Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Things That Bless

We had a picture perfect day.  After church and a family lunch, Paul and I took the girls to the little town of Paint Bank.  It is a picturesque town in the middle of nowhere about an hour from our home.  The drive there was steep and winding, but it was worth the effort (and the little bit of nausea).  The leaves were still pretty and we stopped along the way for some photos.  The girls both felt good, and they were able to take in the sights in the town because everything was situated on four corners and there wasn't too much walking.  From the little white church to the working water wheel, we snapped pictures continuously.  The Swinging Bridge Restaurant served up buffalo steaks and burgers.  We had already had a big lunch so we decided to buy fresh baked apple scones and coffee for the trip home.  We continued to take pictures as we left Paint Bank just before sunset. The fields where the buffalo roamed were lush and green, so naturally that put me in mind of a song I get into my head when I see buffalo, and I sang it most of the way home. 

The thing that blesses me is the way the girls respond with joy and gratitude to the world around them.  A woman spinning wool made them a little bracelet and they loved that.  Then they were given a treat by the woman at the General Store, and they were so happy with that as well.  It was a lovely day in every way.  Paul and I came home refreshed and ready for the week ahead.  Enjoy the pictures.

Click on the play button to begin the slideshow:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Colors

The Blue Ridge Mountains are are so pretty in the Fall.  This weekend we plan to get out and enjoy the colors of the Autumn leaves.  We have some projects planned for the weekend, but we will be sure to take a break and enjoy the beauty around us.  The girls are both doing well.  I'll try to post some pictures as we take them during the weekend.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sermon on the Amount

Paul and I once attended a Christian seminar that was actually free, but in order for couples to attend future weekend seminars, the money had to come from donations.  When the time came to discuss this with the couples on our weekend, the minister leading the weekend said, "It is time for the sermon on the amount."  We are used to hearing the phrase, "Sermon on the mount," and they thought it was a good way to get our attention.

Recently someone asked how in the world we were managing the girls' health care with the rising cost of hospital bills and labs. This is the "sermon on the amount" for those who have been curious. There will be some readers who will not understand my answer because it will seem more a matter of luck or coincidence.

More than ten years ago, before we knew what the future would hold for us, Paul started designing a small rock drill.  Between his consulting business, working evenings and weekends, he designed his own product and worked very hard to bring it to the market place.  It took a very long time, a lot of investment, and a lot of faith.  This year, we have seen a miraculous change take place in Paul's drill sales.  Little by little they have sold until they are now in many different countries and what seems like "luck" to some folks is nothing short of a miraculous gift from God to us.  

The extraordinary part of this story is how far God has gone to supply the needs of two girls who started out life with several strikes against them.  Kathryn was abandoned at a train station in northern India.  Qavah spent the first seven months of her life in a hospital without the love of family to uplift her.  Now all these years later, God has given us the ability to meet their needs and we are blessed beyond measure when we think back to how He began by giving Paul a dream.  That dream became a prayer, then a project, long before it became the means to pay the medical bills that insurance does not cover.  We would appreciate your prayers for more drill sales this year, and we gratefully acknowledge the people who have been praying for the success of these drills for the past several years.  Our small group at church, our parents, and our friends, are all able to witness the provision that God has made for our girls, and we are so grateful for the way they stood by us and prayed for a return on our investment.

The sermon on the amount is this, give all that you have, and watch what God will do to bless the faith you have placed in His capable hands.   Don't worry about "how" you will manage in your own strength, think about how powerful God is to meet every need you bring to Him.  Then the Sermon On The Mount will come to life and His words will take flight in your spirit as it has in ours.


The Beatitudes (Matthew 5)

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying:
 "Blessed are the poor in spirit,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
      for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
      for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
      for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
      for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
      for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
      for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I Love Weekends

Last week the girls had appointments to check out some health matters.  I also babysat, ran errands, and got caught up on the banking and paperwork that had accumulated during Kathryn's hospital stay.  I finished painting some trim in the front hall and put my last coat of varnish on a table I had been restoring.  Hooray, the weekend is here!  After attending a lovely bridal shower this afternoon, Kathryn and I came home looking forward to sunset.  The guys were finishing a project in the barn and we all gathered for dinner and the lighting of our Shabbat candles.  We are tucked in for the night and feeling the blessing of home, family, and rest.  

Paul and I would like to say "thank you" for the many friends and family members who still pray for our family, and particularly the girls.  We are not very strong on our own, but with God's grace, and the prayers of others, we have had what I believe is supernatural strength to meet the demands of our family.  As Christians, I am reminded that we are living out the life God had planned for us.  With His help we are able to accomplish far more than when the going was easy.  While Paul and I have many friends enjoying the quiet life of retirement we recognize that we have been called to something different in our twilight years. 

In reviewing our life together recently, Paul said, "I love having a little kid in the house."  I facetiously wondered if it is because of having a trail of toys in every room at the end of the day, or having to drive around a small bike left in the driveway. Then he said, "I just like seeing the Winnie-the-Pooh stool at the kitchen counter again."  From her step-stool, Qavah is learning how to run a kitchen and a home.  We're starting over, and it's exhausting but fun.  It may be because of our ages, but we truly have begun to love Sabbath rest.  Our hearts are quiet, and we know that tomorrow we will have ears to hear the Word of God with our brothers and sisters in worship.  We will also see Qavah at the front of the church listening to the children's sermon and then she'll wave to us like mad as she follows her friends to children's church.  Paul will probably squeeze my hand and we will both be thinking about the good life we have been given.  It is a gift.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Weekend

Friday night started with a celebration.  I took Annelise and Qavah to see the Princess on Ice show at the civic center.  They were wide-eyed with the lights, music, and costumes.  Qavah met up with her friend Emily who was celebrating a birthday and they hugged before going to see the exhibit of Cinderella together.  The glass slipper, the dazzling princess gowns, and the joy of being a little girl made the experience one that the girls will remember with delight.

I had a weekend guest and, after having the whole family for dinner Saturday night, we got up for church on Sunday, greeted by a beautiful, balmy Fall day.  After spending time with my friend over lunch, we came home to the family and my friend said goodbye.  She had to drive back to Winston-Salem.  Our family spent some time during the evening praying for the upcoming week and then as if waking up from a dream it was Monday morning.

We are back to real life, routine responsibilities, and making sure the household is back up and running smoothly for the week.  Throughout the weekend I had a sense of joy that stayed with me as I cooked and cared for my family.  I had the real sense that God is in control and that there is nothing I need to do but to enjoy the life He gave me.  I'm so thankful for this season of peace for the girls.  

My Princesses:


The girls wouldn't turn around for a picture.  Cinderella had captured their attention:


And then there was the glass slipper:


A Princess admiring a Princess:
 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Qavah's Bravery

I left for Charlottesville Monday morning and took Qavah to a pediatric dentist.  It is a two hour drive.  The dentist had made a plan on our last visit to work on Qavah Monday morning and again on Tuesday morning, so I made plans to stay overnight in the area.  Qavah was numbed first on the right side and had four crowns, sealants, and two extractions.  After that trauma, we went to visit Aunt Jackie and Uncle John!  Qavah had forgotten most of the pain of the dental visit while there, and played with her cousin Laura until bedtime.  She had so much fun that when we went back to the dentist on Tuesday, she hopped right up in the chair for two more tooth extractions on the left side, two crowns, and more sealant on her molars.  It was an amazing amount of work and the dentist worked swiftly while Qavah was distracted by a movie.  I was amazed at Qavah's bravery and strength.  We had talked about the visit ahead of time, and how she might be rewarded for her courage.  We have something very special planned for Friday evening.  I think Qavah will remember in the future that being courageous for the right reasons will yield a worthwhile reward.  Since it is a secret, I'll write more about it on the weekend.

Kathryn is doing very well.  Paul took the afternoon off work and drove Kathryn to her appointment. Her GI doctor saw her yesterday and went over the notes from her hospital stay.  He explained some of his findings and together they worked out a plan to taper her off of the antibiotic she is now taking.  Then they made a plan to introduce food slowly.  Baby food is fine for now and she is holding steady at 84 lbs., but she is starting to crave a real meal.  She has had a good recovery and has been enjoying herself.  She went to the College and Career group at St. John tonight where she is meeting new friends and getting involved in the ministry.  Paul and I are so proud of her, for the way she keeps going, and for the way she chooses to surround herself with spiritually healthy people. 

On the way home from Charlottesville yesterday, I decided to stop in to visit Mom Campbell who was singing with her friends in a ladies' choir.  They rehearse at her church, and since I was driving by, I decided to take Qavah into the church to find her.  We followed the sound of music to a choir room and sat down beside her.  Mom and I haven't sung in a choir together since we lived in New Jersey many years ago. She shared her sheet music with me and we sang some good old hymns together.  The ladies were rehearsing for a singing engagement at a nursing home at the end of the month.  It was so nice to sing alto again with Mom, and after the rehearsal I got to meet the women who have been praying for our girls.  Their faces were so sweet, and they gave me the impression that they had found peace and contentment in this life, but look forward to the future life with joy. They will close their program with this song by the Gaithers:

Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King (3 times)
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! We're going to see the King.

No more crying there, we are going to see the King (3 times)
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! We're going to see the King.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thankfulness

The message this morning at church centered around the theme of thankfulness.  Only one leper out of ten went back to Jesus to thank Him for healing him.  I'm thankful tonight to have a church home where I am taught the truth and reminded to be thankful.  I'm thankful that my husband would take our son away for a weekend to spend time with him and five hundred other men to learn about the grace and forgiveness of God, and how to live the Christian life as leaders in their homes.  I'm thankful that Kathryn is eating bits of food throughout the day and appreciating every morsel including baby food without complaint.  I'm thankful that we met around the table at the close of the Sabbath Day to pray for the people we love and for the week ahead.  This has been a wonderful weekend in many ways and seeds of new beginnings have been planted.

Kathryn and I have read three chapters of her new book this weekend.  I'll close with this quote from the book because it spoke to my heart about remembering things for which I can be thankful,  and it is a reminder to give God the praise that is due Him.  "When nothing seems to be happening in the moment, when loneliness settles over your spirit like a lead apron, when pain and grief and anxiety conspire to push you to the edge of despair, remember God's mighty deeds in your life.  Remember His kindness, His special, tailor-made graces that fell out of the sky like a gentle rain." ~ Joni Eareckson Tada 

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Order in the House

The battle against clutter is never-ending.  When we moved into our house many years ago I promised myself that I would go through all records, papers, and trinkets every seven years.  That was thirteen years ago, and rather than a few bags of trash, I need a dumpster.  Kathryn spent the day sorting through many years of "saved" stuff and asked herself, "Do I need to save this?"  She now has her room put back together and all of the things that are no longer necessary are going to be put out in the trash for Monday pick-up.  She feels free.  She feels powerful!  She feels like posting pictures!  Now, we put our feet up, relax, and enjoy the rest of the weekend.  Kathryn had some more noodles and broth today and it has settled nicely.  Thank you, everyone, for the prayers you have offered up for her.

Click on the picture to make bigger:
 






Friday, October 08, 2010

Quiet

Today Kathryn went to a follow-up doctor appointment.  I took her to the doctor who is studying her problems of inflammation and neuropathy in her hands and feet.  The drive was beautiful because it was a perfect fall day. Kathryn was told that she has two places in her spine where the discs are compressed.  The doctor thinks that when she is having bouts of inflammation, her spinal cord is being squeezed which causes the nerves to send pain signals to her neck and legs.  He recommended a drug for nerve pain, but she wants to talk to her other doctor to consider the side effects first.  From that appointment we went shopping for a couple of small items then drove home.

Our day was quiet and peaceful.  We were busy, but there is a quietness that has covered us, and it has made for a lovely start to the weekend.  Paul and Paul Burton went to a retreat in the mountains and we are home to relax and enjoy the cooler autumn days.  Kathryn has a plan to go through her stored college items and "weed out" unnecessary clutter from her room.  We thought we would be ready to post pictures, but that will come tomorrow, Lord willing.  We are ready to turn in for the night to read from the new book Kathryn received.  It is good to sit in our home and feel the quietness tonight. 

 

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Kathryn is at Home Tonight

Today's lab results showed that Kathryn's white cell count is in a perfect range.  Her lipase level is 2,000 and dropping steadily as it should.  With her electrolytes balanced we brought her home today.  She is sipping soup broth and had a few noodles without pain.  Now that she is stable and able to be up and around, she is traveling through the rooms of the house saying, "I'm so happy to be home!" Although I took pictures of her bedroom make-over to the hospital every day, seeing it for the first time was a real treat for her.  She noticed even the smallest details.  

Kathryn and I are preparing for the weekend when we will be reading the new Joni Eareckson Tada book together.  There will be treasure there that will speak to us.  The name of the book is A lifetime of Wisdom (embracing the way God heals you).  Paul is taking Paul Burton to a retreat weekend near Lexington, Virginia, so while they are learning and spending time together in God's word, we girls will do the same.   This week was one of many challenges, and we are all happy that at the close of the week our plans are for rest and recreation.

I will post some pictures that I took of Kathryn's room tomorrow night.  I just want to thank all of you who prayed and asked your friends and churches to pray for Kathryn this week.  The battle was fierce, but with prayer and faith in God, we have come home to a place of peace and rest. This past week was a lesson in contentment for all of us.  Kathryn especially waited patiently for many things within the confines of her hospital room and we are happy to report that her desire to be at home is a reality tonight.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Another Lipase Drop!

I went to the hospital last night and took Kathryn a bunch of pictures of her bedroom makeover.  The hardwood floors were finished and I wanted her to have an idea of how we could place her furniture.  It was fun for her to dream about being home.  Paul and I put the major big pieces of furniture in place before I left for the hospital; now she will have the delight of finding new and interesting places for her trinkets.

Kathryn and I listened to a sermon and talked about it for a while, then we decided to sleep a few hours.  Her blood was drawn early so that by the time the physician came around, he already had the good news that her lipase level dropped again and that her white cell count dropped to 12, which is also good.  After learning of her lab results, I asked if we could bring Kathryn home.  The GI doctor will be meeting later today with Kathryn to discuss the possibility of coming home.  She is tolerating water and ice chips so hydration will be better.

Caring for her at home has become slightly more complicated by her intestinal infection.  It is known as C-diff, and it can be passed on to family members with a compromised immune system.  Kathryn will have to finish a course of antibiotic to treat it, but we will need to keep Qavah healthy by keeping her downstairs and away from the bathroom that Kathryn uses.  A daily bathroom scrub down with bleach, and continual hand washing, is what the infectious disease doctor recommended.  Until her course of antibiotics for C-diff are finished, we will have to be very careful.  I am going out shopping for bleach and disposable rubber gloves in just a few minutes.

Even though Kathryn does not want to start eating yet, she did enjoy some broth this morning for breakfast.  If her pancreas continues to settle down,  I feel sure she will be eating baby food by the weekend.  She has some favorites, that when warmed up, taste like a fancy soup puree.  Just three days ago I began calling friends to pray.  Together we can say we have seen the goodness of the Lord.  

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

New Lipase Level!

Kathryn's lipase level fell from 3947 to 2730 overnight.  The numbers indicate that things are moving in the right direction.  That is a direct answer to prayer and although there is no medical explanation for it, meaning there was no magic pill given to Kathryn last night, I believe God has heard our cry for help.  The healing is from Him.  Praise Him for His mercy!  While she still can't eat food, she now has permission to lick the salt off of Saltine crackers.  Her white cell count went up today to 16.  Since it could be that her body is still infected with a hard-to-kill bacteria, she has requested to see an infectious disease consultant. 

Helen and I went over to the hospital last night and gave Kathryn a hair wash and shower.  When I finished rubbing some sweet-smelling lotion on her skin and tucked her in bed for the night she said, "Oh Mama, I feel so loved."  What a blessing to hear, especially because she has every right to say, "Mama, I feel so lousy."  God is good.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Our Faith

The sermon yesterday centered around the fact that the disciples went right to Jesus when they were discouraged, afraid, or bewildered.  At one point when they were in despair they went to Him and asked, "Lord, increase our faith."  The minister gave a few examples of how in this life, our faith is tested, and then he asked, "Where will you go then?"  Paul was holding my hand and I knew he and I had the same answer.  We have run to God in prayer for help and He has increased our faith every time. We have no fear, and believe that Kathryn is going to come home from the hospital and walk through the door.  But she is not doing well and we are asking you to pray with us.

Her white cells are in the normal range now.  The infection has been addressed.  However, Kathryn's pancreatic enzymes are now very high.  An early morning MRI revealed no blockage in the ducts.  Her lipase level is now over three thousand.  The doctors do not know why.  Nothing they can see is making sense here.  Since this is the fourth time this has happened we're asking that by His hand, Kathryn will be healed once again.  Medication and the finest minds are not enough.  

A friend called this morning on his way to a Missions to the World board meeting in Philadelphia and told me that they will pray today for God to move in a mighty way.  Our church prayed yesterday and friends all over the country have written to say they are praying.  Part of the miracle I see unfolding is that God has given us a lifetime of friends who know where to run first when trials come.  Many are praying, and it is humbling to think that Kathryn's life has touched so many.  

By faith I am painting the trim in Kathryn's room and am about ready to stencil the decorative boarder.  I am expecting her to be home by the weekend.  She is resting comfortably and the hospital staff has been very attentive.  While I paint, my soul waits for the Lord. 

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Way God Blesses

Paul and I were talking about the things that Kathryn enjoys most and thought about how we might encourage her.  With that in mind, we decided that while she is away we would paint her room and replace the old carpet with hardwood floors.  She has always wanted another electrical outlet in her room as well.  So this morning we made up our minds that although the lawn needs mowing, the house needs cleaning, and Paul has to build four drills to sell, we would focus on just one thing.  We decided to really bless and encourage Kathryn.  Paul Burton joined us and as we approach sundown beginning the Sabbath, Kathryn's room is now painted a soft lavender color called Guardian Angel.

Our tools are put away, and we are going over to the hospital to celebrate the Sabbath with Kathryn.  We have so much joy in our hearts because we know Kathryn is going to love the stories we will tell her about how God blessed our work today.   She has been well cared for today and is beginning to feel better.  Her white cell count is dropping; an indication that the antibiotic is working on the infection and winning.  

God has blessed us in every way this week.  Our hearts are encouraged and we are thankful for the "pause" in our week that we call the Sabbath Day, a time when we can rest in the goodness of God.  His splendor was seen and felt on this beautiful autumn day in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The colors are just beginning to turn on the trees, reminding us that life is ever-changing like the seasons, but His steadfast love is never changing.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Contented Kathryn

By the end of the day yesterday it seemed as though Kathryn wasn't responding to the doses of steroids I was giving her and when I took her blood pressure it was 72/40 with a heart rate of 140.  I called the doctor and we talked about the fact that there is a time when we have to face the fact that we have lost control of a situation.  I called him because I knew we had reached that point.  Kathryn took the news quite well that Paul was going to take her to the hospital and that she needed to be treated there until she felt better.

Her pancreatitis is serious.  Her white cell count was over 2,300 last night.  After a very slow start in the emergency room she was admitted to the hospital and Paul got home this morning at 5am with the good news that IV fluids, solu medrol, and pain medication by IV, had begun to work and that she was resting comfortably.  Her doctors were in to see her first thing this morning and IV Rocephin has been ordered although it is not obvious yet where the infection is within Kathryn's body.  She will have some GI testing today.  She is very tired but not discouraged.  She took her netbook with her and plans to do some surfing on the web.  Our "Comments" have been reactivated so messages can be left for her there.  It is a bit confusing with the new system but when you see the selection of Name/URL, click on that option and type your name.  That will be enough information to satisfy that program.  Your comments will come first to my email address, then I will post them.  In addition, if you have prayer requests please share them in your comment.  Kathryn does some serious praying for others when she is in the hospital.  I'll post again at the end of the day.