In the bible, there is a story of Jesus walking on water.
Jesus had just spent his day teaching a large crowd and feeding them. A typical day for Jesus. After performing feeding over five thousand people, one of his more famous miracles, he makes his disciples get into a boat and go on ahead of him to the other side of the lake, while he dismisses the crowd. Then Jesus goes off on his own to pray. He must have been there a long time, because the Bible says that later that night, he was still there alone and the boat was in the middle of the lake, a good distance away from land.
The disciples in the boat were struggling and straining at the oars because the wind was against them, and the waves were battering the boat. Just before dawn, they saw a figure walking on the water toward them. Naturally, they were terrified. I mean, this isn't something you see every day. In fact, the disciples thought they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus identified himself and told them not to be afraid.
In one version of the story, one of Jesus' disciples, Peter, said, "Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water." And Jesus said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and started walking. And he was doing pretty well at first, but then he saw the wind and became afraid, and then started to sink and called out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus caught him and said, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" Then they climbed into the boat and the wind died down.
This story has been playing in my head over and over again these past few weeks. The week before all of this happened, I had just taught about this story at a weekly bible study I attend. As I was teaching it, I was reminded of how easy it is to doubt.
I think when I was younger, whenever I would hear this story, I'd think, "Yeah, Peter! Why did you doubt? Don't you know that you're with Jesus." But as I get older, I understand why he would freak out, and I know that if it weren't for this story, many times I myself would get distracted and lose faith. In fact, even knowing this story, that still sometimes happens.
During the past couple of weeks, this imagery of walking on the water in the midst of a storm has come up several times during various conversations I've had with people. In fact, I think I even wrote about this early on in this blog.
And truth is right now we are in the midst of a struggle. Every day, we're trying to remain positive and focus on God's promises, but it's not always easy. We do feel very secure in God's abilities and his comfort and we do have a lot of faith that Alicia is going to be all right. But just because we are assured that Jesus is taking care of us, doesn't mean that we don't feel the wind and the waves battering against us.
And I'll be honest, while the faith isn't shaken, sometimes it gets tiring to keep pressing forward. In fact, sometimes, Linda and I wish it would just all be over. We don't want to walk on the water anymore. It's making us sick.
Alicia's condition over the past couple of days hasn't been all that great, although, things have turned around a bit, so we're thankful. (Those of you who are astute, will notice that when things are going well, my posts tend to be full of optimism and hope, and when things go not swell, my posts tend to be a bit more down. But I guess this is the journey of an NICU parent.)
Those of you who read my last post know that Alicia has been struggling with her breathing, she's also been losing weight, which is odd because she's been feeding on milk, so she should actually be gaining weight. Well, doctors did an echo-cardiogram (a sonogram of the heart) and found that not only did Alicia's PDA not get smaller, but it in fact had gotten bigger. So they told Linda, that Alicia may require surgery sooner rather than later.
I've also mentioned Alicia's mucus. For the past week, they've been suctioning out the mucus every day from her lungs, but haven't been able to get it all out, so that's been affecting Alicia's breathing and therefore affecting her oxygen levels.
Also, yesterday morning when I talked to Linda, they had to hold off on increasing Alicia's milk intake because they noticed that her stomach was starting to get a little bloated.
These things are what I like to call, "the wind". These are the things that are coming against us, impeding progress. Thankfully, we have a relationship with a God who is not thwarted by these things.
All of the above news was from yesterday morning.
As of yesterday evening, things turned around.
Alicia's PDA actually got smaller! Now we're not sure about all the details of how this happened, as in, did the doctors give her another kind of medicine, or if it did so on it's own. But we just pray, more, Lord, more!
As for, the mucus, they were able to get it all out of her lungs! And now Alicia's seems to be feeling better. We just pray that it would be out and stay out for good.
And as for eating, they did an X-ray of her stomach and it looks like she is digesting well, so they were able to increase her milk intake to 4 cc per feeding. Another huge encouragement.
By the way, I should take this time to apologize for my rant on doctors yesterday. They're really doing the best that they can, and as a doctor friend reminded me, there is no way to really personalize medicine yet. If there is a chance that something might happen, then they need to let us know. Because doctor's are not clairvoyent (my word), they can't predict which kid will get what, so it's important for them to educate parents on all possible scenarios so no one is caught off guard. So thank you doctors, for doing such an amazing job with Alicia. We just need to learn to filter. Listen to what they're saying, but realize that it doesn't necessarily mean that everything they say, will happen.
What I'm realizing with this journey is that as much as I wish it were a straight shot to the top, it's more of a windy, curvy road up a mountain, full of dips and potholes. Things go well, then problems come up, doctors adjust, then things go well, then other problems come up, again another adjustment. I'm reminded of something that God told me about a month ago.
"Just because things are a certain way now, doesn't mean that it's going to be that way forever. And just because something never was, doesn't mean that it never will be."
What does this mean? It means that we focus our eyes on Jesus and creator Daddy God. Peter started to sink when he focused on the wind instead of Jesus, and many times I've realized that as we focus on Alicia's various conditions and what the doctors are telling us, our emotions also start to sink. But when we refocus our eyes on Jesus, we know that none of this is too big or too difficult for him to handle.
It reminds me of that old him, "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus."
Turn your eyes upon, Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace
Words that once again have taken on new meaning for us. Hmm, when this is all over, maybe should I should record a CD of all the songs that God keeps bringing to mind. There are certainly plenty of them.
Anyway, friends, as you guys are walking along with us on this journey, I hope that these words can encourage you. No matter what you're going through, he can carry you through. He is more than able to handle anything that comes your way. (Haha... just thought of another song. But I'll save that for another post.) And I'm not just saying this out of head knowledge anymore, it's a proven fact. We're walking in it right now.
Hmm. Just had a thought, those of you who get motion sick know that one cure for motion sickness is to either close your eyes, or to focus on the horizon or some other distant object that is stationary. So what's the cure for our seasickness, focusing on Christ. He is steady and umoving. He his our rock, our shelter and our firm foundation.
God knows what he's doing. Sometimes he sends us in the midst of the storm, if you'll notice Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go to the other side. This may sound like cruelty, but I believe God knows what he's doing. He puts us in this situations to make us stronger, so that he can reveal more of himself to us, and ultimately to bring a greater blessing. And he doesn't send you out alone, he's with you. And good news is, even if we do falter as Peter did, he'll always be there to catch us.
1. Please pray for strength for Linda and I. It's hard not to get bogged down with all the possible complications and the ups and downs of Alicia's health. Pray that God will help us to filter through all the information that the doctors are giving to us and to not get weighed down by it all.
2. Praise God for the improvements that Alicia's made. Her lungs are clear of mucus, she's eating better, and her PDA has gotten a bit smaller. Pray that these things will continue to get better each day.
3. Pray that Alicia would grow and gain weight. Pray that she would gain back some of her vigor. She's been pretty lethargic the past few days. Pray that she would feel well and not have any pain or discomfort.
4. Pray for the doctors to have wisdom as they treat Alicia, that they would be able to give her the most effective treatments with the lowest amounts of side-effects. Pray also that they would have favor with Alicia, Linda and I, and that we would be able to connect with them and bless them.
5. Pray for protection over Alicia physically, emotionally and spiritually. Ask the Lord to cancel any plans that Satan may have over her life, and that God would seal his purposes for her.
6. Pray that mentally Alicia would thrive. We've heard that premies tend to be really smart, we pray that that would be so. We pray for her brain development that it would be steady and strong. Pray that Linda and I would also be wise, because if she's going to smart, well, we better know how to handle her. =)
We thank God, that he continues to surround Alicia with his presence. We got two sweet drawings from some friends of ours that we just claim and recieve. One drawing is of God's giant invisible hands holding Alicia's hands as he is forming and shaping her. The other drawing is of the unseen angels surrounding Alicia's bed and singing to her. Amen. Love these images. And we just say, yes, Lord, thank you for blessing her with your presence and for surround her with your angels, and we say, more, Lord, more!
We just speak life, health and wholeness over our little girl. We claim a victory, and we proclaim that her life is a miracle, and will continue to be a miracle each and every day that she is alive. We look forward to the day that we will bring her home, happy, healthy and full of life. She is going to be a delight to all those that she meets, she already is a delight, even though most of you haven't met her yet. It's amazing, before Alicia was born, a close friend of ours was praying and he felt God telling him that Alicia was going to impact the nations. And what's amazing is, as Linda pointed out to me the other day, that she already is! Blogger has a cool function where you can check on the stats of your blog and check out your audience, and as of today, people from 10 different countries have been reading her story. Look at God! By the way, feel free to pass our blog to your friends and family. The more people who are praying the better! And also, our goal is also to be able to encourage, so if our words can be a blessing to others, then please feel free to share them.
Thank you all for continuing to walk with us. Your smiles, cards, messages, words and hugs mean the world to us. And thanks to all of you who have blessed us with gifts of books, clothes, baby paraphernalia they have been a big blessing. And for all of you who have given to support us monetarily, we are overwhelmed. Thank you. We have no idea how much Alicia's time in the hospital is going to cost, but your gifts will go a long way to help alleviate that. We pray that God would bless each of you who have been walking with us and supporting us in big ways and small.