Small Miracles

In the midst of what seems like bad report after bad report we finally have a good report: Josiah will be keeping both of his kidneys!

We are still looking at a surgical repair in the next month or so to correct the reflux issue. As scary as any type of surgery on a major organ sounds, I think it’s definitely less scary than the alternative.
Case in point: out of no where this week Josiah spiked a fever that quickly escalated. An urgent care visit, a pediatrician office visit, and two different antibiotics later and his body is responding. It sounds so silly to me that a simple thing as a fever caused such an intense and immediate reaction in seeking treatment but the fact of the matter is if another infection invades his kidney it could leave permanent damage resulting in the outcome, we are thankful to be avoiding, the loss of a kidney.

We are also incredibly blessed that Children’s Hospital Colorado is nationally ranked in both of the specialties two of our kids will be having surgical procedures in this summer. We have learned who the two surgeons will be and are ecstatic that both are considered to be the best we could have gotten. That’s a pretty great miracle right there.

In other good news: we have an amazing couple who will be staying in our house this summer while we’re gone! This is a huge relief in easing the burden of our temporary relocation. They are actually the aunt and uncle of the fantastic young lady who has been babysitting Josiah and Elijah for us. In addition to babysitting she has helped me with cleaning and organizing as we prepare to leave our “home.”

We have had an incredible outpouring of love and support from the community of people around us; friends, family, acquaintances, even complete strangers. If I had to be thankful for this family crisis (and maybe some day I will be able to honestly say I’m thankful for what we’re going through but I’m not there yet) it would be because I have gotten to see how truly wonderful humans can be to one another.

This experience has awakened me to the fact of how little I have done for others in the past. I am so guilty of coming into contact with pain and inside of my head being secretly grateful that it wasn’t me, that I could go home and sleep at night. As people have been supporting us in so many ways I’ve made big plans on how I will be “paying it forward” when we come out the other side (and ways that I can pay it forward now). As I have pleaded (even bargained) with God in prayer this week to completely heal my children, or even at least one of them, I felt the Lord prod me with a question. “If I completely free you from this will you go on and live your life as ‘normal?'”
Wow. The temptation would so easily be to forget all of this, to forget all of the other people in pain and crisis, to isolate ourselves and to live our happy little lives away from the heartbreak of others around us. I don’t want to be that person. I want to be the supportive, encouraging person that others are being to me right now.

Many years ago when Ethan was a baby, I was going through an incredibly intense and difficult situation. It changed me as a person in building my faith and strengthening my relationship with the Lord. I remember praying “if this is what it takes to keep me close to You then keep me in pain Lord.”
What a dumb thing to pray. I should have prayed thanks to the Lord that through the pain he had kept me close to Him and asked His help to never stray away and forget. More than a decade has passed since then and I still have only a rudimentary understanding of the mystery of God but I do know that He is good. He never causes us pain, but when pain happens He uses it toward His glory and plan, if we will allow Him to do so.
So Lord I ask you to perform creative miracles and completely heal each one of my children but in the process help me to never forget what You have done. Enable me to be a pitcher of cool water to others as they walk through the desert. Let me never be callous to the pain of others and to always be thankful for the smallest of miracles.

 

Blasphemous Rumors

My favorite band growing up was Depeche Mode. They were a 1980’s electro-sync pop group that had various songs that for one reason or the other spoke to me in my teen/college years as the angst of my “misunderstood” youth raged with the passion of a thousand suns as the mounting pressures to perform on the track or in my chemistry class seemed to pull at every fiber of my being. One particular tune that resonated with me was “Blasphemous Rumors.” Oh this song….its chorus has been forever ingrained into mind. It is a slow depressing song with a catchy chorus that whines:

“I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumors but I think that God’s got a sick sense of humor and when I die, I expect to find him laughing.”

I have thought about this song a lot recently as maybe God is laughing at my situation. Don’t be so quick to judge me on my blasphemy. Would you blame me if I turned on my faith? Maybe you might turn too. Life is very hard; case in point my life the past few months. Let’s rewind:
• 12/30/2016- I am sitting in my office reflecting on the year. I literally say out loud, man 2016 has been the best year of my life. No more than 15 minutes later I receive a phone call from my brother in law Chris telling me that there has been an incident. The result of this incident will require my 14 year old special needs son to live temporarily with his grandparents in Golden. The humility of not being able to take care of your son is devastating.
• 1/6/2017- I receive a late night phone call from my parents. The second I see it, I know what has happened. My grandfather, the man I have aspired to be like, has passed away.
• 3/2/2017- A clear genetic screening has been completed! Now we leisurely attend the ultrasound in a anxiety free state. This is the day we meet our little boy. Mid way through I see a change in the tech’s demeanor. She asks Christina to turn sideways. I ask if everything is alright. She tries to poker face me and says “she is doing routine work”. I am a banker I read people for living. I know something is wrong. The tech leaves and Christina asks if I am alright. I tell her I am nervous. She says it will be ok. It wont, I know something is wrong. The doctor walks in. This cant be good. Oh God don’t let her sit on the table. She sits on the table. Oh God don’t let her touch Christina’s leg. She touches Christina’s leg. I know it is bad. I can feel the blood rush out of me. My head drops. I go numb.
• 4/26/2017- Christina calls me and says Josiah’s cold has taken a turn and that he is in the ER with a 105.3 degree fever. I rush over and they think he has a UTI. They run some tests and send us home with medicine. Thank God. That could have been worse. The following day Christina’s phone rings at 6 am. That cannot be good. Mrs. Frasier We need to run follow up tests. Josiah has already been admitted to Children’s please bring him down immediately. Thus starts a four day battle of Josiah and the doctors fighting for his life against a kidney/bladder infection going septic. The doctors eventually tell us that everything is going to be ok and that there is a less than one percent chance that Josiah will need surgery.
• 5/21/2017- I am in the garage reflecting on our situation when Christina screams “Danny were going to the ER. I run into the house and see a gaping cut across Eli’s head. Eli, not to be out done by his brothers, takes a header on the entertainment center. The cut requires 7 stitches. Eli was a champ but I swear I could hear the needle piercing his skin as he sat in my lap for stitches.
• 5/25/2017- We go to the doctor and have some awful tests run on Josiah. We find out later that Friday afternoon that Josiah’s kidney/bladder infection is caused by a stuctural/functional issue and will require surgery. Furthermore, he has a 5% chance of losing said kidney.

Thud. That is the sound of my head hitting the mat. Hearing Josiah’s news was a death shot to my frontal lobe. The woe is me mentality has officially taken over. Internally, I don’t want to get up off of the mat. One too many punches. Why get up to get knocked down again? It is just too damn hard. Seriously, has anyone ever heard of a family having this much happen in 5 months? We have to put two of our babies under the knife within 60 days of each other. No one would be able to get up off the floor. I cannot rise. My faith is gone. I think back to Depeche Mode…. “God is laughing”!

Clearly after Josiah’s news I took a pretty hard tailspin. Shortly after in my car, I recall a recent conversation I had with a friend. I audibly scream out to God at the top of my lungs. “God if this is what being a Christian is all about, I don’t want to be a Christian.” I boldly state that “I am not going to church anymore. Look at what good it has done me!” I say “the more I get to know God the harder my life gets. I am not praying anymore as it only causes more pain. Why would I waste time getting to know someone who just laughs at my circumstances?”

That night I tell my wife, who has a bachelor degree in Pastoral Ministry, that I am done with God. She takes this opportunity to clarify that this is not being caused by God. She reminds me of a sermon we heard where the devil leaves people alone who are not a threat. Hence the reason you sometimes see sinners or the unsaved living charmed lives. She reiterates that there is evil in the world and we are currently being attacked. I argue that Old Testament God was mean as hell. She argues that Jesus released us of God’s Old Testament Wrath. She quotes: 1 Peter 5:8-9* commands us to

“Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack. But you must resist the devil and stay strong in your faith.”

I know evil exists in this world. Over the past 6 months I have looked it in the eyes. I felt its breath on my skin. It had been swirling around me for months anticipating, waiting, lurking for me to relent to the darkness’s constant pressure. At that lonely moment in my car on the way home, I weakly conceded to the notion that God had betrayed me. As soon as the words left my mouth I felt the serpent that had been slinking around my feet coldly slither up my body and coil itself tightly around my neck as its head reared up and hissed its orchestrated vileness about God’s betrayal into my ear.

I have not resisted the devil. I have not remained strong in my faith. I know it and I am not proud of it. I hear Christina’s words and internally I come to, my eyes gradually open and I lift my head up off of the mat but the pain of my life’s circumstances are just to much for me to overcome and rise at this time.

It is now Sunday morning. Christina asks me if I am getting out of bed. I say I am not going to Church. I instantly see the pain in her eyes. Not only am I betraying God. I am betraying her. I am betraying my vows. I love her so much, the betrayal in her eyes makes me physically rise and get ready for church. Internally, I crawl to all fours but I am not ready to get up yet.

At church a miracle happens. Pastor Brady (@pastorbrady) preaches about a verse that I have been thinking about posting into this very Blog for over three weeks. In the wake of Josiah’s news and my internal fall from grace I completely forgot about it. Brady reminded me to

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17* NIV).

Clear as day, the sermon was God speaking to me. Simply put a miracle. I think back to Depeche Mode. God is not laughing at me. It is the devil. Externally, I audibly beg for forgiveness. Internally, I rise up off the mat and dust myself off. I am now standing in an attack position, because I have my armor. I have my belt. I have my breastplate. I have my shield. I have my helmet. The battle is just beginning but I am ready. No more laughing, Devil.

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I just can’t…

“They say sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some. And right now, right now I’m losing bad.
I’ve stood on this stage night after night, reminding the broken it’ll be alright. But right now, oh right now I just can’t.
It’s easy to sing, when there’s nothing to bring me down. But what will I say when I’m held to the flame like I am right now?” -MercyMe

I’m tired…And I don’t mean I’m entering the homestretch of the third trimester of pregnancy tired (although I am that too). I feel exhausted mentally, emotionally, spiritually, as if I have absolutely nothing left. Most times in life if I’ve begun to feel like this I try to get outside of myself and help someone else who is also going through something tough. I spend time listening to what is going on in friends’ lives and be supportive of them. I find that focusing on others’ needs instead of drowning in my own really helps me to gain perspective, to see the bigger picture and recognize the good things that are happening. Right now though, I can’t even do that. I don’t even have the energy to reply to simple texts from my closest friends. I’ve severely neglected all of my relationships lately. I’ve even told some of the people who are closest to me to stop talking because I cannot deal with their emotions. It’s simply too much for me to carry. Some days I don’t even know how to pray.  I feel like a horrible person and honestly there are moments I don’t care how horrible I am because I just can’t.

Other times I find myself spilling all the intimate details of my life to complete strangers or new friends/acquaintances who out of kindness made the mistake of asking me how things are going. There’s a certain element of catharsis to spilling your guts to someone you know absolutely won’t or can’t try to give any input into the disaster of a story you just told them. Other times I find myself getting angry, overwhelmed, and shutting down because of someone asking me things like “what are you going do to do about _________(fill-in-the-blank)” or “what if _______ happens?”
I want to shake them and scream “I don’t know, I don’t know what to do!”

I absolutely cannot deal with the “what ifs” or creating solutions for the heavy situations coming down the road. I know most folks are simply trying to ease their own worry by finding out what my answer is, because generally I do have (at least in theory) a solution or plan for dealing with the problems that may arise for particular situations.  Other folks I think are trying to be helpful in bringing up potential situations that might occur, thinking that perhaps it hasn’t occurred to me that   fill-in-the-blank    could happen. Well, I can’t think of a single thing someone has asked that I haven’t already thought of…and I still don’t have an answer. All I can do right now is take it minute by minute, day by day and sometimes I can’t even do that. Sometimes I shut down and say “I can’t deal with this situation today” and I put it off until tomorrow in an attempt to self preserve and maintain my own sanity.

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Now that I am obviously and undeniably pregnant to the casual observer I get approached all of the time in public by well-meaning strangers. Some days it’s nice to hear from a stranger that “you’re glowing” and pretend like this is a run-of-the-mill pregnancy, as if nothing is wrong. Other times a well-meaning stranger engages a little too much and it feels too dishonest or too heart-wrenching to pretend everything is fine and I blurt out the whole story. My apologies to all the people who are now terrified to ever talk to another pregnant woman again because of me.

I was meandering through Costco this weekend on a mission for toilet paper and paper towels. I was annoyed at myself for moving so slowly and feeling like everything hurt – back, hips, feet etc. Then I realized, oh yeah I’m in my final weeks of pregnancy. I have 6 weeks or less left. Not more than 3 minutes later this sweet girl at one of the kiosks asked me when I am due. I told her and she remarked on how wonderful I looked for being that far along and said “oh I bet you’re ready to be finished.” Cue the waterfall of tears. Yes and no. I mean yes pregnancy is hard and by the time you reach the end you are SO READY for it to be over. I did have a little more patience and nostalgia this time around knowing it would be my last pregnancy. However, now, as much as I want to give in to the discomfort and say I’m ready for the pregnancy to be completed, I’m not. I’m not because how in the world can you be ready for a pregnancy to be over when you know that once it is, your baby will begin the fight for his life? How can you be ready for it to be over when you know that’s when the actual hard part begins?

I’ve met a really fantastic community of “heart mommas” whose children have CHD. They’ve shared their experiences and sometimes it’s overwhelming so I have to take a step back. Sometimes I feel silly for my “woe is me” because they’ve survived all of the things I’m complaining about. But that’s the thing, they’ve survived it and they tell me if little ol’ them could do it, then they know I can do it. That tells me that they all have felt just as unprepared and weak as I do. It is amazing to me to watch these women who are still struggling through the thick of some of their kids’ battles, jump in and take time to be supportive of other moms.

I think of my own mom often and of all the things she struggled and fought through for us kids. I don’t know how she did it. Lots of time on her knees in prayer. I look at my own life and know she raised me to be a better mom than I’m being. Even now my family is carrying a huge portion of this burden for me just so that we can survive and I feel helpless to help them.

If I could ask anyone reading this for anything it would be to please keep praying for us. Please pray for strength, grace, insight and wisdom for all of those involved in providing care for my children.
Ethan’s needs require continuous ongoing prayer.
Even though we were told Josiah had less than a 1% chance of requiring surgery for the issue that landed him in the hospital, as it turns out, that is the road we are headed down. Now we are trying to coordinate plans for his care as the time frame begins to bleed into the same time that Jonathan is due to be born and undergo surgery.

I know God can miraculously heal. I know He can provide new organs and new perfectly functioning systems for my children.

Thank you for your prayers and support to everyone out there. Some of you will never know how much your one kind word or gesture (even an indirect interaction with us) got us through a difficult moment.

Baby Frasier Medical Fund