It’s been over a year since I blogged. I did not realize how long it had been until I tried to log on here today. Wow, so much in a year’s time. So much.
So, let me begin with the prayer I prayed a little over a year ago. We were worn out from all that life had brought us in just a few short years- my health had crashed, a cross-country move back to Indiana, two miscarriages, job changes, another cross-country move this time to Utah, a new job, Steve’s massive accident, the loss of our animals and barn to a fire on Christmas Eve, Steve’s knee replacement, the loss of our dog, special blessing struggles within our family, the adoption of our two beautiful blessings Seth and Joy, the drug withdrawal that we walked Seth through, the developmental delays, the loss of our son’s dog suddenly, our oldest graduated, and so much more. My prayer? I was worn down. I asked the Lord to please give us relief from all these tests of faith and strength. I was tired of being the “light on the hill” to others. I was tired of answering others’ questions about how we could continue to have such strong faith after all we had lived through. I was tired. I asked for ho-hum boredom in our lives. Sadly, the Lord answered my prayer.
We spent the next year or so with very little “big” stuff happening. Last summer we did have 7 of the 8 children come down with whooping cough and that was a bit of a “big” thing to deal with for 2 months. Then last winter I showed up with EBV- Epstein Barr Virus. I had had mono in college and EBV is mostly what had caused it. EBV hides in your body and surfaces after stressful times or in illness. I spent a few months literally on the couch daily. I could barely complete our homeschool lessons from the couch. Thankfully, part of that time was our Christmas break. However, I couldn’t even get up to help make Christmas cookies as I always did before.
Spring came and I started to recover with the help of a doctor. Then on Mother’s Day 11 of us (including my mother-in-law who was visiting) came down with strep throat for the first time ever! Eleven of us! We spent 3 hours in med check on Mother’s Day. What a delightful time, right?
I then spiraled down in health again and EBV reared its ugly head taking me to the couch again. The fatigue was unbelievable. I was diagnosed with CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) too due to the fatigue and pain. Fun. I found some help again and started to feel somewhat better. I was looking forward to our trip to Oklahoma in June. Prince 2 was one of 90 participants invited to NCFCA Nationals to speak in Apologetics. Pretty cool, huh? I had never been able to see him compete in any of the other tournaments for the past three years due to my health and/or being snowed in. My mother-in-law and Steve had already seen him though. I wanted so badly to see my son speak. Steve asked his mom to stay an extra couple weeks so that we could all, except our oldest, go to OK for Nationals. She agreed and we began to prepare for the trip.
Our trip began on June 18th, the day before Father’s Day. The first night we drove to Ft. Collins to camp. We were thrilled to see tons of bunnies and hear birds everywhere. We saw green trees and fields! Oh, we were excited!
The next morning there were so many birds that they woke us up! We were not used to that many birds anymore! On Father’s Day our AC went out in our 15 passenger van that was pulling our camper trailer. We had to drive through southern CO, NM, TX and OK without AC. We reached Amarillo, TX that night several of us on the verge of heat exhaustion. After living in UT for almost 4 years, our bodies had forgotten how to handle heat and humidity. One time we stopped at a rest stop and Princess 2 and I went into the bathroom and stood there wetting ourselves down at the sink as others walked by looking at us. We shared with them our woes. I also got sun poison through my pants onto my leg from the sun shining on me all day! This was very tough on us. We also lost a hubcap sometime during the drive and our cruise control went out!
We arrived in Amarillo, TX at 10PM. When we were about 28 miles away from there, our children announced, “Wow, we can see the city! Look at all those lights ahead!” There were tons of huge lights! I was shocked because I thought Amarillo was fairly small. As we got within a few miles of Amarillo, we started seeing signs that said, “Do NOT pick up hitchhikers” and “Absolutely NO stopping! Emergency vehicles only!” And then, we saw it. The Texas State Prison. So, that’s the lights we saw. Nice. And we were driving by at 10PM with our windows down without AC. Nice. Okay, God’s in control here. He’ll get us there safely and keep us safe. Guess where our campground was? Across the street from the Texas State Prison!!!! That was just a bit unnerving for me! You should have seen how fast I walked the dog that night. 🙂
By this time I had more to worry about. Princess 1 had swelling in her ankles from sitting in the heat and humidity all day. Our dog had refused to do her business for over 24 hours and was ready to bust, but refused to allow any busting to happen. More prayers went up!
The next morning we again awoke to tons of bird sounds. I loved it, however, Steve and Prince 2 found it annoying. We also awoke to a big, strange bug in our pan. We really enjoyed the Texas sunset the night before. The green was a big topic of discussion with us again. We were reminded of home- Indiana which some of us had not seen in almost 4 years. But, the bugs oh my! Yuck! We were done with the bugs quickly!
The third day brought us into Oklahoma where we would spend the next five days. We settled in for the night. Steve had told me that I was to go and watch Prince 2 speak and that we’d switch off on watching the youngers for this reason. I was excited.
The fourth day came and I prepared to go in and see Prince 2 give his speech. Steve thought all the speaking was to be done in the same building and had given me directions to that building on the college campus where it took place. I showed up there and guess what? They told me Prince 2 was speaking all the way on the other side of campus! And he was scheduled to speak in about 10 minutes! I was exhausted, still recovering from all my health issues over the past year, struggling to deal with the heat and humidity which included 102 degree temps. and I had to get all the way across campus in less than 10 minutes to see my son! Prince 2 did not have a phone and I had no way of calling him. I stood there almost in tears as I explained to the ladies helping me that I had never been able to see my son speak in the three years he had been in NCFCA due to health issues or being snowed in. I shared that I had come all this way just to see my son speak in Nationals and now I was about to miss him! I was ready to bawl and at the same time was so fatigued that I didn’t know if I could walk another block. Just then my cell phone rang. It was Prince 2! He had borrowed a friend’s phone to call me and they were passing by the building I was in! Only God could have orchestrated that one! He told me he’d meet me downstairs. I zipped down the stairs and just then he walked in the door. I wanted to run forward and hug him, but didn’t want to embarrass him, you know? But, he held out his arms to me and I ran up and gave him a hug with tears rolling down my cheeks. I had found my son and I was going to hear him speak! We walked together to the car and then he directed me to the correct building.
As I sat in that room watching my son speak with such life on his topic, I was taken back to 15 years earlier when he was just two. The Lord was calling me to Him. He was drawing me to start reading Scripture to our children and teach them to memorize it. Prince 1 was four and Prince 2 was two. Prince 3 was due in another month or so. I sat down on their bed that morning and began with Psalm 23. I started reading it to them and asking them to repeat it back to me as best they could. We did this every day for many days. Finally they had it memorized and I recorded it. As my son continued on with his speech I felt the tears fill my eyes as I was reminded of how faithful the Lord is, how He had called me to Him all those years ago and I had obeyed. I remembered all those times when I had prayed for Prince 2, taught him Scripture, read the Bible to him every morning as we ate, and knew that God had great plans for our children. Tears filled my eyes as I thanked the Lord for allowing me to go on this trip and sit here and watch my son speak with such fire and love for His word. I quickly looked down so my son would not see me tearing up. I certainly didn’t need him to think his mama was a “nut” sitting there crying while he was giving his speech.
The fifth day brought a “camper day” for most of us. I spent most of the day with the youngers in the camper while our van was in the shop- the brakes had gone out too. Prince 4 counted and killed 42 flies!!! Yuck! The youngers all went outside and found a box turtle, played water gun fights, brought a toad in that immediately hopped in my bed while I screamed, and then they sat around playing checkers and drawing while the heat of the day hit us. I again was able to go see Prince 2 give another speech. This time I didn’t cry and I didn’t get lost! 🙂
Unbeknownst to us, it was on the fifth day that our lives would be changed/impacted for years to come. Prince 3, Princess 1, Prince 4, and Princess 2 invited me to go for a walk in the woods with them. The campground had a wonderful woods with trails through it. Our sons had already been through it once and wanted to take me on a walk. I had so missed trees and green leaves the past four years since moving to Utah. I was excited about walking with them. I was feeling much better and sleeping much better at the lower elevation than back at home in Utah. So, I decided to go. We walked and walked. I became very tired and sat a few times. The children were awesome about helping me along and waiting for me. I took pictures and sent them to Steve who was at Nationals during that time. It was so beautiful and I was thrilled to be making these beautiful memories with our children in God’s beauty. When we finally got back to the camper, Prince 3 found a tick on him and quickly washed it off. Then Princess 2 found one crawling on her and we found one on the outside of the camper door. I had forgotten to spray us down or make us wear long pants and socks on our walk in the woods! Oh no! Well, we had always lived in tick areas before, so, we should be fine, I thought. I was just so happy to have spent a moment enjoying God’s creation with our children and was feeling so much healthier!
Day six brought us to the Science Museum of Oklahoma which was amazing! I took the youngers in our van which had just been repaired. We had so much fun and made many more memories. When it was time to leave, we walked out into the sweltering heat, piled into the van, and turned the key. Nothing. Dead. I panicked. I called Steve who was an hour away from me. We went back into the museum and Steve drove over to jumpstart us. We couldn’t wait in the car due to the heat, so, we enjoyed another hour of fun. However, we had drank all of our water except two bottles and all of our toddler food was gone! We were so thankful to hear Steve had started the van and we could head back to the campground. Steve followed us out of the parking lot onto the highway. I looked down and suddenly noticed that the speedometer was going crazy swaying back and forth (we have old cars- not digital), the gas gauge was doing the same, the horn would not honk, the flashers and turn signal would not work, and I had a sinking feeling that we were in trouble. I tried to signal to Steve to call me. He called and was talking to Prince 3 as the van died. The power steering went out and I had to try to get it to the shoulder during rush hour! Trucks and cars were zipping past us, Air Force jets were flying directly over us as we were in the path of the local air base, and we had only two bottles of water in that heat. We tried calling AAA and they wouldn’t help us because Steve called using my AAA card! They said I had to personally call them! Oh, how I love modern belief systems these days- your own husband cannot call for you! So, I called on my phone and Steve called again on his phone using his card number for AAA. Let’s just say this much, the local AAA agency learned that I was not a happy Mama Bear and it wasn’t gonna be pretty if they didn’t get me off the interstate immediately! I also called and asked for help from the police. I had to take Steve’s rental car with the twins and the girls and leave Steve and the boys with the two bottles of water to wait for help. I later had to go pick up the boys while Steve waited on the van to be fixed.
I could tell you so much more about our trip, but I am growing very tired now and want to get to the heart of our story. A few other things- we had to sit under an overpass while waiting out a tornado/hail storm/straight wind storm in KS/CO area, we met and talked w/ a retired couple from TN and it was so good to have some natural “southern” talk rolling out, we met a great conservative campground guy in WY who told our son we don’t have a president and then gave us a magnet that said “my dog is smarter than the president”. I know some of you might not find that funny, but only out here could you run into someone like that! We always enjoy talking with all kinds of people on our trips. Some of the beauty that we saw on this trip was our children playing Frisbee together into the night, sitting side by side on the camper couch (and it is tiny) watching a movie on Steve’s computer that we bought at Walmart one night, watching our children make memories and laugh together, seeing God’s beauty in the trees and in our children all at the same time. Oh, and one more thing- on the last day that we camped at a lower elevation, I played Frisbee for the first time ever with Prince 2. He didn’t know I could play! I actually was better at it than him. LOL! We had so much fun that morning. I was feeling so good. I had energy. I had feelings of good health. I was playing Frisbee with my son!
The day after we arrived home, I was already in pain from the elevation and lack of
oxygen. My health issues looked like they were going to come back again. 😦 Then Prince 4 came to me and asked me to look at a bite he had on his leg. I casually looked. It was a bulls-eye. I freaked out and screamed to get something to put on it right now as if that would stop what had already taken place. I knew. I knew what it was. I knew. I could not protect my son from it. I could not stop it. I cried. Then a few hours later I found a bulls-eye on my leg too. Mine was worse. How could this be, Lord? Why, Lord? Both of us? Why did you allow this? I thought I had asked for a ho-hum boring time. Is it over now? NO!!!!!!!!!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!! Not my son too! NO!!! I have been told through the years that I have had a lot of Lyme symptoms, but when I tested years ago it was negative. I do know that the tests were not that reliable back then and it also depends on when you test as well. Prince 4 had been bit by a tick when we lived in CT years ago as a toddler, but back then I didn’t know what I know now. No! This could not be happening to us.
The next day brought us into a Lyme doctor’s office. She started us on an antibiotic immediately. She also put Prince 3 on it since he was bit, but did not have a bulls-eye. To be honest, I had forgotten what he had said about the tick. I had thought he said it was on him and he washed it off, but he reminded me later that it did bite. The brain fog was setting in already. The doctor said she was most concerned with me because of my immune system being compromised already. She felt the boys would do really well and recover quickly. She diagnosed me with Chronic Lyme.
The next few days brought me tons of pain and fatigue as I took the antibiotic. I cried a lot. Prince 3 was doing well and Prince 4 seemed to be doing well too. Then one day Prince 4 told me that he was having tingling in his fingers, felt nauseus, and was feeling out of sorts. It sounded just like me. He was reacting that way because he too had Chronic Lyme, not just a new case of Lyme! I called the doctor and she told us to both go off the antibiotic. I decided to take one more dose because I was actually starting to feel better and wanted so badly to get better. I paid dearly that night and have ever since. I have been rushed to the doctor to get an IV, had my blood oxygenated, had pain, memory loss, tingling, lack of focus, almost panicky feeling, extreme nausea, brain “crawling” feelings, tingling in my neck and face and more. Prince 4 stood there and held my hands a couple days ago as I was going through this. He talked me through it. He has not had it as bad as me, but he has experienced some of the same symptoms as me on a lighter scale. He told me I’d be all right and to not panic as the symptoms took over my body. This is our eleven year old son who prayed for his baby sister and brother to be adopted, the one who was born deaf, the one who has always been our little cowboy herding cows at age 4, and is a tough guy with a massive heart inside. This is my son who will walk this Chronic Lyme course with me. This is my son who will pay for years to come for that walk in the woods and for that tick on his body in CT. For him I am thankful.
We also found a tick biting Seth on his head in his hair. We have sent the tick off to be tested and will know if he too, needs to be treated for Lyme and co-infections as well. It was at this point that I broke down and wanted to bang my head on the wall. I got mad. I yelled at God, “WHY????” Why did HE allow our children to suffer? Why not just me? I asked Him why we couldn’t still have some boring, down time without all the “build up our faith and share it with others” stuff. I wanted more time of ho-humness. But, it was time. Time for me to start sharing, teaching, and talking to others again about our walk of faith.
The next day I listened to Joey Feek sing, “It is Well” on the CD that Steve had given me as a 28th wedding anniversary gift in May. I had followed Joey and Rory’s story and was so saddened by what she went through and yet, encouraged as well. It was at that moment that I suddenly was able to view this walk we are going through right now in different eyes. It is well. In fact, it is well with my soul on this walk. I will walk this walk because He has called me to walk it. I will hold on tightly to the Lord through it all, because He will sustain me.
So, in case you are wondering, the ho-hum boredom that I prayed for is now officially over. Let the faith testing and walking begin again! It’s time!
Prince 4 and I struggle with memory and focus a lot these past few days. I feel as if I can’t learn anything new for awhile or try anything new until we get through this time of trial. I have times of nausea that are really extreme if you ask me, but I’ve never been through this before. I have lost my appetite. My brain “crawls” sometimes. I was told I still have another week before fevers may start to show up and if they do I need to embrace them. Lovely. Yes, I already had Lyme even though I didn’t know it for sure, but now that we are “poking the tiger” as my doctor says, I am gonna have one crazy ride. The plan? Two IVs a week for the next month or so, herbal antibiotics, supplements to support the immune system, detoxing, calming of the nervous system, possibly low-dose immunotherapy, and much more. Insurance? Doesn’t cover any of it. Prince 4 will do the protocol on a lesser degree. Prince 3 will finish his antibiotics and hopefully be free from any issues since he looks to be doing really well at this point. We are praying Seth doesn’t need to do treatment. We are still in search of that money tree. Haven’t found it yet, but we do have a God bigger than all of this that will guide us and provide for us on this walk.
Prince 2 asked me one day, “Mommy, why did you go for that walk in the woods?”. My eyes filled with tears and I said, “Because I wanted to make a beautiful memory with your brothers and sisters that day. I wanted to see the beautiful trees and leaves. I felt good enough to walk and I wanted to.” And then I walked away and cried. I cried for what we now have to face. I cried because I didn’t put spray on us that day or make us wear socks and long pants that day. I cried.
I have told the children that I am not going to be fearful for the Lord does not give you a spirit of fear. I will go into tick areas again. I will visit states that have lots of Lyme cases. I will not allow fear to keep me in one spot. I am trusting the Lord all the way.
I have only begun this walk of having Lyme and being newly infected with a second case of Lyme, but I will continue to march forward with our boys. It is scary at times. Lyme is wicked. At least now I have an answer as to why I have had so many health issues through the years off and on. Now it’s time to do battle.
It is well with my soul on this walk.