Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Little Boy From Tanzania

For the last 2 years we have had the joy and privilege of sponsoring several children through Compassion International. It is for only $38 each month. This cost provides school supplies, medicines, food and bible training along with discipleship and more through the Compassion program that works locally with the missionaries or church in the child's neighborhood.

We have the blessing of sending them letters and photos as often as we like. We get letters in return, sometimes hand written in English even; as in many countries when the children get older they learn English.

We can send them small care packages of paper goods.

We have the joy knowing they are being taught about God and being loved upon by the ministries in their poverty stricken areas.

We have the honor to pray for them and know that while our place in their lives might "seem" small to us, it is huge to them. I have read and heard story after story of sponsored children stating that because of their Sponsor their lives were changed for the better. It gave them a hope and courage to know that someone loved them enough to care, pray and know them.

Two of our children we specifically chose because they shared birthdays with Lenea and Toby. Lenea's girl is just a year older than her but same birthday, and lives in Tanzania. She is a precious girl who lives with her mother and younger sibling.

The boy, Jumanne, we chose because he too shared an exact birthday with Tobias. He is from Tanzania as well and is his Mama's only child.

We had sent a special "Family Gift" a few months back and we received a photo with his mother and him on it. It showed a mattress, some food, some new clothes, fabric all that they were able to buy with our really, not so large donation. These precious people had likely been sleeping on the ground. How selfish I felt, how spoiled I felt for the times I complained about something I "didn't have".

Sadly, we found out a few days ago that Jumanne died from malaria just a few weeks ago, and on his birthday. Oh what sorrow came to our hearts thinking of the many prayers we sent for his mother and him. Thinking about what his mother must be feeling right now, losing her son. Thinking about the sweet last words we read from him (Compassion sent us his last letter written to us just 3 weeks before he died.)

"Praise the Lord. I am real glad to receive your letter. I am doing well at school and at the center. I am glad to be learning about Tobias. I also wish to see him and be a close friend. Also thanks for the gifts that you sent me. May God bless you."

Jumanne was a precious child and important to God. Even though we only had the blessing of sponsoring him for almost 2 years, our small part of his life was a joy even if it was only for our benefit.

Right after we heard of his passing I went on Compassion's site and picked another little boy with the same birthday from Rwanda. Jumanne left a legacy in the hearts of our family. We are so thankful He is today sitting with Jesus.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

One Step Closer

"LOA" Letter of Acceptance from China!!!

After 99 days of waiting for this step..we onto the next one.  Now we are waiting for USCIS (immigration) to approve Adelia to become our daughter and a US citizen upon landing on US soil. This next 2 steps (sort of combined..USCIS approval and Article 5 being sent to Consulate in China) takes about 5-6 weeks. Then we wait for Travel Approval from China.

We are still praying mightily for the Lord to grant travel in mid May. It is possible, but it would only be His sovereignty to make it happen.

Monday, March 3, 2014

More Equipment

Isaiah got his ventilator, which is used for a CPAP for him. The FDA has not approved CPAP machines for kids under age 7, so they use this fancy ventilator that has settings including the CPAP. It has a little humidifier attached to it, that heats up the water and then cools it. It is computerized and very fancy. I am on a huge learning curve trying to remember all the details for how it works.
We turned off all the alarms, except for the one for power (it has back up batteries) and when the water is empty. Unfortunately, the water only lasts about 8 hours maybe, at least that is what we found last night. So it will need to be filled up part way in the night so we don't get woken up to a loud beep located by all of our heads.

Children's told us the only way to get him used to this mask and machine was to introduce it slowly and playfully. We tried that a couple of times during the day but while he tolerated it for a few minutes I knew it was going to take a long time and my gut just felt he needed to just try it at night and I felt he would handle it well. So last night was our first night.

We put it on him and right away he became quiet (not like him at bedtime). His pressure is almost as low as it can go right now and the oxygen goes through the machine. He began shutting down in a way, no crying though. This was similat to what he did when we began the oxygen. However, I just encouraged him and asked him if we wanted me to hold him. At first he said "no" but then he allowed me to. I held him until he fell asleep, well actucally we both fell asleep.

About an hour into sleep I moved him onto his bed, which is next to mine. He slept without waking the entire night!! Not even a complaint about the mask. In the morning he woke up pretty cheery too. While this contraption mask is quite cumbersome and awkward, it does seem to help him breath a lot better and get better rest, so far. At nap time again today, he put it on, quieted down quickly and I held him until he went to sleep which was only a few minutes this time and he slept 2 hours without a peep. Now mind you, this is the child that has not had a night like that but maybe a handful of times. Typically he whines, tosses and turns, cries, reaches for me or kicks off his blankets numerous times at least, not to mention the snoring and gasping for air that often happens. None of this has happened since using the CPAP. I pray this continues.

 It is not his favorite thing. However, today when talking about it with the kids he said it was to help his heart. Such a hero of mine. I think I would have such a hard time wearing this mask. I put it just  briefly up to my mouth to see what it felt like and I already felt too confined and like I was choking with it. I always hated it when the put the oxygen masks on me during labor when I wasn't breathing so well. 

Isaiah was also a good sport to pose for these photos. I asked him to get into his bed to take a picture and he climbed right in. I love this little guy.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Photos Not For the Faint Of Heart

When innocent, helpless children are persecuted and treated in ways that animals don't even get treated, we all feel disgusted. Those of us that call ourselves "Christians" and who seek to be God's heart MUST do more for these precious ones.

If you have a few minutes look at these few heartrending photos of Russian orphans and say some prayers. It is Satan's scheme to keep Russia from allowing us to adopt from their country, but God is still King of Kings and He WILL win the war for these children. This is just one example of Satan's ploys against adoption and attacking innocent children. You will see that most of the photos are of disabled children. In Russia, disabled people are seen as scum and treated as such. Little children are put into hospitals for the mentally insane when they have certain diagnosis.

Russian Photos 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Change of Direction for Isaiah

Just when you think things will go one way God has other plans LOL. I spoke with the ENT on the phone last night (very nice and thorough doctor). She isn't comfortable that by removing tonsils and adenoids that his sleep issues will be resolved and believes he will still need CPAP for relief.
Rather than just putting him in a surgery, with possible complications and risks she would rather we try the CPAP to see if it even gives him any relief first and foremost. 
This will be a long on-going process, watching him for a healing of that nerve, and making sure those tonsils/adenoids don't activate and get larger than they are (I guess combined they are not too large of a blockage). So we are comfortable with that.

We have an delivery of CPAP tomorrow evening. Just wanted to give a quick update. Thank you for your prayers for him.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Isaiah Heart and Health Update

Well, the day before Isaiah's cath was scheduled he woke up with a very high fever, which has not  ever happened since we have had him in our lives. It got as high as 103.8 at one point. The cath was cancelled for the following day, as they won't do a cath with the potential of viral illness like that. He had no other symptoms beside fussiness and not wanting to eat, saying his tummy hurt. The following morning his fever was completely gone and he seemed healthy. I was a bit frustrated at first, not sure why God would allow this to be cancelled. I did surrender it to God though, knowing He has Isaiah in His hands and I am not going to be in control of even the timing of his cath, as much as I wanted to be. LOL

We had a sleep study scheduled for him for February 28th, because of his ongoing, terrible sleepless nights. We did ask them to keep us on the "Cancellation List" and on last Friday morning we got a call that they had an opening that night if we wanted it. I jumped on that chance and Isaiah and I were headed down to our Children's Hospital just a few hours later. 

It was a VERY long night for him. The technician was very thorough and kept coming in and trying different things on him to help his pressures. It seems he is hyperventilating from trying to breath and there is definitely severe sleep apnea going on. He had high CO2 levels through out the night that suggests that.

The doctor who read the study the next morning called us before we even made it home (1 1/4 hour drive home). She was very concerned about what was witnessed all night and asked if that was typical for Isaiah? I told her it was not totally typical but did happen part of the night just about every night and happened as bad as that, once a week on average. She recommended we get him into the ENT asap. He also would need a CPAP machine as well as this type of apnea doesn't usually totally go away even with tonsils/adenoids removed.

Yesterday morning, Jay took Isaiah to see the ENT and Pulmonary Sleep Doctors and get him fitted for a CPAP mask. The ENT doctor scoped him (they went down his nose with a camera which he was very brave about). What they found is that yes, his tonsils and adenoids are contributing to the blockage but only by 25%. The other major issue is that his left vocal chord has been damaged from his open heart surgery. So my knowing that this happened after surgery was right on! When are doctors going to listen better to mothers? Just thankful that he did not have his cath last week. God is so in control of everything and does care about protecting His little ones. What a faith builder this has been for me.

So it was still to be decided if they should remove his tonsils/adenoids or just wait and see if the CPAP does enough. My concern is that if they are causing some airway issues, which he did have that before the surgery just not as severe, and he has many procedures through out his life in his future and while the nerve in his vocal chord theoretically should heal, but may not, then of course they should be removed. Isaiah needs all the help he can have regarding this breathing issue. He has enough issues alone for his pulmonary hypertension. Thankfully, it seems the doctors agreed.

So right now, we are waiting to hear from the ENT to schedule that surgery. Because of his age and airway issues and heart issues he will likely be hospitalized for up to 3 days following this surgery. And they suggest waiting at least a month for him to heal before his heart cath is done, because of intubation and swelling etc. Currently, the Cath was put on the calendar for March 24th.

Not sure if that will work out for that date or not now. Again trusting the Lord to work out those details. He will also need an xray for swallowing to make sure he is not aspirating. He has had that done, but it was before October's heart surgery and all looked good then. He will also need another sleep study after surgery and on CPAP to make sure his pressures are good with the machine set up.

God is good!! Isaiah is so brave and such my hero. How blessed I am to be called "Mommy" by him and so many other precious "babies" of many ages.

Here was the night of the sleep study. It took over 30 minutes for the tech to get all the electrodes and stuff on him. He also had a cannula and a sensor over his lip to make it complete. I was not supposed to have my phone on during the test so after I took this picture I shut it down. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Health To A Better Way

I have always been interested in health, nutrition, exercise and supplements (aka vitamins, minerals, herbs, essential oils, anything that will enhance the body in natural health and healing).

Before I met Jay (at the young age of 19) I was going to school, aspiring to become a Nutritionist. Even after getting married (only 3 months after meeting him) and having a child a year later, I still went to college working toward that goal. 

However, when Tyler was 2 years old we moved to another state, which "temporarily" put my college on hold since we weren't residents and it would be too expensive. Shortly after that move, I was expecting Makenna and at the same time began seriously thinking about homeschooling my children. God, also at that time, brought me to a full surrendering my life to him. I had always known Him, "loved" Him and believed in Jesus, but I had not really ever understood what it meant to give my life to Him, I had always lived for self. So going back to college to have a career was not a strong desire any longer. Teaching my children and following the Lord was. So I gave up college at that time in my life. Honestly, I can say, I have No regrets!

Still health and nutrition interested me. I had a family I was managing, responsible for what they ate and how they spent their free time. My eating and cooking have been through quite the journey: typical American diet of junk, fast food, and empty calories as a kid, to then starving myself to lose "5-10" lbs, "because I never had a flat tummy." When I finally got to a "normal" weight I went from vegetarianism, to low fat, low carbs, low calories, only God-made foods, then back to the freedom of all foods (even junk again but in moderation)...Through all of that, having 7 biological babies, and when I turned 35 something wouldn't budge. My "baby" weight would not come off with the typical nursing, exercise and portion control. 

After the birth of my last "baby" (she is now 6), I finally got a sensible doctor who diagnosed me with hypothyroidism and low adrenals, so I began medication that has helped my energy tremendously. Unfortunately, since then I have had 20-25 lbs that I struggle back and forth with, losing and gaining back, never even reaching my pre-baby weight. It is yo-yo body, which I try not to be obsessive about or put as an idol before God. I know my weight and health is not something God wants me to put above Him. Nor do I want my children to see me as vain in my appearance; which might cause them to struggle inward about themselves. It is true though that when I am at a more normal weight for me, get in some exercise, and eat better I feel all around healthier with lots more energy, less aches in my joints, more clear minded and sleep better. 

So how do I find a balance that is safe, healthy and not idolatry? One that will keep the last half of my life on this earth, Lord willing, be one that is free from undue aches and pains, but also one that is not so strict that I can't enjoy living or cooking or fellowship with other friends around the dinner table? Not to mention I want to stay attractive for my husband. He has always been so kind and loving toward my many pregnancies and after baby weight. He insists he loves the way I look, which I believe him, but I think he just might enjoy a bit healthier wife. I am in no way advocating "skinny minnie" either. I believe, my matronly figure was earned and I am proud of it. I believe muscle is key to keeping things in place, keeping bones strong and bodies be healthy looking. I am also not speaking about body building types. While I do have some muscle under my thin layers of fat that I would prefer to stand out, body building is not for me

I am so excited to say that I believe I have found a wonderful answer to a healthy, easy, delicious, balanced approach that seems to work. 

The book Trim Healthy Mama by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett. 

It was a Christmas request that I had asked for and received from the kids. I have always enjoyed Nancy Campbell's Above Rubies magazine and her Bible studies. I also have a couple of Serene and Pearl's music CDS. I was very excited to hear about this book the sisters had been working on for 5 years. I had heard amazing reviews about it.

It is a bit on the "expensive" side as books go. But I tell you I would pay double the price for what I have learned so far and all the recipes I have tried are really good and easy. I have been reading the book a couple hours every week since I got it for Christmas and still only about half way through it. There is a lot to learn and put into change. It is nothing like I have ever read or considered and I have read probably 25 books on nutrition, dieting, health etc. I am definitely going to recommend this book to every Mama I know! Just a little disclaimer, this book definitely has some topics that are not "Kid Approved", or maybe even Husband friendly. It is written toward married Mamas. My girls have enjoyed hearing me tell them about the content as to how the eating works for us to keep our weight managed and they have enjoyed the recipe section, but they have been warned to stay away from the rest of the content.

I am beginning to put some of the principles into practice which have been simple, satisfying and so delicious. The principles are not only biblical but they have been easy to put into practice and my family have been enjoying everything as well. I know, without a doubt, that it will be principles that I will easily be able to manage for the rest of my life. And in just a week's time of doing some of the program I have lost about 2 lbs (I am still learning and trying to figure how it will exactly work for my lifestyle). I haven't measured myself yet either but one pair of my pants are getting quite baggy in just that same week. 

I hope to give some progress as I go and learn. I also plan to continue and up my exercise with T-Tapp to 3-4 times a week. When I am faithfully doing T-Tapp I don't have back, hip or neck pain at all. The stretching and strengthening not only help you create more lean muscle mass but it keeps those injured body areas pain free. You can go to the above link and try some of her free exercises. Right now my new favorite is Lady Bug. It is supposed o be great for your hormones too!

Here is a before photo of me taken. This sweater isn't the most flattering, but that is okay. I wanted this "Before Photo" to be me at one of my worst looking days.

And here are a few links to get you started in learning about it. Let me know what you think.

Trim Healthy Mama Forum

Gwen's Nest Blog

This last link is a blog I found last night and she has lost 40 lbs on this diet in 6 months and maintained it. She has some delicious looking recipes. I already tried this milkshake recipe this morning for breakfast (yes breakfast, although I added a scoop of Jay Robb's chocolate whey protein powder) and it was amazing.

Thin Mint Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake