Monday, January 6, 2020

2019: The Year I Prayed Differently

Happy 2020!

Like many people, I tend to reflect about where I've been and where I am going when a new year begins. I usually make a mental to do list for the upcoming year that seems attainable. In the past, some of items on my list were: take a vacation, deep clean my house, grow closer to God, make an effort to reach out to others, etc. 

Last year, I felt compelled to do something different. Rather than having a task to complete, I had a "word" to focus on. "Ask" became my focal point in 2019. 

You may feel like 'ask' is a strange selection for a word, but I knew exactly what I was being challenged to do when I got the idea through prayer. First, you have to understand what happened the previous year that preempted everything. 

In 2018, Jaycee, my daughter with Down syndrome and other medical conditions, was in the hospital five times for respiratory issues. The hospital admissions were hard and the recovery at home long. It was a draining year. It wasn't the first year that she was hospitalized so often, which only exacerbated the feelings of stress and anxiousness over her health. 

During 2018, my prayers for Jaycee were mainly, "God, please keep Jaycee from getting sick." Sicknesses like colds or influenza were major threats to Jaycee's lungs. If she could keep the germs at bay, then she would be fine. My prayers reflected that line of thinking. If God could protect her from getting the germs, all would be fine. Once Jaycee became sick, I felt there was little hope that her lungs could fight anything off. Caring for someone with chronic health conditions can lead to that type of thinking, especially when you have consecutive months of health trials. 

My faith was only strong when Jaycee was healthy. I had seen Jaycee in respiratory distress too many times over the span of a decade. It made me fearful and shook any sliver of faith I had when she was ill. We had exhausted all the pulmonary tests and treatments (or so we were told by two hospitals at the time). 

When Jaycee was symptomatic, I spent little time in prayer. You may think that odd, but I was busy. I was managing multiple medications and treatments, calling doctors, and trying to stay on top of her care. I didn't ask God for much help during these trials; I simply lacked the faith or the energy. 

On January 1st, 2019, I prayed something different. I asked God to make Jaycee healthy (as opposed to not getting sick). I must admit, I had trouble even saying the words at first. My thoughts told me it was a crazy thing to even say. It seemed like it would be an absolute miracle for Jaycee to be healthy- without sickness- without hospitals. I prayed her lungs would be healthy. I wrote out a little page and stuck in on my bathroom vanity as a way to keep focused. 

On January 25, 2019, we rushed Jaycee to an emergency room as she suddenly turned blue. Jaycee was discharged after a few days, a relatively short amount of time in the hospital for her. We continued to intensely care for her at home. However, a couple of days later, Jaycee needed to be rushed to the ER again. She had developed pneumonia from RSV, which wasn't caught at the first hospital. (Yes, 12 year olds with crummy lungs can end up with serious repercussions from RSV too!)

Did I want to stop asking for her to be in good health? Yes and no. I knew I would face opposition by praying this way simply by knowing Jaycee's health history. I wish I would have had at least one full month to pray peacefully and develop some faith before the obstacles. However, I knew I needed to go forward. I knew I needed to stretch my faith and speak life over her lungs, now more than ever. I made an effort to pray for her when she was sick instead of going into full "mommy-nurse" mode.

RSV has a long recovery time. By mid-February, Jaycee had more sick days than healthy. Yet, I chose to keep asking on Jaycee's behalf. The more I said it, the easier it became. It also helped me develop faith and look long term for her rather than the current crisis.

The year of asking and having faith for Jaycee started out rocky. She would be hospitalized once again in May. There were a few other illnesses too when Jaycee endured several days of interventions at home. There was no magical end to her health problems. But, a few things happened in 2019 that were game-changers. 

I asked one of Jaycee's specialists about enrolling her in outpatient physical therapy in the spring after she fully recovered from RSV. Low muscle tone is part of Down syndrome and every illness seemed to make Jaycee weaker. I didn't realize just how poor Jaycee's endurance had gotten because it happened slowly over time. I became accustomed to using the wheelchair for most public outings. I accepted the fact that she couldn't lift her legs for more than 30 seconds to shave. After a few weeks of therapy, there were noticeable changes in her. It didn't change her lung status, but it made a huge difference in other aspects of her life.  

In 2019, we made three trips to Mayo Clinic where Jaycee's lungs were extensively tested by them for the first time. As a result, new treatments were added as well as new diagnoses. In some ways, I struggled after our second Mayo Clinic trip in late July. Knowing exactly what was wrong with Jaycee's lungs was frightening. She was prone to pneumonia and we knew why. The best thing for Jaycee's lungs would be for her to have long stretches of health to give them time to heal. It seemed like an impossible task. I was hopeful for the new treatments but also fearful from the information we learned. I continued to pray for her health, but it was harder knowing the condition her lungs. 

In September, I listened during the pre-service prayer to my pastor who challenged us to pray for supernatural miracles. He asked, "Are we praying baby prayers that require no faith or miraculous prayers that only God could answer?" As he spoke, the worship team sang, "Great are You Lord." The lyrics to this song often run through my head during a health crisis: It's your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise. The combination of these things happening were a sign to me. Don't fear the future. Continue to ask for Jaycee's health. Step out, be vulnerable, and ask. 

Much can happen in the course of a year. Some things are easy and good, and some are hard. These events can sway our emotions and our prayer life if we allow them. Other events happen that seem small or a shot in the dark. However, they turn out to be exactly what needed to happen. Opposition may come in life but God can also raise people up to provide encouragement if we are willing and available to receive it. Situations in our lives can change. That's why we have to decide how we are going to believe. Our faith shouldn't be changed by events. Our events are meant to be changed by our faith. 

In 2019, I made a choice to ask God for health for Jaycee. I really believe that by changing my prayers I have been able to see a healthier version Jaycee. The 8 weeks of physical therapy helped Jaycee's endurance and activity level tremendously. Deciding to go to Mayo Clinic provided us new insight into Jaycee's pulmonary problems and better ways of treating them. We ended 2019 on a 6 month no hospital admissions streak. Six months! 

Last night, I said a prayer for Jaycee before kissing her good-night. Want to guess what I prayed for her?

Friends, what do you need to start asking God for again?

1 comment:

  1. Yeah Evana, I would like to know what it is that you prayed for?
    I believe praying are heard and blessings are given in return from the God. I hope you received yours. God is looking up over everyone of us, he knows well what we need and what not.


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