The date for this post was set three months ago. Who knew Hurricane Harvey’s storm damage would ravage Texas the same week I post a friend’s story about trusting God in the storms of life? God I guess. Whatever your storm, this is for you.
My friend Erin Ulerich wraps up our summer series Learning to Thrive (Not Just Survive) When Life is Hard. When not just one, but two of your precious children are diagnosed with epilepsy before their second birthday, your world falls apart and a storm rages around you. My friend Erin lives in the epicenter of this storm everyday. How does she do it? She’s learned to trust God and prepare for the unexpected. A lesson for us all don’t you think?
I hated thunderstorms when I was a little girl, especially ones that came in the middle of the night. Between the loud claps of thunder, I would run to my parents’ bed and snuggle under my Daddy’s strong arm.
As I cringed at the noise he would say “Count the time between the thunder and lightning. That’s how many miles away the storm is.”
So we would count. One Mississippi, Two Mississippi. (Back then I thought everyone counted in Mississippi’s.) We would count as the storm inched closer and count as it traveled farther away. I felt safe in the middle of the storm with Daddy’s arm around me and his deep voice counting in the darkness.
The life storm that hit me in November 2006 had no booming thunderclap, there were no Mississippi’s to count, and no way to know when it would hit next. My storm is the electrical storm of epilepsy.
My daughter, Maggie, had her first seizure shortly after her first birthday. Two years later my daughter, Ellen, had her first seizure at 18 months. Their seizures came without warning, at first only with fever, then without.
Fear and helplessness rumbled like thunder in the distance, moving closer and closer. Guilt hit in strikes like lightning.
What did you do to cause this? Their childhood is going to be ruined! Why can’t you stop this? What if they die?
I’ve read that living with epilepsy means being prepared for the unexpected. That sums it up perfectly. By definition, you can’t expect the unexpected, but it took me a bit to figure out how to prepare for it.Click To Tweet
In the midst of all the uncertainty, I carved out a new normal for us. My oldest, Anderson, was 5 at the time and he became my helper during seizures. He would bring me a blanket or cold rag and write down the time so I could keep track of how long the seizure lasted. If either one of the girls were extra fussy or seemed off, we canceled plans for that day. I kept a bag in my car with a change of clothes and a blanket in case a seizure happened away from home. I tried to be prepared outwardly for the unexpected.
But on the inside, I was gripped by fear. Fear would bring up all the most horrible “what if’s” imaginable. I felt trapped and hopeless. I reached a point in the midst of the swirling storm where I was tired of being afraid, tired of being controlled by fear. There had to be a better way to live.
The only way I found to beat fear was trust. Not trust in myself, because I was well aware of my helplessness. I had to trust – really trust – God with the care of my girls. This was a time of nitty-gritty wrestling with God, being real with Him about my fears.
Fear would say “What if you leave the house and one of the girls has a seizure? You’ll be alone, and you won’t be able to take care of both of them.”
Trust would say “I will be with you. I will take care of you.”
And He did. Every time.
Maggie had a seizure in Walmart when I was shopping with both of my girls. And the way it played out was amazing. We were in the pharmacy, near a phone. As I leaned over Maggie, I realized a lady was standing over us, praying out loud. Another lady came up to help and told me she was a nurse, and after it was all over, I realized that a third lady had been watching over Ellen and my purse the entire time. I was not alone. That day God provided through complete strangers. I was not alone for a single moment.
When we discovered that the girls’ epilepsy was genetic, my trust was taken to another level. I was relieved that I hadn’t “caused it” and yet I wrestled with the fact that God had “caused it” on purpose. It took me a while to come to the place where I could accept that epilepsy had been part of the plan as He formed the girls in my womb. I had to trust that He has plans to use this in their lives for good.
I had to trust that He was holding my precious girls in the palm of His hand at every moment.
In the midst of this storm, I was, and am still, held by strong arms. My trust in God has grown as I’ve seen him provide for and protect my girls.
Instead of cringing and counting Mississippi’s until the storm is over, I can count on God to be with me, even if the storm never fully passes.
Erin Ulerich lives and writes in a small Mississippi town along the peaceful Natchez Trace Parkway. She enjoys coffee, chocolate (and any combination of), getting lost in a book, and embarrassing her children by singing ‘80’s songs. She writes about fighting for hope in this broken world at erinulerich.com and loves to encourage others in their own fight for hope. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Do you or someone you know have children with epilepsy?
Erin would highly recommend the book Seizures and Epilepsy in Childhood:A Guide by Freeman, Vining, & Pillas Third Edition
She says it was written by doctors for parents with children that have epilepsy and it gave her the knowledge and practical advice she needed to help her girls.
The Epilepsy Foundation also has helpful information and resources.
Or maybe you feel a bit like Erin.
Like you’re living in the eye of the storm?
Do you need some help and practical encouragement?
If you do, I’m so sorry life’s hard right now. That stinks, it really does, so I’ve made you something to help.
My 7 Tools for Thriving (not just surviving) when Life is Hard super practical, and they’ll help you find more of life in the mess and heart ache your dealing with. You can download your free copy today by CLICKING HERE or on image.
Want to be friends? Pen friends?!! I love to connect, so if you want to chat, just send me an email (in the contact tab) and it will land in my inbox and I’ll get back to you. Or find me on social media by clicking on the buttons in the side bar.
If it’s not you but your friend whose life has fallen apart or is going through a really hard season, send them some love and encouragement by sharing the tools with them. Just forward this link to them and they can download their own copy. http://eepurl.com/csG3m1