Tuesday, December 29, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things...

Yesterday morning, at about five o'clock, I heard strange cries coming from the kids' room.
I went to investigate and the smell met my nose before I even stepped in the room.

Another one bites the dust.

A nasty stomach bug has been making it's way through our ranks and Levi was it's newest victim. After rushing Silas to the hospital on Boxing Day when he started vomiting blood, I was not looking forward to this nasty bug taking on another one of our children. I quickly got Levi out of his sicky mess and into the bathtub, only to hear desperate cries coming from Jude's room. Rush out to get him and back to the bathroom and sit on a stool to nurse him while finishing up Levi's bath. And then Silas walks in..."My tummy hurts Mommy." And so the day began. It was not even six a.m. and I had a bed full of vomit needing to be stripped and washed, a hungry baby with a dirty diaper needing to be changed, a puking-pooping two year old staring up at me with big eyes from the bathtub, and a three year old sitting on the potty calling for my assistance.
Just before I melted into a puddle of overwhelming mess on the bathroom floor, the words quietly whispered into my ear - "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." (1 Thes. 5:18) And as I looked at Levi sitting in a beautiful, clean bathtub (courtesy of my sweet mother-in-law) in a bathroom so warm the mirror was completely fogged up, I remembered the bathroom in our old house that was so cold in the winter mornings that the toilet water would have a layer of ice on it. And I was thankful.
As the day went on I was continually reminded of the need to have a heart of gratefulness. And, really, it was amazing how the heaviness of the early morning was replaced with a quiet, albeit subdued, joyfulness in my heart. Again, the truth of God's Word had brought hope to our family... He's pretty smart that way :)
So here's some things that are bringing joy to our days:

::No bright copper kettle or warm woolen mittens,
but these knitted slippers from a very special great-Aunt
put a big smile on Levi's face...and remind me of my
Oma Meinen which puts a big smile on my face!

::A pot of soup delivered by a sweet friend.
Nothing's more comforting than a pot of homemade
soup and the hug of a dear friend.

:: Vinyl mattress covers, a front-loading washer and dryer that
run non-stop these days, econo jugs of Tide and Clorox wipes,
and Powerade - also referred to as "pop-juice" by the boys.
Enough said.


:: Knowing that family everywhere is thinking
and praying for us.
(this stunning Christmas cactus came to us with
loving thoughts from our favorite Calgarians :)


:: Making pom-poms.
A lovely task for a five-year old to do in between vomiting.
And, really, they're just so cheery.
I think we may make a strand for every room...


::And these sweet faces...

:: ...even when they're a puking, pooping mess,
I just can't get enough!


And cultivate thankfulness.
Let the Word of Christ have the run of the house.
Give it plenty of room in your lives.
Instruct and direct one another using good common sense.
And sing, sing your hearts out to God!
Let every detail in your lives
—words, actions, whatever—
be done in the name of the Master, Jesus,
thanking God the Father every step of the way.
~Colossians 5:16,17~

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I believe in miracles...

Well, this post is a bit overdue, but life has been a little crazier
than normal around here (understatement of the century?)
Our sweet little muffin is home, praise the Lord!,
and at this moment having a little Sunday afternoon snooze.

This past week has definitely been a trying one, and yet
it's been wrapped up in so much goodness (will share
more on that later). But for now I thought I give you a little
peek at our time in the hospital ...

Here's Jude in his little surgery gown.
It was so strange dressing him just outside of the OR.
As I changed him out of his sleeper and into the stark white
gown, I struggled with what we were preparing him for...

Remember your word to your servant,
for you have given me hope.

My comfort in my suffering is this:

Your promise preserves my life.

~Psalm 119:49,50



We were so blessed to be able to
hold him right up until he went into
the operating room.

Look at him! God, the Master,
comes in power,
ready to go into action.
He is going to pay back his enemies
and reward those who have loved him.

Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock,
gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them...
~Isaiah 40:10,11


These were such precious moments!
Thank you to everyone who was praying for us.
We truly felt God's peace and presence rest upon us
as we spent those last minutes waiting together.

Don't worry about anything,
but pray about everything.
With thankful hearts offer up
your prayers and requests to God.

Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus,
God will bless you with peace
that no one can completely understand.
And this peace will control the way you think and feel.
~
Philippians 4:6-7



After three and a half hours of surgery, Dr. Butter
came out to talk to Pete and I. After looking for the
connection between Jude's colon and urethra to no
avail, they finally went through his bottom only to
find that everything was exactly where it was supposed to be.
Her explanation: An extremely unfortunate misdiagnosis
and her profuse apologies for what Jude had to go through.
Tears started rolling down my face as her words started
to process through my mind. And again I felt the
power and presence of the masses of people who were
praying.
A misdiagnosis? Perhaps. It could have been.
And yet we won't ever rule out the possibility that God
chose to display His incredible, miraculous,
healing power in our son.

Make this your common practice:
Confess your sins to each other and

pray for each other

so that you can live together whole and
healed.
The prayer of a person living right with God
is something powerful to be reckoned with.
~James 5:16

Since the 'corrective' part of Jude's surgery was
less invasive than they had originally planned, they
went ahead and closed up his colostomy as well.
After 4 hours and forty five minutes of surgery,
our little boy came away with the most
beautiful little bum-hole (grin), a closed-up
colostomy, and a complete, working digestive system.
A miracle any way that you look at it.

We hung Jude's promises above his crib, along with the picture
of all the kids together.
The nurses hung the warning on the right.
Such a good reminder of God's goodness and love...
and to find joy in all circumstances.

Be joyful always;
pray continually;
give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

They finally figured out the right cocktail of drugs to maintain
some pain control for Jude...and for the next 24 hours he
was a little space cadet. Didn't know who we were or
what was going on. It was really hard to see him like
that but after almost five hours of surgery pain management
is a priority. And while they used drugs to bring comfort
to little Jude's body, we sought our own comfort...

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is our merciful Father and
the source of all comfort.
~ 2 Corinthians 1:3


Because of all the drug's, Jude wasn't able to eat for the first 24 hours.
After being on IV for 3 days, he started retaining a bit of fluid...
There were a lot of teeny babies on the pediatric floor and
compared to them Jude looked look a baby sumo wrestler!
It was kind of cute, but we were very glad when the IV
finally came out on Sunday. As he was taken off monitors,
and wires and tubes were drawn away, the promise of going home
drew closer and closer. After only five days in the hospital, Jude
was discharged on Monday night. We were going home!!

But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
~Psalm 5:11

The first few days at home were very difficult.
Most of the time, if Jude wasn't sleeping he was crying.
I definitely think that a medical degree should be
a prerequisite for being a parent! So many things to
worry about! Thankfully, God doesn't tire of my desperate
pleas and my constantly giving it over to Him.
And after wondering if Jude would ever get through this,
on Thursday we were blessed with 10 minutes
of the most beautiful smiles. Ever.
Our days still hold rough patches, but overall we're
seeing improvement each day. The other kids are
all home and even with all the chaos and craziness
it is soooo wonderful to be all together as a family again.
Thank you, again, for all of your prayers.
We could not imagine going through this apart from them.
We are so incredibly blessed to have you all in our life,
thinking of us, lifting us up to the Father, and standing in the
gap for us when we ourselves didn't have the words.
Thank you for being a part of our sweet, little miracle.
...who would have ever thought that
we'd be praising God for poopy diapers!?!


Give praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In his great mercy he has given us
a new birth and a hope that is alive!
~ 1 Peter 1:3

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Promises for our precious son...



Psalm 139:13,14 are the verses that God gave us for Jude
while he was still just a wee babe in my womb.

As we've been praying for Jude in preparation for his surgery tomorrow,
God has really impressed upon us the deepness of His love for our son.

As deep and strong and powerful as our love for Jude is,
His love is deeper,
stronger,
and more powerful.

We will be holding onto the promise of Romans 8:35-39.
Please join us tomorrow in covering our sweet, little 'Ju-Jube'
with the promise of God's unfailing love.

I shared these verses with my parents last night and my dad
told me that Romans 8 was my Opa Meinen's favorite passage
in the Bible. He had the whole chapter memorized, in Dutch.
I think while I'm in the hospital I'll memorize it, in English :)

Peter's grandmother shared with me about a loss her own
mother went through, and how she held onto God's love through that time.
How God blessed them, even in a difficult season.
Nothing can separate us from God's love.

Jude's uncle preached about the power of love this
past Sunday. You can listen to it here.
He began his message by asking the congregation to
turn to each other and say, "Daddy loves you."

Well, Daddy loves you my dear son.
And he's carrying you close to His heart.

Thank you for filling the heavens with your prayers.
We are so blessed.

So, what do you think?
With God on our side like this, how can we lose?
If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us,
embracing our condition and exposing himself to
the worst
by sending his own Son, is there anything
else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us?

And who would dare tangle with God
by messing with one of God's chosen?

I'm absolutely convinced that nothing...
can get between us and God's love!
~Romans 8:34-39 (The Message)~

Monday, December 7, 2009

Just need to smile...

Because I'm starting to get anxious and nervous...
Here's a few things that are putting a smile on my face

Making birthday cupcakes for Jesus
(Red velvet with cheesecake frosting...
I definitely sneakily ate one while the kids
were in bed and then rearranged the platter
so you couldn't tell any were missing )


Because everyone loves a little magic unicorn
(and a price tag of $2.99 the day after Halloween)

Nutella.
Enough said.


The return of Oma and Opa from the South brought
:: gingerbread cookies in honour of Opa Meinen's birthday
:: bubble blowing in the basement
:: a Sinterklaas celebration
:: and extra love for Jude from an absolutely smitten Opa


An extra-special visit from an extra-special friend
who spoiled us all rotten :)
We love you!!
(And Jude loves his new hoodie - can you tell?)

As we spend these last couple days preparing for what lies ahead
there is so much to be grateful for.
Thank you for all of your phone calls, e-mails and
comments here on the blog-a-roonie.
It means so much to us knowing that you all are thinking
of us and praying for us. Thank you for the many ways
that you fill these days with sunshine.

How can we thank God enough for you
in return for all the JOY we have
in the presence of our God

because of YOU?
~1 Thessalonians 3:9~

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Calling all prayer warriors...

Just a quick post this morning. We had a good day in London on Thursday. We were able to see everyone we needed to and all our appointments went smoothly. There were a couple things that came up that we weren't expecting, so it was good to get it all straightened out. We have a few new prayer requests now. I'll share our original list for those of you who don't receive our e-mails:

1. Safe travel back and forth to London during the next several weeks.

2. Health for our whole family as we enter this busy season

3. Jude's surgery on Dec.10th from 8am-1pm
Please pray for - good health going into the surgery
- Dr.Butter and Dr. Merrit, who will be performing the surgery.
That they will see everything they need to clearly and that God will
guide them through this difficult procedure.
Update: After speaking with the anesthesiologist, we are praying that
the surgeons will be able to accomplish the entire surgery laparoscopically. This will shorten the length of the surgery (and the time Jude is under anesthetic) and make his recovery much easier on him. If they are unable to do everything laparoscopically, the surgery will be much longer and harder on Jude. Also, the anesthetic itself is more dangerous because Jude only has one kidney to filter it out. Please pray that Jude's body will be able to handle the anesthetic and for the
shortest surgery time possible.
- that God will carry Jude successfully through the whole operation
- that Jude won't have a bad reaction to the anesthetic
- that God will use Jude's life, and our presence in the hospital,
to bring Him glory! Update: We were originally told that I would be able
to stay overnight with Jude in his room. Unfortunately, we found out
yesterday that I might not be able to. If there are no private rooms
available, it's hospital policy that parents (even nursing mothers) cannot
stay overnight in the room. There are visiting lounges where parents can
sleep on the chairs or couches. I'm hoping to stay in the lounge so I can
continue to nurse Jude during the night but if they are full as well I would
have to stay at the Ronald McDonald house. Please pray that I would be able, as much as possible, to stay with Jude and feed him myself. We know that God has a plan - pray that I would rest in it and trust Him.

4. For Gracie Jo, Silas and Levi as they go to our parents while I'm in the hospital with Jude

5. For John & Nancy (Peter's parents) and John & Grace (my parents) as they care for the kids - lots of energy!! :)

6. For Peter, as he continues to work and travel back and forth to the hospital to visit.

So there you have it, folks!! Thank you for hanging in there with us and standing in the gap!
We are thankful beyond measure to know our family is being covered in your prayers.

'Rejoice in our confident hope.
Be patient in trouble,
and keep on praying.'

~Romans 12:12~

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Seven more sleeps...

Pete and I are off to London today for Jude's pre-op.
I can't believe we're here already.
When Jude's next surgery was set for December 10th
it seemed like we had a lot of time still.
And yet here we are.
One week away from five hours of
cutting, stitching and suturing
our baby.

I was feeling pretty good about it, but now that
it's drawing closer I'm definitely getting that nervous/sicky
feeling in my stomach that doesn't really go away.

I think part of my anxiousness is not just from the surgery,
but from the weight of everything
that goes along with this part of the journey.
Packing and preparing the three oldest for being away.
Figuring out what I'll need for our week-long stay in the hospital.
Already missing the strength of my husband at my side while I'm there.
Realizing that when we come home, it will be the week before Christmas.
How do I prepare my family's hearts in the midst of all this?

I was carrying such a heaviness as all these thoughts
weighed on my mind and then God in His incredible
wisdom and grace sent me these words in an Advent devotional.

The Christ Child in the manger,
He takes on the garment of fragile flesh
to release us from being beasts of burden.


I think of this often,
when I feel Christmas as a weight,
a burden that I'm sagging under for weeks.
Whenever Christmas begins to burden,
it's a sign that I've taken on something
of the world and not of Christ.


Christmas comes to us like the Cross
-- asking nothing of us but embrace.
So I lay down the expectations and the efforts,
the perfectionism and performance,
and I simply wait for His coming.

His blood does all the work.
He shed it to release us from burden

-- so we embrace a peaceful Advent...

- Ann Voskamp

And just as our sweet little babe awaits his
life-altering surgery in peaceful bliss

I pray that I will rest in the arms of my Father,
casting all my cares upon Him.

Originally, Jude's surgery was going to take place
when he was three months old.
I don't think it's any mistake that instead we are
preparing for it now.
Just as we are preparing for the coming
celebration of our Savior's birth.

Bringing HOPE.
Bringing PEACE.


Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary
and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Take my
yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and
gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my
yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

~Matthew 11:28-30~

All's grace,
Angela

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

For the critics...

Occasionally, someone will comment about having a large family. Wondering how
it's possible to equally love all of them, give everyone the attention they need, and
spend as much time with your fourth as you did with your first. I'll let you in on a
little secret...I think Jude is actually getting three times the love - and then some!!

Gracie Jo is like a second mother.
Such a big helper.
And every day when she gets home from school
she spends at least 15 minutes holding Jude because
'he misses me SO much when I'm gone!".

Silas is the sweetest big brother.
Always quietly showing his affection.
Little stories and soft kisses.
He doesn't like Jude to be alone, so
if I 'leave him' lying on a blanket on the floor
or in a chair while I get the phone
I'll often return to find Silas snuggled up with him.

And then there's Levi...
Who from day one has been absolutely smitten.

People ask whether Levi is jealous of 'the baby'.
Not a chance.
The only thing I worry about is Levi loving Jude too much,
if that's possible?

...and maybe that one day when I come back from the bathroom,
I'll find Levi and Jude in the swing.
Together.


Grace mixed with faith and LOVE poured over me and into me.
And all because of Jesus.
~1 Timothy 1:14~