Diabetes & Dogs, Fasting for Friends

Baby Annie

I wish that Type I Diabetes could be renamed – it is quite different from Type II.  My final pregnancy introduced me to gestational diabetes and I have family members with Type II Diabetes… so when my niece, Annie, was rushed to a children’s hospital a couple years ago and diagnosed with Type I Diabetes, I thought I could help… but no, and I have had quite an education, mostly teaching me that Type I is an incredibly serious disease of its own.  Only those who are exposed to this disease can nod knowingly – an individual and their family’s lives are forever changed on every level when Type I Diabetes enters their home.
Off the top of my head are just a few things that I have observed.  Of course there are the constant needles for checking blood sugars and administering insulin, this includes EVERY NIGHT around 2 a.m. – for the child and the parent… when the numbers are off they may be up for hours trying to get her regulated again!  Even with health insurance the monthly bills have added up with no end in sight.  Rarely does a day go by that my sister isn’t contacted by the school with health issues.  As Annie’s blood sugars vary, her ability to determine that she needs help wanes.

Annie with big sister, Hope

About a year ago we learned that there are Diabetes alert dogs which can sense their master’s blood sugars!  How cool is that?!  An alert dog would be idea for Annie – she is a natural with animals and this companion could prove to be a life saver – not only for her physical needs, but emotional as well. Our family certainly has learned that there is a certain loneliness that comes with being a teenager diagnosed with a serious illness.  Annie’s illness isn’t going away anytime soon.
Last January Annie started a “gofundme” campaign to try to earn the money for a dog.  She was even willing to learn to train the dog herself to help with the costs.  There is simply no way that this dog can be purchased without assistance.  What a blessing to have others share even $20.  It has added up and she has 10-20% of what she needs.
[I mentioned that Jackie had a hard time deciding what she wanted to receive as a Make-A-Wish gift – her initial reaction was to provide Annie with an alert dog, but pets are not an option.]

This is Libby, the trainer, with Suzy.
She just wrote a book about training.
Click to see Libby’s book

During the past month Annie was contacted by a sweet girl in Kentucky who trains alert dogs, but is now going to college and has a special dog, Suzy, that is ready for a home.  This young woman prayed and read though many gofundme pages looking for just-the-right family.  When she saw Annie she knew this was the right girl and she made contact.  My sister’s family and this Kentucky family are all praying together that somehow this transaction will be able to take place (quickly)- there a lot of details that I do not know, or that would take too long to share… but it is a good fit.  I like the way these two families, thousands of miles apart and of different religions, have combined their faith to help one another.
Another kind friend heard about this and contacted our local newspaper (The Columbian) who came and interviewed the family.  There will be an article tomorrow.
Having just returned from an amazing trip to Italy, compliments of Make-A-Wish and thus many caring individuals who donated to help children in need, I thought that I would pass along the opportunity to help my sweet niece. Please click Annie’s Alert Dog or http://www.gofundme.com/jmh4fk for more details.
Another way that our family is helping this family today is to be involved in a Fast for Annie.

Suzy was the model for the book

The dictionary in my Bible defines a Fast:
    Fasting, a voluntary abstinence from food, is a principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ for developing spiritual strength; it has always existed among believers.

I learned to fast when I was 8 years old.  I used to imagine that I was eating a Snickers bar and let my mind pretend to be satisfied.  Over the years I learned to fast for two full meals – this has taught me humility as I try to rely on the Lord for spiritual strength rather than my own physical strength.  During a fast, I feel that I pray with more feeling and faith, and therefore there is an added “power” to my prayers.  It isn’t easy to explain.  Christ teaches that when we fast we shouldn’t appear unto men to fast, but should do so in secret.  (Matthew 6:16-18)  Sometimes, however, we share this fasting opportunity with family or church members in order to combine our faith and prayers.

Annie (left) with family 2014

As a church, all around the world, we practice the Law of the Fast each first Sunday of the month.  As a part of this fast, we give an offering of the cost of the two meals as money to be used for the poor.  Most people that I know give much more generously than that.  These funds are administered by volunteers and there is no overhead, so every penny is given to ease the burdens of our fellowmen.  It is a beautiful program.
Often, as a family, we will discuss personal reasons to fast, or something particular for which we need to pray together.  We encourage our children to find their own reasons – last night Mark read to the family from the Old Testament (Isaiah 58:3-9).  In verse 6 God says that one aspect of fasting is to undo the heavy burdens.  By giving a Fast Offering of money we help easy the financial burdens of others, and we pray for their burdens to be lightened, but we also can pray or our own burdens.  We discussed with the children three burdens – that Annie’s family has of needing to get this dog and praying that the newspaper article will help; we also share a burden of needing to sell our home so that we can be together when Mark begins work in Texas… and we asked the children to think of a personal burden that they have which they need help with.  Isaiah gives a promise along with the fasting in verse 9, “Then shalt thou call and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.”

Little Annie with her puppy, Lexi

This morning as I prayed for Annie, I felt that perhaps there was someone who would read this blog and be able to help.  I hesitate to ask, but since my blog is focused on my life lessons, I will record for everyone to read that I have learned the power of fasting and prayer.  I have also learned the joy of serving others and receiving service from others. I am sharing this situation with the public because that I is what I felt impressed to do.  I didn’t ask Annie or my sister for permission, I hope that they do not mind.  I hope that if the reader does not feel inclined or is not able to share, they will share this blog post with those who can.  Or at least find a way to help someone that they know and love today – service brings joy!

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