Saturday, May 30, 2009

What Makes You Happy?

There has been a lot of happiness this weekend around our house. Qavah has not been well and I took her to the doctor this morning for an antibiotic which will hopefully address the chronic congestion in her nose. But even with a perpetual stopped up nose, Qavah seems so happy. While I was rocking her tonight I asked what made her happy. She simply said, "I like being home with everybody in my family." Kathryn was happy to be able to contribute to the upkeep of our home. She actually enjoyed mopping the kitchen floor today even after a late night of shopping with me yesterday. That is a testimony to how well she is doing physically.

After a long day of working and chores I now have the opportunity to sit down and put my feet up. There is nothing more in this day that needs to be attended to. Nightfall has come, Qavah is asleep, the work is done, and my heart is resting in my Sovereign God Who is taking care of everything else. Bring on the Sabbath Rest!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Color Blind

The children's song says that Jesus loves the little children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. When we went to pick up Qavah and took her on a little outing to Burger King in Louisiana, I examined every little thing about her. I felt like I was meeting my newborn baby for the first time and wanted to check out the formation of every little finger and toe. I was curious about how the pigmentation of her skin changed from beautiful chocolate brown on her legs to light pink on the soles of her feet. At first it was all new to me. After several months of caring for her skin I stopped noticing color as we chatter away about silly things. Clipping her little toe nails and applying lotion to her skin has become an ordinary weekly routine. We are mother and daughter, not black and white.

Several months ago I was out shopping and wrote about finding Qavah some pink boots at the shoe store. Some of you might remember that I took a picture of her wearing them. I blogged about it to some extent but something else happened that same day that I have been saving. The time to write about it has come.

I had taken Qavah's pink boots to the check-out and in her enthusiasm she was talking non-stop. The clerk, a woman of color, looked at the two of us and said, "She just called you Mommy!" I said, "Yes, she is my bonus baby and one of the nicest gifts God has ever given me." After a few seconds of silence she said, "Can I ask you a question?" I wondered what was coming. She asked, "Do your white friends look down on you for having a child that is bla....?" Before she could finish asking I told her that if I did have friends that thought ill of me, shame on them! Our friends have been so supportive that I was actually amused as I thought of it, but she started to cry. Quiet tears were rolling down her face and she reached out and took my hand and thanked me. Looking into her eyes I hoped that my answer helped begin a healing process for any mistreatment she had suffered because of her color.

When Qavah and I got out to the car I told her that I wanted to pray for the lady in the store and we did. Through the miracle of adoption there are many families today who reflect the different races of this world all living together. And each time an obviously adopted child calls out "Mommy" or "Daddy" in a public place I think God's heart is moved. All little children need a good home. Red or yellow, black or white, all are precious in His sight.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Long Weekends

On Friday of a long holiday weekend I think about the coming days and start making a list of all that I'd like to accomplish while everyone is home and most importantly while there are many eyes watching Qavah. I had planned to sew curtains, wash windows, clean closets and so forth. Kathryn and I cleaned the house on Friday. I cooked ahead and made a meal on Saturday to be served to our guests on Sunday, and for the most part I was humming along pretty well until Monday. Monday morning, my big bonus vacation day, I looked at my "to do" list and decided this vacation was too short to spend it working that hard. As a result I had several coffee and tea breaks, and two delicious naps. The dirty windows don't bother me as much now that I am rested. So tomorrow I'll approach the task with less intensity and more pleasure.

While Paul was cleaning the garage this weekend he found an old toy rifle that belonged to Paul Burton. Once Qavah had that in hand she spent the rest of the day on a lion hunt. She hid behind bushes and stalked any bird landing in the yard. Our "princess" shed her long dress and went hunting today with her toy rifle. I tucked her in bed tonight and noticed her gun is right beside her bed. Qavah saw me looking at it and said, "I really like my gun Mommy." But what I think she meant was, "I loved running, hiding, pretending, and playing, Mommy." And I am thankful to be able to provide her a childhood rich with "pretend."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

All's Well

Kathryn had a very good day. Her doctor called yesterday with more test results and asked if she was able to be out of bed. I really surprised him when I told him that she was actually working all week and enjoying herself. His words were, "That's amazing!" It really is. Sometimes threatening numbers on blood tests really don't matter to her. And sometimes when her blood tests have looked good she has felt too sick to work. That is when I see the power of God. When He has something for her to do His power pulses through her and she is unstoppable.

Qavah played outdoors on this beautiful spring day. She dressed herself this morning and chose to wear her princess dress. I'll close with the joyful report that Kathryn and Qavah are back up and running!

Princess Qavah rides again:


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Another Good Day!

Kathryn's infection on her skin is clearing up. She went to work again today. After work we did a little shopping together which was a welcome change for her. She called me at noon from her office to tell me that a nurse spoke with her today regarding some of last week's blood test results. Two of her liver tests showed her 20 points higher than the normal range. The doctor ran the tests last week when she was feeling so poorly. I am very thankful for Kathryn's hematologist because he is careful to track things for her when she isn't feeling right. In the meantime, Kathryn is feeling stronger and smiled a lot today. We'll just have to wait and see what is happening to Kathryn's liver but we are not going to spend any time fretting about it.

On our afternoon shopping trip Qavah and Kathryn each got a new pair of summer flip-flops. Qavah insisted on wearing hers out of the store. She loves the sound they make as she walks. She's just a little bitty girl but in her flip-flops she can make herself sound pretty big. This morning she was playing Queen Lucy again and enlisted Ellie, (our black lab mix), to play Aslan. Qavah jumped up from the floor in the library and shouted, "Come on Aslan, they're here!" Ellie jumped up and ran to the window barking. "Who is here?" I asked. "The White Witch and her dwarves!" she exclaimed. I looked at poor Ellie, still barking out the front window. At the age of fourteen she had to muster up the enthusiasm to run to the window in the first place. "Sorry old girl," I said, patting her head. "I think it is a false alarm."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Better

We had a good day today. I walked past Kathryn's room early this morning and peeked in wondering if she would be able to get up for work. I found that her bed was made and her room was bathed in morning light. I raised my hands toward Heaven and said, "Thank you, God!" Kathryn had already gotten up, was dressed, and had packed a lunch in preparation for work.

Qavah is going to see the doctor Wednesday morning again about her rash. Her skin is peeling off under her chin and several other places. She told me that her skin hurts. So far we have tried several methods of moisturizing and have applied all kinds of topical ointments but it seems to us that her body is going through an "attack stage" and again we are going to discuss the use of an immunosuppresant. But she has been cheerful and had a better appetite today.

For the past several weeks Qavah has watched the movies, Narnia or Prince Caspian once a day. She is drawn to those movies where good triumphs over evil after a lot of action. She has turned our paint stir-sticks into swords. On Sunday she is dressed in ruffles and lace from head to toe. But during the week she fancies herself as Queen Lucy and has "sword fights" with the air while riding her rocking horse. She's royalty and a warrior. That's a good combination for the battles she faces.

We met with some Christian friends tonight and closed out the evening praying for others. I was seated in a beautiful home on the side of a mountain facing a large wall of glass and watched the sun set behind the furthest mountain range. I loved living this day. It was so beautiful and peaceful. When the horizon began to darken I felt like cheering because this was a splendid day the Lord had made and He did a mighty fine job.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cheering Section

I had no idea when I wrote about getting a Passport that I would be cheered on with such a joyful cheering section. Thank you for your encouraging comments. In the time since I wrote about my travel dreams, I imagined being in a cathedral in England on a Sunday morning with the sound of a church choir singing one of those old English hymns I love. I dreamed about visiting Spain to see Fernando, our exchange student we have come to love as a son. I'd also like to travel to Israel to stand on the soil where our Savior once stood to proclaim freedom for the captives.

One thing is for certain. I am grateful for the kind of imagination that transports me to those better places. I feel like I took those journeys this week. Imagination is a powerful gift when used rightly. The news reported this week that a woman in an iron lung had passed away. She was put into that iron lung at the age of ten years old and died at the age of seventy-one. Imagining that, I closed my eyes and thanked God for the imagination He gave to her. With it she was probably able to transport her mind beyond her imprisonment and enjoy life. I hope she had a cheering section like mine who helped her dream of the possibilities. I hope she knew Jesus and now runs through the heavens enjoying her rewards.

This was a tough and exhausting week. We were at the hospital every day and Kathryn was discouraged for a time. Today we will take pictures of Qavah's skin and document her reaction to her last blood transfusion to send to her doctor in North Carolina. She has lost a little over a pound this week and has no appetite. But Paul and I knelt by the girls' beds last night to pray over them and in our imaginations they were whole and strong. We prayed believing that God has a plan for them and this suffering is temporary to increase our faith and theirs. Imagining the best as we prayed settled my anxieties and we left their rooms feeling satisfied that we have done all that God has required. And in it all, my imagination shows me that His eyes are twinkling, and He is pleased.

Enjoy worshipping Him this Sabbath Day. Imagine Him smiling at you for all the times you've made a decision to mentally rise above your circumstances and have chosen to stand strong on what you know to be true. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Passports and Dreaming

Paul and I have been putting in double duty taking care of the girls this week. He went to the hospital with Qavah for her transfusion yesterday while I stayed with Kathryn and took her to her appointment. We love these girls and right now it is our mission to help them, and they are both struggling at the same time. Kathryn missed another day of work.

Paul picked me up at lunchtime today and we went to the post office to apply for our Passports. It felt like being on a date. I took extra care with my clothes and makeup. If the picture has to represent me for the next ten years, I wanted it to look decent. We haven't done any traveling outside of the United States for a long time but Paul has to make a trip to Sweden in a few weeks so we decided to renew our Passports together. I don't know where in the world I would go, but if the opportunity presents itself I want to be ready for my vacation! I spent the rest of the day taking care of the girls and dreaming about the sea and white sand.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Health Care Observations

Kathryn had a rough night and didn't get to work today after all. However, she is feeling better by the hour after her second dose of Rocephin. When we walked into the cancer center for the Rocephin today, Qavah flew into the arms of Kathryn's doctor saying, "Here he is, Kathryn!" They hugged and it made him laugh. Then toward the end of Kathryn's infusion, a stately gentleman rose up from his therapy chair next to Kathryn's and the nurses clapped and cheered for him. He had just received his last chemotherapy treatment and the nurses took his picture while his wife beamed. His test was cancer-free and everyone celebrated and talked about the hair that would soon grow back on his head. I thought I would write about these things because it is uplifting to hear good news associated with medical care in America.

It took time and a lot of prayer to find the right medical care for the girls. But in the process of finding and getting to know their doctors, we have become a team. We are thankful for their dedication not just to us but to all their patients. It was a good day. Thank you for praying for Kathryn. I think she is going to be back on her computer tomorrow and she can thank you herself. I am in awe of God sending so many prayer warriors our way. We are grateful for each one. We pray for you, too.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Help for Kathryn

I wanted to post early today to let you know how much we appreciate your prayers. Prayer moves mountains. Kathryn was able to get in touch with her hematologist first thing this morning and was given her first dose of Rocephin by noon. She will have the next three doses given at the outpatient clinic and have her Hickman site checked again on Friday. This infection was caught early because Kathryn is able to sense when something is going wrong. So instead of being bed ridden over this, she is making plans to go back to work tomorrow.

We have seen so many answers to prayer today already that I could just shout for joy. I am taking one day at a time but with Kathryn's infection under control and Qavah's transfusion tomorrow I think we may have another good weekend ahead. Good health is such a gift. I have taken it for granted in the past. Every day we wake up feeling good is a reason for celebrating!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother and Daughter

Kathryn and I attended a banquet for mothers and daughters at the baptist church in our neighborhood. We had a lovely dinner and enjoyed our evening with family and friends. But by the end of the evening Kathryn was struggling with another health challenge. She tried to get in touch with her hematologist tonight but decided not to leave a message because the doctor on call tonight knew nothing about HPS. She has again begun to experience pain and redness on the site of her old Hickman line. The infection is growing rapidly and she decided to go to the hospital for an IV antibiotic first thing tomorrow. These fierce infections strike and overtake her body quickly. At present she is in her bed shivering with a fever.

Our family has experienced so many wonderful blessings the past few months. It doesn't steal our joy to be faced with something else so soon. I was thinking before sitting down to this posting that God has strengthened our hearts for these hardships and yet we have not become hardened people. By His grace we hope to remain "bitterness-free." We appreciate your prayers for Kathryn as she faces another "speed bump."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Building Trust

This Mother's Day was an absolutely perfect spring day. The flowers were blooming, the lawn was mowed, and the breeze was just right for playing outside before dinner. Best of all, the daddies were in their playing mode. After the girls chased PaPa around the yard, the daddies played "Baby Toss." I'm sure they viewed that game as a way of building trust as they tossed the girls high into the air and then scooped them up in their strong arms.

How delighted is my Heavenly Father to catch me in His strong arms when I am feeling tossed about? Well, the look on the faces of the daddies showed me that it is His delight. The simple childlike faith on the faces of the girls tells me that trusting Him to catch me can be loads of fun.

But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. Psalm 5:11

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Next Thing

The girls have had their share of trouble the past few days. We do seem to go from our good days to bad days at lightening pace. Qavah has a fever tonight and appears to be fighting another cold. Kathryn's trouble was much more serious on Monday night when she ate something that her body rejected. She has become allergic to more foods, and her reactions have become more severe. Late Monday night after a normal day, Kathryn started experiencing hives and breathing problems. She took some Benadryl but it didn't help. Suddenly she began to have bruising and internal bleeding in her joints. Bruises began forming at her knees and elbows. Her right leg began to swell and become painful and the bleeding wouldn't stop so we got her emergency dose of Stimate out of the refrigerator to control that. After icing her leg and cooling her body down with a shower, she was able to relax and sleep. She missed a day of work but is now feeling better. Her body is a colorful array of purples, blues, and browns. She is going to be wearing long dresses and long sleeves to work for awhile.

Those bleeding episodes used to frighten Kathryn, but Monday night she was very calm about it. The fact that Stimate has worked in the past gave her the confidence that she would not have to go into the hospital again. All of this was happening at one o'clock in the morning so our only other option was the ER. We try hard to take care of these things at home to avoid another hospital stay. I also got some reassurance from a friend from the HPS community, and know for certain that we need to cut out citrus and caffeine from Kathryn's diet. Kathryn is doing well tonight and hopes to catch up on some of her projects this weekend.

We're ready for the next thing, which is Mother's Day. Kathryn came into the kitchen tonight carrying a very pretty gift for me to open on Sunday. My dear husband bought me a vintage copy of Emily Post's Etiquette that I opened at once. I also received a bouquet of flowers from Paul Burton today as well, with a very sweet message on the gift card that I will keep forever. I'm a happy and blessed woman. I have been given four children to raise and each one is so different; all are gifts. Not far from my thoughts are the two women who under difficult circumstances had to entrust their little baby girls to a stranger. I hope one day they will know that it was an honor to me to love and care for them. I am thankful that they chose life and that their decision brought so many people joy.

Monday, May 04, 2009

"Someday"

I gave Kathryn a spring magazine for Easter. We looked at the ideas together and thought that putting little plants inside an egg was a great idea for an Easter brunch. We enthusiastically said, "Let's do that someday." We say that a lot. And suddenly the days fly by and "someday" doesn't come around. But this time, we really did mean it and this past Saturday Kathryn and I were invited to a church brunch by my friend Linda. We were asked to decorate the table where we would be seated, because the brunch was called "Festival of Tables." Linda knew how creative and fun that could be for me and I appreciated her for thinking of us. I immediately thought of the idea we wanted to try "someday." Someday had come, and Linda, Kathryn, and I made our decorating plan. My family helped out by eating all of the scrambled eggs after they were cracked and the empty shells fashioned into little flower pots.


I chose to dye the eggs light green in keeping with our color scheme of soft pink, mint green, and white. Linda found the white Alyssum for planting inside the egg shell. She also found a soft pink flower called Pentas for the centerpiece.


The egg holder was made out of card stock and with the little holder in place I was able to set the little plants on each plate for the ladies at the table to take home and plant in their flower bed.


Attendees of the brunch voted on their favorite table designs and we were delighted when we won the prize for the most creative table design. Our prize was a basket full of red geraniums to take home and plant!


The theme of the brunch happened to be "Grace through Trials." As we finished feeding our tummies with those dainty little finger foods girls love, we began to feed our souls with the meat of God's word. Four women shared stories of trials they had faced in their lives and how God's grace carried them through. They were tough trials. There were tears. But thoughout the stories a golden thread of grace was woven. Each woman agreed that their trials were tough, and they hurt, but God's mercy was new every morning in each of their situations. The stories of triumph made me want to leap to my feet and give God a standing ovation when it was over. How well I know that in times of trial there is no other place as comforting as the holy presence of God. I tell Him that almost daily, but "someday" I'll want to tell Him face to face.

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sabbath Day

We woke up this morning to a cool spring rain. This is a quiet morning in the valley and as I look out over the rolling green lawn, Qavah's words come to mind, "Happy, happy, me." The smell of coffee is beginning to beckon those who are still sleeping and soon the house will be filled with the sounds of showers and rattling breakfast dishes. We're getting up to go to church. We're going to meet with friends to join our hearts together in worship. We're going to lay down all of the details and business of the past week and quiet our hearts to hear from God.


"Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts..." Psalm 95:6-8a