Monday, October 20, 2014

Happy Birthday "T"

It is so hard to believe that you and your big brother have been here eight months already!  It is an honor to have you here for your birthday.  We are so blessed, to get to share the birthday that you turn two years old, with you!

In the past eight months you have learned, grown and matured so much! 
The day after you arrived.  Your first nap here.

You were so behind and so angry at the world when you arrived.  You had every right.  I can't even imagine the things you have been thru and seen in your short life.  The few things I was told by DFCS made me so sad and then angry.

What a miracle it has been to watch you change from that withdrawn and tantruming little guy, to this very happy and normal two year old. 
You love puzzles!

You make me laugh every day with the things you say and do.  You have bonded nicely into our family and love to be sang to and rocked every day, as you fall asleep for your nap.  
You fell asleep on William while watching a movie together.
If I run my fingers thru your thick curls, you are asleep in just a few moments.  You are cuddly and love to be held.  Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star are your favorite songs.  You ask all of us to sing them all day long.  You have a bit of temper with that red hint to your hair!  But it is quickly gone and your bright smile returns once again.

We took you to Chuckie Cheese this year for your birthday as we don't know if you will be with us for another birthday and we wanted it to be special. 
You knew that this was your special day and that we were there for you!

Aunt "S" made you a Cookie Monster cake! 
Thank you Aunt "S" for your kindness to the children, in blessing them with a special cake for their birthdays.  "T" loves Sesame Street and that cake made his day, as well as the dinosaur you and Uncle "B" gave him. 
He has been feeding it almost non-stop!

Jeremiah 17:7-8  Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

May the One True and Only God in heaven...Maker of heaven and earth and all that is therein...make sure there are Christian mentors in your life, your whole life thru...May you be greatly used of God, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to all you  meet and May God bless you and keep you all the days of your life.


Dad, mom, Stephen, Antonio, William, Carolyn, Zeke, Elizabeth, "B" and baby "K"

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hypoplasia of the Corpus Callosum

Baby "K" came to live with us in the beginning of June as a foster placement.  The only thing we were told is that she was born to a mom that used meth heavily thru her pregnancy.  That she was born three weeks early.  That she spent two weeks in the hospital detoxing and that she had reflux, trouble nursing and maybe some vision issues.  In a very short time of her being here, I could see she had a lot of other serious things going on, bless her heart.

She is as sweet as a baby can be.  She is actually the best baby we have ever had.  She is happy and content.   We love her dearly.  I have been doing therapy with her, on my own, since she came, thinking if she just had a little help, she would progress and catch up.  When she turned three months old I realized that we needed to seriously look into a possible cause and diagnosis to explain the issues she is having.  Not that I am a parent that likes to put a label on a child but if we know exactly what her diagnosis are, we can help her progress better and insurance will pay for more therapy and equipment, if she has a concrete diagnosis they can't argue with.  So we started down the long road of going to specialists and running tests.  Crossing things off the list and adding more to check out.  Many times one appointment leads to one or two more.  She is very worth it.

We are still in the middle of appointments and tests but I wanted to share with you what we have found out to date and what she is doing.  This is not only an update for family, friends and for people considering doing foster care but for people out there whose child has been given this diagnosis and would like to compare notes and glean, information So this is going to be a very long and boring post many people may wish to skip.  :)

When baby "K" came,  the first red flag I noticed, was her very low muscle tone.  This is called Hypotonia.  I was very concerned about this, as it was so low, that when I dressed and bathed her, her joints would pop, creak and slide in and out of place.   My husband and I also have to be very careful when we handle her, as she is very floppy and her arms and legs move into unnatural positions and can easily get hurt, if we do not constantly pull her arms into a more natural place when changing diapers, feeding her and playing with her.

This tone is so low throughout her whole body, it is effecting her ability to urinate, have a bowel moment, swallow safely, keep her tongue in her mouth, keep her formula down, and progress to meet expected milestones.  I have been working hard with her daily since she has been here, patterning her how to roll over and she rolled over at four and a half months and still can't do it regularly.  She only started cooing at three months old and has not done that consistently or dailyShe just started to coo at me when I talk to her a few days ago at five months, one week old.  She can hold her head up now for short periods and pick her head up while on her stomach for about 10 minutes.  She can sit in the Bumbo chair or be in her jumper now for about 15 minutes without fatiguing.  

She is still struggling with her eye sight.  She only acknowledged light and dark till three months old.  Then started to be able to track large objects in a distance, with light behind them, like a person walking by but it was very delayed and slow.  Then, at four months old, she started looking toward our faces and smiling.  She does look at our eyes some but mostly slightly above our face, kind of at our fore head.  Now at five months two weeks, she can track an object if I wiggle it but have to move it very slowly and she does not follow it smoothly and tracks very delayed.  We are grateful she has some vision!

So far we have taken her for evaluations in Physical, Occupational and Speech therapy and she easily qualified for all of them. I actually had her evaluated as soon as she arrived as I saw the tone issues she had and knew from past children with this, that she would need to get started in therapy right away.  I am so glad I did that, as she is still not receiving therapy yet three months after qualifying because of paper work with government insurance taking so long to approve it.  So in the mean time, I am still working with her here at home. 

We took her to a pediatric ophthalmologist and her eyes and optic nerves looked perfect, Glory to God!  He said she either had Delayed Visual Maturation where her vision is just very delayed in maturing. OR... Cortical Vision Impairment where her eyes and optic nerves are perfect but her brain is not interpreting what she is seeing properly.  From what I have read, people with CVI can have holes in their vision like looking thru Swiss cheese, have only peripheral, only tunnel vision or a mix of it all. On top of that, they also see as if looking thru a Kaleidoscope.  They can learn to use the vision they have by viewing things very close up, so they have less clutter in their field of vision for reading or eating.  They also can learn to see in familiar environments but when out in public, with so many things changing all the time and so much clutter in their visual fields, they are legally blind and have no depth perception and need help.  So we are waiting to see what the verdict is on that.  She also has Strabismus.  That is where the eyes don't line up in the same direction.  Hers both are outward.  She may need surgery to correct it.

She was also sent for an MRI.  The MRI was scheduled to see if she had birth trama (an area of brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation during delivery) that is causing her low tone, eye issues and any number of other things she has going on.  There are many things that could cause these issues such as a syndrome.  So we needed to start somewhere to get answers.

What was found out is that she has a very Thin Corpus Callosum.  The proper medical term would be Hypoplasia of the Corpus Callosum.  The Corpus Callosum is the bridge, consisting of over 200 million nerves, that the two halves of the brain comunicate thru.  So her bridge is very small and the two halves of her brain are not able to communicate properly in a lot of areas.  I guess like trying to meet the electrical needs of a large city on a small country towns lines.

From what I have gleaned from hours and hours on line, is that HCC and other Corpus Callosum issues are a wait and see thing.  No one knows the full potential of each child with it.  It effect everyone differently.  All the way from mild to profound.  This is a hard thing to hear, for loving parents that want to know what level their child will function at in the future.  Or for those that find out while pregnant, and are trying to decide whether they should continue with the pregnancy...  :(

To make this whole thing even harder to understand...some adults have had MRIs and found out that they were missing either part or all of the Corpus Callosum and are fine or have had just mild struggles their whole life and didnt know why till the MRI was done.  Others...need total care in all areas their whole lives.  Wow...there is just so much we don't know or understand about the human body and how it functions.  

The good news is that this condition will not get worse.  So the level a child is at, they will not get worse or regress because of this.  Many of the children that have this though, also have a syndrome and that can cause issues.  Also, a child born with this, can develop seizures any time in their life.   

A good thing is, that God made our brains so amazingly well, that through lots of therapy, the brain halves can be taught to work together and either use another path, make a new one or do without to get a task done such as co-coordinating walking.  A whole new area of the brain can take over to compensate.  So huge delays in development are expected with this diagnosis but progress in many can happen.

So what do we know?  That baby "K" has HCC for sure.  That she does indeed  have many huge issues from it.  That Glory to God she is progressing, just very, very slowly.  This is very encouraging!  That she also has some vision issues going on that could complicate her progress.  That she is cute and sweet and we love her so much!  We are going to do all we can for her as long as she lives with us!

What do we still need to find out?  Does she have a syndrome that this is part of or is this from drug exposure?  We need to find out her exact diagnosis with her eyes and how well she can see so we can add vision therapy if needed.  If she has any abnormalities in her urinary tract causing her the issues she is having. (urinating only once every 8-12 hours or so or is this from low tone.

I guess I have not really clerified anything for anyone, as the diagnosis can be so different in everyone.  But as I did my research on the internet, there is a ton of information out there on people either missing some or all of the Corpus Callosum but hardly anything out there on people with a thin or Hypoplastic one.  I have read countless blogs on babies, children and adults with missing or partial missing CC's but hardly any stories of children with HCC like baby "K".  I just wanted to see what those children were like when they were born, how they functioned and how they progressed.  Just like any parent wants to read about when facing this.  So I thought I would write this post and try to put in all "K" can do and at what age, what things she has going on medically and the road we are taking to unravel it all.  Maybe it will be helpful, encouraging or comforting for others.

If you have read thru this far, thank you so much for hanging in there with this lengthy post and please keep baby "K" in your prayers.

May the Lord God in heaven, hold all of us but especially children with special needs, in the palm of His mighty hand.  May healing and health flow from the shed blood of Jesus Christ upon these children.  May we all be shown the best course of action, for our lives, to reach out and be the hands and feet of Christ toward them all.

2 Corinthians 5:7   (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)




Monday, October 6, 2014

Life in General and Fall Plans

As I hung the calendar for October up, I have many thoughts running thru my head.  One being... where in the world has this year gone???  Really, I have been so busy, it is just flying by.  Every year, as I have aged, seems to go by faster and faster.  Since the toddlers arrived in February, I have just lost all track of time.  My life is joyful, hard at times and just swallowed up in child care and appointments.  I was filling out my home school attendance record for September and saw I only had one weekday, in the whole month, I did not have to be anywhere last month.  All of the other days, I had at least one or more appointments.  No wonder I have been so tired lately.  October has several empty days.  Here's hoping they stay that way!  

Tim has been home for a month now but Chick-Fil-A is done with their remodel.  He is there helping to put it all back together right now as I write.  Tim goes back to a "normal work schedule" tomorrow morning.  :(  Even though he was not home much in the month he was off, it was nice to have him sleep next to me till morning every day.  He always gets up and is gone by 3:00 a.m.  So having him here every morning has been really nice.  He is a workaholic and was gone to other stores, making a lot of phone calls  and busy doing paper work much of the month.  He did help me, by going to several appointments with me.  Having an extra set of hands and spending some time together was nice.  I don't like him to shave but Chick-fil-A has a strict dress code on facial hair, mustache only.  So for the whole month he did not shave.  We all loved it!  He also looks really good in a short goatee.

We will all miss Tim but it will be very nice to get back into our normal routine again.  When Tim was home, if he slept in, I allowed the kids to do so as well.  I did it so the house would be quiet for Tim.  I, as quietly as I could, got up with the baby and toddlers when they woke up and just let everyone else sleep.  When we do that, it throws the whole entire days schedule off.  It is harder to get in chores, Antonio's care, schooling and meals in a timely manor.  So even though we enjoyed Tim being here a bit more, it will be good to crack down and get our household in order.

The weather has been much cooler lately.  Absolutely gorgeous for being outside.  This means we will be taking several days off from schooling for fall clean up and getting the farm ready for winter.  A deep cleaning in the barn and all the stalls is in order.  We do it every year.  We already trimmed all the goats hooves, dewormed and bred them for spring milk.  We will be stocking up on hay and making sure every animal will be warm and dry for the winter months.  When Tim was home for the month, he did give me three mornings off by watching all the "littles", so the "middles and I could attack the gardens and yard that have been so neglected thru the summer.
Yes, I am totally embarrassed.  These are my raised beds.  I knew better than to plant anything this year because of the challenging needs and behaviors of the toddlers.  I knew they needed me every moment and then baby "K" came along and nothing much has gotten done outside at all.  We did have a few tomato plants a friend gave us.  We got tomatoes from them all summer. 
On the back of the raised beds I usually grow cucumbers or beans.  Carolyn and Zeke are unwinding all the morning glory vines that took over.
We took one full truck bed load down to the compost heap.  It is not totally cleaned up yet but we put a huge dent in it all. I won't even show you the rest of the gardening area!

I am also going to attempt a fall cleaning in the house on rainy days this fall or once the weather turns to cold to be outside.  I feel like doing a huge purging again of all we do not need or use, to try to simplify our lives a bit, in the area of clutter.

Now that the intense summer heat is all but gone, fall festivals and outdoor events abound in this area. We normally don't go anywhere on Sabbath.  We don't buy, sell, or trade if at all possible but their was a free Health Fair at our local Home Depo.  So we packed lunches and ventured out to enjoy the beautiful fall weather enjoying all the displays at the Health Fair.

The fire department was there with their trucks, giving out things and talking about fire safety.  We saw Uncle "B".  He works for the fire department!
So were the first responders and the ambulances.  The gas company with their trucks were there talking about safety.  The wrecker service was there, the forestry department talking about forest fires.  Insurance companies were there and Home Depo had free activities for the children.  There was so much to see and the children were allowed to climb in and on all the equipment.  "B" even sat on a police motorcycle and that made his day!

If you have followed my blog very long, many people know of Carolyn's deep seeded fear of clowns and people in costumes.   All of her life, since she was a baby, she has always shook and cried when a clown came around or a mascot of a company or team.  It has been an ongoing issue she just could not conquer.  Just last month, at Chucky Cheese for "B"'s birthday, Chucky Cheese came out to see the children and she literally dove under a table, nearly knocking everything off of it.
She will try to climb up me or anyone in the family if one comes near, tears just streaming down her face.  When we were at the Childrens Hospital, for baby "K"'s MRI a week ago, the hospital clowns came by.  They interacted with the rest of my children, doing their funny routine.  All of my children loved it but Carolyn.  She stayed glued to my side peeking around my arm.   One very kind woman clown, saw her and blew bubbles toward her from a distance.  I could see she was trying to help her over come this.  Before they left, she walked up to Carolyn, not looking at her and reached her hand toward Carolyn giving her a postcard with her picture on it.   It must have really helped Carolyn because on the day we went to the Health Fair, I told her that there are always these mascots walking around.  She said she was going to do well and give one a "high five." I have heard her say this before many times but to not dowse her enthusiasm, I said "Good I will take a picture and put it on the blog if you do!"  She was scared at first but but slowly walked up to the Chick-Fil-A cow and gave him a high five!  Tim had told her it would be there and who would be inside.  She did great.  Later on we were at the forestry tent looking at the bulldozers they put out fires with and Smokey the Bear came up and Carolyn let it hug her and then smiled big and agreed to have her pictrue take with him.  Her smile says it all.  I have never seen this smile before.  She was so pleased with herself!
At the end of the Health Fair they always do a emergency simulation.  They do it every year.  They have a wrecked car in the parking lot and some actors get in and they do a wreck scenario from start to finish.  They start with the sound of a wreck on the loud speakers over head and then the 911 call and the police and ambulance come and they all simulate what their jobs would be.
They use the jaws of life on the car and bring in the Life Force helicopter

It gives me an oppertunity to talk with the children about what to do in the case of an accident and see that the police, firemen and ambulance workers are not scary and just doing their jobs to help. 

It was a lovely outing and we all had a great time.  I love all the seasons we have here in the North Georgia Mountains.  Fall is very refreshing and welcomed after a hot summer.

Psalm 67:6  Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us.



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Licensed to Drive!

William with both of the vehicles he owns.
 William got his drivers license!

One of the things I have learned over the years is that you just never know.  I was told Elizabeth would never talk or walk and she does both.  I was told that Zeke had a very high chance of being HIV positive and he is not.  I was told Carolyn would probably never learn to read and she can and loves to write short stories.  God is so good.  He writes and fills the pages of our days that become the story of our life.  I have learned to pray, work hard with the children and to advocate for them but a lot of the time to just sit back and enjoy watching the miracles unfold.  We have witnessed so many.

When William was very young he was diagnosed with autism.

He never talked till he was 6 years old and then it was still not fluid and easy to understand.  He spent 16 years in speech therapy.
Yes the two above pictures are of William.  I never could bring myself to cut my boys hair till they are at least three or four.

He had major sensory issues with food consistencies.  He ate only a few foods and would gag and get sick on everything else.  He spent years in feeding therapy.
He never liked to wear shoes but once he discovered that cowboy boots didn't squeeze his feet, that is all he wore year round for years. 

He had so many sensory issues with clothing textures, temperature and weather changes.  It took him weeks to get used to wearing a coat in the winter and weeks to get him to not wear one when warmer weather came around. 

He struggled with noise from birth... Noise we did not consider to be bothersome or loud, really bothered him.  He spent 14 years in Occupational therapy. 

All of these things effected how he functioned physically so much, he lagged behind in meeting many of his milestones and it effected his ability to participate in social activities.  He spent years in Physical therapy.
William with eggs from his chickens.
William raised chickens and pigeons for many years.  He sold the eggs, baby pigeons and silkie chickens and saved up money over the years for his VW bug he eventually bought.
My dad gave William this tractor for his nineth birthday.  The mower wore out so my dad removed it and gave William this tractor and a wagon for doing barn chores and just driving around on the farm.
Home schooling was challenging. He has worked so hard to learn.  He is a hands on learner and says he learns by making a picture of what he needs to remember in his mind so he can recall it.
When William was 11 years old he came to Tim and I late one evening and said he felt he needed to be baptized right then.  So Tim took William down to my dads hot tub in the middle of a snow fall and baptized him.  A special memory.
Look at that beaming smile!
All of this being said...I always wanted the best for William but watched how he struggled in life with learning and just functioning.  I held my breath and prayed he would some day be able to go to college, get a job or drive a car.  We loved him fiercely for who he was and is but any parent always wants all that can be had for their child.
At a car show with his bug.

William also loves to work and is the most loving and obedient child I have ever had the privileged of raising. 
William with his dog Will

He always has a wonderful eager attitude and happy upbeat demeanor.  He has a great work ethic and is brilliantly creative. 
I have 100's of these silly pictures I could show you.  He is always doing something silly and saying quick mom take a picture of me.

He often sees what others don't or a solution to a project I am working on that I would never have thought of myself.  Anything that is hands on, he is so good at.  Like taking things apart and putting them together.
His stop animation (Lego bro 4 studio) is just wonderful.  To sit and take hundreds of pictures, moving his subjects a fraction of movement at a time and making it tell a story or idea is amazing.  He is just gifted with this kind of thing.  He was recently tested by our local school system and the side of his IQ that excluded language and writing was extremely high.

William loves the Lord and is an amazing young man.  I am so grateful to God that he is my son, that God has had his hand on Williams life and helps him daily.  That William has worked so hard to get where he is by the grace of God and has come so far.

Congratulations William on getting your drivers license!  May God keep you and those around you safe all the days of your life, as you drive the roads that take you where you need to go and into your very bright future.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Love and blessings,


Sunday, September 21, 2014

The New Mini Bus!!!

I wrote about an urgent need in our life a few weeks ago.  The grey van that had been perfect for our family and served us so faithfully, for many years, was no longer safe to transport Antonio in, in his new adult sized wheel chair.  Every time I had to go somewhere and take Antonio, I prayed we didn't get in a wreck, as I knew it was not safe but we had no other options, at all, to get him to his therapy and doctors appointments.  We prayed and prayed about how to get into something safe and as quickly as possible.

We had nowhere to pull funds from, in our budget, to buy anything.   We looked at loans and even if we could get a loan, the payment would have been over $800 dollars a month.  We just don't have that kind of extra money in our monthly budget, ever.  That is when we realized we could not meet this need on our own and needed help from God and friends.  We prayed and started the GoFundMe account.  Our local news paper did an article on our urgent need for Antonio and about our family.

We had been looking at mini buses on the internet for months.  We looked at buses all over the nation.  We knew we needed one that did not require a CDL to drive it and be very reliable.  One that was handicap assessable and had a good working lift.  One that would fit our whole family and have working heat and air-conditioning.  The buses we found, that fit those requirements, were around $36,000, older and had mileage over 120,000 and all of them were sold as is.  So we did not know how reliable they were or would be long term.

Then we found a mini bus in North Carolina.  It was a 2008 and only had 43,000 miles on it.   It met all of our needs and requirements and the place told us that they would sell it to us for 29,800.  They said we could have it checked out anywhere we wished to make sure it was safe and reliable and they had a three day return and ask no questions policy.  They also said they would give us $7000.00 trade in on our current van.  But one of the best features about this particular bus, to me was...this passenger seat.

In the past, every bus we had, had no passenger seat and if I drove, I had to yell back and forth with Tim to have a conversation.  My hearing is not great and it made for a frustrating time when we went places as a family.  No big deal but it is always nice to be able to talk with your spouse as you go places, especially if we hardly ever get to see each other and it is one of the only times we have to talk together.  For some reason this little bus is designed in a way that left the passenger seat in tacked so Tim and I could sit side by side and talk together as we go places.  :)

We were humbled and over whelmed with the outpouring of love and support from strangers, family and friends.  Not all people donated thru the GoFundMe.  We soon had $6000.00 in very kind and generous gifts.  Between the van trade in and the 6000.00 down we were able to get a loan for this mini bus and the payments are $440. a month.  Though this will make our budget much tighter, it is doable and we were able to get into something quickly to be safe for Antonio. Our goal is to do our best to try to pay it off early and not have a car payment again. 
It has a drivers and shotgun passenger seat...eight back seats and one wheel chair position.  It also has a flip down seat that holds two but cant be used when the wheel chair is in.  So we cant use that seat.  If we replace it with a single seat it would be usable with Antonio's wheel chair in.
I wanted to share this with everyone to keep everyone updated and to say a huge thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, to everyone who gave, passed this need along to others and prayed for us.  May the Lord God in heaven bless you all back 100 fold for your gifts and prayers.  They were felt deeply and excepted with a very grateful and humble heart.

2 Corinthians 9:8  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Abundant Blessings,

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Happy Birthday "B" !!!

Yesterday was a very special day.  Our oldest foster toddler, "B", turned 3 years old!

I would love to share with you the story of how and why he and his brother came into care.  The hard life they had before coming here.  The huge miracle God has done in their lives.  How far they have come in just the short seven months they have been here.  I would love to share their sweet faces with you, in the pictures we have taken to remember the day.  I will have to wait.  We will both have to be patient and wait for a time that it is safe to share it all.  We will just know in our hearts, every day has been a gift and give glory to God for His amazing grace and mighty hand in theirs and our lives.

So today, I write to rejoice that the boys are here and to wish a very happy birthday, to a little boy that most likely never had a birthday celebration before.  A happy birthday to a little ball of energy, that is full of mischief and has a strong a little boy that has stolen our hearts....He had a wonderfully amazing day.

We don't usually do big things for the kids birthdays.  It is our tradition to take the birthday child out to eat, anywhere they wish to eat out at.  (within reason)  They may have soda to drink on their day and can pick out one thing they really want as a gift from a store. (again within budget and reason) We don't wrap it up.  They just tell us what they want and we get it for them.  A lot of thought goes into their choice.  We sing happy birthday to them and eat cake that evening after supper.  I try to do one party sometime in their life, at an age they can remember and enjoy it but most years we keep it low key and simple.

We feel that the boys had never experienced birthdays before because they had no idea how to open gifts, they did not know what cake was and the first few birthdays we had here, when we sang happy birthday, "B" shook as if terrified and cried when we sang.  Before they came here their basic needs were not even being met, let alone anything else.  So...Since we don't know anything of the boys past and I don't know for sure that the boys will be staying here. (Even though DFCS is filing for termination, one just never knows when working with the system.)  So, we decided to make a very special memory for him.  We saved back a little money from our food budget this month and took him to Chucky Cheese for his birthday.  It is an hour away.  It is a children's pizza place that has puppets singing on stage, some games like ski-ball and those tubes the kids play in.  A big deal for small children.  I have not been there since my Middles were little and we only went a few times ever with them. 

"B" was beside himself in awe.  He had such a wonderful time and is at just the right age.  I learned I can't easily chase toddlers in places like that anymore, so William kept up with "B" and Carolyn with "T".  Tim's parents met us there and we just sat, visited and let the children play till they were exhausted.  We spent three hours there.  

My dad had given "B" some money for his birthday so on the way home, we stopped by Toys R Us and let "B" pick out his gifts.  He choose a little play tent with Lightning McQueen on it, a match box car of Lightning McQueen and one of Mater.

When we got home, we fixed spaghetti for him, his favorite food.   My wonderful sister made his cake.  A Thomas the tank engine cake.  It was a great hit.  She always makes it gluten free so the other children can eat cake as well.  So thoughtful.  She is quite the artist.

To end the evening Tim and I let him and his brother watch a movie in their bedroom as they fell asleep. 

Happy, happy Birthday "B".  You mean so much to me.  I love your big strong hugs that choke me and your hard kisses.  I love your brilliance, activity and thirst to learn.   We all love you, you little ball of energy!  May the Lord God in heaven have His mighty hand on you, your whole life.  May you always have christian people in your life to guide you.  May you always live for God and be greatly used of Him all the days of your life.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Love, Daddy, mommy, Stephen, Antonio, William, Carolyn, Zeke, Elizabeth, "T" and baby "K"!  


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

19 Years and Loving You More Than Ever!

19 years ago today, Tim and I stood before God and man and made a promise.  To be one forever.  To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward until death do us part.  Forever.  Putting God first at the head of our home. 

Whoever wrote those words must have been very wise.  They must have lived a long time and tasted the seasons of life deeply.  They knew...When you are young and getting married, you often go into marriage feeling so in love, that you feel nothing will ever rock your world.  You feel that together, you can overcome anything life brings along.  You feel so in love with the person you marry, that you feel you could never be upset with them or that your love will carry you through anything...It was not long for us, like most marriages and those vows were tested and tried.  

Tim and I have went thru life together, over the last 19 years, with great joy and happiness but we have had more than our share, of very sad and hard times through the years.  With each terrible thing we went through, God was there and joyous times did return.  We came thru those times with new found wisdom about what really matters in life and lessons learned. 

Within the first few years Tim almost died.  I cared for him in every way as he became unable to do the simplest of care for himself.  No one should have to see their spouse on life support...God spared Tim's life and going thru that time only made me love and cherish him so much more.   I have never taken him for granted again.  Ever. 

The cost of those years, caused us to lose everything monetary, even our home.  The years of working our way out of medical debt and rebuilding our life has only taught us how blessed we are to have every day together and the people in our lives.  Things mean nothing when stacked against the value of life. 

Shortly after that season we buried a daughter together.  I can not even write about the pain of going through that time.  The pain of not only loosing Faith Anne, but the pain of seeing your spouse and children grieve and not being able to give any relief...We held each other thru some of the most painful days and nights imaginable.  God was there and our love for each other only became stronger, as we have went through that on going season of life together.

I went thru a few years of declining health, that left me unable to care for myself or drive.  Tim cared for my needs and carried the work load of our whole family, as God did a work in my body and brought me back to health.  It only made me admire and love Tim more deeply.  To see how devoted he is to us and how hard he works for us.  Tirelessly, giving of himself for us daily.

I remember refusing say the word "obey" in my marriage vows.  I never wanted to HAVE to obey anyone. (blushes)  Walking the road of marriage, we have together, has grown in me, a love that says wholeheartedly... I will follow God and obey Tim gladly, in anything he asks of me.  He has proved to be a true man of God.  I can trust that when he asks or tells me to do something, he prays and is following God.  I love him so much that I will do what he asks, to help him or please him, because he does the same for me. 

We have prayed over each other and for each other.  We have joined in prayer over our children as they have gone thru dangerous surgeries.  We have stood as a front before terrible comments made about us and our family, by extended family, strangers and friends.  We have endured loss of friends and family over doing what God has called us to do...From us embracing and adopting children of other ethnic backgrounds, to adopting a child that was born to an HIV positive mother.  Painful, painful times, when Tim and I felt we had no one but each other, encouraging each other and loving each other, when no one, not even extended family or the body of Christ seemed to.

The wedding vows. Words we don't think about much once we have said them, unless we go to a wedding but they are a promise made before God.  Not just words but a covenant to remember and live by when going thru hard times in a marriage.  Times when you feel like giving up.  When you feel like you can not go forward or move on.  Knowing you have God and your spouse, by your side, who promised to be there, through thick and thin, is a comfort.  You are one.

Building a lifetime together is at times hard, messy, sad and you may walk through the unimaginable...but...staying together and going thru those times together is a beautiful thing.  The layers of pain soothed by love.  The layers of hard work rewarded by reaching goals set together.  The faith in God, memories, joy, special traditions.  All of it, is the brick and mortar, of years and experiences, that build a strong marriage.

In our marriage there has also been plenty of times of joy and happiness.  Joy is easy to walk thru together and we have had an over abundance of those days as well.  Going thru the hard just makes the times of joy even more precious, enjoyed and relished.

Tim's and my marriage.  Being "one" forever and living thru this thing called life, has only made our faith in God unshakable, our marriage commitment even stronger, our love for each other even deeper.

I humbly and thankfully praise God now and always, that He brought Tim and I together.  I would choose to marry no other.  He is my best friend and I say today the same vows we said 19 years ago...but this time knowing the full implications and meaning of every word... I love you Tim Nichols and promise to have and to hold you, from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward until death do us part.  Forever.  Putting God first at the head of our home.
1 Corinthians 13:4-13  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,  Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Your loving wife,