Let’s start with the worst news- the Carroll family is sick. Ughhhh. But let’s brag on God for a bit because the only one who has avoided this nasty cold is Levi. There is literally no way that God isn’t involved in that. Seriously. Malachi spreads germs like a maniac…just this morning while we were sleeping nose to nose (the only way he will rest when he is sick…yep…it is disgusting) he coughed so hard his mucus nailed me in the eyelid. He has impressive trajectory for germ flinging. And sorry for that visual.
Even through the sickness Malachi is being his silly sweet self, laughing over the tiny things in life like chicken:
Here is a sweet little video clip of the boys playing together a.k.a. unknowingly sharing germs before mommy realized Malachi was sick.
We have been changing shirts between holding kids several times each day, using hand sanitizer, and trying to tolerate masks. All the while being pretty down for the count ourselves. I have been bathing the boys as much as possible since neither can really wash their hands at this point.
But let’s back up to the middle of the week when Levi and I made the journey to Cincinnati for his throat scope. He very generously gave me a whole 3.5 hours of sleep the night before we left. I prayed most of the drive there, asking God to give me energy and He absolutely did. Levi slept most of the drive there and when he was awake played contentedly in his seat. We made it there in about 6 hours and checked in right on time.
I bought some new sock puppets for Levi’s feet and he is so entertained by them. I thought you might like to see a video of him playing with his new friends:
The drive itself set me on edge the closer we got to Cincinnati. I tried to eat something on the road but was so nauseous from the thought that I was taking my son somewhere where I knew they would inflict pain on him. I tried to reassure myself that it was for his own good, but my mind kept saying “but is it necessary?”
Returning to Cincinnati after being inpatient for so long was a very different experience. In some ways it was much easier and in others in proved to be a challenge emotionally. When he was in the NICU these procedures were done quickly and he was taken back to his room to recover. This time around we waited in a tiny pre-op room for a few hours before he went back and then I met up with him in recovery.
There were a few barriers for me this go around that I didn’t anticipate. I saw a few faces that I have unconsciously paired with bad things. Like times he was intubated and I didn’t believe he needed to be. I would pass these faces and so much bitterness would well up inside of me and I wanted to tell them to not go near my son. One of the other unexpected hard parts for me was pushing his empty stroller into the OR waiting area. Yikes.
The surgeons came into the pre-op room before taking him back and Levi was having a meltdown. During these episodes he sounds terrible with his breathing so I was a little curious how they would feel. They looked at his retractions and work of breathing and said “He sounds bad but looks so much better breathing than before the last surgery!”
The procedure went well and they didn’t have to do any dilations. His airway has maintained its openness which was great to hear. They think that his epiglottis might be growing back up again- if you remembered we trimmed that down a few surgeries back- and we might need to trim again next scope. But overall a great report and we don’t have to go back for 6 weeks!
We made it up to our room on the complex airway floor by dinnertime and Levi was not a happy boy most of the evening. I was still running on my 3.5 hours of sleep and hadn’t been able to eat anything all day; my strength was fading as I rocked him for hours and hours. I pleaded with God for a night of rest for him and I and by 11pm he was sound asleep. We managed to piece together a 7 hour night which is more sleep than I have gotten in weeks!
The drive back took about 8 hours due to some accidents along the way, but Levi again did wonderfully. When I stopped for gas I noticed something…let’s see if you can spot the issue.
Little stinker. I don’t know how long he stayed like that, but his oxygen saturation was at 100 the whole time.
I tried to keep my mind active for the 14 hours in the car and did a whole lot of thinking. A whole lot!
Before I dig into the deep stuff I do want to share a praise with you. One of the things we have been concerned about is Levi’s voice. The more we widened the vocal cords the less likely it is that he will speak. But this week he has been trying to vocalize and we are thrilled. Here is a video clip:
Okay back to my train of thought. As we expected, the comments have been rolling in from well meaning people…
“I don’t know how you do it!”
“You have so much patience!” (side note- I absolutely do not. If walls could talk they would have some stories to say about my lack of patience and my potty mouth during those times. This is something I have to pray for DAILY.)
“You have your hands full!”
As I drove I thought a lot about our current situation. And as I processed these comments I realized that at some point, maybe even from the beginning, people looking in started to see our life as a disaster. Those poor Carrolls.
And as I processed that I had this strong desire to change the way that people look at our family. Instead of pity and sadness, my desire is that people look at our family and see the hand of God. And they see how many ways we have been blessed!
One of our family catchphrases is: Uniquely Blessed.
What the world looks in and sees as broken and not ideal, we choose to see as a unique blessing.
We feel so extremely blessed that both of our children were born in a country that could give them lifesaving care. And even an age when those measures were attempted. If either boy was born even 50 years ago there is a very high chance that Malachi, Levi, and myself would not have lived.
We feel so blessed that God has given us the opportunity to be His hands and feet to both boys as we meet their daily needs. We are given the unique chance to practice loving others more than ourselves and allowing their needs to supersede our own.
We feel so blessed to be living a life that REQUIRES us to daily rely on God. I have to daily ask Him for wisdom, strength, and patience to get through each and every day. Sometimes that happens in a quiet, prayerful tone but more often than not it comes as a loud and exasperated scream in moments when I need it most. My prayer time before children used to be so generic, and now I am able to make firm requests of God and watch Him provide those needs.
I saw this funny little picture this week and have laughed and laughed at its accuracy for my family:
We feel so blessed that God has equipped us to be parents to such special children. God didn’t give us children we were prepared for, but He has given us the tools we have needed to raise and care for them.
What exactly is the definition of a blessing? Any guesses?
It is actually defined as “God’s favor and protection”. Is the Carroll family “blessed” according to this definition? UNDENIABLY SO!
The Hebrew word used in the Bible for blessing is “esher” which translates to “happiness”. Process that for a minute. Is the Carroll family “blessed” according to this definition? ABSOLUTELY!
While it is so easy to look in on our lives and focus on the negative, Jake and I desire for you to peer in and spot all of the ways we are uniquely blessed.
God has shown us His favor. God has shown us His protection. And oh my, are we saturated in happiness.
There is a verse that played in my head over and over while I drove. I have said it to myself hundreds of times this week as I cling to its words.
I can’t seem to get my mind off of the first line.
No disaster can overtake you
As I said this line over and over this week I felt the presence of God, as though He was speaking this directly to me. I have had so many Holy Spirit moments this week where I feel the presence of God so incredibly strong. It has brought me to tears.
“Leah, no disaster will overtake you. I have ordered my angels to guard you wherever you and your sweet boys go. You have no reason to fear. Walk with confidence in me.”
God doesn’t promise us a disaster free life. We have been ransacked with disasters. But like He says, not one of those can overtake us.
2 Corinthians 4 says this:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
WOW. The Carroll family has been pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, struck down. Life has been disastrous.
Through all of our disaster, God has rescued us from getting crushed, kept us from despair, not abandoned us, and kept us from being destroyed. My God has done that for me.
I can’t think of anything more encouraging and beautiful than knowing He loves me that much. And while the disasters come, and boy do they find their way to our family, I find comfort in knowing that no disaster will overtake us.
Oh goodness I have so many other things just bursting inside of me to tell you but I will save them for another day. I pray that this week you will be able to look at your disasters and be able to see the destruction, but also see those blessings, knowing that God protected you.
And I pray that you are able to find all the ways in your life that you are uniquely blessed.