Monday, June 28, 2010

Our Month in Review . . . A Bit Stressful

This will either make you stressed or crack you up, one or the other. I know this pales in comparison to many people's lives . . . we are healthy and happy, but the sheer number of times we have been to the Emergency Room/Urgent Care this month is unbelievable, especially when you consider how many different people in one house have been there. I need to call my AFLAC agent, and currently I am thankful we have it!!

May ended and June began with major trauma. Brent's back has been terrible, and he finally gave up on it getting better on its own and saw the doctor the last week of May. The doctor gave him medicine, so we decided that I would take the kids to San Diego for Memorial Day by myself so he could stay home and lay flat in bed in hopes of his back getting better. That's usually what it takes . . . a couple days of rest and pain medicine/muscle relaxers. Then it's usually better for several months. Well, he did that, and our trip to San Diego was fun!!! We had a good drive, followed by enjoyable time with my family. I drove back on to our street at about 7:30 Monday night. I could tell there was something going on at our neighbors and people were scared. I told the older two boys to take the younger two kids into the house and to tell Brent that something was happening. I ran over to find that the grandmother in the home (who was probably about 80) was in the car but not breathing. She had an oxygen tank, but it didn't seem to be working. I know nothing about oxygen tanks. The young woman in the house (her granddaughter-in-law) was calling 911. Brent came outside. The 911 operator told us we needed to get her out of the car and flat on her back in the driveway. She was a larger lady and Brent should not have been lifting her, but you do what you have to do when someone seems to be dying in front of your eyes. So Brent and her grandson lifted her out of the car. Her grandson began trying to do CPR while we waited on the ambulance. I continued giving instructions and talking to the operator. It appeared to me that she had already passed away, but we continued on, praying the whole time. The firetrucks and ambulance arrived, along with many family members. They transported her to the hospital where she was pronounced dead about 20 minutes later. We've both experienced death before, but never so traumatically. It was a tough night.

The next day, I was at work and got a phone call from the school that David was in the office saying, "My heart is cracking," and he was crying. He doesn't usually cry. Brent was closer to the school, so he went to see what was up. I thought everything was probably fine. My first thought was that he must have gotten in a fight with Reese or Sophie and meant "broken" not "cracking." However, Brent got worried and called me when he was on his way to Urgent Care. Brent was in such pain and had Sarah who was still in her PJs because he had been laying down all morning. I met him at Urgent Care and he left with Sarah to go back and rest. I was a little bummed (embarressed) to have to stay and explain the situation to the doctor (because I really thought he was fine), but I did. Thankfully, the doctor decided it must have just been heart burn. I don't know that he's ever had heart burn, so he probably didn't know what was happening. I think Brent was a little shaken from the night before (and maybe not thinking real clearly with the medication) and just overreacted a bit. It was actually kind of funny!!! That was June 1st.

On Friday, Brent went back to Urgent Care and got more help for his back. He also saw a pain management doctor and started physical therapy. That was Urgent Care visit number 2 for our family this month.

About a week and a half later, on Wednesday the 16th, we left the kids at home for a little bit while Brent went for a meeting. I was at work. Jason called and David fell off the swing that hangs from his bed and hit the back of his head. He was crying, but it was not a long fall, and I could not imagine it was that bad. He bangs himself up a lot. Brent's meeting was close to over and he was closer to home, so he went to check on things. David was throwing up by that time and could barely stay awake, so I met them both at the emergency room by my office. David had a mild concussion, and they wanted to do a CT scan to make sure it wasn't worse. We were at the ER for about 4 hours (really not so bad, actually). When we got home, Sarah who was home with James and Jason, was on the couch with ice on her foot, crying. Jason was lying on his stomach on the exercise ball. She jumped on his back and the ball rolled. Somehow in all of this her foot got twisted and Jason was on her. Because she cries so easily, we thought it probably wasn't a big deal and we watched it but ended up putting her to bed. However, when she woke up in the morning, it was swollen and discolored, so off she went to Urgent Care. She now has a cast on her foot until July 15th because she has a broken bone inside her foot.

Seems like three Urgent Care visits and one ER visit should be enough for one family in one month, right???? Well, I guess not. Last night, I drove to pick Jason up from a friend. All of the sudden, my vision got really messed up and I wasn't sure I should continued to drive. I stopped and called Brent and took a break for a second. My vision straightened out, so I went ahead and drove the rest of the way home. When I got home, I had a headache and things felt a little foggy. I was kind of groggy. I told Brent it kind of felt the way I feel when I come out of a seizure, but I was certain I had not had a seizure. Generally I have grand mal seizures and there is no way I wouldn't have realized. I have had smaller ones, but I still think I would have known. We decided to call the nurse hotline. While I was on the phone with the nurse, my lips got numb, and the fingers on my left hand started tingling. By that point I was pretty freaked out. They sent us to Urgent Care, but Brent was not sure that was enough, so he called our friend, David Rumph in Oklahoma, to see if he recommended the ER instead. He told Brent that it sounded like classic signs of a migraine. That put me more at ease, and we went ahead and just went to Urgent Care. David sure is a good doctor . . . I highly recommend him!!!! He was right, even from hundreds of miles away. I had an ocular migraine. They treated me with morphine and reglan at Urgent Care then sent me on to have a CT scan, just to make sure. It was clear, and we came home. This time, while we were gone, we asked our neighbor to come over and hang out with the kids. She didn't stay the whole time, but long enough!!! I'm thankful for a neighbor we can call on like that.

Needless to say, I am not sad that June is coming to an end. My goal is to stay away from doctors for the next three days and then all of July. And to submit those claims to AfLAC so we can pay for the medical bills we have accrued. I'm choosing to laugh at this point. It was nice to see our friends Eric and Shannon this morning and get to laugh with them about it.

Please put Brent's back on your prayer list. He is in so much pain. It's hard and so frustrating for him because it limits what he can do. He had an MRI last week, and is waiting on a return call from his doctor to see when he can get in to see what's going on. We know he has two herniated discs in his lower back, but usually it feels better faster than this, so we are becoming more concerned that there could be something else. In all of this chaos, we know God is in control. We are still trying to figure out what He wants us to learn from all of it!!!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thoughts While Running

I have been trying to run regularly. Brent and I started out doing a couch to 5K program. Since then, his doctor told him that because of his back condition, he can only walk briskly, but I am determined to complete the program . . . even if it kills me!!!! I don’t particularly love to run, but it has been good. I have been spending the time praying for people, particularly my family. In my prayer time, I have found myself asking and wondering what is truly important for my kids, particularly James and Jason, as they are getting older and their time at home is becoming shorter . . . Blah!!!

It’s been a tough year for James academically, particularly second semester. I say that only because school always seemed so easy for him, but it has gotten harder, and he has had more difficulty with it. A lot of it is because of his social life and possibly his priorities not being on the right things. I think because it always came so easily he has had to learn a hard lesson that sometimes it takes more work then you expect. But as I have been praying for him, for balance, for perseverance, for a good work ethic, I have also been thinking about how he has changed and how social he has become. This has not been a bad thing. He has a HUGE impact, or at least the opportunity to have a HUGE impact on his peers. If he was coming straight home every day and only doing homework, he would not have the friends he has or the opportunities he has to show them Jesus. Now, does that excuse poor work ethic? Of course not, the Bible says, “Do your work as unto the Lord.” This goes for students as well. But it has caused me to stop and think about things.

Parents can sometimes tend to focus on the wrong things. For some, it is athletic ability; for others, their child’s social life. For us, in the case of James, it has been his academic abilities and his potential. There is a difficult balance in this. Definitely there are great things that kids learn as a result of sports, social life, academics, drama, or any other extracurricular activities, and we, as parents, should encourage them in these areas. However, how often do we get too focused on these things, and forget the child’s heart. I don’t mean their salvation. I think most parents who love Jesus WANT their children to know Jesus, but I also think that after that decision is made, we sometimes become negligent of helping them grow in Christ, in helping their hearts develop to be like Jesus’s heart. How many times a week, how many hours a week, do we have our children practice sports or work on their multiplication tables or on their writing? How many hours a week do we have our children really seek to discern how the Lord is working on their hearts? For me, personally, it is a sad reality that the second is significantly less. I think, for some reason, that I just expected that after salvation, the rest would follow. There are many times in the day that I point my children toward Jesus, but how often is it truly intentional? How often do I really encourage them to seek to figure out how God is convicting them? Yet, I spend a lot of time reminding them to finish Geometry or spelling or whatever is on their plate.

I am now including in my running prayer time, that I will be a mom who focuses on the right things with my children. I want to encourage them in the areas where they excel, but what I want them to excel most at is being like Jesus. As their mom, as their greatest encourager, this needs to be my focus. All their abilities are temporary. They could be gone so quickly. I was no star athlete in high school. In fact, if any of my high school volleyball teammates read this, they might laugh at even the mention of it, but I was busy with other extracurricular activities, and I was very focused academically and made good grades. I also remember the day at church camp the summer between my junior and senior year when I had my first seizure, and I remember the day I was diagnosed with epilepsy and started on medication, and I remember how that changed my life, and how much it complicated things for the first few months. I struggled academically as I adjusted to new medication. I could not drive. I’m sure if I had been playing any sports at the time, I would not have been able to do it because I could barely get through a day of school from being so tired. There is about a month of my senior year that I really can’t remember because I was such a mess from the medication. The loss of abilities can happen so fast. They could be lost by an injury, an accident, health, anything. But what is in a child’s heart is there forever. Obviously, a person’s heart can go astray. But I believe the values that have been cultivated and grown, can be drawn out of them again. And if they have been cultivated well, it is probably less likely that they will go astray. I wrote in my status update on Facebook, Lord, help me raise my children to have hearts for YOU, and not get too focused on what they can and cannot do.

It’s hard . . . We made a decision this year not to allow David to compete in gymnastics. It was a HARD decision for me. He is a great little gymnast, and he loves it. It’s fun to watch him, and it’s fun for him (and for us, if I am to be honest) for him to get attention for his abilities. Brent had to remind me many times that we always said we would not let sports consume our children or our family when they were that young, if ever. It was still hard, and I know people in our lives who thought it was the wrong decision. I will say that we did not necessarily make the decision for the reasons I have written here, but I am glad that we made the decision now that I am pondering all of this. It is just too much for a child his age to go to school, do homework, practice like he was going to have to practice, and grow in his relationship with Jesus . . . and too much for the parents to be able to stay on top of. We would have neglected the cultivating of his heart, I am sure!

I’m sure I have friends out there who will read this and disagree with me. There are probably others who can, or think they can, do all of it. There are many people who balance better than we do, I know that to be a fact. That’s okay . . . I just feel convicted by it, and wanted to share. The important thing is that we focus on our children’s hearts, on helping them to have hearts like Jesus, who loved and served others.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Glimpse of Jason's Heart

Jason wrote this in school, and I am reprinting it with his permission. I just thought it was sweet. It will be fun to look back on one day.

"Thinking Ahead"

What will I be when I'm 23?
I will be finishing college and I will have a part time job as a photographer. The college may be Oklahoma Wesleyan University. I will live in a campus apartment, so I am closer to my classes. When I graduate, I want to have my master's degree. After I graduate, I will come back to California and work for my church.

What will I see when I'm 43?
I'll have a beautiful wife, three kids and two or three dogs. We'll live in Oklahoma, out in the country. We'll own seven to eight acres of land and a big house with a pool. My kids will be 15, 13, and 9.

What will I do when I'm 62?
I'll be close to retirement, but I will work for a church. I might even become a pastor. I will have grandchildren. I will live in the same house. My wife will be retired. I will want to have my grandchildren around a lot. My youngest child will still be in college. She may go to Oklahoma University.

If I'm Alive at 95 . . .
I may have great grandchildren. I will be retired but in shape and healthy. I will live in the city, and my wife will be with me. She'll be healthy. My grandchildren will be under the age of 50. My brothers and sister will still be alive.