Thursday, December 29, 2016

Getting To Know Jude 🎼

Does anyone else hear Julie Andrews singing "Getting to Know You" right now? No? Just me then? Ok. In an effort to catch everyone up, I decided to write about things that Judah loves. Or does not love. What makes him tick. And what keeps us laughing. I have no idea how many installments there will actually be. Or in what order they'll show up in. I can promise, though, that they'll be entertaining, inspiring, and even challenging. Because Judah is. 



Judah's favorite book is his Bible. Hands down. No contest. Every time. In July he was given his very first "real" Bible from Lindsay, one of our Kids Life directors at church. 
**Also something to know about Judah: He loooves church. The people, the music, his friends; but most specifically Kids Life. Every Sunday morning our pastor - or whomever is teaching - calls the kids down to the front row for their own introduction to what they'll be learning in Kids Life that day. Most mornings Judah can't even wait for the invite to the front. He knows it's coming. He's almost always out of his seat already - sometimes even headed out to the aisle...or down the aisle - and when he finally hears, "...kids come to the front" he cheers and claps, or exclaims and claps, or squeals and claps. There are several versions of his elation. Once in front, there are always questions for the kids to answer; and regardless of the question...sometimes before the entire question is even asked...there's Judah, front and center, waving his hand in the air, practically bouncing right out of his seat, like the only thing he's ever wanted to do in life is answer THAT question! I'm always a little nervous when he gets called on, which is a lot. Who doesn't want to hear from the most enthusiastic kid in the room? I just never know what he might say. There is always some kind of hesitation on his part. He's DYING to answer, but when he FINALLY gets called on, he suddenly doesn't know what to say. Or something. Sometimes it sounds like this: "Um...um...ummm...aaahh...I forgot." More often it's, "Um...um...ummm...aaahh..._____" fill in the blank with something truly adorable and endearing and right. Thanks to all that Bible reading he does in his new favorite book, he can pretty much answer any Bible story question correctly. OR any question from the previous week, because he has a memory like...something that has a stellar memory. His ability to remember things never ceases to amaze me. Once the kids are dismissed, they all head off in a line to go to Kids Life. And there's Judah. The only one in the whole crew aged 5-11 bounding and skipping and clapping along the way.**
He has taken that Bible everywhere! It lived in his backpack for a little while, because he insisted on having it at school with him. It's been on all kinds of errands. He carries it around the house, and then forgets where he leaves it. "Mom, where's my Bible?" is a pretty common question around here. Before that dear Book was even 6 months old I had to repair the binding and cover with book tape. It had come off completely. A good problem to have I'd say, given the fact that the "wear and tear" had come from so much love and affection. 

He loves to page through His Bible, and look at the different sidebars and text boxes filled with all kinds of interesting information. But he also loves to sit and read it. Just read it. He'll find a passage that suits his fancy at the moment (how he decides I have NO idea) and just read. Sometimes aloud, which is my absolute favorite. There is nothing more precious than listening to Judah's sweet voice - his expression and tone - as he reads God's Word. 

I can always tell when Judah's been reading, whether I've actually seen him do it or not, because of the questions he'll randomly ask me. 
"Mom, who was Moses again?"
"Mom, how old is Jesus?"
"Mom, what's a commandment?"
"Mom, why did Jesus have to die on the cross?"
"Mom, were Cain and Abel brothers?"

Then there were the few weeks he was completely enamored with the story of Adam and Eve. He thought it was hilarious that they were naked. Once he finally understood that they were married ("like you and Dad, Mom!") I heard a lot of, "Mom, Adam and Eve were married, and Eve became pregnant!" I think his fascination with Eve being pregnant goes back to his total and complete love of babies. A "Getting to Know" post for another time. 

I have to be honest. I don't understand Judah's fascination with his Bible. He esteems that Book more highly than any other book. And he has A LOT. He's 7. What 7 year old does that? Somehow he knows it's special. He pores over it. And I'm actually a little jealous. To have that kind of wonder, enthusiasm, and childish delight for my Bible. That would be...life-changing.

I can't begin to guess what goes on in Judah's head - or heart - when he reads his favorite book. I have no idea what he actually understands, or to what degree he grasps the Truths he reads there. I do, however, believe absolutely that his love for that Book is a gift. God gave that to him, and I believe that He's using it in ways I don't see yet. I don't know what salvation Truth Judah is able to comprehend, but I know he has some kind of relationship with Jesus through his Bible. I love to think about how God might use this someday. Or what he might whisper to Judah's heart as he reads now.

Judah also has a thing for head gear. He wore this fedora to church on several occasions. He melts my heart.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Welcome, Friend

3 months ago I sat down and started a post. Finally. And then...here we are 3 months later, trying to pick up where I left off. Story of my life. Since my last post I've learned something about myself. I am an all or nothing kind of person, and I don't do multiple things at a time well. 3 weeks after my last post I was offered a job at my kids' elementary school as a paraprofessional. No way could I turn it down. God was handing me an opportunity to invest in and impact kids and parents! I'm really good at my job. And God has done really amazing things since putting me there! But, I haven't written in over 2 years. So there's that.

Writing is very important to me. God uses it to teach and change my heart. It's one of the ways I love to worship. I have missed it. A lot. I know it's something I'm supposed to do, because it makes me love Jesus more, and He uses it for more than just me.

Today Jared gave me a Chromebook for Christmas. I'm ridiculously excited about it, because it makes writing so accessible! I've been without a good computer and my iPad doesn't have a keyboard. It's been easy to make excuses...but no more!

I feel a sense of relief sitting here writing. Like an old friend came to stay. I love it. I'll do my best to catch everyone up on Judah. 2+ years will be hard to cover, but pictures are worth a thousand words, so I'll try to include plenty.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

From the 4th Floor...BIG news!

After a long night with a couple very unpleasant "happenings" for my sweet boy, the big news this morning is that Judah has finally starting things moving along on his own! Just in the nick of time. He had about 10 minutes left before they were going to repeat a procedure they did last night. Close call. He's not completely out of the woods yet, but he should be on his way. The Urology Fellow told us that as soon as he was able to go on his own, we'd be able to go home...but, of course, it's not quite that simple. They're going to make us wait around for a bit...for observation...just to make sure...you know. While I appreciate their thoroughness, Judah and I are tired! He keeps asking when he can go home. 

Thank you to each one of you who has sent or brought Judah little surprises. It has made his stay so much easier, and totally helps now as we wait! 

He had an awesome surprise this morning: the Pet Therapy dogs came to see him! Oh my goodness, he was SO excited! I haven't seen him that animated since Monday morning. His face says it all! 
Roxie & Olive to the rescue! Judah thinks that Ollie should come to the hospital too. Of course.



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

From the 4th Floor...Small Setback

Well, we're still here. Doctors have this thing about being able to "void" after surgery/epidural/catheter, and Judah hasn't yet for whatever reason, so we are here for the night. We fully anticipate being able to go home tomorrow morning, barring some unforseen complication or inability to..."void". I'm disappointed - I had gotten used to the idea of saying goodnight to Jared and the kids at home - but I know we'll get there sooner than later. And if there is something else going on that we just don't know about yet, well then, I'd rather be here than at home. 

So, goodnight from 4. 

Psalm 18:1-2
I love you, LORD; you are my strength.
The LORD is my rock,my fortress, and my savior; 
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.


From the 4th Floor...Small Victories

I decided to look at the book of Jude. God captivated my heart in the second half of the very first verse. 

"I am writing to you all who have been called by God the Father, who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ. 2 May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love." 

God knows my need for feeling safe and secure. Not only does this verse tell me that I am loved and I am safe; but it reminds me that only HE can satisfy. Regardless of what the next week of recovery looks like for Judah, God's Truth stands, and we are safe & secure, cared for by a gentle, intimate God, and His way is the best way. Again, I'm reminded to ask Him to allow into our lives (including Judah's) those things that will draw us into deeper intimacy with Him and make us more like Him! 

Jude 25
"All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen."

As we speak, Judah is sitting in bed, completely unplugged! The epidural is gone, the monitors are gone, the IV fluids are gone! The next few hours will show us how ready he is to go home. For now, with a belly full of macaroni and cheese, he's ready for a nap;)


From the 4th Floor...Small Miracles

It's been truly amazing to watch Judah's initial recovery from this surgery. We came into this with a "hope for the best, prepare for the worst" kind of mentality. I think over the years I've developed somewhat of a pessimistic attitude as I come into situations like this...mostly so that I don't experience disappointment or frustration like I have during past hospital stays. But then, when Judah seems to come through with flying colors, I wonder if, in my heart, I've shortchanged God and really just lacked faith. I don't know. I guess I just don't know how to be or what to think or how to prepare sometimes. Anyway, like I said, this super kid has done extraordinarily well! As of this morning, his urology and anesthesiology teams couldn't be more pleased with his progress! They think he's ready to transition from the epidural to an oral medication for pain management. Long story short, at 11:00 he's receiving an oral dose of the new med, and 30 min. later they plan on pulling the epidural. Then we watch him for another 3 1/2 hours. This med has some potential side effects, so we need to see how he handles that. There are alternatives in place should he have any problems. If he tolerates the new med well, and his pain is under control, then the catheter and the drainage tube can come out. If all of that goes well - which is what they expect - he could actually go home later today! My mind is still reeling at the possibility. This is so outside the realm of possibilities that we were given!

After asking questions, talking through different scenarios, seeking out trusted advice, and praying together, we've decided to pursue these steps that will hopefully get him home today. I would be lying if I said I was 1000% confident that this is the right thing to do and that I have zero concerns about it. I'm scared. I'm scared that he'll be in a lot of pain. I'm scared to take him home with this major abdominal incision that's still so new. (I'm sure you mamas out there that have had cesarians can relate.) I'm scared of getting behind the pain, and then having to play catch up while he's the one that suffers. I'm concerned about the potential side effects of a new med. And how effective the alternatives might be, or what side effects they might carry. Obviously I'm not done having conversations with God about my own trust issues here. Intellectually I absolutely believe that He is at work, He is Judah's Healer, He is completely trustworthy and completely ENOUGH for Judah, and He is in control. But anytime we face an unknown with Judah my Mama Bear goes into hyperdrive and I have a hard time getting what I know in my head to completely saturate my heart. You'd think after 6 years I would be a little better at this. Well, maybe I am. But I'm certainly not as far along in this part of my faith journey as I would like to be. Makes me glad that God doesn't let me stay the same.

So, as I pursue God and His Truth this morning, I will also be thanking Him for all of your prayers for Judah's continued healing and wisdom for us. Seriously, I am SO THANKFUL that we don't walk this road alone! Our support system is ridiculous! I often "brag" about our church family and the incredibly unique community we experience with them, as well as the amazingly supportive community of people I've found through my new job...not to mention our YFC community. We're surrounded! 

Haha! Jared just said he can't wait to see what I'm writing. This was supposed to be a quick update! Tell that to my fingers;) It feels so good to be writing again.

Judah finally got his visit from Trevor AND Ariel - bonus! Needless to say, he is one happy camper.





Tuesday, March 17, 2015

From the 4th Floor III

It's hard to believe that our 1st full day up here is almost over already! It's been a restful day for Judah, but also a busy one! He started his day with lovins from Daddy, his siblings and grandparents; and we enjoyed visits from  Muk, and Mrs. Nebel! I love watching other people love my kids. It's a gift that I don't ever want to take for granted. 

He's been comfortable throughout the day, but we had a glimpse of what the pain could look like when he coughed a couple times this afternoon. He instantly grimaced and cried out, holding his tummy. It was sad to see him hurt, and again made me thankful that he's here being so well cared for. His team here doesn't want him hurting either, and I so appreciate that. 

Things are looking good for him so far. No signs of fever, good output, decreasing drainage, and increasing thirst and appetite. This morning Dr. D. said if he continued to progress well throughout the day today, he could possibly have a couple tubes removed tomorrow. I would love to be able to take Judah for a walk around the floor tomorrow, or even to the playroom, so getting rid of some extra baggage would be wonderful. 

Judah has been such a good sport today. He's tired, but he's had a great attitude. It's fun for me to listen to him interact with his visitors and the nurses that are in and out. He's been talking a LOT about school. He keeps saying he hopes he doesn't miss school, or he hopes he can go back to school. He's been talking to the nurses about Miss Baines, his friend C., and Math. And if I had a nickel for every time he has mentioned Trevor (my Trevor that I love, he says) coming to visit him I would be a very rich woman. Seriously! Trevor is a kid that came up through Campus Life and is now Jared's intern. He's become a part of our family over the years and all our kids adore him. But Judah has latched on to Trevor in his own "mini-groupie" kind of way. I wish I could be here tomorrow morning to see Judah's face when Trevor walks into the room. 

Tonight we had a special family supper with Granny, all together in Judah's room, and are watching a family movie. Judah is winding down again, asking for snuggles and getting sleepy. Soon I'll take the big 3 home and leave my baby here with Dad. I'm happy to go home with my other kiddos, but my heart and mind will be divided until we're home together again. 

Ruth 2:12 says, "May the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done." In context, this verse really has nothing to do with our situation; however, I absolutley love the imagery of taking refuge under the wings of Jehovah. I always talk about my nest, referring to the physical & emotional warmth, security, and comfort I find there. But this is a picture of the intimacy and tender care of our Provider. The security and comfort I find in Him is perfect and unfailing. He is my Foundation, my Rock, my Hope. So I can leave my baby here...because He is also those things for Judah...as well as the Healer and Sustainer of Judah's life. 

He was so SO happy to see his brothers this morning!

When he was finally hungry he just about ate his body weight in graham crackers!

Of course his sister couldn't wait to smother- I mean, love on her baby.

The lunch of champions! The stuff you only get to eat all together when you're in the hospital. 

Checking out some new goodies!

He colored for about 5 minutes, and then crashed. He had fun while it lasted!







Monday, March 16, 2015

From the 4th Floor I

We're up on the 4th floor, our old stomping grounds of sorts, watching Judah rest peacefully. His surgery went beautifully! I don't ever remember getting such a positive report! The dr. is extremely pleased with every aspect of the surgery, and was pleasantly surprised to be able to avoid a couple more complex aspects of the surgery. He was prepared for the worst, but the worst wasn't there! The people here know their way around pain management, so between Tylenol, an epidural and Morphine, Judah is feeling good and getting some much needed rest. The epidural comes out in a couple days, so the Tylenol will become our new best friend. My prayer is that the transition from epidural to Tylenol will be a smooth one for him. 

Today has been a good day, as weird or wrong as that might sound. Knowing that countless people are praying for your baby and you, reading emails and text messages, seeing pictures on instagram, being visited by a friend already - it's a unique experience to be at the center of all that. God is so good all the time. Being on this crazy journey is a constant reminder of that. 

Plus, I love hanging out with that red hot ginger, so I'll take as much of that as I can get, wherever I can get it. Seriously. He's hot. And he carries my stuff. And he brings me hot chocolate. And he says nice things to me. 

Anyway, thanks again to each and every one of you who has taken time to pray, or text, or message, or email, or call. And thanks to all of those I don't even know! It humbles me every time to know that people I've never even met take the time to pray for Judah and our family. 

I'll keep you all posted!


From the 4th Floor II

I've decided that it's not a bad thing to be remembered, recognized, or known within the childrens' medical field. For the longest time I've really wrestled with that. Who in the world actually wants to have that kind of "status" in a hospital or clinic or doctor's office?? For years I have looked at that as a negative, burdensome thing. Or I've made sarcastic jokes about it. Or rolled my eyes...and sighed. I don't want to do that anymore. I can't change the life that God has called us to, but I can, by God's grace, change the way I respond to it. And I can more fully embrace it. I can have a good attitude about it. I can be an encouragement to others that I come into contact with. I can use my own years of experience to come alongside someone who's new at this and help to carry their burden in whatever small way I can. I can choose to be thankful. Actually, I'm pretty sure I wrote a very similar post to this one 2 or 3 years ago. I've just lost sight of it. Lack of intentionality will get me every time.

I'm thankful that I feel comfortable when I walk through the doors of Childrens. It's not new and scary anymore. There isn't really anything unknown here. It's nice to know your way around such a huge facility. Where the sun shines during certain parts of the day. Where the best place to park is. Where the play rooms are, the cool ball track, the video games, the library, the endless supplies of stickers. 

I'm thankful to be on a first name basis with Diane in the lab. She's been drawing from Judah since birth. And when blood draws are a normal part of your life, it's good to "know someone". 

I'm thankful for Diane, who sits behind the information desk. It's always nice to see a friendly, familiar face right off the bat. And it's nice to know that she knows us, too.

I'm thankful that I know what to expect from the cafeteria. I know how much to expect to spend on a meal, I know what kinds of snacks will be good to have on hand that I can't get there, and I know how good - or not good - the food will be.

I'm thankful that I've been asked the same questions so many times, that I don't have to think about my answers too much anymore. Instead of the interaction being super clinical, it's become more conversational. And that is a much easier and more pleasant experience.

I'm thankful for all the familiar faces everywhere. Nothing is as unnerving or anxiety-producing as it might otherwise be when you're surrounded with names and faces that you recognize. 

I'm thankful for the Chinese restaurant across the street, and the nurses that let us in on their secret. That place has amazing food! For cheap.

I'm thankful for the mutual respect shared between us and nurses that has come from years of shared experience here. We know they do a great job as nurses. They know we do a great job as Judah's parents. We trust them. They trust us. We work well together.

I'm thankful for the thoughtfulness of nurses and care partners here. The white board in Judah's room says, "Welcome back Judah!" Enough said.

And these are just the tangible things that I'm thankful for! This doesn't even begin to touch the things that God has done in our hearts and lives! The people Jared & I are, the people our 4 kids are and are becoming because of our unique experiences with Judah. The ways God has used Judah to shape our hearts and lives and connect us more deeply to other peoples' pain. I can't begin to describe how thankful I am for all of these things, and for all the people that God has reached through Judah's life! And He's not done yet! But that's another post for another day.

For now, as I look at my beautiful, sleepy son, I'm just thankful. 





From the Waiting Room I

The last 2 years have been pretty quiet for Judah. No major surgeries, no major illnesses. Aside from health maintenance and minor procedures, it's been a time of huge growth and development for him. Jared & I have enjoyed every victory, no matter how small: every new discovery, every goal met, every new accomplishment...every new word or funny thing he said...every new dance move...every time he's tried to imitate his older brothers, however unsuccessfully...every moment spent in pretend play with his sister...every new day in Kindergarten...every snuggle with Ollie...we're thankful for every day that we get to experience life through his eyes, energy, enthusiasm, and love for the little things. He is one incredible kid, and we are so thankful for these last 2 years God has given him to just rest. 

Today we start another chapter. Over the last few days, as I've anticipated this surgery, I have found myself slipping back into "Dr. Mom" mode. It's kind of weird. I mean, in every appt., every minor procedure, every medical thing there is an element of Dr. Mom present. But when something this big hits I definitely find myself looking at the situation - asking questions, gathering information - from that perspective in an effort to protect my heart and my mind. 5 hours in surgery. A complex surgery. One that the dr. can't fully explain what he's going to be doing, because he has to get in there first to see just what things look like. I've sent Judah down that hallway to the OR over 20 times. I fight tears every. single. time. 

I said we start a new chapter today. We do. Judah will finally be able to start moving forward towards healthier urinary and renal function. These repairs will prevent his kidney disease from worsening for a time. This surgery is a very good thing! Within the next 3 months we should be able to get rid of a medication; and we're anticipating that within the next year or so he'll finally be ready to toilet train. All good things. A fresh start in this part of his body. 

And yet...it is hard to let go and trust. I have to remind myself so often that Judah isn't really mine. He - every one of my kids - is a gift from God Himself that I have chosen to give back to Him, trusting Him to have His good and perfect way with them, whatever that might mean. I remind myself that Judah is not in the hands of the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, or the nurses. He is in the hands of the Healer. Always. I tell Judah a lot that Jesus is always holding him, especially when Mommy or Daddy can't. It's a truth I need to hear, too. 

Funny, I wrote that and received a text just a few seconds later that included these words:
"Jesus loves little Judah with a tenderness and passion that cannot be equaled. Jesus is there in the operating room with Judah...taking care of [him] in the amazing and beautiful manner only Jesus can achieve." I never cease to be amazed and humbled by God's infintely tender care for me and for us. In the hardest and scariest moments of Judah's (and my) life He has proven Himself wholly trustworthy, unconditionally faithful, and ridiculously gentle. His lovingkindness never fails.

Just got an update from the liasion. Everything is going as planned up to this point. Thanks so much for praying and supporting us in so many different ways!