Monday, March 31, 2014

Norah | Three

Norah : Light & Honor

Norah, Nor, Nona, Norahasaurus, Norah Jean.

Your mama is sentimental this morning, thinking of your birth and how lightening fast (and painfully slow at points) these three years have gone.





When I was 32 weeks pregnant with you, Angela checked your heart rate to find an abnormality. That night was the first of many I prayed for your heart. That it would be strong and steady. God quickly corrected it and there was no need to worry, but three years down the line I see that He has done more than just make it anatomically correct.



Norah, your heart IS wild, wild like nothing else I've ever seen. But God has indeed made it strong and steady. Your wildness leaves a soft spot in the hearts of everyone you meet. You bring laughter and compassion out of many of your friends. You are an honorable sun flare of a spirit, little one, bursting with uncontainable light, even in the darkest places.



For the first time in almost a year, I laid down with you in your bed and fell asleep with you. Half asleep, you grabbed my hands out of habit, just like when you were a tiny babe and I wept as you nuzzled your warm cheeks next to me. You have a piece of my heart that is a vital part of who I am and I am utterly humbled to be your mother.

Happy Birthday, my little itchy one.

Read Part 1 of Norah's Birth Story Here
Read Part 2 of Norah's Birth Story Here

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Living Water

Two years ago we brought both of the girls to Rockport for Norah's first trip to the beach. She was just over a year old and was as itchy as ever.
The first day we went to the beach, Norah sat in the cool water and giggled and squirmed. This was new for her and she loved it. She had rarely been in a pool because harsh water conditions and bacteria posed a serious threat to her skin, but this she loved. Admittedly, I was worried about the toxicity of the water (being the Gulf of Mexico and all), but (despite many accusations of just keeping her away from "fun things" for my own benefit) I was willing to let her try it out at least once. The patches on her skin turned bright red as she played and I held my breath. We all were amazed as tiny little minnows came up to her legs and ate off the dead skin- and she let them! As we packed up to leave I prepared myself to come home to The Itchy Kid, having left Happy Smiley Beach Baby back on the shore.



What we found was just the opposite. The salt water had taken away all irritation. The patches were no longer raised or inflamed, her skin was (for the first time in her life!) somewhat smooth, and she seemed to momentarily forget that she was usually in pain and cheerfully played the rest of the day. When Norah has a bad reaction to something, we often stick her in a bath with some Epsom salt and essential oils with minor results so this was huge.
We rearranged our entire trip to get her in the water as much as possible that weekend. We even considered bottling up the ocean and bringing it back with us to Fort Worth, but knew the stagnate, contained conditions would spoil the water.


Fast forward to a year later when we moved to Rockport.
One of the (very few) things we were excited about getting our tiny lady out to the beach as much as possible. We couldn't apply sunscreen to her skin because everything we found triggered histamine release (this year we will be using coconut oil and carrot seed oil!) so we went to the beach at sunset and let Norah play every few days. Being in homes that were full of things that make her sick was very, very rough on her little system, but the salt water still worked magic for her.


Fall, then winter came and went. Though the weather was mild, it was still too chilly to get in the water.


But spring is here. The water is warming, the sun is out.

A few weeks ago we took the girls out for their Nature Study Day. Since the fishing was supposed to be good, we headed to the beach. The water was still chilly, but not so unbearable as to keep you from ankle wading. We ventured under the pier looking for hermit crabs, identified wildflowers, and dug a few holes. Then Norah got brave and waded out to a sandbar. The sand was soft that day and her little chubby body sunk fast with each step. I watched her patiently, expecting her to need me to catch her from falling at any moment. But then, she remembered.

She dug her plump fingers into the wet sand and began rubbing them on her legs saying "Mama! It feels so good on me 'kin!" and I won't pretend that I didn't cry.

Jesus scooped me up in that moment proclaiming His sovereignty as the Living Water.
I know that I often get caught up in thinking about the woman at the well and imagining babies in third world countries dying of thirst, but this time, I understood His picture of living water so much more. See, the chlorinated, harsh water that dumps from our tap can visibly clean Norah, but it does little to heal her. Christ is like this salt water. Teeming life that not only washes away our filth, but deeply refreshes our spirit and heals our wounds! Salvation has brought me this flowing gift, and today I am grateful for it.





Happy Humpday, Y'all!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

On Parade

It's been about a month since I "quit" facebook.
I know most of you read those "How Facebook is Making You An Addicted, Lazy, Horrible Human Being" articles and roll your eyes, but they were true for me.
You need no more evidence than the fact I had emotional and physical withdrawals in the week following my decision. The reasons were many: time consumption, comparison overload, doling out judgment, the ability to be secretly crushing on a married man. Yep, facebook had me cornered on all fronts.
So ties were cut, confessions and repentancing (new word that Webster will be adding soon) happened, and the truth is, after eight years, I don't miss it. I logged on yesterday morning to manage Norah's symptoms page and found it to be an overwhelming amount of verbal vomit.

Enter Instagram.
Being a photographer, the pictures are where it's at for me. The majority of the users I follow take the time to post beautiful images with insightful captions. And I get to see some of the baby faces of my friend's children that are growing way too quickly and I love like my own sons and daughters.
And now I find myself caught up again. Spiraling in the cycle of the scroll and tap. Hours of precious sleep get lost, I am painfully aware of my own narcissism and feel helpless to do anything about it, and I can't help but feel that by sharing the beautiful (aesthetically, spiritually, emotionally) through what I can show you in a picture, that my life is on parade.
My marriage, my babies, my self righteousness, my ability all laid out there on an hourly basis. Robbing me of my time in prayer, pressing "Hold on baby, let me just type this up real quick" ahead of actually finishing the adorable project I've started with my children. AM I TALKING TO AN EMPTY ROOM HERE?! IS THIS JUST ME?!


This micro-blogging, it is a blessing. One in ten posts I subscribe to are dripping with the gospel, shedding enlightening, painful, vital truth. And the rest is simply drivel. And I'm fighting to find where that leaves me.
Being so young, my babies' faces change daily. Lily is so impressive to me (and I find that sharing with you may cause you to compare her to your delightfully impressive preschooler), Norah is voicing her opinions and they are priceless (but she is not here for your entertainment), Phoebe is a baby sea lion in human form (and I know some of you can't fight your baby making ways and may fall victim to baby fever). I know all three of them bring Joy to the people whose lives are touched by them, it is an outpouring of their ministry that is still, like them, in it's infancy. Having an account of what happens during the day for my husband is so useful, especially on the days when the "So, how was your day?!" comes in the latest, briefest moments.

But as Eamon and I are being called to missions and are preparing our family in a way that reflects that, I feel it is crucial that I change what I am doing. I mean, can you imagine me in the Congo snapping a selfie captioned "So over getting shot at, maybe my adorbz new sunnies will totz protect me from shrapnel."?!? Because my track record shows I am not above that. And let's not get started on how "sharing the gospel from the mission field" often looks a whole lot like a plea for congratulation and adoration for your "good work."

I'm going to need a supernatural amount of self-control, humbleness, and discernment to properly navigate this next move.
Lack of social media hurts my business, directs less traffic to my blog (which, really, I do try and use intentionally since it doesn't have the "HURRY UP AND POST. GET ALL THE INSTANT GRATIFICATIONS."), and can keep me isolated. So pray for me, if you will. I need more Jesus, and less me.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Daughter, By Your Faith, You Are Healed"

In six weeks, my darling Norah will be three. She is at a frustratingly tumultuous age where she is either in soul ripping tears over minute inconveniences in the world (eg, her beans and rice having too many beans) or gut bursting laughter over improbable entertainment (eg, identifying Phoebe's poop as whole raisins.)
But in that tiny jungle of a soul, a seed is sprouting, trying to take root.
When she looks to me while reading about Naaman and says "Jesus will heal my skin, too, mama.",
When her eyes light up as Lily explains the wonders of New Jerusalem like only a big sister can,
When her skin, for no reason at all, has betrayed her again and bleeds and she refuses her bath, and oils, and salves, and she just wants to be held and prayed for,
The seedling of her faith is growing.

With her birthday coming up, it's hard for me not to hear the echoes of all of the doctors that said "She'll grow out of it" bouncing around in my head. "By a year," they said. "By 18 months," they said. "Sometime after about two it should..." they said.
Norah's condition, whatever it may be, points me to Jesus constantly. She is a blessing into my life like nothing else just for this. The reliable reminder that repeat exposure to things that trigger a negative reaction in our hearts will lead to sickness throughout our bodies. The confirmation that our flesh craves to be more than just exfoliated, but MADE NEW to be wholly in Christ.

And tonight, I wonder about the woman in Luke who bled for twelve years. Was she taken from doctor to doctor, doing everything that she knew was right? Did her mama read Isaiah to her, revealing the foretelling of The Great Healer? (Watching your daughter suffer incurably could not have been easier two thousand years ago!) Did she grow tired of all the accommodations that had to be made for her if and when she left the house?
But Hallelujah!! that the seedling of Faith that resided in her drove her out into a crowd where she ought not be, that she reached out and touched the Man that would bleed immeasurably for her to end her bleeding! What a God. He took on her pain, her affliction, her rejection, her "condition"
And by her faith, she was healed.



Luke 8:43-48

New International Version (NIV)
43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years,[a] but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her,“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

Daughter, whatever your "incurable" affliction may be, whatever isolates you, pains you, drains you of your hypothetical or actual blood, reach out to Jesus. Not only am I comforted that He has taken on Norah's pain, but mine. Because we can not go unnoticed. He knows my depression, He knows your scar of abuse, your all consuming addiction. And He is good, making Himself easily accessible to us, that all we need do is have Faith and grab on.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Behold, All Things Have Become New

It's that time of year again.
Fitspiration.
Clean eating.
Book lists.
You know the drill.
One flip of the calender page and everyone has a renewed look of the world.

The hours stretched long on December 31st.
"What should I write about this year? Am I a 'Resolutions' type gal? Am I an 'Anti-Resolutions' type gal? Am I an 'OHEMGEE guys, it's just resolutions, let's have some fun, stop being so rude' type gal?"
I have yet to answer any of these life altering questions.

I knew that last year held overwhelming joy and deep heartache for myself and many.
I know that this year friends will lose their parent, wake another day with a barren womb, lose a job. Others will welcome babies, get that big promotion, celebrate another year of wedded bliss with their spouse. The possibilities are endless and all the while, the days are numbered.

The thing about self improvement is that I often try to outdo the great work that my creator is doing with me. He is perfecting me. In ways I don't understand. In ways a 21 day program, 52 week project, or 24 hour plan cannot. This year, 2014, is another year closer to paradise. One yet unseen that I want no part of while on this Earth. But what we do decide to do until then, it needs to be revisited often, at least yearly if not daily.

Dec 31st kept stretching on.
I made the most delicious, simple chicken broth for chicken and dumplings.
"Ah, yes, this! I will talk about simplification. About my new love that I had beaten into me for a Minimalist existence. How getting rid of half of what we owned this year leads to clarity and tastiness. Wait. No. That's not it."
The chicken and "bumplins" (as Norah called them) were delicious. But not resolution inspiring.

Well past midnight, as I lay listening to fireworks in the distance, and the cheers of jubilee through the interwebz, I thought about "New." I have started many years by wanting a new body. New hair. New clothes. A new babe.
But I've never started a year wanting to BE MADE NEW like I do right now.
A new vigor for His Word
An ignited fire for my husband.
A refreshed patience for my children.
A fortified grace for the world.

I want to taste the salt in my lungs as many times as I can, make beautiful things with these slender hands God's grown me into, push my body to work, love and rest like it never has. I want to weep with complete confidence that His Blood is more than any tragedy that lay ahead. I want to sing and dance so wildly that laughter overtakes any music.

I want Him to make me new.

Happy New Year.


2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things

 have passed away; behold, all things have become 
new.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Flu Management and Recovery Holistically

First of all:
I am not a doctor, voo doo or otherwise. I am not an herbalist, a natropath, or certified to give anyone any advice of any kind ever. (though I need to get on that eyebrow consultant certification...making the world a better place one arch at a time...) 
I write this as an encouragement to mamas out there who are looking to take care of their kiddos during this flu season in a gentle manner, whether they chose to vaccinate or not.

Secondly:
Like any family who chooses not to vaccinate, I do not believe that decision will protect us from getting viruses or diseases. The hefty weight of the decision to vaccinate was/is not taken lightly. Based on the effects it can have on our daughter with a probable auto immune disorder, the danger of the ingredients found in vaccines (from heavy metals, to peanut oil which is deadly to our 4 year old), religious reasons, and the overall effectiveness of vaccines has lead us to exclude them from our family's healthcare. Making this decision means that we must have a plan of action for if/when our children are exposed to viruses.
We are a mission minded family and understand that we called to reach the ends of the Earth. We trust that if/when we or our children are called to international missions that God will do so in a timely manner, allowing us to make appropriate decisions regarding this manner.
And lastly, be aware of overwhelming your body with essential oil usage. Know your body, and your children's.

Now, ON TO THE PUKES!

Last Saturday Norah and Lily went to a friend's house to play. Norah had a stuffy nose and a little cough, but that is common for her after having a severe reaction (which she had less than 48 hours before). Not long after dropping them off, I received the call that she was running a good fever and not feeling well.
Still assuming it was her reaction flaring up in a big way, I didn't do much but apply Lavender and Peppermint (carried in organic coconut oil) on the bottoms of her feet, base of her neck and spine to reduce her fever. Worked like a charm.
We went to church the next morning thinking she was fine, but got the report that she had been a particularly cranky babe and wasn't feeling well.
Fast forward a few days and all the Burke Ladies (and then the Burke Daddy) had thrown up, fever, coughing, loss of appetite, boogery, hot mess. It was clear- the F Bomb had been dropped on our house.




It has now been one week since Norah first had fever and all the babes are doing much better- this is how we did it.

Essential Oil Flu Shot
doTERRA's Official protocol for Influenza is as follows:
Breathe (Respiratory Support blend)
Melaleuca
Peppermint
Rosemary
Eucalytpus
On Guard (Antibacterial Immune Support Blend)
White Fir
Lavender
Oregano
Thyme
Orange
Clove
Ginger
Aside from the White Fir, Orange, and Ginger, I mixed one drop of each oil into a glass roller ball bottle and filled the rest with organic coconut oil. I rubbed this on their chest, base of the neck, spine and feet every 30-60 minutes.

Fever
If fever became an issue again, I held back on the flu shot and continued with the lavender/peppermint on their feet until the fever broke. Usually under 45 minutes. Unlike Motrin, Tylenol, etc, using essential oils to break a fever is not dangerous. It doesn't just block fever receptors, it fights the bacteria that are triggering the fever.

The pukes and squirts
Along with loss of appetite, it can be hard for little ones (and big ones) to keep anything down. Vomit, diarrhea, and dehydration are not fun for anyone especially itty bitties.
I'm so grateful for this article I found on how/why to use Activated Charcoal to manage/prevent dehydration.
It is very important that you are feeding yourself and your babes gentle, nourishing foods during this time.

Garlic Flu Shot
While I can't get the girls to touch this with a ten foot pole, my husband and I take this little concoction. Call me a weirdo, I actually kinda like it.

Keeping Clean
To keep the spread of germs to a minimum, we used doTERRA's On Gaurd hand soap and disinfected with Purify and Lemon. Norah cannot use foaming hand soap so she uses Badger Balm Baby Soap.
Changing bedding, throw up clothes, etc as soon as possible is a must. I am even using paper diapers until the virus is out of the house. It's one less thing I have to clean up!

Regular Supplements
We kept up on our intake of a high quality Cod Liver Oil and vitamin D. I loved what this mama had to say about liquid Vit D3:
"I recommend Micillized D3 specifically, if you can find it.  Micellized D3 is a form of vitamin D that has been processed to be more readily absorbed by the body. Vitamin D3 is an essential vitamin that is especially hard to get enough of naturally during the winter months because we’re not getting as much sun exposure. In terms of fighting illness, it helps the body to produce immune cells and helps with mineral absorption, and regulating mineral levels in the body."If we could handle probiotics, we of course would be taking those as well.

Remember, try not to drive yourself crazy while your family is puking and coughing their brains out.
The flu will pass and hopefully, this information will help to keep you all sane and a little more comfortable in the meantime!

Bathed in Serenity

Last night (and the one before) have been hard, hard, hard for our sweet Phoebe. Flu and teething and getting to that point where just falling asleep peacefully in mamas arms just isn't an option anymore make for a very unhappy babe.
I rocked, prayed, sang, cried, nursed, everything I could think of, she still squirmed screaming. Her hair was curly with sweat, little voice worn out, I felt completely helpless. Husband went downstairs, giving up on trying to sleep with us.
I drew a warm bath in the dark and readied fuzzy towels and a diaper.
We climbed in, I blanketed her in a washcloth that barely covered her doughy rolls, and slowly poured the warm water over her. She quickly slipped into sleep.

I dared not moved, hunched over, holding her chubby being curled up into me.
I washed the sweat out of her hair...
I was left to my own thoughts and began to weep.

Everyone around is buzzing about this year being almost over and reflecting on the good and the bad.
2013 was a wash for me. It is not what I planned, not what I wanted. A kick in the gut. A fresh start turned Series of Unfortunate Events.
Phoebe's birth was beautiful, God's provision has been undeniable and abundant (this is where I am writing that down to convince my unbelieving self.) But, while not necessarily a bad thing, my identity's been shaken, my pride sucker punched, my heart humbled. And the truth of the matter is that there is NO PROMISE that tomorrow will be better. Mercies will abound and renew, undoubtedly, but our heavenly circumstances await in Heaven!

The first night of Phoebe's fits I sat in our stairway crying to God, "Lord, let me long for Heaven as much as I do right now when I am on the mountain top and not in the valley."

Sitting there in the dark, soothing a sick babe I realized that the essential oils I poured in the tub must be helping. The blend I used was called "Serenity."
I smiled as I realized once again that my faithful Father had used my babies again for my edification.
Her pain was legitimate, it was real, it hurt in a way she couldn't express. But, (once I overcame my frustration) being bathed in Serenity, she was able to relax.

For just a moment, the haze of PPD lifted and I was able to let out

"Blessed is the Lord who bathes me in His Serenity!"

Isaiah 9:6
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father
Prince of Peace.