Posted in Authentic Catholicism, Large Family Life, Lymes and Other Tick-Borne Illnesses

When You Can’t Save Your Kids…

Last week I received my oldest son’s laboratory results. We knew this was an insurmountable obstacle we would have to one day face, not knowing how long I have had Lyme Disease and coinfections for…. having EACH OF OUR EIGHT CHILDREN tested for Lyme Disease (and coinfections) through IGeneX. At $1,000 a lab test. Additionally, testing our OLDEST FIVE CHILDREN for mycotoxin toxicity, especially gliotoxins, from a previous moldy home we lived in. At another $800 per lab for that test. Raising eight children in today’s world is NOT EASY no matter how you slice it… but looking at $20K worth of JUST LABS (not even considering the high cost for antibiotic treatment for a disease most doctors don’t even believe exists)… not to mention that most Lyme doctors are cash-only (to keep from being shut down by insurance companies and other doctors affiliated with IDSA who believe Lyme to be perfectly treatable and cured with 7-14 days of antibiotic therapy).

However, when our oldest son started exhibiting classic symptoms of Lyme Disease this past winter while in fifth grade – – we knew we had to step up our game and get him in right away. Somehow, deep down inside I knew what the results would be. However, my mama heart still held out hope that I had not transmitted this horrific disease to any of my children. You see, I have NEVER pulled a tick off of any of my kids. None of my children have ever had a classic bullseye or EM rash. Sure – – they’ve had plenty of mosquito bites over the years (being born and raised in either Ohio or Minnesota), and I do know that mosquitoes can transmit Lyme and other vector borne illnesses.

However, there was no nothing I could do to prepare myself for the heart-wrenching sadness I felt after opening his labs. I died a thousand deaths all over again; however, this time it was far harder and far worse than the day I received my own lab results.

You see, the more I live this thing called life, the more I realize that I can’t save my kids. I can’t save them from getting hit by a car when crossing the street. I couldn’t even save them in utero… in my womb… the most sacred of safe spaces… from contracting a bacterial illness across the placenta line. I can’t save them from getting bad grades if they don’t work hard. I can’t save them from injuries on sports fields. I can’t save them from inevitable broken hearts during their dating and courting years. 

This disease has made me ever so aware again… by bringing me to my knees in COMPLETE humility… that we serve a God who is in control. Despite having always lived a life of constantly choosing the right portion and trying to be healthy – – contracting Lymes was something I could not control. I truly believe I was bitten either in my childhood or in high school, and that this disease lay dormant in my body for YEARS, decades even. Something changed in my body hormonally with marriage and childbirth that brought it out. I have spent the last 15 years suffering and struggling in a constant sea of up-and-down waves and mysterious “phantom” symptoms nobody ever really got to the root cause of. Until our eighth son was born last summer, and I became DEBILITATINGLY sick. However, remember that Lymes is an “INVISIBLE DISEASE” when viewed through the eyes of both the world and the medical community at large. 

In knowing that AT LEAST one of our eight children has Lyme Disease (and a very high probability of having contracted it from me in utero), I have had to AGAIN surrender. Surrender the pain. Surrender the anger. Surrender the questioning that if I would’ve never been “open to life” and bringing him into this world, then he might not have to face the things in his life that I have faced. The pain… the pain that hurts SO BAD some days you just want to die so that there’s an end to it. The judgement. The isolation. The feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness… being a shell of a human being. Parenting from bed. Watching your life from the sidelines. These are things NO ONE should have to face in a lifetime, not me and most DEFINITELY not any of my babies.

When we thought or eighth child, Jeremiah, would be born with Down Syndrome last year in 2016… it brought me to a place of poverty on my knees that I had never known before. A place of complete surrender in knowing that God knows so much more than I do. A place of complete trust like I had never known before in my life. Knowing that I would truly have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk I so eloquently preach. Knowing that God’s plan is ALWAYS right and is ALWAYS perfect but is NEVER guaranteed to be easy. I knew deeper than I had ever known anything in my entire life that we serve a God who doesn’t make mistakes and that my eighth baby would be perfect – – no matter how he was born. He was named Jeremiah after Jeremiah 29:11 and 1:5. 

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you AND NOT TO HARM YOU. Plans for hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” Jeremiah 1:5

I now must face that SAME ABANDON in parenting my oldest son we now know has Lymes. I must be stronger than I ever thought it was possible to be. I will not know until I return to visit to our LLMD in several weeks WHAT his course of treatment will look like. I can only pray that it will be easier than mine since the bacteria has not yet crossed the blood brain barrier and into his central or peripheral nervous systems. He doesn’t have any neurological incapacities or peripheral neuropathy at this point in time… which is EXACTLY why we chose to begin testing our kids sooner than later.

Fortunately, I trust my LLMD whole-heartedly and know that even if the course is hard that she is doing what is best for him. I continue to thank and praise God for bringing this awareness to our eyes before my son hit a point in his life where he was struggling and unable to do things that normal kids do. So many Lyme patients, myself included, struggle and suffer with watching their life from the sidelines. I am so thankful that hopefully this will not be the case for my son. God has BIG PLANS for this kid’s life — despite my own feelings of guilt and inadequacy for possibly transmitting something I had NO KNOWKEDGE OF and absolutely NO CONTROL OVER. Again — surrender.

Lord Jesus, when we answer your call to say yes, we fully surrender it all. When we take up our cross and follow you, we cannot question the sometimes rough parts that we must navigate through in our lives. Lord, help us to understand when we go through rough waters that there are calm waters ahead and vice-versa in preparing for rough waters that will inevitably come when life seems calm and balanced. Amen.

Posted in Authentic Catholicism, Large Family Life

Homeschooling “Featured Family” Article

This last year, I was graced to be asked to write an article, as a Catholic homeschooling mom, about our homeschooling experience… why we homeschool, how we homeschool, and why we use Seton–across the board.

It was published this September in Seton Home Study School’s “Featured Family” monthly newsletter.

Here is a link:

http://www.setonmagazine.com/topics/featured-families/a-straight-and-narrow-path

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Posted in Large Family Life

The Next Chapter

So here I sit tonight… in O-H-I-O… nearly a year after my last post… at what I’d like to think is the end (but maybe really is only just the beginning) of a loooooong journey.

You see… from my last post in Duluth in 2013… we encountered a relocation to Ohio, another pregnancy, and 9 months of a weekly-traveling husband.

In March of 2013… all within 4 days… we lost our home which we were in contract to purchase in Duluth. Contingency was called on the home we were selling… hubby’s new job got relocated… pregnancy test turned positive… and we were on our way to Ohio.

Another six weeks with six kids in the in-laws’ home…

Hubby gone nearly 5 days a week for 9 months…

Closed on our current home in the middle of May…

Hubby’s replacement came on-board early September… so traveling became more “normalized?” Is there such a thing when you have six kids?!!

*** insert ^^breathe ***

So here we are one year later.

And it’s a funny thing how God works beauty from ashes.

I’d like to introduce you to our newest member of the family. Teresa Grace Madrid was born nearly 5 weeks early on 11-4-2013 at 12:39 AM. She weighed 5 pounds, 7 ounces and was 18 inches in length. She came out with dark brown hair, much to her Mommy’s delight 🙂 She was baptized into the Catholic Faith on 11-24-13, the last day of the Year of Faith. Had she not been so early, this would not have been possible. But God is good, all the time ❤

So… from the ashes beauty arose. We called another soul down from Heaven in what I considered to be "the worst of times." Yet God called us to trust. In Him. And to lean not on our own understanding.

Teresa Grace was named for Mother Teresa, who inspired me to persevere through my everyday trials with JOY. Grace… well that’s obvious. I wouldn’t have made it without it.

Here is the princess — my joy and my strength.

Because with God, all things are possible ❤

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Posted in Large Family Life

Our Journey to Duluth

Little did my husband and I know three years ago that we would be suddenly moving to Minnesota. Little did we know three months ago that we would be suddenly moving AGAIN–this time waaaaaaaay up north to “Duluft,” as our four-year-old calls it 😉 Duluth, Minnesota was NEVER a place we had even jokingly considered calling home.

Yet, here we are (well–almost), and this is how it happened (in-a-nutshell).

My husband came home from work earlier this fall and said, “Honey, can we talk?”

These kinds of conversations in marriage are inevitably dreaded and avoided at all costs 😉 Nevertheless, every now-and-again, they need to be had 😉

So, the basis of this conversation was the potential for a shift in my husband’s career, which would land us our 7th move in 10 years. I gave my husband my blessing to move forward, trusting FIRST in him to lead and provide for our family. SECOND, I trusted in God’s Divine Providence for our family. Any job, in this economy, that pays better and avoids a 1.5 hour commute to work — EACH WAY — is a no-brainer when you have 8 mouths to feed.

So, three months later, my husband received and accepted an offer. Within a week, it was in writing. A week after that, we were on our first of three trips up north to find a place for our family to live.

Now, here we are — 10 weeks later. We have had three potential rental properties fall through. “Not my will, but THY will be done.” Lord, we are thankful that you have shown us this is not Your most holy will. Whenever You close a door (or three, in our case), You open a window somewhere else. Please show us how to be patient while we continue to wait and prudently discern.

Our current house has been in contract “with contingency” for nearly two months, waiting for our potential buyers to sell theirs. “Not my will, but THY will be done.” Lord, we are thankful that another family so earnestly wants to make our loving home their forever home.

I drove our 6 children halfway across the country in the dead of winter, BY MYSELF, to stay with my in-laws for a month (January) while our home went into contract. Lord, thank you for the strength and perseverance to make a trip like that. Thank you for the generosity and hospitality of family in our time of need.

I spent a month after that (February) in Duluth with our 6 children, living in my husband’s 800 sq. ft., 2 bedroom condo. Lord, thank you for that time of closeness and togetherness. Thank you that we were together through thick-and-thin. Thank you for helping us hold onto the ideals that we set for our family… the dream we dreamed while standing on the altar nearly 11 years ago to have a large, Catholic family. Thank you for giving us the grace to stand by and hold on to that dream through our Faith in You.

And now… the journey has taken us back to our home for the time being. Lord, thank you for our backyard! Thank you for our sleds and the snow outside and our OWN BEDS! Give us the faith to know that while Daddy is there and we are here — that this is only for a time. May we use the distance to grow together… day by day… in grace, love, holiness, and perfect charity… knowing that YOU are behind and driving it all… and never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

+ Jesus, we trust in You +

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