Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Good Friends

It's a blessing to have good friends.  One friend, who has been an extra special blessing, recently noted how she only gets updates on our family through this blog.  This is because I am not good at hand-writing letters or cards, like she often sends to me.  Actually, I'm just not good at communicating period.  I've gotten way too lazy with this important social skill, but besides all that, this blog post is for my very special friend who never hears from me, unless I am blogging!

A couple of weeks ago Winter got an excellent report from her doctor.  He was so pleased with her recovery, and we were encouraged because he was happy!
UNTIL...   he asked me to bring Toby with us to Winter's appointments, and he had been checking her every 6 months.  This time he asked me to bring her to Winter's follow-up visit, but also to get some x-rays.  He quickly turned somber and told me that Toby's curve had progressed past 30 degrees.  Toby is only 9.  She hasn't even started her "growth spurt!"  This news brought tears to my eyes, but he said he wanted her in a brace asap.  He reminded me that the brace would not correct the curve, but that it would slow it down and possibly even stop it from curving more.  We will see him again in 4 weeks to get more x-rays to see if it is working.

So, we got her brace this week.  Wow.  Did you know the process for that?  I know I should have called or emailed or communicated in some way that Toby needed a brace, because it was a total shock for both of us.  First they casted her entire torso!  She had to shuffle her way over to x-ray (she reminded me a lot of my Mom walking!---please don't tell her I said that!).  Then they cut the cast off and made a custom fitting brace for her.  Monday was one hour wearing the brace and one hour free.  Yesterday was two hours wearing the brace, then one hour free.  Today Toby wore the brace for a total of six hours and will begin to wear it to bed.  I feel so badly for her.  She's another trooper, though!  Praise our Heavenly Father for both Winter and Toby and their attitudes toward these trials!!  I can't thank you enough for all your prayers. Here is the cast they cut off:

 And here's the table they had her on to put the cast on.  Doesn't it look like some torture contraption?  ugh.
 They did let her put her hand print and sign the wall, which was pretty awesome.

So, this past weekend we got pumpkins (the youth group is coming over to surprise Winter tonight!).  I can't believe how much Nathan looks and acts and even sounds like Todd.  He, Abe, and Trina set them up....just like Todd always did.  We picked out pumpkins for those who were not with us (Tiffany, Grenade, the baby in heaven, Rocky, and Todd's).  For Winter we got one with a straight tall stem:  

We got Tiffany one that looked like a cupcake!:

We got Todd one that we KNOW he would have picked out for himself.  He loved these kind of pumpkins and was always particular about the stem!  Ha!

Here they all are in the back of the van:

 And here are some of them arranged with Grenade wanting to play with the tennis ball!
I have more to share, but I can't really say all that I want to on the blog.  Yes, that means I'm actually going to have to WRITE to you!  :) 
Thank you again for your many prayers and cards!  We are praying for all of you as well.  Thanks for the update on your family.  Love you and miss you lots!!! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Blessings! Blessings!! Blessings!!!

Not sure where to start.  Our Heavenly Father has been so good and so gracious and has answered so many prayers today. 

The day didn't start well.  I was discouraged not being able to do much without getting short of breath (STILL!!), and Winter seemed discouraged from not getting done as much school work as she wanted (and she thought she needed) to get done without pain in her shoulder muscles.  With Winter, when I say "pain" I mean really, bad, aching, nagging pain that does not let her concentrate on anything else other than the pain!  She's off of her pain medication now, but the tylenol does not seem to be helping. 

So I put a call into Winter's surgeon at the hospital.  I had an appointment scheduled as a follow-up from being hospitalized today.

BLESSING:  I finally convinced Winter to rest!
BLESSING:  Winter's school counselor called me back this morning and said she is eligible for a temporary IDEA program!  This is for students with disabilities, and it is a special plan developed by her teachers in association with her doctors recommendations, in order for Winter not to fall behind in her schoolwork!  Praise Father!  What a HUGE blessing this was to hear!
BLESSING:  My doctor said I could eat fudge-sickles again! 
BLESSING:  My doctor said my blood sugar was fine now and to monitor my blood pressure, but he was pretty sure it was from being hospitalized and the massive doses of steroids they had me on.  He was pleased with the progress and agreed with everything the drs at the hospital said.  So, keep moving forward!  Slow, but sure.  Father is too good!
BLESSING:  Winter's dr called back and said children who had the kind of surgery Winter had would not even be back in school yet!  They said sometimes they would do half days and some even tutored for just an hour a day.  Dr definitely wants her to slow down.  She is way over-pushing herself.  They will talk about possible physical therapy for her shoulders to strengthen faster, but that's not for two more weeks or so.  I feel so much better about telling her not to do her school work (for now!).

OK, long enough for this evening.  Many thanks to anyone who is reading and/or praying and/or thinking of us!  Father is good....always!!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

View from a Hospital Bed

I have not been hospitalized since we had our last child, Toby Faith, in October of 2003.  Last week, this was my view.

 ugh.  And right outside the door in the hallway, what picture do they hang?  One for torture! 

I have no complaints.  I'm home.  I love home.  I bet some of you are wondering why in the world I was in the hospital, I mean, a fit, healthy, young lady like myself, right?  No, it was not a mental hospital, although sometimes I wonder if that kind of place would have been better for me.  Maybe one day...

But I digress.  The last few weeks my asthma had been bothering me.  Like normal, I ignored it until I had trouble breathing after just walking down the hall.  My doctor told me to go to the ER last Tuesday.  With no insurance, however, I decided it would be more wise and financially stable to stay at home.  It wasn't.  On Wednesday I was privileged to watch my adorable 2 year old nephew and continue to care for Winter from her back surgery.  That wasn't good for the asthma, which flared so badly that I could barely do anything without coughing for a long time.  Wednesday night was not fun.  So Thursday (the 12th) I told the kids I was going to the ER.  The next thing I knew, they had admitted me with "acute asthma" and "upper respiratory infection."  I was horrified that they would do that to me, having all the responsibility at home!  I have six children, one just recovering from back surgery and another starting her first year of college away from home!  How could they?  And worse yet?  I was stuck on a floor with OLD people!  Apparently they needed to put a heart monitor on me, so that was the reason for my 90 year old room mate and old neighbors.  All the nurses yelled at me...I could hear them!  They didn't need to.  They just kept apologizing saying it was habit. 

I tried everything to get out of there.  I took big deep breaths and tried not to cough.  I inhaled on that stupid plastic measuring cup and tried to make it stay so I could inhale again to make it higher.  (I failed miserably at this)  I tried not to talk so I wouldn't cough when the nurses came in.  I smiled a lot.  I sat up most of the time in bed.  I played games with the nurses on my phone and tried to get them to be my friends so they would tell the doctors I could go home.  I kept telling them how nice they were.  FINALLY, Saturday morning (after two days and two nights away from my children) they let me go home!  I'm certain it had nothing to do with the fact that I was driving them crazy with my sweet personality. 

So I'm home.  And I'm happy.  I wonder if the kids missed me as much as I missed them.  I doubt it, but it's still good to be HOME!  Some day it will be good to all be at our ETERNAL HOME!  But until then, day at a time!

This is my Toddy Bear (and the wedding card he gave me).  He would always sign little notes with "Your Toddy Bear" and a paw print!  Miss you, Toddy Bear!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

100 Months Later

September 6, 2013...100 months.  Relay started at 6:30 pm...same time Todd went to heaven.  Everything still hurts.  Went to Relay for Life.  Absolutely painful. 

My Father in Heaven, Why does this still hurt so badly?  Why Todd?  I know I've asked these questions many times over the last 100 months, but WHY?  I watched the Survivor's Lap at Relay For Life.  Shouldn't Todd have been walking in that group?  What about all those bags lit in remembrance of those who have died from that horrible disease CANCER?  What about Todd's bag?  I'm sorry if I am selfish, but I REALLY HATE CANCER.  Please help me dear Father.  I need you now to be close and to hold me close to yourself.  I love you, Lord God, please hold me.  Don't let go.  I need you.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Summer, School, Scoliosis, and Socialization

This summer has been one of the busiest summers and emotionally difficult summers I've ever experienced, yet the blessings have and are abounding in our family!  Our Heavenly Father has been so very, very good to us in His provision, protection, care, faithfulness, and love. 

Our church had a wonderful Vacation Bible School this summer.  Although I was not able to write puppet scripts, Father provided in allowing others to minister in that area and do a great job.  Although not all of us were able to serve together as in previous years, Father provided strength and help from others, and I was privileged to minister with a lady who I found to be delightful!  It was a good week.

My schooling has continued in pursuit of my Master's in Education, and I am so excited to be learning and writing and researching new and interesting areas.  Father has been so caring and loving and providing me wisdom and strength to be able to continue to get good grades.  Praise Him! 

Our fifth child, Winter Hope, had scoliosis surgery on August 7, and she is doing incredibly well.  Looking back and when I was looking forward to this surgery, I could not imagine ever making it through without Todd/Daddy by my side.  It seemed as though an impassable mountain.  However, friends and family, but mostly Father, were there.  I'm sitting here typing and still cannot believe it's over.  What a miracle.  Here are Winter's before and after X-rays of her spine. 
The surgeon put rods in her back and pins.  Amazing.  Winter is a trooper.  She's been amazing through this whole thing and has said several times, "That's the power of prayer."  For a fourteen year old girl, she is absolutely amazing.  Our other children were there for her as well.  I love my family!!!  and I'm so proud of all our children.  God has blessed, over and over and over and over and over and over!

Our fourth child, Tiffany Grace, will be heading off to college in a few weeks.  Looking forward, again, I don't know how to do this without Todd.  She is the first of our children to leave our home.  I'm so proud of her and so thankful to our Heavenly Father for working in her life, yet driving her to college (from PA to SC) and settling her in and then driving home again is definitely not something I'm looking forward to.  It's all good.  I know that.  I just want Todd to be a part of this.  It hurts.

There's more to share, but that is all I can muster tonight.  I've seen Father work in miraculous ways this summer.  I've felt His love and care like never before.  I don't even want to think where I would be if it were not for Him.  Many have said to me, "I don't know how you have and are raising six children as a single Mom."  I tell them it's not's all Him!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Busy Days

I had nearly given up on this blog, but this morning I received notice that someone made a comment that I needed to review. Someone was reading. Not just reading, but relating. That was exactly one reason I began this blog! I was encouraged, so thank you anonymous! And now I'm starting again...

It's been busy. Almost too busy, and yet another blessing from Father. Too busy means not much time to think about how much it still hurts that Todd is not here sharing our children's lives with us and the following, sometimes crippling, loneliness. Our fourth child, Tiffany Grace, just graduated high school. That means four of our children are now "moving on," leaving only two who are under 18 and thus still legally under our authority. Tiffany is the first to go away for college and will be heading to Bob Jones University in just one short month. Bob Jones University is 9 hours driving time away (I know this because we just got back from an orientation weekend there, and that's a very long trip!). I couldn't stop the tears last Sunday when thinking about Todd not being here to share all these emotions. Of course the tears won't seem to come here safely at home...only in public when I don't want them to be seen! Why is this? I guess that should be left for another post on another day.

And then there's our precious Winter Hope. She has scoliosis and requires back surgery next month. This summer has been busy with graduation, parties, college orientation, and now pre-op appointments and planning. There are other minor things, too, like our church's Vacation Bible School, missionary trips, our dog's surgery and consequent complications, weddings, my new adventures in returning to graduate school to get my master's (oh, there's another good post for another day!), planning for my debut in Relay for Life, holidays, my Dad's 80th birthday parties, and, well, my head is spinning so I better stop here.

We recently passed the eight year "angelversary" for Todd. These months have been filled with incredibly good things and some very sad things as well, but all blessings from our Father in heaven who has promised to make all things good. Through each day I am reminded of Todd's love for me and his heart breaking absence. It hurts. Still. Yet, by God's grace alone, the next day comes and I move through it. Thank you, Father, for your help, strength, and guidance. Without You, I would be a lump of crying uselessness.