Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child. Have fun!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Psalm 139

In case you didn't see this comment yesterday, I'm posting it here.  I didn't write it.  It is from a prayer warrior who joined us in prayer for little Victor before we even knew there was a little Victor.  

"Little Victor you are so fearfully and wonderfully made!
Before God formed you - He knew you, where you'd spend your first few months, who would care for you, who would help you grow.
He knows when you will sit and when you will rise. 
He knows your thoughts even now - even the ones you'll have tomorrow (I bet they involve your mommy saying "Don't forget to breathe Victor").
He discerns your going out and your lying down. (Every movement YOU make and each one someone makes you do).
He is familiar with all your ways (all the things things you do each day to grow and what you will be doing each day thereafter).
Before a word (or grunt or cry or babble) is on your tongue, He knows it completely.
He has hemmed you in - behind and before, (provided for your every need).
He has laid His hand upon you! (you are VICTORIOUS and AMAZING )

(paraphrased: Psalm 139)

Inspired to claim this verse for YOU today little man!"
Stretching out.  So big!

Victor had a good night and a good day so far.  The nurse practitioner was just here.  Victor will likely have his first eye exam next week.  Pray for excellent results.  His weight is up to 2 lbs. 12 oz. and since his weight gain has been steady he can now be held 3 times/day!  Pray that his non-nutritive feeding goes well during these times.  He usually lasts about 20 minutes and then we need to stop and just rest for the remainder of the hold.  All labs look good.  Pray for every breath.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

VICTORious

Victor Noah King

Victorious Long Life of Faith in the One True King

That's my boy.
Many thanks for the care package that included this wonderful decoration for my blinds.  Each letter has a verse or phrase that I've shared here on this blog.  I love it!  What great reminders.

Before we even met Victor, a member of our prayer team sent us these words about our little man, "He will amaze.  God is going to use him in significant ways."

We have already seen multiple examples of how Victor has amazed.  The other day, one of the nurses shared with me something else miraculous.  She was talking about how well Victor has been doing considering his gestational age and weight at birth.  She reminded me that all of his brain scans have been completely clear, nothing has shown up.  She told me that even babies born later than 25 weeks gestation often have one or more scans that are not clear.  Another nurse overheard this and chimed in, "You really need to understand how amazing this is."

And she pondered all of these things in her heart.

Look at my little guy wearing big boy clothes!  Yes, they are size premie, but relatively speaking, they are definitely big boy clothes.

I had to enlist Nurse Amy's help with the arms as Little Man did not want to cooperate, allowing us to see his praise for Mommy.  Notice the dog theme going with the onesie and blanket.  Nurse Bridget likes to keep things coordinated.

Not bad for a self-portrait.  You don't want to know how many attempts it took to get it just right.




Victor had a good night and seems to be having a better day.  His weight is holding steady at 2 lbs. 11 oz.  Labs today.  Yuck!  No one likes to be stuck!

Prayer requests: Breathing, weight gain, the usual.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Very dark and stormy

It was a dark and stormy night.

Isn't that how all good stories start?  Well, maybe one did.  Once upon a time.

But it was a dark and stormy night.



This is what Utah usually looks like this time of year.  But not last night.  The one night that Katrina and I decided to venture out to a professional soccer game, a game that we didn't care about one iota, and a sport that she enjoyed only as long as her crush on Scott lasted and a sport that I only care about if one of my children is playing.  And even if my child is playing, I will only venture out to watch if the weather is just right.  I'm a fair weather fan.

But I am ahead of myself.  Why would we bother to attend this game in such foul weather, you ask?  The answer to that question began during my flight back to Utah.  After a layover in Phoenix, I boarded the plane with a contingent of black, red, and yellow clad soccer players.  My seat assignment happened to be right between two of them; one silent and the other quite chatty.  As it turned out, they were members of a professional soccer game, on their way to SLC for a game the next night.

Now, my knowledge of professional soccer is quite limited.  I do know that there is a team in Philadelphia called the Union.  Other than that, well, that's all I know.  This particular soccer team doesn't play against the Union, however, and when my new friend asked me how the Union is doing, I, um, well, I had no idea.

But he quickly forgave me and the conversation turned to my reason for going to Utah.  When I shared Victor's story, my soccer-minded friend was quite interested.  He shared his interest in adopting in the future.  I suggested he should find himself a wife first and he agreed.  Matters then turned to the rest of my family.  I showed him pictures (of course, like a good mother) and he was impressed.  I told him that the Good Doctor was a pastor and at this news my friend became very animated.  He told me that he had just been to church with his cousin the past Sunday.  He described the light show, the multi screens, and the pizzazz.  And then he told me that not only did he enjoy what he saw, he was deeply moved by the message.  He said that it was explained so that he could understand.  He planned to search for a church in his own hometown.  You never know what kinds of conversations you're going to have on a plane.

But then he asked if I'd like some free tickets to see his game.  What to say, what to say.  To turn him down would be impolite but going to a soccer game?  For fun? Hmmm?  I know, I'll ask Katrina to join me.  Then I know it'll be fun.  Yes, I'll take them.

Which brings us back to where we started...

It was a dark and stormy night as I headed north to pick up Katrina.  Silly girls, we didn't even think to question whether or not the game would be canceled until we were 5 minutes away.  In my world, all sports would be canceled for inclement weather.  No such luck.  And I guess is was a good thing as we had arrived.

We marched ourselves right up to the ticket window and asked for our tickets.  We were told we'd have to go to a different window.  All the way on the other side of the stadium.  Did I mention that it was raining?  And cold?  And all of my warm clothes are in PA?  Okay, just checking.  We went around to the other side of the stadium and asked the first available person where we could find the ticket window on this side of the building.  He pointed further in the direction we were headed.  I was beginning to think that they were sending us on a wild goose chase, in circles around the building.  We found the ticket window and got in line.  And waited.  The window next to our line opened and we hopped on over there.  The woman played around with her computer and then informed us that it wasn't working, we'd need to go back to the first line.  Oooooo-kay.  Finally, I asked for tickets for Cindy King.  Nope, no tickets for Cindy King.  Really?  Yes, ma'am.  She wanted to know who was giving us the tickets.  Um, my friend from the opposing team?  And his name is?  His name is...I knew his first and middle names but couldn't quite remember the last name so I guessed.  Nope, no tickets under that name.  What? We went to all of this trouble and he forgot to give us tickets?  Just as all hope was lost - Wait, did you say your name is Cindy?  Yes, I did.  Well, I have tickets here for Cindy, No Last Name.  That's me!  Problem solved.  See, we're just on a first name basis, me and my new soccer friend.

We sauntered into the stadium, thankful that the rain had basically stopped at this point.  We asked a very nice man-in-the-know to help us find our seats which just happened to be, yes, all of the way on the other side of the stadium, back where we had started our journey.  We climbed all the steps to the nose bleed section and sat down.  And then everyone got up and left.  We looked at each other?  What's going on?  Did we miss the game?  No worries, it was just intermission.  I mean, halftime.

The second half started and the rain started coming.  In buckets.  But we were safe and (not really) warm under a nice overhang.  Until the wind shifted.  Not fun.  But it was a good game.  I think.  Katrina checked her phone so we'd know how long the half would be.  Just as the game was ending, my new friend's team tied it up.  We looked at each other and it was unanimous, we were not going to stay for a minimum of 2 minutes of overtime.  I guess it's a good thing since my buddy's team lost.

Katrina decided this must mean that Victor is going to be a soccer star in the future.  I guess I'd better start enjoying these games.

Victor had a rough day in the NICU today.  The good news is that this rough day was better than his good days of a few weeks ago.  We're not sure what is going on but he had more desats and bradies than in recent days (only 2 bradies yesterday).  We had some good skin-on-skin time and some not-so-good skin-on-skin time.  But he's wearing clothes and he's so cute so he's forgiven.

They're changing his feeds so that he will receive them every 3 hours instead of every 4.  Each feed will be given over 90 minutes now instead of 2 hours.  Pray that he can tolerate these feeds which are closer to a big-boy schedule than what it's been.  Pray for limited reflux.  Pray for him as he practices sucking and learning to eat on his own.  It's a very slow process.

He weighs 2 lbs. 11 oz.  Pray for weight gain.

He will have an eye test in the near future.  Pray for no sign of retinopathy of prematurity.

Pray that Victor has a great day tomorrow!  Pray against discouragement in me after today.

Pray for all of the kids as they finish up the school year.  Pray for Andrew as he prepares for graduation.

Pray for me as I prepare to go home again this weekend, and then return in a few days.  Pray for the family as they prepare to travel out here on a vacation soon.  Pray for fun, family bonding and unity.



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The great performance

Yesterday was a day of travel.  Actually, it was a weekend of travel.  In just about 36 hours I flew from SLC to Baltimore and back and in between drove from Balitmore to home and back.  I was in PA less than 24 hours.  But it was all worth it.  It was worth it to be home again.  It was worth it to surprise the kids and it was worth it to see Mariana in Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Red wig was from the photo call.  She didn't stay a redhead for long.



There were goosebumps, there were chills, and there were many tears.  And when she came out for her curtain call?  There was a standing ovation.  She deserved it.  Through mic difficulties, she never wavered (don't believe her post about being frazzled, it never showed). Her voice was beautiful and her acting superb.  More tears after the show and lots of hugs.


Mariana, you are so beautiful and I'm so proud of you for using your talents for the Lord and for others.

Victor was well taken care of while I was gone.   Katrina got to do a lot of skin-to-skin time with him.  She sent us regular updates so we were in the know.  He lost a little weight again but is almost back to 2 lbs. 8 oz.   Keep praying for weight gain and remembering to breathe.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Coming to you from PA

Surprise!  A week ago, someone generously offered to fly me home so that I could see Mariana in a performance of Thoroughly Modern Millie.  The Good Doctor and I weighed not only the financial piece which would be taken care of, but the days away from Victor and the logistics of a quick trip home.  After praying about it and discussing it, here I am!

We arranged for Mariana to spend the night with a friend so she wouldn't know that the Good Doctor went to the airport to pick me up.  At home, only Andrew knew what was happening.  I got home early this morning, tried to catch a little sleep, surprised all the kids as they woke up, and headed off to church where I kept myself hidden away until the big reveal.

The plan was to Skype me into the service this morning, to talk about how the church has surrounded us during our journey.  I wasn't really into this idea anyway but the Good Doctor was all for it.  Instead,  there I was!  Surprise!

And I shared something like this:


Many times, as I’ve experienced the ups and downs of life, I’ve asked myself, “How does someone do this without God?” 

And then I ask myself another question, “How does one do this without a faith family?”

In our most recent adoption journey, our faith family has been so important.  Even before deciding to say yes to Victor, we had several prayer partners praying for us.  John and I each have a prayer team and many of the team members are from here at McBIC.  We shared with them the situation, our fears, and our concerns, and we set them free to pray.  The answers that came back, both in visions and in words, led to the confirmation that Victor was our son. 

Once we said yes and made the big announcement, we were inundated with offers of help.  So we started by enlisting a member of McBIC to set up a website to organize our needs.  Within a few hours, the sign up list was filled.  And then people asked for more needs.  And more.  And people started to offer to fill needs we didn’t even know we had.

So John and I would like to officially thank our faith family here and elsewhere for being the body of Christ to us, each one using his or her gifts to bless our family and to help bring Victor home.  I’m going to try to list all of the ways people have helped and I know that I’m going to forget something, please don’t think that your service was not appreciated or important – because it was and is!

Taxi service to the airport
Meals, meals, and more meals
Doing your pastor’s laundry
Cleaning up a motherless house
Making a 15 year old’s birthday special when her mother wasn’t home
Transporting kids here and there
Helping in numerous adoption fundraising endeavors
Childcare
Dog sitting
Teaching our homeschooled kids
Sorting socks
Doing dishes
Sending encouraging notes to us
Sending me care packages
Getting the little kids ready on Sunday morning while John is at church
Helping to keep life as normal as possible
Giving us Bible verses, songs, and words of encouragement as God nudges you to share
Paying for plane tickets, including the tickets that provided my surprise appearance here, and gave me the opportunity to see Mariana star in a musical this afternoon
Praying!  Please keep praying!

We have been blessed in so many ways!  I wouldn’t want to travel this road of life without God or without my faith family, a family that knows that each member is valuable and it is important that we share our unique gifts with others.  You have done that for us.

But I’m still waiting for someone to volunteer to return to Utah with me to get the spider off of my ceiling!

Big Little Man is now 2 lbs. 8 oz.  Big enough for clothes!  

Keep praying for feeding, and growing, and breathing.  

Pray for me.  God is good.  And Victor is good.  But this leaving is hard.  So hard.  I cry when I leave one and I cry when I leave 8.  It was good to be home, if even for a short time, but I'm ready to see my little guy wearing his big boy clothes!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Going after the one


The Good Doctor's Perspective 

I am a functionally single working father of seven these days. That may sound overwhelming to many of you, and quite frankly it is for me as someone who has depended on my wife of 21 years who is the ultimate organizer in our home.  But as I have lived as a single parent now for a couple of weeks, I have realized a few things. 

First, I have been blown away at all the help and support of people who believe in what we are doing.  Quite honestly, I didn't know how supportive people would be with us stepping out of the boat like we did, and yet we keep hearing from many different people about how this adoption is affecting them emotionally, spiritually, relationally, and in a multitude of ways.  Our grocery bill is roughly about 25% of what it was.  We are using less gas in our cars.  Our kids are very loved and cared for.  We are incredibly grateful.

Second, I am drawn to the idea of Christ's extravagant love for us as we have stepped out in faith to do what we really believe that God is calling us to do.  This idea of extravagance came from a woman named Tracie from the Kansas City area who has been walking with us for a while in this adoption adventure, long before Victor was even conceived.  In one of her comments to us recently, she used the word "extravagant" to describe what we were doing.  I pondered that as I realized that the very first day we showed up at the hospital.  On the day we met Victor, we signed legal documents taking legal custody of him and all the responsibility that came.  He is on our insurance.  We are going through incredible red tape and paperwork that no one can even understand until you go through it yourself.  

In many ways, we could have easily said no.  Easily.  Everyone in the world would have understood if we would have backed out of the situation.  And yet, we are choosing to love a child who had no hope and future.  It is extremely costly.  It is costly when our schedules are incredibly disrupted.  It is costly when our finances are uprooted and changed considerably within a month.  It is costly for me personally because I miss my wife very, very dearly.  It is costly in having little girls missing their mommy.  It is costly with less sleep over a period of a couple of weeks.  It is costly to not have us all together when we are celebrating great news with our children these days.

And yet... this brings me to the third realization.  The heart of God is to go after the one who is lost.  Our family is safe and secure... generally speaking.  Oh sure, our kids are getting used to their mama away, and it is a disruption.  And yet Luke 15 and the Parable of the Lost Sheep gives new meaning to me:

Luke 15 - Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

In the wake of the Gosnell trial in Philadelphia, we see the heart of God more clearly than ever when we leave the 99 safe children/sheep and go after the vulnerable one.  And we are rejoicing, because Victor Noah - Victorious Long Life - is beating the odds.  He is doing REALLY well for his gestational age (31 weeks today).  I think that has something to do with the fact that his mama is out there every day with him, holding him as longer as she can.  Humming and singing to him.  Praying over him as she holds his hands.

And how are the sheep doing at home, people keep asking me?  We are surviving... actually more than surviving.  I think on some level we are seeing 99 other sheep in the Church and the community rallying around us and supporting us in so many ways.  This whole experience has changed our family forever.  Some of our children have "grown up" more.  Some of our children have significantly matured in prayer.  Ask our 8-year-old daughter who prayed and prayed that God would bring a baby to our family on April 20 and 5:00 p.m. and it happened.  And on top of all that, our kids got something they've been wanting for a long time, text messaging on their phones.  Mama is a texting machine now because she can't always take the time to call.  And the spiritual depth that is coming from her computer in Utah these days is extremely fulfilling to me.

So thank you for caring and praying.  I can't wait for all of us to be together as a family.  I think on that day, I may say to all of you, "Rejoice with us, we have found our lost sheep."  Yet at the same time, I also wonder what God may call you to, whether you might be willing to go after the one when you are in a place of safety and comfort. "The one" doesn't mean adoption, there are many different "ones" who need love.  You may decide that you want to start praying about that and asking God to open your heart to something more dangerous than where you are currently.  But be careful; God may joyfully answer your prayer.

As John already mentioned, our little man's gestational age would be 31 weeks.  Instead he is 6 weeks old today.  He had such a great week and is doing amazingly well.  

He had lost a little weight but was back up to 2 lbs. 4 oz. yesterday.  The doctor increased his feeds from 20 ml to 22 ml.  

Pray that he feeds and grows.  And breathes.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Just an update

I'm all out of words so today it's just an update.

Yesterday there were happy tears as the nurse practitioner told me how well Victor is doing.  She also weaned his flow down to 3.0LPM and Victor did just fine.  His OG (feeding tube in mouth) was removed (actually, it was removed 3 times within a few hours yesterday morning but that was by Victor and was prior to doctor's orders) and replaced with an NG tube (feeding tube in nose).  Victor promptly pulled this out and was not very happy that it had to be put back in.  He is allowed to try non-nutritive feeding which is trying to suck without the goal of getting milk.  If it happens, it happens.

One other frequently asked question is about crying: Does Victor cry?  He does but not very often.  When he cries it is very quiet and more like a squeak or squeal.  He typically does it in response to being awakened and moved into a different position.  Mostly he shows his disapproval by scrunching up his forehead and giving his nurse the mad face, flailing his arms, and straightening his legs.  So there you have it, Preemie Emotions 101.

Pray for the non-nutritive feeding, that he would be successful and REMEMBER TO BREATHE!  And always, REMEMBER TO BREATHE!

Praise God for the VICTORious ways that Victor is growing.  It was prophesied that he would amaze and he is doing just that.

Praise God for our family and friends and for the many ways they have surrounded us through this journey.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mothers

One of the most common questions I'm asked relates to birthmothers and openness in adoption so today I'm going to address some of these questions.

Different families use different names for the woman who gave birth to their child.  Birth mother.  Tummy mommy.  (I have a hard time seeing my 16 year old using this term)  Biological mother.  There are arguments on every side.  What adopted children call their their first mother is also open to discussion.  But whatever term is chosen, and whatever name is used, I think the most important consideration is to talk about this mother with honor and respect.

I don't think that the birthmother is to be feared and I do not feel threatened by the birth families of my children.  There may be horror stories of birth families causing trouble, just as there are horror stories of adoptive families making inexcusable choices, but this is not the norm.  I think this birth mother tells it best, "What I am trying to say is that the Birthmom Boogeyman is actually a fictional character who is the arch-nemesis of Birthmom's [sic] everywhere.  We have enough love and conviction for our child to physically and emotionally place them into the care of another, at the expense of our daily emotional torment.  At the very least we would have the sense to know our sacrifice must be protected.  The family unit around our child must be kept sacred and secure.  The last thing on our mind is heading for the border or competing for the role as 'Mom.'"

Within adoption, there are different degrees of openness.  The traditional method of adoption was completely closed with no contact between birthmother and child.  This is still an option and at times, the only option.  On the other end of the spectrum is open adoption where the adoptee and his/her family have some type of contact with the birth mother (and maybe more members of the birth family).  This can be yearly visits in a neutral location or even invitations to participate in many milestone events such as birthdays, holidays, and religious ceremonies.  While I don't know for certain, my guess is that most domestic adoptions today fall somewhere in the middle.

For us, we have chosen to leave this up to the birth mother and her family.  Whatever amount of openness they choose is fine with us.  We are not threatened at all to have the birth family in our lives, and actually see how this is helpful to the child.  For most of our children, this means that we have pictures of their birth mother and we send pictures and letters to the mothers on a regular basis.  For one of our children, we see relatives on a regular basis and this is very important for all of them.  And if each child wants to meet his or her birth mother at some point in the future, we are fine with that.  We will take into consideration the child's age, the mother's stage of life, and the child's emotional maturity.

We talk about each birth mother regularly.  We look at the pictures.  We share each story in an age appropriate way, with the plan that each child knows his or her whole adoption story by the time they are adolescents.  The birth families are honored and we pray for them on a regular basis.  Each one has made an amazing sacrifice and given her child the best gift, life.  We wish that there wasn't brokenness in this world that leads to such difficult choices and separation; it's not what God intended.  But because this is the world in which we live, we have been given this command, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."  James 1:27
Silly baby loves to be on his tummy and always has his mouth open.

Moving right along, Victor was 2 lbs. 6.5 oz. yesterday.  He had another great day.  As one nurse said, "He's having more good days than bad days."  Praise God!

His flow is now weaned down to 4.0LPM and most of the day he was on 24% - 28%.

He is looking more and more like a real boy and less and less like some combination of E.T., a chicken, and a frog.

Pray against infection, against any issues with his eyes, and against forgetting to breathe!  Pray for everything to be developing and coming together for the day down the road when he can eat himself.  This will be major!

And please pray for Victor's birthmother.  Making an adoption plan for your child is never, ever easy but seeing her son so small and vulnerable, and without a family for a period of time was even more difficult for her.  I have also been praying that there is at least one Christian around her who will come alongside of her and give her God's love and hope.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It's okay if you don't "get it"

I have a confession.  One of the reasons it took us so long to say yes to Victor had nothing to do with his health, his uncertain future, finances, the separation from home, or the distance.  No, it was more basic than that and so rooted in self-pride.

I feared the reactions of others.  I didn't want others thinking bad thoughts about me.  I didn't want to be seen as a bad parent.  Those old high preteen and teen issues of rejection that were overwhelming to me, came back as I realized that my mothering, that thing I was so passionate about, was on the line.

The immediate response was not as I expected.  Friends wrote messages of encouragement, saying things like, "This makes perfect sense," "I'm not at all surprised by your decision," and "God is using you in my life."  And for a time I was able to forget those fears of rejection.

But the other day I received an email from someone with her own confession.  She confessed that she didn't "get it" and that she had even been angry with me for leaving my children at home.  She admitted to half-heartedly praying that God would change her heart, but it didn't happen.  Until a moment one morning when God touched her, the floodgates opened, and she got it.  I appreciated her honesty and I am thankful for how God has changed her heart.  I am grateful for her note.  But I will admit that it also brought up those not-too-old or too-deeply-buried fears of what others are thinking.

So high school of me, worrying about what others think.  And so ungodly of me.  I know it's difficult to "get it" when someone says, "God told me to."  Those on the outside don't know everything that went into the decision.  We certainly didn't go into this without searching God deeply and asking our prayer partners to join us.  As we did, it was very clear.  But we know decisions shouldn't be made in a vacuum.  As our prayer partners prayed, they received visions and words from God, all of which ended up pointing to Victor.  To say no would have been to go against God's plan.  It would have been easier to say no.  We would have saved face with some people, including some friends and relatives who I'm certain think we've gone off the deep end and who think I'm the worst parent for making this decision.  But I can't find any place in my Bible where it says I have to look good in the eyes of family and friends.  In fact, it says just the opposite.


Many times I've thought of people in the Bible and the choices they made to follow God no matter what.  We know how Noah's neighbors reacted when he built the ark.  It was crazy for Abraham to take his family to the land promised by God, when God didn't tell him exactly where he was going.  I will never understand why God asked him to sacrifice Isaac without knowing how God was going to intervene, but he obeyed.  I couldn't do that.  But maybe to some people it looks like I am, like I'm neglecting my children.  And then there are heroes of the faith whose choices led to martyrdom or imprisonment.  They had to follow God and trust their families to Him.  I recently read the blog of a woman whose parents chose to be missionaries to Siberia when this woman was a preteen.  She wrote of being so angry with her parents; it made no sense.  Siberia?  But her parents trusted God and today she is thankful for their faith and for the experience.

In the past ten years I've really been looking at American Christianity through a different lens.  A lot has come from reading books like Crazy Love and The Hole in Our Gospel, and most from studying the Scriptures themselves.  Nothing about the Christian life includes comfort and ease.  That is an American twist on Christianity.  Instead I want to be like Christ, the One who leaves the 99 for the one who is lost.  He does so, knowing that the 99 are in a good place and safe.  I think He also knows that the 99 will learn and grow through His example of sacrifice for the one.  I am believing that He is also teaching my children during this process.  I don't know why I had to go to Utah to do it, but I do know that I was to go to Utah.  No doubt. I don't want to be lukewarm anymore.


 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come inand eat with that person, and they with me.
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:14-22)


Our adoption consultant spent an unexpected year in the hospital one of their adopted children.  While not out of state, she did have to travel a distance.  She was so helpful as she wrote to me, "Through this all you will be torn often. I fully understand. You need to spread your love, and you will find grace."  And I have found grace, through the encouraging words of friends, the prayers of many, and the joy and peace that truly does come from being in the will of God.  When my focus is on Christ, there are no worries, no fears, and no rejection.

So if you are in that place of not "getting it" and maybe even feeling anger toward John and me for what we are doing, please know that it's okay.  There is grace for all of us.  I know that we are all at different places in this journey called life.  But I do ask you to continue to pray for me in Utah and for my family at home, that not only will they survive this separation, but that they will each draw closer to God and in so doing, be willing themselves to step out in faith throughout their lives.

We had a bit of a scare yesterday morning.  When I arrived at the hospital, Victor's temperature was elevated, as was his heart rate.  The nurse suspected that his temperature probe had fallen off slightly so the bed thought he was cold and tried to warm him up, resulting in too much.  She thought skin-to-skin would be good to see if his temperature would come down while he was outside of the bed.  Sure enough, it did, he behaved beautifully and was able to be held for 2 hours and 15 minutes!  By the time he got back into his bed, his temperature was normal.  They watched it throughout the day to be sure but he was absolutely fine.

The doctor made no changes to his care yesterday.

He is up to 1010 grams which translates to 2 lbs. 3.5 oz.  Inching along.  He graduated to larger diapers.  Go, Victor!
Old diapers on the left, new ones on the right, with a pack of gum for comparison.  Don't worry, they're all clean.

Yesterday, he did not brady at all!  My big boy remembered to breathe!  That's what I've been praying for!  Praise God!

Down the road, the three factors that the doctors will be watching to determine when Victor is ready to go home will be his need for oxygen, his ability to take feeds on his own AND gain weight, and the ability to hold his own temperature.  Let's start praying for all of these now.  It is possible that he will be ready to go home but still need oxygen, especially since Utah is at a higher elevation. However, let's pray that he doesn't need any assistance when he leaves the NICU!

Pray for Grandma Mary Ann (John's Mom) who will be traveling today, from Ohio to PA.

Praise God with Andrew for the last day of his high school career yesterday and exemption from all exams.  He's finished!

Pray for Jesse and Mariana as they prepare for exams and for Mariana as she prepares for Thoroughly Modern Millie which opens Friday.  She's feeling run-down and definitely in need of a break.  Summer is coming!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mouth wide open

Some babies were born with their eyes wide open.  Their parents speculate that they will be inquisitive, that they will be students of their environment, and that they will be wise.

My eldest daughter was born with her mouth wide open.

And she hasn't shut it since.

But that's a good thing.  It has truly been a gift from God.

She was born to act.  That was clear very early on.  While some college students, and might I say, some middle-aged fathers, are trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives, she has never floundered in her ambitions.

But she doesn't just act because she loves it.  She acts because she wants to bless the people she works with.  John and I have had many of her adult co-actors tell us that there's something different about her. Parents of her peers who have been in community theater with her have told me that even when she is in a lead role, she never lords it over the others; never acts as if one role is more important than any other.

If she has a motto to live by, I think it might be that we are all important in God's eyes, and therefore, in hers.  She is an encourager, one who brings hope to others.

She's been on the other side of the coin.  She's had ensemble members treat her with disrespect because of her lead role.  But she has persevered.  She can't change someone else, but she can still treat them with love.

And you know what, she might not have been born with her eyes open, but she is inquisitive and a student of her environment.  I have watched her interact with professionals in the theater field.  She asks questions, she observes, and she takes notes.  She is wise beyond her years.

So, Mariana, on your 15th birthday, I thank you that you are an encourager, at home, at school, and in theater.  It is no surprise that you are spending your birthday week playing the lead role in Thoroughly Modern Millie.  God has His hand on your life.  And He is so pleased with you.
I also thank God that Mariana has been just as much behind adoption as we are.  And I have not forgotten that she has offered to help with night duty.  One night a week is yours, dear.


Victor had another good day.  I pray for a day of no bradies.  It hasn't come yet but yesterday he only had 2.  That is imporovement!  He was weaned down to 4.5LPM and still stayed between 24% and 27% most of the day.  I know that means nothing to most of you but to all you medical folks who want nurse-speak, there you go.

He is finally not the smallest baby in the NICU.  He is holding steady at 2 lbs. 2 oz. and is officially a "grower" meaning he has passed the time when most things could go wrong so we're just waiting for him to grow and mature.  Some hospitals call these kids "feeders and growers."  So we pray for growth.  We pray for his brain to mature and his lungs to grow strong.  We pray for his digestive system to work and for him to develop the tools he'll need to someday drink his milk instead of having a feeding tube.

Thank God for the cleaners, launderers, chefs and taxi drivers who have helped out at the King home in my absence.  Thank God for the yummy care package that arrived for me today.

Thank God for the wonderful nurses, RTs, and doctors who love on Victor.  For some of them, this is one of those patients that has worked himself into their hearts.  As one of the nurses said to me, "This is one of those patients I think about when I'm at home."  As I was reading through the collection of emails and notes I collected during our journey with Victor, I came across one from someone who was praying that Victor would have people loving on him in the time when John and I couldn't get here yet. That prayer was definitely answered.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Good morning!

Let me tell you about my morning yesterday.  Since church doesn't start until 10, I was all set to sleep in.  Well, as much as this morning person can sleep in, which usually isn't very long.  But, no, at 6:30AM my phone vibrated with a text from the Good Doctor.  Since it was 8:30 his time and since I had asked him to check in on little Victor, I figured it was an update.

The message simply said, "Call me."

Uh-oh.  "Is everything okay?"

"Oh, yes, I just talked to the nurse and other than one bad spell, things were good last night.  In other news, I'm filling in for your Sunday School teachers and I thought we'd spend the morning in prayer.  Wanna Skype with the class?"

"Uh..... Ummmmmm....  Well, you just woke me up and I'm kind of still in bed and Katrina's still asleep, so.....No."

"Oh, sorry.  You posted your blog; I thought you were awake."

"No, I'm smart.  I write my blog the day before, and schedule it at night so it will post at 7AM."

"Oh.  Sorry."

7AM.  Another text.  "So do you think you might Skype with the Sunday School class?  Or maybe talk to them on speaker phone?"

"I'm still in my PJs and Katrina is still asleep.  No."

"Can you go outside to talk?"

"I'm still in my PJs.  No.  The rest of my apartment building does not need to see me."

"Okay, well let me know in half an hour if you want to Skype or talk."

"Sure.  I'll be happy to let you know if I want to Skype or talk."

Apparently the Good Doctor does not know sarcasm when he sees it in text.  Nor does he understand that a non-response means that I do not want to Skype or talk.

7:45AM.  Phone vibrates.  I assume it's another text.  I pick up.  There are people talking.  A lot of people.

"Good morning.  I'm in your Sunday School class.  Do you want to talk?"

"Am I on speaker phone?"

"Yes.  Yes, you are," he says, obviously having the time of his life while the class is laughing at me in my PJs even though they cannot see me on speaker phone.

Silence.

"So, do you want to talk?"

"Um, no?"

We have been married for almost 22 years and he still doesn't know that I, unlike him, do not like to be put on the spot.  He spent a few hours in the dog house.  But then I went to church and we prayed for him.  It's all good.  We're still married.

But could someone please help a poor girl out and let the Good Doctor know that I do not, nor will I ever, enjoy surprise moments of center stage?

Victor, on the other hand, likes a lot of attention.  Just look at my boy posing for all of these photos.  He did such a great job during his photo shoot with Katrina.  And with the skin-to-skin time.  And with everything yesterday.  There are probably several reasons why Saturday was such a difficult day and we will never know exactly what was going on.

"Some days are like that.  Even in Australia."  Which, by the way, is where Kangaroo Care comes from.  Duh.

He loves to suck on my finger while we have our Kangaroo Care time.  This is a good thing, training for the big day down the road when he can learn to get his own nourishment.  Since he is fed during our holds, he can begin to associate holding with sucking and a full belly.  Pray for this day.  Pray that things happening now will prepare him for regular feedings.

Pray for his brain and for his lungs and for his digestive system and mostly pray that while they are all working, he remembers to take nice, regular breaths.  BREATHING IS NOT OPTIONAL!

Praise God for some time off and for a good weekend with Katrina.  When we were out and about last night, we were in line behind a man carrying a baby.  As I looked at the baby, I commented to Katrina that the baby was probably the same age as Victor.  As we talked to the parents, sure enough, their little girl is just one week older, but about 8 pounds heavier, than Victor.  Amazing when you put it all in context.  And you can pray for Katrina, too.  She gets her wires off tomorrow, traded for rubber bands.  She's been a real trooper while her jaw has been wired shut.  Time for a change!
Leave me alone, guys!  83 pictures is enough for one day!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Thanks for sharing

This blog thing is interesting.  Who knew so many people would be reading and sharing?  Thank you all.  I hope it encourages just one more person to care for the least of these.

Every now and then I like to look at the blog's stats.  Did you know that if you google amish funny farms you will find a link to my blog?  Who googles amish funny farms, anyway?

I know that people in Korea, Australia, and Kenya have read my blog.  So have they just happened upon it or were they sent a link?  Or did they google amish funny farms?

Several people have stated that they have been unable to comment on my blog.  I am no technological genius but I did change one setting so if you want to give it a try now, go ahead.  If you can't find my blog you can just google amish funny farm.  I'm told that Laura Sybil works, too.

And at least one nurse from the NICU found me by googling The King's Strings and then linking to the blog from there.  Welcome!

So there you have it.  All that I know about blogs.  Not much.  Except that everyone and her mother has one.  And most don't get read except by our mothers because that's what mothers are for.  So thanks for giving me over 500 page views for most of Victor's updates.  So glad to know that all you amazing people are praying for him, maybe all over the world!

He continues to amaze.  He is packing on the pounds (well, ounces, really) and is now 2 lbs. 2 oz.  Go Victor!

He was weaned down to 4.5 LPM on his high flow nasal cannula yesterday.  But then things didn't go so well.  He seemed to have trouble keeping his temperature earlier in the day.  I had to wait to hold him and then when I did finally hold him it didn't go well.  We put him back in his bed and it went downhill from there.  By 5PM they decided to put it back to 5.5 LPM and the rest of the night went better.

Pray that whatever was going on yesterday will be resolved today.  Pray that his temperature is normal.  Pray that he remembers to breathe, doesn't desat or brady, and that he can continue to be weaned off of support.

He has figured out how to use his tongue to work the feeding tube out of his mouth.  This was a game all day.  As soon as the nurse pushed it back in, Victor would work it back out.  Added to the game of chasing his desats and hi sats, he kept yesterday's nurse quite busy.  Pray for another, more relaxed day.

Pray for me.  It was a rough day to be in the NICU.  We knew there'd be days like this; setbacks are frequent with micropreemies.  But it was still difficult.

It was a good night for a distraction so Katrina and I went to dinner, a movie, and ice cream.  I ate.  She slurped.  But as her broken-jaw-wired-mouth days are coming to an end, we talked about all the things we will eat to celebrate in the near future.  Thank God for Katrina.  We had ourselves a nice little sleepover and she joined me for church this morning.

Oh, and would the real googler of amish funny farms please stand up?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Humming

I have received several links from friends about the benefits of music to preemies.  Here and here are two of them.  While I have not seen any guitars around nor heard any Spanish lullabies being sung in this NICU, I can vouch for humming.  I can literally watch Victor's oxygen levels go up when I hum and go down if I stop for too long.

I have learned several things about humming.  First of all, humming too long can make you lightheaded; I have to take a break every now and then.  Secondly, humming makes you sleepy.  Third, you cannot hum while yawning or crying.  In addition, I can hum no better than I can sing.  Sorry, Victor.  Finally, it's difficult to come up with a large humming repertoire.

In an attempt to have available one song after the other, I find that the following have worked well...

Old hymns.  I guess it's because they're in my long-term memory, but Victor gets to hear a lot of these from Amazing Grace to It Is Well, Victory in Jesus, Redeemed How I Love to Proclaim It and others.

Choruses from the 70s and 80s.  Again, long term memory.  Don't judge me.

Children's songs and folk tunes.  Andrew loved the Barney Song so Victor gets that one.  The Eensy Weensy Spider is another good one.  I refuse to hum Ring Around the Rosie.

Children's Church Songs.  Of course there are the oldies but goodies such as Jesus Loves the Little Children but I've got some new ones from my girls, too.

The King's Strings repertoire.  Yeah.  He loves The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends.  He hasn't gotten the hang of playing his violin behind his head yet.  We're still working on breathing at all times.

Broadway Tunes.  It would make sense that while I'm humming The Farmer and the Cowman my mind would go to musicals beyond Oklahoma.  He particularly likes The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof and Wicked.  Funny, those are some of my favorites, too.  Sorry, Andrew.

My wedding music.  Uh-huh.  Go figure.  I had all but forgotten what songs were even performed in our wedding but for some reason, it's coming back to me here.  Jesus, Let Us Come to Know You.  Wow.  That dates us.

Suzuki Violin Book 1.  I may or may not be able to hum the whole book, in order, beginning to end.  Sad.  But I might as well get him started.

Yesterday wasn't quite as good as the day before but certainly nothing to be upset about.  He is up from 910 grams on Thursday to 920 grams Friday.  This still isn't enough to be 2 lb. 1 oz (that would be 936 grams) so he remains steady at 2 pounds!  For those in the know, his high flow nasal cannula is now at 5.0 LPM (down from 5.5 yesterday morning), and typically between 25% - 28%.  He is getting a few more meds which upset him a little but that's to be expected.
Victor got his hospital onesie yesterday.  We're thinking he'll be able to wear it for Christmas.

Skin-to-skin is our favorite part of the day, usually happening at 8:30AM and 4:30PM.  He didn't tolerate the second one as much yesterday so we called it quits at 50 minutes.  As soon as I put him back in his bed he filled his pants.  Then it all made sense.  When you're such a little guy, a little bit of constipation can make you upset enough to desat!

Pray for weight gain.  Pray that all systems work together so he remembers to breathe!  So many things being asked of Little Man.

Pray for paperwork.  I hate paperwork and bureaucracy.  They make me cry.  The good news is that our agency told us yesterday that ICPC has been sent off to the Utah powers-that-be.  Their prediction is that it should be approved on Monday.  Assuming that it is approved on Monday, it will then be overnighted to PA.  For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, these formal adoption papers need to be approved in Utah before Victor would be allowed to leave.  They then need to be approved in PA before he can enter.  Since he's not going anywhere anytime soon, we're not as anxious about this as we would be if we were sitting in a hotel waiting to go home.  However, it will be nice to know that this is all finished and one less thing to worry about.  Please pray for PA.  I love my state but it's not known for being especially adoption-friendly.  Pray that our paperwork finds favor on whoever's desk it ends up and that there are no road blocks.

Pray for my eldest daughter who turns 15 on Tuesday.  Pray for me, missing her birthday.  You can help us both out by sending her a card to celebrate her day.  We won't talk about the fact that in one year Mariana will start to drive.  Yikes!  I will also be missing her performances of Thoroughly Modern Millie next weekend.  This is really hard.  Not only is this the first time I'm missing one of her productions, but she is playing the lead role of Millie!  We have asked that someone be allowed to record the musical so that I can see it.  Please pray that this happens.

Grandma is coming on the 22nd to help at home.  Pray for safety as she travels.

Praise God for all of the wonderful people who have helped out at the King house in one way or other. We are so blessed.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Habits and mottoes

I have a confession to make.  But first, if you are anywhere near the Good Doctor, please make sure he is sitting down.

As I was praying yesterday morning, I said, "God, show us what is next."  It slipped out.  I didn't even realize I had said it until it was out there.  And now I must apologize to the Good Doctor because I realize we're still in the middle of this "next" and can't possibly be ready to move onto the next "next".  It's a habit now, I guess.

Kind of like after the birth of Child #4.  As the nurse was wheeling me from the delivery room to my room (yes, I am that old and back in the dark ages we did all the work in one room and then had to move to another), I looked at my loving husband and said, "Let's have another one."  Even the nurse agreed with my very shocked and scared husband, that no one else had ever said that just minutes after giving birth.

I guess it just goes with my motto:  You're not done til you're dead.

And my other motto:  There's always room for one more.

I saw a sign in a store the other day.  It said:

Our family motto - No empty chairs

I like it.  I think I would put one next to it that says:

We can always buy more chairs.

Victor had such a VICTORious, miraculous day yesterday!  From 8:30AM - 8:30PM (slightly longer, but those are the hours I was there), he had only 2 bradies (I know how to say it but don't know how to spell it, sorry medical people).  His oxygen level was mostly at 26% and with every desat he came up on his own.  Praise God!

His new nickname is Houdini because no matter how tightly his nurse wraps him in, he manages to escape and wiggle out.  My favorite is when he's on his belly.  He pushes up with his skinny little legs and manages to "crawl" over and beyond the positioner.  When he's on his belly he also turns his head from one way to the other.  His long fingers like to wrap around his feeding tube or his cannula and pull them out.  He thinks he's helping.

I got to hold him twice skin-to-skin and he just settled right in.  I wish you could see him all cocooned in my shirt.  Just a little face sticking out.  So snuggly.

He is back up to 2 pounds!  Yay, God!  Pray that he continues to steadily gain weight.

Pray for complete healing of his lungs.  Pray protection over his eyes.

Pray for John.  He's a little overwhelmed.  Pray for the house; it's a mess. A house with 9 people is going to naturally be messy, yes.  But when Mom isn't there to tell you to pick up that pile you just walked over, well..... I don't even have to see it to know what it looks like.  'Nough said.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

You can step out, too

I am so thankful for the many kind comments and encouraging words from all of you.  I am humbled.  But I am also a bit uncomfortable. I don't see myself as all of those things, amazing, a hero, full of faith, having no fear.  Because I'm not the first three and I do have fear.

Maybe you think those things because we were crazy enough to step out of the boat; to look at Christ's face and to follow with childlike (crazy?) faith.  But please don't think that's something for just a few select people.  We are all called to love with a crazy love, to follow a Gospel without holes, and to be radical in our faith.  (Click on each link to find the book that gave me the kick in the pants that I needed, at just the right time in my walk with God)

If you want to be amazed, if you want to see a hero, if you want to see faith without fear, then look to Jesus.  It is His example that led us to where we are today.  Mother Teresa put it so well,

"Stay where you are.  Find your own Calcutta.  Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are - in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools.  You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see.  Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society - completely forgotten, completely left alone."

It has nothing to do with John and Cindy but everything to do with Jesus' commands like this one in Matthew 25:31-40

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.


“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’


So please don't put me on a pedestal.  I am the same as you.  The only difference may be that you haven't taken that first step out of the boat yet.  You can.  If you want to, you will.  Let it be your daily prayer, "God, where is my Calcutta?  To whom do you want me to show love today?  I want to step out of the boat with you.  Where shall we go?"  He will show you.  You will know. He will take your passions, your gifts, and the things in life that bring righteous anger, and you will know that THIS is your Calcutta.  

And you, too, will find joy in the journey, despite the circumstances that are bound to come, because there is joy in taking our eyes off ourselves and keeping them on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.  As I often have to remind my younger children, It's not about you.  Okay, my older children, too.  Yes, myself, too.

"When you take that first step

Into the unknown
You know that he won't let you go
So what are you waiting for?
What do you have to lose?
Your insecurities try to alter you
You know you're made for more
So don't be afraid to move
Your faith is all it takes and you can
Walk on the water too"
-Walk on the Water by Britt Nicole

It is my prayer that someday, Victor will step out of his own boat, drawing on his testimony of healing and miracles, and that he will find his Calcutta.  This is my prayer for each of my children.  And for each of you.  I do not pray that life will be easy, only that you keep your eyes on Jesus and love the least of these.  It is my prayer that you will be uncomfortable so that others may be comfortable.



Victor is improving at a snail's pace each day.  We'll take it.  Praise God!  

In honor of National Kangaroo Care day yesterday, Victor is now allowed skin-to-skin twice a day.  Actually I think it had more to do with his progress than the celebration but it sounds like a great reason to go out and get some ice cream, don't you think?  Speaking of ice cream, I've had to change my routine.  Since nothing is open on Sundays around here, I am changing my ice cream days from Wednesday and Sunday to Monday and Friday.  I'm giving you a warning since control freaks such as myself don't handle change very well.  This could be bad.  And since the fam sent me Cold Stone gift cards for Mother's Day, well, I just have to use them.

Pray that he gains weight.  They have added more calories to his feeds to help bulk him up.