Thursday, February 28, 2008

"WHAT'S A MOTHER TO DO?

What is a Mom to do when she is faced with 3 sick boys? How does she get it all to make sense? How does she get it all put into perspective, and learn from it? How does she cope day to day, week to week, year to year? How does she get it to all make sense when since the time she became a mother, she has been tending to sick children?

I shared with you recently how God has directed my life, in regard to my children. I have a few more things I'd like to share with you. These are some of the things we learned by trial and error. Some of the things, God just revealed to us and we knew it was the right thing to do.
*************************************************************************

1. I am so blessed that my family lives here in the same town. Don's parents live with Jesus now, but mine are here. They have always been available to help and offer support and guidance. My sister and her husband are always here to help, too. So we have always felt we had plenty of people to call on at a minutes notice.

2. I have friends who go beyond what friendship means, and are always here to lift me up. They look after me and keep my spirits up...they listen and don't judge.

3. As much as my children suffered, they also learned lessons that they may not have learned otherwise. They know what it is to be sick and have to stay in a hospital. They know how it feels to be different...to look different...to feel bad and not be able to play. They have an empathy with others that comes from living it themselves. They have a brotherly love for one another, but, also a different kind of love... because, they understand what the other is going through.

4. They learned that God does not promise that we will always be healthy. He doesn't promise that we won't hurt. But, He does promise that He will meet our every need. When the boys were younger, we kept a chart on the refrigerator. When a need arose, we would add it to the chart...and when God provided a way..we added that too. So, they heard about this concept, they saw it written and they lived it. The evidence of God keeping his promises was right in front of them.

5. They have seen healing. God chose to heal Adam, even though we were told we'd have less than 2 years. They've seen spirit triumph over adversity. God gave Ian such a vibrant personality that many times people would not even see his scars. They have seen God be silent. There are hosts of people praying and pleading with God to heal Alex. But God has not answered as we would like. Still, He meets our needs and He gives us grace and strength to endure. They have seen our faith remain strong as we continue to praise God for his blessings.

6. They know how blessed they are to have been born into a Christian family in America. Even having to endure what they have, there has always been a hand to hold, and a lap to climb up in. There has always been someone there to wipe their tears. They have always had food to eat and clothes to wear and a nice home to live in. Not a bad life, even if you are sick.

7. They truly learned that the doctors and nurses were there for their benefit. This is one of the ways God provides for our care. Even when procedures hurt, they were never allowed to be unkind to the one performing said task. Of course, they would cry, and be comforted, but treating the caregiver unkindly was not an option. They also have always had a voice. We felt it was important for them to be able to say how they felt about what was happening to them. We made sure they had a chance to speak to the Doctors and nurses themselves. They could ask whatever questions they wanted to, and get their own answers. When it was possible they got to make decisions as to their care. It may be a trivial thing to us, but to them, it was a chance to have a small bit of control.

8. The boys knew that Don and I would always be totally honest with them about their treatment. If it was going to be painful, we said so. We devised a scale of pain and they knew where on the scale this procedure would fall. Because we were honest when things DID hurt, they could believe us when we said it would NOT hurt. We felt so strongly about this and still do. Kids are tougher than you think. And they can 'rise to the occasion' so to speak. Give them credit and give them honesty.

9. There was a certain level of behavior that had been set in our family from day one. We had rules to follow about acceptable behavior. Our boys were well behaved and fun to be around because we taught them how to behave in different situations. Now, they were no angels, and still got their share of time outs and corrections, but they knew what was expected and what the consequences were if they chose otherwise. Sometimes, it was worth it to them to test the waters. And so, since a great deal of our time was spent in hospitals and clinics and treatment rooms, we established the rules for these places also. And, we stuck by those. This was our reasoning. When a child s sick, his world is rocked and a lot of things do not make sense any more. Many things have to change. But, the more that you can continue with the normal routine, the better. So, that's what we did. Some kids become brats when they are ill, and quickly learn to manipulate the adults who naturally feel sorry for them. Even though we had to make some concessions to the illnesses, our basic rules of behavior stayed the same. And rules were to be followed whether you were at home or in the hospital. I hope this doesn't sound harsh to you because I am here to testify that a child feels safer and more comfortable when as much of his normal routine as possible can continue.

10. We believe that because God has blessed us, we must bless others. God is able to use our situation to minister to others. And, so, we have gone to those whose children are diagnosed with cancer and shared our lessons learned. We have pictures of all the stages of Ian's reconstruction, and we go to the hospital and take these to encourage new parents when their child has the same affliction. We have been able to point several people in the direction of our good doctors and hospitals where they have also found help.
But most of all, our family can stand as a testament to God's grace and goodness...to His strength and support...to His healing powers....and His all-encompassing love that wraps you up in His peace.
******************************************************************************

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God".
2 Corinthians 1: 3-4

6 comments:

Lynne said...

I admire you so much.

Jill@Who Could Ask for Anything More said...

Wow- what a wonderful testament to your faith and your family. I didn't realize all of your sons had challenges at times, and have really been blessed reading these posts. Glad you're back home safe and sound! The cheesecake sounds yummy!

Musicaljean said...

I can't wait to have time to read this, but for tonight I just have to skim and get done. I still have much more to do for school tomorrow and I'm so sleepy. I'll catch up with you tomorrow evening.

justabeachkat said...

Your strength and faith amaze me. How lucky your boys are to have you and Don as their parents! Your family's story is awe inspiring...truly. I'm sure your examples have helped many.

Hugs sweet friend!
Kat

nancygrayce said...

I wish I had gotten parenting advice from you! What an incredible family y'all are!

Musicaljean said...

I too wish I had had the privilege to get to know you earlier in my life. I'm so glad I "found" you, Tonja. You really, really bless me again and again and again, whether it's with your strong faith or your crazy humor!