When illnesses hit, I seem to be the one “of little faith.” It so amazes me how the children are certain when they pray that they will indeed get better, or that a sibling will get well quickly. I wish I could take the credit for such faith, but I cannot. What I can do though is see the faith of my children, and help it to nurture my own faith. It’s kind of a role reversal of sorts. If I am careful to observe the faith of my children, perhaps my own faith will grow in the process.
Normally I am not the fearful type when it comes to illness. I don’t tend toward the squeamish, as evidenced by my willingness to allow the children to decorate their own personal barf buckets. Now that was quite the craft day. We got out old ice cream buckets, paints and markers. There was Ashley sitting at the table, writing the words in creative writing style, “Ashley’s Barf Bucket.”
I was certain if they had their own buckets they would not turn their heads away from the bucket, but rather vomit daintily into the bucket. Perhaps if they decorated the buckets so nicely, they wouldn’t mind holding them in front of their faces for hours. I was tempted once to hang the bucket around Erica’s neck so she could not escape it. For some reason the children seem to look at the buckets as the enemy, rather than what they truly are, a life saving device for Mom.
It seems that every year we experience one bout of the stomach flu in our house. Almost everyone will get sick within the space of a week or two. This makes a lot of extra work for me. But, hey, I’m not really complaining, I would simply like to devise a way to eliminate some of that work.
When I was growing up there were only two of us kids. Whenever we had the stomach flu, Mom would give us a cooking pot and Seven-up. We would then get to lie on the green couch, which folded back into a bed, watching as much TV as we wanted. Mom would wait on us hand and foot. We always were instructed to try to make it into the bathroom though. The pot was to catch whatever there was that didn’t make it at breakneck speed up the stairs and down the hall to the bathroom. Mom would come running after us. She would then hold our foreheads as we lost everything that was supposed to have remained in our stomachs, into the toilet.
I haven’t been quite so accommodating to my children. When I hear a child yell the familiar, I run to the laundry room to get the bucket and used towels. I would then wash the child’s face, clean up their bed, and set them up on the floor in the bathroom. If they really didn’t want to sleep in the bathroom, I would lay towels in their beds.
David became notorious in the house for having projectile vomit in the middle of the night that would seem to splatter every surface of his bedroom. I hated those nights! I still hate them.
But worse than vomiting, is a child who is so ill, she cannot seem to function at all. These are the times when I do begin to fear for the safety of my child. I would gladly clean up a horrible mess than have to watch my child pitifully lying around unable to eat, drink, or even move.
Erica had been sick for several days when I was suddenly gripped with fear for her. She had been sleeping the better part of eighteen hours. I sat next to her to cuddle with her, not so much for her comfort, but more for my own. Instead what I felt was a child so hot, the heat penetrated through my own clothing and warmed my skin.
I’m not one who takes the temperature of my children when they are sick. I also try to allow their natural antibodies to fight infection, so I use little medication with them. This time was different however. I used all the methods I knew to lower her temperature. Still it hovered around 105 degrees.
After a brief discussion with Steve, we decided she had to go to the emergency room.
As we waited for the sitter to come, the children quickly reminded us that we needed to pray for her. Ashley led a simple prayer, “Dear Jesus, please make Erica better real soon.”
I love the simple prayers of children. They remind me so much of where I should be putting my faith. The previous hours my mind whirled with how I could lower her fever. Not once did I think to stop and pray for her. I was putting my faith in my own ability, rather than in the healing power of our savior.
Erica was loaded into the van. Her limp body barely seemed to notice she was heading off to a new location.
The hospital was a forty-minute drive from our house. After twenty minutes, Erica began to perk up. She began to act like her normal adorable self.
Once at the hospital, I almost felt silly that I brought this little girl in to see the doctors. She seemed to have made a miraculous recovery.
Because she hadn’t managed to get any liquid down her in a couple of days, she was quite dehydrated. Even though it had been several hours since her last visit to the bathroom, she could not manage even one drop.
They concluded she had a urinary tract infection and put her on antibiotics.
I wondered why I hadn’t seen the healing as a true healing, and marched her out of the hospital? Why did I spend all that time, and money? Why do I put my faith and trust in doctors and medicine? Why can’t I be more like a little child, knowing that Jesus will answer our pleas and cries? And why am I always so scared when things happen to my children?