Parenting-thing

The Battle Belongs (Part 3)

Two and a half weeks has passed since Tatum was discharged from Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, and so far her eye has continued to heal and look better and better!

If you missed part 2 you can read that here

Looking back I can see the repeated hand of Yahweh in our midst. The draining of the abscess spontaneously prevented her from needing surgery. After we recovered from a sleep shortage she felt pretty much back to normal–just stuck in a hospital room with the full attention of both of her parents. She was sort of in heaven, lol! She never experienced any pain despite what had to be a lot of pressure in her sinuses!

You can see on the right how the pus built up in the sinus cavity and into the orbital cavity, displacing her eyeball

To answer some questions I’ve received a lot:

The team of doctors *think* it started as a virus “with no symptoms” that made the cilia in her sinuses “tired” so they didn’t move out mucus–just on one side. At that point it became sinusitis, and the pus built up until it made it’s way into her orbital cavity and formed an abscess. Thankfully the abscess formed a head on the skin between her nose and eye and began to drain spontaneously, and continued to drain well with warm compresses.

She never felt any pressure or pain at all! She felt “sick” and had a fever on Christmas and the few days afterwards. On the 26th she woke up with her eye swollen shut.

There was nothing I could really have done to prevent it–how do you prevent something you don’t know is happening?! Yes, I asked multiple doctors.

There was nothing more I could have done than what we did (again, I asked because I don’t want to repeat this!). She was on antibiotics on the first day her eye swelled up. I even scheduled a repeat doctor visit because I was concerned the antibiotics she was on weren’t strong enough if it was periorbital cellulitis (which it was), so we switched and it seemed to improve. As someone who’s been able to handle almost every ailment at home with three kids (and a dog) for the past 8 years, I’ve made it my mission and my business to educate myself, and had three different doctors ask what my medical background was, lol. However, I think God was teaching me how little control I *actually* have.

And you know what–even if she HAD to have surgery, even if we had a much longer hospital stay, even if the really scary things that are associated with periorbital cellulitis had happened–he is STILL a good God. This world is broken–we broke it. He’s going to fix it all, eventually.

As a mama, reflecting on my time in the hospital I thought about how our Abba, our heavenly Daddy, does so much for us. I was *always* with her, an arm’s length away and ready to do whatever needed to be done. But I’m human. I got tired. I had my moment of tears when I learned they weren’t going to do surgery and I could release some emotion. I need my alone time. I get touched-out (like snuggling with her in her bed and she unknowingly elbowed me repeatedly in her sleep).

God doesn’t need “me” time. He doesn’t need a break from us. He doesn’t need a nap, need a break, need a cup of coffee. He’s always there, by our side, willing to do what He knows we need and be Who we need Him to be.

The girls and I have been listening to Everybody, Always (for kids) by Bob Goff on audio (read by him, which makes it even better). There’s a chapter where he talks about one of his kids who likes to skydive, and so he secretly took lessons to learn and told his son the next time he went skydiving to invite him to watch. Instead of just observing, he strapped on a parachute…much to the shock of his son…and assured him he’d be fine–how hard could it be? When it came time to jump, Bob talks about seeing his son leap out of an airplane and he had an overwhelming urge to be with him. He jumped so hard he literally jumped out of his sneakers. That kind of love–jumping out of your sneakers to be with someone–is one I know a lot of you have experienced, and I love knowing that amount of love is just a drop in the bucket compared to the love He feels for you.

So as I write this tonight, in an actual comfortable chair instead of the hard plastic one in the hospital, I’m so very thankful to rest in the knowledge of His love. To have experienced His indescribable peace. I have friends right now who are dealing with illness, looking at upcoming surgeries for themselves or their kids, or are sitting in a hospital room. My prayer is that you would feel him wrap His arms around you in His overwhelming love. If there’s a way I can pray for you, please feel free to drop me a line through this site or email me at kait@cultivatingabundantlife.com

And know that like in 2 Chronicles 20, the battle belongs to Yahweh. We pray, get prepared, and worship, and He takes care of the battle.

Tatum this past week earning her Bat badge in our homeschool group
Adventures, Parenting-thing

The Battle Belongs (Part 2)

If you missed Part 1, you can read that here

**On December 26 Tatum woke up with a very swollen eye. We talked with a Doctor and had her on antibiotics just hours later. I was concerned it was more serious so on Tuesday we saw another Doctor, and got on a different antibiotic. It was improving—swelling down, fever gone, etc. when New Year’s Day she woke up with much more swelling, and I could see an abscess. We went to urgent care, who directed us to the ER, who called in an ophthalmologist, who said we needed to transfer to Portland.**

The first battle was emotions. Just telling Tatum we were going to Urgent Care sent her sobbing uncontrollably. We got through that with prayer, a lavender Aroma Ring under the mask, reassurances, and a kind doctor who took one look at her eye and sent us to the Emergency room. We picked up my mom on the way, and with each new thing at the ER–repeating the story of the past week, doctors asking the same questions, doing the same exams–she grew braver and more confident. 

Then a certain ophthalmologist who could use some compassion training showed up and said bluntly we needed to go to Portland, probably by helicopter, and when Tatum asked if I was going with her he said, “maybe.” Uhhhhhh…Mama is going, no question about that, but it sent Tatum into a panic. Thanks, dude. He just gave a thumbs up and said, “Cool, a heli ride!” 

I thought my mom was going to murder him right there.

After hours of waiting to figure out transportation up there, we learned we were flying up there in a small plane. I made a frenzied trip back to the house (trying to follow my mom’s directions of where she parked the car and hopping a fence to get there faster), where I threw stuff in bags, not knowing if we were going through airport security or if I needed to follow the 3 ounce rule so leaving most liquids (like toothpaste) behind, and trying to grab as many comforting things for Tatum as possible but forgetting things like underwear for myself…priorities, right? I hugged my littles hard and kissed my old dog as I flew out the door. Driving back I listened to the song “Waymaker,” and felt that inexplicable peace wash over me. After parking I still decided throwing the bags over and hopping the fence shaved off a few minutes since we thought the plane was leaving very shortly. I pulled my quad as a thanks for that decision, LOL!

After wearing the mask in the ER I was starting to get a migraine, and often if it develops it can last 4-7 days. I did NOT have time for that. I literally dumped Cool Azul oil blend on my neck and shoulders and took a mystery OTC pain med from my mom’s mixed bottle of things, and then God fought the next battle for me. The transport team was totally great with Tatum and I not wearing masks in the ambulance or the flight, especially after they commented on the good smelling oils and I told them why I had used it. 

Then Doug, one of the EMTs, asked if we had any congestion or physical problems flying. I haven’t flown in 3 years because the last two times I’ve flown I’ve had intense sinus pain. Living in Oklahoma my allergies got worse and worse, and on a flight home the pain hit me like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I thought I was having an aneurism or something because the pain was worse than pushing out a 10 ½ lb baby naturally! So when I did mention that, Doug looked a little dubious and said I might experience some pain. I told him you could chop my arm off but I was going and he nodded his approval. 

At this point, Tatum was almost chipper. She’s so polite and friendly, she won over the team right away. Even getting loaded up in the gurney, hooked up to vitals, strapped down for the journey, making sure her stuffed dog was there, she had a great attitude and the fear and panic of before was nowhere to be seen. Thanks God–You handled that battle.

The friendliness and calm of the transport team helped Tatum have fun in the ambulance ride to the airport, and I snapped a few pics of her smiling as she was being loaded onto this tiny 5 seater plane. By that point my migraine had dissipated as well–chalk another one up to God for winning that battle. 

We loaded up on the aircraft and Doug asked her if she’d been on a small airplane before. She said, “No, but my mom has when she went to Africa.” 

“You were in Africa?” he asked and I told him I’d been to Uganda and we flew to northern Uganda in small planes. I got to share a bit about what Far Reaching Ministries got to do in Gulu, Kitgum, and Mucwini as we taxied around, and then we took off. As we climbed, Tatum had fun watching the lights and trying to guess the layout of the valley floor in the dark.

I thought I would be on edge, waiting for that stab of pain in my sinuses, nervous about such a tiny plane, worried Tatum would be scared…but none of that existed. You’d have thought we were off on the grandest adventure and we were both relaxed and content. Peace that passes understanding–just like He promises. It was loud on the plane, so I pulled out my kindle and read another chapter of Love Does by Bob Goff. And wouldn’t you know it? He goes to Gulu in that chapter…I love God winks. After we landed, I also realized I had experienced zero sinus issues…thanks again, God!

Loaded up in the ambulance where it was quieter, Doug asked more about the mission trip. Tatum piped up, “Was that the time the guy tried to drive you and another lady off in the night?” To which I chuckled, “Nope, that was a different trip.” Haha, there were some big eyes on that. 

Doug asked if I was afraid when I told him about Joseph Kony and the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) being active in the area when we went. I replied we’re safest where God wants us (and still very much believe that), the ministry was monitoring the activity, we traveled in armored vehicles, and had been briefed on what to do if there was an attack. 

One night while there, however, my roommate had a cold and had taken Nyquil and passed out. The generators went off at 10, and I was sitting in the dark on my laptop writing out my thoughts for the day when the screaming started. Over and over, blood curdling screams from just over the compound wall outside our window. My heart was pounding, my palms were sweaty. “Don’t open the door, stay inside,” is what we had been told. I tried to wake my roommate with no luck. I made sure I was right with Jesus and prayed.

I looked up from telling the story and noticed Cindy who was doing all the paperwork had stopped and was listening, and the EMT to my left was not working on his tablet anymore. I glanced at Tatum who was sitting there with a smile, knowing the tale. 

Eventually, the screaming stopped and somehow I was able to fall asleep. The next morning everyone looked a little tired but no one said anything about it…so I wondered, was it a dream?

We loaded up into the armored truck and as we pulled away from the compound someone asked, “Sooooo….did anyone hear screaming last night?” The truck erupted with everyone talking at once–What was that? I thought we were being attacked! I was so scared!

Then we hear laughter and look over to see Francis–a Ugandan–cracking up. Through his laughter he said, “The GOATS–they scream when they are stressed!” 

I love the relief laughter that story gets 😉

Doug asked if I was of any particular denomination, and I replied, “I love Jesus, I don’t think he was particularly concerned with denominations and divisions. Just love God, love people.” The EMT to my left nodded and said, “Right on,” and told me his wife had done missions in South Africa. 

We arrived at the hospital and Tatum and Doug fist bumped that she was one minute off her guess of arrival time. Once we were in our room we were greeted by a flurry of doctors and nurses. More relaying the story, more exams, and the kindest nurse ever flying around trying to get us situated and apologizing for all the commotion and working her darndest to get us feeling settled.

I was ready to battle for our medical choices, but we were completely respected and it was not an issue in the slightest –God handled that battle. 

We hadn’t been told if there was a limitation to visitors with Tatum but when Matt arrived it was not a problem at all. Another army down.

Tatum was still in unbelievably good spirits, and our nurse said she had her choice of who to work with that night and had hit the jackpot with our kiddo. Seriously–through the night Allie made our transition and all the craziness great and I so enjoyed talking with her.

They wanted Tatum to do a COVID test, and I decided that for that night and the urgency we needed to get things going that this was not going to be my hill to die on and not push back on that. She was nervous, so I offered to go first. Turns out I didn’t need one, but I still offered so Tatum could watch it being done. Not pleasant, and my test swab went straight in the trash, but it helped put her mind at ease and get through it. 

A few hours later she and I went to get the CT scan. When the technician asked me to step out of the room Tatum had a moment of panic, so I asked if I could suit up and stay. I got to wear the super cool lead clothes to stay close. 

Earlier in the day at the ER, the abscess had spontaneously started to drain and did so for two hours before drying up on the flight. Around 4 in the morning I suggested a warm compress to help clear the crusties, and when she pulled it away that abscess was draining a ton! I don’t want to get graphic if you’re not into medical stuff, but Allie and I sat on her bed with her tag teaming wiping all the pus draining. A bit later we had the results from the CT scan, and confirmation there was an abscess along the eye and that it went pretty deep. Initially they were talking about draining it in the emergency room, but after learning how much it had drained decided to take a “let’s wait and observe” approach. As of writing on Monday night it’s definitely looking like we’re getting out of here without surgery–another battlefield God decimated for us!

She and I fell asleep around 6 in the morning, and thankfully the nurses let us sleep until about 10:30 when Tatum woke up. The day passed with lots of check ins and more draining the abscess, Matt bringing tacos and Thai food and doodling markers and a stuffed animal for Tatum. We listened to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, she played chess and tetris games on the kindle, and Marco Polo-ed Matt’s parents to chat with the girls. We actually were able to get a really sound night of sleep…do they test the nurses here on how quiet they can be because I’m a light sleeper and hardly noticed them!

Being a super light sleeper, I sleep with earplugs and usually an arm over my ear. I could still hear each time the door handle open or someone was walking around in the room. In the early hours I woke up to hearing multiple sets of feet walking around much louder than the nurses and turned my head expecting to see a few doctors.

No one was in the room that I could see, and as I looked around I heard in my heart–Just us.

Just us angels here making sure you’re ok. I said out loud, “Cool guys–thanks!” and went back to sleep. Like I talk to angels all the time, you know. Me and Mary and Zechariah and Joseph.

When I woke up again I was thinking about the biblical portrayal of angels. Not Precious Moments looking ones, but warriors. The Hebrew word is messengers, and I got the message. Just us–nothing else to worry about.

As I write this it’s Monday evening, we’re still on track for no surgery, and switching to oral antibiotics tomorrow to transition to getting us home. We get to be with our favorite nurse again tonight, Tatum is not going to know what to do transitioning to limited Kindle time after this, and I’m going to hop in the shower before settling for the evening.

Thank you for all the prayers–we have felt them all and seen God’s hand in this during every step. He has granted deep peace, joy, and laughter during this very unexpected New Year’s week. I’m sure there’s more miracles and victorious battles to come, so stay tuned.

Adventures, Family culture

The Battle Belongs (Part 1)

When Tatum’s eye first swelled up on December 26th, as I was praying I was led to 2 Chronicles 20:26, “On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, for there they blessed Yahweh (the LORD).” 

As I went back to read the whole story, the gist of it was that three armies were coming against Judah. Jehoshaphat gathered everyone–including women and kids– together to seek Yahweh, and ask what the heck they should do! They prayed, “we are powerless against this great army that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”

Yahweh spoke to Jahaziel who had the courage to speak up, and told everyone, “Hey peeps, chill out! Yahweh is telling you ‘do not be afraid by this army, for the battle is not yours but Elohim’s (God’s).’” (paraphrase mine)

Did Jehoshaphat flash a shaka sign and get to sit back and put his feet up? Nope, they all still had to gear up and go down against this army. But they were reassured, “You will not need to fight this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of Yahweh on your behalf.”

Then you know what they did? They had a worship party! They stood and praised with a very loud voice! The next day, Jehoshaphat picked out his best worship leaders to lead their people out to battle.

This next part is so cool…when they began to sing and praise, Yahweh set an ambush against the three armies and they fought each other and finished each other off! When Jehoshaphat got there, they were all dead. They spent the next 3 days gathering the goods, clothing, and jewelry and on the fourth day, they got together and blessed Yahweh.The name of the valley–Berakah–means blessing. 

Pretty awesome story, and I thought cool, maybe we’ll be done with this eye battle in four days and be healed! But Yahweh’s often not quite so obvious…

After seeing progress from oral antibiotics for a few days, on New Year’s Day Tatum woke up with a visible abscess next to her eye, and it was quite a shock. From urgent care, to the ER, then finding we needed to go to the Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland was an even bigger shock. But all week I’ve had the song “Battle Belongs” by Phil Wickham playing in my head. “So when I fight, I’ll fight on my knees, with my hands lifted high, Oh God, the battle belongs to You. And every fear I lay at Your feet, I’ll sing through the night, Oh God, the battle belongs to You.”

I was expecting a lot of battles in days to come. I’m a mama bear; you can be sure I’m going to ask a lot of questions and protect my kid to the best of my ability.

But the Lion of Judah trumps the Mama Bear. He’s way better at handling these battles than I am, and here is the testimony of armies he’s cleared for us.

You can read Part 2 here…

Waking up the morning after Christmas—pic shared with her permission