Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sabbath Snow

We had a beautiful snowstorm this weekend. The large flakes fell until everything was covered in ten inches of fluffy snow. The landscape changed from the drab colors of winter to a dazzling white. Churches were closed today. Colin, Jennifer, and the children joined us in a short devotion and song time around our computers. We Skyped for our stay-at-home worship service. Colin and Jennifer had a wiggle congregation on their end to tend to to, but it was a fun way to worship as a family.

After lunch Paul went to the barn to wax the bottom of the toboggan. Qavah, dressed in her snowsuit, waited for a signal from the barn that Daddy was ready to take the toboggan downhill. I watched from the window as Qavah squealed her way downhill. Her arms waved wildly and snow went flying. I had to laugh as I watched. After a couple of runs, she was ready to come inside. It took longer to get her dressed for the weather than it did to go sledding with her Daddy. Although I attempted to dress her airtight, she still had snow down her boots and up her sleeves.

I am very grateful for these times of refreshing. We cherish these good days. Kathryn is doing so well right now that I am able to go to Florida with the confidence that she is going to be just fine. I have prayed that she will also feel refreshed during this time that I am away. She is planning some special times with friends and even talked about hosting a tea. I am in awe of how far she has come since the early days of her diagnosis. We are living the days we prayed for. We thank God for that.

Lord willing, I will write again from Florida.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Grandma's Off Her Rocker

This was one of those days that will make me smile when I review it as I crawl into bed tonight. I took care of Annelise, Nehemiah, and Eva while Jennifer had a rare day out with a friend. She deserved it, for sure. After dropping Kathryn off at work this morning I met up with Jennifer, put the children in my van along with Qavah, and came home for fun and adventure.

It was too cold for outdoor fun, but the kids wanted me to sing silly songs which always sends the two older girls into fits of laughter. Later the three older children sat at the piano playing random keys and asked me to sing another silly song. I searched the furthest corner of my mind and found a song I learned in grade school about a crooked man who walked a crooked mile.

At lunch I strapped Eva onto my body with the baby backpack and proceeded to get the three other children fed. Opting for better health these days, I don't keep cookies in the house. When Annelise asked for dessert I found a soft chocolate chip cookie that the local bank handed out to me last Friday; customer appreciation day. I split it three ways and the children seemed pleased with their portion.

I felt like I had won a marathon by the time I got them all into bed for their afternoon naps. I was still standing after taking a few trips up and down the stairs with Eva strapped on board. The children all slept this afternoon giving me time to get dinner underway.

In the quiet, as I washed dishes, I recalled afternoons with my grandmother. She was quiet. I loved her aprons. There was always something interesting in those big pockets. She always had cookies. I remember her sitting a lot. My grandchildren will remember me differently, I'm sure. I hope they remember me running around the front yard pushing them in a wheel barrow and playing with them on the swings. While I love and appreciate the memories I have of my grandmother, I think it may be more fun to be off my rocker.

Grandma's Off Her Rocker

In the dim and distant past,
When life's tempo wasn't fast,
Grandma used to rock and knit,
Crochet, tat and baby sit.

When we were in a jam,
We could always count on gram.
In the age of gracious living,
Grandma's life was one of giving.

BUT TODAY....

Now grandma's at the gym,
Exercising to keep slim,
She's off touring with the bunch,
Or taking all her friends to lunch.

Driving north to fish or hike,
Taking time to ride her bike.
Nothing seems to block or stop her,
Now that grandma's off her rocker.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Promise to Kaylee

I hope Kaylee is looking at her computer tonight from the Ronald McDonald House. I promised that she would find her picture on this website. Qavah shared a hospital room today with a brave little girl named Kaylee. Upon our entering the room, Kaylee immediately got out of her hospital bed to introduce herself to Qavah this morning. With stage four neuroblastoma, and massive chemo treatments, most people would be beside themselves fretting. But Kaylee didn't have time for that. Within minutes the girls were friends. Their joy was contagious, and caused several of us "big people" to stop, watch, and listen to them.

While the girls played, Kaylee's mama and I spoke of the deeper things that have stirred our hearts to trust God in new ways. We spoke of His grace that helps us to lay aside our agenda and invest our time in the things that really matter instead. We parents pray for mercy and beg for time, while the children show us how to live moment to moment. Just after Jesus spoke about rest for the weary in Mathew 11:24,25, He prayed, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children."

Thank you Kaylee and Qavah for giving me an absolutely lovely day. I learned from you how to shift my focus from fear of the unknown to the all-important things like laughter and friendship. You demonstrated completeness for me. And I will keep my promise to pray for you, Kaylee. You are in good hands.



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Findings

Yesterday I received a call from Cincinnati Children's Hospital and until the doctors are finished dictating their notes, we will be waiting for our telephone conference. However, yesterday we did get some interesting news that may help us treat Qavah's physical ailments. According to a test that they are able to run at that particular hospital, Qavah has no ability to fight normal bacteria on her skin and lungs. That would explain why we are treating her for skin and lung infections so often. I believe from the conversation we had yesterday that there is a plan being discussed to put Qavah on a low dose antibiotic that she would take every day to help fight infection. Also we are going to take her for a vaccine to help her fight pneumonia in the event that she should come in contact with that virus. This is a mystery, and they have asked us to come back to Cincinnati to run these tests again. We will be doing that in June.

The conversation yesterday led me to believe that these doctors are looking very carefully at the possibility that Qavah's blood problems may also be related to a problem with her immune system which could be treated with an immunosuppressant. We pray every day for a miracle break through and have the faith that God can do anything.

I will take Qavah for her transfusion tomorrow and from there we will get her vaccine. Since our spring schedule will include a trip to the National Institutes of Health and Johns Hopkins for a biopsy, we are going to take a break in the days ahead. We are leaving all of this medical stuff behind, and Lord willing, Qavah and I will head for the beach in Florida. It is something Qavah has wanted to do since we got home from our trip to St. Petersburg last year. I want so much to give her the gift of happy memories; memories that will heighten her awareness of God's goodness and power.

God called the dry ground "land" and the gathered waters He called "seas." And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:10 The ocean is good and He has given it to us to enjoy. Running through waves in the sunshine sounds like a good treatment plan for now.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dinner Conversation

While Paul was finishing his bowl of soup tonight, Qavah looked at him from across the table and said, "Daddy, I want a husband." I suppose watching comedy romance movies on a rainy Sunday afternoon with a six year old can lead to some pretty interesting table discussion. Looking straight at her he declared, "not for a long, long, time!"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Orphans

In every tragedy there are seeds of opportunity. Our world has been shaken by the pictures of orphans coming to the United States from Haiti. The opportunity for us to examine this issue of orphans was brought home to us when fifty-four children from Haiti landed in Pennsylvania yesterday. Now more than ever adoptive families are needed, and the Haitian children are not the only orphans here. Once children are removed from an American home by a judge and parental rights are terminated, those children become orphans. There are over 130,000 right now, and as part of the disaster relief in Haiti the numbers are growing.

The simplest way to begin the process of adoption is to call your local Department of Social Services office and ask them how soon you can have a "home study" for the purpose of adoption. An experienced social worker from your area will come to your home and give you an interview and help you fill out the necessary paperwork to start the process. They will guide you through the next step of getting a police background check and tour your home to see where you would "house" a new family member. This process should not take more than a month or two to complete, but that may vary in some localities. When the home study is complete you will be ready to receive a child for your safe-keeping. It sounds simple, and it really is. There was a representative from Bethany Christian Services on Foxnews this morning who talked about their program. Going with an established agency is good, but it saves time and money to use your own hometown Social Services office.

The children are right here in foster care ready for adoption. There is no shortage of children of all ages. We do not often hear about the need for homes. In fact, puppies and cats get more adoption attention on our local news station than orphans. But Jesus knew there would be a need in His day, and in the future. The command given to us in scripture is to care for widows and orphans. This post may sound like a repeat of one I wrote not long ago, but the need is so great that I thought it best to revisit this issue. God bless the children, and may we be moved to bless them also.

Kathryn and Qavah, no longer orphans, but daughters


Monday, January 18, 2010

Can Christmas Be Packed Away?

On January first I had collected all of the Christmas tree ornaments in one box and then started collecting all of the greens when Qavah ran past me and asked, "Mommy, are you packing away Christmas?" I was busy at the time and casually answered her question. As I continued the clean-up, I wondered what Christmas meant to Qavah. I wondered if she thought it was just a festive event that could be brought out of a storage box and then packed away. I noted that I should bring that subject up with her at a later time.

This morning, Kathryn was in her room playing her harp. I was nearby getting ready for the day when Qavah showed up carrying her little blue Bible. I asked, "Do you want me to read to you from the Bible, Qavah?" She said, "Yes." And holding her Bible up to me she asked, "Can you read this page?" I took the Bible and went to Kathryn's room and pulled Qavah onto my lap. While Kathryn continued to play her harp, I read from Hebrews chapter ten as Qavah requested. It was a sweet time with the girls that I want to remember.

The electric window candles are boxed and put away until next Christmas, as are the little white lights. But the Light of the world resides in our home. He was listening to His Word being read by the gentle sounds of the harp. I think He loves being the Star in a scene like that. This is the part of Christmas that cannot be "packed away." He is, and forever will be, Immanuel, God with us.

Hebrews 10: 22,23 : Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Time to Pray

I'm going to post just once this weekend and continue resting. I've been on bed rest for two days and have had a lot of time to think and pray. My recuperation after surgery was a bit tougher than I thought it would be. I was away from my computer and got up only to help Qavah from time to time. So it wasn't until last night that I read about the earthquake that shook the foundations of Haiti. My thoughts turn immediately to the children. There will be orphans and many parents in mourning. I prayed for mercy.

This afternoon I received a call from a friend whose wife of thirty years left him. His world had crumbled this week also. He tried to describe the feelings he had when turning his house key over to the judge, and leaving town with nothing. He sounded worn thin. I asked if we could pray together and we did. Again I prayed for mercy.

The trembling earth and the crumbling relationships serve as a good reminder that the victorious times are ahead of us. The triumph of good over evil will one day be complete and we will take our place in the New Jerusalem. As I prayed this evening about these troubled times I had an idea that I would like to read a passage of scripture that would speak to my heart about the shaking up of our lives and plans, hopes and dreams, and future. I found Isaiah 64:2-4.

2 As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you!

3 For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.

4 Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

I read those words and humbly thanked Him for His power, and that He is not waiting on us to change. He sent His Son to forgive us instead. I'm glad for the quiet time to reflect and pray. But when that day of rejoicing comes, I'll be there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gummie Bears?

Once I arrived at the hospital yesterday, I was asked on three separate occasions for a list of my "daily medications." I explained that I didn't take any daily medications, and each time a look of surprise met my gaze. I assumed by the look of surprise that a lot of "seasoned citizens" are on daily meds. I finally told someone that taking Gummie Bear Vitamins was my only daily health routine. So after surgery, which went very well, the discharge nurse read off all the instructions to Paul. She talked about limiting my activity and then laughed. "It says here that your wife can resume taking her daily Gummie Bears!" So I am home, feeling very well, and just enjoyed my two Gummie Bear Vitamins.

I have been so busy with life that I haven't thought that much about aging. But in fact, some of what I am facing this year is part of a natural aging process. While I have wisps of gray hair now, I don't think I have to graduate to adult vitamins that are big, dry, and get stuck in my throat. Because we have little Qavah, we have become familiar with the latest and greatest products for children. I've decided that Dora bubble gum toothpaste and Gummie Bear Vitamins are just right for me at any age. And they seem to be doing me some good!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Baggage

I took Kathryn to her Remicade treatment at the hospital on Thursday and while there, I went through the pre-op procedure at the hospital where I will be having some minor surgery on Monday. I had Qavah and Annelise with me, a diaper bag, an activity bag, two little girl coats, a hat, my own coat, and a purse. I went to the lab, x-ray, and EKG departments hauling it all. I looked like one of those tree stand type coat racks in an entrance hall. I was loaded down. I went through a mental check list each time we left one department for the next so that I would leave nothing behind. I didn't really think much about it at the time. It was necessary to assume the responsibility.

The next day, Kathryn and Qavah wanted to do a little shopping. When we got ready to leave the house I suddenly thought about the burdens of the day before. "We will only take coats with hoods, no extra hats, gloves, or sippy cups!" I requested. "This isn't a day for me to carry everyone else's baggage," I declared. I stopped in my tracks and started to laugh. I said, "Kathryn, that is the theme of my next blog post!" If mentally, physically, or emotionally, you also are weary of carrying everyone else's "baggage", join me in refusing to do so. Coat racks and people can topple under too heavy a load.

Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you;
He will never let the righteous fall. Psalm 55:22

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Health Updates

Qavah and I went to the hospital this morning for her transfusion. We were there until the early afternoon. From there I picked Kathryn up from work and drove her to an appointment with her doctor. She has been having trouble with her skin and some places on her left leg where she had some internal bleeding over Christmas. It has caused her a good deal of pain. Her doctor thought that all things considered, Kathryn is in a much better place than the last time she was there with the "mushy" places in her skull. We talked briefly about the strange medical events that seem to appear out of nowhere. I can see how proud her physician is of Kathryn. He is very encouraged by her spirit and willingness to keep going. It has taken three years and a lot of juggling medication doses, but it is so sweet to have this time of reprieve.

We are waiting to hear from Cincinnati about the results of all the testing there on Qavah. We will have a telephone conference call with the physicians there once all the tests are read and interpreted. That should be sometime in the next week or two. We also know that Johns Hopkins may be getting ready to bring us there for a visit. I had a phone call from them yesterday and I think there are things going on behind the scenes there. Whatever happens, I know God is in it all.

I have goals for this year that will take some faith to achieve. I hope to do some more writing. And I plan to invest more time in the things that really matter most. I don't remember being this content to be in my home in my early years of mothering. We were on the run a lot with home school outings and obligations. But there is a sweetness to just being at home with Qavah during the day and being at peace.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

When No One Sees

I opened my email from Kathryn last week and found that she had sent me a link to an inspirational message that I'm glad I did not miss. I don't often forward messages but I happened to think that this one was worth sharing. Since God has given me more opportunities to meet other mothers with special needs children, I sat watching this video clip thinking of them. Day after day, year after year, they care for children who will never be able to form the words "thank you" or "I love you, Mama." This video clip is a great reminder that God sees. And He is the One Who is able to respond with the utmost compassion and joy.

It is a new year. May we as women, wives, and mothers, keep giving and building to the glory of God. It is He Who will one day say, "Well done."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YU0aNAHXP0&feature=related

Friday, January 01, 2010

2010

I was talking with a friend last week about the dreams we have when we are children. It is amazing to me how many women recall dreaming about adopting a child even if they had biological children. It is quite frequently something women mention if we talk about what we hoped our family would look like when it was "complete." I was in the grocery store last week and a clerk asked me about Qavah and whether we had adopted her. When I told her we had, she said, "I have a sister who wants to adopt but can't afford it." I used the back of my sales receipt to list the website for U.S. adoptions and told her that money should not be the deciding factor.

When a dream is placed in our hearts by God, then not having the finances should not deter anyone. He is able to provide from His vast riches, but it is often the obstacle most potential adoptive parents face. If you have ever dreamed of adopting, this could be the year. I asked my friend to consider Who placed that desire in her heart, and to trust Him to provide.

There are now over 120,000 children in the United States free for adoption and they are waiting for a family. In some cases whole sibling groups are praying for a family to open their home to all of them so that they can stay together. Adopting through the United States Foster Care system is very simple. It costs absolutely nothing. In most cases if parental rights have been terminated, the children are free for adoption immediately. The number of children I quoted earlier represents children free for adoption. However there are more than 500,000 children in foster care and many of them need to be in a home that is stable and strong.

I don't consider myself a spokesman for adoption. But I do consider myself a child of God. And He has asked those who follow Him to care for widows and orphans. Just in case this message has somehow rekindled a dream of yours, please visit www.adoptuskids.com. And may this be a year of dreams-come-true for many of the children in our country who are waiting with hope and patience. Through adoption we see more clearly the grace of God in taking us in, loving us, and making something wonderful for His glory.