She's so cute.
Allie had her Mic-key button pulled today. She hasn't been using it, so technically, it's not a huge deal. But this is a huge symbolic step forward for us. It's a definite milestone. It's a declaration that Allie is moving forward. With every step, she demonstrates independence.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Talk about forgiveness dredges up painful memories out of the mucky, muddy bottoms of our souls. The evidence of that is the discussion taking place in the comments section of my last post about my own conflicted feelings about extending forgiveness to someone that's flipped my life upside-down.
Here in Eureka, I live less than a mile from the very shallow Humboldt Bay. During low tide, most of the bay is a smelly mud flat. From time to time, the bay needs to be dredged so that boats can pass safely through channels. Dredging also provides an environmentally friendly flow of the tides. Moving that mud around is good for harmony and balance. And it smells.
When talking about forgiveness, the discussion inevitably turns to the topic of family members who have wronged us. A family is supposed to be a refuge of peace and harmony in a world that is incredibly competitive and hostile. So when our supposed refuge becomes a place of hostility and competition instead place where peace flows, expectations are shattered and injuries inflicted cause great confusion and instability. Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse are never supposed to exist in a refuge of peace and protection.
That's why when these violations occur, the wounds are infected with unforgiveness for years, sometimes decades. So the children of wounded children are affected by the transgressions of their grandparents. Someone has to break the chain.
Relationships with each other matter more to God than the junk we've done to each other out of selfishness or revenge. I'm personally motivated to forgive family. I want an on-going, growing relationship with the people that share my name.
Because we will wrong the ones we love the most, forgiveness must be free flowing within the family. Parents to kids. Children to parents. Jesus assumes that kindness to a son from a father is instinctive even among the most wicked among us. Everybody loves their kids. Dis-owning a child is unnatural. Remember the story of the prodigal son? Even when the child dishonors the father, the father celebrates the return of the wayward.
Forgiveness flowing from children to parents is a little tougher. It's not a given. In fact, that's why a commandment had to be given in the Old Testament and a reminder in the New Testament pointing to the command. "Children, honor your parents so that you will live a long life." No other conditions are mentioned. We all have our parents' sins on record. My entire generation are offspring of parents who have parented and tried to hold marriages together through some of history's most tumultuous years. We all have many things we could hold against our parents. I come from a broken home and, quite possibly, you come from a broken home. We're a generation raised by alcoholic parents or absent fathers. This is a recipe for bad parenting and bad memories.
But God has instructed me to both honor my parents and not keep a record of wrongs. I refuse to dishonor my parents by making them acknowledge sins committed against me more than two decades ago. I was under their authority. Under it. They don't answer to me. They answer to God. I can't make them answer to me.
So how can I have a healthy, functioning relationships want to have a healthy functioning relationship moving forward? Yep. I can raise my kid's with all the fear of God and love I think should have existed in the house I grew up in. That's what I have in my power to do. I think that will produce at least two results: 1. that will allow me to share, live, express the gospel and the benefits of living in obedience; 2. it could cause them to want that for their lives. Parenting kids through their teen and young adult years has caused me to have much grace toward my parents.
My parenting has given me more opportunity to share the gospel with my parents than anything. What a pleasure it is to tell your mom and dad that God has good news; Jesus is willing to wipe out wrongs and guilt if we turn to Him.
That brings e to the original reason for my post about being conflicted about forgiveness. I don't have the same motivation to forgive someone outside of my family that has caused me tremendous pain. I don't want to be a friend. I don't want to move forward with him.
But I rarely get things the way I want them. And since I believe God is in charge and He's brought this situation to my doorstep, the reality is He may want me to have a change of heart. I'll allow Him to do that. I think it's a process, though. I'm His servant and I'll do what needs to be done.
Jesus said on the cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." But Jesus didn't tell both thieves crucified with Him that they'd be in paradise with Him. According to the record, Jesus only had one conversation with one person that day that ended with a promise of paradise. An acknowledgment of who Jesus was needed to be made in order to follow Him where He was going in eternity.
If you are not in my family, I need you to acknowledge the wrongs you've done me if you want forgiveness and a relationship that moves forward. Otherwise, there is no foundation, basis, or grounds for you and me to have any kind of a relationship. And quite frankly, that's no skin off my nose.
Or is it?
Monday, October 29, 2007
addendum: some people have let me know that they're having a problem viewing the popfly mashup i posted so try this link and let me know if it works: Ali Slides
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Poor me. As soon as the needles come out, the charming a beautiful Susan pulls a disappearing act like she was one of David Copperfield's vanishing beauties.
So Allie is a little sore this weekend. She git two shots in each leg in addition to that dreaded poke in the big toe to draw a few drops of blood. Susan got her undressed for a bath yesterday to find cartoon covered band-aids stuck all over the place like Allie was starting some kind of collection.
Poor me. Did I tell you I was the one that had to be in there comforting her while she got all those shots?
On the serious side, there is a little concern that Allie isn't on track with her weight. She's grown an inch and a half over the past month, but she still only weighs eighteen and three-quarter pounds. She's actually lost a few ounces. She's been teething and that has affected her appetite. But they have a little chart down at the doctor's office, and Allie's little marks on the graph fall a little below the curve for her age and height so the nurses have been giving us little speeches. So we're thinking of creative ways to fatten her up.
I wish I had this problem. I'm looking for creative ways to take the fat off.
Allie has been doing fantastic at physical therapy. I'll try to get some pictures up of her later this week...
Thursday, October 25, 2007
These kids love their music.
Wow. I'm my dad.
The way it went down was this way I guess: he and his brother live in fire ravaged San Diego county. They were doing what they could to protect their homes and video taped themselves in the act. CNN got their hands on the tape and interviewed these boys. See the CNN footage here.
The icing on the cake was Dr. Yphantides nephew's photo op with the leader of the free world.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I guess some doctors take that position so that parents will not have false hope. That way, if the patient exceeds the expectations set, they are happy no matter what. And the doctor comes out smelling like a rose.
This was Dr. S's tactic. And he usually smelled as good as a rose, but not exactly like one. Dr. S is quite dapper. But Dr. S said that Ali would always be on medicine called keppra to prevent seizures. He was also the doctor that said that Ali would be blind and an epileptic. He said that Ali may never breathe without a machine. A rarely smiled when working with Ali. And when we had planning meeting to discuss Ali's rehabilitation here in Eureka, he usually said his piece and then left the room. After he was gone, the rest of the doctors and nurses would do damage control to try and give us some hope and to lift our spirits. That's the effect Dr. S. had on us.
But on this visit, Dr. S. smiled. He was a little giddy, in fact, when he examined Ali. Ali was responsive and smiling and laughing during the examination. This floored Dr. S. He shined his little flashlight in Alis' eye, end she looked at him and followed his movements with her eyes.
"Did you see that?" asked Dr. S. "She looked at me. Her eyes followed me."
"She does that," said the charming and beautiful Susan.
It was our best visit ever with Dr. S. He was even talking about taking Ali off keppra. Ali was supposed to be on keppra the rest of her life. Now she could be off it some time this winter, spring at the latest.
"I'm impressed," he said. "Whatever you're doing, keep doing it."
We love Dr. S.
Hmm. That's a very forward thinking request I thought. "May I suggest to you that you send someone that has ruined your family and inflicted crippling injuries on your granddaughter happy birthday wishes with a short forgiveness note. You and he will be so happy if you do." To err is human, to forgive is divine...
Many of my friends ask me what I want to do the man that set all these things in motion. Well, the answer to that question is different on different days. Sometimes I drive around Eureka and say to myself, "Self, what are you doing here?" I feel lost and out of place. Other time I feel glad to be in the town where I grew up. Sometimes Ali cries and is an unbelievable amount of work. I feel so sad and worry that she'll not get better. But most of the time, I thank God that I get to be a daddy again no matter how things turn out in Ali's life. I just stare at her and realize that this little girl will have me tightly wrapped around her little finger. She already does. Sometimes, I'm by myself and I feel so disoriented and like I'm in a prison of sorts; definitely not living a life I'd choose. So let me put it the most positive way I can: sometimes I feel a little forgiving and some days I feel less.
And then I think, "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
So I want to forgive. I want to stand ready to forgive anyone that wrongs me.
But my theology and Jesus' teachings come in direct conflict with the way I feel and what makes sense to me.
Here's what I wrote in one email:
It would be inappropriate to extend forgiveness to somebody that has not asked for it or shown any signs of repentance. Our lives are forever altered because of this young man. We've had to move, we're separated from our kids, my daughter is a total wreck, and we've lost everything that has been home to us. This was all set in motion by this young man.
He doesn't acknowledge that he almost killed Ali. His lawyers downplay his wrong doing while implicating my daughter. This is not the behavior of someone that wants forgiveness. This is denial of wrong doing and taking responsibility for Ali's crippling injuries. When he asks us for forgiveness, we'll consider forgiving. Unaccepted or unrequested forgiveness is misapplied when there is no repentance. Thus, your request is inappropriate. (I changed the exact wording a little for our privacy)
I guess I don't know, for sure, if I'm right. I pray for the person that hurt Ali and brought so much change into our lives. Ultimately, the course of our lives is, has been, and always will be in the hands of the Lord. I honestly believe that we'll look back on this whole thing and totally recognize God's providence in our lives before, during, and after these events. And I don't wish the California penal system on anyone. Honestly. I don't. I just want Ali to get better, the adoption to go smoothly, I want my daughter to be healed emotionally and spiritually, and I want Paul to find forgiveness and newness of life in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And I stand ready to forgive. I pray that someday I can meet him face to face and extend the forgiveness he wants and needs. Until that happens, I'll pray for the Lord's protection and guidance in his life. I hope the action of praying will prepare me for the action of forgiving.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Ali is now seen in the office two times a week. She tolerates her car rides now. Ali has made great gains over the last three months. Initially she was very irritable; however, this has decreased significantly to a normal level with her now being able to participate in therapy for up to an hour at a time. She may fuss or screech at times to indicate pleasure, displeasure, or indicate she wants a change of activity, but she rarely cries now during therapy sessions. Her irritability decreased dramatically once she started to eat orally and her g-tube feedings stopped completely.
She regulates her breathing with her swallowing. Ali has completely transitioned of her g-tube to oral eating with all medicine and nutrition taken orally. She just started to eat 1/4 cup of ground/pureed table foods 3 times a day with additional calories added to boost her caloric intake.
She has had one illness since eating exclusively by mouth, which required her to coordinate mouth breathing and sucking. She continued to drink her bottle during this time coordinating sucking-swallowing and mouth breathing. She is a dependent eater, as she does not effectively move her hands and arms to feed herself. She will try to help hold the bottle with one hand when she is relaxed. She can mouth pureed foods off her right hand.
Oral Motor Skills
She can now randomly move her tongue in various directions including in, out, elevate, rotate, and side to side. She an flatten, bunch and point her tongue randomly as well. Muscle overflow of sticking her tongue out in hard extension or tongue thrust is rarely seen now. She uses her tongue to lick objects that approach her mouth, which may be residual suckle reflex, it is hard to tell this point, as she appears to be enjoying mouthing the items. She is also able to make many vowel and early consonant sounds with this new tongue movement and control. She appears to enjoy making these sounds and enjoys people's responses when she makes sounds.
Motor Support for eating/speech and language
She is developing head control in sitting, but sits with a rounded lower back which does not support her upper trunk, shoulder, neck, jaw and tongue control for refined eating skills. This will need to be addressed in therapy. She does sit supported in a high chair now, but with rounded back, not on her sitz bone with a low back arch which is needed for optimal oral motor control for eating and speech. She has a difficult time coordinating hand-eye-mouth movement due to motor involvement.
Ali was developing normally prior to her injuries. Her cognitive and communication skills have improved considerably over the last three months. It is highly likely that she is able to understand more than she can indicate at this time due to her poor motor control. She has scattered receptive speech and language skills through the 9-month skill level. Currently, she is able to turn take with vocalizations, she calms and anticipates events, she stops crying when someone talks to her, she searches for known voices, she searches for "mama" and "papa" when her name is mentioned, she stops or quiets in response to "no", she smiles at a familiar person, and she attends to music and singing. Her expressive speech language skills are severely delayed due to motoric impairment and are at the 5-6 month level.
I designed a form for the web site redesign I'm working on: http://shepsstaff.org/newpages/test_formmail_page.htm
After the form is filled out, it says it's sent but it never arrives. My server is discountasp.net. If you down load this page: http://shepsstaff.org/newpages/test_formmail_page.htm and view it in notepad or a web page editor, you can view the script.
I got it at http://www.brainjar.com/asp/formmail/default.asp
Please help if you can...
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I want you to know, I'm counting my blessings and am excited when I think of the future, but I'm ready for the future to hurry up and get here. I'm ready for Ali to get better. I'm ready to be able to dive head first into my work. I'm ready for my daughter to not hurt. I'm ready for Susan to be able to get into a normal mommy routine.
I've been working on an article about coping and working through worry and looked at past posts about our situation and it makes everything hurt all over again.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
A discussion like this has been going on between them:
Charming and beautiful Susan: did you know how big this thing is?
Charming and beautiful Mother: no.
CABS: It's as bid as Ali.
CABM: No way.
CABM: Can you have Bryon take a picture?
CABS: He'll do anything I tell him.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Before Ali got hurt, she used to twirl her hair into such a tangle that she'd screech and cry and make us come running into her room in a panic. What a character. That's why I call her "Funky Winkerbean." I thought I made that up, but apparently, it's a comic strip.
Ali also does some exploring with her mouth and tongue. She checking out one her favorite toys with her mouth. She's having a blast in this picture. Shrieking loudly and kicking her little feet so that she turns in half-circles.
One of our adoption protocols was an HIV test. But that's confidential, of course. We took Ali in last week to a local clinic to have this done, but the poor ladies working that lab were so intimidated by Ali and her condition that I didn't think they could pull it off. They broke into a cold sweat when they went looking for a vein to poke their needle in. I called it off telling them I'd figure something else out. They were relieved.
My sister, Jennifer, works in the emergency room at a hospital in a town about twenty miles from here. She greased the wheels at that hospital and arranged for Ali to go to their lab and have blood drawn by a couple of pediatric nurses who knew what they were doing and took charge of the situation. We were in and out of there lickety-split. Kudos to Jennifer and the staff at Redwood Memorial. Redwood Memorial is part of the St. Joseph health system. Read their story here. All of Ali's health care and recovery is being organized and managed through the St. Joseph network.
You'll notice Ali is covered with a blanket here. The mornings are getting chili. I know that if you're on the East Coast, you have no idea that it's autumn. But fall has fallen here in Northern California. As I type this, were having our first big rain storm of our rainy season. The charming and beautiful Susan keeps talking about picking up some flannel sheets. I hope that happens soon...
This is one incredible baby.
But I'm up and running now.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Things constantly feel weird for us here. We've moved a few times, but a bunch of planning went into every move we've ever made. But this move, the way it's all happened has been incredibly disorienting. I know I beat this drum alot. But I constantly feel off balance.
But we're starting to get more involved with CC Eureka. In addition to the ministry that takes place with my new position at Shepherd's Staff, we're also plugging into outreach around town that our new church participates in. This Thursday, I'll be speaking down at a homeless shelter. I'll be giving my testimony before dinner is served to these guys. Pray for me if you think about it.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
By the way, this was the charming and beautiful Susan's biggest road trip since July, too. Since you asked, she traveled well, too.
We have to take Ali about fifteen miles south of here on Monday so she can have some blood drawn. Pray for both the trip down to the hospital and the appointment. This could be a traumatic event.
It's been getting cold here in Northern California. This morning it was 40 degrees and yesterday it was 37. It gets as high as sixty degrees in the afternoon, but after living in Florida for the past decade, my blood's pretty thin.
Ali finds the chilliness exhilarating. When the breeze hits her face, she squeals and smiles big.
Friday, October 05, 2007
The text use by Caldwell was 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24. The link will take you to the whole chapter. The interesting thing for me is that I've not heard these verses taught or read them as they stand alone. Those two short sentences are a powerful statement about God's relationship to a man who follows Him.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
Read those verses again and think about them for a second before you click away.
What follows are the points I wrote down. Just a warning, I don't always write down the points as they're given; I write them the way they hit me. Sometimes they even hit me the way the speaker intended them to be delivered.
Here's the note I wrote after Bob read the above verses: "...turned over - sanctified by the Holy Spirit in order to be used..." That's what I want; to be used by God. Now you gots my attention, Bob.
I made a note about unbelief and pride; we have to be teachable... unbelief will kill anything... without faith it is impossible...
God has to be believed...
faith + humble heart = cool things happening... this is an equal opportunity...
Bob said that God is both willing and faithful to cause change in us. He's done all the work. He's made us new; regenerated us. Now we need to get the rest of our body under the control of the Spirit. I thought it was funny when Caldwell said that life can look a lot like "eternal Romans chapter 7 instead of eternal life."
He nailed me there.
"I need you, God, because I can't change." -Bob Caldwell
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
One of the projects I'm working on is developing a blog for our each of our missionaries. This is a basic design. I'm designing a webpage for the ministry and the blog will have the same look and feel. It's a work in progress, so if you click around and find stuff half-done or un-done, I'm not done.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Sometimes Ali eats a bunch, sometimes she's picky. I can learn from this. I just eat a bunch. I'm not picky. You put it in front of me and I'll eat it. If your hands get too close to my mouth, you'll pull back a stump.
You'll notice that the charming and beautiful Susan is keeping some distance between herself and the person (Ali in this case) being fed. She learned the hard way. This is due to losing silverware and other serving utensils while feeding me. We thank the Lord that she learned this "distance feeding technique" early in our marriage. Maintaining this buffer zone has saved the charming and beautiful Susan life and limb.
We're actively teaching Ali the difference between "finger food" and "fingers as food."
Ali likes a little food with her fingers and vise verse. Whatever it takes to make her smile. We live for the smile.
But the tears are cute, too.