For those that have been following my family’s Black Friday antics, Black Friday 2017 was quite different.
Thanksgiving Day just felt different. (Little did we know at that time that our lives would change so much during the next year, but that is for another post.) The morning started just a little bit off. It was nothing that we could pinpoint; it just did not seem normal.
We started our trek to my brother-in-law’s, two and a half hours away. We had to stop a couple of times for very odd reasons. We had a nice dinner and started making preparations for our night of shopping. We even made new shirts for this year. They were blingy and so cute!
Something Different is in the Air
We headed out with our lists to pick up my sister-in-law’s granddaughter who was not feeling well. It was our regular crew: sister-in-law, niece and her husband, the aforementioned granddaughter, my son, and me. Our niece’s husband is in charge of finding our “theme song”. He had been very busy at work that week and had not had a chance to find us a song. The song usually sets the tone for the silliness of the night. This was definitely a missing component of the night.
We did, of course, have our usual silliness of shopping in a sleep deprived state. I get very silly when I need sleep. We did repeat old bad jokes and I would just start laughing like a crazy person. My laughing would cause others in the group to laugh. Yes, they laugh AT me and NOT WITH me! I have come to accept this as my lot in life in this family.
Don’t get me wrong, we did have a successful and fun Black Friday, but I think we all knew that it was a sign of the changes that would be coming our way. The mood was different and things just were not the same. Our family is growing and so there will be changes, but that will be another post. We will continue our Black Friday tradition for as long as we can.
Read the hilarious antics that have been a part of the past Black Friday Traditions:
I am going to be perfectly frank. I did not want to write this post. Motivation eluded me and I just could not write it. But because writing helps me process my feelings and issues, I knew I had to write it.
You see, I have this problem. When I get overwhelmed, I get anxious and I procrastinate. I only do the things required of me. I withdraw. It makes sense in my mind to not do things when I have too much to do! I focus on one thing and let everything else go. Right now, I have so much going on that if I do not schedule things, I get nothing done (even then, it is questionable).
Finally, I decided to get started. While I had some ideas for some topics, I did not have an inspirational verse to build on. I needed some inspiration so I opened my Bible app on my phone and the “Verse of the Day” popped up. I usually do not pay much attention to it, but this one caught my eye:
‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)
This was the verse I needed!
Not just for this post, I needed this verse for me!
God knew what I needed! Had I gone to the Bible earlier today, I might have had a calmer day. All I did was see this verse and I knew that God had meant that for me today. I did not even have to finish reading it before it changed my mood. Now, I just have to remember this and remember that God is always there for me and to turn to Him first.
My husband and I have been married for almost twenty-six years. During that time, we have been through so much. We have been together through most everything listed in our wedding vows. God has brought us through good and bad times. At this point in our lives, our oldest child has completed his second year in college, and our middle child will be a senior in the fall. Our youngest will be a high school sophomore. So now we are looking to our future. We recently started discussing what I would do after our children graduated.
I have been a stay at home/homeschooling mom for almost twenty years. The thought of going back into corporate America does not exactly set well with me. When I was in college, I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I changed my major numerous times, finally settling on one because if I changed again it would take me longer to graduate.
What Will I Be When I Grow Up?
Once I got my degree and started a career, I was never truly satisfied with my job situation. (Now, I can see God’s hand in this.) The position and money was never good enough. I always felt like something was missing, and it was not until we had our first child that I finally knew what I wanted to be: a mom. Now, I am looking back at square one. What do I want to be when I grow up? Or rather, what do I want to do when the kids are grown and gone?
My husband and I recently discussed this. He asked me if I planned to go back to work when the kids graduated. I had been thinking about it and really could not decide what I wanted to do, even with prayer. I could not discern if it was God telling me or just my feelings of what I wanted. The more we discussed it, the more I knew. I decided that I want to retire! I am serious! My husband is six years older than I am. By the time our youngest graduates, my husband will be just a few years from retirement. He would like me to retire when he does, so for now that is our plan.
Looking Forward to Retirement
We have been discussing what we want in our retirement, and we agreed we wanted to travel. So for now, that seems to be our plan. Hopefully our plan will agree with God’s plan for our lives, too. We have learned through the years to always listen for what God wants us to do. I am sure we will continue to discuss this, pray, and change our minds, but right now traveling sounds good and corporate America does not.
My middle child, my youngest son, my baby boy, my graduate.
We struggled to have you. You were a gift from God. Even after your arrival, there were complications. You were re-hospitalized at five days old. If we had waited any longer, you would not have survived. We were terrified, but God watched over you. We brought you home and you began to thrive.
You were all boy.
You liked to rough house; you liked climbing.; you liked to “explore”; you ran before you walked. You had your first stitches when you were thirteen months old because you were running through the house on Mother’s Day. You were always on the go.
You are a hard worker.
You have worked mowing lawns since you were five. You worked on our farm. You raised pumpkins, gourds, and flowers to sell. When you turned sixteen, you went and applied for your first “real job”. You kept checking back until they hired you. You were determined to get that job. You worked hard and it was noticed. You became a manager when you were seventeen. A few months later, right after your eighteenth birthday, you got another promotion.
You have matured in life, but most of all, you have matured in Christ.
You have always loved God. You accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior at a very young age. When I could not get you to read anything else, you would always read your Bible. You are the one that always reminds us to pray before we eat if we get in a hurry and forget. You talk to your friends about their relationship with Christ. You set a good example for others and always try to do the right thing.
Your father and I are so proud of the man you have become. We love you and cannot wait to see what God has in store for your future.
Six years ago, a few minutes after we ate lunch my husband started getting an upset stomach, hives, itchy eyes, and his throat started swelling shut. He was having an allergic reaction to something he had eaten. I drove him very quickly to the emergency room. By the time we arrived, he was unrecognizable from the swelling. They quickly went to work to stop the reaction. We answered all of their questions about what he had eaten and that he had no known food or drug allergies.
After several hours of treatment, we were told to keep a food diary, try food elimination, follow up with our primary care physician, and return to the emergency room if he had another reaction. And so began our journey to a miracle.
He did not have another reaction for several months. Suddenly, we were on our way to the emergency room again. Food elimination did not show anything. There had been nothing new added to his diet either time.
We once again followed up with our physician and he decided to do a lab test to check for common food allergies (IgE). He was tested for around 20 different foods. A few days later we were called with the results that he was allergic to gluten, not just wheat. Gluten occurs in many grains. Ironically, the call came as I was putting spaghetti on the table for dinner.
Living the Gluten Free Life
He started on a gluten free diet but was so sensitive to gluten that the smallest amount of cross contamination would send him to the emergency room. His sensitivity was so acute that after drinking iced tea from a pitcher that had previously been washed with a sponge, which had also been used to clean out a wheat-flour based batter, he ended up in the emergency room. This was the third and worst reaction yet.
He was so sensitive that he ended up in the emergency room after drinking iced tea that had been in a pitcher, which had been washed with a sponge, which had also been used to wash out a bowl that contained a wheat-flour based batter in it.
Through the years, we got more careful and there were fewer trips to the emergency room. We removed all gluten based flours/powders from our home. I mostly quit baking. All “regular” desserts and baked goods were now store bought. We still had pasta but it had to be prepared in pots and pans that I bought specifically for our children and me to use for “gluten foods”.
We even had a counter in the kitchen designated for gluten. Even everyday condiments could not be “contaminated”. There was no spreading peanut butter and jelly on regular bread and then putting the knife back in the jar to get more out. There were even certain items that we had one for my husband and one for the rest of us. We would put an “X” on the lid so that he knew he could not eat it. Even eating out was difficult because so many people did not understand that it was not celiac but anaphylaxis. We went to the emergency room after one such incident.
One Year Before the Miracle
About a year ago, I started investigating food allergy desensitization. Unfortunately at the time, the closest facility that treated wheat was three hours away and the treatments are bi-weekly. This was just not feasible. I kept googling every few months and finally found a clinic a little over an hour away but they were building another office 30 minutes from us. Just after they opened, I called and they agreed to see my husband.
At our first appointment, we were seen by a Physician’s Assistant (PA), who did not give us much hope. We were told, he would probably not be a good candidate because of his history of a heart attack. The best that they could do was make it to where cross contamination would not send him to the hospital. After receiving his medical records, she also ordered a long list of blood work and scheduled a meeting with an allergist.
When we returned for his follow-up, we were told that the only lab that was abnormal, other than his IgE level for gluten, was his Vitamin D level. It was almost non-existent. This “could” lower a person’s immune response and make an allergic reaction more severe. He was prescribed a Vitamin D supplement and scheduled for a monitored “food challenge” test.
My Prayers Changed
I don’t subscribe to prosperity theology. But, I do believe that God answers our prayers and gives us the desires of our heart.
Before his first appointment I had already been praying. Of course, I had been praying for years, but my prayers changed at this point. I earnestly began to pray for healing. I KNEW God was going to heal him. I was claiming healing and I refused to believe otherwise. I would talk about each doctor’s visit and test and where we would eat WHEN he was healed, NOT IF!
My husband started to believe also, but he was nervous.
Almost exactly six years after this ordeal began, we went for his food challenge test. We bought the softest, most wonderful loaf of multigrain bread for this test.
We were taken into a room marked “Emergency Room” along with several syringes of all the medications he would need for any allergic reaction. He was brought a carefully weighed out bite of bread to start. My husband told her that if anything was going to happen, he would start having symptoms within ten minutes. She chit-chatted with us for about fifteen minutes and left the room with the instruction to let her know if we needed anything.
This continued every 30 minutes in increasing doses followed by vital signs until he ate an entire slice…with no reaction.
The PA that administered the test was surprised and at a loss as to what happened. I told her it was a miracle! His IgE level still shows that he has an allergy to gluten. The only slight explanation she has is the Vitamin D level. But, we know that it was all God.
We are slowly returning to a normal life as per the PA’s instructions. As of this writing, he has eaten donuts, pizza, and biscuits. Every “new food” is an exciting experience.
We can now accept dinner invitations without hesitation or bringing food for him. Vacations will be less stressful.
This has been life-changing! It will take us some time to quit doing some of the “odd” things we had to do before to prevent cross-contamination. We do not know why God has chosen him for this miracle at this time. But, we do know that God has given us a true miracle!