Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shining like stars even through the difficulties

Having been forced to deal with a child with special needs, often, I have reflected on how much  deeper my faith in Christ has grown because I have been forced to rely so much more heavily on God's strength and grace just to get through each and every day.  How often, when the going is easy, do we sail through life, forgetting that we are to rely on God's strength and grace in our daily lives?  I treasure this resulting "closeness" with God.

I Peter 1:3-9 has become special to me especially in light of the current ongoing deep trials our family has been battling:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV)

I pray that my faith would result in prayer, glory, and honor, and that no matter what, I keep praising the Lord.  Despite the ongoing inner and outer turmoil afflicting our family, we are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy because our souls belong to Christ our Savior!

Recognizing that no matter what state we find ourselves in, God calls us to shine as stars in the universe, we must do all things to point others around us to Christ!  Philippians 2: 13-16a says, "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life..."  So, if things are going well, we praise the Lord.  If we find ourselves in the midst of adversity, we endure and continue to praise the Lord.

Tim came across this video today and shared it with me about a family who has faced many trials particularly with their special needs son.  They have a beautiful testimony and such a strong faith in God.  Take some time and watch this video telling their story.  It will challenge the way you think about your own lives!  I know it was a challenge and a blessing to me!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ensuring that Satan Cannot Prevail

Because God is still on His throne, the Russell family is still in tact, alive, and praising Him.

We praise the Lord that Tim is healthy and strong and holding up!  Outside of his usual allergy struggles, he is holding steady, doing well at work, and helping to keep our family running.

Joshua is doing fairly well.  He has had a few rough patches since his discharge from the hospital on Tuesday, but he's holding his own.  He went to school for half days Wednesday-Friday of this week to get him readjusted.  Next week, he will go back full-time.

David had to go back on another antibiotic.  He had his first infection since the beginning of November on Feb. 9 and was put on an antibiotic.  It was enough to clear up the tonsillitis but not enough to stop the sinus infection that was just brewing.  So, after finishing that 10-day treatment, his sinus infection went full-blown, so now he's on a stronger antibiotic for another 10-day treatment with a possible piggyback treatment if necessary.  He continues to do well with the weekly antibody transfusions.

Now after 4 months since my battle with the killer migraine and discovery of the brain lesion began, the saga continues.  I have yet to be pain-free for more than 4-5 hours at a time.  For the most part, when I am in pain, it is very manageable and not more than a 4 out of 10 on the pain scale typically.  That wasn't enough to make my neurologist happy when I saw her a week and a half ago, so she wanted me to go from 2 pills a day of Topamax (the seizure drug I've been on since mid-January that has made the pain be so well-controlled) to 3 pills a day despite my complaints of numbness/tingling from the middle of my shins down to my toes as well as in my finger tips.  The result of taking 3 pills made me go completely numb from my elbows and knees down and caused painful radiating pain that fires from my toes and fingers up into my knees and elbows respectively.  After suffering like that for 4 days with no noticeable difference in the pain level in my head, I decided to drop back to 2 pills.  The other deciding factor was that when I played the piano at church and lost the feeling in my hands, I could not feel the piano keys.  As a result, I was hitting all kinds of wrong notes since I couldn't feel which keys my fingers were on.  In addition, I was having a hard time driving when I would suddenly lose feeling in my foot and not be able to tell if my foot was on the gas or break pedal.  When I went back to 2 pills, the pain in my head increased considerably and became difficult to manage again.  My neurologist had me take a migraine drug along with 3 of the Topamax overnight Thursday to stop the pain.  The good news is that the drug regimen worked and didn't kill me.  The bad news is that my neurologist wants me to remain on 3 pills of Topamax a day despite my numbness issues but is leaving the decision up to me.  I can't function as a nurse or pianist not to mention drive without having feeling in my hands and feet, and although I'm told the drug company claims this complication is "temporary," I can't take my chances right now.  So, today I am back on 2 pills a day.  I will know for sure how bad the pain will get again by tomorrow when my drug levels should drop off again from having 3 pills in my system from Thursday night's drug regimen to stop the pain.

At this point, we still don't have answers as to what has caused this strange migraine pain and what the lesion is in my brain.  I will have a repeat MRI done in April to see if the lesion has changed at all.  It will need to be monitored for changes every so often until the doctors can figure out what it is and know how to treat it.

In going through these current difficulties, I stumbled upon my old file of poems that I had written years ago.  I am amazed at how the trials from long ago seemed so huge back then but now in light of the ones of late, I see that God was using the ones from years past as small stepping stones to prepare me for the mountains of trials He has me facing today.  Just as I had determined back then, I stay resolved today:  No matter how hard Satan may try to attack my faith and pull me down, Satan Cannot Prevail!

                 Satan Cannot Prevail
              By: Christine Benedict Russell

While I was on the road to doing God's will,
Satan felt he had a duty to fulfill --
Keep me from the straight and narrow path
Or make me face his great and mighty wrath.

I resolved to stand firm with God
While on His precious Word I trod.
Out came Satan's fiery weapons,
But God wanted to teach me some lessons.

I must have faith
To finish this race.
There are many mountains to cross
And swim I must on waves that toss.

Satan cannot prevail,
For my God I will not fail.
Victory will be forever mine
With God in control for all time.

©1999. Russell. September 30, 1999.