My sweet Olivia drank her first cup of cow’s milk this morning. Last night she had a few bites of cheese pizza with her sisters. Thursday evening, she had a tiny slice of my husband’s birthday cake and part of a Parmesan bread stick. Those things might sound like silly things to write about (or maybe you think I don’t feed my kids very well!), but in our family, each of those taste tests were cause for great rejoicing. You may (or may not) recall that Olivia was diagnosed with food allergies last Fall. Specifically, she tested positive for milk, casein, egg yolks, and egg white allergies. It was tough news to receive, but we felt that it was also the answer to the many questions we had about her health. I wrote about some of what God revealed to me during that time here.
You may also recall Olivia’s latest health issues we battled earlier this month (scroll down to read through the updates). When we returned home, Olivia was recovering from her bout with the rota virus, but Charlie and I noticed she wasn’t bouncing back to her normal self. She was quiet and withdrawn. She had lost a lot of weight from the dehydration and didn’t seem all that eager to replenish her depleted body stores. I began to feel absolutely desperate about her health. We had followed every instruction given to us by every doctor. We were very careful to keep her known allergens out of her diet (and ours!). We had prayed and prayed and prayed for her health to be restored, but she seemed worse than ever. The Thursday after we returned home from the hospital, the doctor from Riley North called. I sat down as he told me that he had received her lab results back and that he needed to talk to me about some of the results. My heart started pounding with fear. Lord, what’s wrong with my baby? He went on to explain that Olivia had tested positive for rota virus, as he had expected, but she had also tested positive for an antibiotic resistant bacterial infection in her gastrointestinal tract. He said her numbers were off the charts and that she had obviously been carrying this bacteria around for months, possibly even a year. The bacteria is common enough that many people can carry it around without even knowing they have it. But, in Olivia’s case, the bacteria grew unchecked for months. Then, when her ear infections flared up in January and continued to return for the next 4 months, the non-specific antibiotics we were giving her just made the situation worse. They killed off all the good bacteria that were giving her any ability to absorb food. Without the good bacteria, she wasn’t getting any real nourishment. The bacterial infection also causes great distress to the intestinal tract, interfering with Olivia’s appetite so she didn’t want to eat either.
It all sounded alarming to me, but the doctor’s next words were music to my ears: seven days of a specific antibiotic and Olivia would be a different girl. I almost cried. I asked the doctor a few more questions and thanked him profusely for being so attentive to my child. He said, “It is such a privilege to be used by God as He heals. Thank God that He has touched your little girl.” Charlie picked up the antibiotics that afternoon and we began her treatment. Within 24 hours we noticed some changes. She was more alert and talkative. Within 48 hours, we had heard her laugh and she was more interested in her sisters. By Monday, she was almost back to her usual self.
As great as things seemed to be, in the back of my mind, I kept wondering how long it would all last. We had been excited about her health before only to be disappointed as she got sick again. I was also asking some hard questions: Why her? Why can’t I be the one to suffer, Lord? How could you let this be part of the plan for her life? I knew enough to know that God alone is sovereign and doesn’t have to answer, but I also have the heart of a mother, deeply interested in the welfare of her children, needing to know how to walk forward with confidence that God is working all of this for our good. Wednesday, a card came in the mail addressed to me from my friend and sister in the Lord, Linda. I had seen her at the produce stand Saturday and she was just sending a little card to say how nice it was to run into me. In the middle of the card, though, was this verse:
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17
That was all I needed to read. It was the wake-up call I needed. The Lord wanted me to give Olivia back to Him because He was already holding her together. He wanted me to trust Him with her, knowing that He is good and faithful and in control. I sat down in the living room and prayed and gave my little Olivia back to the Lord. As I was praying, I felt the Holy Spirit lifting me and renewing my heart. I began to feel a sense of confidence that the Lord had indeed healed my child. How like God to have His hands out as I turn to Him, already working to restore my faith and our relationship. What an awesome Father!
So, does my child still have allergies? She isn’t exhibiting any indications that she does. We are going slowly, giving her tastes of milk and eggs, trying to be careful not to overwhelm her system. We are continuing our strategy of a 75% allergy-free meal, but we are also letting her have things we would not have normally thought of giving her. We are rejoicing in the improved disposition and personality of our child and the knowledge that our God is big enough and great enough to do all things. He can heal. He does heal. We are trusting in Him.
I am rejoicing in You today, Father, for the wonderful way You heal. You heal in wisdom and with prudence. You heal completely and without partiality. You heal to make us one with You. You heal to restore us to You. Most importantly, You heal. You are the Great Physician. Thank You for touching my child. I give her life over to You, knowing that You are in complete control and that not a thing has happened to her that You did not already know of or perceive. You have crafted her and designed her to reflect Your glory. I pray that her life would entirely do so. Thank You Jesus, for being my Friend and Savior. Amen.