4 Truths You Need to Know When God Breaks Your Heart

4 Truths You Need to Know When God Breaks Your Heart

It comes out of the blue. We’ll be merrily floating along, school in a good rhythm, excitement on the horizon, and…BAM. Diabetes rears its ugly head. Most days, it’s barely a blip on the radar (a true testament to God’s goodness, because in those early days just after diagnosis, I wasn’t at all sure things would ever feel “normal” again). Most days, diabetes is just a few blood sugar checks, possibly hunting for a misplaced blood sugar meter, and counting carbs for meals.

But then a virus will hit and send my diabetic spark plug into a tailspin, or his insulin pump will stop working, or things will get wildly out of control for no apparent reason.

And in those hard moments, I’m reminded all over again that God has chosen not to heal. That He’s found more glory in leaving Turbo as he is instead of healing him. That living with diabetes instead of being healed from it is what’s currently best for all of us.

At times, it even feels like God is breaking my heart.

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Day 17: Know Your Enemy

Day 17: know your enemy

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It's Day 17 of the 31 Days to Hallway Praise challenge!

When Turbo was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, the hospital staff gave us some excellent advice:  "Don't Google anything right now.  There will be time for that later.  For now, just let the doctors explain."  And you know what?  That advice was perfect.  The internet is FULL of conflicting information, opinions, and even evidence.  Having just one set of doctors at the hospital to listen to helped cut out all of the controversy.

When we knew nothing about Type 1 diabetes other than that our spark plug had just been diagnosed with it, we felt completely helpless.  It was only after talking with the doctors, being trained by the nursing staff, and pouring over the literature the hospital provided that we began to find a foothold to stand on.

And once we were out of the hospital and had adjusted a little bit to our new "normal," we were able to do more in-depth study.  Although the hospital didn't recommend any change in diet, we read about other diabetics that were having better blood sugar control with a healthy lifestyle.  While that information would have been absolutely overwhelming at diagnosis, we were now able to properly digest it.

So, today's assignment, if you're ready for it, is to know your enemy.

For example, if you're going through a financial squeeze, start researching money-saving ideas.  My personal favorites are Money Saving Mom, Living Well Spending Less, The Complete Tightwad Gazette, and The Total Money Makeover (purchasing used copies or finding them at your local library are great ways to save on the cost).

If you've been diagnosed with something, learn about it from doctors you trust.  I highly recommend also researching for holistic or natural remedies to help combat it, but be wise with this information.  (We've had people tell us not to give Turbo his insulin and just to use natural remedies to treat his blood sugar.  While some Type 2 diabetics have been able to manage their disease through diet and lifestyle alone, a Type 1 cannot.  We use diet and lifestyle to help him in other ways.)  The Truth About Cancer, though very controversial and far from mainstream, is eye opening (but please use caution with this, as always - there are some things they teach that concern me).

If you're struggling in your marriage, seek out Godly, wise counsel.  Talk with couples who have made it through a rough patch.  Read Scripture.  Two of my favorite books on marriage are You & Me Forever and Feminine Appeal.  I know there are many others that offer sound, Biblical advice on marriage, too.

Even if it might seem easier to bury your head in the sand, facing your trial head-on and being armed with knowledge can go a long way toward helping you get through it.  Your trial might be pretty scary, and the facts about it might be difficult to take at first.  But there's nothing worse than not knowing.  When you know your enemy, you'll be better able to confront it.

Today's action steps:  Determine what your current hallway is - financial, relational, spiritual, etc.  Begin looking for Biblical information on your hallway that will help you understand it better.  Don't obsess, but do try to spend a few minutes each day learning more about your situation so that you are as prepared as possible and can know your enemy.

Day 17: know your enemy


When It Isn't Going to Be Okay

When It Isn't Going to be Okay

"Turbo has Type 1 Diabetes."

Those words, spoken to me three years ago today by an Urgent Care doctor, were some of the hardest I've ever had to swallow.

I didn't know anything about diabetes.  I didn't fully understand the impact of the doctor's words.  I was overwhelmed.

"He's going to be taken by ambulance to Children's Hospital.  But he's going to be okay."

Maybe you've received devastating news, too.  Maybe you got a phone call.  Perhaps you received a letter or email.

And maybe for you, it isn't going to be okay, at least not this side of Heaven.

A friend's little boy was diagnosed with a genetic disorder so rare it doesn't even have a name yet.  Another friend's infant has a suppressed immune system that will likely give out on him completely at some point.  Cancer recently took the lives of two friends, and others are still in the middle of their cancer battles.

Sometimes, things aren't going to be okay.

What then?  How does one cope when there is no reassuring doctor there to comfort you with the words, "It's going to be okay," like I had that day at Urgent Care three years ago?

That's the beauty of the Gospel.  No matter how difficult things are here on Earth, for the believer, there is the hope of Heaven.  Even if we lose all we hold dear here on Earth - our health, our loved ones, our homes, our own lives - Heaven will meet us and Eternity with Christ will wipe away all of our tears (see Isaiah 25:8).

One of my favorite books in the Bible is, oddly enough, Revelation.  Although it is full of end-time descriptions that don't always make sense yet, the overarching theme of God's ultimate mercy despite intense suffering is clear.  If it's been a while since you last read through it (or if you've never read it before), I would highly encourage you to do so.  Grab a pen, and as you read, write down all the references to God's salvation, mercy, grace, and final triumph over evil.  Then choose two or three of your very favorites to memorize and meditate on while you're in the middle of your struggle.

My favorite verse from Revelation is in chapter 12, verse 6.  It reads, "Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days" (emphasis added).  I've been through some very difficult circumstances, but in each of them, I definitely see that God perfectly prepared me for each of them by providing a place of provision.

The book of Revelation clearly states that times of hardship and anguish are coming.  But more importantly, it is a beautiful reminder that the Lord will triumph over evil; He will bind Satan forever; and we will spend all Eternity with Him free from sin, sadness, and death.

When you get news you never wanted to hear, when you receive a diagnosis you never anticipated, when it isn't going to be okay, put your trust in the Only One who is trustworthy.  Find hope in the fact that the Lord will prevail once and for all.  Rest in the peace of knowing that even though it's not okay now, someday, it will be.

What greater hope is there than spending Forever in the presence of our Heavenly Father?

When It Isn't Going to be Okay

When God Chooses Not to Heal

When God Chooses Not to Heal

I strongly believe in the power of prayer.  I know that God can, and often does, the impossible.  When He chooses to work in ways that are clearly miraculous, it bolsters my faith and increases my trust in Him.

But what about the times that He chooses NOT to heal?

Shortly after Turbo was diagnosed and we were told that there was no cure for Type 1 Diabetes, I started hearing reports on rare cases of T1D being cured through diet and lifestyle.  Both intrigued and skeptical, I started researching the possibility. 

What I found was both encouraging and confusing.  To the best of my untrained understanding, there have been a few instances of people reversing Type 1 Diabetes*.  There are reports of curing Type 1 through an alkaline diet, a ketogenic diet, a gluten-free diet, the GAPS diet, a raw/vegan diet, and the Paleo diet.  Oddly enough, many of these specific eating regimens seem to completely conflict with one another (for example, the Paleo diet is heavily animal-protein-based, while a raw/vegan diet contains no animal products at all).  But some of the key similarities are low-carb/starch foods, the use of whole, unprocessed foods, and gluten-free foods.

(*Note:  I want to point out that many of the supposedly-cured patients likely were experiencing what is called the “honeymoon” phase of diabetes, where – for reasons not yet determined by science – the patient’s own pancreas produces adequate amounts of insulin for a time shortly following diagnosis, often resulting in the patient’s need to discontinue insulin shots for a while.)

Because of these claims about reversing Type 1 Diabetes (and I do believe that for a very few Type 1 diabetics, this has really happened), we have been experimenting with various diets for Turbo.  We took him to a certified nutritionist who specializes in reversing autoimmune disorders, including Type 1 Diabetes.  We’ve tried supplements.  And we’ve prayed.  A lot.  Many, many other people have been praying, too.

But despite the fact that our dietary choices have definitely helped us to better manage his blood sugar and have ultimately helped him to lead a healthier life, he still has diabetes.  There has never been a single day since his diagnosis that he’s not needed insulin injections.

Why didn’t the Lord choose to heal him through diet as He has for others?  Is it a lack of faith on our part?  Does God enjoy seeing His children suffer?

I certainly can’t pretend to know why God chooses to do what He does, but I know that He delights in caring for us and loves us beyond our wildest comprehension.  I am also convinced that His decision for Turbo to remain a diabetic is not due to lack of faith on our part.  God gave us Baby D when it was medically impossible for us to have another child.  Because of this, I have no doubt that He could heal Turbo in the blink of an eye.

The Lord has blessed our family with diabetes because it brings Him glory.  How or why that is, we might not know until we reach Heaven.  Dealing with diabetes has definitely increased my prayer life.  It’s expanded my faith.  It has stretched me more than anything else has ever stretched me.  It has opened my eyes to the suffering of others.  It has made me more aware of my need for a Savior.  And those are all good things.

When God chooses not to heal, it is because He has something far better in store.

Joni Eareckson Tada was once uninvited to a speaking engagement after the committee leaders decided that since God had not healed her, she must not have had enough faith.  I think her life is a beautifully-clear example of how the Lord has used her much more powerfully from her wheelchair than He would have were it not for her diving accident.

I don’t know all the ways in which the Lord will use our family to glorify Him, but I do know that since He has currently chosen to allow diabetes to remain a part of us, we can better serve Him with this affliction than we could without it.

Will God ever heal Turbo?  I don’t know.  I know that He is able to if He decides that it would serve Him best.  Diabetes isn’t our punishment.  It’s simply a tool, albeit a difficult one at times, through which we can best glorify God.

God sometimes chooses, for His glory and our good, not to heal.

When God Chooses Not to Heal

Celiac Disease Diagnosis

Celiac Disease Diagnosis

Although I didn’t know anything about CSF leaks before Jon’s diagnosis in 2009 and didn’t know much about Type 1 Diabetes when Turbo was diagnosed in 2013, my experience with Celiac Disease was different.  Because Type 1 and Celiac Disease often accompany one another, it’s now common to test Type 1 diabetics automatically for Celiac Disease.  Thankfully, another mom whose son also has Type 1 gave me a heads-up about this automatic testing.  When Turbo’s blood work came back positive for Celiac Disease, I wasn’t as unprepared as I had been for our family’s previous diagnoses.

Since gluten-free diets have become a regular buzz word in today’s world, I knew what a gluten-free diet was, and I also knew it was used to treat Celiac Disease.  Although I still had a lot to learn about gluten-free eating and Celiac Disease, even knowing what they were was a good start.

However, mastering the art of gluten-free cooking in addition to carb counting and insulin administration seemed overwhelming.  As we’ve adjusted, though, it’s become clear that Celiac Disease may be one of Turbo’s biggest blessings in disguise.  High-carb meals cause uncontrollably-high blood sugar, but when we were forced to replace wheat flours with almond flour and nut butters (all low-carb options), we saw an instant improvement in Turbo’s diabetes control, so much so that I believe that he is actually healthier with Celiac Disease than he ever would have been without it!

I’ve never been a decent cook, so in a way, I think that having to learn to cook gluten-free was probably easier for me since I’d never really learned to cook well in the first place.  I didn’t have much to un-learn!  It’s rather funny that I now spend a large portion of my day creating, testing, or altering recipes to suit our family’s new way of eating.

If I ever discover or create something worthwhile, I’ll be sure to share it on the blog.  Until then, I’ll keep creating and hunting online for gluten-free, diabetic-friendly recipes.

Update:  We've now embraced a grain-free, dairy-free lifestyle for Turbo after learning that a strict gluten-free diet wasn't enough to overcome his celiac symptoms.  It's been a long journey, but we are hopeful that this new endeavor will help his digestive system heal and prevent the onset of any more autoimmune issues.

Celiac Disease Diagnosis

Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

June 4, 2013, was the worst day of my life.

I sat in an Urgent Care exam room with my oldest spark plug Turbo and tried to absorb what the on-call doctor was telling me:  Turbo’s flu-like symptoms were the result of Type 1 Diabetes.  He was now in a life-threatening situation called Diabetic Keto-Acidosis (DKA).  In minutes, a team of EMTs would arrive to take him by ambulance to Children’s Hospital, where he would be admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

Before that terrible Tuesday afternoon, I knew very little about diabetes, especially Type 1.  The grave but kind Urgent Care doctor briefly explained that Turbo’s body had attacked its own insulin-producing beta cells in his pancreas.  Without insulin, his body had no way of getting the needed energy from his blood sugar into his starving cells.  He would need to be on life-long injections of insulin.

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