Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Spencer's Cookies

I have learned so many lessons in life from our grandchildren. Spencer continues to teach me and I have been thinking a lot about this lately. Spencer was born with food allergies. Not just your everyday type food allergies where you get a scratchy throat or a little runny nose, but he is allergic to peanuts and soy. You cannot begin to realize unless you have been around these two allergies how incredibly difficult they can make your life. For one, peanuts do not cause an allergic reaction in the familiar sense...they are a deadly poison to people that have the problem. I think they should be classified as a poison, period.

Children and adults with severe problems with peanuts can go into anaphylactic shock from just inhaling the dust of a peanut, smelling one or touching something that someone with peanut oil on their hands has previously touched.

Our trip on the train to Utah a few years ago
at Christmas time.
Laura should own stock in Handiwipes.
She cleaned the entire train area
where Spencer would be sitting.

Spencer's seat on the train is covered by a sheet
to protect him from the dirty seats.

It is hard to imagine the trauma this can cause for the parents of children afflicted with this. Every time you leave your own nut free home you are at risk, you can never let your guard down. Think about the ramifications of this...grocery carts, handrails, other kids houses and toys, playgounds, movie theaters, airplanes...the list is endless. You carry an epi-pen every time you leave your house praying you never need it. You never have a day when you can afford to forget to pray for protection and safety.

When you add soy to the mix things get even more complicated. Soy is in almost every product you can buy~check a few labels sometime. Places where you would never suspect..soy is lurking. Spencer has never been able to go to a birthday party and have cake and ice cream with the other kids, have a pizza from a pizza parlor, go trick or treating, eat at a restaurant unless Laura and Robert are completely familiar with every aspect of the products used, kitchen, chef, etc. That has happened so rarely you can count the visits on one hand. Laura and Robert have to bring food with them everywhere they go to keep him safe. You should have seen the food prep that went on when we got ready to travel around Italy for 11 days. We had 6 people for three days and 5 for 8 days. That is 138 meals and 92 snacks that were planned, purchased and assembled before we left. We had to have hotels with kitchens and we all ate this way most of the time to limit the times Spencer would have to sit in a restaurant with his own food.

Amazing parents!

One of their biggest jobs is educating others who don't understand that this is a very serious problem that can be fatal. Another thing you have to do is speak very frankly to your toddler and teach them early that peanuts can kill them. Imagine how hard this is when you just want your little one to have the innocence of that young and tender age and they don't even know what~it can kill you~ really means.

The Lord knew what He was doing when he sent his precious son, Spencer, to Laura and Robert..they have been beyond amazing in caring for him. This affliction is a lot like interest on your debts...it never rests, it never takes a vacation, you can never ignore it. We are so proud of their family! Spencer has been so disciplined in this whole thing~you would not even believe what children are capable of when the need and desire is there. Spencer will be 9 on May 11th. This is what he has taught me.

You must have Faith. Faith in God, faith in yourself and faith in someone other than yourself..in his case his parents, grandparents, and other adults looking out for his best interest.

He knows that the things that seem like restrictions in his life actually are the avenue to his freedom. Why can't I be more like that? When Heavenly Father says no...it is for my good. How does a little boy learn this so young and it takes most of us a life time of struggle?

You Must Be Obedient. Spencer is obedient when his parents say, no you cannot have that, it is not safe. He simply obeys, even when he wants to do otherwise. Why can't I be more like that?

You Must Trust Others. When everyone else has something you want and you alone cannot have it~ you realize that everyone has trials and tribulations and this one is yours to bear...like it or not...you do it. You don't understand why this has happened to you but you believe your parents, you do what they say and you benefit because of it. That is Spencer...why can't I be more like him? When everyone else is having a gelato, you quietly drink a Fanta soda and you find your own joy in that. Whoa, to be like that...!

You Feel God's Love for You Even in Your Afflictions. Spencer loves God and his family and feels their love in return, because of this he is a happy person in spite of his problems. You don't blame God for your issues, you just know that he allows these things in our lives to make us stronger. You realize that only good things come from God and He gives you the strength to cope with the hard things if we will just trust Him and be obedient. Wouldn't we all love to be more like that?

You Teach Others By Your Example. Spencer does this everyday. These are just a few of the reasons we love him so much and his parents who have taught him so well. And his little brother, Ross who has made many sacrifices also to help Spencer.

You Must Be Grateful
. When Laura was able to find soy free chocolate chips at about $8.00 a pound from a mail order place..Spencer got his first ever chocolate chip cookies. Now you know why Spencer looks so happy in this photo and why we are so proud and humbled to be his grandparents! You also know why this picture is so important to us. How often we take for granted something so ordinary that can be such a big special deal to someone else. Gratitude is so important in the little things!

God bless you with safety always, Spencer James!
Happy 9th Birthday this Sunday!


me & my thoughts said...

My hat goes off to your daughter and their family! I love this entry---so great to see his big smile at finally getting a chocolate chip cookie. How sweet!

The Christensons said...

wonderful to know, yes i do think there's a reason why we all "find" each other (with some help from above!) i think i knew about spencers allergies, i remember jen saying something about it, but i didn't know the preparations and all that it entailed, yes your daughter are amazing!

Bonnie said...

As are you, Miss Vanessa! I take my hat off to all of you and am so thankful for just knowing you and loving you! "You raise me up!" to quote Josh Grobin!

Morgan said...

Wow- that's quite the feat. Kudos to Spence on his first, though guaranteed not his last, chocolate chip cookie! There's no lookin' back now- hope Laura bought a ton!!


Bonnie said...

Hey Traci! Actually the chocolate chips were kind of a one shot deal I think. Now that they live in Italy they are starting all over again trying to find things for Spencer. He is so good about saying good-bye to things that he loves like Pringles ...they added soy and changed the label so they are no longer safe for him. Since he can barely ever have anything like that it was too bad. Soy is used a lot because it is cheap.