My next blog post was going to be about my parents’ new home in Bella Vista, AR on Lake Loch Lomond. And how we had the best time for the 4th; fireworks off the dock, swimming in the lake, boat rides and relaxing. Lots of great pics. But I’ll share that one another time.

Warning: this post’s gonna be real.

Joey informed me that “Finn was acting funny,” as I came home from work last night. I was hosting a women’s Bible study, so I hurried around finishing cleaning, preparing the snack, trying not to think too much about it. He was holding his head backward at dinner, grabbing the back of his neck (which we’ve seen him do for a couple months now), and fell asleep without a bottle an hour before bedtime. Not our Finn.

Bible study was about God’s provision for Israel during the Exodus. About the miracles He performed, like turning the bitter waters of Marah into sweet waters. He tested their faith and provided only what they needed (their “daily bread,” or manna) to develop intimacy with His people. So they’d need him DAILY, not once a year or only during difficult times. Priscilla Shirer believes the wilderness is where we encounter God. She says,

“There are some things we don’t know about ourselves until we are put in a position where we have to see God’s power operating through us.”

After the women had all left, on my final swipe of the countertop with soapy wet cloth, I heard Finn cry through the video monitor. Joey and I looked at each other–so much pain unspoken–and went to Finn’s room. In the thirty minutes that followed, we found he had a 102 fever, eyes were puffy and it hurt him to open them, and he threw up everything he ate since breakfast all over Joey’s chest. We just knew. Shunt malfunction again.

This was a terrible ER experience. Nightmarish–and fitting for

Unless you’ve spent literally hours upon hours in the ER or hospital, I can’t even begin to express the impatience, anger, fear, insanity and claustrophobia that creeps upon you within those curtained walls.

The doctor forgot to order the CT scan (usually the first scan that gets the ball rolling. It tells the neurologists the size of his brain ventricles). So we were already behind schedule.

Finn cried and writhed in pain, holding his head, eyes bugging, while they took what seemed forever to draw urine and 8 samples of blood. All tests turned out clear. No

During x-rays, at one point they lie him on his side; screaming. He’d be kicking and screaming if he could kick. When we left the exam room, Finn popped his head up off my chest and began talking behind his pacifier. Jabbering. His face de-swelled and it seemed we had our normal, happy Finn photo-1

It took several more ridiculous hours to run the CT scan, the most important one. In the meantime we remembered back to Finn’s first ER experience–a shunt scare where we were sent home to think he had an ear infection. That time he also seemed normal after the x-ray. And another time between malfunctions, he fell asleep on his side and woke up fine. Something about that side position must declog his shunt.

The CT tech was completely–110%–incompetent. It was unreal. At one point I put my hands on top of my head and turned to stare at the wall so I wouldn’t insult her. What usually takes 1 minute took 30.

CT scan

CT scan

CT scan showed ventricles looked fine. So another hour or so later we were sent home; exhausted, frazzled and thankful that we would sleep in our own beds.

I woke up this morning to the Lord’s voice asking me to “Go pray for Finn.” I know it sounds weird, but it’s true. So I did. I knelt beside his crib and sobbed as silently as I could, begging our Father to heal. To turn the bitter waters of Marah sweet.

Here’s how you can pray with us:

  • We believe Finn’s shunt is again malfunction-ing. It hasn’t fully malfunctioned, or clogged, but it’s on its way. Will you beg God for mercy? That the catheter in his brain would fully unclog. It has about 20 holes to drain fluid. As long as one hole is open, he’s normal. All clog, and we get a swollen, vomiting, feverish, miserable little boy.
  • I hate Spina Bifida and I hate that Finn has a shunt; but he needs it to live, so pray that it works. For years. Not months or days.
  • Pray for complete healing of Finn’s body. Spine, brain, bladder, bowels, legs, feet.
  • Pray that Finn would know God intimately.
  • Pray for a friend for Finn. One that thinks he’s funny and doesn’t mind that he’s

Thank you. From the bottom of my hurting momma heart.


17 thoughts on “Marah

  1. Praying for everything on that list Ash. I also know of 2 little kids that already love that little boy and think he’s hilarious. (BFF’s if you will)

  2. I at once fell to my knees in prayer with tears running down my face, I have followed little Finn since he was born and cried out in prayer with my mama heart for you all. Continued prayers for you all. Finns smile is amazing!

  3. I hate SB too. Hate it. You, precious friend, astound me with the strength and grace that you handle all of this with. Love you Armstrongs.

  4. Ashley and Joey, We have prayed for your precious family from the day we met you and have continued praying. Thank you for listing the specific requests that we can join w/you as we petition for/with you. We dearly love your precious family. Love, Vicki Stewart

    Sent from my iPad

  5. We, too, have prayed for you both and your precious baby before he was born. We continue to pray. Can’t even imagine what you’re going through, so praying for God’s peace, strength and wisdom, and for little Finn to get back to his “precious, no pain self” Love you three.

  6. Mercy, the ER is so so so terrible. Everything takes too long and no one does anything fast enough and all the while you clutch your hurting baby to your chest and pray for the patience not to march into the nurses station and start screaming till someone will just DO SOMETHING. And to make it worse, you can’t explain to your tiny guy why he’s hurting and why you aren’t making it stop.

    I know how this feels. I’m praying with you.

  7. There is not much that breaks a momma’s heart more than to watch her child suffer and to know that you can’t take it away. So many levels to this grief. We are praying and hurting with you and Joey and your parents.

  8. I have been following your story since not long after your Finn was born and I found this blog when I Googled the name Finn Joseph, because that is what we named our son when he was born July 2012. When I read the line in here that you hope your Finn can have a friend who thinks he’s funny and doesn’t think he is different it made me hope that I can raise my Finn to not look at peoples disabilities, but at the person they are and be friends with all. I would hope that if our Finn’s were to meet they would be great friends.

    • First, you have great taste in baby names! 🙂 Second, thanks for following our journey and offering encouragement along the way. We are grateful for kind, caring “strangers” (now friends) like you! I know our Finns would be great friends too! -Ashley

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