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The Season of Hagar

“So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.” Genesis 21:15-19

This year I obeyed God’s voice and by faith I left an Egypt behind. I fled a slavery that not only I have been bound to for a long time, but generations of my family. When God’s people fled the slavery of Egypt, they had for generations been abused, mistreated and enslaved. However, in order to flee slavery it meant fleeing into the desert, into the wilderness. When Hagar was thrust into the desert with her son she was cast out. We can enter into a desert either by necessity to leave a situation or because we have been rejected and cast out. Either way we find ourselves in a time in our life when we need food, we need water, we need something to wear, we need a safe place to sleep. We need. We need the basic necessities of life. Earlier, when Hagar was pregnant with her son she had fled Sarai because of Sarai’s harsh treatment of her, but it was not yet time for her to leave so God told her to go back. However, the first time Hagar was in the desert was when she met El Roi, The God Who Sees. He sees you. He sees you in the desert. El Roi is in the desert. He can help you.

I recently attended a women’s coffee connection at church and one of the women at my table’s discussion was talking about how she was studying Genesis with her church and how they had focused on hospitality. In ancient times it wasn’t like today. There weren’t gas stations or credit cards, there wasn’t an Amazon or even cars with paved roads. In ancient times hospitality was not just a nice Christian kindness, it was literally about survival. Hospitality and community become a necessary part of survival in the desert.

I have needed the hospitatlity of believers and my local community like never before as a single mom. It takes time to build a new life and as I desperately am working hard at trying to follow God’s lead for laying the foundations and building the walls of my new life I am realizing how my son and I are not going to survive this desert season without help. Somedays I really do feel like Hagar. I am so thankful God delivered me out of Egypt. I am so thankful to no longer be a slave, but I do get weary and I do get discouraged and at times extremely worried about how I am going to make it through the desert. How can my son and I make it to the promised land? Somedays it feels a lot harder being in the desert than other days. On the days when I feel weary and tired, on the days where I feel like I just don’t know how we are going to make it financially, like I’ve poured myself out to the max and things are still not working. On those days I have to remember all that God has done for me and give thanks. Like when the Israelites went three days without water after God’s amazing deliverance at the Red Sea. They went three days without water only to find bitter water. It wasn’t until afterward that God brought them to Elim, where 12 springs of water were waiting for them in the desert. Going those “three days” and finding “bitter water” can feel debilitating and terrifying…but we have to have faith in the God who has proven Himself faithful over and over again. God knew where the 12 springs of water were and he was leading them to those springs. We have to have faith.

“Then they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters. Exodus 15:27

What was one of the mistakes that God’s people continually made in the desert? Grumbling. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us that we have divinely spiritual weapons for the destruction of strongholds. One of those weapons is the weapon of thanksgiving. When we find ourselves in a desert place where it seems like we might not make it, thanksgiving can demolish the strongholds that would keep us trapped in that desert. God doesn’t want us to stay in the desert, if we heed His voice and follow Him then He will get us to the promised land. But, it is really important to give thanks instead of grumbling in the desert. Grumbling in the desert can actually cause us to stay there longer!

Personally, it is hard for me to ask for help. I hate to be an inconvenience or a burden, I don’t want to make people angry or annoyed. However, I am realizing that if I don’t ask for help, we are not going to make it through our desert because there will be times when we’ve “gone three days” and we are in need. Sometimes God will provide for us Himself, other times He will use people. Either way God has prepared a place for my son and I in the desert. He will never tell you to flee an Egypt without preparing the way for you first. If you were cast out, God knew you would be and He prepares the way ahead of time for those that love Him (Romans 8:28).

I cannot even begin to list the number of ways and people that God has sent into the life of my son to prepare the way, and in remarkable “God ways” that just testify to His glory and honor. Like the place we fled to, the day I called to tell her we were coming was the very day after her roommate told her she was moving on. Perfect timing happens when God is writing our story. Or the bed I got just this week for my son, a solid wood, hand-made sleigh style toddler bed. I needed one for my son and someone “happened” to ask if anyone needed a toddler bed. Really? Things like that don’t just happen. God is with us.

What it comes down to for each of us is are we really going to rely on El Roi or are we going to go back to Egypt. When the Israelites saw Pharaoh and his armies chasing after them they cried out “…it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness”. In other words “it would have been better to be in my comfort zone, preserve my pride, have more money, all of my Christmas decorations, my beloved possessions and…be mistreated and abused…than to die in the wilderness trying to get away”*. What was Moses’ response?

Do not fear. Stand by. See the salvation of the LORD.

If we choose to continue to follow Jesus to the promised land then it is going to be on His terms and sometimes that means being humbled and accepting something you would never have accepted in Egypt, and other times means being so incredibly blessed that you feel like a queen or a king in the desert!

When we are in need we can cry out to El Roi and stand on precedence in scripture and boldly come before that throne of grace.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6”

I think it is important to notate that a person can make a really big difference in our lives even if they only help us one time for our whole life, that was their role that God sent them to play in our lives, that is it. Other people will have much larger roles that last for a longer season or even for a lifetime. However, every single one of them was part of God’s plan in your life to give you a hope and a future as Jeremiah 29:11 talks about. We also get to be a part of other people’s lives, whether it is just for one time or for a lot of times. God gives us a hope and a future, if we surrender to Him and trust Him He will help us.

“You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance. The place O LORD, which You have made for Your dwelling, The sanctuary, O LORD, which Your hands have established.” Exodus 14:17

References and Notes:
*Pharaohs don’t typically just let their people go. The most dangerous time for a woman (not sure for a man) fleeing an abusive relationship is when she leaves. If she is lured back by her abuser’s remorse and sorrow or by the wealth and comfort of Egypt the manipulation and control and the abuse for both a woman or a man is likely to get even worse because the abuser realizes that their prey could get brave enough to leave. It is important to have a plan and to work with a professional or the domestic abuse hotline if at all possible. The Lord is our Deliver but we have to take steps of faith, He meets us there.

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Remember How Beautiful You Are

I want to be beautiful…for my future husband and for God. So when God called me this year into being a eunuch for Him for seven years I have been really struggling with something…with my desire to be beautiful for my husband. I will have lost all of my “most beautiful years” according to the world’s standard of beauty and aging before I even marry the man that the Lord has destined for me to marry….and my heart is truly broken over this loss of my “most beautiful years”. I am asking the Lord for me to still be so beautiful for my husband when I become his and for me to not follow the “normal” aging process of this day and age. When the Lord decides it is time for my husband and I to become one I want to just take my husband’s breathe away! I want to be a gift for my husband. A gift of beauty not only in my mind and heart but with my body too! I feel like this desire for our husband as women, to be beautiful for them, is from God. Marriage is a supposed to be a picture of Christ and the church. We are waiting for our Bridegroom (Jesus) to return and in the meantime God is sanctifying us or making us beautiful. My deep desire to be beautiful for my husband I feel like is a picture of this as well.

When I first voiced my brokenness over this to God, months ago, He brought me to 1 Peter 3 which talks about true beauty being in the conduct of a wife rather than her appearance:

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands.” I Peter 3:3-5

No matter how hard I fight it someday I will not be as physically beautiful as I am today, although I will be doing everything within my might to preserve my physical beauty for my husband for as long as I can! However, true beauty is most certainly in the heart. I could be breathtaking externally and repulsive internally. I want to first and foremost be beautiful in my heart which is a beauty that will never fade.

Still, as I struggle with my heart’s desire to be physically beautiful as well God has been telling me something. He has been telling me I am beautiful! My heart so deeply desires to be beautiful for my husband, but right now I do not have a husband…but I do have God and He is my stand-in husband during this time of singleness. Several times in the Old Testament God refers to Himself as being a husband to His people. Whether you are single or not, if you have a relationship with God, rest assured He wants to have a tender, intimate relationship with you and He wants to make you beautiful with His Spirit and with His word.

I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

God telling me I am beautiful has been restorative because for the last few years I have felt anything but beautiful. I have felt violated and stripped. I literally felt physically ugly. Finding out how fungus overgrowth had led to a body that was not fertile made me feel so gross physically inside too, that plus the extremely limited diet which led to hypothyroidism and fatigue, limited time for self-care and more things than I’d like to remember…I just felt ugly. I felt gross…and I felt stripped. The journey had revealed to me how I couldn’t eat bread, I couldn’t eat potatoes, I couldn’t eat sugar without breaking out in acne, experience extremely painful periods and not being able to have babies. My cultural heritage felt stripped away as I had to accept the fact that I might never eat a tamale ever again, or indulge in a sopapilla. I felt like the last part of my culture was being stripped away as I had left home years ago and no longer was physically present where mariachi music can be found on the airways or where I hear my dad speaking in Spanish even though I don’t really understand much of what he is saying to me. I just felt stripped. I had stopped wearing makeup because I didn’t want to get anything into my body that could somehow affect my son’s milk since he was so extremely sensitive. I stopped wearing my contacts because I was up around the clock pumping and making food from scratch. I just stopped…I stopped feeling beautiful. I was feverishly fighting for my son and beauty didn’t really have a place in my life. Other emotionally draining situations in my life further destroyed any sense of beauty that I had left. I felt like nothing but God was left for me to stand on, He was my Rock and my Fortress, but I felt stripped of everything but my Rock and I felt like there was no hope or reason for ever trying to be beautiful physically ever again.

Have you ever felt that way?

Our God can restore what has been taken from You. He can restore our sense of beauty. Zephaniah 3:17 says that God sings over us with loud singing and quiets us with His love. Let Him quiet you today with His love and let Him tell you that you are beautiful. We must receive this from Him. We can either keep our walls of lies up saying there is no reason to even try to be beautiful anymore or we can listen to our Bridegroom’s love song.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Recently a friend came over for lunch and on the way she bought the cutest little bouquet of flowers for me with a note that read “Just a reminder of how beautiful you are!”. This was so encouraging. Just like God sings over us with His love we can “sing” over one another with compliments of love too. I have been ministered to with compliments recently and it has been amazing how restorative they are. Compliments from friends, from fellow church members and even from complete strangers! Yesterday at Goodwill I was at the checkout and the cashier told me how beautiful my hair was. This was so nice of her, and timely because I had seen a picture of a friend’s daughter on Facebook whose hair had been professionally done and really was so beautiful. I had started to feel like my naturally wavy hair wasn’t all that great and then this cashier just genuinely told me what she was thinking in her mind. I think we need to start doing more of that. If we think another lady’s hair or face or outfit or whatever looks nice, tell her! I think we assume that since we can see how beautiful she is that she must be aware of it herself, but this is not always true!

I recently went on a trip to Alaska. While we were there we went to church. I had started attending this church when my son was three months old and we were literally just trying to survive as my son struggled to eat amongst many other issues. We had left Alaska in January, still in the midst of trying times. When we walked in, running late unfortunately, the man, my senior, that always stands next to the door and greets people exclaimed “you look…beautiful!”. He said it with such a genuine beautiful heart, it was not weird at all…and it was almost like he blurted it out before he could stop himself, he emphasized the word beautiful, letting it linger for a moment on his lips – like a reaction more than a thought. My heart was deeply encouraged by his brotherly affection. During that same trip a dear friend of mine took a moment to tell me how beautiful I am as we hung out in her kitchen and a  week later as I sat on my therapist’s couch my therapist told me how beautiful I am and I could tell she was heart-felt in her expression as well. As I went to the car after therapy that day I sat there for a moment and thanked God for these people who took a moment to tell me how beautiful I am. As I drove away from my therapist’s work that day, feeling beautifully encouraged and beautifully restored a song came on the Christian radio station saying “you are beautiful” over and over again. I felt like God was telling me He finds me to be beautiful too, just like that man at church and just like my therapist. I paused and I took a picture at the stop light, but I’m not going to share that picture here because that picture, that specific moment was between me and God. I don’t have to tell people which picture of me that was. I don’t have to herald it as proof of the moment. God and I have intimate moments, where He can tell me I am beautiful and it means the world to me but that moment doesn’t belong to the world. It belongs to me and Him.

I have actually felt convicted about this as I have take a few selfies where I felt I looked extra-beautiful in that moment and then posted them as my public profile picture. I just felt like in particular a few of these photos were so beautiful that they needed to belong only for the eyes of my future husband and for God so I actually went back recently and deleted the photos I felt this way about.

I started this blog out posting about how I want to be beautiful for two men – for God (Yes, I know He is technically not a man) and for my husband (who I will not be joined with for some time)…but I don’t want to just be beautiful for them I want to honor them. I want to honor them with my beauty and to steward the measure of beauty that God has entrusted to me in a way that honors my husband and honors my God. Even though my husband is not my husband right now, he is still my husband, just not yet…and I can still honor him with how I steward my beauty right now. Someday when I am married I will be able to unleash my beauty upon my husband during those intimate moments that do not belong to the world, but until that day comes I need to tend to it in a way that is holy and pure. Will I sometimes miss the mark as I make the decision to post a photo and later regret it, probably, but I will be trying my best to be holy, pure and honorable while at the same time contending for my beauty by doing all that I can to be beautiful for my husband when we are made one, and for my God both now and forever.

In the end any beauty we have is a gift from God and for God and His glory. May He be glorified and honored in any measure of beauty that He gives me grace to have. Honestly, I feel like God wants to help me to be beautiful for my husband too! I feel like He wants me to honor Him and my husband by taking care of the gift of beauty that God has entrusted me with. We each have been given a measure of a variety of things and we are called to be stewards of that measure. Do things happen that are beyond our control? Absolutely. Do we live in a fallen world? Absolutely. But to not take care of what God has given us with excellence is to treat lightly that which was a gift from the Lord Himself.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
“Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.”
I Corinthians 6:19-20 AMPC

So beautiful, remember Whose glorious and gorgeous image you bear today and let Him beautify your heart, your mind and your body for His glory…Remember how beautiful you are!

The Great Wrestler

You are the Great Wrestler Oh Lord, You wrestle with the sinner’s soul. You don’t grow weary, You don’t give up, Your passion, Your might, Your fury are incredible. Who can stand against You? What weapon of darkness can prevail against You? You wear victory like a crown and by Your touch we are healed. The souls You have secured rejoice, the mighty waters roar, the earth trembles, the heavens declare, Who is Mighty like our God, Who but He is worthy of our praise? Majestic King, Mighty Warrior, Prince of Peace. You reconcile your enemies unto yourself with the blood of Your Son. You call us up from the dead, You place a new heart within us and Your glory upon us. Praise Him together, clap your hands, break forth in song. Worship Him all you nations, shout His name, Victory has come, VICTORY HAS COME!

The Beautiful

The hem of His flowing royal robe may be beautiful but the Him seated on the throne is astoundingly Gorgeous. I want to be clothed with Him, and not just at the hem. I want to draw closer to Him. To the Gorgeous One.

There is the miraculous, there is the beautiful, there is the divine found at the hem…but let us not stop there. Let us continue to draw closer to Him. The closer to Him and the further from the hem we go, the more of the beauty and honor and righteousness that adorn Him begin to also adorn us…and the longer the train of His glory that stretches behind you as you press ahead from the hem to the Him, the more of His honor and glory you can begin to share with others. 

Oh how divine a prospect, to be able to share the honor, the gorgeousness of God and His overflowing royal robes all around us. The train of His robe is long. There is room for more, much more. Come join us in the Beautiful. ❤️

Dayenu

One of the most encouraging and most beautiful blogs that I have ever read is called “It Would Have Been Enough” by Nichole Sawatzky. In it she explains that the Hebrew passover song “Dayenu” declares that it would have been enough even if God had just parted the red sea, or just fed the Israelites manna and nothing more. Each miracle, each provision, each manifestation of His presence during the Exodus into the nation’s God-given destiny was a gift that would have been enough to greatly and deeply praise the Almighty King of the universe even if that was it!

I would like to make my own version of Dayenu:

If He had just healed my broken heart of infertility,
and not allowed me to conceive
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just allowed me to conceive and to feel the precious kicks of my little one,
and not allowed me to hear my little one cry
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just allowed my little one to breathe,
and not given me an Owlet Oxygen monitor through an Instagram contest
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just alerted me to the problem with my newborn’s oxygen saturation which saved his life more than once,
and not led me to discover that my newborn was on the brink of starving
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If he had just helped me find out my newborn was hungry and not getting enough milk,
and not provided the special needs bottle Caleb needed to eat without hours of screaming
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just led me to the special needs bottle Caleb needed to thrive,
and not warned me against giving my newborn wheat cereal in his bottle as advised
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just warned me not to give my son wheat cereal in his bottles,
and not told me my son had food allergies before the doctors caught on
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just revealed to me that my son had developed food allergies before the doctors caught on,
and not healed his oxygen saturation levels

–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just healed my son’s oxygen levels without invasive medical care after 12 long weeks,
and not revealed to me the generational root to his feeding difficulties

–Dayenu, it would have been enough

If He had just revealed to me the root of our feeding difficulties known as tongue tie,
and not warned me against giving Caleb Omeprazole
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just stopped at the warning me about the omeprazole when I decided to listen to the doctors instead,
and not led me to a diet that can deeply nourish in spite of and even reverse the scope of food reactions that resulted
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just led me to the healing and nourishing diet plan,
and not helped me get Caleb back on my breastmilk even with doctors saying it would be like winning the lottery
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just shown me what to eat so Caleb could drink breastmilk again,
and not provided me with a hospital grade pump

–Dayenu, it would have been enough

If He had just provided me with a free hospital grade breast pump even when no place would take my insurance referral,
and not helped me find the support group I did for Caleb’s healing journey
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If he had just led me to the support group,
and not provided a doctor who takes our insurance and knows how to help Caleb
 –Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If he had just led me to the doctor who understands what is going on in Caleb’s body,
and not shown me the root cause of my infertility at the same time then
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

And Dayenu continues forever and ever. God’s wonderful miracles and works of provision deserve all of our attention and glory in continual praise. He is the master of the universe, time, and space;  how great and mighty is He that He takes such detailed care for each of us, Who loves us and speaks plans that are good for us. Let us press in to our Good Good Father and contend in prayer for everything He bought for us and for our children on the cross. Let us not forget one of His benefits.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
The Lord performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.

Psalm 103:2-6

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Winning the Lottery

“It would be like winning the lottery”…the doctor’s words sunk in slowly…Just the month prior I had immediately gone on an elimination diet when Caleb’s oxygen jumped up, lips turned red and swallowing issues disappeared when I put him “temporarily” on ready to feed alimentum. I had immediately put myself on the Dr. Sears elimination diet which takes out the top 8 allergens then later also taken out corn per the gi specialist’s recognition of why Caleb couldn’t handle the powdered version of the hypoallergenic formula…But it started to sound like “temporary” wasn’t such as easy word, although it can take up to 3 weeks for a food protein to be eliminated, the latest try for him to get back on my milk after a 3 week window was met with bumps all over his body and him itching his face and head while he was eating. And I had eliminated the elimination diet foods down to only lamb, zucchini and quinoa…then as I kept him on my milk he started itching between meals and in his sleep and the bumps started to stay and spread to more places. I was advised to keep him off my milk until allergy testing was accomplished…and to not get my hopes up, that typically in cases like this the allergen couldn’t be pinpointed. Another doctor told me that although he was a man of faith and wouldn’t say it was impossible that “it would be highly unusual” for Caleb’s allergies to be pinpointed and get on my breastmilk again…in all 3 doctors told me something along these lines.

However, God isn’t intimidated by the lottery and He is really into the highly unusual – in fact the impossible – like virgins giving birth and seas parting to expose dry land…THAT is MY GOD, the ONE TRUE GOD- as it says in Isaiah 41:10

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

MY GOD is the King of the Universe, He is my adoptive Dad, and I because of that I’m seated in heavenly places with Christ. MY DAD up in Heaven has plans and thoughts about me that are for my good and for my welfare. I can trust Him. I do not need to be afraid. MY GOD healed my son in March when things were about to get unnecessarily invasive by showing us that the key to his healing was my baby’s diet…How little did I know what that healing journey would entail though, I thought it was immediately finished, done and golden in 3 weeks…Well, IT WAS FINISHED — in the spirit realm, but in order for Caleb’s healing to completely manifest I would have to and am actively waiting upon the Lord in prayer and in allowing Him to lead my mother’s intuition for what to feed my son.

I wish I could say that my faith never faltered but as days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months without being able to get Caleb back on my milk I would go back and forth between rock solid faith in His healing and rock solid faith that God would reveal to me what to eat and then back to battling fear, discouragement and despair – temptations to give up, to stop pumping…But God promises that if we stand firm in battle and raise that shield of faith that He will meet us there, even if our shield is as small as a mustard seed and He will shield us and protect us and boost our faith! I would cry out to God in tears and He would meet me there. I would praise Him and worship Him and He would meet me there. I would pray and pray and He would meet me there…

It is hard to pump every time you feed your baby formula and then because he is too small to sit on his own having to sit him in some sort of baby chair or device in order to pump even though they are a bit too big for him because I couldn’t lay him down due to his silent reflux…even if he fussed and wanted to be held and couldn’t understand why he had to sit there, or was bored being put in the same place over and over…it was heart breaking. Of course since I have to pump and bottle feed even when he is on my milk I was already having to do that, but with me having to put him through that and not even being able to use my milk — that is just extra hard. But let me say this, God provided! Caleb started sitting on his own at just 4 months!!! Typically this happens at 7 months. This allowed his muscle development and posture to be protected and for him to be able to be entertained and to play with more independence while I pumped. Thank you Lord!! God also provided Caleb with impressive head control ever since he was teeny tiny so when I was putting him in a chair at just 2 and 3 months he held his head up just fine, like a champ! He is a super strong little dude! Waking up in the middle of the night and early hours to pump even as he slept was not easy either, again not even being able to feed my baby the milk…but it was a lot easier not having to wake and feed my baby who is already a slow eater and then on top of that pumping. God would wake me up and help me get up without waking up Caleb so I could pump. God has allowed Caleb to sleep like a champ at night so even with the extra pump sessions to protect my supply, I still get enough sleep! Thank You Lord! It was also hard emotionally and physically as my meager diet took its toll on my body and mind with cravings and rapid weight loss, the tiredness, the hunger I felt at times as I desperately tried to eliminate as much as possible while also trying to get enough to eat, I just wanted to get a base point to start from so I could start adding food back in. I had eliminated viatmins and supplements due to corn content as well so I also knew I needed to start to add foods back in to protect my bones etc. plus the milk would need to have vitamins in it for Caleb. I had to pump no matter what even as my own body suffered and my baby had to endure shelf ready, highly processed food, and it was hard. BUT, I couldn’t give up, I felt strongly in my heart that my breastmilk was the key and that God knew the elusive combination.

Then on top of the strain of the elimination diet and pumping without feeding my own milk, his silent reflux started getting really bad ’cause his body could tell the milk protein was still there in the rtf alimentum even though they were essentially pre-digested in the form of hydrolysates. Formula was in his sinuses, coming out of his nose as he would sneeze and ultimately he started to refuse to eat because of the discomfort in his throat. He started to get constipated and his weight percentage stopped climbing as it should…I was given 2 weeks and if he didn’t stop refusing to eat after 2 to 4 ounces he would need to be “scoped” which meant anesthesia and intubation as a camera was placed down his throat…invasive loomed once again. This time it would have been necessary — but I certainly wanted to avoid it at all costs. The 2 week window would end before the allergy appointment even took place…which meant it seemed inevitable.

So my baby was barely eating ’cause his throat hurt from the stomach acid and food coming up into it and his sinuses, my attempts with only corn finished lamb, zucchini, quinoa and rice crackers had failed and I was supposed to wait until we saw the allergist which surely meant the scope. We were also about to run out of $420 worth of free hypoallergenic formula God had provided…I know God is perfect in his provision and that He was in charge so I decided to take the risk and try my milk again even though the specialist had warned me that his reactions were getting progressively more severe…I had been researching what causes baby allergies, whether it be in the gi tract or otherwise. During this process I had joined a Facebook group for the GAPS diet. One of the moms told me to consider salicylates. I had never heard of these but did some further research and since my current diet, which was nill to none, hadn’t worked I decided to try grass finished lamb that was processed with hot water (not vinegar), brussel sprouts, soaked and sprouted quinoa and a little maple syrup. I landed on this combination based on a severely limited version of an elimination diet called The Failsafe Diet which eliminates salicylates, amines and histamines. I decided to put my faith in God and try again and pray with all my heart for it to work…and…IT WORKED! PRAISE THE LORD IT WORKED!!! No itching, no bumps, no rash, no oxygen dips!

Selah (Let’s pause, reflect and just praise God here).

After getting him back on my milk I needed to get more fat back in my diet so I decided to try to add in avocado and “allergen free” chocolate…hives!!! Then Bok Choy…hives! and Jerusalem Artichoke, just a tiny bit…red rash and itching! I wasn’t completely convinced and sure about the salicylate connection though until Caleb tested negative on the skin prick tests which is expected with sals since it is this chemical in the foods versus the food protein. The only thing that connects zucchini to the foods that reacted after I got him back on my milk is salicylates. God helped me figure this out even though I am certainly not a trained allergist, gi doc or naturopath by any means. God knew the winning numbers and He showed me to help my baby who was reacting to every formula out there. THANK YOU LORD for protecting my milk supply, for the faith to keep me pumping, and for allowing my baby to thrive. I can never, ever, even come close to thanking you enough…

YOU OH LORD are my Baby’s HEALER, YOU are JEHOVAH RAPHA. You are the Banner of me which is Love and YOU ARE MY GOD.

Apparently baby food allergies begin in a compromised gut (outside of DNA determined conditions that is)…and antibiotics kill good gut flora (in addition to C-sections causing a gut that is not populated as it should be, thankfully this was not a factor for us to consider). I wish I had known about the affect of antibiotics though so I could have administered probiotics both in my diet and directly right after Caleb was in the PICU, then on caffeine, then on corn-free omeprazole. I wrote in my last post how there was a delay in into omeprazole until after his oxygen went up so I didn’t end up having to put him on it...turns out God was protecting Caleb from the regular version of the medicine because it contains corn and corn disables Caleb’s ability to swallow well, causing choking, gagging, coughing and ultimately a hard time breathing when combined with silent reflux due to other foods (this statement has been redacted, God told me to not give Caleb omeprazole because of the devastating affects of acid blockers to the gut microbiome, the redacted statement was false testimony and it has been made right in the blog post “take it back”). I do feel that his salicylate allergy appeared after the omeprozale was introduced, but I understand that medicine involves risks and benefits and his reflux was so bad that he needed it to protect his throat and its components, but there are the consequences. If it weren’t for getting the “secret combo” to a perfectly custom breastmilk we would be in real trouble. Caleb can’t swallow with Neocate and was in too much pain to eat well on ready to feed alimentum…plus the acid blocker meds were negatively affecting his gut flora and then with solids introduced at six months compromised stomach acid would prevent them from being digested enough before entering an already compromised gut. For more information on the details about the gut and its relation to allergies, intolerances, reflux and also autoimmune and neurological conditions (not just for babies!) I highly recommend you read the “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” book by Natasha Campbell-McBride. I really feel like God provided this information to me for Caleb’s healing as I, along with many others, prayed for that healing.

I know with all my heart that God can, has and still does supernaturally heal ailments. In a millisecond, he can and has raised the dead, healed the lamed, the blind, the barren, the possessed, in fact every person that came to Jesus for healing was healed. However, God also commanded the commander of armies, Naaman, to humble himself and dip in the filthy Jordan to be healed. Sometimes it takes work, it takes humility, it takes time, determination and sacrificial obedience—and most of all it takes determined, long-suffering faith for the healing to manifest. That is the path God has put Caleb and I on. It is not easy on our diet, for example Caleb is not allergic to peanuts or almonds, but peanuts and almonds are high in salicylates so I’m making cashew butter and cashew flour from scratch. I’m learning how to properly prepare food for optimal digestion of vitamins and minerals by soaking the nuts in salt, and soaking and lacto-fermenting grains and legumes with homemade breastmilk whey (it’s dairy free)…I’m learning A LOT and eating in ways I’ve never eaten before. God has provided everything we need. It is not a coincidence that a nearby farmer’s co-op provides corn free pork processed in hot water, including bones for bone broth and fat for making lard, they also provide soy and corn free eggs and that a local grocery store stocks locally grown fresh mung-bean sprouts, grass-finished water-processed lamb, and organic rutabaga which is low in sals and the latter an important ingredient for my baking and broths.

Will you join in me in praying for Caleb’s total and complete healing to manifest over the next few months? Caleb did test positive for corn with the patch testing as the gi doc had already determined plus a trace for wheat and he had some redness with dairy and egg whites which we have figured out both cause the bad reflux so they are intolerances. We are actually even now in recovery from egg whites because I had decided to try them and he had started to refuse to eat again, not just his bottles but food with spoons as well…so the winning combination: a corn free, dairy free, wheat free, egg white free, and low salicylate version of BABY GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) DIET is what we are on now. I’ve learned from other allergy baby moms that allergies can change. So please pray for Caleb’s to go away completely and for no new ones to surface, this means praying fro Caleb’s gut to heal and if there has been a blood/brain barrier breach for that to heal as well. Please pray for God to help his body and mind to allow him to receive the bone broth and other key healing foods that he needs. His pediatrician let me know that between 6 and 9 months is a critical time for digestive enzymes to start to populate a baby’s gut that weren’t present before, but there hasn’t been a lot of research on how this is triggered and happens. For some GAPS patients they have to be on probiotics and enzymes their whole lives, please pray for Caleb’s gut flora and enzymes to be restored, this is critical to his total healing. I’m so thankful God revealed so many answers for Caleb so early. His pediatrician told me at his 4 month well-baby that it is highly unusual for so many things to have been figured out so early-on. Prayer makes all the difference between health and oppression. Thank you for your prayers. Prayers have made all the difference, literally from Caleb’s first breathe. Thank you Lord.

I am humbly grateful to JEHOVAH JIREH, my Provider, My Hope, My Victory, My Son’s Healer.

May all praise, and all glory and all honor that ever leaves my lips be forever and only to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Praise Him.

Image

Red Lips

I didn’t know my son had red lips until he was 12 weeks old…He is now 13 weeks and I still am taken aback (in a good way) by his red lips, they look so out of the ordinary–so absolutely beautiful because red lips means oxygen and oxygen means healing, divine and supernatural healing.



When I posted my last blog I talked about how my son and I were hidden together in the Rock of Ages, but I had no idea how much I was going to learn about what that means over the next few months, nor how much I would learn about God’s providence or God being my son’s strength…Around the time that I posted that I had started to realize that my newborn baby boy was not sleeping enough. Out of desperation to sleep I had started to look up how much a newborn should on average be sleeping, my son was barely sleeping at just under a month. I thought it was the caffeine medication he was on and I started to try everything in my power to help him sleep from swaddling and rocking him on the yoga ball or in the dark with the water running so long that my arm would get stuck in a pain from holding him. I wasn’t even able to eat or go to the bathroom unless I let my baby cry or unless my husband was home and able to make me a sandwich to bring me while I nursed or rocked our son. We even moved my husband’s beer fridge out of the garage into the nursery in another desperate attempt to help me grab a snack (2 months later I threw out the food that was in there) because I hadn’t had time to eat it. Something was wrong, I just didn’t realize how wrong. In addition one of my breasts was badly cracked, 4 cracks, one of them right through the middle and a portion of the nipple had come off. I had even received special supplies from the wound care clinic to try to help it heal, but nothing was working. I didn’t understand why God wasn’t answering my prayers for my nipple to heal or for my son to sleep. I knew that scripture says that if we pray something according to God’s will it will be done, so how come it wasn’t God’s will for my baby to sleep or for my nipple to heal?

During this trying time of almost no sleep, no self care, and a crying baby that would scratch at my chest and scream and try to nurse even though he just had almost every time I tried to get him to sleep in a wrap God gave me a scripture to hang onto:

Do everything without murmuring or questioning [the providence of God], 15 so that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, among whom you are seen as bright lights [beacons shining out clearly] in the world [of darkness]. Philippians 2:14

This scripture became my lifeline, every time I was tempted to despair I would remind myself to trust in God’s providence even though this didn’t seem to have an end in site or any solution that worked. I hated sitting in the dark with him to get him to sleep, but any light would stimulate him and make him stare at it. One afternoon when I was rocking him in the dark with the block-out curtains down in our room I had left the door open because I didn’t want to be in total darkness – not again. It just so happened that the light from the sun moved onto the door and that little light softly and beautifully illuminated our room as my son slept and I bounced…I had been using the time on the ball to pray, and I felt like God was telling me that it may be dark on the ball on this side, but in the spirit realm we were a ball of light because the Holy Spirit was in us and all around us.

Finally when my baby was six weeks old I decided I had to pump and bottle feed in order for my nipple to heal. This led to 2 things, I researched how many ounces a day my baby should be getting and solutions for how to get my baby to stop pinching my nipples. That is when I read that a baby that pinches a nipple can constrict the flow of milk so that it is like they are drinking out of a coffee straw…then later that night I saw an article that listed signs of a starving baby – stick like limbs, green watery poop etc. I conducted some experiments with changing his nursing position and did conclude that he was constricting the flow, my heart felt so heavy, broken within me. Sure enough once I started bottle-feeding he started sleeping!!! I had brought him to the doctor several times in January but it was never caught that he was failing to thrive because God gave Caleb strength to stay awake way more than a newborn should to eat constantly and for long periods of time in order to survive and not start losing weight. I don’t know what would have happened if he hadn’t had that strength, I don’t want to know, God gave him what he needed. Praise God that HE knew and HE provided a shot of caffeine everyday for my baby to help him stay awake and keep on fighting. The LORD IS my son’s strength.

During this time of serious sleep deprivation I learned a lot about the cleft of the Rock. It is not a hard, cold place, like a cold but safe cave in rock. It is not just a safe place, or just a comfortable place, it is literally being held in the arms of God Himself. He did provide, even in the tough times and the smallest of ways throughout that time. We each have a choice whether or not to radically trust God even when it feels like our prayers aren’t being answered and when we are under intense physical and mental pressure. If we do decide to set our heart on trusting and obeying Him then He WILL provide. He IS Jehovah Jireh. It may not feel like he is providing, it certainly didn’t when I gave my non-sleeping baby caffeine everyday and when my breast continued to get worse than better – but God used that breast to make me pump and bottle-feed, and that was what my baby needed.

The bottle-feeding honeymoon didn’t last long, my baby had a constant stream of milk coming out of both corners of his mouth and he would scream and scream when he was eating from the amount of air he was swallowing. Apparently his high palate made bottle-feeding difficult, not just nursing. I felt desperate, how was I supposed to feed my baby! I resorted to using a syringe, but once again God stopped in and helped me find the haberman bottle online, the first time I tried to buy it I got the notification that it wouldn’t ship to Alaska. But then a few hours later apparently that company changed their minds cause I got free expedited shipping with Amazon Prime. Then a few weeks later I found a place where they were on clearance locally, still expensive, but cheaper than Amazon! Once again the providence of Jehovah Jireh saved my baby and made it easier on me than having to just wash and clean 3 bottles over and over, 5 was much easier to handle. 🙂

Then the snacking began. The new bottle prevented air intake and decreased the choking, sputtering and gagging, plus the flow of milk all over out of his mouth, neck and chest, but then it felt like we were going back to eating all the time and having a hard time sleeping. I started researching online and I found a blog about silent reflux. It sounded like what was going on and would explain the intermittent projectile vomiting, the on-going coughing – both without any indication of sickness…the gagging and choking. I made a same day appointment…but the doctor wasn’t so sure, but he scheduled a swallow test. In the meantime the snacking and everything continued. I felt like I should try to put him on a schedule, but he was a newborn still and feed on demand was what I was told over and over. It wasn’t until his therapist had me try to get him to eat faster and he started to projectile vomit again that we were given the green light to a feeding schedule vs the rooting. Apparently silent refluxers may eat to comfort themselves and tend to overeat! This made a huge difference, my son started to actually eat, play then sleep – at two months old we finally started to leave chaos behind and enter into a lifestyle that would allow us to leave the house and get more sleep (we were getting more than his first moth, but his naps were so short still and the nights were still frequent waking as well because he was never full from the snacking habit). Miraculously my baby even started sleeping 6 hours sometimes, and then by 3 months 8 hours at night! This was the same baby that pretty much did NOT sleep his first month of life without major intervention and then not well at all his second month…miraculous!

Around the time that I started bottle-feeding my baby’s oxygen started to desaturate again, the car seat, the changing table, while he napped. This in addition to coughing, gagging, choking. The doctors were not sure what was the direct cause of the desats and he stayed on the caffeine. Grunting in his sleep, cyanosis, and his heart heart had started to drop on top of everything. Things were going to start getting invasive if the doctors couldn’t find an answer soon. On March 1 sent out a prayer alert asking for prayer for quick answers, that night I started to cry as my son slept soundly with oxygen at just 92% for an hour and pale…but then I felt like I should praise God in faith and so I did. Then the next night that song, the one from his birth, came on and I felt like God wanted me to sing that song again, I was tempted to go brush my teeth and pump etc. but I started to sing “There is Power in the Name of Jesus” and to pray, and to declare healing for my baby – and I felt the Spirit move. I prayed hard over every part of him, for his heart, his lungs, his throat, his brain, his mouth, his tongue, his larynx, his esophagus, his trachea, his bronchial tubes – to be under the authority of the Holy Spirit – in subject to God and for there to be complete and utter healing – here is the email I sent out the next day:

Thank you everyone for praying, I’m putting my faith in God for complete and utter healing and deliverance as of last night in, as Laverne says the immaculate name of Jesus Christ. I wanted answers,  but now I just want the upcoming tests to be ones that show this healing and for his pulse oximeter to be redeemed from a device of alarm and fear to be one of joy, a testimony of the power of our Jesus Christ. Pray for me as I rely on God’s strength to keep my shield of faith raised over my household in praise of our God. Thank you Terri for the words of promise in Psalm 91 to pray over my son, God is good and He WILL be massively glorified through Caleb Gabriel. Praise the Lord for His providence, for His healing and for His authority over our every breathe.
For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen. —‭Romans‬ ‭11:36

God answers prayer. Caleb’s oxygen started doing well, really well, 96, 97% except one night when I struggled with fear and it was at 94%. The quick answers also began. The green watery poo had come back and I was suspecting the fat content in my milk was low because we had been busy with appointments so I had allowed myself to go long periods without pumping because I was getting enough volume for multiple bottles. I decided to do formula for a few days so i could get my pumping back on track and the fat content back up. I noticed Caleb’s fussiness increase a lot. Then my husband accidentally bought a pro-sensitive formula. I decided to give it a try. We immediately saw a decrease in fussiness and not only fussiness but his grunting while he was eating, plus the raised patch of dry skin between his eyes started to look better and more like just a patch of dry peeling skin versus raised like a wart or something….I decided to buy some liquid alementum and try that for two weeks instead of the pro-senstive…before my eyes I watched the skin between my sons eyebrows turn smooth  in just an afternoon, even though I’d been putting oil on it for weeks…AND his oxygen shot up to 98, 99, 100% at night during deep sleep!!!! PLUS his lips turned red, dark beautiful red! I’ve looked back at past photos and can find some with color in his lips, but most of the time they were pink, or even less than pink sometimes…I had just gotten used to seeing pale lips…my heart breaks when I realize this but then deeply and profoundly rejoices because again GOD KNEW what color lips he gave my son and GOD SAVES and if our GOD IS FOR US WHO CAN BE AGAINST US? Once again God used what looked like a problem with my milk to provide an answer, once again I was floored. There IS Power in the Name of Jesus, let me say it again — there is POWER IN THE NAME OF JESUS, to break EVERY chain!! I immediately started an elimination duet and decided to ask the doctor once again to let Caleb go off the caffeine and to not start a new medication that was already at the pharmacy – but get this had been delayed so that we had to wait to pick it up AFTER the weekend that my husband bought the wrong formula. That’s right. In light of the obvious change linked to diet we got to go off caffeine – cold turkey – no weaning, this is after a .10 ml a week weaning had been scheduled and then postponed. Praise the Lord!

THEN on Sunday the 12th I had determined to meet a friend at her church, it would be the first time Caleb and I went to church since he was born. Another friend Barb had told me she went to another church and I decided I would visit that one the next week with her. Well God had other plans, he had a divine appointment you see for Caleb and I to testify. It is by the blood of the lamb and our testimony that we triumph over the enemy! Caleb was crying and the other church was closer so I decided to go there instead of the one I had planned on, turns out it was a testimony service. Caleb and I had never attended that church before, but I felt like God wanted me to get up. Fear and doubt didn’t want me to so I made sure to get up and be the very first person to go – obey God fast and let the Holy Spirit to the talking (can I get an amen?!). Later during the testimony service the pastor actually stopped and said he had a song to sing for someone, a promise from God. I believe this was a promise for Caleb and I. I had never heard this song before, but now I’m declaring it, not just singing it!

Be not dismayed whatever betide
God will take care of you
Beneath His wings of love abide
God will take care of you

God will take care of you
Through everyday o’er all the way
He will care for you
God will take care of you

Through days of toil when heart doth fail
God will take care of you
When dangers fierce your path assail
God will take care of you

God will take care of you
Through everyday o’er all the way
He will care for you
God will take care of you

God will take care of you
He will
God will take care of you
He will

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

Praise God. Again I say praise Him and rejoice. Dance and sing for joy!