Thursday, December 21, 2006

Miracles, Miracles Everywhere!

SO much has happened in the Hendrick house in 2006. This is another long post. I’m sorry! You don’t have to read it, but we have many things to be thankful for this year. I can't leave anything out!

With four little boys, one crazy husband and one nasty dog, there are not many days that go by that something exciting, disgusting, illegal, or potentially lethal does not take place.

I wish I were kidding.

Do you see what I'm doing? Are you already on to me?


I'm trying to figure out how to put lots of these AMAZING pictures that Lynsey took of my kids in this Christmas newsletter. So, now that I've ratted myself out...I'll just go ahead and show you how stinkin cute my kids are!

Ok, now that I've gotten that out of my system, here are some of the highlights from this year.

In January we became licensed foster parents. In February, our first little boy came to live with us. God has taught us so much through loving him. This child is simply NOT the same person he was before he came to live here…and you know what? Neither are we! 

In March, another amazing thing happened.

We celebrated Spaghetti Day. Mark it on your 2007 calendar. I'm declaring it a national (and international, since I know Brooke will celebrate) holiday.

This marked the first time in the history of Hayden’s life that he got to eat the same dinner as the rest of our family.

I want to tell this story using a passage of scripture that is so similar to our experience. It’s amazing! It’s from Mark Chapter 9. A father brings his son to Jesus for healing…

And [Jesus] asked his father, How long has he had this? And he answered, From the time he was a little boy.

From birth, Hayden has been sick. By the time he was 3 ½ his immune system had practically shut down. By the time he was three, he could eat only 6 foods. We were basically confined to our home. Going ANYWHERE besides the church nursery at Living Hope was a foolproof way to cause Hayden to break out in severe hives. Hayden had to be fully clothed at all times.

He lived his life in long sleeved, long pants pajamas with socks on his feet AND on his hands. If he had access to any of his skin, he would scrape it off and cause it to bleed. MANY times I would come in to get Hayden out of his bed in the morning to find his sheets COVERED in blood because he had managed to get a piece of clothing off his body.

I cleaned our house non-stop every single day. If Hayden even touched something he was allergic to (and remember…the only things he wasn’t allergic to were 6 things!) he would immediately break out in hives, have to be given Benadryl, covered in topical steroid and it would take about a week to recover. Our life was insane! Hayden could not play outside. He could not be around other kids. He could not go simple places like the grocery store or a city park. He constantly looked like a burn victim. Many, many times a year he had staff infections just from having open wounds all over his body.

Our life was so hard! Seeing my child suffer 24/7 was the most difficult thing I have ever gone through in my life.

And it has often thrown him both into fire and into water, intending to kill him. But if You can do anything, do have pity on us and help us. And Jesus said, [You say to Me], If You can do anything? [Why,] all things can be (are possible) to him who believes!

Looking back, that’s really where I was. I definitely prayed God would heal Hayden, but I spent more time trying to figure it out on my own than praying. I was saying I believed God could heal my son, then spending tons of money and unfathomable amounts of time (into the wee hours of the night) doing my own research on the internet. We took him to all sorts of specialists. He went to Texas Children’s. Nothing. They could not figure out what was wrong with him.

On TV, they always figure it out. I can’t tell you what it felt like to look into a doctor’s face and hear him say, “I don’t know what is wrong with your son.” I would just stare at him waiting for him to say, “Just kidding…here’s what you do….”

We were basically told to keep his skin completely covered at all times, keep him indoors, don’t go anywhere…take everything out of his room…keep everything dusted and free of any food whatsoever. So…we did…for three ½ long years.

Then, in October of last year, they did another round of allergy testing, because although I thought it would be impossible, Hayden was getting WORSE. Sure enough…tests came back and Hayden was now allergic to three of the six things he could eat.

I collapsed in the floor and cried on the phone when the allergist called our house. He informed me that he was very worried about Hayden because reacting non-stop was certainly causing long-term damage to his internal organs. To hear my usually low-keyed allergist say, “This is a big deal, Heather” scared me to death. I knew Hayden was going to die because I knew that I was already doing everything humanly possible for my child…and it wasn’t working.

At once the father of the boy gave an eager, piercing, inarticulate cry with tears, and he said, Lord, I believe! Help my weakness of faith!

I began fasting for my son. I had fasted for him before…but for God to heal him. Now I was fasting for God to keep him alive.

That same month we had testimony time at LH. I remember getting on the stage, not even really aware I was standing there and begging our church to pray for our son. I explained what had happened…I pleaded with them to join me in praying that our family would honor God through Hayden’s sickness…that God would heal him…and that we would trust the Lord. I asked them to pray for me too. I was so tired. I was getting sick a lot from lack of sleep, I’m sure. I wanted to have JOY while going through this trial. I wanted to serve my child joyfully and patiently.

A few days later, I found out that the Amazing Dr. Bacak's family was visiting LH. They had been there that night I stood up and talked about Hayden…and he knew he was supposed to at least try to help our son. He got all of Hayden’s medical charts sent to his office. Hayden had quite a chart.

I went over to their house that week and literally walked in on Dr. Bacak toiling over Hayden’s medical history. There were papers laid out all over the place!! It looked like a copy machine exploded. All of Living Hope began praying by name for Dr. Bacak. We began asking God to speak to Rusty about Hayden. Dr. Bacak found that in a prior test done on Hayden, there was an amoeba present in his system.

I don’t know all the medical stuff behind his diagnosis…but basically, by seeing that everyone else in our family was completely healthy…and Hayden was NOT…he was the first doctor who looked at the big picture and saw that things were not exactly lining up here. He knew the rest of the family was healthy…had NO food allergies, AND that we had been going to Mexico to visit Aaron’s parents for two weeks, every summer since I was 7 months pregnant with Hayden. If Hayden had an amoeba present from birth, then every symptom Hayden had was symptomatic of having a long-term amoeba.

He treated Hayden with amoeba medicine (sorry Rusty…I bet you are cringing as I butcher the medical parts of this story). He treated the rest of us with it. Then, he tested Hayden’s poo until it came back amoeba free. This was certainly one of Hayden’s favorite experiences in his short life. To this day, he will still shout out at random times… “One time I pooped on a paper plate and my mom put my poop in a cup and then put it in her purse and took it to the hospital.” Oh my goodness…I want to die when he does that…ESPECIALLY the time he shared that bit of information with the check out girl at HEB.

But when Jesus noticed that a crowd [of people] came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, You dumb and deaf spirit, I charge you to come out of him and never go into him again. And after giving a [hoarse, clamoring, fear-stricken] shriek of anguish and convulsing him terribly, it came out; and the boy lay [pale and motionless] like a corpse, so that many of them said, He is dead.

Before the amoeba treatment, Dr. Bacak told us that he really had a feeling that if this is what it is…if there are this many symptoms from the amoeba then as the medication is breaking it down and getting rid of it, that Hayden would probably break out horribly during the whole process. He was right. Every step of God healing Hayden was a test of our trust in the Lord. We asked people to pray for us to trust Him..then immediately God went to work giving us reasons to do just that.

Hayden broke out so bad on the medication that he had to go on oral steroids. He couldn’t sleep. He had constant stomach issues. He threw up. He had uncontrollable diarrhea. He was MISERABLE for about two weeks. During that time, Aaron and I had SEVERAL conversations that went sort of like this…

“Should we quit the medicine? This is so awful. Hayden is worse than he was before he started seeing Dr. Bacak. We don’t even know this man. What if he’s nuts? Have you seen their house? It's not THAT big. Does that mean he's not rolling in the dough? If there's no dough rolling does that mean he's a crappy doctor? What if he’s killing our son? Should we do this?”

Sorry again, Rusty…just being honest! But every time, God made one of us strong. Sometimes it was me. Usually it was Aaron. One of us would say, “We are finishing this medicine. Hayden’s almost dead anyway. This can’t hurt anything. We’ve got to trust the Lord! This doctor was sitting in the service that night. We’re going to trust God to move through him!”

But Jesus took [[n]a strong grip of] his hand and began lifting him up, and he stood.

By March, Hayden’s skin was CLEAR!! He wore shorts. We went places. Finally, on March 27, Rusty saw Hayden in his office and said, “Let’s do something crazy, Heather…let’s feed this boy.” I felt dizzy. He didn’t want Hayden to eat milk or egg because he was still coming back with high, high allergies to those things…but other things he wanted to try.

I asked Hayden this question… “What food have you always wanted to eat?” IMMEDIATELY he said “Seggi.” Translated, that was spaghetti. I made spaghetti that night.

I sent an email out to family and friends at 4 p.m. that day that basically said, “Dr. Bacak said to feed Hayden real dinner tonight. Please pray Hayden doesn’t die. I’ve got an epi pen sitting on the dining room table.” We sang, Happy Spaghetti Day to you, Happy Spaghetti Day to you, Happy Spaghetti Day dear Hayden, Happy Spaghetti Day to you!

Hayden blew out candles. He ate some food. Actually, he ate all his food. I ate with tears running down my face. Then, we all shouted and praised the Lord right in our kitchen for what He had done in Hayden’s body. And we praised God for using Dr. Bacak.

At 7 p.m. I sent out another email to those same people that said, “He’s still alive!” It was one of the best days of my life! We will eat spaghetti on March 27 every single day, as long as we live!

God is good and healed our son.

I had tried everything I knew to do. I spent so much money on internet products, books, and specialists. I checked out of society and did nothing but care for my child in our home. We went nowhere. We did nothing. I prayed. I fasted.

But I remember the day I sat in our bedroom floor and cried my eyes out. I had come to the point where I knew I could do NOTHING for my son. NOTHING. I was at the end of my resources. I was passed the point of exhaustion. We were out of money. We had gone through every specialist on the list.

That day I realized that this was how I did everything in my life. I try it first in my own strength. And, because I’m pretty good at a lot of things…that means it takes a long time to get to the end of me and begin trusting the Lord. That sounds awful…but I’m just being honest.

I’m educated. I care about my children. I was willing to do whatever it took to help Hayden. I looked at his sickness like I do everything…something to overcome and figure out…a challenge…a puzzle.

I learned to cook food Hayden could eat. I cooked non-stop. NOTHING he ate could be bought off the shelf at the store. I got over having to be a hermit to keep my son safe. You would not believe how much socialization and celebrations of any kind revolves around food. When food is the enemy, you can't do a lot of the things other people do, and you realize how messy people are with food (before Hayden, I never noticed that other little kids are constantly caked with food particles of some sort.) Really. Go look at one!

I let go of needing sleep. I let go of feeling like I deserved to sit down and stop cooking or cleaning, or bandaging wounds. I got over thinking I should have time to myself…alone…time where I wasn’t constantly serving my son. I got over the fact that I did not have the luxury of ever doing something as normal as running to Hobby Lobby for something. I tried that twice and both times, my son practically quit breathing in the store.

Now I know that I foolishly thought God was going to heal Hayden by using me to do it. Wrong. God was going to heal Hayden when I gave up and realized God was the only hope for my sweet son. Not me. That day that I sat with my face smashed into our floor, lying in my own tears, it finally dawned on me that I could not save the day. This was not a puzzle. This was not a challenge. This, like every other thing in my life, was an opportunity to trust God to do something spectacular.
It was the most FREEING moment of my life. I realized, I was already doing everything I knew to do and it wasn’t working. I know so much right now about allergies that I’m not even kidding, our previous pediatrician STILL has people call me to ask me questions about caring for their kids with severe allergies. I went from being completely unaware of food allergies, to knowing so much I thought my head would explode. I could tell a whelp from a rash from a mile away on someone. And yet…my son was getting worse.

This whole thing was not about me figuring out some way to help my son. It was about God doing something amazing, and allowing me the great privilege to be a part of what He was about to do. I was about to see a modern day miracle. So I began praying God would heal him and begin teaching me to trust that He actually could do it. If Hayden were going to live, it was going to be all God. I was FINISHED looking for answers on the internet or by sitting in some doctor’s office far away from our home. No more.

Every bit of my energy was going to go into asking God to help…not trying to figure it out all by myself. And sure enough…God brought the Bacaks right to us. God brought healing right to our front door.

This year I hardly clean our house. It's been great!

In August, Anson got baptized. Is there anything better as a parent than seeing your children fall in love with the Lord? We have seen God work so clearly in Anson’s life. What a gift it was to watch the Holy Spirit begin pursuing his little heart last year. He was constantly asking questions about salvation…about what it means to live for Christ.

Then, he was so excited to be baptized. It is so evident that the Lord is living inside our son. It also makes it very easy to parent a child who so wants to live a life that honors God. If he reads it in the Bible…that settles it for him! Talk about a blessing!

So, those are the highlights of 2006. We got over our selfishness and fear and fostered. We got over ourselves and surrendered Hayden’s next breath to the Lord. God has come through beautifully in both situations.

In 2007 we’re looking forward to seeing what God has planned for the size of our family. We’re looking forward to the birth of a new little niece. We’re praying about having another baby in our house. Right now we’re not sure if we’ll birth one or if God is calling us to the ministry of adopting a newborn. I'm sure this is what Ashton would think if he's not the baby anymore.
..(really just another reason to use a cute Aunt Lynsey picture!).
We’re looking forward to trusting God to do whatever looney thing He calls us to do. Little by little we Hendricks are learning that when God says He is faithful and can be trusted with our lives…He means it.

We have NEVER experienced the love of our Savior like we have this year. He really did come to be God WITH us. His precious Spirit has taught us and grown us and BLESSED us incredibly this year. We pray those same things on your home and in your life this next year!

Whatever God is calling you to in 2007…whatever He’s been nudging at your heart to do…we encourage you to go for it. Nothing but amazing will result from stepping out in faith. Doing what God says is not always easy, but Christmas means that we never go through anything alone. Immanuel. God with us!

Merry Christmas!

The Hendricks


Hendrick Family said...

Wow. Not even a whole couple hours have gone by and already my first paragraph has been proven.

Aaron just walked in and said...

"Oh no. I just blew super glue into my my eyelashes are stuck together."

Great. Just great.

Jennifer Bacak said...

This post was beautiful until that last pic...You and Aaron are scaring me with those wigs.
What a wonderful year, and getting to walk alongside you guys has grown us too! Yes, Heather, crazy to think we didn't know each other a year ago.
I love your family so much!

Melodi said...

I love you.

sarah said...

one of the best family pictures i have ever seen!

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas! We love ya'll!

Shonnie said...

Wow, Heather, it humbles me to hear your heart and see your transparency. You write so beautifully. I felt like I was right there on the floor with you, crying out to God for the life of your son. Thank you for being so real, so honest. It inspires me to continue to surrender to His will, His plans for my life. Thank you. Loretta suggested that I read it, I’m glad she did.

May I be so bold as to say that as I read your entry that I saw three lives healed, three miracles. Thank You, God, for saving Anson, for drawing him to Yourself. May he follow You wholeheartedly all the days of his life. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Wow... what an amazing story! Ya'll have been such a blessing in my life... Merry Christmas Hendricks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks SO much for the Christmas card! It's leaning right up next to the Valentine from a year or two back. Consider this my Christmas card until I come bringing presence. Yes, presence.

Brooke said...

Aaron, Heather, Anson, Hayden, Ashton and Danny: I love yall. I really love yall. I love being able to look back at your year and remember how the Lord moved in your hearts, in your home, and in people around you b/c of your faith in Jesus---- our Healer. Just so you know, I'm adding March 27th to the Thai calendar... I mean since this holiday is going international and all. I'm so eating spaghetti that day!

Anonymous said...

Truly truly truly amazing!

Thank you for that.

Karen said...

I just love your precious, amazing example. You guys (and girl) are pretty great!

Anonymous said...

What a blessing!!!

Anonymous said...

It has been cool to read about your family and also see it when we are around you. We love you guys for being such a great example at what a family that follows the Lord looks like.

Love ya,
Ana Williams