We are in the series on caregivers. We’re looking behind the scenes and seeing what real life is like for many people on a hard journey. As Karin writes (below) God is with us in the midst of the storm, He’s not just holding our hands, He’s holding us.
This series is meant to shed light on struggles and sorrows that may be around you, but also to turn our eyes on Our healer, Our Redeemer, Our Deliverer, Our Friend. The One who was present at the beginning of the world. The One who made us and created us in His Image. The One who created our children as well. The One who has a purpose and a plan for all of us and who works everything for good. For His Glory.
I hope you’re encouraged and blessed by these honest conversations. Our guest today is Karin Peters and she blogs at Renovated Faith. I first came across her website because of Blue pumpkins, seriously! I thought it would be a DIY post and I was interested, but Karin uses real life situations and DIY to point to Christ and I’m simply amazed. She loves woking on her home and reading His Word and sharing Him with others. I’m sure you’ll love her writing as well.
Karin Peters loves writing, DIY projects, and combining the two. When she’s not spending time with her husband Jeremy and daughter Morgan, she enjoys decorating, crafts and time in her greenhouse. At Renovated Faith, Karin explores the transformative power of God to help us reach our greatest potential in Him. Anyone can renovate a house, but only God can renovate your heart and mind. You can also find Karin on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Tell us who you were before this started.
When I was pregnant with Morgan people always asked if I wanted a boy or a girl, and my answer was the same as other moms. “It doesn’t matter if the baby is a boy or girl, we just want it to be healthy…”
To our delight, I gave birth to a healthy almost 9 lb. baby girl we named Morgan. We noticed she got sick often and just assumed it was the cold winter we were having. At her two month check-up, her doctor mentioned her white blood cells were unusually low. He assumed it was a fluke but something was brewing…
What changes did you need to make in your personal and family lifestyle to accommodate your daughter’s needs?
After regular ear infections and skin infections we began to realize that the frequency of Morgan’s illnesses was unusual. Around 11 months, she began to get massive mouth sores on her tongue and on her lips. After visiting 6 pediatricians, I didn’t have answers until I tried a new clinic in town. Finally someone ran blood work to reveal Morgan had 0 neutrophils.
Neutrophils are the body’s main defense against bacteria. A child’s normal neutrophil count is 1500-2000. Morgan had none…
The next day we found ourselves in a children’s hospital meeting with a pediatric hematologist/oncologist. He explained that Morgan had some kind of neutropenia and that it would take several weeks to discover what kind. He suspected she had Severe Chronic Neutropenia which would mean a substantional risk of leukemia in Morgan’s teen years.
What was your lowest point in being a caregiver?
For the next couple days after the appointment I felt numb. It was like a bad dream that I just needed to end. I knew Morgan would have blood draws every other day for the next few weeks.
I remember sitting on my bed looking at Facebook. A former coworker told me in a comment “it’s ok to let it out and tell God what you are feeling.” I took that as my que.
I remember sitting on the bed and sobbing. It was cathartic for sure as I released all my fears and concerns to God. That was my first step in seeing what God was going to do through this illness.
A few minutes later, I opened my devotional and I’ll never forget reading these words on April 17, 2011 – “I am training you in steadfastness.”
God was telling me that there was a purpose for this illness – whatever it was – and that he was going to grow us through it.
Fortunately after a few weeks, we found out that Morgan had something called Autoimmune Neutropenia as opposed to the more serious kind. AIN is actually an autoimmune disease and blood disorder where the body attacks it’s own neutrophils.
Fortunately, AIN is not permanent in that most children go into remission after a few years. We were of course elated to hear that.
However, the next 3 years meant weekly blood draws, daily injections and even periods of time where she could not be around other children.
We lived in a state of hyper-vigilence and our lives revolved around whatever number came back from that week’s blood draw. If it was low, we would be staying in the house most of that week. Hand sanitizer became my new best friend.
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What was your highest point in being a caregiver?
One day I had visited my chiropractor and told her about Morgan’s neutropenia. She shared a story about a girl who had severe allergies to the point that she could not touch anything. If she did, her hands would break out. Fortunately, the little girl’s allergies had subsided but her illness changed her for the better. She shared with me how the little girl had such an amazing empathy for those hurting or in need.
A few days later, my Bible study leader told us how her son was diagnosed with ADD. She shared that what the world sees was fidgeting and inattentiveness but thanked God that He gave her son fast hands and a fast brain. She knew God gave him those attributes to accomplish the specific plans for His life.
That moment it clicked with me. God did not allow Morgan to have AIN to harm her but He would use even this to benefit her in life (Jeremiah 29:11). God felt the hardship was worthwhile so she could learn from it – so He could use it to mold her to be the woman He needs her to one day be.
I can honesty say that Morgan would not be the little girl she is today if not for her condition. Morgan has an incredible empathy for others. She is always very kind and concerned about others.
Her job in her 1st grade class room is to help out in putting bandaids on her classmates’ ‘boo boos’. She is always the first one to welcome a new girl to the classroom. She has an emotional intelligence that is fun to watch in action.
I look forward to seeing what God has planned for her and how she will continue to use her AIN. What the world might see as a physical handicap, I can now see as God’s magnificent handiwork.
How has God made HIMSELF real to you in this situation?
In every difficult situation, we have two options. We can see things as they truly are in accordance with God’s Design or we can see hardships through behind the dark haze of satan’s lies.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have life and have it to the full. John 10:10
We can see life through two different sets of glasses. We have one set of glasses that don’t have lenses, through which you see things clearly. The other set of glasses are actually sunglasses that cast a dark shadow when we put them on. Our job is to hold up every situation to the light of God’s truth.
This concept is fresh in my mind as Morgan has just been diagnosed with dyslexia…
There’s a part of me that wants to say “why her” but really this is more of God’s preparation. God has specific plans for her in place and He needs her brain to work a little differently in order to accomplish them. Therefore, the answer to “why her” is because He has orchestrated a master plan for her because He loves her dearly.
If we allow it, hardship is the greatest catalyst to spiritual growth.
Sometimes God allows something to be taken away so that He can bless us exponentially. It’s a trust exercise for sure but so often our hardship is not just a catalyst but also a conduit for God’s blessings.
What is your favorite song, verse or sermon that is helping you to get through this situation?
My favorite verse is 1 Corinthians 2:9, “ No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has planned for those who love Him.” It reminds me that God is orchestrated every hardship for His good and ultimately our good.
John Piper once said “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life and you are only aware of three of them.” I look forward to the day we stand in God’s presence and look back at the hardships and realize they were not only necessary but worthwhile for Him to work out the blessings of His plans.
Bust some myths for us. Tell us what Auto Immune Neutropenia is NOT.
Little research is put into Autoimmune Neutropenia because it is rare and in most cases it goes away, there is little awareness. I’ve created a Facebook Page for parents of children with AIN moms at facebook.com/groups/AINSupportGroup There you can find an encouraging environment for support and information.
What does self care look like for you?
Spending time with God everyday is my number one form of self-care. My demeanor and stress level are completely different if I don’t.
Find other Christian moms going through what you are going through. It’s really helpful to know someone else is going through the same struggles.
Other than that, I suggest lots of hot baths and chocolate to help you relax.
What hope can you give families going through the similar situation?
I don’t use words like blessings, joy and peace to dismiss the hardship of what you are going through. What I do know is this…God is right there with you through the storm. He is not just holding your hand but He is holding you.
“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
The first few words of that verse are “consider it”. That’s because God realizes trials are hard and in the midst of them we have to stop and consider them to allow God’s joy to reign in our hardships. In other words, trials are supposed to be hard but even in the midst of them, we can rest in God.
On my blog Renovated Faith, I talk a lot about how God’s transformative process of making us more like Him. Seeing a furniture piece revitalized from a piece of trash to something that belongs in a showroom is so exciting for me.
But the process isn’t painless. There is always a lot of sanding involved – sometimes first with rough sand paper, then with smooth. Often, drawers must be realigned, glued and clamped for a time. Holes are often filled and then the piece is primed and painted. Also, there is always a protective finish applied.
There will be hard days but they will be worthwhile. Remember, this too shall pass dear friend.
What is your favorite worship song?
Let me know what encouraged you in the comments below. Please head on over to Karin’s website and bless her.
Until next time,