We have had a lot of up and downs since my last post. Malachi is now in the PICU with acute liver failure and docs aren’t able to figure out why. He has had a really hard week and is absolutely worn out. At this point he is mostly healed from surgery and we have just moved on to more complicated things.
We got a call from the pediatrician today that Levi tested positive for RSV on Tuesday. In addition he has a double ear infection. Thankfully he is doing really well and breathing safely at this point.
We are thankful for all of your prayers and would like to ask for more as we navigate some hard things right now. If I get a chance I will type an update on Sunday but please pray for our boys.
As I write this update we are still inpatient in the hospital with Malachi as he recovers from his unexpected surgery on Friday afternoon.
Wednesday morning Malachi woke up with a tight tummy. He always wakes up with a wonky stomach so we spend the first two hours of every day venting him and getting him in a comfortable place to medicate and feed him. He got his morning feed at 10:00 and we usually try to feed him every 4-5 hours. When 2:00 rolled around I checked his residual (undigested food) and his whole 8 ounce breakfast came out meaning he hadn’t digested any of it.
This is not normal for Malachi. Sometimes when things are moving slowly through his gut we may have a 1-2 ounce residual but it have a whole feed come back out was a huge red flag. He was very uncomfortable and his belly was swollen and distended so we spent some time trying to medicate him and get him comfortable but to no avail. Around dinner time Wednesday I decided to take him on to the emergency room and rule out some of the big things that often pair with these symptoms.
Unfortunately the ER was packed and they put us in a SHARED room. I was dumbfounded that with Covid still lingering they are doubling up patients in the same tiny rooms separated by a curtain. Not to mention an immunosuppressed kid like our Malachi. But something just felt so off with Malachi. On the way to the ER he started vomiting so much that I stopped by a Dollar General to buy bath towels to catch it all. I am sure the family in our shared room was cringing each time Malachi started a puking spell. Malachi was lethargic at this point, sleeping through IVs and vitals which is never a good sign.
I expressed my concerns about a bowel blockage or a shunt malfunction and they ordered a chest x-ray, abdominal x-ray, and a CT scan to check the shunt function. They also ordered a CBC and some other bloodwork and started an IV since he hadn’t processed any food that day. All of the tests and images came back clear and without issue with the exception of a slightly elevated white blood cell count. The doctor felt that maybe he was coming down with something viral so after a few rounds of hydration we were sent home. I was so relieved to hear it wasn’t one of the “big issues” I feared it was when we went in.
That night Malachi continued to vomit every drop of pedialyte or medication I tried to get into him. When he gets sick I chart everything and by the time this morning rolled around Malachi had thrown up more than 50 times in under 2 days. When his stomach was empty he began throwing up stomach bile, and when that color started to change I got even more concerned.
Malachi was telling me exactly where on his tummy he hurt and it was near his side where his appendix is located. The next day after our ER visit he still wasn’t improving so I took him to the pediatrician. They ran more bloodwork and ran another IV for fluids since he was clearly dehydrating quickly. The bloodwork showed the same numbers as the ER, so if this were viral he wasn’t getting progressively more sick. They were concerned about the appendix and suggested that I take him in on Friday if we didn’t see any improvement. He also started running a low grade fever.
Thursday night Malachi continued to worsen, crying out in pain often and projectile vomiting a very dark green stomach bile every 30 minutes. I started noticing chunks of dark, old blood and I kept thinking about his appendix and as soon as the sun rose for the day I loaded him up and took him back to the emergency room. I asked them to do an abdominal CT to check for appendix issues and they got him down there relatively quickly. Malachi was still in a lot of pain and continued to vomit stomach bile.
The ER doc pulled up the scans and it just so happened that a surgeon was in the ER at that very moment. She called him over to take a look and gave him a quick history on Malachi and he spotted what looked like a twist in the small intestine. He knew that Malachi had a VP shunt and any leaking of intestinal contents (common with a blockage) could easily make their way into Malachi’s shunt tubing which could have severe consequences. He came in the room and told me that he usually likes to wait 48 hours to see if the twists self resolve but in Malachi’s case he felt he needed to go to emergency surgery right away. He said there was a chance that we would find a part of his intestine that had been damaged by the twist and would need to be removed. This surgery would take several hours and require at least a week in the PICU.
As he said all of this to me I just nodded in affirmation, trying to stay focused. He stopped and said “I’m sorry, but you seem very unemotional about all of this.” The call out caught me off guard and I simply explained that Malachi has been in severe pain and very sick for since Wednesday- what a blessing it was that he had figured out the cause and had the ability to address and fix it! It is so interesting how being a medical momma completely changes your perspective on things. More on that in a minute.
For most moms hearing “emergency surgery” would cue panicky tears, and I won’t lie- that was my first instinct. But we are used to emergencies and we are used to really bad news. I have been told that my children stopped breathing and were being resuscitated. I have been told that surgeries failed and we were out of options. I have been told to run quickly to my child’s room before they were whisked off to an emergency surgery that no one expected him to survive. When your mind is littered with worst case scenarios, a low-risk emergency surgery seems like such a blessing.
I reassured the nurses listening in that I wasn’t a serial killer void of emotions, just trying to reserve them for later when Malachi wasn’t listening in. One of the hardest parts of medical momma mode is convincing the boys that what’s about to happen is no big deal. If I am trying to do that amidst sobs and tears then I am sure they aren’t buying into it. I go into robot mode, convincing myself even that this really isn’t going to be a big deal and hoping that the emotions are contagious with the boys.
Within 30 minutes of finding the twisted intestine Malachi was in surgery. With Covid protocols I ended up waiting in a room where I gave myself a solid 15 minute ugly cry, then called Jake to tell him Malachi was in surgery, and then continued to wait. After 1.5 hours the surgeon came in to tell me that when they opened Malachi up they found lots of scar tissue from previous surgeries. As he was heading towards the problem area, hacking through it like a machete in a rainforest jungle, he found one large band of scar tissue that had pinned down a chunk of the small intestine. In doing so it had completely clamped off that portion and created a blockage that nothing could pass through. He snapped the scar tissue and immediately everything started sailing through and out. The medical students that were in the room re-played the scene later for me and they said it was fascinating. The surgeon snipped the scar tissue and BAM the intestines “inflated” and all the backed up contents shot out. No damage was found on the intestine itself meaning we caught it wonderfully early. And interesting to note- the blockage was over by Malachi’s appendix, right where he indicated to me there was the most pain. Smart boy and amazing.
The outcome was the BEST possible outcome.
Malachi came back from the OR with a 4 inch incision, an NG tube coming out of his nose to clear the intestines while they heal, and a catheter for his urine. He was miserable but for the first time in days he was not vomiting. He insisted I sit close enough to him to hold his hand all evening and we talked about how brave and amazing he is. We did not end up going to the PICU which is such a blessing. In the PICU there is no privacy, no bathrooms, and you witness a lot of things and situations that stick with you for a long time. We are in a big room and have been playing lots of UNO, watching lots of movies, and snuggling. This morning we held our own church service snuggled up in bed singing praise and worship songs.
The did a nerve block so Malachi wouldn’t feel pain from the surgery site for 2 days. As of this afternoon (Sunday) the meds have worn off and Malachi is definitely feeling it. We had made some great progress the last few days but took several steps back today, going back on oxygen and battling some very large seizures induced by the pain that he is in. You can see the progress and the regression in the photos. I was feeling SO good about possibly being discharged on Monday but now I am thinking we will be here an extra few days. I hope I am wrong.
Jake is home with Levi and we have chosen to divide and conquer on this one. We FaceTime with dad and Levi several times a day and share stories. Levi was so excited that Malachi had oxygen tubing on his face. He kept saying “oxygen like me!” His excitement over the tubing made Malachi puff out his chest with pride, and is now a badge of honor in his eyes. Surgery is a common word in our home, so when I shared with Levi that Malachi had surgery Levi didn’t skip a beat. I love that they have another medically quirky bro to relate with.
Covid precautions are still in place and they are not allowing visitors. Thankfully some of our Hopsital buddies have come by to visit Malachi, and he was THRILLED. He started giggling and smiling for the first time in days. It brought tears to my eyes to see how happy he was, and to know there are so many people who love him.
Here is a video of Malachi and his hospital buddies:
My gut told me this would be an inpatient stay when we headed to the ER for the second time so I packed enough stuff to get through several days. I have spent over 300 nights in the hospital with my boys so I can pack a hospital bag insanely fast- maybe there is a Guinness World Record for that. Someone sent me a gift card for Door Dash and WOW that is a game changer!!! Being inpatient on a weekend is extra tough because everything shuts down in the hospital at weird hours on the weekends. With Door Dash I can order a meal from any local restaurant and have them meet me in the lobby of the ER, meaning Malachi only has to be alone in the room for 2 minutes. Amazing!
Mentally we are all holding up well. Obviously the situation isn’t an ideal one, and watching Malachi suffer never gets “routine” or normal. But I do have to say that I have felt God allllll over this one.
Sometimes during our medical issues I feel like we are under attack spiritually. But I never felt that with this one. God was so incredibly clear with me on when to take him in, which is something I specifically pray for. He was very specific on leading me to the issue and the words to help advocate for Malachi. God was so present and pushy (can I say that about God haha? Is that allowed?) that I knew His hand was on the situation.
When you see God working so actively it is hard to justify mourning over a situation. Instead I get distracted thinking “What is He up to?”
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’ “ Lamentations 3:19-24
I don’t think I can find a better verse to explain what has been happening in my heart this week. As you know, I have some pretty severe PTSD in this place. I have to close my eyes when I pass certain seats, certain doors, and certain doctors. It is like I am watching a movie and can replay the moments we dealt with bad news in each of those situations. I can literally tell you how my ankles were folded and what shoes I was wearing when I called Jake to tell him that Malachi had been diagnosed with Infantile Spasms. I can tell you what table and chair I sat at in the dining hall when I got a phone call from the NICU about Levi. This place is a walking scrapbook of some of my most horrible moments.
But even in this dark, sad place I have hope. I can remember the relieved faces of surgeons as they entered rooms to tell me they witnessed a miracle and my son was alive. I can tell you what chair I was sitting in when I felt the Holy Spirit enter the room during brain surgery and offer me a comfort only He could provide. I can see God in the moments when the ER doc says “As luck would have it, one of the surgeons walked in just as Malachi’s scans were sent.”
We have been sent into the fire an incredible amount of times with our children. But I can testify that we have never been consumed. The flames have touched our skin and left marks, the scalpels have pierced and left their scars, but we have never been consumed by the flames.
Because of this we have learned that the flames in life are not meant to be feared or avoided. It is in the flames that you see the invisible embrace of God. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed.”
His compassions never fail.
And oh how great is His faithfulness to our family. This hospital is a living testament to that, and in the ashes of all of my memories in the fire here I see that we have never left the protection of my God.
So like the verse says, I continue to believe wholeheartedly that the Lord is my portion. And I will continue to wait patiently for Him to reveal our passageway out of this fire that we are currently in.
And lastly, I feel deep in my heart that there is more to this surgery that we haven’t seen yet. For the first time in YEARS Malachi is able to pass gas, leading me to believe that this scar tissue has been partially blocking him for quite some time. As you know, his seizures are triggered the most by tummy pain and knowing that this might help that excites me so much.
He is so proud each time he lets one rip. I told him it is his new superpower. Today I was telling the nurse that he passed more gas (something we document for the surgeon) and he pushed with all his might to pop another one out for her. When he succeeded he was so proud. Such a boy.
Please pray overtime for Malachi, specifically for his pain management. He is such a warrior and has been handling this so incredibly well. We are canceling our trip to Nashville this week and he is dealing with the disappointment from that. I hyped it up BIG TIME talking about all of the fun things he and I were going to do in between appointments. Now that those fun expectations have been replaced with surgery and pain he is understandably sad. Thank you for helping lift us up during the tiring times and thank you for listening to my dump out my brain and heart each week. It continues to amaze me that so many strangers love my children- what a special thing.
I am so relieved to share with you that surgery was successful. Malachi has had multiple abdominal surgeries since his birth and each one has left behind lots of scar tissue. The surgeon started snipping scar tissue that was in the way to get the the problem spot they noted on the CT scan and found a piece of scar tissue pinching down a chunk of intestine. Once they snipped it the gut started flowing immediately. No noticeable damage to the intestine that required cutting out and reattaching sections.
Surgeon is very pleased and said it was a good thing we didn’t wait any longer as it would have gotten much worse and most definitely never self resolved.
Malachi had a nerve block in the operating room so he isn’t feeling the pain quite yet and shouldn’t for 2-3 days. He is still hooked to a catheter for urine, multiple IVs, and a NG tube down his nose to allow air and stomach contents to stay out of the intestine while it heals. He is still getting some whiffs of oxygen to help keep his stats up.
He has a four inch incision down the center of his belly which will make handling him very difficult. Our goal right now is to leave him as still as he will allow us and let his gut rest. We are in a room on the regular floor and not the PICU which is a huge step in the right direction. The surgeon said to expect a 7 day stay but if Malachi starts bouncing back more quickly than that we will make it home sooner. He is setting the tone for his healing.
Obviously this has been a pretty dramatic week for us, and I should have plenty of time to write you all a thorough update on Sunday night. Thank you for the prayers and please keep them coming for pain management and no more surprises.
Prayers needed. Malachi just went back for emergency surgery. They found a twist in his intestine and they will be going in to untwist it and repair any intestine damage/death they find. The situation is a bit risky as his shunt tubing goes from his brain to his abdomen. If they find that any digestive or fecal matter has leaked out through a damaged part of the intestine there is a chance it could somehow find it’s way into Malachi’s brain area. This is not typically a life or death surgery but would easily turn life or death if we don’t do it right now.
Two more weeks. Jake goes back to school in just two more weeks and I have already started the mourning process. Having him home for the summer is an indescribable blessing and gives me a burst of respite care.
We had a week of adventure in the Carroll house as Jake’s family traveled down for a visit. We had a dozen people staying in our home and both of the kids thoroughly loved the cousin time. We held our first annual “Cousin Olympics” with temporary tattoos, seven events, and an awards ceremony at the end. The older cousins took turns helping Malachi compete in all of the events and he had such a great time. He even earned a 2nd place medal in the Sock Ball contest.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a cousin adventure without some sunset s’mores!
Jake’s family rented a giant 25ft water slide for the weekend and the whole drive over we talked it up to the boys, their excitement growing the closer we got. But when we got there we realized that it may be a little dangerous to try, especially with trying to protect Malachi’s body. But after all the hype we had given it we knew we had to make it work for him! We turned off the water portion and sent him down with Jake.
I took a brief video so you could see his sweet smile at the end:
Little Levi, on the other hand, was not a fan.
We have been working with Shiloh this week on retrieving things for Malachi. We have been watching both dogs to see which one has a better temperament for service and Shiloh seems to be the winner over Tuck. He and Malachi have a connection and he always wants to be close to him. He sits very still next to him to allow Malachi to take his time petting him. They are 70 pounds each now and 6 months old and we love having them in our world.
Malachi and I will leave next week for Nashville and I have been trying to map out a few fun things to do along the way in between appointments. He is very excited about getting to go on a trip with mom, and it is fueled by Levi’s tears as he screams that he wants to go too.
I started Malachi on a new medication this week called oral baclofen which we are hoping to use to reduce his seizures and help him sleep. It’s main use for kids with CP is to help tight muscles loosen so that is an added bonus but not the primary purpose for us. He was actually prescribed this in February but came down with COVID that same week so I put it on the shelf until I felt comfortable. The problem is that I really really really hate starting him on new medications. New medications tend to steal his personality from us a bit and then if they aren’t the right fit, weaning him off of a new med can take months. I finally felt like the time was right to start it, so here we go. He has been on it for 3 days and while he has been extra emotional it doesn’t seem to be doing anything negative to his system quite yet.
Malachi also got fitted for a new wheelchair this week, and this time he went with “Electric Blue”. He tells me he wants it to be superhero themed so I am finding accessories I think I can rig on there to make it special for him. It takes a few months for it to arrive, so it will be a fun distraction until it is ready for him.
One of my favorite chunks of scripture in the Bible is Isaiah 40. I am such an imaginative person and it paints such a beautiful picture of God. I memorized a chunk of this chapter in college and I didn’t realize how much it would ring true later on in my life.
”Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”
I think weary is a perfect word for me. Our days require 100% from us, and because of the nature of caregiving I cannot simply take a day off. I haven’t had a full nights sleep in 8 years and the sleep I do get is littered with lots of wake ups to make sure the kids are still breathing and to check feeding pumps.
But as tired as I often get I have watched God take a limp and lifeless Leah and ask more from me. God doesn’t need my energy. He doesn’t need my best. There is nothing that God NEEDS from me. He simply desires my willingness.
In my own strength I cannot fulfill the expectations I have for myself. I cannot fill others expectations, or even God’s expectations with the meager portions of energy I have left each day. But it isn’t MY energy that God is looking for. He is looking for me to wait patiently on the Lord for Him to share His strength with me. That is what a real relationship looks like.
Jake and I find it humorous the things that God continues to call us to. Every time we think there isn’t anything left to give, God places another calling or task on our hearts and we walk in obedience. I often don’t talk about some of these callings because I don’t want to sound like I am soliciting glory from any of them. But I do have a point to make so stick with me!
Right now we are serving at the church as youth ministers. This involves leading Bible studies two nights a week and feeding them all in our home (30-40 of them) on Sunday evenings. I start cooking around 3pm on Sundays and finish cleaning and start blogging around midnight on. Most Sunday mornings I also serve on the worship team at church so we are go-go-go from sun up to sun down. We also do lots of events with them, including an upcoming overnight retreat for the girls in my basement.
Jake leads a men’s Bible study at the house each Saturday evening. The wives started riding along and now we have the men meet downstairs with Jake and the women meet upstairs for their own God conversations.
We are coaching the high school boys and girls soccer teams. This one is a calling, as odd as it sounds. Talking too much in detail about that doesn’t feel right, so I will leave it at that. This week they will be coming over to the house for dinner and bonding after practice.
I am still serving as the church secretary, which was most definitely something that God clearly called me to. My time in that role is coming to an end very soon, and I feel a peace about passing it on to someone new.
Even with all of these roles, all of these duties, and all of these expectations I still feel God tugging us to do more.
When you have faith in God, it also includes having faith that when He calls you to something He will also give you the resources, energy, and strength to complete the task.
When you have faith in God when he says jump, you jump…even when you don’t have any legs! God is the only one qualified enough to tell us our limits, as He created each of us with particular tasks in mind.
This rings true in my role as a mother as well as we have watched God time and time again carry me through WEEKS of three hour nights of sleep. He has carried me through over 300 days spent in hospitals at my children’s bedside.
This is obviously not written to bring any glory or compliments on Jake and I, but rather to encourage you to be a “Yes Man” to God. When the Holy Spirit tugs you in a certain direction just obey. Don’t overthink it. Don’t pros/cons list it. Don’t even give it a second thought. Obey and watch God give you a portion of His wisdom and His strength. Watching God use a lifeless Leah has built my faith and trust in Him way more than any powerful testimony I could hear.
Our family is back at home after a week away with the teens. We jokingly say goodbye to each other whenever we embark on a youth camp week because we want to free each other from all other focus but the teens and their spiritual needs. Although we do spend a lot of time in the presence of each other at camp we try to keep our focus on the kids.
I was very blessed to have friends come along this year who were willing to stay with my boys at the rental house, allowing me to attend chapels and very late nights with the youth. Most nights I didn’t get back until 2am and they never complained! What a blessing they were to me.
During the day times we all loaded up and went to camp for the day. Malachi and Levi were both so excited to spend time with the teens and Levi would giggle each day when we arrived. This has been a part of Malachi’s summer since his birth so it is old news to him and something he thoroughly enjoys.
Each year as I pack for camp I ask myself why in the world I am doing this. It is always an extremely long week for all of us and sleep is even rarer than at home. But every single year God reminds me in His own subtle ways why He is calling me to go back year after year. The conversations I get to have with these amazing teens about God is something special. Being able to be on this spiritual journey with them for 7 years of their life is profoundly impacting my own faith. I get to watch God grow these children of His from babies to eating the meat of God’s Word.
This year it took about 24 hours for God to point out why He had called me there that week. I won’t be able to go into detail on here as I want to protect confidentiality, but WOW did God move…and quickly!
As the devil often does, he noticed my joy as the week progressed and started to attack in subtle ways. At one point in the week the teens all do an obstacle course in the mud. This is always a highlight of the week so I drove Malachi down to the course area and set up a chair right next to the first mud pit so he could hear them splashing. The air horn blew and Malachi was on pins and needles listening to the kids enter the mud and run through it. Their squeals made him giggle and his joy was contagious. The kids all finished the course and headed on to the next thing and Malachi and I sat in that chair for an extra few minutes. His smile faded as the kids left and as I watched him intently listening for them as they moved away I couldn’t help but get a lump in my throat.
I could feel in my heart how much Malachi longed to be with them. How much we wanted to get in that mud and splash just like they were. I leaned down at one point and explained that no other little kids were in the mud, that it was only for the big kids and that answered was good enough for him. But soon the day will come when that answer will be a lie. And soon the day will come when Levi is able to do all of those things and the isolation Malachi will feel already breaks my heart.
Special needs parenting is so hard in so many different ways. Some of those I have yet to even uncover, but these glimpses of them are so hard to process.
I truthfully don’t know how many more camps I will be able to attend as Malachi grows. Right now we can still toss him over our shoulder and carry him into non-accessible places, but as he grows that might change. I am cherishing these special weeks until that day comes.
The word that the Spirit placed on my heart this week was “Authentic”. Our ability to bring others closer to Christ is severely limited, and in some cases counter productive, if we aren’t authentic in our faith and in our walk with God. So many times we hide the real us in an effort to portray what we think is a better version of ourselves.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 “For consider your calling, brothers and sisters, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the insignificant things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no human may boast before God. But it is due to Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ “
There are words in that verse that are compliments that people would love to hear said about them: wise, strong, noble.
Then there are words that we would cringe about if they were spoken about us: foolish, weak, insignificant.
But it is those seemingly shameful attributes that God sees a need for Him. He sees brokenness that only He can fix, and when God works in and through our weaknesses the glory can undeniably rest on Him and Him alone.
Authentic faith is so important. Being able to share the good and the bad pleases God. Some of my most powerful God moments were in my weakest and darkest moments. God loves to turn ashes to beauty and bones into an army.
We witnessed very authentic faith this week start to grow and take root in many of our teens. Listening to their hearts was such a blessing and made me take a fresh look at my own level of authenticity.
Please pray for our family as we recuperate from camp and prayerfully choose a route to go with the group. It is always a wonderful challenge to take the fire they have in their hearts from a week focused on God and do what we can to keep the flame shining brightly.
Also pray for our upcoming trip to Nashville to meet with Malachi’s spine and orthopedic surgeon. I don’t expect bad news, but it always reopens the conversation about Malachi’s future and leads to some hard conversations and reality checks.
We are a 9 days post op and Levi is officially back to his normal, rambunctious self.
Whenever they clean his lungs his body registers something foreign and tries to fight it off. It is common to run fevers and feel a bit puny after a bronchoscopy as the body tries to figure out what is happening. Other parts of the procedure tend to irritate his airway and cause him to vomit for several days post op. This go around he had three days of vomiting by leveled back out by mid week.
Malachi met with the gastroenterologist this week to talk about his tummy aches; they spark his seizures so keeping them at bay is a big priority right now. We were given an emergency med for the tummy aches last time but this time we decided to go ahead and make it a routine, daily med. Administering meds has become such a routine part of our world that I feel confident I could do it in my sleep. But it definitely is a lot of to keep track of. Malachi takes 6 meds in the morning and 6 in the evening and Levi takes 2 each night and a water flush.
We spent some time with family this week at the bowling alley. Malachi was in a cranky mood so we weren’t sure that it was going to go smoothly. Once I started narrating the game to Malachi, frame by frame and pin by pin he was hooked and his attitude turned right around.
When Malachi bowls we place the ball and he pushes his arm up to knock it down the ramp.
He is very invested in it each time he rolls it. He waits expectantly for the crash of the pins and for us to tell him how many he knocked down. He so desperately wanted a strike but didn’t get it this time. He ended up in 2nd place and was legitimately mad about it, telling me that he was sad. He is si competitive- it cracks me up.
Then there was Levi, who was way more excited about getting to wear bowling shoes than actually bowling.
I haven’t mentioned the dogs on here lately, so I thought it was time for a quick update on them. They are just shy of 6 months and 60 pounds each! They don’t look like puppies anymore but they sure do act like puppies. They are sweet to the boys and very tolerant but don’t realize how big they have gotten!They have retained most of their training and are very well behaved, but still have to be watched closely as they are starting to try to chew on things. We are trying to train them to stay within the property lines and they are doing really well with the concept. And since they have been at the house we have not had a single bear come up to the porch like they used to! Our neighborhood camera have been picking up a lot of bears but none are making it to our front door.
This week we will be heading to South Carolina with 47 teens/chaperones from our youth group! Jake stays with the campers and I rent a house a few miles down the road each year and commute. It is a week we all four look forward to and we treat it as our family summer vacation. It is always such a blessing to be able to connect with the teens and help them grow closer in their walk with Christ. Yes, it is an insane amount of prep work, fundraising, and stress but it is so worth it.
For the last few years I have had two very sweet nurse friends come along to help with Malachi and Levi. I wouldn’t be able to manage going without their support!
Each year I spend time in prayer about the direction we need to go with the group. We like to give them a challenge for the week spiritually and on the final night we meet and all discuss the things God showed us throughout the week. We start around midnight and usually wrap up at 3am- something Malachi has prepared me for. Oddly enough I am usually the most wide eyed for these thanks to my years of training haha.
This year God led me to 1 Kings 19. If you haven’t read it, I want to encourage you to look it up. This chapter in itself is a devotional on so many levels and has so many relatable moments for me. But the things I am about to share with the teens are also so applicable for me as well, so I thought I would share them with you. This morning at church the pastor preached from this very chunk of scripture which made me smile in a God-moment type way.
In 1 Kings 19 we see Elijah going through a valley moment. He is running from an evil woman and he loses sight of his faith. God speaks to him and asks him one simply question: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
God already knows the answer, so why did He ask the question?
Elijah, in his moments of weakness, had focused inward. This is something all of us tend to do in stressful moments. We forget all of our previous successes and focus on the current failure. We mourn over it, dwell on it, and put our eyes on our circumstance instead of the One who can draw us out of it.
When God spoke that question to Elijah I think it was meant to snap him out of his pity party. It was meant to refocus him on God’s plan and will for his life, and help him remember that even in our darkest days we have a Light that can never be extinguished.
Even in our valley moments God is working on something beautiful.
And like the faithful Father that He is, God took the time to remind Elijah of His presence. He took him on a mountain and we read in 1 Kings 19:11-13:
“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.”
So many times we wait on God to get our attention with the grandiose things in our lives- the wind (change), the earthquake (tragedy), the fire (loss). How many times do we miss His voice because we aren’t listening for the whisper?
Listening for the whispers of God keeps us close to Him. With the help of the Spirit we develop an ear for His voice. But so often in our moments of intense listening we catch other noisy things that draw our focus away from Him.
In my life I need the moments where God whispers “What are you doing here, Leah?”
I need Him to call me out of my pity parties and refocus my ear on His voice. Watching God work is a learned skill. It is something you have to train your eyes for, and when you start to master it you see His hand in EVERYTHING! And when you see Him at work, with the ease of a gentle whisper, your faith is transformed.
This week I am challenging my teens to listen for the whisper moments of God. I want to challenge you (and myself) to do the same. Please pray for us this week and I am hoping to have some great updates to share with you next week!