Disclaimer: I hesitated to post this because of the ways it could be misunderstood. I am simply telling a story about one attempt of mine to seek God’s will. I would not dare to prescribe the lessons I learned to anyone else, nor would I declare that God is limited in the ways He can speak to us. Just as a wise parent relates to each child according to the child’s needs, so God relates to each of us differently, in ways that will best help us grow.
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I hate drugs.
Yes, I know. I said that before. Forgive me for repeating myself.
When we came home from the hospital in March after receiving the epilepsy diagnosis, we brought back a wildcat, not a daughter. Linford carried Tarica inside and set her down, and she immediately began staggering around in wild circles, kitchen, dining room, playroom, living room, over and over again. She wore a fixed smile that, paired with her empty eyes, gave me the shivers.
Tarica had changed, and I knew what to blame: the drugs.
I began researching alternatives, specifically the ketogenic diet. What I learned discouraged me. Tarica was the champion of picky eaters, and this diet consisted of many foods she would refuse to eat.
But still. What if? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take her off drugs?
And then Gina emailed me about a giveaway happening over at Michelle Beachy’s blog. Michelle’s cousin Esther Yoder had just published a cookbook called Nourish. All the recipes in the cookbook were based on the low glycemic index diet, a modified and less strict version of the ketogenic diet, which Esther had used as a form of seizure control for her daughter.
I read the giveaway post. It contained the story of another four-year-old girl who had seizures, although she had absence seizures instead of complex partials like Tarica. Absence seizures are brief losses of consciousness, usually lasting only a few seconds and sometimes occurring hundreds of times a day. It’s a type of childhood epilepsy and almost always outgrown, but imagine the restrictions a child would have to endure if she might randomly lose consciousness at any time. Schooling is also difficult for children with absence seizures because they miss so much as their awareness comes and goes.
Like Tarica, this little girl’s personality had changed on the drugs. In addition, the medications were not preventing her from seizing. Their neurologist suggested that Esther put her daughter on the low glycemic index diet. Within a year, the little girl was seizure- and medication-free. Esther then compiled all the recipes she had developed into a cookbook that could be used to help parents of other children with epilepsy.
At first I thought, No way, not now. It’s too complicated, too soon. We’re still recovering from the hospital stay, still adjusting to the diagnosis.
And then I remembered the gestational diabetes I had had during most of my pregnancy with Micah. What if God had allowed me to be diabetic to prepare me for a bigger dietary challenge?
But what about Tarica’s pickiness?
But nothing is impossible with God.
But would God speak through a giveaway?
I had to know. The doctors were not recommending the diet for Tarica, and at that time the drugs were controlling her seizures. But maybe if I knew, maybe if God would give me A Sign, then I could push to put Tarica on the diet. All I needed was enough faith, and God would heed my prayers.
I entered the giveaway. When another giveaway for the same cookbook popped up online, I entered that one, too. If I won, it would be a sign that the diet was right for us. If I didn’t, then the diet wasn’t for us.
But something didn’t feel right about it, and when Gina started making cautious noises of “don’t rush it” and “give yourself time” and “surrender,” I alternated between bristling and wincing. All I wanted was to know, and yet—was this the best way to discover God’s will, to force God’s hand with a randomly generated number? But didn’t Jesus say “Ask, and it shall be given you”? What was wrong with asking?
I prayed. I considered the words of my friend. I considered the words of my Lord. I prayed some more.
A day or two before the results of the first giveaway were announced, I realized two painful truths about me.
First, I was assuming too much responsibility. What was I going to do—arrive at the doctor’s office and announce that God had told me to put Tarica on the ketogenic diet? What about my husband’s opinion and wishes? I was trying to make family decisions that weren’t mine alone to make. I hadn’t even consulted my husband in this latest scheme. God will not bless choices made outside His already revealed will, and this I knew from His Word: I am to submit to my husband.
Second, I had a problem with my patience, specifically that I had none. I wanted answers now. I wanted to know which direction to take. We could count our time with epilepsy in days, not months or years, and still I had to know now. “Be still,” God says. “Wait. Know that I am God.” Instead I wanted most, not to know God, but to know where and how and when.
I surrendered. I told God, “No matter what happens with the giveaway, help me not to run ahead of You. Reveal Your will as You see fit, not according to my plans and schemes.”
I won neither giveaway, and I felt an enormous sense of relief. It would have been nice to own a copy, yes, but I was done finding divine direction in whether or not a certain cookbook belonged to me.
That surrender was the first of many, as the seizures returned in July and we began a series of drug adjustments and changes. Through it all, I tried to remember the lessons I had learned back in March: Don’t run ahead of God. Wait. Pray. Listen to others, and pray some more.
About a month after the seizures returned, we had guests over for Sunday dinner. That afternoon, one of the guests handed me a gift bag and said, “I don’t know if you heard of this, but I thought you might be interested in it.”
I opened the bag and pulled out Nourish.
A Sign? Oh, yes. Absolutely. A Sign of God’s love. Nothing more.
But it was everything I needed.