A Good Heartbreak

The Carroll family is getting some cabin fever! Our schedule has slowed down pretty significantly in the evenings so we have been enjoying lots of family time together, and some good old fashioned competition like the pre-kids days. Bonus points for you if you can figure out what game we are playing.

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On Friday morning Malachi had a pretty big seizure on the way to school. I was able to get him back to a safe level and continued with the plan to drop him off for a few hours. When I picked him back up his teacher told me he had another bigger seizure while at school. By the time I got him home he was running a temperature and had his “sick eyes”.

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We have been fever fighting all weekend and cautiously watching him to see if it turns into anything else, but so far he doesn’t have any other symptoms. Since both of the boys end up in the bedroom at the same time at some point in the night, Malachi and I have been camping out in the living room and letting Jake and Levi have the bedroom. When Malachi is sick his sleep patterns and seizures get turned upside-down and tends to wake up Levi.

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His fever broke in the middle of the night last night and he has perked up a bit today. But Levi definitely isn’t used to being cooped up in the house this long. He has been getting into lots and lots of mischief, like pouring a pitcher of milk on his head tonight. He has also been super helpful lately and likes to drop everything into the sink…everything. He has also been swirling this broom around like a chinese fighting stick, relentlessly knocking everything and everyone in his path.

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Jake and I have been trying to teach Levi about the potty in hopes it will make potty training easier in the future. We explain the process each time we go to the restroom and at one point I said “We say bye bye to the pee.” as I flushed the toilet. Apparently that was the wrong wording because he has now decided that the toilet is his friend. He sneaks in there and has conversations with the toilet, bending down really close to the seat to make sure the toilet can hear him. Last week I even saw him kiss the cover like it was his long lost friend. AHHHHH.

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While Levi’s “toddlerness” is definitely challenging my level of patience, there are so many fun things about this phase that he is in. He makes us laugh continually! He is also so conscientious about including Malachi in everything that he does.

On Thursday I dropped Malachi off at school and met another medical mama in Chattanooga. Our friendship truly is a God created one as she and her baby were also transferred from Chattanooga to Cincinnati for an airway issue. We met for the first time this past summer when we were in Cincinnati for Levi’s surgery. It is always so refreshing to be around other moms who understand our world.

We met at a mall and I let Levi play in the small play area, which was a serious challenge for my germaphobe issues. I prayed a bubble of protection over him before I let him unleash his energy. And oh boy, did he love it! He loved the climbing and sliding, but he loved the interaction with the other kids the most. He is incredibly friendly and loves to follow around the other kids and talk to them.

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After he played a bit I sanitized every safe part of his body and stripped him down before putting him in the car. And of course he got a hot bath as soon as we got home!

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Malachi has been doing exceptionally well on his horse lately and really making some progress with how he is using his body to functionally do things. When the temp drops too low we have to stop riding so we have been grateful for the tolerable temps and the forward progress.

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Jake has the week off and we are looking forward to tackling some house projects and family time. Some of our family will be coming in from Ohio to visit and Saturday will be Malachi’s big Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

I have had so many heavy things on my heart lately…things that wake me up at night and require instant prayers. It is so hard to see so many in our world suffering with big things. It is so easy to see the suffering and allow the enormity of it to overwhelm you without letting it prod you into action.

I look at the beautiful and blessed life that we have been given and I am so challenged lately to not allow myself to fall into the consumerism that plagues our world. It is so easy to find comfort in accumulated things, but that feeling is fleeting when it is rooted into possessions.

A few months ago Jake and some of the men from our church connected with a group of homeless people in Chattanooga that were living in a tent community together. One of the women at our church drove by their small community on her way to work and her heart was pricked so she and her husband asked that we find a way to minister to them.

Each of them had different factors that led to their situation…

One was an elementary school teacher that had lost her job.

One was a man that was diagnosed with terminal cancer and had chosen to not seek treatment. Jake is convinced this man won’t survive the winter.

Many of them told Jake they were one paycheck away from being able to get a roof back over their heads and had just had several catastrophic events happen that led them to homelessness. Their similar situations had bonded this group together and they looked out for each other.

Over the last several months we have been gathering requested supplies for these families…they never once asked us for money but instead asked for boots, warm socks, winter coats, tents, bottled water, propane for their stoves. We were planning a big Thanksgiving meal for them but when we went to work out the details we found out that the police had made them all leave the premises.

We will likely never see these people again. But sometimes all we are called to do is plant the seed. We were able to share the gospel with them several times and plant the seed of Jesus into their hearts. Now we have to trust that God will water that seed and continue to cause it to grow.

When you get to witness some of the suffering of our world firsthand and speak to the ones suffering your perspective changes. You can’t unsee and you can’t ignore.

My heart has also been broken for families like ours with medical children. I look at our journey, and as rough and unpredictable as each of our children have been we have been surrounded by a network of praying and supportive people in our world. There are so many medical families that don’t have that same support.

The NICU world is so full of hurt and hopelessness. There is so much darkness and so much pain.

That being said, I have felt so led to do something for ICU moms on Christmas. I have been praying about the project and asking God for guidance and for weeks I have been hearing crickets. I have learned over the years that when I try to manufacture projects like these the kingdom impact is small, but when I allow God to do the planning the impact is bigger than I could even imagine!

When I feel called towards something but don’t get the details from God right away I tend to second guess the calling. But this week I was teaching the youth about the faith of Abraham and how he walked up the mountain with Isaac, determined to walk in faith and obedience…something I am not always good at.

So even though I didn’t have a direction for my NICU project I made the decision yesterday to walk in obedience and have faith that God would tell me what needs to be done. Faith requires action. So we gathered up several items around the house that we have no need for and sold them to get the funds started for the project.

Then last night around 4am God gave me the game plan! I guess he was looking for by obedient heart to trump my need for micro-managing. Give me another week to sort out details and logistics but I would love to give you all the opportunity to jump in on this one!

As I went through our possessions to find items to sell I was almost disgusted at how many unnecessary things we have. I thought about our homeless friends and the looks on their faces if they were to see how much useless stuff we cling to. I looked at all of our medical equipment and toys and thought about how many medical moms would be thrilled to even get a single item like these.

It led me to really process how I want my children to be raised. I don’t want them focused on acquiring more things. I don’t want them to put their identity into objects. But in order to do that in today’s world I am going to have to be very intentional.

I saw this idea today and instantly fell in love with it. I figured I would share it on here in case any other moms wanted to try it out.

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A few days before Christmas these boxes go under the tree and each child fills it with quality toys they would like to pass on to someone else. I am also really giving thought to finding a service project for our family to do each Christmas day. I think it is so important that we intentionally model and teach our children to have the heart of Christ and look for ways to be different than the world, like the Bible calls us to do. What’s more different than the world then taking a day focused on “me me me” and finding ways to focus it on others.

I feel like I am all over the map tonight. I know I blame sleep deprivation a lot so let’s go with that excuse again haha.

I can tell you all this…God is working on my heart in many ways. I feel it. He is challenging me, calling me, and instilling a new healthy empathy within me.

I am so grateful that God is allowing my heart to break for others. It is so easy for me to get caught up in my own difficult world and use it as an excuse to close my eyes to those suffering around me. May we never become so established in this world that we don’t seek to bring light into the dark places.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

Leah

 

 

4 thoughts on “A Good Heartbreak

  1. This is one of the Great gifts God has given you. Communication and of course Empathy. Beautiful words. Thank you. Love the Pics. I remember giving a disabled child one of my sons beautiful racing Red wheelchairs that had a lot of creature comforts as much as one who sits a lot can have. He and his mother were so happy and of course it made us feel like Robbie’s equipment was going to good use.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and the boys.

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  2. I read your posting like chapters in a book. I feel sad that I can’t flip to the next chapter to see what is going to happen. Of course, I realize that only God knows that. But somehow, I feel that when you finish this “book”, which is only conceived in my mind, God will say, “wait for the sequel. It’s going to show My Power and Glory more than the first one!” Isn’t that just like our Lord and Saviour, blessing us more than we can imagine?! Love you four! Linda R

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