Musings from the Threshold

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Our Visit to Children’s Mercy

Thank you for praying for Katie, and for us as we seek answers for her.

Our trip to Kansas City was productive and fun. Papa and Gramma Byrd came with us and took the younger kids to Crown Center and other adventuring while Jonathan, Katie, and I went to Children’s Mercy for her appointment.

We were astounded by Children’s Mercy. The entire atmosphere was different than that at any specialist’s office we have been to. It was a lovely, encouraging difference.
 
The Hematology/Oncology (HemOc) clinic is its own little world at Children’s, including having its own air filters! Dr. Hetherington (aka Dr. Max) spent about two hours sitting down with us and seeking to understand Katie’s story. It was extraordinary. We learned a great deal from her, just in talking over different possibilities. She seemed to be forming a multi-tiered list of culprits to investigate.
Katie broke her vials-drawn record on Friday at 13 vials. Some of those labs have come back, and others haven’t yet. We also went for an abdominal ultrasound, which confirmed that her spleen is enlarged (something that fits with various parts of her puzzle).

After we left Children’s, we explored Union Station, drove around KC a bit, then enjoyed the Plaza light before heading home. It was neat to build some fun memories together in the midst of our concern about Kate.

          

As of today, Dr. Max’s plan is to present Katie’s case to the HemConference next month. She is wanting to get input and ideas from other hematologists. Labs that have come in so far from Friday have still not given any easy answers. So, more patience is in order, but we are encouraged to be working with Dr. Max, and trusting in our Sovereign God’s wisdom and goodness.
Please continue to pray with and for us. Thank you!

J&L

FB Posts – Dec 19, 2017

8.20am – Brief Katie-update –

I got to talk yesterday with the nurse practitioner of the Dr. in KC who is working on Katie’s case. Every single person with whom I had contact at Children’s was so kind. The nurse practitioner called me back shortly after our conversation and said she hoped to call me today with an appointment time. So we are trusting the Lord to work out those details!
Kate’s hemoglobin has dropped from 10.9 on 11/27 to 9.4 on 12/14. It actually isn’t as low as I expected, but obviously is dropping quickly now that we are past 90 days from her iron infusion in Sept. We didn’t get a read on her neutrophils because of a kerfluffle with the specimen, but have no reason to expect they have come up, so are still be very careful about her exposure to germs.
Thank you for praying! We are resting in our Heavenly Father’s love and sovereignty, and praying fervently for wisdom and healing.

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9.03am – Praise the Lord! We have an appointment for Katie at Children’s Mercy at 10.30 Friday morning!

 

FB Post – Dec 10, 2017

Many of you are aware that our sweet daughter Katie has been struggling with her health over the last few months. I’m not a “share everything on fb” gal, though I do try to be real and honest. I have many times considered sharing her situation more publicly, but we honestly hoped that things would be figured out/resolved quickly and proven to be no big deal.

Well… not so much.

On Sept 6, we went in for a blood transfusion because Katie’s hemoglobin was only 6.6, and wound …up doing an iron infusion the next day because Kate had too many antibodies in her blood for it to be safe to transfuse.

In the months since, we’ve been to the hematologist, the rheumatologist, the pathologist (for a bone marrow biopsy), and spent lots of time communicating with our fantastic lead doctor. Kate has had So Much Blood drawn and tested. For So Many Things. Her puzzle is evidently one that is not easy to put together.

While we’ve been trying to figure out how things fit together, her lab work has continued to go wonky. Her platelets have dropped as low as 107k, her neutrophils to .oo, and while the various tests that have been run show that there is definitely something wrong. they are not telling us what it is.

A scare last weekend with a fever while severely neutropenic illustrated vividly how quickly things could get critical with Katie, even when it looks like she’s not faring badly for how poor her blood is.

We have decided, in agreement with Katie’s medical team, to pursue answers with a facility where doctors from various specialties can come together and look at Katie’s puzzle. Mayo Clinic was the first choice because they deal with a broader (worldwide) range of medical mysteries, that door shut very loudly with the news that they do not take our insurance.

We are thankful for God’s sovereignty and are taking that shut door as His leading toward Children’s Mercy in KC. We trust that He has all the right people in place to move forward exactly as He sees fit.

We are praying to get in at Children’s asap, and are hopeful that we will be there this week. Papa & Mama Byrd are planning to arrive from FL on Monday to help with things on the homefront while Kate & I go to KC and Jonathan continues working.

Bread and Fish

The LORD God of Heaven’s Armies has been reminding me lately of His good-gifting.

There are times when I find myself saying repeatedly, “It’s bread and fish. It’s bread and fish. No stones and serpents here. Bread and fish. Bread and fish.” (see Mt. 7.7-11)

I love verses 10 and 16 of Psalm 81 (in today’s One Year Bible reading)!
{Note – this is a literal reference for the people of Israel, but the rescue from Egypt is often used as a picture of redemption from our sin, so it draws us all in}

vs.10 – For it was I, the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it ***with good things.***
vs. 16 – But I would feed you with the finest of wheat.
I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock.

Verse 10 reminds me of the little rhyme from my childhood, “Open your mouth and close your eyes, and you will get a big surprise!”
You never knew if it would be a good surprise or a bad surprise… whether or not you would open your mouth depended on how trustworthy your friend was, didn’t it?

God promises to give us good things. Bread, fish, finest wheat, honey… not stones and serpents. That doesn’t mean they always taste like bread, fish, and honey to us! But will we make the choice to open our mouths wide and let Him fill them, trusting that He knows what the good things are? Will we open our hearts, hands, and nod our heads an emphatic “yes!” to all that He has for us? Will we choose to believe that our God is good and does good things, even when they taste like stones and serpents?

Thoughts on Peace and Thankfulness

The other night as I was wrestling with something very painful and present, I was asking the Lord to help me be at peace. It seemed an impossible destination.

And then His still small Voice reminded me that the thanksgiving comes before the peace in these verses –
“..do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Ah, yes. Argghh! And the wrestling began.

Because I did not WANT to be thankful. This pain that makes me feel like my heart is going to fly apart and explode my body as it does? It does not seem to me a “good thing.” It does not taste like bread and fish – it tastes like stones and serpents. Sharp spikey stones and sour poisonous serpents.
And yet, He assures me that He withholds no good thing from His children.

He is wise.
He is good.
He is sovereign.

And He tells me that I should be “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20)

My giving thanks is not dependent on whether or not I like the gift. It is not dependent on my ability to see how in one thousand worlds it could possibly be a good gift. It is not dependent on my figuring out what benefit God is going to bring to me through the pain.

It is all about WHO He is.

Psalm 145 is just one example of this in Scripture –

A Song of Praise. Of David.
1 I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.]
14 The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

And so, this great big mighty God, this God Who can handle my anger, hurt, and frustration like no one else – He let me pour it all out to Him. And He helped me to that place of surrender.

Thank You, even though I hate this thing.
Thank You that You give good gifts.
That You that You do have a plan.
But more than that?
Thank You that You are Who You are.
Thank You that You are faithful, that You never change, that Your mercies are new every morning, that Your grace covers and redeems.
Thank You that because of Who You are, I can say Thank You for this pain.
Thank You.
I surrender.

And with the thanks?
Came the peace that goes beyond my understanding.
And I slept.

2016 Highlights

It’s a bit surreal to be back to this once-familiar screen. It has been over three-and-a-half years since my last post. Two days after that post came one of those experiences you read about in books, where the world stops for a moment, when it feels as if your heart must have surely stopped beating, and when you know that your world with never be the same. So began the darkest valley of my life, which was not bloggable. And through that valley, my Savior and Redeemer proved Faithful and True, and took me deeper than my feet would have ever nightmared to walk. He let me see His wisdom, sovereignty, and goodness in such rich and sweet ways. And perhaps, some day, I’ll be able to tell you about His redemption in our story. But for now…

Lately, I’ve been feeling the pull (the conviction, actually) to get back to writing, and to get back to my blog. I’ve been pondering some of the ways the Lord has shown me His goodness this year, and it seems like a fun place to re-start the ol’ blog.

So here are some highlights…

Into God’s Word with the One Year Bible
Many years of my life I have begun a Bible reading plan with a new year. I am a rule follower, and a smidge OCD, and generally by March, I would have diagnosed myself as a failure and given up.
A couple years ago, I met my friend Jill and began to hear her talk (A LOT 😉 ) about her beloved One Year Bible for Women. I found out that it’s the entire text of the Bible, just divided for readings of approx. 15 minutes for each day of the year. What got me, though, was realizing that my friend would just read the passages for each date, regardless of whether or not she had missed a day. Granted, I think she rarely misses a day, but it was the idea of not having to “catch up” that intrigued me and made me think this might actually work for me!
So, several days into 2016, my One Year Bible arrived, and I began a new adventure. I think that I have absorbed more of God’s Word this year than I ever have before in a year. I’ve missed plenty of days, but never felt discouraged. And the Lord has been faithful to show more and more of Himself to me as I’ve been in His Word.

Priorities/Rest/Stillness
The Lord has been teaching me much in this area. I don’t think I’ve ever been a “yes man,” yet I’ve had a strong tendency to overfill my plate. I think I’ve come a long way this year in learning to let go of things that are not on my priority list, to make wiser choices, and to not feel guilty when something does not make the cut.
Much of this work in me is just listening to His still small voice. My husband has been a terrific physical voice in this process, and my Mama has been my cheerleader. Crystal Paine’s book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode has been a great practical help, with exercises to help me think through priorities, Best Things, etc.

Growth in my Relationships with my Family
I like where my man and I have grown to in our relationship. Settled, content, growing and working together, etc.
I’m also thankful for the growth I’ve seen in my relationships with my darlings.

Time with my Mother-in-Love
This month marked two years since Mom Smith was diagnosed with advanced cancer. I treasure the tenderness and sweetness that has developed in our relationship as we have walked this journey together. Time is so very precious.

Health Improvement
This…

June 2016
June 2016

to this…
December 2016
December 2016

makes a tremendous difference. It’s not just the 40 pounds lost; there is much more to it than that. I made the commitment to myself and my family that I would do something to become healthier. My wonderful chiropractor has gone above and beyond in helping me to find something that would truly work for me, and my family has put up with both the weirdness of my eating, and with my need to cook “blind” because I couldn’t taste test their food. Definitely a highlight!

Our good God is only good, and He only gives good. He is worthy of all praise!
All is grace.

A Free Gift for your Advent Worship

I am thrilled to be able to offer you a free gift to aid your worship of the Savior this season. Our family has been deeply blessed by the use of the Advent Wreath, and I pray that this offering of a free e-book will bless and aid your worship as well, whether you are worshipping alone or with a house full of family.

Just right click on the following link and choose “Save Target As” to save the .pdf file to your computer.

Anticipating the Savior – The Advent Wreath as a Tool for Worship

I would be delighted for you to share this book with your friends and family. Would give me the grace of directing them here to share, please?

If you would like a link-button for your site or blog, feel free to use the following code:

A Free Gift for your Advent Worship


Quick shopping list for your Advent Wreath:
Four candles for the outer ring of candles. They can be tapers, votive, pillars… or whatever works for you. Depending on preference and availability, you need three purple or blue, and one pink or red. You might consider purchasing an extra set in case the first burns too low.
One white candle for the center Christ candle. I like to use a pillar, but find what suits you.
Candle holders for safety. I use simple individual candle holders for my tapers, and a small glass plate for my pillar.
Greenery of some sort for your wreath. An actual wreath, a length of garland, live evergreen branches… the form is much less important than the heart!

A Note About the New Site

We have been slowly working on moving Grace and Glory to our own hosting, still powered by wordpress, but with some additional freedom. I have been increasingly frustrated by wordpress’s automatic changes to html coding, restrictions on linkage, etc. So, while I think they have a tremendous service, I feel the need to make the move to allow the site to develop without undue restrictions.

The move is obviously not complete. I’ve had some issues with importing the entirity of my wp blog, as evidenced by the fact that the most recent post that shows up here (till today’s posts) is from June of 2010. Hopefully my whiz of a husband will be able to help me get the kinks worked out soon. I will post an announcement at the current blog when all is ready here, so there is no need to switch yet.

Thanks for your patience!