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!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer reading

Recently a link has been circulating on Facebook on the topic of why so many young people are leaving the church.  This particular link blames the focus found in many children's ministry programs.  While I agree that many children's Sunday School programs are "fluff and stuff" and fall more in the category of entertainment than spiritual education, I believe we need to look at ourselves as parents before we blame the church.  It has never been the church's responsibility to raise our children and to be our children's primary Bible teachers.  Deuteronomy makes it very clear that the primary spiritual education of our children belongs in the home.  I expect my church to complement my teachings, but not to be the primary teacher.  Unfortunately, it's too often the opposite.  I wonder, then, if churches should place a larger emphasis on parent education than on the education of our children.

What would it look like if more of us made spiritual training a priority in our homes?  Yes, I suppose it could put us in the category of "mean moms" and "crazy dads", particularly if our children are not used to this.  That doesn't scare me; I'm a mean mom by nature.  It's nothing new; we established that a year ago, and went into more detail here.  Making my children do school in the summer seems to be the icing on the cake.  This summer, however, they got a break while I was gone.  No one to enforce such schooling, no one wanting to be considered as mean as me.  And so, my children, like most others in the US, will go to school in the fall having lost valuable skills.  I'll have a meltdown later.  Academic education aside, shouldn't I place the spiritual education of my children even higher than that?

I've often thought of having my children read Biblically-based and theologically solid books and then having a discussion about them.  Mariana is a voracious reader and will read anything I recommend to her.  The boys on the other hand, not so easy. So when I saw on Facebook that friends of ours, Mark and Cheryl Hopkins, were looking to have their boys read Christian living books this summer, we conspired with them.  Something like, "How about if you pitch the idea, we'll blame you for the idea, together we could choose 3 books for the summer, and have our children read and then discuss one a month?"

And it has worked!  We started with C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters.  It was a bit heavy for the younger children (we included those aged 12 and up) but an audio version did help them.  I read the book as well but was not present for the discussion.  I did hear great reviews.  As the Good Doctor noted, "I was pleasantly surprised at how all of the kids actually came to share about how C.S. Lewis impacted them.  I was not completely sure at how our 12-year-olds would be able to interact with the material, but once the conversation got started, we were all able to interact with the kids on more of an adult level."

This month we read They've Crossed the Line: A Patriot's Guide to Religious Freedom by Stephen Bloom.  Since we know State Representative Bloom and his wife, The King's Strings having played for his campaign fundraiser each of the past two years, we asked Steve and Sharon to join us for the discussion.  They chose Leo's Ice Cream, in their district, as our meeting place.  We were happy to oblige.  We asked questions and heard more from his perspective; why he wrote the book and what he wants the reader to learn and to take from it.  Each of our children was challenged to remember that if they don't help to educate others about our freedoms, we could be one generation from losing them.  Our discussion definitely benefited from his expertise and encouragement (and the ice cream).

The third book will be chosen this week but will likely be a topic that will help our children understand the roots of their faith.  As we see our children reach college age, we want to be certain that they know who they are and why, as well as what they believe and why, before they go off to colleges (private or secular) that will try to deconstruct their beliefs.  We've seen far too many young adults flounder in this environment and have sadly watched friends and family walk away from the faith.

We highly recommend that you find a way to encourage your child(ren) to read books that encourage and strengthen their faith.  And not having the book is no excuse; we have several copies of each of the books we've done.  I'm sure you can put the request on Facebook and borrow them from friends.  The church and/or public library might have some as well.  The school year tends to be full of other projects and assignments, but I wonder if we can keep this going for more than the summer months?  We have learned that it's very helpful to partner with another family.  First of all, you can each blame the other family for the idea.  That way your kids can't be angry with you and they will realize that there are other mean (or crazy) parents out there.  We have learned that each family, as well as each individual, brings a different perspective to the discussion.  As Mark said, "The resulting conversation is rich."  He added that partnering also brings an automatic accountability to the assignment.  We have also realized that with some books, such as the works of C.S. Lewis, it might be better to discuss at several points along the way, rather than waiting until the very end as there is just so much gold in one book.  Oh, and most importantly, don't forget the bribe.  For the first book discussion, breakfast treats and for the second, that famous Leo's ice cream.

If you're thinking that this sounds like a great idea but it's just too late to begin, think again.  You still have one month left, a great opportunity to start with one book.  Just think, you can tell your kids that they've got it easy, the King and Hopkins kids had to read three this summer.  If you have no idea what book to choose, I leave you with the list with which we began.  Maybe one book on here will be the perfect one for your family.


  • Every Man's Battle (Arterburn, Stoeker, Yorkey) (Every Woman's Battle)
  • The Light and the Glory (Young Reader's Edition) (Peter Marshall)*
  • Compelled By Love (Heidi Baker)
  • The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis)*
  • (New) Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Josh McDowell)*
  • Purpose Driven Life (Rick Warren)
  • Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis)*
  • The Ragamuffin Gospel (Brennan Manning)
  • The Case for Christ - Student Edition (Lee Strobel)
  • Why Jesus? (Ravi Zacharius)*
  • Where is God When it Hurts? (Phillip Yancey)
  • Knowing God (J.I. Packer)
  • Crazy Love (Francis Chan)
  • They've Crossed the Line: A Patriot's Guide to Religious Freedom (Stephen Bloom)



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sister love

This is Mommy's New Man but it was bound to happen. . .

When you have older sisters, you can expect a dress or two, painted nails, maybe even hair ribbons.

Eden had been dying to try her doll clothes out on Victor.

Matching dresses!

Victor's hoping this means he's done with the sister love.

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26

Due dates.  I've had five of them.  I surpassed two of them and the rest came awfully close.  I know how hard it is to watch them come and go.

And then there's Victor.  Born on April 13, today is finally his due date.  That makes him finally 40 weeks gestation; full term.

You've come a long way, baby!

Sometime during Victor's first week of life, April 13 - 20.  This is the first and only picture we had before arriving in Utah to see him in person.
2 weeks old and our first day with Victor
Daddy gets to hold for the first time
1 month old
He loved being on his belly

1 1/2 months old, starting to be more alert and following voices
Mommy got to give me a bath
2 months, fuzzy wuzzy hair
3 months, loving to snuggle
Getting chunkier
3 generations (many thanks to the nurse who allowed us to bend the rules to have 3 visitors instead of 2, just for the photo)
Going home, July 16, 2013
Look what being home can do
And today, on the date of Victor's official due date, I took a helper with me and we visited the doctor for a weight check...
She kept him comforted in the car
Surprise!  He now weighs 7 lb. 1 oz!

He's officially a chunky monkey!
Wonder of wonder!  Miracle of miracles!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Not good on the Mommy Meter

I pride myself on being organized.  Not just your average run-of-the-mill organization, but extreme organization.

Unfortunately, as someone wise once said, pride goeth before a fall.

Yesterday morning I sent my three oldest off to the dentist.  The two younger girls were being picked up to go to the park with a friend so I told the older kids that I'd join them in 15 - 30 minutes.

The phone soon rang.  It was the older kids.  "Mom, don't bother coming."

"Why?"

"Our appointments are tomorrow."

Now, since the appointments were made 6 or more months ago, I have no idea where the breakdown occurred and I can't even blame it on a sleep-deprived brain.  We checked and the appointments were definitely written in our calendar for yesterday.  I'd like to say the hygienist wrote it incorrectly on the reminder card, causing me to correctly incorrectly type it into the computer.  But I have no proof.  I do know that they usually send a reminder postcard.  But since I haven't been home in three months, that's either in the middle of one of the stacks of mail I still haven't finished going through, or it was thrown away by someone who assumed I was too organized not to have put the appointments on the calendar.

My apologies to the kids and to the dentist's office.  At least the appointments were for 10 AM and not 8 AM.  I'm low enough on the Good Mommy Meter right now; having to leave the house while the clock was still on single digits could possibly have sent the kids over the edge.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Try not to forget

I just got home from three months of life as I've never known it.  Three months of living alone.  Three months of fully relying on God.  Three months of miracle after miracle.  I saw God's grace, power, and faithfulness on a daily basis.

And then I came home.  Within 48 hours we had a puking child.  Thankfully, it was not Victor but being in the same house as Victor was close enough in my mind.  How many times had we been warned about his compromised immune system?  Wash your hands before holding or touching him.  Limit his exposure to crowds.  Limit his exposure to sick folks.  And then the 7 year old gets some sort of terrible 24 hour bug that has her alternating between the toilet and fast asleep in bed.

And I forgot.  I immediately forgot that ultimately I can leave it in God's hands.  I will do what I can to limit exposure and to sanitize everything multiple times a day.  I can remind and re-remind family members to wash up and sanitize (hand-itize as HopeAnne calls it) but in the end I can do nothing.  And thankfully I serve a God who can do everything.  He can give a 25 weeker life.  He can give that 25 weeker a cry at birth.  He can give that little boy a his birth mother's feisty spirit so that he can fight every day of his tiny little life.  He can heal eyes, and lungs, and hernias and protect brains and hearts.

And I'm worried about a little puke?

At least I'm not alone.  Just the other day a friend was talking about Eden's faith and her tears when the culmination of that faith was here with her in PA.  My friend said she wished she could remember not to forget.  Me, too.

When we lived in our former house, my dream house, the one in which I was going to spend my last days (and even the ones after that since the house was bordered on two sides by a cemetery), we built an altar.  I taught the kids about Old Testament heroes who built altars to remember God's faithfulness (Noah in Genesis 8:20, Abram in Genesis 12: 7-8, Isaac in Genesis 26:25, etc.) and we used stones we had collected on various hikes and vacations and built ourselves an altar.  Each stone represented a time in the life of our family where God showed His goodness to us.  It was to help us not to forget.
Looks like it was also Dress Yourself Day.

But then God asked us to move and it was hard.  And we forgot.  Looking back, moving was the best thing for our family in so many ways.  But we were hurt and it was hard.  In the end, I'm convinced that what we learned through that experience helped us through this one.  Without the "hard" of moving from friends, family, school, and dream home, there would have been no "hard" of bringing Victor home.

I wish we had brought that altar, those stones, with us in the move.  I wish I could remember what each stone represents.  I wish I could always remember God's faithfulness.  But since I'm human and I forget, it's time for another altar, or a symbolic reminder to never forget.

Deuteronomy 4:9
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

And Victor did not get sick nor did anyone else.  In fact, he is getting chunkier every day.  He still needs oxygen during feeds and we keep it on at night, but his need for it is diminishing daily.  He sees the pediatric ophthalmologist tomorrow and the pediatrician again on Friday.  He is getting signed up with early intervention.  God is good.  All the time.  All the time.  God is good.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Victor's life in numbers


1 – Victor’s hernia that should have required surgery but has miraculously disappeared
2 - Maximim number of hours we could drive without stopping, doctor's orders!
3 – The number of brain scans Victor had, each and every one came up miraculously clear
4 - Rental cars to complete my stay and our trip home, plus one borrowed from Katrina
5 - Number of Patient's Belongings bags needed to bring home the things Victor accumulated during his 3 month NICU stay
6 - Number of pounds Victor weighed at discharge
7 – The siblings who are loving on him at home
8 – Number of airports I visited on my trips back and forth.  I still vote Salt Lake City the friendliest airport.
9 – Number of plane trips I took between Salt Lake City and the East Coast (not including layovers).  I’m ready for a vacation from travel although I will never tire of take offs and landings.
10 - The jersey number of my new friend, the professional soccer player.
13 – Amount of Aunts and Uncles Victor has, including our newest addition to the family, Aunt Katrina
15 – Victor was born this many weeks too soon.
19 – The Elvis station on Sirius.  Yes, we did listen to it.
20 – The date in April that Eden prayed for and the day we found out about Victor
25 – Victor’s gestational age at birth
26 – The day in July when Victor’s birth mother thought he would be born
62 – John’s age at Victor’s high school graduation. Please don’t remind the Good Doctor of this as it is something he obsesses over. You can, however, tell him of others you know who were older than that when their children graduated from high school.
73 - Number of blog entries between Victor's announcement and our discharge
75 – The speed limit in Wyoming and Nebraska but I won’t tell you how fast the Good Doctor actually went.  Now I know why he wouldn’t let me drive in these states; he didn’t want me driving the speed limit and losing the time he had gained.
80 – The average number of cars on the trains that went right next to our hotel room that night in Wyoming.
95 - Number of days in the NICU
97 - The saturation parameter at which Victor will start beeping over and over and over again, thereby driving his father crazy.
2050 - Number of miles between Utah and home!
2408 - Number of page views on the "We Stepped Out of the Boat" blog post on April 25.
10,528 - Amount raised so far on our adopttogether site.  Thank you!
11,000 - The elevation for our 4th of July excursion.
Too numerous to count – The new friends we made in the NICU, the tears shed, the people praying for Victor, the people who helped the motherless home in PA, the number of no-see-em bites we got at the Great Salt Lake, and the blessings we have received in this journey.





Saturday, July 20, 2013

Home

There are so many cliches I could use today.  Simply put, it's great to be home.

We got home in time to surprise Isaac and Shoun who were at a birthday party.  The birthday boy's mom was in on the secret so we called her as we were pulling up.  The kids were down the street at a park so she told our boys that they had to go back to the house for a second, for a message.  Isaac said he considered that it might be us.  Since no one had time to wash up, Victor stayed in his car seat and the boys did a "Look, don't touch," round with Victor.  Shoun kept coming back for another peek and saying, "That's so cool."  I think these two will have a very special bond.

Then we headed to Allenberry.  I was hoping to catch the final number of Annie and surprise the girls as they came outside for their Meet and Greet.  We were a little late but did arrive before the orphans had returned to their dressing rooms.  What an emotional surprise!  I think Eden carries a lot of love and responsibility for the little brother for whom she desperately prayed.  She cried tears of joy and relief.

And as promised, since she wasn't allowed to hold or touch him in the hospital, she was the first to hold him when he came home.

And HopeAnne, also part of the promise, was next.

At home the next day, MomMom and PopPop had their turn as well as the boys who had now had a chance to sanitize and/or wash up.






Andrew arrived home from his missions trip this morning, stood at Victor's bedside, and wished him awake.  He finally got his chance to hold his littlest brother.  He wants to know at what age they start to play football.

Victor is flourishing and changing so much already, now that he is with at least part of his loving family.  He is gaining weight just as he did in the NICU, weighing 6 lb. 3 oz. at the pediatrician's office yesterday morning.  One more ounce and he'll be up to my birth weight.  It's always fun to picture it that way.

Soon Jesse and Mariana will be home and our whole family will be together again.  It's been a long time in coming.  And then Shoun leaves for church camp.  And Isaac goes to Suzuki camp.  And the big kids head off in all directions.  And Andrew leaves for college.  And...  And.... And....

And one chapter ends.  But another is just beginning.  Don't leave our story now; there will be lots more to come.

And prayer requests?  Victor is able to be off oxygen while he's awake but still needs it for feeds and sleeping.  Pray for every breath and that he can be completely weaned off the oxygen very soon.  Pray for our family as we adjust to being one big, happy family again.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Memorable Illinois


We have several friends who are or who were police officers.  Knowing each of them, I am certain that they are called to what they do, that they are skilled in that profession, and that they do not see it as an opportunity to wield their power over others.  Apparently they are the exception.  This story is in no way reflective of their ability to do their job.

A very young and exceptionally good looking couple were driving across the country and decided to pull an all-nighter.  Around 2:00 in the morning they pulled off the interstate to look for a restroom, get some caffeine, and a place to feed a baby.  They found a gas station that was lit up so they figured it would be open.  They pulled into the first parking space, coordinated the baby and all of his paraphernalia and started to feed him.  At this point the husband decided to enter the convenience store to use the restroom and make some purchases.  Unfortunately, after all that, he realized that the gas station was closed.  So, he settled back in the car for a snooze while his beautiful wife fed the baby.

About an hour later they were ready to head back out on the road, deciding to stop at another gas station first.  Just after turning out of the first gas station’s parking lot, they each realized that the station’s bright lights had fooled them into thinking the car’s lights were on so the driver took care of that.  Looking in the rear view mirror, it was noted that they were being followed.  After another block it was evident that it was a police officer.  Sure enough, as they pulled into the gas station, the cop turned on his lights.

Little did the officer know, he had just pulled over the only law abiding, never-purposely-breaking-a-rule person left in America.  I know.  It was me.  And I always follow the rules. Okay, I do put non-clothing items in the clothing donation bin at Arby’s.  It drives the Good Doctor nuts.  He believes rules are made to be broken but if you even suggest putting one teeny tiny non-clothing item in that bin, he goes ballistic.

He walked over and I handed him my license.  All of a sudden a second police car zooms in. Our officer had called for back up.  On me.

“Ma’am, why were you driving without headlights?”

“I’m sorry, Officer, it was just a second until I realized that the lights were not on.”

“Where are you coming from?”

“Utah.”

“Where are you going?”
“Pennsylvania.”

“With Nevada plates?” he asks with raised eyebrows in a got-ya-now-you-law-breaker look, “Where’d you get the car?”

“Enterprise.  Do you want to see the receipt?”

“No.  But sir, could I please see your driver’s license, too?  Can you tell me why you’re traveling from Utah to PA with Nevada plates and what you’re doing here?”

It was at this point that we realized that he had actually been staking us out back at the first gas station.  I picture him sitting there like Roscoe and his dog Flash in The Dukes of Hazzard, just waiting for the right moment to surprise law-breaking citizens.  Not that I’ve ever seen The Dukes of Hazzard because it was against the law in my house and I don’t break the law.  That was my brother.  I just looked over his shoulder.  The time it took me to turn on the lights just gave him an excuse he needed to pull me over. 

It was evident he didn’t want to believe a word we were saying so might as well come up with the most outlandish thing we could think of.  “Well, we’re adopting a baby who was born 3 months early so I’ve been in Utah with him and he was released yesterday so we’re on our way home.  The baby needed to be fed and we needed to use the restroom so we pulled into the gas station not realizing it was closed until it was too late.  Now we’re here because this gas station is open.”

“Uh huh.  Okay, I just need to talk to my supervisor and I’ll get back to you.”

Apparently he flunked the criminal profiling class at the police academy.  I’m pretty certain he went back to his car to call in an order of roses for his wife.  He was sure that he had just made the bust of the century; putting Ganesburg, Illinois on the map and giving him that promotion he’d been waiting for.  He wasn’t believing that cockamamie adoption, need to feed the baby and pee story one bit.  He ordered a dozen roses with plans to pick them up and take them home at the end of his shift.  He’d surprise his wife by telling her of his bravery in pulling over a seasoned criminal (he’d leave out the part about her being 5 ft. 1 in. and armed with nothing but a Mama Bear’s wrath), how he’d trusted his gut and followed these gas station hoppers, called back up just before things got bad, and came in for the kill.  She’d finally know that he was not just a rookie police officer on the beat but a superhero worthy of that elusive promotion.  They could move to a bigger house in a better part of town.  Life was looking really good.

Until his supervisor told him to call off the back-up; these folks were squeaky clean.  He had a choice; he could take me back in handcuffs for violating the clothing donation bin sign or he could do nothing, fess up to his mistake, and let the couple go.

He chose neither.  He gave me a written warning.  To remember to turn on my lights.  He asked us to buckle up.  We already were.  He told us to buckle the baby.  He already was.  I’m surprised he didn’t remind us to wipe after we peed.  Maybe a written reminder would have been helpful.


And then we did what we had planned to do all along, we went into the restroom to pee.

I don’t think his wife got roses when she woke up this morning.

That would make a good story all by itself.  Only, it doesn’t end there. 

As I drove back to the interstate, I realized that I was being followed.  Again.  By the same car.  He followed me back onto the highway.  I drove 5 miles under the speed limit and sure enough, he slowed down to maintain his following distance.  Apparently he also flunked the stealth class at the academy.  We considered pulling over to the side and waving to him as he drove by, much like Bo and Luke Duke would have done as they outwitted Roscoe once again.  But we didn’t.

Now every time I see a police officer, I’m certain he’s looking for us. He probably put out an A.P.B. for the car with the Nevada plates, coming from Utah, going to PA, with the folks who need to pee. 



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Going home

This is it, the day we've all been waiting for.  Victor passed his carseat trial, we all stayed in the same room last night and survived. I hope no one was worried, we've done this baby thing before.  Seven years may have passed since the last infant in our home, but after one night together, I can tell you that nothing has changed.  The Good Doctor slept like a baby, snoring his way through the night.  Victor woke up every few hours as needed to eat.  I slept, well, I mostly didn't.  But that's okay.  Right now I don't care at all.

Thank you for your prayers for the court hearing yesterday.  The judge was wonderful!  It's sobering to be reminded that adoption means the same rights and privileges as birth.  When asked if we understood that, our answer was an absolute yes!  When Victor's adoption is finalized, his birth certificate will have our names.  There is no difference between a biological child and an adopted one.  Just as God adopts us, with all of our baggage and junk, we are willing to adopt the children God brings into our home.  We will walk with them through whatever life brings.  Thank you to those who have already walked with us in this journey and who will continue to walk beside any or all of our children.  When the judge asked if we have support at home, we were able to tell him about all of you.  Thank you.

Just a few last minute discharge must-dos, a lot of bittersweet good-byes, a few pictures, and we'll be on our way.  There are a lot of miles and states between here and home.  Pray for safety and a fast journey (but that doesn't mean the Good Doctor can speed).

Monday, July 15, 2013

And...

...the news we've all been waiting for...

The home oxygen has been ordered.  When it arrives, Victor will have his carseat test.  This means that he has to sit in his seat for 2 hours without brady or major desats.  Then tonight John and I will "room in" with Victor for a minimum of 6 hours to prove that we know how to handle him and his machines.  If all goes well, we will be discharged in the morning!  The doctor will not even consider a flight, so we will head east in a rental car, making frequent stops (doctor's orders are every two hours) to accommodate a preemie on oxygen who has never been upright in his 3 months of life.

Please pray:

-that the oxygen arrives in a timely manner
-that Victor passes his carseat test THE FIRST TIME!
-that all goes well rooming in

Many, many thanks for all of your prayers.  The neonatologist confirmed this morning what the nurses have been telling us all along, Victor's progress is amazing and not normal.  He credited this to the many long hours I spent here nurturing our precious baby.  We also credit the God who knew Victor before he was even born and who has all of his days numbered.  Being God's designated mother to Victor is my pleasure and honor and while I'm ready to be home, this months of bonding have been so special.  I'm glad we'll be reunited with the whole family soon.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Text me at your own risk

My children are attracted to cell phone ringtones.  Changing the ring tones, in particular.  Maybe it's because none of them have a phone to call their very own.  Well, Andrew does now, but he's going to college.  Maybe it's a teen thing.  Maybe it's just them.  I don't know.

When my mom first got her cell phone, one of the older children would sneak it from her purse when with her, change the ringtone to the most obnoxious ring that could be found, and sneak the phone back.  It took her a while to realize what was happening and she could never figure out which ring was hers because it was constantly changing.

Until this trip to Utah, I used my phone so rarely, and usually had it on vibrate, that the ring really didn't matter.  While the kids were out here, Andrew took my phone and changed the text ringtone to a scream.  Think scary movie kind of scream.  I left it there to remind me of Andrew.  And okay, I may or may not know how to change it.

The first time I accidentally left the volume up, I was in the thrift store with Mariana.  My phone screamed.  A woman in front of me looked up and started laughing.  No big deal.

The second time it happened I was in the NICU.  Since I almost always have the phone on vibrate, I'm not sure how it got switched that day.  I was standing at Victor's bed with his nurse and a scream came from my backside.  The nurse got a scared look and scanned the room.  Just my phone.

Yesterday morning I was in the shower and left my phone on the bathroom counter.  It screamed.  Even after all this time it still takes a moment to compute the source of the scream and in that time my life flashed before my eyes like in all those scary movie bathroom scenes, always while someone is in the shower.  But then I realized that in those movies the scream would be coming from the person in the shower, not from the one outside.  And then it finally connected in my brain, "Don't worry, it's just a text message."

The Good Doctor is coming tonight.  I'm going to have to get used to living with someone again.  He's going to want to hold hands.  All. The. Time.  Yes, that's a prayer request.
5 lb. 14 oz.

Victor will be starting one more room air trial sometime around 1PM MT.

Our hearing is tomorrow at 4:00 MT.  Everything should be in order and the hearing should be straightforward.  We are asking the judge to excuse us from the finalization hearing (about 6 months after we return home) so that we don't have to travel back to Utah.  Our lawyer believes we have a reasonable judge who will grant that request.  Pray that it happens.

I am emotionally spent and ready to go home.  There will be conversations on Monday with both the neonatologist and the pediatric ophthalmologist.  Pray that both of these go well so we can start our journey home.

Pray for wisdom in the drive vs. fly discussion that seems to have staunch supporters on either side and led me to answer a doctor's question about how we will return home with, "It looks like it depends on who discharges us."  Believe me, that was not an exaggerated response.

Some days are like that.  Even in Australia.
Note: That is not a tube coming out of his mouth.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

In his time

In your time, in your time
You make all things beautiful,
In your time

Lord, please show me everyday
As you're teaching me your way
That you do just what you say
In your time

Lord, my life to you I bring
May each song I have to sing
Be to you a lovely thing
In your time

In His Time, Diane Ball

A friend reminded me of this song after we posted our prayer request yesterday.  I remember this song as being on a video of music and scenery that we had given to my grandfather when he was sick with cancer.  I hadn't thought of this song in years.  I listened to it last night before bed and each time I woke up the words of the song were a prayer in my head.

Many thanks to each of you for the prayers and words of encouragement.  Yesterday was filled with several obvious attacks.  Discouragement came and went and peace prevailed.

First of all, let me just say that we received three miracles yesterday!

Miracle #1 - The pediatric ophthalmologist came yesterday, just hours after we sent out the prayer request.  Like I said yesterday, this exam was a week overdue and multiple phone calls by the NICU doctor and NP got nowhere.

Miracle #2 - The results of the eye exam were just what we asked for!  Praise God!  Pray specific prayers to get specific answers and so that you will know you have received a miracle.  After 4 weeks of exams, Victor's eyes had not changed at all.  Yesterday, (for those of you who understand) his eye development has progressed to Zone 3 (out of 3) and the minimal ROP has started to regress as well.  They believe the rest will clear up as well and he will not need any treatment or surgery to correct this in the future.  Best news: We should be able to go home!  There is only one thing holding this up and you will see that in the prayer requests below.

Miracle #3 - Victor actually lasted on room air through 2 feedings, about 8 hours (he was still receiving oxygen during his feeds).  While he is back on minimal oxygen now, we are moving in the right direction.  It is still believed that when he arrives in PA, he will no longer need oxygen.

Miracle #4 - Victor Noah, born at 25 weeks gestation, weighing only 1 lb. 13 oz., is alive and doing extremely well and is celebrating his third month of life today!  I think ice cream is in order for celebration.  Well, at least one of us can have some ice cream to celebrate.  Even the doctor today admitted that Victor has been ahead of the curve in everything.  Most babies born at this gestation and weight would not even be considered for discharge until 40 or 42 weeks (Victor would be 40 weeks on July 26).

Prayer requests -

The mission team to New Mexico left in the wee hours of the morning.  Many thanks to those who posted pictures and videos so I could pick out my children in the crowd.  After a long flight delay (but they were treated with food vouchers that they all used at Dunkin Donuts), the last photo was of the inside of their plane.  Please pray for life changing experiences over the members of the team and everyone they come into contact with from airport personnel to the people they serve.  Andrew's team to Juniata County, PA leaves at 1PM tomorrow.  Pray the same over them.

The pediatric ophthalmologist has said that he wants to see Victor one more time, next Friday.  We have convinced the neonatologist that we can schedule Victor with someone just as qualified in PA if he would PLEASE let us leave earlier than that.  He promised to check with the eye doctor on Monday.  Please pray for favor with the eye doctor, that he would allow us to go home!

Pray for the decision to fly or drive.  We have gotten a different answer from each person we talk to.  Earlier in the week we were convinced to fly and were also told we'd be leaving Monday or Tuesday so we booked our flights for Thursday.  Now this doctor is telling us to drive.  Whatever.  We really don't care (well, the Good Doctor is not a fan of driving but he'll get over it, I actually love to see the sights even though it may just be a blur in passing), we just want to go home.

Pray for the kids at home with various care-givers.

If you didn't believe in prayer before Victor Noah, you have to now.  How much more proof do you need?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Go and serve

Isaiah 58

"Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
'Why have we fasted,' they say,
'and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?'
Yet on the day of your fasting,
you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter -
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise int he darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

"If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord's holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Luke 14:12-14

Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.  But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.  Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Our three oldest children are leaving this weekend for missions trips.  One is a co-leader for a middle school team going to Juniata County, PA to do house projects and to build relationships with the people they serve.  The other two are headed to work with the Navajo in New Mexico.

Short term missions has a bad reputation for teams of wealthy, entitled people swooping in with all of their comforts and preconceived notions, serving for a week, then leaving, often doing more damage than good in the location they have served.  My prayer for our teens this week is that they would go with the attitude of Isaiah 58 and Luke 14:12 - 14 uppermost in their hearts and minds.  Go with the mind of Christ.  Be open with your love, share what you've been given.  Be uncomfortable so others may be comfortable.

Speaking of uncomfortable...

Victor and I have watched many babies come and go in the three months he's been here.  Another one of his neighbors is leaving today.  Our turn is coming.  The countdown is on.  Day 5 of no bradies.  Weight gain is no problem - 5 lb. 10 oz. today.  Loving his milk.  On very little oxygen.  We're so excited!

UPDATE 2PM - PRAYER WARRIORS NEEDED

We just found out from the doctor that unless we get a miracle we will NOT be going home next week.  In fact, according to him, it could be more than 2 weeks.  Bottom line:
1.  The eye doctor needs to show up to do the eye exam.  He is one week overdue for this exam and is the only one in town who can do it.
2. The results of that eye exam need to be miraculous!  Victor's eyes need to have matured and the ROP has to have resolved.  Today's doctor will not allow Victor to leave with oxygen if these two things have not happened.

We need a miracle!

Oh, and another room air trial is underway as I type.  Passing this would be another miracle!





  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Orphans no more

I don't know if I've ever missed an opening at Allenberry when my kids were in the show.

This was hard but I am so thankful for a few pictures,

just for a sneak peek.

I'm told that it's a wonderful show and that Eden and HopeAnne do an excellent job as orphans in Annie. Well, okay, they all do, but we're a little biased.

It's no coincidence that Annie, a show about orphans, is the show currently running at Allenberry, at the same time we're in the process of bringing Victor into our home.

Seven years ago, Mariana played the role of Molly in this same musical, her first stage experience.  That musical ran just after we welcomed HopeAnne into our home.

And now HopeAnne is playing an orphan herself.  How I wish her birth mother could see her!

If you are close to Allenberry, you won't want to miss this timeless musical of love and adoption.
July 10 - Aug. 11
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, Children 4 - 11 years old are admitted free with a paying adult.
This is for dinner and theatre or theatre only.
Call to redeem this special (no online booking for these tickets), (717) 258-3211

And for Victor, who is an orphan no more...

Day 4 of no bradies.

He failed his room air test after an hour.  However, the nurse practitioner is going to try again in 48 hours.  She seems to be fairly convinced that he can go home without oxygen.  So, let's pray it's true!


He did pass his hearing test.  I wasn't worried about it one bit.  The boy follows voices and definitely hears all the commotion around his bed.  And besides, John and I both sign and we have friends who are deaf.  Victor would have fit right in.


He weighs a whopping 5 lb. 9 oz.

Our court hearing is scheduled for Monday but so far the cheapest flight doesn't bring us home til Thursday.  That's okay, the end is in sight!