Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Sleep Med

I’m so glad I got to meet with Selah’s sleep specialist yesterday.  The EEG portion of her sleep study still hasn’t been read, but the doctor was able to review the results of her sleep study (minus the EEG).  Everything was normal, including no sleep apnea, so this tells the sleep doc that Selah’s sleep disorder is definitely neurological, which we assumed.  The good news is that because Selah doesn’t have sleep apnea, she’s now eligible for an array of possible sleep medications that she’s never tried before.  (If she had sleep apnea, it wouldn’t be safe for her to take many of the prescription sleep medicines available.)  We’re so grateful to know there are other meds out there that might help Selah sleep better.  Hallelujah!

The sleep specialist decided to keep her on her current sleep cocktail, but wanted to add a third drug to the mix called Neurontin (generic is Gabapentin).  It’s a drug that was originally intended to treat seizure disorders, but it apparently wasn’t as effective as they’d hoped.  It did, however, knock the patients out, so many sleep specialists now use this drug to help induce sleep.

Selah will start with only 2ml’s of this new drug per night.  If that doesn’t work after 3 nights, we’ll increase it to 4ml’s.  We can go all the way to 10 ml’s.  The doctor said to watch for increased aggression during the day, as this is a common side effect.  Selah already has issues with impulsive aggression, so we’re praying there’s no increase in daytime aggressiveness!  And, of course, we’re praying this new medicine will help Selah sleep through the night.  Oh how glorious that would be!

I realized yesterday while sitting in the sleep specialist’s office that it’s been over a year now that Selah has had this severe sleep disorder.  It feels so different than life with a newborn when one doesn’t get much sleep.  Maybe it’s because Selah is so difficult to manage in the night (and day!)?!?!  When Selah wakes, she’s usually up for several hours, but not usually happy during this time.  She’s so stubborn and so strong-willed and so out of control that it’s just exhausting.  I praise God that He gave me Mattie and Meribeth to help share night-time Selah shifts.  I seriously don’t know how I’d survive without their help.  Each of us takes an hour long shift, and sometimes we have to resort to waking up Dad.  We try to let him sleep because he works outside our home during the day, but there are desperate times when we need Daddy’s help.  God has blessed me immeasurably by giving me so many helpers with Selah.  At age 41, I’m fresh out of pep and spunk!!!

Please join us in praying that this new medication will enable Selah to sleep peacefully through the night without experiencing daytime aggression or other negative side effects.  Thank you so much!

Update at 11:15AM Saturday:  Selah slept through the night last night!  She went to sleep at 8:30PM and woke at 6:30AM. She had leaked through her diaper and was soaking wet. Perhaps she might have slept even later if she'd have stayed drier. I changed her, then crawled into the full-size bed that is in her room. (She sleeps in her crib in her own room.)  Selah snuggled and held still for an hour, without fighting to get up, which she has never done. At 7:30AM, I took her into our master bedroom so she could snuggle with Daddy. Instead, she laid across my chest and gently patted Daddy's face. So precious.  She did this for another hour!  She has NEVER sat still in bed with us for even 2 minutes!!!  Then, at 8:30AM, she rolled onto her back, pulled the covers up to her neck, and went back to sleep! She woke at 10:30AM, instantly crawled out of bed, and was ready to start her day. She's been a little cranky, but we'll see how the rest of the day goes. I'm in awe that 2ml's of this medication had that effect. WOW!  Hope it continues!!!

Friday, September 28, 2012


Whew, it’s been a busy week.  Thank God it’s Friday! 


Selah has her follow up appointment with her sleep specialist today.  I’m looking forward to discussing everything with him, but I have a feeling we’re not going to receive a lot of insight.  Selah’s neurosurgeon already looked up the results of the sleep study, and he told us they were normal.  This is good, in a way, because it means Selah’s not having sleep apnea.  However, the EEG  still hasn’t been read.  This will tell us if Selah is having any seizure activity during her sleep.


Selah has actually slept fairly well this week—way better than her normal.  She’s taken a nap almost every day this week (VERY unusual), and she’s slept at night for at least 7 hours (again this is highly unusual for Selah).  We’re praising God for this blessed sleep.  I’m hoping Selah’s shunt isn’t beginning to fail.  One of the symptoms of shunt failure is that the child gets sleepier than usual.  Selah doesn’t have any other symptoms of shunt failure though, so I’m guessing everything’s fine. 


I also thought perhaps she’s going through a growth spurt.  Selah will turn two on Monday (can’t believe that!), so maybe she’s sleeping more because of rapid growth.


Or perhaps Selah’s sleep has begun to improve and will hopefully continue to improve as the plates and screws in her skull dissolve.  I’ve read that some people can have allergic reactions to these plates and screws, but they would have to have the ability to verbally express the bothersome symptoms in order for anyone to know.  Selah still doesn’t verbalize her feelings, so we wouldn’t know if the plates and screws bother her.  Everything is dissolving right now (as it’s supposed to), the lumps on her skull are lessening, and perhaps once all of the plates and screws are dissolved, Selah will begin to sleep like a dream. :-)


Or perhaps God is healing Selah’s sleep disorder, which would be the most fabulous answer to prayer!


Conner did fabulous with his sedated endoscopy.  He didn’t even fuss or cry when coming out of general anesthesia, which is a first out of all of my kiddos!  The scope didn’t show any anatomical reasons for Conner’s severe reflux and vomiting, but the gastroenterologist took biopsies to check for a number of abnormalities/conditions.  The biopsy results won’t be back for 1-2 weeks, but once those are back, Dr. Zwiener will devise a plan.  Conner had this terrible reflux in Ukraine, too.  Now that Conner has more food in his belly, we see a lot more food coming back up.  He usually spits up and/or vomits anywhere from 20-30 times per day.  It doesn’t seem to bother him much, but we have to wonder if Conner would grow better if he held down all of his food and nutrition.


I’ve been sewing costumes all week for an interpretive dance/drama performance that our girls will be in this Sunday at our church.  Mattie (our 14-year-old biological daughter) is in charge of this project, from choreographing, to costumes, to leading practices and rehearsals.  I’m looking forward to seeing the big performance Sunday!


Have a blessed weekend everyone!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Video of Our Family’s Adoption Testimony

I am so grateful to have this video/photo montage of our family’s testimony.  A very talented young man named Adam created this for our family, and I think he did a fabulous job.  I was able to use this video during my session speaking to the MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) group last Friday.  Feel free to leave a comment for Adam to let him know what an awesome job he did!  Thank you, Adam!!!


PS  Thank you for praying for my health last week.  I got on an antibiotic for an upper respiratory infection last Thursday, and, praise God, I was able to speak to the MOPS group Friday morning.  Although my voice was raspy and not pretty, I didn’t cough once during my session!  Praise Him!


PPS  Conner will have an endoscopy tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.  His gastroenterologist is trying to help us cure Conner’s horrible reflux/vomiting.  This will be Conner’s first time under anesthesia, so please pray for him to not have any complications, and if there’s an anatomical reason for Conner’s reflux, that this test will reveal it.  Thanks!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Still Can’t Believe What My Ears Heard Today

Yesterday Selah had her appointment with her neurosurgeon and her craniofacial reconstructive surgeon.  Both agree that Selah will NOT need her second phase of skull reconstruction unless her shunt fails.  Selah doesn’t have to be seen for another year, unless she experiences complications.  Oh how we rejoice with this awesome news!!!


During this appointment, we learned quite a few new things about Selah’s brain and diagnoses that had somehow never been explained to us before.  We explained to the doctors our concerns regarding Selah’s inability to self-regulate, her severe sleep disorder, and her extreme need for constant movement and unsafe risk-taking.  Selah’s neurosurgeon patiently listened to us, then explained why these things are occurring.


Selah has the diagnoses of holoprosencephaly with agenesis of corpus callosum with hydrocephalus with a Chiari Type II (graded on a scale of 1-4, with 4 being incompatible with life), as well as multiple congenital brain injuries and anomalies, most likely due to physical abuse and trauma in utero, as well as drug and alcohol exposure in utero.


Whew, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?!?!


What does all of this mean?


Selah is even more of a miracle than any of us ever realized.  I’m still in shock after learning all of this.  We looked at pictures of Selah’s brain, and Dr. George pointed out all of these white spots.  He explained that the white spots are calcium deposits that occurred after trauma in utero.  Break my heart.  Those calcium deposits block pathways and brain cells from forming, and can cause a host of other issues.  Over time, we may notice more and more problems caused by these deposits.


Here’s what I found online regarding calcium deposits in the brain:

As said before, calcium deposits can be found anywhere in the brain, and may lead to some mild to severe mental disabilities due to loss of brain cells. The symptoms mainly include progressive deterioration of mental abilities or dementia, loss of previous motor development, spastic paralysis and in some cases, even athetosis, the twisting movements of the hands and feet. Some other less common calcium deposit symptoms in brain are vision disturbances (optic atrophy), blurred vision, ear infections, traits of Parkinson's Disease including tremors and rigidity, muscle cramping or dystonia, a mask-like facial expression, uncontrollable spasmodic irregular movements or chorea, seizures, shuffling walk, and a pill rolling motion of the fingers.

I also discovered via Dr. Google that every complication/defect in Selah’s brain can be caused by any of the things Selah was exposed to in utero:  drug and alcohol exposure, trauma, poor maternal diet, lack of vitamins/nutrition in birth mother’s diet, and infections in birth mother such as syphilis.  I find myself feeling sad, so, so sad that a birth mother could do this to her baby.  That’s probably not right for me to feel that way, but right now, that’s how I feel.  Selah is such a special treasure to our family.  We just praise God for preserving her life and for sharing her with our family.


We would be most grateful if you’d hold Selah in your prayers, asking for protection against any further complications caused by her congenital brain defects.  There are so many possible complications that commonly occur as a child ages, so we pray against all of these things.  It’s such a miracle that Selah’s alive, and even more miraculous that she’s reaching so many milestones and thriving.  I simply cannot fathom all of this, much less process it adequately.


I thank you all in advance for praying.  Selah is so very dear to us.  Thank you for lifting her up.


Selah mucking the horse’s stall.



Selah wearing big brother’s boot and boxers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Monkey in the Window…and Other Stuff

Will you please pray for me?   I’m supposed to speak this Friday at the Hays Hills MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) meeting, but right now my voice is pretty much shot due to some serious laryngitis.  I’ve been ill for a few days with yucky cough, congestion, sore throat, body aches, crackling in my chest/lungs, fever that comes and goes, then I completely lost my voice…probably the same stuff Conner had when he was admitted to the hospital with his 105 fever.  Most of our children also had this, I’m just lagging behind everyone with my timing of it.  I wouldn’t be concerned about it if I wasn’t booked to speak this Friday!!!  I would be most grateful for your prayers that I’ll be well enough to speak by Friday, and that my voice will be totally healed so God may be glorified. Thank you!!!


On another note, here’s a video of Conner practicing his walking.  He’s still not very fond of walking without support, but he’s getting there.  He’s come SOOOOOOO far!!!


And, shortly after videoing Conner walking, I walked into the kitchen to discover this little monkey:




Yes, that’s our Selah in the kitchen window.  Oh my.  The joy in our home abounds.  Thank you, Jesus!


PS  Would you please pray for our precious buddy, Rowan?  He had two brain surgeries in the past week, and he’s having a lot of pain that’s not responding well to many cocktails of pain meds.  Pray for his pain to lessen, and keep his full healing in your prayers as well please.  This is Rowan’s 53rd surgery.  On our blog, go to the search box and type in “Rowan” and you’ll be blessed to read several entries about this precious boy whom we adore.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It’s Nacho Nacho!



What?  Don’t act like you’ve never used your head as a plate!



My Velcro hair comes in super handy for things like…oh…sticking nachos in it to save for later!



Seriously, you’ve never tried it?  Well, you should!  And you should say, “It’s NACHO nacho!” when someone tries to remove the nacho from your hair.  It works every time!


Selah Updates:

  • Selah turns two October 1!!!
  • She still has a major sleep disorder that hasn’t been resolved.
  • Her sleep study results appointment was postponed until September 28.
  • She has an appointment with her neurosurgeon and her reconstructive surgeon this Thursday to discuss the lack of space her brain has within her skull cavity.  Still praying she won’t need phase 2 of her skull reconstruction process.
  • She has a neurology appointment in November to discuss her brain’s inability to regulate—or turn off—ever.  We’re in some serious need of help in this department, for Selah’s safety and everyone’s sanity.  Never ever ever have I been around a child like Selah, and I’ve been around a lot of kids!  (I worked at a day care in high school, babysat my way through college, worked in church nurseries, and taught public Pre-K for three years.)  No one compares.  Not even remotely.  When I say Selah’s always on the go, it doesn’t even begin to describe what I really mean.  NEVER.  Sits.  Still.  EVER.  But that’s not even the biggest problem.  It’s that Selah’s just not safe.  Her brain lacks the ability to do several things, one of which is to put two and two together to realize she’s not safe.  She has major fits where she bangs her head violently.  We’re navigating through this, realizing we’ve got to get Selah more help.
  • She started private occupational therapy for multiple sensory issues.
  • She’s such an amazing blessing to our family.  We couldn’t be more grateful for this bundle of energy.  And attitude.  And love.  And joy.
  • Selah thinks the vocabulary word for “picture” (as in a framed photo) is “Chrissie.”  We have tons of framed photos of Chrissie around our home so that all of our children will '”know” their sister in heaven, whether they met her on earth or not.  (see photos below)  Selah hasn’t yet made the connection that Chrissie is a beautiful brown-eyed girl, her sister, who lives in heaven.  To Selah, the word “Chrissie” simply means “framed photo of anything or anyone”.  Selah will point to a framed photo of anything and proudly say, “CHRISSIE!”  Breaks my heart and makes me laugh simultaneously.
  • Love me some Selah!

photo 1

photo 2


photo 3

photo 4

photo 5

Monday, September 17, 2012

Two Teeth

Friday morning (Sept. 14), Matt opened Cooper’s and Conner’s bedroom door to wake them for school.  He was surprised to find Cooper banging his bar shoes on his face while he was still sleeping.  We had wrapped foam and tape over the hard metal bar for protection, but Cooper was not only banging the foam-covered bar across his face, but also the hard metal attachments to the shoes.  OUCH!


I heard Cooper crying, which isn’t normal for him, to I ran to see what the problem was.  It wasn’t that he was banging his bar and metal brackets across his face, it was that he had lost a tooth.  And most likely swallowed it.  (We never found it.)  Perhaps he was banging the bar shoes on his face because he was trying to knock his tooth out?  We didn’t even realize it was loose!!!  These are things we’re learning as we face life with non-verbal kiddos.  It’s a little different than an infant who can’t talk because infants don’t lose teeth…and other things. Smile


Above is a pic of the tooth Cooper lost Friday morning.  He had already lost the two lower middle teeth sometime in Ukraine—his adult teeth had already grown in by the time we met Cooper.


So Friday night, after I put Cooper to bed, I stayed in the room to watch Cooper to see if he was planning to bang his bar shoes against his face again.  Sure enough, shortly after I turned out the light, Cooper started banging his shoes and bar against his face—violently.


Now, both boys have MANY self-stimulating institutional behaviors, some self-injurious, but this was a new one.  I started wondering if maybe Cooper was teething, as it appeared he was also chewing on the foam of the bar.  So, I shined a flashlight into Cooper’s mouth to inspect his gums to see if any molars were erupting.


I didn’t see evidence of teething, but I did find that Cooper’s upper middle tooth was totally loose, just dangling there! It wasn’t dangling during supper or during teeth brushing before bed!  In fact, we didn’t even know it was loose!


I decided to pull the tooth in an effort to keep Cooper (age 7) from swallowing it.  Cooper was a trooper!


Two teeth in one day!  Wow, what a big boy!!!  He is growing up and changing so rapidly.  It’s hard to believe it’s just been six months since Cooper joined our family!


By the way, Cooper always takes his pajama shirts off.  We even put him in a one-piece zip-up footie pajama suit, and put it on him backwards (so he couldn’t unzip it), and he STILL got it off!!!  He won’t keep blankets or covers on.  He even gets out of those sleep sacks that you zip onto them.  That was all fine and dandy during the hot summer months, but when it gets cold, I sure hope Cooper decides to keep some pajamas on!!!


Oh, and Cooper hasn’t been banging the bar of his shoes on his face since I pulled that upper tooth, so maybe that’s the only reason why he was banging it.  I sure hope that’s not a habit he takes up!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happy 15th B-Day, Meribeth!


15!!!  My how the time has flown, lovely daughter.  You’ve celebrated three birthday with us now, but it still seems like yesterday that you were 11-years-old, new to our family and new to America.  Back in 2008, we, too, were new to this whole adoption thing, and we made many mistakes along the way.  Thank you, Meribeth, for your grace as we’ve persevered through trials and challenges.  Your courage is admirable, as you’ve navigated your way into a whole new life, family, world, language, clothing, food, and culture.  We are so very proud of you.


This past year has been one of authenticity and great growth.  God has revealed much to us, sometimes things neither of us really wanted to address, but God loves us too much to let things remain hidden.  I’m grateful for our times of sharing and growth, and I’m so proud of you for persevering through the trials and challenges that have tried to stand in your way.  You are triumphant through Jesus Christ, and it’s glorious to witness the transformation set forth in you by our King of kings.


What a privilege it is to watch you grow in your relationship with Christ, as well as in your relationships with family and friends.  God has made you such a beautiful young woman, Meribeth, and we feel so grateful to call you our daughter.  Thank you for always pitching in at home wherever you’re needed—we couldn’t do it without you!!!  We praise God for selecting us to be your forever family, we wish you a happy 15th birthday, and we look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with you!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Protection from the Pistol

Please pray for our friends, The Blocks, missionaries in Guatemala.  They’re the ones starting up the new Village of Hope—Guatemala, a village that will bring faith, future, and family to special needs orphans. 


Yesterday, in broad daylight, their family was robbed at gun point.  A pistol was held to the head of Amy and Todd, while their children screamed from the back seat of their vehicle, just minutes from Village of Hope.  You can click HERE to read about what happened.


I want to do more for Village of Hope.  God continues to lay VOH on my heart so heavily, not just because I’m friends with The Blocks, but because they represent His heart so passionately to the world.  They care about the things He cares about.  Their hearts are broken for what breaks His.  They are serving boldly and selflessly, and while their lives were at great risk yesterday, what they care about more than their lives is the future of others, sharing the Savior with the ones who did this, caring about funds stolen from Village of Hope—not their own lives, nor their own belongings.


That, my friends, is beautiful.  I feel so very privileged to know The Blocks in real life, but I feel even more blessed to continuously see them living real life for Jesus, even if they’re in another country.


If you would please lift the Block family and Village of Hope up in prayer, I would be most grateful.  If God lays something on your heart of what we can do to help them, please let me know.  I know they need a security wall around the village, a security gate, security guards, etc.  If you feel led to help with that, let me know as well, or go HERE and donate (just make sure you note that it’s for VOH).


Join me in praising God for His protection from that pistol, and ask Him to restore all that was stolen, which was more than material goods and finances.  God is in the redemption business, He is able to remove those images from the minds of the children (and Amy and Todd), and He is able to heal. Thanks so much for praying!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Sin of Hoarding

I’m currently doing Beth Moore’s study of the book of James.  This is one of my favorite studies, and definitely one with the deepest convictions for me.


Here’s just one of the many Beth Moore quotes from this study that has resonated deeply within me:

“…the sin of hoarding is more than just having.  It’s having without using.  The wickedness accelerates in the waste.  In part, hoarding means withholding what we don’t even use from others who’d treasure it.  All of us are accustomed to the saying “use it or lose it” but, the fact is, we’re going to lose it all anyway.  We’re not taking one ounce of this stuff with us when we die.”


I inherited from my mom, bless her heart and soul, a desire to hoard.  Thanks be to God, I’m also a giver.  That helps balance things a little bit, but I’m probably more of a hoarder than a giver.  I’d like to reverse that, with His help.


Truth be told, I believe most all of us are hoarders.  By nature, we’re sinful people who look after our own interests before we look after others.  We might not hoard enough to be featured on that hoarding television show, but if we take a serious look at what we could be giving away to bless others, I bet we all fall short.


Of course my heart goes back to James 1:27--God’s mandate that we care for orphans and widows.  Perhaps we should ask God to show each of us how we can do more to live out James 1:27?  Ask Him to search our hearts and reveal areas where we’ve been hoarding when we could be giving, blessing, and helping. Giving of our time, talent, and treasures can have an eternal impact, whereas hoarding any of those things will do nothing to further His Kingdom.


Time.  Are we hoarding our time?  How could we better use our time to bless others?  As Beth Moore said, “The wickedness accelerates in the waste.”  Are we wasting our time?  God, show us how we can better use our time, not for ourselves in a hoarding fashion, but for You, Father.  Help us to give freely of our time in order to bless others.  There’s so much more we could be doing, forgive us Father.


Talent.  Could we be guilty of hoarding our God-given talents?  Father, show us how we can better use the talents you’ve given us, not for ourselves, but for others.  Surely you’ve blessed us with these talents so we could use them to be a blessing to others.  Show us how, Lord.


Treasure.  How about our finances?  Are we hoarding our money or are we giving it freely to bless others?  How much more could we be giving away to help rescue orphans, to feed the hungry, to serve the widow?  We want to store up treasures in heaven, Father, not on earth.  Forgive us for being greedy.  Forgive us for not trusting that you will meet our every need, for hoarding our treasure, believing we must take care of ourselves.  Help us, Father, to abundantly share our treasure, for Your glory.  Point us Lord to the forgotten ones, the needy ones, the ones who desperately need clean drinking water and a meal in their bellies.  Show us Lord how to use our finances to bless others instead of hoarding it for ourselves.


More treasure.  What about our things?  Are we hanging on to more than we need?  Could we give things away to the homeless, to women’s and children’s shelters, to the needy?  Could we sell some of our stuff to raise funds to help another family rescue an orphan?  Forgive us, Father, for hoarding our stuff.  You’ve given us far more than we could ever need.  Please show us who to give our things to.  You know who needs what.  Direct us, Lord, and help us to freely give of our belongings, just as freely as you’ve blessed us with so much excess.  Take our abundance and multiply it into the hands and hearts of those who need it, those who need You.


Lord, we ask You to search our hearts, as well as our homes, and circumcise all the excess, the things that might be keeping us from greater intimacy with you.  We are prone to hoarding, Father, whether we realize it or not, so we ask you to not only forgive us for being greedy, but to create in us a desire to give abundantly of our time, talent, and treasure.  Convert our selfishness to selflessness and our independence to dependence upon You and only You, our One and Only.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

So, How Do You Know, Part 2

This is the continuation of Part 1:


And so our homeschooling journey began, but not with a joyful heart, I must confess!  I really wasn’t excited about homeschooling.  I’ve learned through experience that it’s not good to obey God simply because you’re afraid of the consequences of disobedience, but that is how our journey began.


As much as I’d like to report that our homeschooling journey was all peachy and grand, it wasn’t at first.  Homeschooling was hard work that required much patience, perseverance, flexibility, and prayer.  Our first week of homeschooling made me want to throw in the towel, and I was previously a public school teacher, which is probably why I wanted to never homeschool and why I got so frustrated when things didn’t go the way I had planned!  The first day of homeschooling, our youngest son (age 2 at the time) tore all of the wallpaper off of his bedroom wall during his nap time.  Out of desperation, I called our local Mother’s Day Out program for this particular child, but I quickly realized that would be disobedience as well because I knew God wanted me to have all of my children home with me. 


While it took all of us time to adjust to our new normal back in 2002, God started to reveal blessings to us.  Blessings I never imagined would come out of homeschooling.  One of the biggest blessings was that our children became best friends.  I LOVED that and never even considered that was something God had in mind when He called us to homeschool. 


Relationship building was one of the biggest and best blessings that came from our homeschooling.  Each of our relationships with God grew more intimate, as well as our relationships with one another.  Learning together, laughing together, studying together, praying together, playing together, cooking together, eating together, discovering together, and sometimes even crying together—it was all what God had in store for us.  He impressed upon me that He created me to serve my family, that was His calling upon my life during that season.  He didn’t want me volunteering countless hours elsewhere, which often times caused me to deny my family.  He wanted me to put family first (next to God), in all areas of my life.


God never promised easy, but He did promise to never forsake us.  As we navigated the homeschooling waters, He proved Himself faithful.  He was always by our side, helping us, guiding us, teaching us, and loving us.  After a while, I absolutely couldn’t imagine life any other way.  Homeschooling eventually became something I loved and treasured.  God circumcised my heart greatly during this season, and for that, I am forever grateful.


I shared this story to illustrate some of the ways God might speak to us, to show us His calling in our lives.  The callings may change with His seasons for our lives, but His presence is ever present.  Always.  He never leaves us or forsakes us.  Where He calls us, He will equip us to serve.  He’s really fabulous at taking ordinary people and equipping them to do extraordinary tasks, which is what really gives Him the glory.  When we know that we know that we know that we know that there’s just no possible way that we could do something on our own, yet He enables us to do it (although sometimes it’s not pretty!), He is able to be given ALL of the glory.  We don’t try to steal any of the glory for ourselves because we know without a doubt that it was ALL Him!


One thing I’ve learned over the years is that I hear God best when I’m in His Word regularly.  For me, time with Him is essential.  Time spent in prayer, time spent studying His Word, time spent worshiping and praising Him, quality time spent regularly with Him.  Without time with Him, I’m unable to have the intimate relationship with our Father that I desperately need.  When my time with Him is weak, I cannot hear His voice as clearly, so for me, time is key.


I’ve also found that God doesn’t always beat me over the head when He wants me to do something, like He did when He wanted me to homeschool.  That particular calling involved lots of over-the-top messages from God to get me to obey.  He spoke to me in my dreams, He spoke to me through the study of His Word, He spoke to me through other people, He spoke to me through circumstances, and He spoke to me in my thoughts—gosh, He even gave me a real, live sign (the transparency on the overhead projector during the homeschool conference).


Regardless of how extroverted God is with His various callings in our lives, He always makes His way known.  It just might take a little time to decipher, to listen, to receive confirmation, and to obey.  Here are a few of the ways He speaks to me to help me to decipher His will:

  • He will close doors that I thought He had opened—or He’ll open doors I thought He had closed. 
  • He’ll put crazy ideas into my head that don’t come from me.  Many times these ideas are things I really don’t want to do (due to my laziness or fear or whatever excuse I can think of), which helps me to know the thought must be from Him. :-)  Often times the ideas pop up during my quiet time with Him, but just as often, the ideas pop up at random times throughout the day when I’m not thinking or praying about that specific idea.
  • He’ll lead me down various paths during Bible study that reveals His plan to me.
  • He’ll whisper things to my spirit while I’m praying—a feeling that I know He wants me to do something.  Then He seems to continue to swirl that thought in my head often, until I act upon it.
  • Sometimes I’ll have a dream about something that affects my spirit deeply.  Then, during my waking hours, I cannot get the thought out of my head, often times for days and weeks and sometimes even months—until I act upon whatever it is He wants.
  • Sometimes God gives me visions (visions occur when I’m awake, similar to a dream, but I’m totally awake) where He’ll put an idea into my head that occurs in a split second with such intricate detail that it would take me a day to explain it to someone else.  It seems so very realistic, like I know the ins and outs of whatever it is He’s planted in this vision.
  • Sometimes God will use someone else to confirm an idea that He’s already put into my thoughts or spoken to my spirit.  Often times this occurs randomly, as was the case when our son asked me if I’d homeschool him, completely out of the blue.
  • Sometimes God speaks to me during a sermon, or He’ll confirm something I’ve been praying about while I’m listening to a sermon.
  • Many times God will lead me to a story or a simple scripture in His Word that relates to what I’m facing, as confirmation that this is indeed what He’s leading me to, which gives me more faith to obey.
  • And sometimes God will give me a word—something that I don’t know the details about, but a simple word (or phrase) that sticks in my head.  Then I’ll see that word in a magazine, on a billboard, in a doctor’s office, in a store, and God will lead me to understand more about what it is that He’s asking of me, or speaking to me, regarding this word.  Often times that word eventually becomes a part of our testimony as God weaves all the details together as He makes that word active in our lives.


Regardless of how He speaks to me, I always pray about whatever it is that I feel God is asking of me.  Many times I’ll ask my husband or a friend (or both) to pray for me regarding whatever issue I’m seeking clarity on.  I’ll seek wise godly counsel if I feel the issue is bigger than I can handle with just me and God.  I’ll search scriptures, asking God to confirm or deny whatever it is I feel He’s leading me to do.  I’ll pray for wisdom specific to the issue at hand, as He promises in the book of James that He will give us wisdom, and He tells us to ask boldly.  More often than not, God will give me clarity and the strength to obey whatever it is He’s asking of me, regardless of the reasoning my flesh is so prone to. 


Always, always, always, I hear God most clearly when I spend the most time with Him.  Always.  The more intimate our relationship, the better our communication, the more clearly I hear Him.  Time is the key to intimacy for me.  I must spend regular quality time with God to have the intimacy we both desire.  This makes everything so much easier.  Always.


How about you?  Do you have a story to share regarding how you know what God’s will is or what His call is upon your life?  Do you have suggestions and/or advice for us?  We’d love to hear it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

So, How Do You Know?

“…this is my question for you...  HOW do you KNOW what His CALL for YOU is????  Trying to understand life in His terms the best I can... :)”


This is a question I often receive, so I thought I’d try to address it here.


I don’t have a simple answer to this question, and it might be something different for each of you, but I’ll share a story of how God spoke His call into my life when He was asking me to homeschool.


Ten years ago, back in 2002, homeschooling was the furthest thing from my mind.  I was very happy with our three young children (ages 2, 4, and 6 at the time) enrolled in our local private Christian school.  I could go to the grocery store by myself, I could have lunch with my husband with uninterrupted conversation on Tuesdays and Thursdays (our youngest two attended pre-school part-time), and I could volunteer countless hours at the school.  A win-win situation for all of us.


Or so I thought.


The spring semester of that school year, I was doing a Beth Moore Bible study.  I don’t even recall which study it was, but I recall clearly how God kept bringing me to the thought of homeschooling.  “WHAT?”, I would ask God.  “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”, I would plead.  I So. Did. Not. Want. To. Homeschool.


For fear that I might speak this idea into being, I refused to mention it to anyone.  I thought I’d just tuck that thought away, bury it, so it would never come true. 


But God had different plans.  I began to dream about homeschooling, almost every single night, but I still didn’t mention it to anyone.  I still didn’t want this idea to come true.  I still ignored the ways God was trying to get me to understand what His will was for my life, for that season.  I didn’t “discuss” this idea with God.  I simply ignored it.


Then, one day completely out of the blue, our oldest son (age 6 at the time) asked, “Mom, will you homeschool me?”




I seriously choked, then blew my water all over the windshield of the vehicle I was driving.  Then I argued with Parker!  I drilled him with questions like:

  • Who told you to ask me that?
  • How do you even know what homeschooling is?
  • Do you have any idea how horrible that would be?
  • Why in the world would you ever want to be homeschooled?
  • Do you even know anyone who is homeschooled?


Yep, I grilled him to more than a char. 


And then I told him no, I would not homeschool him!!!


So then I was getting really frustrated with God.  How dare He bring my child into this one-way conversation?!?!  Nope, I was having no part of it.


Then I received a book in the mail that I DID NOT ORDER!!!  It was entitled, So, You’re Thinking about Homeschooling? by Lisa Welch.  I just about fell over when I saw this.  Who in the world sent this book to me?!?!  Why, oh why, oh why?!?!


I showed it to my husband and scoffed at the idea.  Then we sat and discussed how I felt like God was putting this insane idea into my head.  We both decided that we would “research” homeschooling and prepare ourselves better while our children attended private school another year.  Then, if we felt ready and felt like God was still nudging us to do this, we’d dive in head first.


Yeah, right.


In an effort to begin researching homeschooling, I attended a local homeschool convention.  The first session I attended was led by Steve and Teri Maxwell of Titus 2 Ministries.  I remember thinking how this was so not for me.


Then, right smack dab in the middle of that session, Teri put a transparency up on the big screen that read something like, “If you are thinking about homeschooling, but you’ve decided that you’ll “research” for a year while you send your children to the local private Christian school down the street, you are DISOBEYING God.”


I still get chills when I recall that moment.


I kid you not, that really happened, I have witnesses!  (Nancy, if you’re reading this, you can vouch for me!!!) 


I went home and shared with my husband what had occurred at this conference.  We prayed together and decided we should obey God because that would be better than enduring the punishment we might incur if we chose to disobey God!


…to be continued

Monday, September 10, 2012

Oh, Praise Him!

Conner is home from the hospital and doing well.  We believe his immune system is compromised right now, making him more susceptible to illness.  With the start of school, and thus more exposure to germs, it will probably take his immune system some time to build up antibodies and be able to fight off some of the many cooties he’ll undoubtedly be exposed to over time.  We just praise God for His healing—and the awesome care Conner always receives at Dell Children’s Hospital!!!


Conner and Cooper’s teacher emailed me some precious pictures of the boys during their first two weeks of school.  (Conner has already missed 4 out of his 8 days of school…ugh!)  The boys are being loved on by everyone who crosses their paths.  They’re still undergoing assessments so we can get their IEP’s (Individualized Educational Plans) in place, but in the meantime, they’re adjusting well to their new routine.  God has provided abundantly, right down to the boys’ awesome bus driver and aide.  (The boys’ bus driver took our family photos years ago…small world!!!)  God is always weaving such a beautiful tapestry, even when we have no idea what He’s up to.  The intricacy of every detail He plans, knitting relationships years prior, overwhelms me. We can get so lost in the intricate “mess” on the backside of the tapestry that we forget there’s a beautiful front side—oh how glorious the day will be when the front side is fully revealed.  If we have to name the tapestry, I’m surely going to call it heaven. 

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Often times, people will tell us that we’re saints, or they’ll praise us for “what we’re doing for these children”.  I rarely know how to respond to that for a variety of reasons, but my main thought is that this is not about us.  We should never be praised for “what we’re doing”; we should praise GOD for what He’s doing.  We are just average, ordinary people, like everyone else, and, believe me, we’re not worthy of praise in any way.  We fall short every single time, but our Father always hits the mark.

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Regarding sainthood, I believe that all of us who belong to Jesus Christ are saints, not because of our works, but because we are sanctified by His blood.  We are either a lost sinner or a saved saint.  Sinners become saints when we put our trust in Jesus Christ and become saved, being set apart (sanctified) from sin and the lost world.  We (all believers) are saints because we belong to God, not as a small group of believers who do good works, but as ALL believers who are saved by the blood of our Lamb.  Being sanctified means we belong to God, and ALL of us, as believers, would have been called saints in biblical times.  We just use the term ‘saint’ in our day differently than the term was originally intended.  So, yes, we technically are saints because we belong to our Father, but not because of anything we do here on earth. 

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Due to today’s connotation of the word “saint”, my skin crawls a little when someone tells us we’re saints.  As I explained in the above paragraph, technically, by the original definition of what a saint is, yes, we are saints by the grace and blood of Jesus, but SERVANTS is what we really are.  We serve a mighty God who loves each of us dearly.  We truly are no different than any other believer.  We are all servants, we all serve Him differently, in whatever way He asks of us.  It is our joy and pleasure to serve our Father, and it just so happens that having a large family with lots of special needs kiddos is the way He’s asked us to serve Him.  For me, I cannot think of anything more glorious, but for you, He might call you to do something completely different.  If we’re believers, we might be saints by default, but servants is the title we should strive for.  How will you serve Him today?  Don’t limit what He can do by disobeying what He’s calling you to.  Obey and watch Him work.  It’s a glorious thing to witness, especially when there’s absolutely no way we could do it on our own—that truly gives Him ALL the glory.


Some say they could never do what we do, but I beg to differ.  If you are a believer, if you love the same God we love, if you are His servant, you will WANT to do whatever it is He calls you to.  Now, you might be begging that He doesn’t call you to care for lots of kiddos, but if He does, He WILL equip you.  To say that you could never do something is to put God in a box.  Scripture tells us that with God, all things are possible.  You either believe His Word as Truth or you don’t.  Don’t think for a second that you can’t do this or that—IF God calls you to it, He will see you through it.


I can’t imagine our life any differently.  I feel so very blessed that this is the ministry God has called us to.  Children are truly a blessing of the Lord, a reward from Him, and blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.  Blessed.  There’s no better way to describe our lives.  The richness we receive from each and every treasure God has chosen to bless us with is simply indescribable.  To see our children in relationship with one another, regardless of ability, is one of the greatest blessings we will ever receive.  Watching Kiefer try to get Cooper to talk, watching Selah reprimand Conner for stimming (self-stimulating), watching Ella mother all her little chicks (her younger siblings), watching our older kids doing physical, occupational, and speech therapy with many of our younger children, encouraging them to reach beyond their current ability, watching each member come together as a whole, a team united by love, well, it’s heaven on earth.  To see children of different skin color, speaking different languages, from different lands, all playing together, laughing together, growing together, learning together, and loving together--it’s truly a glimpse of paradise. 


I can only imagine what heaven will be like one day, but for now, I praise our Father for blessing us with these glimpses of heaven on earth.  There are so many lessons to be learned here on earth, but there is truly no greater joy than to hear my children walk in truth, loving others the way He’s demonstrated:  unconditionally, wholeheartedly, selflessly, sacrificially.  This is not something *we* should be praised for, this is what He is worthy to be praised for.  And whatever it is that He calls you to do, obey Him, praise Him, and trust that He will enable you to do what you might consider impossible.  He is faithful and worthy of your obedience and your praise.  Remember, God takes ordinary people and equips them to do extraordinary tasks for His glory.  It doesn’t take anything special, just a willing spirit and a heart for Him.  He takes care of the rest.  Oh, praise Him!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Headin' Home!

Guess who's bustin' out of the hospital?!?! Conner's on his way home!!! Grateful for His new mercies on this morning. Yeehaw, headin' bak to the ranch. Thanks for praying!

Conner’s Still in the Hospital

Counting it all joy.  God knows I need more and more practice at living this out.  His plans are far greater than anything I can fathom.  While I might find it inconvenient to leave 10 family members behind while I rush out the door to drive an hour to the ER as my son suffers with a fever of 104, which rises to 105 while in the ER, with meds already in his system, our Father knows what He’s doing.  My eyes are blind to His greater plan.  I simply live moment by moment, trusting Him wholeheartedly, regardless of what the day by day looks like.


I’ve had many children with fevers of 104 and higher, but none of them have ever had Salmonella sepsis (blood infection).  I’ve also never had a doctor tell me to take my child straight to the ER due to a 104 fever, so Conner’s case is new for me.  But I know God never makes mistakes, and His plans are always better than mine.


I had to laugh on the day I wrote a blog post about balancing.  Someone contacted me and said something about how I’d be able to get things balanced much more easily if I could stay out of the hospital!  So true, so true, but it reminded me that many of the things I’d like to accomplish have no eternal purpose.  God has eternal purpose with many of these unexpected hospitalizations.  Believe it or not, many of these “inconveniences” are how God uses the testimony He’s written for our family to open other people’s eyes to the plight of the orphan.  Conner steals the heart of just about every person who provides care for him while he’s hospitalized.  This little non-verbal child can say more with his sweet face and expressive eyes than many of us can with words!   That, my friends, has eternal purpose, while organizing my home doesn’t really have everlasting value.  Not to say that organization and cleanliness aren’t important, as I believe they are, it’s just His plan trumps my desire, and His plan always has a greater value, usually with eternal significance, while my plans usually just involve the here and now.


Conner is doing much better than expected.  So far, none of the cultures (stool and blood) are indicative of Salmonella or any other bacteria, which is fantastic.  Conner’s labs indicate this is simply a viral infection that presented with extremely high fever.  Conner’s been fever-free for more than 24 hours, with no medications needed to control temp.  He has horrendous diarrhea, a yucky wet cough, and lots of congestion.  Conner’s diarrhea is no longer bloody, just really watery stools that occur really often.  He vomited Thursday night, but that’s probably just part of the virus.


As long as he continues to move in the right direction, and none of his labs and/or cultures show anything concerning, Conner should be able to go home sometime Friday.  Thank you so much for praying—hopefully I’ll have a post soon that says Conner’s mission in the hospital has been accomplished and he’s on his way home!!!


PS  You know you’ve had too many hospital stays when your laptop has multiple room numbers stored in its memory when logging in to the hospital’s wireless Internet.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Conner’s Back in the Hospital


I went to have lunch with Conner and Cooper in their classroom Wednesday.  When I arrived, Conner looked like he was feeling miserable.  (He was fine when he went to school Wednesday morning.)  The aide said he fell asleep in her arms mid-morning, and he had two huge blow-out diarrhea diapers that morning.  The nurse took Conner’s temperature, but it was only 100. 


I fed both boys their lunch, and Conner seemed to perk up while he was eating.  Soon thereafter, he was feeling warmer and just looked ill, so his teacher helped me take him back to the nurse for another temp reading.  This time he had 100.8, but he still felt much warmer than that.  I checked him out of school early, then went to our local pharmacy and purchased a new rectal thermometer.  Once I got Conner home, I took his temp and it was 104.4!!!


I called Conner’s infectious disease doctor and reported to the nurse about this fever spike and diarrhea episode.  The nurse paged the doctor, then returned my call immediately to give me orders to take Conner to Dell Children’s Hospital’s ER.  On the way to the ER, Conner cried and moaned the same way he did when he had Salmonella.


When we got to the ER, Conner’s very first American nurse met us at registration and swooped Conner into a room immediately.  (We LOVE this nurse!)  While in the ER, Conner spiked a fever of 105, and that was with Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen in his system.  Nothing seemed to take it down, so after an hour of the administration of Tylenol (in addition to Motrin several hours prior), the ER doctor instructed us to keep cold washrags on Conner.  Eventually Conner’s fever broke and came down to 101.


The PICC team worked hard to get an IV into Conner, but after 4 failed attempt (well, 1 worked initially for a blood draw, but infiltrated within minutes of Conner’s fluid bolus being connected), we decided to call it quits.  Poor guy, his veins are like dental floss.  Even under ultrasound, it’s nearly impossible to get an IV in. 


Conner’s infectious disease doctor requested Conner be admitted for 24 hour observation, even though his labs looked acceptable.  She was concerned that since Conner became so life-threatening ill just a few weeks ago, that she wasn’t comfortable with his going home—at least not until the initial blood cultures were grown.  I agreed.


A few hours after Conner got settled on the floor, he had two more blow-out diarrhea diapers, and the last one with filled with blood and mucus, which was very similar in consistency and scent (YUCK!) to his Salmonella diapers.  Infectious disease said they’ve seen a few cases where the IV antibiotic didn’t completely kill the Salmonella bacteria, so once the antibiotic was completely out of the system, the Salmonella returned.  We won’t know until stool and blood cultures grow whether or not it’s Salmonella again.


Conner’s had a few bouts of crying and moaning and feeling completely miserable, but it’s not as severe as it was the last time he was admitted.  He spiked another fever late Wednesday night, and he continued to have an extremely high heart rate (at 200 or higher much of the time…should be around 80-100ish).  With his tachycardia and diarrhea, the floor doctor decided Conner really needed IV fluids to replace lost stool fluids and hydrate Conner to try to reduce his tachycardia.  An anesthesiologist was able to get Conner’s IV on the first stick, in his foot.  Hopefully it won’t infiltrate!


We should know a little more after the first round of cultures (blood and stool) are back—hopefully by Thursday afternoon.  Conner also has a cough and a slightly runny nose, so maybe this fever/illness is totally unrelated to the Salmonella episode.  Please pray that this illness will be healed quickly and Conner (and me) will get to return home SOON.  This hospital is our second home, unfortunately, it’s not a vacation home, there’s always severe illness and tears, and it separates us from family.  We don’t love any of that—we love home and family!!!


I’ll update again once we have more answers.  Thanks so much for your prayers and support!

Another ER visit

I'm taking Conner to Dell Children's ER with 104.4 fever per orders from his infectious disease doctor. Please pray against a return of salmonella in his blood, which I was told is a possibility. :-(

Sent from Lorraine's iPhone

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Birthday, Matt!

How do I love thee?


Let me count the ways…


For the 11 precious treasures whom you love wholeheartedly and unconditionally.


For being the head of our household and leading us in prayer and devotion and worship and Bible studies.


For being an awesome father to the fatherless. 


For your devotion in sickness and in health.


For joyfully walking alongside others in need.


For modeling what love really means.


Don’t be shocked or surprised that I’m not able to adequately list ALL the ways we love you, Big Daddy!  There are over 147 million ways we love you, but your compassionate heart and selfless spirit stand out above the rest.  Your 42 years on this earth have blessed more people than we could possibly count.  Thank you for being you.  We love you passionately and wish you a blessed 42nd birthday!

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