Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why I "Dislike" Halloween....

And it's not about religion folks.....

A) My kid has diabetes. I realize that not ALL kids have diabetes, and he IS allowed to eat SOME candy, but what ends up happening is he goes into this "candy frenzy" (as do most other children) and gets all OCD about it--- and it becomes literally a matter of life or death.

B) The instance of child-hood diabetes is on the rise. (Source)
C) The instance of child-hood obesity is on the rise. (Source)

D) Americans in general are
fat and we gorge ourselves on candy (do you KNOW how many bags of candy corn I've eaten?? A lot!) and then we get all depressed about our jeans being tight; but we continually still feed into the lie that we need more candy (money, alcohol, etc.) to make us feel good. In fact, anything that makes us feel good (including food) becomes an idol to us (and reinforces this to our children).

E) Eating too much candy makes kids crazy. (Source - my own house). It makes moms fat.... yet we are compelled to sneak it out of our kid's treat bags in large quantities year after year.

F) Americans need to get a grip and stop being naive about marketing tactics from those companies who are trying to make us eat more and spend more on things we don't need (like candy- which is bad for our health and our teeth) And when eaten in excess, as we generally do (okay, I know that moderation is fine and some people are great at it, but the majority are not), we are suckered into the gravity-pull of American consumerism and gluttony.

G) Halloween/Harvest parties - Let's just go to a halloween, harvest, or whatever party (even at our churches) and stuff our faces with all kinds of goodies and treats and send our kids (even teens) home with buckets of candy - so then our teenage daughter needs therapy because she has weight issues and hates herself because her jeans don't fit. Do we get this people? Why are we surprised when children struggle with self-image and eating disorders such as Bulemia? Okay, so don't flame me, I'm no expert, but
my opinion is that society tells us to look one way and eat another way - that totally contradict one another.... and then we wonder why we have these problems.

H) For the $35 I will spend on buying candy for trick or treaters in my neighborhood (I live in a middle-class subdivision that sees a fair share of Halloween traffic) I could
sponsor a child to receive food, clothing, healthcare, and education for a whole month! (And I'm not even talking about costumes, just the price of candy).

So, in short and in my honest opinion, Halloween reinforces gluttony in our children, gets them to buy in to the lie that "stuff" (like candy) can make you happy, and is some sort of "right" or "material reward". This only adds to the deception and problems within American society and culture where we feel that we are "owed" something or "deserve" something (which isn't necessary) in order to draw our self-worth.

Will we participate in Halloween this year? Hmm.... probably. Why? Because everyone else is doing it?

But it makes me think. And it makes me ask myself if allowing my children to participate in this event is only perpetuating a life of self-gratification, rather than living a life of serving others, as the Gospel of Jesus calls us to do.

On second thought, maybe we won't participate after all......

Friday, October 22, 2010

More than Blessed - a Kidney donation update!

It was a week yesterday since the kidney donation ---- wow! John spent four days in the hospital; so he was discharged on Monday - which was a day longer than we expected since his intestines weren't cooperating, but I am happy to report that they are working now! He is still uncomfortable but getting up to walk around, play X-box, and check his email, then back to the couch :-) He has not had any narcotic meds. since Tuesday morning because they were making him feel yucky. His incisions are healing nicely. So, he's been walking through with extra-strength tylenol. He still is on a soft diet and he's getting a little tired of soup, but he's feeling better every day! He goes back to the surgeon on Nov. 1st. He's hoping that the doc will say that he can go back to driving. I think he'll be quite bored by then! If all goes well, he will be cleared to go back to work in mid-November.

Robbie is also doing well! He went to the doc's today and they said he was doing better than the usual patient. God is so good! His surgery was actually less invasive (as far as moving organs around) than John's, so as far as physical pain goes, he is better off than John. When they did the surgery to give him his new kidney, they just popped it right in front, slightly under his pelvic bone, connected it, then sewed it back up. Amazing. Robbie's biggest hurdles are staying healthy and weaning down on all the meds they've been giving him. They had to suppress his immune system during surgery and for the first 24 hours after, to keep it from fighting the new kidney. They also had him on prednisone and anti-rejection meds at high doses. So, he has to get his blood drawn a few times a week for the next month as they slowly taper off the steroids and his immune system starts building back up. Robbie said yesterday that he drank a glass of milk for the first time since March! Apparently milk is high in phosphorous and you can't drink it if your kidney is not working, even if you're on dialysis. The little things we take for granted......... On a funny note, my hubby John's family is Jewish, so we've enjoyed teasing Robbie about craving kosher dills and matzoh ball soup. :-)

Even through the (my) worries and stress, God has been so faithful to us and really shown Himself in mighty ways and used so many of us to bring glory to Himself. Many people that we've come into contact with on this journey have been blown away and very touched by the outpouring of love and prayers from our Christian brothers and sisters around the world. A church in Canby, Oregon sent us 91 hand-written prayer cards.... offering their love and prayers for both of our families .... and most had never even met us! We kept them with us at the hospital as a visual reminder and through them lives were touched by the Body of Christ and their love for us and unity in Christ's name. It was also great to be visited and prayed for by long-time Godly friends who sat with Susan and I during the surgeries. What a great privilege we've been given..... to give Glory, and Honor and Praise to the Great Physician!

God is also providing for us financially and "random" donations keep coming in "Oh Kirsten, of little faith!!"
Thank you all for being part of this story and HIStory. We are so grateful for each and every one of you. Please continue to pray that John's incisions heal nicely and without infection and that his pain is less and less every day. Pray that Robbie's strength increases every day and that he is able to come off of all of his meds. Continue to believe with us that God will provide financially for both of our families.

If you can help our households run smoothly while the guys are out of work, please visit this SITE.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Getting Out of the Boat - the Kidney story

As you may, or may not, know, my wonderful husband John is donating a kidney next week to his friend Robbie. We met Robbie and his family in 2002 when we all went to church together at Spartanburg Community Church (now Milestones). John and Robbie are both the tech-geeky kind (and I mean that in the nicest way, bless their hearts) and both served together in that and other capacities at the church. In 2005, God moved us away to NC, but through technology and a short three hour distance, we have remained friends and kept in touch. So here is the story from my (honest) perspective:

A year ago: We hear that Robbie is going to need a kidney soon. His current one is not going to hold out much longer. We add Robbie to our prayer list.

December: Robbie's kidney is failing. The need to find a donor is now imperative. Robbie and his family let everyone know and ask that they pray about donating. We pray.

December - March: Some people are tested, but things are not working out as far as finding a match. We're still praying a match will be found.

March: Robbie is in complete kidney failure and goes on dialysis. John says to me "Maybe I should get tested to donate a kidney." I marinate on that for a little while. My fearful reply "I don't know... I mean, we have a kid with diabetes - he might need a kidney. We have another kid with kidney problems who might really need a kidney. I just think we need to save our kidneys, just in case." John sees my point and mulls it over.

And then, in the shower one day, God spoke to my heart: Jesus said, "Whoever (keeps) his life will lose it, and whoever loses (or lays down) his life for my sake will find it." ~Matt. 10:39 Ouch. And then, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." ~John 15:13

So I'm in shower weeping and asking God.. "Really? You're asking me (to agree with my husband) to do this? But what about my kids?!" And then came the answer: Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you don't even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." ~James 4:13-15. To be driven home by: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." ~Matt. 6:19-21.

Okay so bear with me while I interpret: In a nutshell Jesus was saying 'If you love Me, and you trust Me, and you want to be like Me, then be willing to lay down your (husband's) life as I laid My life down for yours. Kirsten, do you trust Me? Why worry about whether your sons will need a kidney or not? They may NEVER need a kidney and will you be selfish and store your treasure (kidney) on the earth or will you store it in heaven? And I know all about tomorrow! If your sons need kidneys, don't you think I will provide for them as I provide for all of my children, including you? Kirsten, do you trust Me? Will you get out of the boat?

My sobbing, dripping wet, mess of a self replied, "Yes, Lord. I trust you. I'll take the step over the edge and focus my gaze on You." So, I called John right away at work and told him everything. You know, that man is awesome because he knew those things all along and was just waiting for the Lord to speak to me.

So within a week or so, John had his first blood test (in March). And I began to pray "Lord if this is really Your will please open the doors, but if it is not Your will, please shut them tight (Please oh please shut them tight!)" Well, the transplant center called and said that although John's blood type matched, there was some kind of insurance snafu that wouldn't allow John to be a donor. Door Closed. (Picture my fist pump "yes")

We continued to pray that a donor for Robbie would be found. He was unable to work a lot and his body felt like it was being dragged behind a car because of the effects of the dialysis. His kids cried when he left to go. It was heart wrenching to read his tweets about how much his life was sucking because of this.

People continue to be tested. One guy found out that he himself was in kidney failure...uugh! But a match had still not been found. Then one early summer day, the transplant center called and said that they had worked out the insurance snafu and was John still interested in donating? He replied with a resounding "Yes!". I replied with a resounding "Gulp". But I remembered God's words to me; they were engraved on my heart.

John passed test after test. He found out that his cholesterol was slightly high and that the doctor thought he had a big butt (haha... I had to!) but other than that, he was a perfect match.
He still needs to go for his pre-op stuff this week but the surgery is scheduled for the 14th in Charlotte -- that's next week!

Am I nervous? Yes.
Am I anxious about leaving the children with my mother? Yes. (anxious for my mother, who has to deal with the kids and their schedules, not the kids)
Do I worry that my husband might die? Yes.
Am I scared about being in Charlotte by myself? Yes.
Am I worried about the financial repercussions? Yes.
Do I feel like I'm going to throw up? Yes.

Do I believe that God is who He says He is? Yes.
Do I believe that God will do what He says He will do? Yes
Do I believe that God, my Abba Father, loves me and is holding our family firmly in the palm of His hand? Most definitely!
Will I step out of the boat? "I'm coming Jesus! Help me to keep my eyes fixed on You!"

"Kirsten, do you trust Me?" - Yes, Lord, I trust you.

***If you would like to be a part of this story, please visit this link! Thank you all for your love, your prayers, and your support!