got her on the boat. But, she slowly started to thaw. I just kept hugging her and six-year-old and wouldn’t let them go. We slowly motored back to the harbor. Inside the harbor, it was gentle and calm.
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I learned a few lessons while bobbing wherever the waves wanted to take us. First and foremost, if the weather looks bad, pack it in, especially when kids are involved. Second, I need to take some swimming lessons and get better so I can help my kids as well as myself.

But the other lessons I learned are more spiritual in nature. The first, as a mom, came when I had to decide to let six-year-old go. As parents we all have those moments when we have to let our child sink or swim on their own, only they aren’t usually as literal as mine. But give them the best support you can and trust that what you’ve armed them with is enough. It is; they are strong.

I learned that I love my husband more each day because he is the kind of man who will always come to my, and my children’s, rescue. No matter what.

I also learned a little bit about the Savior. Sometimes, when you’re being tossed on the waves, you can only see help coming in the distance. And sometimes, you have to get to the end of your rope, and then go beyond that point, to get the help you need.

And finally, don’t leave your safe harbors. God’s love encircles us like the land encircled the water of the harbor. If we don’t turn away, if we don’t choose to leave, we’ll be safe. And if we do leave, we can always, always, return.

You Are of More Value

I was about half way through my run this morning when I noticed something floating in the sky. It slowly drifted downward, bouncing slightly from side to side as it continued its descent from the heavens. Since Fall is in full swing, I assumed it was a very small leaf. But then, I saw that no trees were close, and there wasn’t a wind. Curious, I decided to reach out and grab it.
I didn’t even have to break my stride or reach very far; the object drifted right into my open, gloved palm. I looked down while continuing my run and saw a tiny little feather.
“Huh, that’s funny,” I thought to myself. Then, immediately a scripture popped into my mind. I wasn’t sure of the exact wording, but I knew it had something to do with sparrows and how if God notices the fall of a sparrow, He certainly notices and cares for us, His children. So I went home and looked it up. Matthew 10:29,31 reads: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. ”
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I couldn’t help but wonder at the small, tender mercy that had drifted my way, seemingly out of heaven itself. A message from a loving Father to one of His children. I didn’t even necessarily need this little love note today, but I am grateful for it. I’ll tuck it away in my memory and heart for the next time I wonder if God really knows me, really loves me. Then, I’ll think of the tiny feather, sparrows in flight, and the boundless love that God has for all His creations, especially for you and for me.

Me Me Owie, Too!

As my two youngest were sitting on my lap, each jostling for a more comfortable position, my five-year-old pointed to her finger and said, “Mom, look at my owie! It’s a mosquito bite I scratched too much. It hurts a lot.”
My two-year-old, not to be left out, pointed to a scabbed over gouge on her thumb and said, “Me me owie. Look at me me owie, too!”
I quietly assured both girls that their owies looked painful but livable. I told them both I was sorry they were hurting and kissed each little hand better.
I’ve since thought about that incident a lot. How often do we just want someone to notice what we’re going through? To notice we’re having a hard time? How often are we so wrapped up in our own “owies”, our own struggles–whatever they might be–that we don’t notice the “owies” of everyone else?
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We all want to be loved, to be noticed, to be acknowledged for the things we’re doing well and for the challenges we’re facing. As adults, we don’t point out our “owies” very often. But they’re there. We don’t need to look too hard or too long to find the “owies” of our loved ones, our neighbors, our friends.
So, whatever your “owie” may be right now, I just want to tell you: Yes, it hurts. But you can still conquer it. I am sorry for the challenge you’re going through. You are loved, and you are noticed. And if your owie is too big for you to handle, pour your heart out in prayer. Constantly. God has a way of kissing our owies all better that not even the best mother can match.

One Reason I Read to my Kids

I love having my kids sit in my lap, touch the glossy pages of a picture book and snuggle close as magical words tumble from my mouth straight into their imaginations. A trip to library is cause for great rejoicing and cause for me to skip my arms workout since I routinely max out my thirty-five item limit on my library card. The librarians only slightly raise their eyebrows as they see the massive stack I schlep up to the counter every other week.
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Today after lunch as we were going about our reading ritual, my five-year-old was nestled in my lap, drinking in the words of a particularly wonderful book. The book, Boxes for Katje, told the tale of a little girl living in Holland right after WWII who received a care package from America. The book carefully catalogued the extreme lack of resources this girl, her family and her entire village experienced. Then, it explained how another girl, from America, the land of plenty, marshaled the forces in her town to alleviate some of that need.
I was so struck by the goodness of both girls–Katje, who immediately shared all she was sent, and Rosie who kept hearing of needs and filling them– that my heart welled up and found its way into my tear ducts.
After finishing the book, my five-year-old looked me in my still-glistening eyes and said, “We’re so blessed, Mommy, aren’t we? We have food to eat, and warm clothes to wear, and blankets for our beds and toys to play with. I want to help someone like Rosie did. Can I get some of my money for the Christmas Jar?”
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As my Kindergartener ran into her room to retrieve her purse with her small savings, I reflected on how another book had caused our family to start a tradition about five or so years ago. Every year we fill a Christmas Jar with cash all year long and decide, through prayer, who should receive the funds from it. It has anonymously gone to neighbors, family members, charities that help purchase livestock, and a local family shelter.

While my five-year-old enthusiastically placed her contribution into the jar, I gave thanks for good literature. I could have lectured all day on giving and helping others, but a well-told story from the author’s family history accompanied by beautiful artwork ignited a desire in my daughter’s heart that all my words would have never done. Read to your kids. You’re changing their lives, and perhaps even the lives of countless others, for the better.

Learning Beyond Letter Z

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My five-year-old daughter looked up at me with bright eyes and a happy smile. “Guess what, Mom?”
“What?” I answered.
“We’re on letter T. We’re almost done learning the alphabet. I can’t believe Kindergarten is almost over!” she exclaimed.
“What?” I asked. “You think that Kindergarten ends when you get to letter Z?”
“Well, yeah. What else is there to learn when we’re done with the whole entire alphabet?” she asked.
I laughed at the innocence and beauty of my five-year-old’s mind, then explained, “Once you’re done with all the letters, you’ll learn how to use them to make words. Soon you’ll be reading. And you’ll be learning all about numbers and science and other neat things. You still have plenty left to learn in Kindergarten.”
Sometimes, I’m like my five-year-old. I think I’ve learned all I need to know through a particular experience or about a particular subject, so I should be done. But life doesn’t work that way. It wouldn’t be much of test if it did.
Sometimes, I have to trust the Master Teacher to order my lessons so that I learn and grow and continue to stretch beyond what I thought I needed to. In those moments of growth and stretching, I learn what comes after Z. And in those moments, I am blessed to get a glimpse of the potential my Master Teacher sees in me. He knows I can become so much more that what I am. But only if I’m willing to continue to the great big world of opportunities beyond letter Z.