Thursday, March 29, 2012

The calm before the storm...

I feel like I'm definitely in a calm before the storm hits.  Not much has been going on with Cayla.  I know there's still a ton to do before she gets here, but I'm not too worried.  I've just been going through the motions of each day of which includes a nap.  I'm not really sleeping very good at night, thus the naps.  It's been nice not having to worry about a ton of doctors visits although I go each week now to see Dr. Rajabi.  I still am quietly amazed at times to realize I'm pregnant again.  I'm just kind of in the place where I know this is all really happening, but until she's here, I still feel like it's a far off happening that I can't quite imagine.  I guess it's still a little surreal.

Today's OB appointment was a little different.  No measuring her for size, or looking at the same things in the past, but during the ultrasound, she was taking a test to see how she's doing.  She got 2 points for each thing the tech was looking for.  I didn't realize this until close to the end, so I'm not sure what all she was looking for.  She said that Cayla passed everything but she couldn't get her to exercise her lungs and "pretend" to breathe.  She wanted to see her lungs breathe a certain number of times in 30 seconds.  It's not really breathing, but just practicing.  We'd been in there a 1/2 an hour and she only had about 5 minutes or less to get her to complete this.  But, at the last minute, Cayla decided she'd cooperate and did what they were hoping to see her do.  Yay!  So, she passed that test... barely, but she passed.  :o)

Then I got swept away to another room for another test.  They wanted to do a non-stress test on her.  The nurse strapped two monitors around Cayla and me and then she gave me a button to push everytime I felt her move.  Meanwhile the monitors were keeping track of her heart beat and any other possible contraction-like movements.  They wanted to make sure her heart rate increased when she moved.  Well, the little stinker had been moving a good bit during the ultrasound and now was apparently ready for a nap.  She barely moved.  This machine was set to run for 20 minutes of tracking this and she had to have a certain number of matching movements and heartbeats during that time.  Since she wasn't moving, they brought me a glass of ice water, although I think the cranberry juice sounded better, just don't tell Dr. Rajabi.  She caught herself and realized I had gestational diabetes and just brought me the water.  That made Cayla do a huge jump a few minutes later.  Needless to say they got all the movements they needed over the last 5 minutes and she passed with flying colors. :o)  The little procrastinator... where, oh where, would she get that??  Certainly not me...

Overall, she seems to be doing fine.  She had her face down so the picture they sent home with me isn't very good.  He said my sugar numbers were good.  Although I have really struggled with this whole blood sugar thing the last couple of weeks.  I'm craving milk, Rice Krispies, and still peanut butter and tuna fish although not as much on the last two.  I could just pour a gallon of milk directly into a box of cereal and chug it all down.  Problem is, if I even have just the serving size of cereal with less than a cup of milk, my sugar spikes.  It went to 230 after a small bowl the other day... I am getting to a point where being really limited on what I can and can't eat is getting to me.  I'm on a gluten-free diet, a low-carb diet and a very low budget diet right now, which means very little variety.  Boo, hiss.  Just had to vent a little.  Cayla seems to be doing fine and getting all she needs which is good.  I am thankful that Giant Eagle has their "Fruit on the Bottom" yogurt on sale for 50 cents a piece. That has shook up my snack variety a little.  I have 3 and 1/2 weeks left.  I can do this.  I will try to not complain.  I will be thankful for my eggs almost every morning and my tuna almost every lunch. :o)  I will be thankful for the "millions" of apples I get to eat and for corn tortillas and lettuce and salad...  I'm hoping that writing this out will help convince me.  Not sure it's working, but it's worth a try.

My friend, Ann Sutch, brought over a bassinet and an electric baby swing Saturday
with a crib and more to come in the next week or so.  So precious.  I never had a bassinet with Samuel, and I love the thought of being able to have her close to me at night.  We don't have a separate baby room for her, she's just going to have to share with us which is fine with me.  I don't think I could sleep with her in a different room, even with monitors.  I think I'd worry too much.  Lowell thinks the bassinet would be handy downstairs for naps and just use the crib upstairs.  I just love the little bassinet though.  He said we can move the crib next to our bed.  I don't know, we'll see.

I still look at myself pregnant and am just amazed at the thought.  It still seems like a dream at times.  I love feeling her move around... most of the time.  A well placed kick isn't always nice, but you know, you take the good and the bad.  Love the looks people give me.  I can't quite tell what they're thinking.  Many times I think they're thinking, "Isn't she too old to be pregnant?"  Who knows? 

Some more random things...  I was reminded about baby announcements and realized I do need to send some out.  So, since I don't want to have to buy any, and I have everything I could possible need to make my own with all my Stampin' Up! stuff, I'm making them.  Purple, green, flowers and Dazzling Diamonds glitter = girly.  Simple cards, but cute.  :o)  This started out fun, but it's taking more time than I want it to.  Finding addresses and deciding who to send them to is actually more work than making them.  :o) You know how it is.  It's making me get organized.  Why do I want to do that?  Ok, I do want it, but lack the skills to make it happen right now... Time is against me.  I've let my dishes go again and I have got to get in and clean the bathroom.  Lowell did the shower on Saturday, but the rest is still staring me in the face. Glad we only have one bathroom right now.  :o)  I thought I titled this, "The Calm before the storm"?  With all my complaining it doesn't seem to be as calm as I think it is.  Oh well. It's all good. 

I love 1 and 2 Corinthians.  I found these verses again this week and want to share them.  I've used this phrase before, but these verses are where I'm at right now.  Jesus Christ is the only reason I'm where I am today and who I am today!  I love these verses, and I love my Savior for promising this to me.  I'll say goodnight for now before I go do a little more stamping.  :o)

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness. 
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
...for when I am weak, then am I strong."
2 Corinthians 12:9, 10b

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dr. Rajabi's visit today

"O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: 
make known his deeds among the people.
Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.
Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.
Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders,
and the judgments of his mouth."
Psalm 105:1-5

I have to start off by saying how blessed we are!!  I don't think I totally understood how amazing it is what God has done in our precious Cayla Joy's heart!  I've read parts of other's stories today with this Hypo Plastic Left Heart Syndrome, and all I keep finding is struggles getting through that 1st surgery.  They seem to be making it, but with many setbacks and scary moments.  I found other stories that haven't turned out well.  Reading all this, made me realize just how blessed we are if Cayla really and truly won't need the 1st reconstructive surgery for the aorta!  I'm sure I'll write more about this, but I just have to start tonight by praising God and making known His deeds and wondrous works!

Here's a profile picture from today's ultrasound of our precious Cayla Joy.

Dr. Rajabi didn't mention it today, but has said in the past that he thinks she doesn't have a definitive bone or point in her nose... can't quite remember how he worded it, but time will tell what other little things or even big things might be wrong with our little girl.  We just get to wait and see what all happens.

I did go to Hillcrest today to see my OB, Dr. Rajabi.  I am thankful for my mother-in-law taking me out there.  Actually, she likes me to drive, which I enjoy since my "boys" are always chauffeuring me around everywhere. :o)  It's about 50 minutes, not quite as far as Cleveland Clinic main campus, but still a good drive.  The ultrasound tech was able to finally get a somewhat good look at her left foot.  It's definitely a club foot, but no one's worried about that in comparison to her heart. She was taking 3-D pictures of her foot.  She said Cayla weighs 5lbs 4oz now which is exactly 1 pound more than 2 weeks ago!  She should be gaining about a 1/2 pound a week which is right what she's doing, so he was happy about that.  She's looking good, and I too have gained a pound since last time, thanks to Cayla.  This gestational diabetes is keeping me from any kind of weight gain with this pregnancy.  I am 4 pounds more than when I started.  :o)

I am actually at 34 weeks and 3 days along, but they will induce me at 39 weeks and 1 day, Lord willing.  My due date is April 30th, but D-Day (delivery day) is April 24th. Both our heart rates are great.  Got to see her little heart just a beating away.  It's kind of weird watching it, because you really can see just the one side pumping looking somewhat like it's in some kind of time warp the way it goes in a wave as it pumps.  I have to say that it was almost harder emotionally to see her club foot on the screen than her half of heart.  I don't know why, but I found myself holding my breath as she was finding her little foot.  Maybe because I've seen hours of her heart beating... literally, with Dr. Lorber.  Oh! I can't believe I forgot to tell this right off!  Funny!  I asked Dr. Rajabi if he'd heard the awesome news about her heart and aorta.  He said yes that he'd got a call from Dr. Lorber about it all, but didn't understand most of what Dr. Lorber said, other than she might not need the 1st surgery and has a functioning aorta on the right side of her heart!  My mother-in-law and I had to laugh.  I thought it was just us, but to hear Dr. Rajabi say that he doesn't understand everything Dr. Lorber says was just too funny!  He definitely agreed that Dr. Lorber should take some "How to talk to non-heart specialists" lessons from the surgeon, Dr. Stewart!   Bless Dr. Lorber, he's such a great doctor... I said I wouldn't pick on him, but I had to share.

Moving right along.  Dr. Rajabi went over what to do insulin-wise the night before surgery.  I have to change it up that night to try to get it just right for the next morning.  If my sugar is too high or too low, they will have to postpone surgery to the afternoon.  What's messing it up is the fact that I can't eat after 10pm.  I don't think it will be an issue, but if when the time comes, you think to pray about this for me, I'd appreciate it. 

I also told him about the swelling in my ankles, and he said that is very common and he's only going to worry if my hands or face get swollen.  He said just to work on elevating it at night or afternoon to relieve it and keep doing what I'm doing.  Avoid salt, drink water, elevate it, and he'll check on me next week.  He did say that he wants me coming in every week now which I kind of figured. So, I'm off to elevate my foot.  I did this earlier today and fell fast asleep on the couch.  Samuel said I was snoring so bad, I was sounding like a machine gun going off.  He couldn't resist pulling out his pretend one and "using" it every time I snored like that since I was doing such great sound affects for him... That made me laugh then and is making me laugh now.  I usually wake myself up when I snore, but I didn't hear a bit of it today, so I must have been pretty tired.  Love that boy! :o)

We got home about 6pm tonight from the doctor's, took my insulin, ate, shopped for tennis shoes for Lowell, grocery shopped at 2 different places and then came home.  I sat down, tested my sugar and ate some wonderful, sugar-free popsicles while my sweet 16 year old carried in all the groceries AND put them all away for me.  :o)  I am truly blessed!

I just can't quite express how I feel today after reading other's stories with HPLHS.  It's actually pretty overwhelming to think about.  Such hard stories to read that some I had to quit reading and other's just skimmed over.  I don't think I'm emotionally stable enough right now to read everything, but just enough to really realize the enormity of God's work already done in Cayla's little heart.  All I keep hearing is Dr. Stewart saying, "This is a heart she can live with!" and "There's a chance she might not need that 1st surgery!"  I'm crying all over again just typing this.  There's still so many unknowns yet, but my God who created her is in control of her precious little life.  I have such peace just knowing His will will be done in her life, it does pass all understanding.  That's just how God works.  It's after 11pm again, so I've got to go for now!  Thanks so much for all the prayers! :o)

"And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.
And the evening and the morning were the sixth day."
Genesis 1:31

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Five weeks before D-Day

Yes, in 5 weeks I'll be prepped and will have already delivered little Miss Cayla Joy!  Looking forward to it all, even the unknowns!  I let the boys take pictures this morning since I was up and ready...
 Lowell and his attempt to make his belly bigger than mine... plus a cheesy grin.

 Samuel and his cheesy grin... :o) 
I had just made him take his hand down from giving me rabbit ears,
thus the face of... I almost got away with it...

Me, feeling like an overstuffed pillow.  :o)

Thanks to Brenna Joyner for sending me some maternity tops!  I was looking through the box she gave me thinking, most of this is light, summery stuff.  When will I wear this in Ohio?  Well, with the weather the way it is, it's working out great!  Thanks Brenna!  The pants are from Ginny Klein at church.  Thanks!  Kim Hunsicker hemmed them for me and they work great!  I've been blessed with many gifts from many wonderful people!

Plus, good news from the tax front.  Apparently when you close a business and suffer great financial loss, you get a pretty good tax return... Ok, so a splentacularly good tax return... Didn't see that coming, but God has allowed us when this comes in, to be able to pay off the last of the store bills.  We still have the loan for the store we're working on, but my dad has very graciously taken that over for us and has allowed us now to be interest free to continue paying that off to him now.  He's been a huge blessing in doing this for us!  Thanks Dad! 

Off to help Samuel on his Algebra 2 and then help him with a topic for an English paper.  Meanwhile, I'm going to bake a loaf of gluten-free bread.  Better get going, the day is running away quickly leaving me in the dust... :o)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Just letting out a few tears, but it's all good!

Well, I don't know what to do with myself right now.  My left ankle is swollen and I am way too antsy to lay down with my foot up.  I tried to elevate it and read some of the full-sized 3 ring binder at least 1/2 thick that Cleveland Clinic sent me to be prepared for my surgery, the C-section.  Who knew there was possibly that much info needed before surgery?  I didn't get too far. I did read the part about no nail polish, makeup and so on... is this really necessary?  I've got to look beautiful for Cayla's entrance into this world, don't I?  I think so, but whatever. :o)  Surgery is at 8am and we have to be checked in by 6am.  That'll be an early morning, but I get to sleep the rest of the day, I just feel bad for everyone else. 

Oh well, I gave up reading and started feeling the great urge to cry.  I thought I better get up and do something, but was crying before I even made it to the kitchen sink to do dishes.  Of course I had to give into it.  I just scrubbed those dishes even harder. It's just one of those times when I stop and look at everything around me that's not right or perfect and am wanting it to be.  Problem = wrong focus... I cried tears over how I've been struggling to communicate with Lowell today when yesterday was great.  He even bought me flowers yesterday.  I cried over how I overreact to people and have pushed them away.  I cried over Samuel and thought what hope does he have with parents like us?  I cried over everything but Cayla.  I cried about how my back hurt and my shoulders ached.  I cried over the fact that I had too much pride to go upstairs and ask Lowell to massage them.  I'm just being honest here because it's where I'm at.  I'm just feeling a little too many hormones floating around inside me...  I cried because I haven't spent alone time with God the last 2 days.  It pretty much lasted through all the pots and pans and dishes and silverware and glasses and plates and bowls...  Positive note:  My dishes are done and my kitchen counters are all clean!  Yay!  I'm feeling better already just writing this out.  I'm fine, I'm sure.  I know Lowell and I will talk and be fine.  I know I'm pregnant and will blame this on it. :o)  I just felt like venting a little.  Maybe I shouldn't do it on a blog, but oh well.  Every post can't be Polyanna, can it?  Maybe.  I don't know.

When I get like this, I need to be careful what I cry out to God for.  The last time I cried like this was Thursday night, Feb. 2nd.  I remember very distinctly because that night I was on my knees weeping into the sofa, begging God to change me.  Begging God to bring me closer to Him and take away any hypocrisy in my Christian life.  It went on for close to an hour.  I'm sure there was a lot I cried over, but that was the main urgency that night.  I remember because it was the next day, Friday the 3rd that I met Dr. Rajabi for the 1st time at my appointment with a "specialist".  My OB/GYN hadn't warned me about Cayla's problems and that was the day Samuel and I went and found out that Cayla had a major heart defect and a possible club foot and who knows what all.  You ask God for something, you better be ready to get it how He sees fit to give it to you.  It's like asking for patience.  You just don't go there because you're going to end up with 100 annoying people and circumstances in your life just to teach you patience. :o)  Well, I asked God to do whatever it takes to bring me closer to Him, and there it was the next day.  The first news of Cayla's problems.  That's the kind of thing that definitely brings you closer to God, not that that's the reason for all of Cayla's problems.  It's just how God works His timing.  That appointment was already set and her problems were already there, but God waited until I cried out to Him, to let me know about her heart and all.  It's all, once again, in His timing.  I have to say that I and all of us, have been brought closer to God through this.  This is a very good thing.  God's faithful.  I do feel 100 times better after writing in the blog, but it's 11pm and Lowell is telling me to come to bed.  So, I must go.  Until next time. :o)

It's now Monday afternoon and I thought I'd come back and add on to my post from last night.  I went down to the church to practice with Dotty for Sunday, and got talking to my pastor's wife.  I am very thankful for her and her insight.  She made the fatal mistake of asking how I was doing... I just started complaining a bit about yesterday and such.  She listened and told me to remember that even though Lowell and Samuel don't have extra hormones flying around right now, they are still feeling the stress (maybe a different stress than I have) from all that has been going on in our lives.  I can cry and deal with it, but that's not how they'll deal with it.  She said when I cry that adds more stress to them since they don't always know what to do or say with me.  I know that she's right, and I do forget that they are dealing with everything differently than I am.  She told me to do something special for them tonight.  Make a special dinner, or make a dessert, or whatever.  Well, groceries are limited and I don't have a car, so I looked through my cabinets and realized I could make some homemade cinnamon rolls for them.  :o)  It's so amazing how my whole perspective changed with a few wise words from a godly woman.  Nothing earth shattering, but when pregnant, simple things can make a huge difference.  I can't wait to love on my "boys" and make sure they know how much I love them!  And it was easy to make them since my kitchen was all cleaned up this morning!  :o)  Nice how that works out!  Love you Lowell and Samuel!!

"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you."
John 15:12

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"...for such a time as this?"

"...and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom
for such a time as this?"
Esther 4:14

There are too many things that have been perfectly orchestrated in our lives, that can only point to a loving God who has a plan.  God had a plan in Esther's life and used each circumstance from losing her family, being taken away to the king's house, up to being ready to stand up and deliver her people.  He took hard times and pain and used them in her life ...for such a time as this.  I can only look at where God has taken us and brought us, to clearly see a plan.  It's as if God wasn't really bringing us here just for the bookstore, although He used it our lives and in many other's as well, but for something more as well.  As I sit here, I feel like there's so much more going on.  I'm not sure what it's all about, but when I think that we could have moved up here a year earlier,  we could have closed the store a year earlier, (both were discussed as possibilities at the time), we could have moved away to work somewhere else when the store closed (did have people asking), but God made it very clear to us that we are right where we need to be.  If we would have moved away from Florida a year earlier, the bookstore would not have been available.  If we would have closed the store a year earlier when we thought we should, we would have never seen the hand of God provide for us in such a miraculous way that year when a customer handed me a $10,000 check!  Plus, I probably would have gotten a job; I almost got one last fall.  God closed those doors.  He made it so that the last week of the store was also my last monthly cycle.  I complained about His timing on that, but 2 weeks later, I became pregnant.  God closed one huge part of our lives to set us up for a completely different path to go on.

God obviously wants us to have Cayla, but had to close the store first.  There is no way I'd be able to run the store and be all the places I've had to be.  It would've never worked.  God knew.  (I love that phrase.)  There is no way I could be working at a different job and not be fired by now, with all the appointments and "stuff" going on.  I am not 25 anymore and truly am amazed at what I was able to do while pregnant then.  Anyways, God's timing on everything is impeccable. :o)

The other major thing going on timing-wise was Lowell's job.  He had been working at Radio Shack "full-time".  It was rarely 40 hours, usually around 32-38 hours, sometimes more.  He was mostly working evenings until 9pm and had to work weekends too, including Sundays.  It was great that God provided that job while we had the store to help supplement, but it was not a salary a family could live on by any means.  Lowell knew we were going to close the store last summer and was looking for more of a full-time, non mall hours, kind of a 9-5 job.  He actually applied at Ken Forging back in April when he'd noticed an ad in the paper.  He went through a couple of interviews back in May, and I think it came down to 2 people and they picked the other guy.  So, I just kept praying and so did many others that Lowell would find the right job.  This one seemed so perfect for us with great benefits and profit-sharing and all, but God closed the door.  For some reason, every time we'd pass Griggs Road, I'd pray that either the guy they hired wouldn't work out and they'd call Lowell in or that another position would open up.  I truly kept praying and felt somehow that we weren't done with Ken Forging.  BUT, God's timing is perfect!  If he would have got that job back in May or June working 9-5, that would've left me to close the store by myself.  God knew that wouldn't have worked.  I so badly needed him for so many things during that last month or so, I honestly could not have done it without him there when he was.  He was able to be at the store most mornings and then would leave around noon to 2pm to go to work till 9pm.  It was long days for him, but we'd set July 30th as our last day, so the end was in sight.  He was still looking for another job, but nothing came up.  We were able to close without a hitch and had great help that last Saturday we were open. Even though we were open that day and I was still behind the counter selling stuff most of the day, we still managed to pack everything up, clear out all merchandise, load fixtures that people bought, load fixtures we kept, make a trip with everyone's vehicles to our house and back to the store, and had the store completely cleaned and locked up by 4:30pm!  What a day and what a blessing to have just the right amount of people from church and others come to help!!! It was to me a miracle how it could have happened so smoothly despite people shopping out of boxes as it was being packed.  I doubted we could pull it off, but Lowell had been moving our personal things home all week long and all that was left was merchandise.  I still think about it and am amazed!  God ran that day for us, for His glory! 

We still had no idea what God was doing, but had to wait and rest in Him and His timing.  It was the end of August when Lowell got another phone call from Ken Forging to come back in for another interview!  :o)  God's timing is perfect!  I'm going to keep repeating that phrase.  He then got the job in September and started October 3rd.  Their insurance is so amazing compared to what we had.  With closing the store, we have been in "a bit" of a financial situation.  God's provision of a good job like this AFTER we closed the store is just like Him, perfect!  His insurance through Medical Mutual has been a life-saver financially.  Since his insurance started January 3rd, we have to only pay 20% up to $2,500 max and then they pay 100%.   We've easily passed that mark already and haven't even had all the surgeries.  There will be possibly 3 before the end of the year... all under one deductible!  God's timing is perfect!  You can't deny it or get around it any way.  :o)  He has a plan for us!

After we closed the store, we went camping, canoeing/kayaking, and ended out our summer with some pretty fun times that we'd not been able to do since coming to Ohio.  School started for Samuel, and he and I got up at 6 every morning to walk/run for 30-45 minutes.  That was something I hadn't done in years, but felt great doing it. I started applying for jobs, went to Infinity to see if they could help me find a job.  I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be doing.  Lowell got his job with Ken Forging, but what was I needing to do?  I was wondering if I was supposed to get a job and put Samuel somehow in the only Christian high school in the county which was challenging since it's so far and we only had one car.  I was confused and it didn't seem like God was directing.  I got called in for some sub work in September as a secretary at a local steel company and enjoyed that. I do remember trying to get through each day there without falling asleep.  I was so tired every afternoon and they didn't always have a ton of work for me to do if the phones weren't busy.  I had no idea I was pregnant then.  They said that I was a great fit with all the employees there and wondered if they could call me back when they needed me.  I said sure, since I didn't have anything else going on.  They never called back.  God knew.  We do have friends, the Russells, that also use Connections Academy like Samuel does and had offered to have him work at their house if I did get a job.  That was a big relief to know Samuel could continue the online school he was doing since we really did not have money to send him to South Ridge.  I came close to getting a job at a local bank, but God closed that door.  I was actually relieved since I didn't particularly care for how the final interview went with the people I'd be working with.  God knew.  I was disappointed for about 10 seconds thinking that I was just rejected, and then I realized how relieved I was that they said no.  For the amount of money I'd make there and what they were trying to convince me I'd have to do, and get me to convince them I could do it, I could make the same amount or more as a cashier in a grocery store and not have to deal with all that drama.  I knew I could totally do the job, but felt like I was defending myself the whole time to these 2 ladies who were both trying to convince me I couldn't do it.  Blah.  Once again, God knew.  I didn't, but God did. 

I have to say too, that since God has Cayla's life in our future, He brought us up here to the #1 cardiac hospital in the nation!  Cayla is in great hands.  I can't say for sure that that's why we're here having Cayla instead of anywhere else, but who knows.  It could be part of it.  I just like going down all these paths of how God is directing every step. 

I still don't know what God has planned for our future and where He's leading us on this journey with Cayla, but I'm willing to trust Him and what He's so obviously doing.  I don't know what ministry I'll have, but am willing and waiting and trying to be used in the meantime.  When we lived in Northern Virginia, my main ministry was teaching 6th graders in inner-city D.C. and working with the music at Barcroft Bible Church.  Loved teaching in D.C. with a passion that could only have come from God.  When we moved to Pensacola, I was staying home with Samuel and loved being a mom and homeschool teacher. Samuel did go to the Academy for 2nd-6th grade, so I didn't homeschool the whole time we were there.  God also gave me a ministry there with the Juvenile Detention Center.  I had just joined the choir at church there when I was presented with the opportunity to teach Sunday School at the Juvenile Jail.  It was making me choose between my 2 ministries I'd had back in Virginia.  Choir was during Sunday School.  I really wanted to be involved with music, but I knew when they said that they needed help during Sunday School at the jail that my ministry was there.  I don't think people down at PCC really understood me and my love and passion for music, but it was a season of virtually no music ministry at all while I was there and that was hard.  I knew the college had so many people with all the music majors and faculty that I really wasn't needed in that ministry, but I truly missed it.  I jumped into the jail ministry with my whole heart and felt like I was back working with the same kids I'd been teaching in D.C. Kids that just want someone to love them and listen to them. I can still see so many faces of those teens that just broke your heart for their situations they've had to grow up in.  God even allowed a ministry with the guards who would ask if they could talk to me when I had a minute.  We got to pray with them too and see some get saved as well. Ok, yes, I miss it, I miss Kari Birchler, I miss Tracy Glockle and others that so willingly gave of themselves all those years.  I hated having to leave there after 8 or 9 years of being there every week.

Moving up to Ohio, my ministry completely changed to the store, the customers that came in just to talk and to have someone pray for them, Samuel and homeschooling again, and... I got to have my music ministry back at Bible Baptist Church after 9 years.  It's been a wonderful 4 and 1/2 years here and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world.  There are plenty of things we all can find to complain about in Ashtabula County, but it's a breath of fresh air to me.  Jefferson, where our store was, was really the fist time I'd ever lived in "small-town" America.  I loved it.  Loved the sense of community. We're in Saybrook right now, and I love driving around these beautiful country roads, the Amish farms, the beautiful Ohio scenery and am so thankful God has brought us here at this moment ...for such a time as this.

I know that even with this pregnancy, God has already given me opportunities to witness and share His amazing love and forgiveness to others.  I feel that with all the struggles and pain so, so many people are going through these days, God is preparing us for a future where we will need to be strong in the Lord.  There are going to be tough times ahead for Christians in America.  I want everything in my life, good and bad, to be used to make me more like Him and ready for the future and whatever it may hold... for such a time as this.

"...and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom
for such a time as this?"
Esther 4:14

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

This past week

My Tuesday started at 5:30am going to a meeting with the Concerts of Prayer Board at 7am at Steak and Shake. It was a good meeting.  These early meetings are seeming earlier and earlier and the time change doesn't help this week!  Samuel came and picked me up after taking Lowell to work.  He ordered some breakfast and then we headed to his OGT testing today in math.  There were men working upstairs right above them while they were testing... plus they were keeping me awake while I was trying to sleep in the lobby... :o)  Just a slight distraction for him.  Today was Samuel's 2nd day of OGT's.  Going fairly well.  I guess part of homeschooling him is not always giving him time limits on tests, so there's maybe some extra pressure with that.  We'll see. Three more days of Writing, Science and Social Studies.  Is Ohio alone in this endeavor to torture, I mean, evaluate if the students are ready to graduate?  I think this came about a few years ago with the No Child Left Behind program.  Not sure, but the instructor said they attempt to make them slightly harder every year.  Don't particularly understand that strategy, but who am I but a complaining parent right now.  :o)  I do think it's great that you can't get your diploma without knowing the basic subjects.  I know there are high school students that can't read or write well, so I shouldn't complain.  From the writing skills I see on facebook, I think there's a huge gap in basic grammar and spelling.  I know there's shortcuts and all, but I truly think some people think that's how words are really spelled... OK, I will get off my little soap box of a rabbit trail... moving on. :o)

On a completely different note, I had quite the amazing moment last night at our grocery store, Giant Eagle.  We were walking through the produce and I heard someone say, "Are you Linda?"  I looked at someone I didn't know and said yes.  She said she recognized me from a friend's page on facebook and my blog they'd shared.  She wanted me to know they were praying for us and was encouraged with how God's working in Cayla's little life!  Isn't that just sweet?!  I told her about my appointment yesterday and  talked to her a little while.  I went to find Lowell and Samuel and couldn't keep a smile off my face.  I feel so blessed by the family of God.  We are a family even if we don't know each other personally.  I found so much comfort in that short encounter last night.  God is amazing how He orchestrates our lives.  :o)  And, Ellen Kolman, it was a friend of yours that read the blog you reposted on facebook.  Oh my, I can't remember her name now... I can blame that on the pregnancy, right?  I'm sorry.  It's on the tip of my tongue... Loretta maybe...

Well, we also broke down last Saturday and registered at Babys R Us just because it's a nation-wide chain accessible to anyone.  They are expensive and you could really spend a small fortune in that store.  Once you get going, it's hard to stop.  I don't really care about the particular products we clicked on, it's more just to let people that have been asking, what we need.  Just for the record, Cayla loves flowers.  Trust me on this one, I know this little girl...She loves anything with flowers.  ;o)  It's some bigger and smaller stuff.  But it looks like diapers will be our biggest need.  Anyways, we did this for those that are asking.  I have to say it was a ton of fun going through every aisle seeing what all is new out there.  Seventeen years was a long time ago.  Much has changed.  Cute stuff, but I don't care about name brand anything.  Lowell, Samuel and I went with his mom, sister, nephew and niece.  They played a discreet game of tag in the store while we looked at everything.  I'm so glad they were all there because I don't know what's what or what I need and so many times they all just stepped in and decided for me.  Yay!  It was fun.  My sister-in-law, Cathie, even bought us a baby bouncy seat with music and vibration, very cool and a really cute little outfit and blanket!  Didn't have to Cathie, but that was really sweet!  It was just fun doing that together.  Then we stopped at the Hometown Buffet, and I thought since I'm already paying for it, I'm going to load up on meats and protein. I had my salad with cheese, egg, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms and more and then got my money's worth on meat. I had steak, chicken, tilapia and roast beef. No carb other than I did end up having a little chocolate soft ice cream too. My blood sugar 2 hours later was 111. :o) Nice, I'll take it.

Well, I said in an earlier post that God had provided so many basic necessities for us.  Well, it's not ended.  I said I had most of the bigger items except a stroller.  Well, Erin, little Elise's mom, told me she had a stroller that is like a frame on the bottom that holds a baby car seat.  How perfect is that?  She said we could use it for as long as we need it. :o)  Love that! Thanks Erin.  Also, I have to say that God has blessed us from an unlikely source.  A co-worker of my mother-in-law offered 6 big bags of her girls clothes for us to have.  I really don't even know her.  Like I said, what a blessing from an unexpected source.  Don't know what I'll do with more clothes, but we'll use what we can and pass them on afterwards.  I don't imagine God giving us more children at this stage in our lives, but I didn't imagine Cayla either. :o)

Now, it's Wednesday morning the 14th of March.  I woke up way too early and couldn't go back to sleep in my bed.  Around 5am I gave up trying, came downstairs, sat on the couch and was out in 5 minutes.  That's the way to get some sleep. But then I couldn't wake myself up. Oh well, it felt good.  Samuel drove Lowell to work and then went to his Writing OGT this morning which gave me some time home by myself.  I was already weepy this morning since I found the letter for jury duty still sitting in a pile of papers on the buffet.  I filled it out, but never put it in the mail.  I started panicking this morning when I saw it and wondered how much trouble I'm going to be in since it didn't get mailed in time. I do believe that started the tears... and Lowell was busy getting ready and making sure Samuel was ready and all.  All I wanted was someone to tell me everything was going to be ok, but no one even noticed me which set me off into more tears.  Then Lowell noticed I was crying, but wasn't sure why, since I couldn't tell him and didn't know what to do with me.  He had to leave for work and hated leaving me crying.  I actually haven't been crying much recently, so I threw him off.  Later this morning, our pastor's wife stopped by to check on me.  I had to ask her if Lowell called her and she said he had and was worried about me.  That was very sweet, and it was good to talk to her even though I've talked to her a lot this week.  :o)  Once everyone was gone, I forced myself to start a load of laundry and do one load of dishes.  Oh, to have a dishwasher... I do miss having one, but am thankful I have dishes to eat on... doesn't that sound noble of me? ;o) 

Anyways, my blood sugar was down to 67 two hours after breakfast, I'm still tired and losing my motivation quickly.  A nap is looming in front of me... I know it's a gorgeous day outside, but it's still a little chilly with the breeze, and I'm freezing inside the house.  Which reminds me, isn't this sweet, little bundle of joy inside me supposed to be making me warm or even hot?  I know it was summer time with Samuel and I could never cool down, but I cannot stay warm even with this cute little bun in the oven this whole, warm winter.  I can't figure that one out.

Well, it's time to go do another load of laundry and dishes, nap and take my shower.  Sounds good to me!

"I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
Because he hath inclined his ear unto me,
therefore will I call upon him as long as I live."
Psalm 116:1-2

Monday, March 12, 2012

Last day at Cleveland Clinic until delivery!

Another long day, but so thankful for the great care from all the doctors, nurses and staff  at CC!  Thankful my mother-in-law has been there to take me and sit through almost all of my long appointments.  Dr. Lorber said this would be my last couple of appointments today for any pre-delivery info needed.  Yay!  I now only have my OB appointments every 2 weeks with Dr. Rajabi at Hillcrest.  I do have to go in Monday, April 23rd for blood work the day before I deliver Cayla, but was told I could do that in Willoughby, about 20 minutes or so closer to home than CC.  That is good news for me.  Only 6 weeks left!  Amazing really.  Lowell thinks it will drag slowly, and I can't see getting everything done in such a short time with it flying by so quickly.  We'll see.  I'm dozing off here as I'm typing, so this might start sounding weird... :o)

Well, Dr. Lorber had me as his captive today from 11:30-1:15 on that echo cardiogram table.  As the appointment progressed, he mentioned something about the changes they've noticed in her heart over the last couple of weeks studying her last echo.  I had to say that God may not have changed anything since last time, but has been working all along in showing us what's there, so that her prognosis keeps changing for the better.  He kind of maybe nodded, but didn't say anything and definitely didn't encourage any conversation about God.  I didn't feel like pushing it with him was really that wise, but God knows and can work on his heart. So we'll keep praying for him.  So, being on the table that long, I kept dozing off, waking myself up with quiet snores. Hey, I was on my back, I can't help it.  Cayla was laying spine up again, and he finally had to give me some grape juice to wake her up and have me do toe touches, walk, wiggle and try to work her into a different position.  I remembered when being in labor with Samuel and his heart rate dropped, they flipped me over onto all fours even though I'd already had an epidural from the waist down.  That was fun, let me tell you.  So, I thought I'd get up on the bed  thing and try it with a little shake to get her moving and it actually worked.  When Dr. Lorber came in 5 minutes later, he was pleased with her new position.  He saw something else he had not seen before on today's test.  This is what he wrote on the paper he gave us, "Truncus arteriosus communis with an RV dominant AVC defect."  This is how he talks at times too.  :o)  You just have to smile at him and hope the other doctor will explain.  What he tried to explain to us was that she has a valve that leaks.  Now, that wasn't hard to say, was it?  :o)  I've got to stop giving him a hard time.  He's a really nice doctor, he just can't think outside of medical terms at times.  The translation came from the other doctor. I'm not exactly sure where this valve is, maybe the one at the base of the aortic arch?  Don't know and I guess it really doesn't matter.  What matters is that this will definitely need to be fixed, but at the latest possible surgery.  He thinks it can wait until the 2nd surgery at 3-6 months.  He thinks the leak is mild to moderate, leaning more to mild.  Not major surgery, but something that can be done during another surgery.  So, that didn't seem to be bad news since it's apparently easily corrected. He'd been taking pictures for well over an hour, and I'm thinking he should be done anytime now.  Then there's a knock at the door and it's another doctor.  She comes in and starts looking over his shoulder and pointing and talking about things on the screen.  He starts getting excited and animated and talking in his "foreign" language with her.  He told her that she should see the pictures he got a little while ago when Cayla was in a better position.  So after looking another while, he decides to flip back to those pictures from earlier and off they go discussing and talking in "code" again.  Then, Dr. Lorber gets up, the other doctor sits down and continues taking pictures.  He comes over to talk to us and explain what all is going on.  He had 2 papers with different heart pictures on them and showed us what's going on with Cayla's heart.  Don't ask me to pass on what he said.  :o)  She still has a defective heart.  She can live with it for an unknown length of time.  The long term prognosis is uncertain since the oldest survivors with Hypo-plastic left heart syndrome are only in their late 20's.  Many of which have had complete heart transplants, and he said that that could very well have to eventually happen to Cayla.  They just don't know how long you can live with half a heart and especially only the right side.  Time will tell, and we'll take it one day at a time.  Dr. Lorber said too, that when Cayla's born, all 12 doctors in his department will review her echo cardiogram taken right after birth, discuss it, and together decide on what needs to be done.  I don't know why, but that kind of amazes me that they would go to all that "trouble" to really be able to give Dr. Stewart the best info before surgery so he can be more prepared.  I just thought that was pretty cool.  :o)  He asked if we had any other questions and then asked if Dr.S...... (can't remember her long name) could stay another 10 minutes or so taking some pictures.  So, 20 minutes later at 1:15, we were finally done.  She talked to us the whole time, re-explaining things to us and answering any questions.  Very nice doctors.

I needed to eat next before I could go see the neonatologist.  So we finally got to her about 2:15 or later.  She was in a conference.  I had no idea what she did and why I needed to see her.  But she pretty much told me that all pediatric heart patients, no matter their age up to 21, were taken to the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) and not to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) since that's where all the heart equipment and doctors are located.  And her job was to be extra alert to a newborn's needs on the PICU.  Not that they are not capable on that floor, she's just more specialized about newborns and their particular needs with feeding tubes, meds and all.  She said once Cayla has been done with all their testing and even possible surgery, they step in to religiously keep her on a 3 hour schedule and make sure no one interrupts or wakes her while sleeping so she can heal faster.  She will only be fed breast milk even if I'm struggling, they will use donated milk.  Formula is not an option for her.  So pray I will be able to nurse and pump without too many problems.  I could only nurse Samuel for 2 months.  I don't want to worry and add stress since that hinders the process, but I must admit, it does make me somewhat nervous.  I am just going to have to trust God in this too.  I can say and type that pretty easily, but not letting the pressure to nurse stress me out is going to be harder to do than say.  One day at a time, Linda....... I have 6 weeks to work on this. :o)

So, Nurse Mary Lou then took me back to meet her boss and partner at work, Donna.  Such a down to earth, sweet, sensitive lady, who laughed with me, cried with me in that short time, knew everything that was going on with me, encouraged me, and left me with a big hug!  Everyone I've met has read up on me and knows everything about what's going on before I get there.  I love that.  You just feel like these people really do care about you and your baby.  Makes me want to cry again now.  I feel blessed.

I just have to constantly remind myself that God is in control, and nothing I or the doctors, or the nurses can do will change that.  It was a good day.  I do hope that this is the last trip until delivery, we'll see.  Lowell just brought me a paper that was overnighted to me by UPS.  It's another CC appointment schedule... It has today's appointments on it... Dr. Rajabi's next Thursday... then says I have 4 appointments on Monday, April 2nd at 10:10 with Healthquest, 10:45 with Dr. Velez for pre-op impact, 12:45 for an admittance interview, and 1:00 for a formal anesthesia consult... I don't know what any of these things are.  I'm going to have to email this to Mary Lou since she's the one making all my appointments and told me I was done today, and see what light she can shed on this... Just when I thought I was safe.  At least it has my "procedure" listed as well for April 24th. :o)  Can't wait for that one!  I'm tired again just reading this...  Well, there's more to talk about, but maybe in another post later tonight or tomorrow. 

"I have set the Lord always before me:
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth:
my flesh also shall rest in hope."
Psalm 16:8-9

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dr. Stewart the surgeon

What a day!!! We went to Cleveland Clinic this morning, well we left around 10:45.  We got there easily enough and had lunch at their cafeteria.  While we were eating, I got a call from Dr. Lorber.  He said that he was able to hear from the doctor in New York with his 2nd opinion on what was going on with Cayla's heart. He said that it was good news, Cayla's heart seemed to have a strong aorta which means less or no reconstructive surgery during the first operation.  Yay! I told him I was meeting with Dr. Stewart at 2pm and he said that's great and he would go run through all his findings with him before we saw him.  I started feeling better about all this, but I was talking to Dr. Lorber and not completely sure what all he was saying.  But it was great he called! 

At 1pm we saw the genetic counselor.  She explained some things I never knew about genetics, but I don't really think my family history meant too much to her. It was maybe good for her research, but don't know if it will help Cayla.  At one point she asked Lowell if both his parents were still living and he told her no...  I had just introduced her to my mother-in-law which threw her off into a quick state of confusion before he and his mom started laughing.  She thought he was going to be in trouble with his mom, but she laughed and said she thinks he's mad at her if he's not picking on her.  It was cute, in a Lowell sort of way.  :o)  Anyways, we did the whole family tree thing with her.  It's amazing what you find out when you start asking relatives about your family's medical history.

Well, we were out by 2pm and off to see Dr. Stewart the pediatric surgeon.  This man is amazing... We walked in there and he had a picture of a regular heart drawn on a white board and then a picture of Cayla's heart next to it.  He said she has a very unusual heart.  She has a right atrium and right ventricle, but not much going on on the left side.  Well, we knew that, but he said it's odd that her right heart is pretty much like one big heart.  The valve between the right sides covers almost the whole distance of the heart.  And the best news is that her aorta is there, completely functional and will be able to work without needing any reconstructive surgery that first week of life!  They weren't sure at first about the aorta or not because it normally has an arch that comes out and hooks to the left, and Dr. Lorber couldn't see that aortic arch.  Well, it's because her aortic arch comes out the other side of her heart and arches to the right instead.  It kind of threw them off, but it's all still there and seems to be completely functional.  He said that's the big majority of the first surgery, but she still has some other possibilities. The main artery to the lungs could either be too small, too large or just right.  Sounds like Goldilocks... 1.) If it's too small, he'll have to put a stint in to add more blood flow to that artery.  He felt like this was the least likely of the 3 options.  2.) If it's too big, he'll have to "tape" it or put a band around it to tighten it up to slow the blood flow.  He felt like this was the most likely possibility.  3.) If it's just the right size, he'll do nothing.  No surgery that 1st week. :o)  He said the first 2 options are very simple surgery with little risk.  The news just kept getting better!  :o)  Yay!  The 1st surgery is the biggest risk to get through!  What great news.  He did continually add that we won't know for sure until she's born and has an ecocardiogram all by herself as to how things are completely.  This is what he's seeing so far.  I understand that, but am still rejoicing at the possibility of no surgery that 1st week!   She will still need the 2nd and 3rd surgeries that are a more permanent fix to separating the oxygenated and non-oxygenated blood in her heart.  But those are not as severe as that 1st surgery can be.  I really hope I'm explaining this right.  It was a little overwhelming today.  He was so thorough, had just talked over it all with Dr. Lorber, and was so easy to understand.   Anyways, he got paged and had to leave on call somewhere, but was so encouraging.  

I guess I've been keeping up walls to prepare myself for the worst. I've not really allowed myself to envision Cayla making it through the 1st surgery and not ever really getting a chance to be a momma to her.  To love on her, hold her, rock her, nurse her, take care of her and watch her grow up.  I guess I felt that to think that she would come through ok and then lose her, would be hard to deal with if I wasn't prepared. So that's where I let my mind go. On the way home tonight, I felt like some of those walls came down and for the first time feel like this is real.  I really am going to have a baby girl that I really can love, hold, rock, nurse and take care of and even beyond her first year, Lord-willing! It's quite an amazing feeling.  I feel like I really might get to see her grow up after all, and now I'm even more excited than ever to have her and hold her!  It's an exhilarating thought!  Just makes me want to laugh, cry, jump up and down (better not) and rejoice at God's goodness!  I didn't really get a chance to talk much to Dr. Lorber on his quick phone call, but can't wait for Monday's appointment with him to make sure he knows that God's hand is at work and has been along the way! :o)  God did answer prayer and it looks like God did do a miracle in her heart.  It was there all along, we just couldn't see it. :o) 

Nurse Mary Lou, the most wonderful person despite what I felt after her 1st phone call, was so helpful today!  After taking us to our 1st two appointments, she then took us on a tour.  We saw where Cayla would be in the PICU after surgery, if she even needs it... :o).  We met the nurse practitioner who was wonderfully sweet and so reassuring!  Such great people working here. She explained alot about what will happen right after Cayla is born.  We will get to say Hi to her and then not be able to see her for a while.  Knowing that ahead of time is good.  I want them to do whatever is necessary for her survival.  She'll be examined, have her ecocardiogram, poked and prodded and have tests run to determine what really is going on. We were taken to the Ronald McDonald Family Room on 3rd floor.  They have internet hook ups on desks, recliners, snacks, showers, free laundry rooms and all, right there.  So nice.  She took us to 2nd floor to the brand new Special Delivery Unit.  Showed us the Operating Room, the Recovery room for me and introduced me to the nurses there.  She then gave us a folder of information to peruse at our own time.  She gave us delivery valet parking passes.  Very nice.  And she was just overall so helpful and willing to answer any and all questions we threw at her!  What a special lady!

Well, I'm sure I'm missing something, and I'll think of it tonight in bed, but this is it for now.  Going to go take it easy.  Can't go to bed yet since it's only 8:30.  My heart is overflowing with joy and praise to a great God!  He knows the beginning and the end!  What more can I ask for!?!?  Pray with us that God would choose for her to not have to have that 1st surgery.  Wouldn't that be awesome?? :o)  I'm so glad I have a God I can put my trust in and just plain and simple... rest in Him.  I am so thankful for all the people praying for us and especially our precious Cayla Joy!  I think I might actually sleep well tonight! :o)  Here's some of my all-time favorite verses in God's Word! 

Ephesians 3:16-21
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory,
to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;
that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints
what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,
that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Samuel is my precious 16 1/2 year old.  When we moved to Ohio, he had just started 7th grade.  We were homeschooling him since we weren't settled anywhere and didn't know where God was taking us.  When God moved us to Ohio in Sept. of 2007, we bought the Sonshine Corner Christian Bookstore.  We continued homeschooling since he'd already started the year with that.  It turned out well, with him being able to help at the store and be a part of all we were doing with our family business.  He learned a lot, and God allowed us to be part of a local homeschool group there in Jefferson.  He had friends down the street, and some that would come over after school and such.  Overall it worked well, maybe not perfect, but it's right where God wanted us to be.  The first year went so well, we just kept homeschooling at the store the next couple of years.  Well, we had to close the store on July 30, 2011. 

So, last fall, starting 11th grade, it was just me and Samuel at home, now that Lowell had got a new job in October.  I saw him take his work so much more seriously and really strive to do better and keep up good grades.  It was a good fall.  He had his driver's licence and could drive himself to see friends back in Jefferson or wherever as long as he picked his dad up from work at 5pm. I have to admit, I kind of worried about him stuck with me at home as his teacher.  He has online teachers which has been wonderful since high school was a long time ago for me.  But I still felt like he needed more in his life.  I compared him to me growing up... as I was called the social butterfly of the family.  But he is so different than I am.  I had many, many friends and  was always trying to do things with them at any chance.  Girls and boys are so different.  Samuel is not craving all that drama and craziness I had and we think children need.  They don't.  God had to open my eyes that even though he's an only child and homeschooling, it's a great way to grow up (despite me).  There are worse childhoods... He has had so many opportunities that going to school wouldn't offer.  And yes, school offers a lot of opportunities that I can't with homeschooling, but I'm good with the trade off.  There is only one Christian High School in the county.  It's an ACE school in Conneaut, the northeastern most corner of the county, a good distance from us.  With one car, finances, logistics and all, it just hasn't been feesible to send him there.  God knows.  Would like to be able to send him to a Christian school, but it's been great having him here and being a part of all that's going on our lives! :o) 

People would ask if we were going to have more children, and of course we were!  I never wanted to  have an only child.  I loved growing up with my brothers and sister picking on their poor, little, innocent sister... ;o)  No, don't bother asking them if it's true, it's not.  I was the bratty little sister at times, but who's talking about that...  I just always wanted at least 6 children and told God that I'd take more if that was His will.  Well, after all these years, we just had one.  We've never not tried nor have we done anything with fertility drugs.  Just never felt comfortable with that.  I've had doctors tell me that they were surprised I was able to have Samuel.  I'm just glad God gave us Samuel when He did.  Now at 16 that he's going to have a sister is quite a shock to him.  He is so, so excited.  It has been hard to accept the possibility that God could still take her home to heaven, but God is giving us all the peace to accept His will, whatever it may be.  He's had his moments, but is learning to trust God in a whole new way.  He's been able to go to most of my appointments, meet the doctors, see Cayla on the ultrasounds, and be part of this whole process.  That's pretty neat since he can do that with homeschooling.  He was the only one there with me when we first heard the news about Cayla having heart problems and we had our good cry when we got home that day.  I love him for his sensitive heart.  God is working in His life through these hard times to smooth off some of those rough edges.  I know many people throw their hands up with having teenagers, but I love having a teenager!  I love talking with him, (still workin on him expressing himself and talking more... maybe if I didn't talk so much he'd have more of a chance...)  :o) but that's been one of my goals this semester.   He's wanting to get a job this summer and through next year, Lord willing.  I don't know how it will work with one car and all, but we'll see.

It's been a bit of a process to accept where God has us now without the store and not in cozy little Jefferson anymore.  I prayed and cried to the Lord to show us what we need to be doing and all I kept getting was what felt like silence.  I realize now that there is nothing extra we need to be doing. It's not maybe how I envisioned him growing up, but it's what God had in mind for him.  This second semester has been so wonderful.  I'm finally realizing what a treasure I've been given in homeschooling him.  I know his weaknesses and have jumped right on working on those in his life.  We are reading and studying through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation together for about 45 minutes every morning.  We get up at 6:30 and he does his workout. If we need the car that day, he takes Lowell to work and picks him up.  He's becoming the man God wants him to be.  We still have some areas we're working on, but this time with just him and me has been wonderful and such a special time for specific training and building such a great relationship between us.  He has seen God work first-hand, and has been able to be there to help me through this pregnancy and all.  I love him more than ever and am very proud of who he's becoming in Christ.  God is good! 

He's been my chauffeur to doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, or just running errands for me himself.  He's been a big help with babysitting little Elise on Mondays and Tuesdays .  Actually I have 2 pictures from the other day of the 2 of them.  I guess I'll insert them here.

I do have a prayer request for him this coming week.  The state of Ohio is requiring students to pass OGT's to graduate.  These Ohio Graduation Tests are next week, Monday - Friday from 9:30-11:30am with a different subject each day (Reading, Writing, Math, Science, and Social Studies).  I will not even be able to take him on Monday, his first day since I have to meet with Dr. Lorber in Cleveland.  He has been having a hard time focusing on school with all that's going on in our lives.  I just pray that he will be able to concentrate and do his best.  He has more chances to take them if he needs it, and we've told him to just do his best and we can retake whatever need be next time.  I'm not worried if he passes them all the first time, I just want God to give him peace, let him focus, and do his best at this time.  We appreciate any and all prayers for him next week. Thanks! Ooo, it's after 11pm, I guess I better get to bed... our God is in control! :o)

Today with Dr. Rajabi

Well, went to see Dr. Rajabi today.  He said the MRI didn't show anything.  This is good. We don't want to find any other issues, but neither could he see her feet in it to look at the club foot.  He did say her brain looked great. Overall, I don't think it was as helpful as he hoped.  He was in a happy mood, maybe since it was time to go home.  Cayla weighs 4lbs. 4oz. now which he said is very good.  Both of us checked out in great shape.  :o)

He asked me if I had any questions... Well,  I said that my husband has Good Friday off and the Monday after Easter as well.  I'd be 37 weeks along with my delivery at 39 weeks, only 2 weeks later. So I asked him how far away if at all we could go that weekend, and he laughed!  He said we can't go anywhere out of town that weekend... that's all we need, is for you to end up in Timbucktoo and go into labor... He said it all with a big smile on his face.  I knew the answer, just wanted to ask anyways. :o)  He said we'd probably need some time away before the baby and to go somewhere now.  It just doesn't work that way when you've only worked somewhere 5 months.  I would guess we could hang out in Cleveland... they do have a new aquarium now... No, I know, we just need to have family come up here for Easter... Jim, Marla, are you listening? You're the closest.  Dad, Pat?  Any takers?  I'll even let you cook Easter dinner for everyone... I'm generous that way. ;o)  Dad, I do still have your sweater and Pat's crock pot... 

Anyways, tomorrow will be a long day.  We all go to meet the genetics counselor tomorrow at 1pm, then Dr. Stewart the surgeon at 2pm and then a grand tour of CC and Ronald Mcdonald House with Nurse Mary Lou at 3pm.  I'm sure I'll be writing about it in another entry.  Until then... :o)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cayla's MRI

Linda Joy and Cayla Joy

The picture is for those who've been asking. This was last Saturday night, Feb. 25th at about 31 weeks.  Not too bad of Cayla, but I need to try again when I'm a little fresher looking in the morning.  :o)

Cayla had her MRI last Thursday, March 1st.  We got to have it in the pediatric MRI room which actually was helpful for me.  Nurse Mary Lou met us and stayed the whole time.  She does her job well, and is very helpful.  I laid down in front of  "the tube".  The lady then wedged a pillow in my back to keep me off my back at a 45* angle while trying to keep me from flipping off the other side of this contraption. She then put some big panel thing over Cayla and strapped us in for the ride.  As she raised us up to the level of the tube, she was explaining that she didn't want my arms down in the tube at the angle I was at, so they ended up wrapped around my neck and chest.  Needless to say that after 40-45 minutes they were both pretty numb and sore. She put head phones on me but poor Cayla didn't have any...  Then we were slid into "the tube".  Not a whole lot of room in there, especially at the angle I was at and being pregnant.  I asked her later if this was the child size one, :o) but she said, no, they're all about this size. The machine started with it's lovely, loud, vibrating, warm buzzing.  I found it hard to relax and realized every time it started, I was breathing heavily.  I knew that could mess up their picture taking, so, remember I'm in the pediatric room, which was nice because they had little fishies on the ceiling and on the side wall they had "Finding Nemo" playing on a large, flat-screen TV.  I realized the audio of the movie was faintly playing in my headphones, so I tried to lean my head back, watch the movie out the end of "the tube" and focus on it instead of "the tube".  It actually helped, and I did fine with my breathing after that.  Glad I wasn't in the big people's MRI, it wouldn't have been as much fun, I'm sure.  ;o)  I was actually getting really sleepy, but the machine just wouldn't let me doze off with all it's noise. She said they got a lot of good pictures, and Dr. Rajabi would go over them with me probably next Wed. at my appt.  So, we wait and see.  I can't imagine who comes up with things like taking pictures with a magnet.  Amazing really. 

Overall it was pretty painless once my arms got feeling back in them.  Once again, so thankful for insurance.  We found out that we have a $2,500 cap max at 80/20 payments and then insurance will pick up 100%.  This is so wonderful because there are so many specialist we're having to see and tests done that are already adding up to a huge amount.  We haven't even got to the C-section surgery, then the big whoppers of Cayla's surgeries and all the follow-up time spent at CC.  We are hoping both of her 1st two surgeries will fall within the year 2012 under the same deductible.  Her first one will be around 3-5 days after birth and then the 2nd one is supposed to be sometime between 3-6 months.  My delivery date is Tuesday, April 24th, so it appears they should both be within this year.  That would be great.  :o) 

Well, it's time to get to that laundry pile, do some dishes and make stuffed peppers for dinner.  If I get ambitious, I might take the time to make up a batch of my mother-in-law's veggie soup with some London Broil steak that was on sale this week.  Lowell and Samuel can have most of the stuffed peppers this week since rice just shoots my blood sugar level way up. I bought 12 green peppers at $.50 a piece, but she rang them up wrong and there was no supervisor around to fix it, so after a while she just insisted we take all 12 peppers for $1.00!  Lowell was the one who pointed out her mistake to her.  We tried, but I guess God wanted us to have some inexpensive stuffed peppers.  :o)  He's good like that! 

Speaking of financial blessings... we also received a check from a friend this week for quite a bit to buy us a new mattress or whatever we needed.  SO amazing!  The family of God is so wonderful!  In this day and age when money is tight, it really is amazing to see people willing to be used of God in other's lives.  Thanks for your prayers!  God is answering and providing for us through this time in many, many ways!!  :o)

Have a blessed weekend and Lord's day tomorrow!

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19

Friday, March 2, 2012

Loose Ends

Well, it's Friday night, March 2nd.  I have not written in my blog for a week now.  I seem to have many loose ends to try to tie up before I have Cayla Joy.  I have not felt free to sit and write with so many things hanging over my head that need to be addressed now.  I just feel like I need to sit and talk all this "stuff" out.  I'm still behind in dishes, cleaning, and laundry, but that will always be there...  There are bigger things that have been weighing me down (besides Cayla).  :o)

I have been in charge of the Ashtabula County Prayer Walk up until now.  I have officially passed that on since I will not be able to do anything a month or so before it happens when all the final details need to be worked out.  Our county has a Concerts of Prayer Board that sets up a Prayer Breakfast the morning after the National Day of Prayer.  We have fairly well-known speakers with great testimonies for the Lord.  Years ago, they had also organized a prayer walk.  Ashtabula county is surrounded by 4 main roads and during the same hour or so on that Saturday morning after the National Day of Prayer, they used to surround the county in prayer.  Churches and groups would take a 2 mile or so stretch of road and walk, pray, sing and worship our Lord as they went.  So, at the same time, our county was literally being completely surrounded by prayer.  I still get goose bumps thinking about it.  It has not happened for many years, but I've found out that if you get excited about something, you get to be in charge of it... So for the last months, I've been working to make this happen again.  It's a bit more of a daunting task than I imagined, but I so want to see this happen.  This area is struggling with the economy and in many other ways.  We need this event to happen.  I feel like I've let the ball drop somewhat over the last couple of months, but 2 other board members have offered to take the reigns and let me back off.  I can't explain the weight that has been lifted, but I still want to help any way I can for now.  Passing this off has been a bit a of a struggle since I have to organize what I've got done so far and where we're at.  I've realized that I'm not an event planner... duh, I'm a micro-organizer (can't stand when my silverware isn't stacked in neat piles...) not a macro-organizer (dirty dishes stacked on the counter though, don't always bother me)... Confessions 101.  Ok, moving on.  I'm still feeling like there's much to do that I need to have my hands in.  I know, I need to back off.  They will be fine without me... I just so want to be a part of this event, but God has other plans for me right now.  I will be praying for them as they pray, and my heart will be with them that day as the event unfolds.  Ok, got that off my chest...

I am also in charge of the music at church.  I know that Dave, our song leader, and others are very busy people working 2 jobs and helping out with so much else.  I feel the need to plan (as much as possible) the music schedule for April-June.  Even if I can have a plan for them that can easily change if the Lord directs, it's still nice to have something already there and planned when life gets busy.  This means lining up special music for each Sunday morning and evening and organizing the songs and hymns to be sung each service including Wed. night prayer meeting. I'm thankful for all the willing people who are stepping up and doing more.  I'm working with Debbie to take my place at the piano, knowing that she's under a lot of stress these next months or so, but still wants to be used by God, not wanting Satan to get the victory in her life. Pray for her if you think about it. Thanks. I'm also lining up offertories for the next 3-4 months too.  I felt like I need to get this going now, so everyone involved will be on board and helping out this next month or so before Cayla gets here to make it a smooth transition.  I'm trying, the Lord knows, to get organized... I love it, but it's so overwhelming for me since I really do like to micro-organize and tend to be a bit of a perfectionist... if something has my "name" on it.  I spend way to much time on unimportant things... but God's used that quality in my life for good, it's just slowing me down right now.  I do thank Dave, Debbie, Erin, and John for stepping up and filling in with the piano and song-leading though. 

I've also finally let go of my Sunday school class, thanks to Dotty.  :o)  That has relieved my stress level on Sunday mornings quite a bit with trying to check my blood sugar levels and getting a snack in between Sunday school and church.  Plus, I get to sit in with Lowell's class with the teens now.  I like that. :o)

To help us financially any way possible right now, I'm feeling the need to put leftover "stuff" from the store online and try to sell it.  A friend told me I'm nesting.  I just want too many things cleared out of my life before Cayla arrives... maybe that is nesting.  Actually, this is so overwhelming for me, that I pretend the stuff in that room doesn't exist... I haven't really even tackled it yet.  Keep feeling guilty about that and somehow need to work on clearing that room out and being completely done with the store and it's remainders that are cluttering up my front porch and small bedroom...  It's that whole, large-scale organization thing again... it keeps haunting me everywhere I turn.  Maybe God's trying to tell me an area of my life I need to work on...... naaaa, couldn't be.  Ok, so I'm in denial, but I'm good with that for now.  :o)

My mother-in-law came over and we washed all the clothes we've been given for Cayla and have them all organized by size in huge bins... that was a fun job of organizing.  Why can't organizing be that fun all the time?  Speaking of things being given to us... I don't know if I've mentioned this in an earlier blog, but we have been given or offered: a crib, a bassinet, an electric swing, a baby bath, a Pac-N-Play, a rocker, a high chair, a car seat, a Bumbo (sp?) seat, a matching set (from 2 different people) of a mobile and a floor mat/jungle gym, clothes by the bag-fulls, and toys.  We are so blessed by family and friends!  Thanks to all who've provided these things!  I think the only "big" item we don't have is a stroller.  I've been told to get the one with the car seat that fits on top... we'll see.  I'm so thankful for God's provision.  Plus, Lowell found 2 trash bags and a couple of boxes of my Grandma Brooks' handiwork in blankets, sweaters, smocked dresses, hats, booties, gloves, and receiving blankets she sewed up too.  This is after I thought I gave it all away to the Birth Care center.  I don't know where all this was, because we literally already gave them trash bags full and boxes of her knitted and crocheted things too for the mothers who decide to keep their babies and not abort.  It was so fun giving it "all" away thinking I'd never need it again.  During Christmas and getting decorations out, Lowell found more boxes and bags that I felt just appeared.  Amazing how God multiplies things when you're not looking.  :o) 

Well, well, well, this is turning out to be quite the post.  It's more for me right now.  I just need to write where I'm at and what's making me tick or not tick.  I feel better writing it out and now feeling like maybe I have accomplished something this week after all.

There's not too much going on with Cayla and the doctors this week.  I did have an MRI yesterday, but that will have to be another post.  Next week is when we have some important doctor visits and such.  Thanks again for the prayers and support!  God is good even when I cried myself to sleep last night thinking about my "trip to Holland" with Cayla (from my former post).  I don't understand God's ways, and I can trust Him 100%, but I'm still made with all these emotions and even more so right now.  I so much just long to hold and kiss and love on this precious little girl that it overwhelms me sometimes.  Trusting God for our precious Cayla Joy and for a good night sleep tonight. :o)