Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Receiving us with open arms

There is a place in our Passover reading where children attending the Seder are encouraged to participate. The youngest child is to ask the question, "Why is this a special night?" The answer is of course the telling of the events surrounding the Exodus. As we all listen to the answer, we see the plan of salvation for all people unfold. The sacrificial blood sprinkled on the doorpost was to be a sign that the households of the Iraelites would be passed over when the angel of death struck down the firstborn of the Egyptians. We read the words, "I will deliver you with an outstretched arm."

Qavah, being the youngest at our table asked the question again this year. However this year she has peppered me with questions about the sacrifice on Calvary. It is as though that event has stood out in her mind as the place to focus her attention. She has handed me her little blue Bible and asked me to read about it again. I am watching scripture come alive when I observe her interest. As Jeremiah foretold (in Jeremiah 31:34) "No longer will a man teach his neighbor saying, 'Know the Lord,' Because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest." She seems to understand that the event was a great and terrible day.

Long ago it was foretold that He would redeem us with an outstretched arm. Those arms are still open today and are ready to receive whosoever will believe Him.



http://www.way-to-heaven.com/upload/sub/85577.jpg

Jeremiah 31:31 The time is coming saith the Lord when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the House of Judah.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Passover

The brisket is purchased, all the vegetables to be roasted are lining the counter tops, and the Seder plate is being polished. It is that time of year to celebrate the first Passover, and to see in the fulfillment of prophecy that a new and better way to peace with God has come in the person of Jesus Christ. As our friends and family begin to make their way here on Monday night to celebrate, I will be making the familiar dishes for the once-a-year celebration. Years ago I thought that part of our home school experience should include the celebration of Passover so that our children would understand the significance of the plan of redemption for God's people.

Once we started celebrating Passover I began to see how the symbolism of the Passover meal fit with the teachings of Christ during His final earthly Passover with His disciples. He did not take the final cup of wine at His last Passover celebration; the cup of praise. I've been thinking about His comment to the disciples. He said that He would drink that cup of praise with all of us at the banquet being prepared for the day when all will be accomplished. There will be a day when all the saints will gather for the Feast of all Feasts.

I thought about how good it will be to eat the feast with heavenly food and wine. We will have no allergic reactions, or any blood sugar problems from the grapes. We will be able to fully enjoy watching our children eat, even the children who have not tasted food because of a life-long dependence on a feeding tube. Why do I love my faith so much? For one thing, I love that all people are invited to partake of the riches God has for us. There is nothing we must "do" to inherit eternal life, we simply have to believe that Jesus is God's son and that His sacrifice on the cross was the atonement for sin that we desperately needed to be reconciled to God. Just a simple faith is all that is required. And with it comes the invitation to the Feast where we will all raise our glasses and drink the cup of praise together. We will be reunited with children, parents, grandparents, and spouses who have gone on before us and in the midst of us will be the One Who made it all possible. I'm looking forward to seeing the joy on His face. His life makes our eternal life possible. That is reason for praise.

This day shall be to you one of remembrance: you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord throughout the ages; you shall celebrate it as an institution for all time. Exodus 12:14

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Springtime

I went for my walk in our neighborhood today and there is no doubt about it; spring is here. The grass is greening up, the daffodils are in full bloom, and many of our trees are in bud. Our family is feeling energized by the warmer weather and sunshine. We are taking full advantage of it by tackling some much needed yard work and trimming. Paul Burton has been helping during the day and Paul comes home at night to continue making improvements. With all of the limbs and brush now on the woodpile, we are thinking about taking one evening this weekend to sit around the fire.

Although both girls have infections they can't seem to shake, we have had a reprieve when it comes to doctor visits. Therefore I have been able to get to some spring cleaning and stay with it until the job is done. Kathryn joined in and helped me wash windows yesterday. It was very satisfying to accomplish that task and today we are drawn to the windows just to look through them as they twinkle.

Wherever you are today, may you find great satisfaction in the work God has planned for you. And if you live in Michigan, hang in there, spring will arrive in a few more weeks!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Another Gift

Almost two years ago we requested a new birth certificate for Qavah. Once her adoption was finalized, the state in which she was born was supposed to create a new birth certificate to reflect her new status as a member of our family. We received that new birth certificate today, and were quite surprised to see that her birth certificate included her adoptive parents' ages. When we were examining all the details we saw that the blank that stated our ages was filled in with the age we were on the day Qavah was born. Our hearts were moved by that. The law of our land recognized the plan God had for Qavah on the day she was born. Although we had no idea we would be adopting that little girl four years later, God knew. And now we have the paperwork to prove it.

I wonder about what other wonderful plans God has made for us today that we won't know about until four years from now. It's humbling to think He is always looking for ways to bless us and surprise us with joy.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday is Here

Paul left on a business trip last Sunday afternoon. He has been gone all week but kept in touch by phone. He pulled into the driveway less than an hour ago and after a grilled steak dinner he is already wearing his lounge wear and favorite slippers. There is no place like home. We are getting ready to watch some movies together for the rest of the evening. In a rare announcement Paul said that he is not even going to check his mail or anything. Life is good.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Everything is Good

The past few days have been a blur of doctor appointments. The girls are doing well, although we never have been able to help Kathryn with her mystery rash. It is annoying for her, but she didn't test positive for a bacterial infection, so we are hopeful that this will go away over time. The rash is mainly on her face and wrists.

Qavah told me yesterday morning that she was tired and needed blood. So I took her a week early for her CBC check and she was right. We spent the afternoon at the hospital for her transfusion. During that time we had a lovely visit from Sophie, a standard poodle with a quiet disposition. She surprised Qavah by lifting her paw at the end of the visit to say goodbye. Her owner instructed Sophie to give Qavah a "high five" and she did. That sent Qavah into a fit of giggles. Everyday has something special in it. Qavah would say that Sophie was today's "special" blessing. But the sweet blessing for me was seeing the bag from the Red Cross hanging over Qavah's bed, giving her the gift of life.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Weekends

Paul has been working full time during the day and building his drill business in the evenings. Orders are coming in at a faster rate and he is in his busiest season. The drills he designed himself are for rock drilling and have an appeal for the construction, mining, and quarrying industries. Our weekdays are very busy and I mainly take care of the needs of the girls and run our home. So when the weekend comes Paul and I are ready to take a break to do something together.

This past weekend I went to Toys R Us and bought another swing for the swing set while Paul went to work on adding another baby swing to our number. Little Eva is ready to join the others on a swing of her own. It was precious to see her take her first swing. Like her siblings before her, she lit up in a big grin when Paul gave her swing a little push. That was so much fun for us to be able to stand back and listen to the children squeal. It was a small labor of love that brought great rewards.

We've added another swing and we will be making further modifications soon. Colin and Jennifer announced recently that they will have another little one in their family this coming September. While friends have joked with them about having 4 children in 4 years, we can hardly believe how blessed we are to be given the gift of another child to love. It has always been Paul's dream to have little grandchildren running around our yard with lots of interesting things to do. It is something he remembered fondly from his own childhood. I love to stand back with the camera and capture those moments that I know are his dream-come-true. Children are a gift from the Lord. How He must love to watch us enjoying them!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Ducks

The white ducks came back to our yard after spending the winter downstream. They took a dip in the pond. We wanted to be outdoors enjoying this balmy day as well. The girls were feeling good and went out to the swings. And as I walked down to the pond I saw dark green clusters of daffodil leaves lining the woods. I took a closer look and saw that the buds are about to bloom. In what looks like the dead of winter, and after all the ice and snow, spring is silently getting ready to gear up and burst forth. Bring it on, Lord!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Kathryn's Health

Sunday morning I got up early to get ready for church. I walked past Kathryn's bedroom and saw that she was already up and her bed was made. I knew she felt well enough to go to church with us. We decided to go for a little adventure and drove to the town of Lexington for church. We visited Grace Presbyterian Church on Main Street. The church is an historical landmark and had all of the charm of the late nineteenth century. The architectural features were large; large columns, large windows with a twelve inch sill, handcrafted pews, and creaking wood floors. We enjoyed singing the old hymns. The congregation drew several VMI cadets dressed in their uniforms. We heard a good gospel sermon and left refreshed.

On the drive home we listened to pretty music and the girls dozed in the sunshine. By the time we got back home it was mid afternoon and time for naps. It may not seem like much to anyone else, but it was so sweet to have a day filled with pleasant things. There were no medical emergencies and the girls looked so pretty in their Sunday dresses. We celebrated a normal day.

On Monday I felt rested and I finally finished the book of information that the National Institutes of Health required to enter Qavah in their bone marrow failure study. Once it was in the mail I called them and we have set up an appointment to see them in April. I will be taking Qavah to NIH for her bone marrow aspiration the third week in April.

I just wanted to mention again how much your encouragement helped Kathryn get back on her feet. It is so good to see her up again and taking part in our family activities. We have been praying for all of you, knowing that you have your own set of challenges each day. We are blessed to call many of you our friends.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Forgiving

The phone rang one day last week and it was my husband. Kathryn was upstairs struggling with her health problems and Qavah was watching a movie. I was finishing the breakfast dishes and thought I might not even answer the phone as tired as I was. But I picked it up and heard Paul's voice. He said, "Dawn, I was just thinking about you and I want to talk to you for a minute." I wasn't sure where the conversation was going, but I didn't care. It was just nice to have a phone visit from my man.

"Do you remember when I bought the old Morris Minor right after we got married?" he asked. "Yes, I do." I said. He proceeded carefully, "I just want to tell you how sorry I am for buying that car and paying more attention to it than I did to you for eight years." As we were silent for a few moments I remembered going with Paul to see the car he had dreamed of owning since high school. I gingerly stepped through the tall grass at the back of the used car lot. I noted that grass grew up through the floorboards of the old Morris and the interior smelled like several generations of mice had used the seat cushions for nests. He bought the car that day and after a few years of repairs I wondered when the project would ever turn into a real car. He worked on it every chance he got.

As my mind raced over that trail of memories I thought about how he finally got rid of not one but three "project" cars largely because of my protestations. We used the money to help fund Kathryn's adoption. I answered, "I forgive you, Paul. I totally and completely forgive you. And make a note of this date because I hereby absolve you of any guilt you may have in the future as well." He quietly and simply said, "Thank you."

I was pretty sure we were both smiling through the phone line. "Remember our heating system for that car?" I asked. "Yes," he replied, "You held an empty coffee can on your lap with a lit candle inside and it kept the windows from freezing." After another moment of memories I said,"Don't forget that we drove along once in the dark of night by candlelight and I told you that we were having an adventure." After a long pause he said, "Yes, but I once read in a Louis L'Amour book that adventure can be just another word for trouble." We laughed long and hard, and something had been repaired between us that had been needing to be addressed. After some more laughter we hung up. We were at peace. Proving once again that a good marriage is made up of not just two lovers but two good forgivers.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Fasting and Prayer

We spent the better part of today fasting and praying. Kathryn decided that she wanted to join me and we read many encouraging passages from scripture together. We did that while resting in our guest room, where the sun was shining into the room with a special brilliance today. It was encouraging to read about our forefathers in the faith and how the Lord blessed their obedience. We especially liked the battle scenes where the Lord fought for His people in miraculous ways. The battles we face as a family can only be won by the Lord.

Kathryn got the news this morning that her liver is toxic and it is probably due to the Methotrexate. That is the medication used to keep her immune system under control. I was advised to hold off the weekly Methotrexate dose in the hopes that her liver will go through a cleansing process. There is not much else to do but wait this out. When I resume giving her the weekly dose, I am supposed to cut the dose by twenty percent. She was actually relieved to know that her blood tests really did determine the problem.

I want to thank you for the many encouraging emails to Kathryn and for the comments and victorious prayer on the blog. Kathryn feels so loved by all of you and I am very grateful for that. Love heals. It is amazing how much she perked up when I told her that there was a new comment for her on the blog. It really is so important to receive those words of encouragement. Although Kathryn has what she called "wobbly knees" we took the wheelchair to "Stuff-Mart" this evening and she bought herself some new lipstick. That's a good sign.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Heartfelt Sympathy

The words "Heartfelt Sympathy" come to mind when I think about Kathryn. I've had several bouts of emotion lately that have grabbed me by the throat and I have felt like choking. Sometimes words fail me as I think about our life with HPS. It is a brutal disease and shows no mercy to our beautiful daughter.

After Kathryn was treated last week with Rocephin for a blood infection, she began to have problems with bleeding. At first there were new bruises. But then over the weekend she had bleeding in her ear canal which caused dizziness and also stressed her endocrine system. We used Stimate for the bleeding and increased her dose of Prednisone. Then her electrolytes became imbalanced. Paul and I spent the better part of the last few nights awake with her, trying to keep enough potassium, calcium, and magnesium in her system to help her through the muscle spasms and cramping. It was difficult to see her like that again.

Yesterday I took Kathryn back to the dentist to have her mouth ulcers checked and was told that there is no delaying mouth surgery. It is scheduled for April twentieth. Her gums have receded so much that the roots of her teeth are exposed. In order to operate on her mouth she will need a transfusion of platelets first. If she does not have the grafts she will eventually lose the teeth. All of this at once has been a heavy hit to Kathryn's emotions. I went to a baby shower yesterday without her. She had looked forward to the baby shower with great anticipation so I went in her place. I tried to tell her all the details when I got home so that she could join in the spirit of the happy event, but her expression remained sorrowful.

Maybe it is the length of time she has been fighting, but it seems like the fighting spirit is quieted for this season. Looking into her tired eyes I cannot blame her for needing a quiet corner for awhile. Several tests were run today for liver toxicity, since most of her symptoms seem to point to a problem there. The hematologist came out to the waiting room and talked to me after seeing Kathryn. He was sincerely sorry to see Kathryn looking this way, but in his work I know he has seen many patients who become weary of the fight.

Around our home we talk about our summer plans, our next vacation, and the upcoming celebration of Passover, and there is interest on Kathryn's part. Although weariness has settled over us for this season, our faith does not waver. Some people may read this blog and wonder how a loving God could stand aside and watch the battle for Kathryn's life. But in that suffering we have increased our prayer time, we're devouring scripture like hungry bears, and are looking to the horizon with the hope of His appearing. And that's all good.

I'll close with a poem that I can dedicate to all of those who have become weary of the fight. I love words that acknowledge the pain but dare to lift our souls to new heights.

Casting All of Your Care
by Thomas Washbourne 1606-87

Come heavy souls, oppressed that are
With doubt, and fears, and carking* care.
Lay all your burdens down, and see
There's one that carried once a tree
Upon His back, and, which is more
A heavier weight, your sins He bore.

Think then how easily he can
Your sorrow bear that's God and man;
Think too how willing He's to take
Your care upon Him, who for your sake
Sweat bloody drops, prayed, fasted, cried,
Was bound, scourged, mocked and crucified.
He that so much for you did do
Will yet do more, and He cares for you.

*burdensome