Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Life, Faith & Eyes

Life is complex and confounding yet a mere irony when examined as a whole. . . . Truth, especially as far as my life is concerned. And I know my life, generally speaking, is not much different than yours. That’s why, when I felt led to begin something new this year, I fought against it tooth and nail. Me? Blogging on a regular basis, really? Why would I, of all people, write a blog post each month? First, in all likelihood, no one will ever read it. Second, I have nothing to write about, especially on a monthly basis. Third, I don't have the time. Well, as you can see, I lost out on my own argument because here I am writing the first of twelve posts for the year. So, whether the posts are ever read or whether anything I write ever makes a difference, I’m following my calling. And I couldn’t think of a better way to dive in, than to give you a peek into my not-so-interesting life.

My husband and I.

To begin, let me get a little nostalgic and admit that whenever I take time to reflect I’m always amazed to see how God has tested my faith through the years. Majority of the time, I wasn’t exactly aware of the process until I happened to be on the other side looking back. A few examples that readily come to mind are: dealing with marital issues (Yes. I know. I’m a romance novelist. So, I’ve got happily ever after, in reality, actually figured out, right? Ummm . . . that would be a resounding NO. I don’t have nor have I ever had a perfect marriage or am I anywhere near figuring it out.), dealing with years of infertility (If you’re interested in that story, see my previous blog post from Sept 30, 2015.), dealing with moving away from family and friends to a remote area in north Alabama for my husband's career (At times, this still proves to be a hard pill to swallow), and dealing with children who have eye issues (And, yes, both of my beautiful, perfect-to-me children have dealt or are currently dealing with eye issues.). To make it clear, it’s nothing simple where you hear the doctor say let’s give them an antibiotic drop that’ll clear this up in a couple of days. No, it’s more along the lines of surgeries, glasses, patching, no definitive diagnosis at this point, and continual follow-ups.

My beautiful, perfect-to-me children.

So, to make a long story short, I, at one point in my pre-mommy days, worked as the lead technician for a pediatric ophthalmologist. Fast-forward some eight years to when my seven-month-old daughter became her patient. The tables had turned, and I was the mom, waiting in the outpatient surgical lobby, praying that everything would go as planned. Hadassah’s first surgery went well, and over a span of three years, she had a total of three successful surgeries for strabismus. She patched off and on and wore glasses for about a year and a half as an infant. She is now a four-year-old, energetic little girl who loves gymnastics and wears glasses part time. To know, that years before while struggling with infertility God placed me in the perfect environment so I would know the perfect pediatric ophthalmologist for my child who hadn’t yet been conceived is, in fact, amazing. What a mighty God we serve!

Perfect costume when you've got to patch!
A fun-filled first.

First day back in glasses since an infant.

At that point, I thought we were finally in the clear. Hadassah’s eyes were aligned and working beautifully together. The part-time-glasses thing was a walk in the park. . . . Whew, made it through, and God had been nothing but faithful. Smooth sailing ahead, right? Wrong. My five-year-old son, who’s had perfect alignment and seemingly great vision, failed his eye screening exam at school. Okay, I’ve got this. No big deal. All it is, is decreased vision in the left eye due to probable astigmatism. Well, that’s what the paper they sent home said anyway. So, for a while, I toyed with my options. Should I have him examined by a local optometrist or see if Hadassah’s ophthalmologist would see him? And it just so happened or, better yet, in hindsight it was Divinely orchestrated that Hadassah had an upcoming regular follow-up. So, I thought, why not take the failed screening sheet with us to ask the ophthalmologist her opinion? Hadassah's doctor volunteered to see him, and I scheduled the appointment for the beginning of this year.

After a thorough exam, it was determined that astigmatism was not an issue at all and, in fact, the actual issue was a more serious one than originally thought.  The doctor informed us she'd detected corneal changes in his left eye and found an eyelid infection in both eyes which may or may not be attributing to some of the corneal change. My heart immediately dropped. Worry set in, and worse-case scenarios flashed through my mind. As I began following the prescribed regimen (washing eyelids twice a day, patching four hours a day, and applying eye ointment three times a day), I began to stress and worry. God knew this even as I outwardly prayed and asked for friends and family to do the same; and He, in His infinite greatness, allowed for one of the corneal specialist I had occasionally worked with back in the day to contact me upon seeing my request. This physician, of his own accord, discussed Ephraim’s case with me and gave his expert medical opinion. And again, I saw how God’s Hand had been at work all those years before. This knowledge alone ushered in such a sense of peace and comfort. What a reminder that God’s sovereignty is always at work! 

My son, who loves everything space and wants to be an astronaut when he grows up, sporting his astronaut patch.

I know what my daughter faced and my son is now facing pales in comparison to others who have faced congenital heart defects, cancer, autism, autoimmune disorders, and so much more with their children. But as a mother, when it’s your child facing a medical issue, there is never any easy situation, only difficult. So, for now, I’m trusting God with the details. He knows what’s wrong with my son’s eyes. He knows specialist copays are high along with insurance deductibles and premiums. He knows I’m easily stressed. And He also knows the future. I have to continually remind myself I’m not called to worry but to be a wife and mother who trusts no matter the outcome. That’s my calling as a Christian, and, yes, it’s difficult. Some days I fail, and some days I don’t. And thankfully, either way, God is faithful. There are still lots of appointments ahead and a definitive diagnosis to be rendered, but the one constant, in the midst of it all, is GOD.

I’m sure you, like I, can reflect over your life and see how God had you in the right place at the perfect time. Maybe you’re like me too and the older you get the more you're able to see how the hard-to-fit pieces of your life seem to be fitting together. And maybe, just maybe, you are beginning to understand how the uncertainties and tragedies are what brings us to our knees, reminding us of II Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

Please know that no matter the struggle or uncertainty you face, God is faithful. He goes before you. He will sustain and keep you; therefore, you can be free from fear. "And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed." (Deuteronomy 31:8). Though life brings change and uncertainty, God is forever the one constant.

Blessings friends,

Shauna Williams

P.S. If you are struggling, have a child with an eye problem or any other medical condition, or just need someone who'll share your burden, please feel free to send me an email or contact me via social media. I'd love to pray for you and encourage you as best I can.