Monday, April 21, 2014

Resurrection Day

This year it had been on my heart to make Easter more intentional. I wanted it to be less about rabbits, chicks, and candy, but more about our Savior. I barely put out any of the decorations from our Easter box and instead D and I tried to center our conversations and even our activities around the glorious and gruesome days that come to mind during this Easter season.

We missed being able to celebrate with our family because Ava developed a virus with symptoms of a high fever and soar throat that simply had to run its course. Thankfully she had been fever free long enough for us to rejoice in Resurrection Day with our church family. And quite honestly, I was sad that we did not get to be with our families, but it gave our core family sweet time to help our kids focus on what Easter truly is about. We had more time to read the Easter story in our Bible. The kids played with the 12 day countdown to Resurrection Day Eggs. Gavin's excitement about Easter transformed from looking for eggs to the fact that Jesus has risen. Even Ava at two years old, seemed to understand. One night, it was her turn to pray. She usually just repeats what we help her say in short phrases. We started with, "Thank you, for Jesus, dying," and she without help finished, "on the cross." It melted my heart.

Before lunch, we took a few family photos. Ok, we took a lot but it's hard to get pictures of a busy two year old.

 We didn't do away with all Easter traditions though. Each kid still had an Easter basket which we explained that just like God gives us good things, Mommy and Daddy like to give good things to our kids.
                  We also did a fun egg hunt in the backyard for our two kids.                     
 We all ended up having so much fun because a few confetti eggs were thrown into the mix. We all got "egged" but D and I got an unexpected treat as we watched Ava being delighted with the confetti flying out of the eggs. She would shake the egg and squeal with delight.
We even had time to blow bubbles for the kids. That sounds like such a little thing, but with the amount of rushing around that we do, it was a much needed break.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Part Two: A Love Story

I am dragging my feet as I write the Part Two of Dave's story. Here's Part One if you missed it.  Surely, a year's time would make it easier. And most definitely knowing God was and still is in control gives me peace. In the weeks leading up to the one year anniversary I was having a bit of tough time, but by God's grace, I do feel that peace this morning.

I last left off with us heading to the doors of the Science Museum to leave last Valentine's Day. Dave had just told me he felt light-headed. As we reached the doors, Dave didn't understand the building manager telling him to use the other door. I'm pushing the stroller, trying to grab Dave's arm and frantically trying to recall the contents of my purse. Do I have a snack for what I thought was him having low blood sugar?

As soon as we step outside, Dave stumbles back towards the glass doors while making erratic movements with his arms. I started asking him what's going on and even at one point before he fell down asked if he was joking around. I'm frantically grabbing things from my purse, the first being a candy cane from Christmas and a granola bar. All the while I start beating on the glass window for help.  Some people come rushing out including the building manager named Bill who stayed with me the entire time.

After Bill came to help, one of the first ladies to come through the doors had to be about eight or nine months pregnant. I later found out her name was Dee Dee and she was visiting from California. Dee Dee was a paramedic. She immediately said to stop giving him anything to eat and to roll Dave on his side. He was having a seizure. Someone called 911 while Bill helped me hold Dave on his side. My hunny is pretty strong to say the least. I just kept praying and talking to Dave because at times he would close his eyes. Another sweet lady scooped up Gavin as he was crying so hard and eventually he and Ava were taken back inside. I can't tell you how grateful I am to these kind strangers who helped me and our kids. I'm not sure who did it, but someone gave Gavin a stuffed Stegosaurus that he named Petty.

The ambulance workers arrived and started working on Dave. They asked me a ton of questions and all the while Dave kept fighting with them. He did not like being constrained but he couldn't communicate at this point except to try to pull away from everyone. One of the hardest parts was having to tell them which hospital to take Dave to and not be able to go with him. I had to get our kiddos for I couldn't just leave them. God is so good for so many reasons but 1) Dave was not driving when this happened. We were walking to our car to leave. and 2) For those of you not familiar with the Houston area, the Science Museum is literally blocks away from the nationally known medical center. I could actually see the Med Center from the steps of the Museum.

So many visuals come flooding back. That along with the knowledge of God's goodness has left me sitting here in a pile of tears as I write this. As soon as I could, I rushed back to the kids and Dee Dee helped me load them up in the car. Even though the hospital was only a few blocks away, I was a nervous wreck but knew I had to hold it together for Gavin. Thankfully Ava was too young to understand anything that went on. I had already called Dave's parents and called mine as I was on my way.

We found our way to the hospital parking lot. I loaded up the kids in the stroller and practically ran until I came to a large outside staircase. I remember thinking, "How in the world am I going to get this stroller up there?" At that point a lady in scrubs came out the door at the top and asked if I needed help. She helped me carry the stroller up all those stairs and then took me right to Dave's ER room. I couldn't have told you what door or elevator or hallway we took. Seriously, God sent her my way at the exact time I needed her.

About the time I got to Dave's room, my father-law and brother-in-law met me. They had already left work and when my mother-in-law called them, my brother-in-law was able to take the exit he needed right then, right to the hospital. I answered another hundred questions from the ER staff and at that point knew for sure that Dave had suffered a seizure and had another on the way to the hospital. At that point they told me they were going to intubate him to protect his airways. They had also given him medicine to prevent more seizures.

I am so thankful for our family - my parents, my in-laws, and my brother-in-law. My in-laws were with me  throughout all of this; my parents took such awesome care of our kids and my brother-in-law was there to do anything from move car seats to go on food runs.

Eventually they moved Dave to ICU. We didn't know what was causing his seizures. We hadn't been out of the country recently or camping, so until blood work and spinal tap results came back, Dave was under quarantine. Anyone who went into the ICU ward had to suit up from head to toe as he was quarantined. Dave of course, had his clothes cut off him and his watch, wedding ring, and everything else removed. But before I saw the one thing that was left on, I already had this phrase firmly planted in my mind, "God is in control." The one thing he was allowed to keep on, was his rubber bracelet that said, "God loves you. Always has and always will." What a testament to every single nurse that had to check his hospital wristband throughout his stay.

Dave did have some paralysis of his left side due to the seizure but thankfully he fully recovered his movements while in the hospital. For a couple of days, Dave had to have several procedures done from MRIs to CT scans and even a couple of failed spinal taps before one was successful.   He also had a fever and had to be sedated at first.

By the second day, they were able to take him off sedation and off the breathing machine. Several of our friends from our Sunday School class wanted to come up to the hospital but not knowing what Dave had, I just couldn't bare risking someone else catching it. However, one of our pastors and his wife came up just minutes after they got Dave off the ventilator. I was rushing out of ICU to tell our family as removing the ventilator had been a hard process after some failed attempts. I think I surprised our pastor when he saw the big smile on my face! Along with Pastor Greg we had another sweet pastor friend of ours willing to suit up in the quarantine unit so that he could pray with us.

It wasn't until the third day, that a med student asked Dave who I was that he whispered my name. And oh what a feeling that was! Up until then, he had not been very responsive. Later on that day he was able to squeeze my hand. Finally, during the morning rounds of the fourth day in ICU, the doctor told us Dave probably had viral meningitis. Most of the time when a person contracts this, they will have a bad headache, fever or stiff neck, but there is also the case where a person can have a seizure as the first sign as it was in Dave's case.

By the fifth day, Dave was moved out of ICU into a regular room, but by then we could tell he was in a lot of pain especially his back and head. Physical therapy came to help because Dave literally had to gain his strength and ability to brush his teeth, walk, and eat.  Thankfully learning the abilities was a fairly quick process but getting through the back pain is even sometimes still an issue today. We think he may have pulled his back muscles during the time of the seizures.  We were also concerned that his headaches were a result of several failed spinal taps.

We both got a boost the next day when my parents brought Gavin and Ava to the hospital. Oh how I had missed those two. I remember thinking that Ava had grown so much in just a few short days.  Gavin was really leery about coming in the room at first because he was concerned his daddy was still bleeding. He had seen blood on Dave's face at the museum because he had bitten his tongue during the seizure. Once we reassured him there was no blood, he was excited to show Dave the card he made for him.

 Below is a picture of Dave two days later when he was being discharged from the hospital. He has that wonderful smile that first attracted me to him. I have to say it was a little bittersweet going home not really knowing what to expect, but the best birthday present I could have ever received. That and our moms had picked up at our house, decorated for my birthday and left us sweet flowers.
Dave was going to have a long road of recovering. He wasn't himself mentally for a little while. I think that had to do with the healing his brain was undergoing from the infection. And, he was in so much pain from his back. Every little bump on the way home was excruciating.  To go through something like this with your best friend and they not remember any of it is so surreal.

Sometimes I add the Proverbs of the day to my Bible reading as I had started for the month of February during that time. But this go around I decided to read the corresponding Psalms as well. On February 18, Psalm 18: 1-6 says:

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
    and I am saved from my enemies.
The cords of death encompassed me;
    the torrents of destruction assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
    the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord;
    to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
    and my cry to him reached his ears.

How awesome is our God! What an encouragement that was to me during Dave's hospital stay. The last two verses of the Psalm read (49-50):

For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
    and sing to your name.
50 Great salvation he brings to his king,
    and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
    to David and his offspring forever.

I know Dave is not the David mentioned here, but how sweet to know that God showed His steadfast love to us.

Dave ended up doing three months of physical therapy. We also found out that Texas law would not let Dave drive for six months from the date of his seizure. Our kids were such troopers. They would go with us early to Dave's therapy. I would either take them to the park or to Chick Fil A. Then we would all make the hour drive to Dave's work and drop him off before heading home. In the afternoon, the three of us would pile back up in the car to meet my father-in-law. We would spend about five hours in the car Monday through Thursday, but the kids were really so good as long as we had plenty of books and snacks. After Dave's therapy ended in May, my father-in-law picked Dave up in the mornings and we would meet him again in the afternoon. What a blessing that was to us!

 (The day after Dave came home.)

Last Valentine's Day, a popular song kept playing in my head and it truly summed up God's gracious love for us. I remember just weeping when I heard it on the radio driving home from the hospital.

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing… Remains

Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me

On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains

In death, In life, I’m confident and
covered by the power of Your great love
My debt is paid, there’s nothing that can
separate my heart from Your great love...

I have listened to this song countless times, but it wasn't until several months after Dave's illness that one phrase stuck out and it was like a kick in the gut. We were singing the song in church and the part that says, "In death, in life, I'm confident and covered by the power of Your great love." You see, even if God had chosen that Dave's life would have come to an end on that day, I am confident that God covers us by His great love.  He paid my debt and that is the greatest expression of love I could ever receive.

And here we are, one year later on Valentines Day. By God's grace He has fully restored and we are together- all four of us.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013- A Year of Love, Healing, Growing and Costumes

2013 is not a year we will likely forget. With an ICU stay, 2 ER trips, three near fainting spells, and a possible concussion for our unit of four, it's a year I feel like I have aged and not in that cute let's grow old together kind of way. It's definitely been an emotionally exhausting year, but there is one thing that has kept us plugging along and even joyfully. It's knowing that God is in control. He always has and always will be. With that I find rest.

All of the following pictures are from my iPhone. I finally got around to downloading them which was kind of a walk down memory lane. Gavin suddenly turned from a toddler to a boy this year. He loves his superheros and villains from Darth Vader to the Ninja Turtles, Batman, Superman, the Hulk and the list goes on. He is either playing with them or pretending he is a Superhero. Even sister gets into the action. Mustaches were big around here.

 And while Gavin is helping me in the kitchen when he is not fighting crime, Ava went from a baby to a toddler/preschooler. She definitely doesn't toddler around here. In fact, she is our little monkey. She will find something to climb on. That girl is fearless. She has also taken off on her language development. We are pretty sure we have a talker on our hands.
These two love each other fair and square, well, maybe one more than the other. A certain red head needs her space sometimes. I have so many pictures of Gavin leaning over to kiss his sister on the forehead, none of which we prompt him to do. In fact, two hugs, a kiss on the head and a rub of the head are a nighttime ritual of theirs. Gavin tells us Ava is his best friend and that he needs four more sisters just like her.
 Hands down the hardest time this year was when Dave got sick. I still need to finish up part two of that story, but let's just say we are so thankful he is well and with us still.
 These little faces kept us laughing in the hard times.
Some outdoor fun did us well too.
I just know I can't get enough of these three. We truly enjoy being with each other: playing, laughing, singing, dancing funny, reading, watching movies and exploring.
 During Dave's hospital stay, these verses from Psalm 18 were part of my reading. I believe this has been the anthem of 2013. I am not sure what 2014 will hold, but we will continue to believe God is in control.
 I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
    and I am saved from my enemies.
The cords of death encompassed me;
    the torrents of destruction assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
    the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord;
    to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
    and my cry to him reached his ears.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Birthday Little Girl


My sweet Ava Grace,

You certainly know how to light up a room. In two short years, you have let your spunky personality shine. You love fiercely and get upset fiercely. Perhaps it has something to do with the firey red hair of yours. I love how some mornings or after naps you need a few minutes of snuggle time with me in the rocker. You pull that thumb and Mia’s ear up to your mouth and all is well as I sing to you. Music is your calm and music is your excitement. Often you tiptoe in circles around a room to the beat of a song and you already have picked up on tunes and words when you sing. Those dancing feet remind me so of when you were a baby and would twirl your feet in your infant carrier to a song.

At two, you love to be chased and to chase. It usually illicit giggles and tickles. Just last night it was hard to keep a straight face when you decided to “tickle, tickle” mommy during nighttime prayers. When it’s your turn to pray, you consistently thank God for apples and pumpkins as you fold your sweet little hands together.

You certainly have a sense of humor and oh a sense of adventure and mischievousness. One morning I walked in to get you up, and you had stripped down to your diaper and greeted me with “naked baby.” I am just glad the diaper stayed on. Well, at least that time it did. You are certainly my little monkey and instead of asking me to pick you up, you just say, “Mama monkey.” I can’t resist that.

I know this next year is going to be such a year of growth as you develop into a little girl. I pray that you will continually “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). My hope is that you will receive grace and extend it as God has so graciously given you to us. 

Happy 2nd birthday my sweet girl. I love you to the moon and back and more.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What's Going On

I am giving myself five minutes to blog because it's late and I should either be A) sleeping or B) working. But I figure if I could give myself five minutes I could get a few things written and appease my grandmother. Hi Nana!

We have been under the weather around here. Among the four of us we have had six trips to the urgent care/pediatrician, one visit may or may not have been the result of an iron catapulting through the air. This is my absolute favorite time of year, so I have been a little bummed to have had to cancel some fun fall outings. I keep reminding myself there is still time to get that pumpkin patch visit in.

Gavin is still loving school. He is student of the week this week and of all weeks he has had to miss two days. I have enjoyed snuggles on the couch with my little boy while watching Pete's Dragon. For some reason my husband is not a fun of that movie, but I grew up watching it.

Thankfully Boot Scoot, AKA Ava is well and as spirited as ever. Her language development amazes me. I have a list of words I wrote down that she could say three months ago and since then its grown into phrases she spouts off. My favorite words are "huggy" for hug and "buggy" for bug and she often says "here you go" and "more please." She constantly makes us laugh with her faces and smooth dance moves.

We are gearing up for the holidays. I can't believe we are already planning dates in December including a certain little girl's second birthday.

Well, that's all the time I have but I'll end with a couple of fairly recent pictures.





Monday, September 16, 2013

Go Texans!

We have been so busy around here, it has been hard to get a word, or blog post in. However, I thought I would share a few pictures I took Sunday of the kiddos sporting their Texans colors. To be fair, I didn't associate their red and blue wardrobe with the Texans until after we got home from church, but hey, it's nice when those things work out.