Saturday, September 23, 2017

He Turned Six!!!

I know this sounds amazing but Billy just turned six!  It seems like just a short while ago that he and his brother came into our home as foster children.  He was the older of the siblings at 2 years old and his brother was one.
What a journey we have been on with these two.  He and his brother had some of the toughest behaviors we have dealt with.  The neglect and abuse they went through in their short lives, before coming here, was intense and had horrible repercussions that we still deal with and try to help them heal from today.  They were both exposed in the womb to drugs and had meth and pot smoked around them till they came into care.  We pray fervently over all our children, provide stability, give them love and meet their needs.  We give them structure, boundaries and at times discipline.  Ultimately, it takes a miracle from God and children wanting to make a change, for them to heal and more forward.  Looking back at what they were like when they came and seeing them are different children.  Amazing progress has been made but some issues still remain and are taking time, maturity and God, to help them heal and break away from.
Billy, very often has been one tough child to take care.
His behaviors have been intense and can be just as challenging as Elizabeth's at times.  He did not know how to play with toys when he came.  He would either use them as weapons, try to break them by pounding them, jumping on them, peeling stickers off them and wedging them in places trying to get them stuck. 
He was violent and tried to hurt other children and lashed out at adults.  He peed on everything.  I mean, if I put him in time out, he would take off his diaper and pee on all that could be reached all around.  If he was in bed...same thing.  Anytime our focus was off of him, he would either pee on something or spit on everything.  He would spit puddles on the floor where ever he was or spit on his hands and spread it everywhere to play with it. 
He did not know how to eat.  He had been on a bottle his whole life, so had real issues with food.  It took him and his brother many months of feeding therapy to learn to self feed, chew and eat all textures of food.  He pulled his hair out, poked his eyes, sucked on his skin to bring the blood to the surface making a bruise. 
He would pull strings out of his socks, clothing and chew holes in his cloths because he had been tied in a car seat his whole life and only had his body and the things he could reach to play with and mess with.
He still stretches out all his clothing by pulling on them all day long as a nervous habit.  Some of these behaviors are gone and some still remain and we are working on them.
Billy is extremely smart and does everything at full speed, not slowing down to think of the repercussions of his actions.  Some people would call him hyper. 
He's only still when sleeping or really focused on learning.  Even when he eats, watches a show or is riding in a vehicle he is not still, bless his heart. 
He is usually rocking, bouncing or changing positions by getting up on his knees and then back to his bottom many times every minute.
I share just some of his issues with you, to let you know the reality and seriousness, the struggles and challenges he has had to live through and with, in his short life.  We try not to focus on these issues in our children.  If we did, it would be very counterproductive.
We would feel over whelmed and frustrated all the time with a child.  Yes, I do get over whelmed and frustrated at times but it is short lived.  If I just step back and look at his past life, before living here and what he went through and the progress he has made, no matter how small or large in an area, it is so much easier to find joy and compassion.
So much easier to handle a behavior knowing that it is not him but a problem from his formative 2 years before coming here.
The Billy I love so dearly and cherish is kind hearted and tender deep inside.  He shows sweet acts of kindness.  If someone gets hurt he gets very upset and asks if they are ok now and tries to comfort someone if they are crying.  He prays the most beautiful heartfelt prayers.
I hear him asking God to help him with his behaviors that he struggles with.  I love to teach this child.  He loves to learn and never stops talking or asking questions...good educational questions... ALL DAY LONG...non-stop.   :) 
He is very bonded to me and everyone in our whole family.  He can now play with some of the other children if supervised.
He now has a good appetite, feeds himself and eats all his food in an appropriate amount of time.   He plays with toys properly for about 30 minutes before getting bored and starting to go back to his old habits. 
He cracks me up with his sense of humor, silliness and some of the things he tries to do.  Even though his behaviors are hard and we have some very hard days I love him dearly. 
I still have trouble thinking he has been with us two thirds of his lifetime and that he is now six years old.  He wanted a ninja turtle cake from his aunt.  He has never seen the show but has a few of the little action figures he plays with, from mega block sets he received.  Aunt "S" did an excellent job making a happy ninja turtle for him.  Thank you Aunt "S"!

My dear, sweet, bouncy, Billy.  You, my young man, are a diamond in the ruff and it is a privilege that God has trusted us to raise you and help you reach your fullest potential.  It has been an honor to watch the miracle of you unfold and see you conquer your issues, replacing them with positive ones.  God is so good and I know you are going to do great things and go so far in life, for the Lord!  May God always lead and guide you and may you always follow His lead.

Psalm 144:12

12 That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:

Love Dad, mom, Stephen, Antonio, William, Carolyn, Zeke, Elizabeth, Timothy, Kinsley and Anna-Kate. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Happy Anniversary Husband!!

I thank God daily for my husband.  Under God he is the greatest love of my life.  I have been blessed beyond measure by God, to have him be my leader, head and covering.  It is an honor to serve him in every way and in return, he is tender, patience and kind with me, even though I can really be a handful.  I know I don't write much about him.  I usually focus on our family, children and Gods hand on our life but today I want to share from my heart about Tim.  It is our 22nd wedding anniversary and as I reflect on those 22 years and the years before having him in my life and what they were like...all I can say is I am humbled to the core, to be married to him. 
Tim and I are opposites in so many ways.  He is steady, calm, quiet, low key, and the Fruit of the Spirit naturally flows from him without much effort.  I am rarely still, have to talk about everything to feel connected and ok with life, have to work at holding my tongue and thinking before I speak, hyper, and have to work at having the fruit of the spirit flow thru me.  He likes to pray about things completely and think things thru before doing anything...I am a pray about it but then jump in and do it and we will figure it out as we go along kind of person.  He has great patience with me, the children and life.  He works very long, hard, hours at work all day and is a hands on dad till bedtime. 
He treats me like I am a treasure to him and is in tune with me and how I am feeling and doing.  He jumps in to give assistance if he sees me needing help with the children or our home.  He notices when I need to get away and have a break and finds ways to provide that for me, often it being a surprise day out with just him for the day.  He notices if I am struggling, happy or sad.  He tries to alleviate stress, bring me joy, help me in what ever emotionally I am going thru and tries his best to support me in all I do.  He is incredibly positive about things, even to the point of frustrating me if I want to be grumpy about something.
He is the spiritual leader of our home.  He reads his Bible, prays and actively leads and teaches his family in the Lord.  He has bible study with the children every Sabbath. 
He tries to find at least one common interest to enjoy spending time with and doing with each child.

There is no other man on this earth I would rather be with.  I am beyond blessed and know it.  I am so very grateful.
Happy Anniversary my husband.  May God bless you in all you do.  May I be a good wife to you meeting your needs before you even know you need them met.  May I be that virtuous woman and helpmate to you in every area, every way.  You are loved and cherished by me and our whole family!

Ephesians 5:25-30

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Elizabeths Heart Cath

Today's post is a bit medical, so if you are sensitive to such things, you might want to skip it.  :)
Elizabeth and her life are a miracle on so many levels.  She was born with Truncus Arteriosis.  That basically means a three chamber heart, with one trunk of an artery coming off of the third chamber, that splits later .  She was and continues to be, our child that is the most medically fragile.   You can read about her story here.

We were told that if she was born several years earlier, there was no way to fix her heart. The surgery that was available at the time of her birth, could fix it but...she would need to have major heart surgery every four or five years for the rest of her life.  I her body temp down... open her chest, break all her ribs, put her on a heart machine, stop her heart, fix it and put her all back together surgery.  Very serious and scary surgery for us all.  When she was born, they put in a wall to divide the bottom single chamber and used a cadaver artery, to make a conduit from the new chamber to the proper artery.  We all have valves to prevent back washing, she does not in that portion of her heart,  so her heart sounds like a washing machine and she fatigues easily.

The surgery was preformed the day she was born, to save her life.  It held till she was four and then she started having very high heart pressures and constricting of the non-living tissue, the conduit.  She was on oxygen and lasix daily as she was having congestive heart failure.  We took her in for a heart cath, to try to put in a stint to hold open the collapsing conduit.  It would buy her some time before needing to do major surgery to replace the whole thing.  When they went in to do it, her leg arteries had collapsed so they used groin arteries to gain access.  They could not get the stint into the conduit to place it.  We were so upset and sad and prayed hard.  They were going to do the surgery the next day.  That night a visiting Dr. from another country, came in to us and said that he would love our permission to try to place the stint.  He felt very confident that he could get it placed.  So we gave our consent.  The next day we had everyone we knew praying hard and praise God the stint was placed!  It bought her one more year before she needed the much dreaded major heart surgery. 

It was very hard to see our little girl go thru such a difficult surgery but glory to God she did amazing.  They only let one person at a time back into cardiac ICU and so Tim went back first.  He came out smiling and said everything was going to be fine.  He said he touched her little foot as it was the only thing not hooked up to anything and for the first time in years it was warm and had good color.  She felt so good after the surgery, it was hard to keep her still like they wanted us to, for the recovery peroid.  Also, glory to God, she no longer needed oxygen!

That surgery was supposed to last 3-5 years and praise be to God, she has not needed another since!  She is now 14.  We have to go to the cardiac doctor every six months for a EKG and Echo Cardiogram to check for enlarging and heart pressures and such.  Every six months the doctor would say all looked good and nothing had changed much and we could go another six months.  About four years ago, he warned us that anytime we could come in and things could have drastically changed and we would need to do something, as her last surgery was so long ago.  Praise God, we kept getting the go ahead to see him in six months, until last visit.  It was out of the blue and I was not prepared for it.  It took the Dr. forever to come in to talk to us after the EKG and Echo were completed.  A nurse came in and asked to take her back for a second Echo...  He finally came in and was not his happy jovial self.  He listened and felt pulses all over her body.  I finally could take it no longer and asked what he was thinking and he said that we would not know till she had a heart cath to check the pressures in her heart.  That things were not the same and he suspected she might need to have a stint placed, so a heart cath was scheduled.

Tim took her to Atlanta (to the children's hospital) the day of the heart cath and I stayed home with all the other children.  Elizabeth was nervous as she is older now and understands all that is going on.  I told her that I was staying home and she would be home tomorrow but if anything changed so that she needed surgery, I would find sitters and be there as soon as I could get there.

Tim called regularly and kept me updated.  They took her back and had trouble again getting up to her heart thru her leg arteries, so had to use two places on either side of her groin again.  Her heart pressure was not good, it was 90.  They came out and asked Tim's permission to place a newish kind of stint, that had a valve in it, so she would finally have a valve in that chamber.  They have had very good results with this stint/valve and they last about five years, so Tim said yes.  They were gone a while and came out and said they were having issues with the conduit collapsing, so they would need to place a stint first.  They placed a stint but then the next area collapsed.  Tim called and said they were going to place another stint.  Same thing again.  Over four hours later and much work later, they ended up placing three regular stints plus the extra one with the valve in it.  I finally got a call that it was done and she was in recovery.  With all the work they did her heart pressure was now 30!   Then a short while later I got a call that they could not stop the bleeding from the entry sites.  They have to give blood thinners during the procedure to keep down the risk of clotting and they also did way more work thru the arteries than they first thought they would. I texted everyone I could think of to pray and my in-laws offered to come stay with the children if I needed to go down.  Glory to God after a few hours I got a call all was well and it had finally stopped. 

I give God glory, honor and praise for holding Elizabeth in his mighty hand her whole life.  For having such tender loving care over her and helping all to go so well with this procedure.  That even though she needed a lot done, they were able to do it and she didnt have to have the whole major surgery done.  With all the work done, they say it should last her about five years.  I am just so overjoyed and grateful. 

Her recovery has been good physically.  She is feeling well and healing.  Behaviorally, she is having some of the hardest days we have seen.  She is always terrible after a surgery or procedure and it takes her a while to get herself back under control.  She gets very sassy, violent and says horrible things to us all.  I don't know if it is because of the pressure of knowing the severity of it all?  If the anesthesia does something to her chemically?..  Or maybe she knows my punishments will not be as hard because she is recovering?  Either way, I ask that you rejoice with us in her good recovery and God helping her so much physically...and that you be in prayer for us that her out of control behaviors will settle down and she will have some self control.

Romans 3:20-24

20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

God, as always, has shown us His mercy, grace, power and might, His plan and abounding love.  May He reviel these precious truths to you as you live and grow in Him.