Thursday, February 26, 2009

Back Safe and Sound

I should be in bed, but wanted to catch up on a few things. It is 12:35am on Thursday morning. Just wanted to let you all know that we are back in our little casa here in Brasil. We arrived here exactly 24 hours after we left my favorite place in the world, Saline, LA. The trip was not at all uneventful, but we are here (minus a nice double stroller...that and other travel stories maybe in the future) and I'm headed to hit the hay. Thanks so much for praying for our safe travel.

Do keep us in your prayers. We got back here at 6pm (2pm Central time). We took showers, scrounged up something to eat, and put the kids down. We will be CRAZY BUSY tomorrow trying to unpack and get settled and organized only to pack again to leave again this afternoon (ahhh!!!!!!!!!!). This life we lead is leaving me VERY weary these days. Anyway, this weekend is the Asas retreat, so we will not be back here until Saturday night. We'll go to church on Sunday and then Monday Joel will go back to work. I will start homeschooling the kids again...all of that and we still haven't even finished moving into this house. Can we say O-VER-WHELMED?!?!?!

Oh well, the trip to the states was COM-PLETE-LY worth it. It was SO GREAT to spend time with family and friends!! What a refresher for us.

Alright, now off to bed.

Oh, and keep praying for Grady too. He feels fine and although it is much better, the swelling in his cheek/jaw still remains a bit. He's still taking his antibiotics and we are just hoping that the swelling goes away completely soon.

Thanks for lifting us up. Love you guys! Have a great rest of your week.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fat Cheek Ultrasound

Well, we went for the ultrasound this morning at 9:15. As usual, he was a great patient and acted so grown up. It was done in a jiffy, but we had to wait around to see our doctor at 1:30.

We went to our good friends' place, Brian and Stephanie, for lunch (yum) and to pass the time away. Thanks, guys!! Then we went back and he broke the news to us...all is well.

Even by the time we got back to talk to the doctor, his cheek was starting to decrease in size a bit. But, the ultrasound just showed swollen lymph nodes. Whatever that bacterial infection was all about, for some reason it REALLY aggravated his lymph nodes. The doctor said that he couldn't tell us the why, but that is what it is. So, the antibiotics that he is on seem to be knocking out the infection...finally (now that he is on 2 different ones). We will just finish out the antibiotics and plan that he continues to progress and return to complete health. Right now he is doing great and running outside, playing in the woods with Hadley.

You guys, seriously, thank you SO MUCH for all your prayers and for genuinely being so concerned for our little guy. We love you much and will continue to let you know the status of Grady's 'fat cheek.' :)

I'll leave you with a little 'funny.' We were about to leave out of the clinic where we got the ultrasound. I had to use the bathroom. Joel and the girls were in the car, so I sat Grady down in a chair right outside the bathroom and told him not to move off of that chair, no matter what someone said. I was about to wash my hands when I heard a ruckus outside the door. Some lady was yelling and screaming and cussing. I recognized that struggle and was right in my assessment...a poor girl with some psychological/behavioral problems (I had a good many patients like that in my day). She had about 5 people holding her down on the floor when I got out there. She was yelling and cussing. Anyway, when I walked out the door, Grady was sitting on his chair (about 10 feet away from the disturbed female). He very sweetly and calmly and completely non-dramatically said, "She is so fussy, right Mama?" Kids are so funny and matter-of-fact and simplistic, aren't they?

O.K., now that Grady is on the mend, we are back to packing. We basically lost these past 4 days, so now we have SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much to do in the next 3 days to get everything done before we fly out on Tuesday (oh my gosh!!). We have to sort and organize (going to Brazil vs. storing here vs. giving away), pack up this house that we are living in, stow things away in storage, pack our suitcases, clean, etc. We had planned to be all done with all of that by today...we have several things planned for this weekend already, but with these 4 days lost, we are definitely in crunch time now. So, off to get busy. By the way, Happy Birthday to Hadley!! We already had a party for her (again, I'll blog about it sometime in the future maybe), but today she is now officially 4!

Thanks SO MUCH, again, for your prayers for our sweet boy. We felt them for sure. Keep us in your prayers still...for continued progress in Grady's recovery, for speedy hands to get all these things done, and for the not-so-fun goodbyes that will be coming in the next few days. I might not be blogging until we get back to Brazil next week (we fly out Tuesday and arrive in Brazil Wednesday), unless I need to blog about extra prayer needs. So, until next time, I'll leave you with a fun picture taken a couple of weeks ago. We sure do love a bathtub!! :)

Love you guys!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fat Cheek Update

:) Grady started referring to his condition as his "fat cheek," so we followed suit.

We went to the doctor again this morning at 10:20. He checked him all out again and couldn't see any explanation (no marks; the floor of his mouth is very soft; the rest of his mouth inside is completely normal; mumps, again, is usually in a different spot, etc.). He asked for some blood work and an ultrasound to be done. The ultrasound just wasn't going to happen today (we couldn't be worked in), but we got the blood work done very quickly. The results weren't going to be ready for a while (45 min. they said), so we decided it would be a good idea to run some of the other errands we had to run since we didn't know what the results would show and didn't know if we'd get a chance to get those things done later (would Grady have to be put in the hospital like the doctor mentioned the other day?). Since we ran the other errands, we missed seeing the doctor again (he had already left for the day when we got back). But, his nurse (who just happens to be from Saline...I was a bridesmaid in her brother's wedding...is that so sweet of God to give us someone familiar?) went over the results with us and explained what our doctor wanted to do.

So, all we know from today from the lab results is that Grady has a bacterial infection. He started him on another antibiotic (in addition to the one that he's already on) and we will have the ultrasound in the morning to just get a better picture (hopefully) of what is going on in that "fat cheek" (makes me smile everytime I say that). The ultrasound is scheduled for 9:15am. I'm not sure if we'll be speaking with the doctor tomorrow or not. If we do, we won't be able to speak with him until after 1:30. That makes for a long day (with all the kiddos tagging along tomorrow), but we will update you as soon as we can.

Grady is an amazing patient. He is so grown up (he is FIVE now, by the way...haven't had a chance to blog about his birthday in January, but I will someday) and so very easy and sweet. Although it's been a little nuts (the circumstances that is), it was a fun and special time just being with him (and him alone) for a little while today. I feel myself beaming with pride when he does just the least little ole thing like answer the doctor's questions. :) So funny.

But, he really is amazing. The other day when all the kids went and got shots, he had to get the most (four!), but he just sat there as still as a rock, letting them poke him 4 (!) times...I think 2 tears shed (if that) and all with no noise. Well, today while they were drawing blood, he sat in my lap and they placed a board in front of us that he could lay out his arm on. I told him that he could just look at the pictures on the wall next to us or, if he wanted to, he could watch...whatever he wanted to do. He watched. The lady stuck the needle in and started drawing out the blood. Not a twitch from Grady...not a whimper. He just sat there and said very quietly and sweetly, "That didn't hurt." :) Love him. He makes me laugh.

He has been his normal self all week except in the afternoons. He would get a bit droopy and then fall asleep just wherever he happened to be. Poor guy. Well, today that didn't happen. He was chipper and playful and non-droopy the entire day. That was good to see.

And finally, you guys are so awesome. Thank you for all the comments, emails, phone calls, messages on our machine, etc. How loved we feel...and encouraged and lifted up and cared for. We are telling Grady about all the 'well-wishes' too. Thank you so much!!

Just keep praying. We should know more tomorrow. I'll update you as soon as I can. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you are doing!

This is what we hope he looks like again really soon!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Grady and His Jaw

(picture of Grady this morning)

A super quick update on Grady's jaw...

Basically he woke up unchanged. Last night it had started getting some redness there and then this morning he woke up with it being swollen more down and around his neck, involving his lip a little, and the redness was there more. I thought sure we'd be going back to the doctor today, but when we called, he wanted us to give it more time (the antibiotics...he took his 2nd dose today of 5 daily doses). It remained the same throughout the day and so we will be going back to the doctor tomorrow.

He continues to feel fine for the most part. He is less active, but I think that's just because he is being cautious of that very tender 'fat cheek' as he calls it. He was walking around the house singing and then playing with his sisters and neighbor friends also today. So, he doesn't act like he feels bad all the time. But, both afternoons (yesterday and today) he has been just done by about 3pm and requested to lay down both days...resulting in a nap. He's not able to eat much...not tooth-related, just because of the swelling...hurts his jaw where it's swollen when he chews. He continues to be just the best patient though. What a sweet, patient, longsuffering little boy we have! Love him. He has not complained once, but I can tell that he is getting a bit weary of it all.

The explanation for all of this could be as simple as a spider bite or as complicated as one of those rare, bizarre things you've never heard of. Of course we are praying that it's just the bite thing. But, the reality is that we just don't know. So, be praying for us.

Our appointment is at 10:20 in the morning. I have no idea what will be done, but it could involve something like an x-ray/ultrasound and blood work. Of course, maybe we will wake up in the morning and the swelling will have gone down. Either way, we will keep you posted.

You probably won't hear from me until later tomorrow night. But, I will update you. Thank you so very much for your love and concern. The phone rang off the hook and we got so many comments and emails. Thank you for lifting our sweet boy up in prayer and checking on us. Love you guys!

Please Pray for Grady

Just really quick. It is so late and I'm exhausted. But, I wanted to let you know to be praying.

The kids spent the day yesterday with their Granny. Joel and I started the packing process while they were there (we leave to go back to Brazil a week from today). At the end of Grady's day there at Granny's, he started feeling bad. He didn't want supper and said his head hurt really bad. He had a fever of 101. Then he started shivering. Well, then they all came home...and Grady went straight to bed.

I was gone to eat supper with a couple of friends. I got back and he was snoozing...with no fever and all appeared to be just perfect. I went to bed after midnight, so I checked on him one last time around then. He appeared to be just fine.

Fast forward to this morning around 7am (Tuesday morning). He woke up with a very swollen jaw area. He had no fever or anything, but had what I've always thought the mumps would look like, right there on the right side of his face.

We got everyone fed and dressed as quickly as possible and headed to the 'Quick Care.' The nurse practioner there didn't know what it was, so she sent us to the ENT (Ears, Nost, and Throat doc).

He told us that he didn't know what it was either, but that we needed to treat it really seriously...that since we didn't know what it was, we needed to treat it like it's one of the rare, weird things it could be. We needed to keep an eye on it...watch it closely. He gave him some Zithromax that he will take for 5 days. He told me, though, that if it's not any better by tomorrow, then we need to call and possibly put him in the hospital. Anyway, so I will be reporting back to him tomorrow. And I will let you all know how he's doing too. I have more talking to do about sicknesses at another time too.

Now here, I'll give you a visual of what I'm talking about...


This was taken this morning.
Tonight...Tucker was reading a book to them before they hit the hay.
The last pic of the night. You can tell it got a little bigger since early this A.M. I wanted to have some 'documentation' of the jaw. By the way, the squinting isn't because of pain...just because of the flash.

As far as the way Grady feels, he feels O.K. He kind of just lays around, but I haven't been able to accurately gather whether that is because he feels bad like he does when he has a bad cold, or if it's because his jaw hurts him when he moves around alot. He is just taking it easy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Uganda Mothers and Babies

For a time, I had another blog called Perspective. It was really because I was losing mine...I needed it for that time. I only did 5 posts on that blog, but it served its purpose. I'm now deleting that blog. So, I wanted to add these 5 posts to this blog so they are not lost forever. :) Here is one of them.

This blog, again, was created to remind us of the truth...to give perspective. Therefore, this blog will occasionally also include the added bonus of featuring different ministry opportunities. I constantly run across things that I would love to share...possibilities for partnership. We can't all help everyone, but I pray that you will truly look at everything shared on this blog (from time to time) with open hearts. Who knows...maybe something will really spark a passion in you here. That was not the primary point of the blog, but is just the obvious accidental (wonderful) result of a blog with this purpose. So, please...don't just gain the truth about how blessed you really are compared to others in the world. Also, really look at these ministries and what they have to say...look at these real people featured...imagine them as your neighbors/siblings/parents/friends...and see if there is anything you can do to help them.

This clip is of a ministry called Helping Mothers and Babies Inc. It was started by my friend and midwife that delivered Hadley (you can spot her in the slide that states that childbirth is the #1 cause of death). It's so very cool to see what God placed on her heart to do to practically help and reach others...and how quickly her ministry has taken off...and how many people they have already helped. I got this video clip as an email from her a few days ago and just wanted to share. Wow.



And another clip I found...this one of their work in Honduras. This was an earlier video...very interesting.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Perspective

It's such a needed thing.

I'm in a constant state of re-gaining perspective. When you aren't immersed in the world's majority's problems (because the majority of the world does have many problems...things that we cannot even begin to fathom, because we haven't lived anywhere even close to that reality), it's hard to stay in that mindset.

I've never been so aware of it as I am now.

In the last 2 months, God has been re-ordering my perspective.

As I was talking with God (more like having a temper tantrum with Him) in the early weeks of our stay here in the United States, I got 2 words very loud and clear from Him. Contentment. Perspective.

Philippians 4:11&12 - 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.

Note how he said "I have learned." It is a learned state of being. I am definitely still learning.

But, I think that one of the ways you learn contentment is to keep the proper perspective. How do you do that unless you get reminded of things that cause that to happen? I am constantly (and esp. within the last few weeks...could it be God at work?...I dare say yes) thrown "perspective grabbers." I am continually made aware of others' needs threw emails, blogs, videos, websites, friends. Therefore, I am constantly made aware of my abundance...and the fact that I whine way too much. I need somewhere to put these perspective grabbers. I need to be accountable to myself to grab perspective regularly.

Hence, this blog. (be sure to click on the link...yes, I have a new, separate blog for this)

I will be posting regularly some of the things that help me to keep (or re-gain) perspective. So, visit there often for a good dose of getting back on track in your own assessments of you and your 'needs.' We all need good doses of that.

I had the blues because I had no shoes until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet. ~Denis Waitely

When you look at yourself from a universal standpoint, something inside always reminds or informs you that there are bigger and better things to worry about. ~Albert Einstein

Perspective

For a time, I had another blog called Perspective. It was really because I was losing mine...I needed it for that time. I only did 5 posts on that blog, but it served its purpose. I'm now deleting that blog. So, I wanted to add these 5 posts to this blog so they are not lost forever. :) Here is one of them.

It's such a needed thing.

I'm in a constant state of re-gaining perspective. When you aren't immersed in the world's majority's problems (because the majority of the world does have many problems...things that we cannot even begin to fathom, because we haven't lived anywhere even close to that reality), it's hard to stay in that mindset.

I've never been so aware of it as I am now.

In the last 2 months, God has been re-ordering my perspective.

As I was talking with God (more like having a temper tantrum with Him) in the early weeks of our stay here in the United States, I got 2 words very loud and clear from Him. Contentment. Perspective.

Philippians 4:11&12 - 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.

Note how he said "I have learned." It is a learned state of being. I am definitely still learning.

But, I think that one of the ways you learn contentment is to keep the proper perspective. How do you do that unless you get reminded of things that cause that to happen? I am constantly (and esp. within the last few weeks...could it be God at work?...I dare say yes) thrown "perspective grabbers." I am continually made aware of others' needs threw emails, blogs, videos, websites, friends. Therefore, I am constantly made aware of my abundance...and the fact that I whine way too much. I need somewhere to put these perspective grabbers. I need to be accountable to myself to grab perspective regularly.

Hence, this blog.

I will be posting regularly some of the things that help me to keep (or re-gain) perspective. So, visit here often for a good dose of getting back on track in your own assessments of you and your 'needs.' We all need good doses of that.

I had the blues because I had no shoes until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet. ~Denis Waitely

When you look at yourself from a universal standpoint, something inside always reminds or informs you that there are bigger and better things to worry about. ~Albert Einstein

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Giving Lives

One of our pastors here, when closing out the service in which we had just shared about what we are doing in Brazil through a presentation, said to us, "Thank you for giving your lives."

For some reason, at that moment, those words just really struck me. Here's the truth...I don't WANT to.

Isn't that so incredibly spiritual and holy and saintly of me? I don't remember ever hearing that quote from people like Mother Teresa, right? But, I could care less. It's the honest-to-God truth.

I know some people who don't dare utter such things...they don't want to give place to those feelings I guess...don't want to acknowledge them and therefore don't feel them to a certain extent. That's the way they 'take captive every thought' I think. That method works for them. I am seriously challenged by those folks and am not saying that they are more right than me and my method, although they may be. But, here's my method. It might change as I change and grow, but as of right now...I'm just stinkin' dang butt honest. I blurt. It's how I process. It's what works for me. And maybe, just maybe, just like I am challenged by the non-utterers, some may be helped in some way by the blurters. This way, in the end, is my way of 'taking captive every thought' because I ALWAYS am able to work through to the true, one and only, truth...to gain perspective. So, here we go...the processing.

"Giving our lives"...before we actually went on the mission field full time, that phrase really pumped me up. It was so glamorized in some ways. We used to hear sermons about those who had literally 'packed in their coffins.' We were so in awe of that type of dedication and resolve...that fervor for God and His calling...that no turning back spirit.

I've sat with some of those people during this visit...people who would love to go on the mission field. People who really have a heart for missions, but have just not been called or released to do that as of yet. They sit there with eyes wide open and big smiles on their faces, asking me to tell them everything. Well, here's one thing...it is STINKIN'. DANG. HARD. :) Again, how's that for spiritual?

Oh, how I long for my kids to be able to be with their grandparents and cousins and great-grandparents, to live life with them instead of with people that they can't even understand right now. I long for them to be able to really know their relatives, to have close friends. I long for things like a cute little decorated nursery in my house. I've birthed 4 babies, but have never had a cute little nursery for any of them. I recently went to a baby shower here, for a sweet girl who isn't even married. I did 'everything right' and yet she's the one with the out-of-this-world decorated nursery (and I do mean out of this world)?!? Can we say envy?!? I have to say that I was a very nice shade of green.

I long for just the ease of this life in the states. I long for a place to call my own, for my own things, to be settled somewhere and not temporarily using others' things. I long for a bathtub that my kids can play in. For a frost-free freezer. For shopping to be easy (three cheers for one-stop shopping, i.e. Wal-Mart and Target). For a clothes dryer. For nice things (by 'nice' I mean Wal-Mart/Target quality...I'm not a high end type of girl). For affordable prices on things other than produce and land. For cheddar cheese and Ro-Tel. For bagels and Mexican food. I long for the familiar, but if not that, at least the practical.

Grady was extremely fussy today (Monday...it's 2am as I write this). We were going to be going somewhere tonight, so we put all the kids down for naps this afternoon. Grady protested. Joel was putting them down at first, but I took over after a while...after the girls had already passed out and Grady was still putting up a fight. He was so adamant about not taking a nap that he had pretty much gone into hysterics...you know, where he was doing a little hyperventilating it seemed...that kind of crying. He said it over and over again. "I don't WANT to take a nap."

"I don't WANT to."

Those words rang in my ears and in that moment, God made it abundantly clear.

Those were the very words that I've said over and over to Him the past few weeks.

It is exactly 2 more weeks until we board a plane to go back to Brazil, and "I don't want to" has been all I could muster up. What about what I told Grady today...that "Sometimes we really do have to do things that we don't necessarily want to do, but it's the best thing for us, and we have to obey. Even me. Sometimes God wants me to do things that I don't want to do, but I have to obey."

That's right...I'm still learning the same lessons that I'm trying to teach my 5 year old.

It's been an interesting few weeks. I've told Joel several times that I wasn't going back (sometimes half-joking, but not at all a departure from my real feelings). I've wrestled and cried with God. And the bottom line is always what the bottom line is...

We give. We ALL give. Sometimes we have to do what we don't want to do...or what we don't think we want. We do what our flesh definitely doesn't want to do. Because, no matter what you are doing, whether you are in the throes of mothering small children or struggling to keep your marriage together or pastoring a dead church or taking care of dying, ungrateful parents or waiting and waiting and waiting for that spouse to come along. Whatever you are doing, we give. We obey. We trust Him and know that we are all the better for it.

He knows best, always has and always will. He is excited for what He has for us. SO. STINKIN'. EXCITED. And, if we keep perspective, we are excited too. How sad is it for me as a parent when I have something fun for the kids...some great surprise and I'm all excited about it...and then they don't obey or have rotten attitudes and don't even want to take the steps to get that fun, great thing I have for them?!? That breaks my heart for God...I know that He gets that all the time...and I know that He's gotten it from me lately. Forgive me, Lord.

Well...wonderful. It definitely worked...again. Processing done. Perspective regained for sure. Now I can go to bed. Goodnight.