Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good sign, yes, I know that's not how the poem goes, but for around here it is so much of what in life is changed. We are blessed this year to get to spend Christmas with Mark's dad and his family in North Carolina. We are looking forward to this time with family. This year has been a big one for John, more growing, more going, and way way way more signing. Between attending a Deaf church, getting involved with Deaf friends and meeting Deaf therapists who like to work with John and help me learn more sign too, we are finding that ASL (American Sign Language) is more and more John's first language and a comfortable fit for Mark and I as a second language. Mark and I both have days when we feel likes our brains are being stretched but it's good stretching and seeing John being more comfortable communicating with people and happier to just go off and talk to people at church because he knows they understand him is so wonderful, so worth it. Mark's residency at Lutheran Senior Services is going well, it's a hard program with many struggles, but by God's grace Mark keeps slogging through it and in May we will see what God has planned for our future. I'm enjoying life in the city, with friends nearby, our Deaf church and all that's here. There are days when it's harder than others to get used to Mark's long hours away from home, but those pass and we get on to other days when the time flies by and Mark is home before we realize it. We pray that each of you has a Merry Christmas, enjoy the celebration of the life of Christ and finds the New Year has some blessings to bring too.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving in All Things

Happy Thanksgiving! We greet this day with Mark on call at Lutheran Senior Services for the day and into the late evening and John and I hanging out at home because John's cold, while improving, is still too intense to go hang around with other people. Still there is so much to be thankful for... ...Christ who died and rose again to save us from our sins, who each day provides that which we need and who has promised that we can never be taken from His hand. ...a church where John can see Christ's Word of forgiveness in his own language, where we can learn and grow and where we are surrounded by people who love us and want to help us help John grow into his language and culture. who loves us and supports us, no matter the miles we know that we are close to their hearts and they to ours. ...friends both near and far who bring us joy, a sense of belonging and help us through the journey of this life. ...thorns, yes, I said thorns and yet those things that seemed to be thorns in the beginning are turning out to be blessings and make us realize that God's ways are not our ways, but in all things He works out for our good those things around us. The gluten/wheat sensitivity issues that Mark and I have led us instantly to an introduction to a new friend and open doors to help us help others when they find that they have these type issues too. John's deafness has led us both to a new church where we all feel at home and to a new culture and language that we had an inkling of before but here we find blooming all around us and the beauty of it just amazes us. John's health issues have opened doors for us to tell others of the love of Christ and the care of people who want to actually help. ...we are thankful to be here in St. Louis, to be together, to constantly have our eyes pointed back to Christ and to know that it is our life in Him that gives us true life here amongst our neighbors, our family, our friends.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An Update, Finally

Well it's not much of an update, I must admit that it is so much easier for me to just log into facebook from time to time and post pictures and updates that I almost forget this site is here. I will try to get better at posting here too, but life is so full and busy and fun right now that the quick 2 line format of facebook just really is working better for me at the moment. Who knows what the future will hold. We moved. Yep, really. 10 years in one house, that's longer than I ever lived in one state let alone one address. Some parts of leaving were harder than others, it's never fun to leave friends behind but the time came for Mark to start his CPE Residency in St Louis and so it was time to load up our stuff and go. We live in the Dutchtown area of St Louis, 100 year old houses all packed close together and we really love it. Whenever we step outside there is someone to say 'hi' too and more often than not they have a friendly 'hi' to share and even some small talk. It's been great getting to visit with the neighbors around us and the lady next door is a treat. I honestly feel like I have moved home, which is a bit silly because I never lived in this area of St Louis and never really lived in St Louis much at all. But my family is from here, both sides have roots around here, I'm not too far from where one of my aunts lived when I was a kid and I have fond memories of visiting her. John and I are slowly getting used to Mark not being home all day. That is by far the hardest adjustment. But we are making it and spending our days taking walks and getting unpacked. John is playing power chair soccer and we are practicing in the alley with an exercise ball and the chair that he got to take home with him. He is going to be starting swimming lessons next week and gets to have skiing lessons this winter. The availability of stuff for him here is just amazing! The best part of this so far is friends. We have good friends here and not more than 2 days in a row have passed without seeing them. Mark's first night of on-call when he would be coming home late and I would ordinarily be a little stir crazy and waiting for him passed so quickly I didn't even realize he was running a little late because my two friends came and stayed to visit until he got home. John is adamant that 'friend's mommies' can come back again and soon. I think he thought they were here just for his entertainment, or maybe he was here just for theirs. So far it's been a good move, we've had to downsize more than we thought, but those missing material possessions aren't missed after all and the time with friends and friendly neighbors and the enjoyment that Mark is having in his studies is priceless. And given a few more weeks Mellon may actually stop barking at people on the sidewalk, but alas there is a pit bull across the alley that is making her look like a stellar good new neighbor and we get compliments on her behavior regularly.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Dog's Life

Mellon is John's dog, there is no doubt that she belongs to him body and soul. This day John 'helped' her by letting her off her chain in the back so that she could run and play, well she jumped the fence and went on a merry chase through town. She's a big dog, so we stayed close to her and met a few neighbors along the way as she visited every dog, horse, small child, cat and interesting bush she could find. We were rather impressed, she never picked a fight, never got involved with the more aggressive dogs around and never did anything really bad she just wanted to run, and run with glee she did. She eventually ended up out in the country and with the help of a really nice man and his two sweet little girls we rounded her back up and brought her home.

John showed us how she got loose, he took her chain off, just as we suspected but he couldn't tell us until he could show us. So we explained to him that she could have gotten hit, or lost, or killed or taken to doggie jail and that he needed to take care of her by making sure that those things didn't happen to her. The rest of the evening they spent like this.



She could have easily gotten lose, but no she went with him through narrow doorways, long cartoons, and circles through the house. Occasionally she would look at us like we needed to rescue her and of course we didn't because she is John's dog and he wasn't doing anything bad, just annoying, lol, kinda like her earlier in the day.

He continues to drag her around like this and she does slip away when he isn't paying close enough attention but then she always sits and lets him get her again. We couldn't have asked for a better dog for him, we are so thankful to have her.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Crack Me Up


I can't remember what they were watching on my computer, Kick Buttowski, Top Shot, something like that and of course they were enjoying it!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Who are you tonight?

John has watched a good bit of Dr. Who with us and so when Mark came across this little weird looking flashlight he gave it to John and told him that it was his own sonic screwdriver. John was cracking us up this night reading with his sonic screwdriver. Other nights he has out the wand that Mark carved for him and is cursing the dog as Harry Potter and still other nights he is dashing through the house looking for stuff with his sword, he's Link. Gotta love that imagination.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Happy Birthday to My Beloved

In February Mark celebrated his 42 birthday, he gets more amazing each year.


I'm thinking this birthday apron is a little more manly than him wearing mine and I just love it when we cook together. I love you sweetheart, it's been wonderful sharing your birthday with you and we look forward to sharing many many more!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Look No Hands


John's chair was broken for almost 2 weeks. A few days before the chair broke he flat refused to walk in blue (the walker in the picture), but true to his good nature the moment the chair was obviously broken he asked to be taken to blue and when I asked him what he was going to do to get around while his chair was being repaired he told me he'd walk in blue, like duh mom, what else. Each day we saw him get strong and walk further, this was taken a few days before the chair was back and the day before the chair was back he walked further and better than we had to this point ever seen him do.

I was worried that when the chair came back home that he would refuse to walk in blue. I am only willing to choose so many battles and while this is one that I was willing to engage in, I didn't want to have to do that. So we told him that since he was sick, little uti, and wasn't feeling well that he could wait and walk in blue when his fever had broken and he was feeling better. The second day the chair was home, still running a fever he showed me that he could park his chair and put himself in blue if I would hold the back of it so it wouldn't move and gladly walked with it into the living room to nap because after all he is sick. He amazes me constantly.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Snakes on a Pole

In the readings for last Sunday was a passage that used to take me by surprise somewhat, Moses putting a snake on the pole at God's command for the people to look at while they were being bitten by poisonous snakes so that they would live and not die from the snake bite. In the view of the world this is just nuts, first off if there is a snake in the room I am definitely not taking my eyes off of it and secondly if I get bit by said snake my first instinct is to kill the thing and then second is to call 911. Okay so Moses and the Israelites didn't have 911, but still, it's hard to imagine someones dad or mom telling the little kid that just got bit to look at the snake on the pole and it will all be better. It's even harder to imagine the little kid being able to look away from the thing that hurts so bad, it's hard to imagine a mom or dad being able to look away from their child's wound or their own.

Mark's sermon this past Sunday equated the snakes to the problems that go on around us and in the end used a stanza from St. Patrick's Breastplate, in my head these go together perfectly and look like this:

Sometimes this world is scary
Christ be with me,

The thoughts whirl in my head of how much bad can happen
Christ within me,

The things in my past come back to haunt me,
Christ behind me,

The future is uncertain,
Christ before me,

Sometimes I'm lonely,
Christ beside me,

Even those closest to me don't always understand the hurts,
Christ to comfort and restore me,

I'm scared to fall into the pit of despair,
Christ beneath me,

The world is so huge, sometimes I feel lost and insignificant,
Christ above me,

In the still of the night the nagging worries can over take me,
Christ in quiet,

I'm scared,
Christ in danger,

I need to hear from someone that I know and trust that Christ forgiveness is real,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,

I need to know that I'm not alone in this world.
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pushing the Cart


With his chair broken John got lots of practice walking, this was the very first time he walked a cart out of the store, Sam's no less, that's a lot of walking, and he did it beautifully. I'm walking with him and never could quite let go of the cart, other than to step over to get the balloon that the service desk ladies wanted him to have, but I wasn't pushing the cart neither was I actually keeping it from running away from him. These little things are the most amazing!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Expect Mistakes from Good Kids Too

One of our favorite quotes from Pastor Harrison's Little Book on Joy is
The Gospel of free forgiveness in Christ frees us to expect mistakes, forgive them, and to find the humor in them after the fact.

I remember as a kid that my parents would always tell people that my sister and I were good kids but we were kids. This was often said when we were out somewhere and showed off by displaying our good manners. My dad told us early on that if we had to be spanked by our teachers, aunts, or other adults then we would get twice as much spanking when we got home. We were always good in public, no matter whether we were actually good at home in the between times or not.

As a kid I never really understood this saying of theirs, after all I knew what my sister and I were like at home but as an adult it makes perfect sense to me. It is another of those things where I hear my mom and dad coming out of my mouth, especially in regards to John. So many people see this cute, adorable little boy with his muscle weaknesses and his inability to speak and think that he is a perfectly adorable little angel, or too mentally slow to actually create trouble. He is most certainly cute and adorable, he is however extremely smart and capable of finding and even inventing trouble when he is of a mind to do so. In the end he is a kid, a good kid, my favorite kid in all the world, but a kid, so I expect him to make mistakes.

When we taught John to sign 'sorry' we also taught him to sign 'forgive'. Many times he has signed 'sorry' and we have told him that we forgive him and signed it to him also. Many times we have told him and signed to him that we were sorry and he has signed 'forgive' for us. We expect him to make mistakes, I'm not sure he expects that of us yet, but he will in time and for now he forgives us when we do, so that's ok. We have learned over the years to expect others to make mistakes too, friends, family and people from church and community are human and everyone needs to know that just because someone is in general a 'good kid' doesn't mean that they won't make mistakes and they in turn need to learn to expect that others will make mistakes also.

If in his cuteness and adorable nature John is able to teach others anything at all it is my prayer, as his mother, that he teaches them and me forgiveness, for nothing this side of heaven is more important to have or to share. So many people have misunderestimated John and while that's an expectable mistake I hope at some time they realize that this little guy is one heck of a great teacher when it comes to forgiveness, compassion and love, not to mention that whole humor thing, John has humor down pat!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Three of My Favorite Guys!

We loved to get to see Papa this spring...


...absolutely loved it. John had so much to show off for Papa and even was able to kiss and hug him each night and say with his mouth 'papa'. We cherished our time together and can't wait to get to visit again. We love you Papa!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Gluten, Ugh, I didn't want to go here

I really didn't, I actually remember texting with a friend a few years back and saying things like 'if I have to give up bread I'm done.' Well here it is further down the road and not only have I given up bread but I read every single label of every single thing I put in my mouth or home, no wheat, nothing that is manufactured on the same equipment as wheat, nothing that is made in the same building as wheat stuff, nope, nope, even ordered our own communion wafers that are still bread and yet super dooper low gluten, the jury is still out on those but Mark seems fine with them. So you ask why in the world would someone go to these lengths for what seems to be the latest food fad, I've been thinking of how to explain that lately and well today I have come to the conclusion that a list is my friend. So here's the list of things that we don't have to deal with when we don't eat gluten -

for Mark
- upset stomach
- gut pain
- diarrhea
- increase of anxiety from those things and probably amplified by the gluten

for Gina
- inability to get my words out right, like John's apraxia or stuttering or something in between
- heightened anxiety (beyond just the normal stuff and constant)
- easily thrown into panic attacks
- feeling like the inside layer of the skin on my arms and legs are trying to crawl up my arms and legs
- more frequent and worse headaches (still not sure if I am headache free without gluten, but so far I've not had a headache that isn't at least related)
- numb patches on my skin
- brain whirling, like having 3 conversations in my head at all times
- kinda clumsy with both find and gross motor skills (trip easier, drop things more often, etc)
- absolute exhaustion, worn out from the heightened anxiety and depression type symptoms including thinking I'm the most worthless person to have ever lived and images of suicide
- joint pain in my hands, feet and back without having done something to cause it
- legs and arms that feel like they need to be stretched all the time and are rarely ever comfortable
- eyes feel like they are on fire a good bit of the time
- horrid time trying to focus, depending on typeface and size there are things I can't even read cause I can't get my eyes to stay still long enough to get through even a few paragraphs, and backlit screens are way way worse when this is going on too
- absolutely starving, nothing is satisfying, I'm just hungry, whereas without gluten I can go most of a day and not even think about food, at the point when the gluten effects start I could eat the whole fridge with a fork right now
- feet and hands swelling easily, gluten free road trips there is no edema in my feet, gluten laden road trips come with swollen and painful feet, ankles and hands

We started down this journey because we both ached and coming home from the hospital where we had, especially I had, pretty much lived on cake and coffee we wanted to see if we could feel better without the max dosage of ibuprofen all the time. We shortly figured out that Mark was gluten intolerant and so I changed things around here for him, happily, willingly because I would do anything for him. We knew that I felt much better too but just assumed it had a lot to do with getting off the cake/coffee jag, getting back home and such. It has taken us months to realize that I have all these neurological symptoms with gluten and as we look back over the years that we have known each other some of them have always been there and we never thought they could go away until I had some gluten free time around here. With gluten I spend 2 days of anxiety, loads and loads of anxiety and then a day or two of just crushing fatigue, for a long time I have wondered if I had mental issues that I needed to have addressed professionally, and really if you know me I am kind of a nut, but still without gluten I don't have days when I can barely move and others when I am so anxious that just having my skin touched makes me jump.

So if you've managed to read this far the most important thing you need to know is that gluten or not we still rely on Christ to carry us through this sinful broken world and that Mark has now appointed himself my gluten-protector so if you ever see a little white knight figure with a no-wheat crest let me know, he needs it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Merry Christmas

Um well, yes, as a matter of fact this is really late. But the pictures were on John's iPod which I lost as we left this museum where these pics were taken and didn't find until just a few weeks ago. We are so glad it is found, we are even more glad that we are blessed to have family close enough that John is actually getting to know his cousins.




They always have fun together and we are looking forward to seeing them again soon!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

She'll Get back to this...


...I promise, and she has lots of pictures to share and stories to tell cause I'm awesome. Love, John

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Food is Awful and the Service is Worse

If I told you that about a certain restaurant and you knew me well enough to know my tastes in food and standards in service and whether I would be telling you the bare truth or an exaggeration you could make a judgment as to whether or not you wanted to risk your taste buds at said establishment. On the other hand if I tell you that a place serves yummy food and each time I go there I eat way too much, that the wait staff is sweet and keeps filling my plate with goodies and I leave over full and it takes two days to feel like eating again, but it's so good I keep going back, then what are you going to think of the place. Maybe that you can go, enjoy and have a little more self control and reason that I do, maybe.

This morning in church Mark was talking about sin and how our own sin must be abhorrent to us in order for us to want to be shed of it. If our own sin doesn't horrify and sicken us we not only continue to commit that sin again and again but at the same time we are basically advertising to those around us that the service is good and food is amazing come on in and get some. Our attitude about our own sins tells a lot about what we believe about God and His attitude about our sins and even about what we think of our fellow believers and the non-believers around us.

Think about it this way, if you are a lot or even a little overweight and you go swimming it's so freeing to be in the water where that water supports some of your weight and frees you from it. When I exit the pool and feel all of my own weight again it is heavy and burdensome, even if it is less weight than it had been before, my knees and ankles feel it, my back feels it and I want rid of it. Sin is the same way. If we are in an atmosphere where others are accepting of our sin then it doesn't weigh too much and the need to get rid of it isn't felt quite so much. It's easy to find ourselves in these situations, each of us have a proclivity towards a sin and it's easy to find company that likes the same things, just as easy as it is to find friends who like the same music, food or movies, we can find friends who like to sin the same way and when we are in their company we both lighten the weight of their sin on them, they lighten the weight we feel from ours and we help each other take a few more steps away from the cross which is the only place that either of our sins will ever truly come off of us.

We cannot love our sins and our God at the same time. When we are loving our sins we are in point of face unbelievers. We all sin, we all sin a lot, each time we repent of our sin, no matter how many times we have committed it, we are forgiven again. God knows that we are so filled and covered in sin that we need continual forgiveness. This is why God puts no limit on how many times we can hear His Words of Absolution, how often we can receive the Lord's Supper or how often we can seek Him in His Word.

We can hide our sin from our neighbor, we can hide it from our family, we can even try to fool ourselves into thinking that we are hiding it from God but in the end we do none of those things. When we have a sin that we choose to dwell in and love to hold onto and give excuses for we hurt ourselves, we hurt our family and our neighbor, if in no other way than giving them the impression that it's okay to keep sinning, after all God forgives me. The only way to be truly free of our sin is to hate it, to despise it, to want it ripped from us and to want to never ever do it again, and even then we will likely end up doing it again but just like telling someone that the food is awful and the service is worse at least we won't be leading our neighbor into that sin by making it look like fun.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

An All Positive Change

All positives. Is it possible to make a major life change that isn't a rejection or discarding of what was before the change? Is it possible to do this with any change? I think so. It may sound a little on the Polly Anna side of life but I really think this is possible as least with some changes.

Take for instance getting married. Nope, I didn't like being single but when I met Mark and we fell in love and got married that dislike for being single had nothing to do with it. It was very simply a change, a profound change from "he's an interesting guy" to "I can't imagine life without him in it." Take John. We wanted kids from the moment we were engaged, we both were hurt and had grieved our barrenness but when the opportunity to adopt John came along these things had nothing to do with it, again it was all very simple. John needed parents who could love him and care for him and we couldn't imagine doing anything other. Many choices in our lives have been this way, from homeschooling to eating more fresh veggies, so much in life is and has been driven by a choosing to do something as opposed to a rejection of the other possibilities.

At this point in life we find ourselves faced with another of these all positive kinda changes. Mark started taking CPE classes, Clinical Pastoral Education, training to be a hospital chaplain right before John went in for transplant, then stopped because the transplant was too much to do anything other than take care of John and me and his churches and then started again this past summer. He started this training for many reasons but in quite short order his reasons distilled down to two:
1. He saw a deficiency in himself, a future as a bitter old man who blamed others for his troubles and what he was learning and could learn more of in CPE showed him that he could leave that future of bitterness behind him and be someone better.
2. CPE gave him an opportunity to learn to care for people in a way that was deeper and more meaningful than he had been able to do before and anyone who has ever truly known my dearest love has known that deep inside he is all about caring for others, especially for those who are weak and hurting.

With two units of CPE training in the next logical step is more training and more intense training at that and that comes in a residency. A series of CPE classes over nine months or a year with the same supervisor and peer group, the same hospital setting and a spiraling up of responsibility and intensiveness that leads to, well we don't know where, but leads to being more of whom he has realized that he loves in himself and in his ability to give himself to others. Mark actually rejected the idea of applying for residencies because he loves and truly cares for the people of his two small congregations and for many local and area people too and knows that John and I are also quite attached to many here and in Marshall and Columbia. A lady at church says that 'choices have consequences' and they do and the choice to even look at residency has the consequence that one might be offered and leaving our home may be the next step.

Finally Mark's brother spent enough time talking with him and helped him to see that it wasn't wrong to see if God was leading us this way, no matter what came of a residency search Mark still had the choice to walk through a door, if opened, or to not do so. So Mark and I sat down together and read through many residency offerings, looking at the hospitals involved and the programs and how they spoke of themselves. In the end we picked eight that looked like good matches for what Mark wants to learn and how he wants to proceed in this education. He applied for all eight places, not knowing if he would receive even one interview, it is not unheard of for CPE students to apply for several years before they get an interview, or a residency, if they ever do. Of the eight that were chosen we each had favorites, the same three and within a very short time of the applications going out he had interviews at the favorite three and was offered the residency at the first interview. Not only was the residency offered but Mark came away from the interview feeling that he could trust the supervisor and that is in and of itself quite a huge deal as the supervisor is essentially given permission by the participant to get inside their head and heart and shape and mold and work to push them to further and further learning. Mark has the other two interviews to go to, and has already turned down the opportunity to interview with two other places, that's a total of five of the eight to which he applied. We will be doing this traveling and his interviewing the last few weeks of February.

It comes down to another all positive choice, and this impacts many people, not just us. This choice is constantly on our minds, ever present in our prayers and talked about between us and between people that Mark and I both trust with this decision again and again and again. Much like getting married or adopting John this has nothing to do with leaving, nothing to do with not loving the people that we are in the midst of or even the town in which we live, this choice in the end is a choice to learn, a choice to grow and yes, even a choice to go and see what adventures lay ahead of us. There will always be things here that draw our hearts and minds back with fondness and concern, and should God leave us in a geographic possibility ourselves to come back to see and visit and share. We don't yet know where we go from here, but we know that it is time for Mark to take this step to be more than he has ever been before and probably more that even he can see that he can be.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

John is home...

...we are all pretty tired, well except John who is just excited and amazing :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hospital Again

John is at the hospital this morning, Mark is with him and I am at home getting some rest and some things done. Leaving for the ER late Wednesday night we realized we are out of practice at this. In the time that I grabbed just a few things and was in the truck I could easily have packed for a week, paid a bill, changed out the laundry and done a few more odd things back when we used to have to do this regularly. Mixed feelings, both glad that we have been able to 'stand down' and not be on alert status is such a good thing, a blessing we could have never dreamed of and yet it would have been nice to be able to instantly go back to that just in the realm of how much stuff wasn't with us, but I guess we can't have both.

We had some time on the way in when we were both kinda beating ourselves up because we didn't see the signs earlier or take them more seriously. John just has a UTI - urinary tract infection - and according to one of the nurses it is fairly common after battling big viruses (he just finished that) this year. But still he was clingy and tired and wanted to just lay on the couch and watch tv and that is not normal John, yet when we got ready to put him to bed we checked and he was running a 101 temp and coupled with the back pain it was time to take him in. So far this summer he has had an ear infection, probably his 2nd ever and the first one we didn't even know about until it was over cause it wasn't very bad, and this virus that he just came through where he ran 104 degree fever for a while and yet was negative for strep and flu and needed to just go home and wait it out. These are just normal childhood illnesses and especially for a child who is immune suppressed, yet even typing the words 'normal childhood illness' is odd and strange, John has had a few of those over the years but they were always in conjunction with things like major surgeries or central line infections.

So Wednesday night when we told him he was going to the Tiger Hospital he was excited and ready to go, many times on the way in he told us about doctors at the Tiger hospital were going to make the hurt go away and his friend nurse would be there. Yet, when it came time in the ER for dad to leave and him to get ready to go upstairs he stopped engaging with the ER nurse he had been so friendly with, he just sat there and held my hand, biting the inside of his lip, waiting, just waiting. I told him he would get to ride up on the bed and that made him smile for a half second and he was back to waiting and thinking. At times like this it just breaks my heart that he can't get out what is bothering him. Upstairs he was a little better, he cried a little with the IV but as soon as I told him they were done and just taping he was was telling me about the red blood and that it was over. He actually enjoyed the chest X-ray and yet when it came time to settle down and sleep he was exhausted from his illness and still anxious and so I pulled the chair close to his bed and we slept there right next to each other, occasionally in the night he would roll over and pat me to wake me up for a drink or to just hold his hand for a minute.

It helped so much that his 'friend nurse' was there in the morning. He didn't 'talk' to her much when she first came in, but as soon as she walked out the door he looked at me with his gigantic grin and told me it was his friend nurse, and then started talking about getting games and movies and doing the hospital things that he has always enjoyed. I am amazed at this little boy who I have the privilege to love and hold and be his mom. Whenever I read or hear the Words about faith like a little child I see John's face and am reminded of a few lines from "Why I Am a Lutheran' by Daniel Preus about trust only being able to be created by the one who is trusted because they are trustworthy and that we trust God because He is trustworthy. God, Himself, is trustworthy in caring for my precious John, for me, Mark and all things and I continue to pray that God will give me the strength to be a trustworthy mommy for John and forgiveness when I fail.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Christian Community, Christian Love

What in the world does attending worship have to do with loving our neighbor and caring for our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Have you ever pondered that question? Do I go to church just for myself? I must admit that on one note I do, I know that I am a dirty rotten sinner and in worship Pastor pronounces absolution for my sins, ahhh, thank you, and gives me Christ's forgiveness in the Lord's Supper, double thank you, may I have more please.

But in reading Pastor Harrison's "Little Book on Joy" I was given much more to think about. In his chapter entitled "A Community of Joy" he recounts a story about football, a subject of which I know absolutely nothing, but the story is about how he made a mistake and his team was able to recover and win an important game. He uses this as an illustration about how we as members of a congregation are to not only forgive each others sins but to compensate for them and help the community keep going forward in Christ even when a member of the community stumbles and falls. Our job as Christians is to pick up our brother or sister and their cross and keep moving in Christ's mercy and grace, and their job is to pick up ours when we stumble and fall. We do not walk this road of faith alone, this isn't just me and Jesus, it's me and all my brothers and sisters in Christ and Jesus and all these neighbors that I have been plunked down in the middle of.

We do not attend worship just for ourselves, or just to receive the forgiveness of Christ, nor is it only the Pastor in the service whose job it is to speak Christ and His forgiveness. As I sing or speak "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy," I am not just begging Christ for His mercy for me and my loved ones but for all the members of His church who are in my hearing. When I confess my sins, I'm not just telling God or the Pastor that I need forgiveness but I am confessing to those in my hearing that I am a poor miserable sinner and need that forgiveness. When the Pastor pronounces absolution and I say "Amen" it is not just "yes, yes, do this for me" but "yes, yes, do this for the person in the pew behind me too."

In our worship we speak God's love, His forgiveness, His life and salvation to each other, and we speak it to our Pastor too. He needs to hear us say these Words of God for him as well. When we go to worship we are the receivers, as in God serves us with His mercy and grace, God Himself has no need of our praise or adoration but our neighbors, including our Pastor, needs to hear them, needs to know that we are there to pick up them and their cross too, to praise God with them, and that we stand as fellow sinners in need of forgiveness with them. As we leave worship we are to continue to serve them and serve with them all the neighbors that God has given us who do not attend worship and do not have this Gift spoken into their ears each week.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Surprised by Joy

My dearest love has always been a good cook, actually he's an amazing cook and my favorite person to spend time in the kitchen with. He sees food and flavors in ways I would have never thought of and he has creativity that complements mine and yet is enough different to always keep a surprise in the dish. To walk around the corner and see him like this just brought a surprise of joy to my morning, here he is all dressed up and ready to go visit with his CPE supervisor and at the same time making sure that the chicken didn't over brine, he's my multi-tasking dream boat :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

So That's What It Was

For the past few days I have wondered what John was up to, he would stand in his chair playing with Mark and be sneaking his foot up in his chair Tonight when I saw that little butt cheek scooch onto the table i knew, and there he was...

...and when he was all done got back in his chair all by himself :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dinner Theater

Up until just a few days ago John has always sat next to me at whatever table we were eating at, but now that has changed and dinner will never be the same again. John loves to sit by dad, and play with him and entertain him and me and I think the dog too. Just before these antics he was standing up and bopping Mark on the head, and then would bop himself on the head and fall back into his chair. It's always a good show ;)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Two Things That Should Never Be Left Unsaid

"I love you" and "I forgive you", they should never be just implied, inferred, or said in any way that leaves the hearer wondering if that's what you meant.

The first I learned from my family and to this day it comforts me greatly that even though I didn't get to talk to my dad on the day before he died when he was calling everyone (I didn't have a phone) that the last thing I said to him the last time that I talked to him was "I love you." It's the last thing I say to Mark each time he leaves out the door or right before I fall asleep and the last thing that I say to John every time I pull out his hearing aids for bed, or to clean them. If you love someone, let them know, and always remember nothing says 'I love you' like just saying it.

The second I learned from Mark. These were not common words in my family growing up, not that we didn't forgive each other, just that it was never said in so many words. It's also not something that I commonly hear, sadly even amongst people in church. Sometimes the words are easy to say, other times they are really hard, especially if I am very hurt and even more so if I doubt the person really means to change, but I can't judge another's heart, I can only hear what they say and when someone says 'I'm sorry' the right answer is always 'I forgive you'. I try to remember that Christ told Peter that he was to forgive his brother 70 x 7 times, that's a lot, and he didn't mean to count up to there and then the next 'I'm sorry' was to be met with anything other than 'I forgive you'. I always try to remember that my sins against God are legion compared to even the worst things done to me by any person, Christ died for me and I am forgiven, therefore I can say 'I forgive you' to those who say they are sorry for what they have done.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Snow Angels

First snow, first snow angels :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Down in the Dirt

While the weather held out John got to do something brand new, he went outside by himself and played in the dirt. He took a spoon and knife, then needed a cup, trucks, and a few other things. I'm sure we'll find the knife as soon as the weather clears up, lol, or maybe his faithful companion will dig it up for him, who knows. The smiles weren't possible to catch on camera without interrupting the playtime, but believe me they were priceless.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Whole Different Angle

I'm not sure what other parents think about when they make decisions about things like spanking or tv time or homeschool or not. Mark and I thought through those kind of questions right when we got married, but 9 years later those decisions had been left in the dust of infertility, albeit I rather like the term barrenness better at this point in life. Long after we ever considered the possibility that God's 'no' to our desire for children could have been a 'not yet', John came along.

John was a total surprise, I would say shock, but really we weren't shocked. When my cousin called to ask if we would adopt her step-daughter's baby I told her 'yes' without a second thought and when I got off the phone and told Mark what she wanted he too said 'yes' without hesitation. From that instant we were John's parents, in our hearts, in our minds, it was a done deal, sealed and delivered right there in our basement, hundreds of miles away from where John was growing inside his biological mother and yet only 9 short days from when we would see him.

Those 9 days were panic time, nope, not panic about being parents, panic about how in the world to go about adopting someone. Mark and I were clueless as to what was involved, lawyers, money, papers, reviews, more lawyers, way more money. Our family came to the rescue, Mark's brother offered to pay adoption fees for us, we could have never paid what could have been the amount needed, other family members offered encouragement, support and prayers and member's of Mark's congregation were encouraging as well. We were in shock, still not about becoming parents, but wow what a mile of red tape and the short amount of time to figure it all out was shocking.

Parenting decisions were not forefront in our mind, it was a given that John would be baptized as soon as we could, would be raised in our faith and would be home schooled. We didn't have a clue about other parenting issues and had just settled on the name John Allen, John for John the Baptizer and Allen for my dad, when the call came that John Allen had indeed already been born, what, wait just a minute that was supposed to be almost two months from now, that was a shock!

I'm sure all parents fall in love with their child the moment they see them, we were the same, and when the news was so dire that John wouldn't survive long at all we made the only parenting decision we knew how to make an absolute determination that John would be loved and know that he was loved each day of his life and that each of those days would be the very best that we could make it, no matter how few of them that there were. John was baptized and we carried on with our determination and the days passed into months and the months became years and still we functioned with our primary parenting decision being that John would know he was loved and each day would be the best possible.

After John's transplant we started thinking about we needed to raise John so that as a teenager and adult that he would want to continue taking his medications, most people who reject their organs years out from the transplant do so because they stop taking their meds. That little change took months on end to sink in and then this Christmas when we were visiting Mark's brother in Arkansas I said something that stuck in my mouth, stuck in my brain and continues to stick there. "We never thought about raising an adult, we were always just enjoying the days we were given."

Raising an adult, hmmmmm, I will admit that I am completely clueless as to how to do that, Mark doesn't seem to have too many ideas on the subject either. The more I think about it the more I wonder if we need to change anything. All along we have felt that John would be happiest being as independent and free as possible and so have raised a little free spirit that is not afraid of most new challenges and comes at everything knowing that he has two parents who love him unconditionally, even if he couldn't define the word 'unconditionally' for you. He loves life, he loves to learn new things, he loves to figure stuff out and he is generally joyful. He knows Jesus forgives his sins, he knows that he needs to forgive others and he loves and cares for us and others freely. I have never known a person, of any age, who exudes life and joy like John does, we stand in awe of him and his affect on others and not just because he is ours but because he is John.

The more I think about parenting from the perspective of a child who would survive into adulthood the more I wonder if we really need to change a thing. There are no guarantees, length of days is not something which God informs us of, or of which we would truly want the knowledge if He offered it. When I look at life from the perspective of John growing to be an adult somehow I find myself in exactly the same spot adamantly determined that he will know he is loved each and every day, and making sure that each day is the best it can be, no matter how many days there are. Funny how life from a different angle can remain the same on this note, while in other ways it has surely changed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

He Remembers the Barren

He Remembers the Barren, a book written to the heart of women dealing with fertility issues. Actually it goes farther than that, I have just finished it and would recommend it to anyone who has or has known someone who has dealt with any fertility issues whatsoever, miscarriage or just discontentment in a situation that is out of their control. Rarely have I read a book that I would recommend without some reservations, especially on this topic, but here is Christ's peace and grace spoken clearly and gently to souls in pain. I thought that I had pretty much exorcised my demons over infertility but this book has helped me find a peace that I didn't even realize I needed or could have. Thank you Katie Schuermann and Melissa DeGroot, I am now putting this book in my husband's hands and next will be ordering copies for others whom I know and love and 1 to stick in my purse for the day that I run into someone else who needs it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ramp to Happiness

I didn't realize until it was all said and done that we have been in the process of getting this ramp built for nearly 2 years and that prior to it's completion John has never had the freedom to just go outside and just play. As you can tell in the picture it is only near completion but some little boy couldn't wait even one more minute to try it out :) Ok, I still keep a pretty close eye on him, but since Mellon has gotten really good at being tied to his chair and hanging out with him, I don't feel like I have to stand in the window the entire time he is outside. It's amazing how busy life is. I thought that once we weren't going to hospitals all the time that it would slow down to a crawl and we would have all the time in the world to do everything, funny, we have all the time in the world and are so busy doing everything that the time just flies by. Our days are filled with reading and some drawing and writing, lots of playing outside, playing with games and just playing, it's amazing, it's nothing we could have ever imagined. It has changed how often I get online for anything though, often the computer is busy being our radio and we are off playing, blogs, Facebook and email get checked once or maybe even twice in a day but somedays we don't get to them at all. Prior to this silence on our end meant that things were so scary we didn't know how to talk about them, lol, now it means that we are so busy we could talk all day about the joy and life going on but are just too busy keeping up with it :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Joy. Unfettered joy. Unstoppable joy. Joy that no words can sum up. That's what this past month has been for John. Silly string. Friends. More silly string. More friends. Presents. Christmas lights. More friends. Music. More presents. Family. Smiles. Love. Joy. Not a thousand words for sure, and no where close to just how wonderful this holiday season has been for John and for us. The smile says it all!