Saturday, May 21, 2016

I think it’s time to make this “official”… most of you probably already know, but for those of you who don’t, God has opened the doors for us to move back to Mexico! I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while, but there have been so many emotions that have kept me from it. I’m going to do my best to give a quick explanation. Of course I can’t do that without going back to the beginning. Brian and I never thought we would ever leave Mexico, God had brought him there and we had work for a lifetime ahead of us. The way we ended up here, in Tennessee, was definitely God’s hand… definitely. After the boys were born, I remember thinking how awesome it was going to be to let all our loved ones in Mexico see them. I remember thinking of ways to keep germs away from them and having to teach everyone about pre-mature babies. After Levi had his tracheostomy, the doctor said that he would most likely have to have it for two years. He said there was a chance that at his 6 month check up we would see enough improvement to get it out then. In my heart he said hopefully he would get it out soon but worst case scenario it would be two years. When the two year mark came and things were so bad with Levi’s airway I felt hopeless. I wanted so badly for Brian to agree to move back with Levi’s trach and not wait for that big surgery. Obviously I didn’t get my way. I wrestled with Brian and God for many years. I felt like nobody around me really ‘got it’ and I felt so alone. When we had outgrown our townhouse and started trying to sell, Levi no longer had his trach, my heart went through the ringer. I grew up always hearing my grandmother tell the story of how she didn’t want to raise her children in the mountains but how grandpa always said that he would never leave. She finally gave her burden to God and shortly after grandpa was moving his entire family to the town of Alamos. So I knew, very well I needed to give my desires, my will to God, surrender completely to Him… so that I could get my way! When we were moving into our new house, God was very clear about me needing me to make this my home. In our townhouse I didn’t do anything, it was temporary… for my sanity’s sake it had to be temporary. So why invest in something that wasn’t going to last? With a broken heart I walked in obedience and painted this house, decorated, made things for it. I got close to people, where as before I only had a hand full of people that I called friends. I’ve learned that it’s not about letting go in order get your way, but about letting God take you through the process that He needs you to walk through. In order to go deeper in your Faith, in order to grow closer to Him. I’m definitely stubborn and a slow learner. 
While in Mexico, God started speaking to Brian. He’s always been careful of what he says to me about Mexico, understandably so, so it caught me by surprise when he started saying things that made it sound like he wanted to stay. I’ve kept my heart so guarded that it still doesn’t feel totally real, what we are about to do feels like a dream! Even though we have grown in so many areas, we totally realize how what we are wanting to do, what we feel God is leading us to do, is so much bigger, greater, and definitely not humanly possible! It’s both terrifying and thrilling. To enter into a place where you absolutely can’t do it on your own and without God’s mighty power you are going to fail miserably, it’s very exciting! 
If we had left years ago, I wouldn’t have cared to go back alone. But now I don’t want to. I know and understand that we need the body of Christ to back us up. We need an army of prayer warriors to love and pray for us. To keep in touch and support us. To visit and care… we need you all to go with us. 

For the glory of God and to make His name famous, to bring the good news to the poor and oppressed, to set the captive free and go deeper in our faith… that’s why we are going. We CAN. NOT. WAIT! to see what God is going to do in us and through us and through you all…

Saturday, February 20, 2016

There is way to much to write in a facebook status update, even now I don’t really know if I can  paint an accurate picture of how I feel and what we’ve been up to. All is quiet right now, but my moms 4 cats are running and jumping, climbing trees and being crazy! They are so fun. Their mom cat abandoned them because although they were big, they would not stop nursing. My niece Aaliyah begged mom to keep all 4 and not get rid of any. So she has one, Obed has the other and my twins have the ‘twin cats’. One thing that always amazes me and blesses is me beyond words is getting to watch my boys enjoy the cats and dogs here(there are three dogs). Those of you who are around us enough in TN know that Jesse and Levi are allergic to furry pets. Very allergic! But for some reason, on the ranch they can hug, kiss and lay on these filthy animals and be fine. I remember years ago Jesse asking me if in Heaven, he would be able to play with dogs… SO, this is a gift for sure. We love hugging the boys in the middle of the day and realize that they smell just like the dogs. 

The first two weeks we were here, we stayed busy with my mom’s aunt,Tia Cruz.  She came to live on the ranch with my grandparents when she became a widow. When my grandparents went to live in Alamos because of health reasons, she came to live with my parents. For two years she was here. Those of you that know her, know that she was always smiling and ready to give you a big hug and kiss(or as Jesse and Levi said, it’s more like a bite with no teeth!) She had a little cold and wasn’t feeling well, that made her so mad! Then she had a stroke and stayed at the hospital for over a week. Two days after she came home, she gracefully and peacefully passed away. I loved what my dad said “resting in peace? Heck no! She is rejoicing and dancing, laughing and talking!!!” Because of her hearing problems, she never was able to speak clearly. She had a terrible upbringing, grandpa doesn’t ever speak negatively about his mom who did pass away signing and praising GOD, but grandma has told us plenty of stories about this woman. She was evil, very evil. 4 of her 10 children had severe hearing problems, two of them had a little trouble. I don’t know if this was the cause of them developing a little slow, but they were slow. When one of them was a young boy he got kicked in the mouth by a mule, she took a knife and cut out part of his gums because his teeth were hanging loosely. She was also a midwife, the one they'd call when there was an unwanted pregnancy. She would kill the babies once they were born. Tia Cruz was raped by a relative. In her innocence, she was so excited about the baby, my grandmother told me how Tia Cruz would be knitting for the baby and would lovingly caress her belly. I don’t know how long or even if she got to hold her little girl. See, even though she was loved and wanted by my Tia Cruz, she was an unwanted baby in her mothers eyes. So when she passed away, I couldn’t hold back the tears of joy realizing that my great aunt was not only with her savior, but also with her baby girl! Her name means ‘Cross’… How perfect is that? So much pain and suffering that a cross represents. AND redemption, healing and fullness of life. Even on earth she received part of that fullness… part of the healing. One of my cousins lives here on the ranch and he and his wife have three little girls. My aunt LOVED them! Especially the littles one. They came over yesterday and were in Tia’s old room asking for her repeatedly and looking for her. The older two were excited and said that they wanted to go to Heaven with her. 

We completed the renovation of the kitchen in “Collie’s house”. The termites had completely destroyed it! We could lift the entire kitchen cabinets with one finger. Im so sad that I didn’t take a before shot, because it looks amazing now! Brian did an incredible job. We have loved staying in this house. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a house that a family friend built right next door to my parents house when they were first building theirs. Since then, I’ve stayed very busy cleaning and organizing the different spaces here. Because my parents have places to be and Bible studies to go to every day of the week, it doesn’t leave them much time to do these little practical things with not much eternal value… Needed but just not a priority. Their house is so big and once upon a time, every single room and closet was fully needed and used to its maximum capacity… and then some! It was built to house the girls from the children’s home, our daughters and sisters. Once we had 23 living here. 12 of them were the ones we had for years and years. I miss those days. Anyway, the big house was left in a big mess! Getting rid of what is no longer used and what has been destroyed by termites has kept me very, very busy. But I love doing what nobody else has time to do, and as my mom says, ‘nobody else is brave enough!’ My sister says ‘crazy enough’. It’s not very glamorous either. Definitely not ‘facebook status worthy’. 

We’ve also been slowly visiting people. There is so much need! I could cry just thinking about it. Every direction we go, we have people that desperately need encouragement and Spiritual help. My heart is so heavy for the many, many people who are suffering and feel so alone. My sister and I got to visit my cousins wife and children just the other day. They have 5 children and the 5 month old baby was born with hydrocephalus, blind and a cleft foot. He is so precious! But because sometimes people’s first response is ‘shock’ his mom keeps him inside the house with all windows closed to keep him safe. She loves her baby and calls him a gift from God, but others tell her he is a punishment for her sins. We had a wonderful time with her and are encouraging her to come to the women’s retreat on April 2. We hope she will.

Last week my dad brought a lady from the mountains on his ultralight plane. She needed a ride to visit her mom who has having a surgery. She says she sees her every couple of years because getting here is so difficult! Her mom is a believer and that is the only way she has kept her sanity. Everyone in that community in the mountains are involved in the same business, drug trafficking. For this woman to casually be talking about what they go through was mind blowing. 4 of her 5 brothers have been murdered, one of them was only 19. She said it was the one that is alive who is responsible for their deaths. Every time they were trying to kill him. Several years ago, her sister in law had left one of her brothers and was working near Alamos on her own. Together with 15 people, two of them being young children, she was murdered. The bodies were found months later. Her two year old daughter miraculously escaped. No one knows how but the little girl says she followed a cow. And slept with the cow. Two or three days later, an indigenous man found her, he knew about the bodies but was afraid to let the authorities know. He didn’t want to be blamed for such a crime. They kept her safe for a month and somehow found a way to contact this lady’s brother. He only traveled by night because of fear. Can you imagine finding out that your two year old daughter survived such a tragedy!? They say the little girl saw everything, and that later when she saw her dad butcher a goat, she described that that was what she saw when her mama was killed. She's 8 now and lives with her grandmother, and her dad is one of the sons that was murdered. 

This world needs a Savior… Hope… Rest… Peace… to know God in an intimate way. It’s a privilege to be here. More than words can express! Im so thankful for our Church family and Pastors and friends who are making this possible. You share in the fruit! We love you all… my dad is getting ready to take off, flying to the mountains… prayers are always appreciated!  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

4 year anniversary of Levi's airway reconstructive surgery

Today is the 4 year anniversary of Levi having his airway reconstructive surgery. I have this app called Timehop, it sends me notifications of what I posted on social media on the same day of years past. So this month I’ve been getting little reminders of the emotions and feelings I was going through in those days. Last night I was quizzing Brian and the boys to see what they remembered about that day and season in general. Thankfully, Levi doesn’t remember anything! I remember they told me that some of the anesthesia that they used caused amnesia. So most likely he wouldn’t remember what went on. Surprisingly, Brian doesn’t remember either! Like anything… Once I started telling him, he sorta could… But most of the details he doesn’t remember at all. Jesse remembers what he ate on that day of the surgery, who he played with, prizes he got, people he was with, things he learned. I remember telling everyone that was helping us with him to not worry about correcting him, that spoiling him was just fine… Me? I remember it all. And it still makes me a little lightheaded and gives me the feeling of being out of breath. We had waited so long for this surgery, his whole life! He had prayed earnestly and fervently for healing, for God to miraculously intervene and make his airway whole, new. 
Some dear friends had gone through this surgery with their little boy and were ‘preparing’ us as much as they could and kinda let us know what to expect. Well, like most things in Levi and Jesse’s lives, nothing went as expected! 
The 5-6 hour surgery went very well, we had our people, you all praying! We felt it, we thanked God for it. I remember the people who sat with us in the waiting room, the messages we got throughout the day that encouraged us. The mini-meltdowns that I felt was entitled to… When surgery was over… well, nothing could have prepared me for the days that were ahead of us. 
I was expecting to find my baby sedated, yes with tubes and wires all over but sleeping peacefully. Instead I entered a horror scene. Too many Doctors, nurses and respiratory therapist all around him and messing with him, a bright huge light right over his bed and worst of all, my baby boy terrified, confused, in pain and unconsolable. Thank God for a dear friend that helped me through not passing out. All I wanted to do was close my eyes and be done with it all. But then there is that strength that takes over, unexplainable, supernatural power that takes over your body and autopilot kicks in. Thank God for HIs grace!  This was the beginning of yet another long road ahead of us. A different one. At times I couldn’t see light at the end of the tunnel. 

Before the surgery, Levi was so exited that he was going to be able to swim like Nemo. so after surgery we would remind him that soon, very soon he was going to be able to swimming. It would brake my heart that that was no longer a comfort to him. He didn’t care about swimming! In fact, nothing in the world was worth the price that he was having to pay. In his mind that is. God so clearly spoke to me how that is His heart towards us. See, I knew what the end result was going to be, I knew that the pain and discomfort were only temporary and that his whole life was going to change for the better. Not only was he going to be able to play in water, but every second of his life was not going to depend on a little trache accidentally coming out. It was what we had to go through to enjoy what we have now. And it was worth it… of course it was! But just like Levi, at that moment couldn’t imagine how it could be worth it, thats how I so often feel when going through struggles. And I can’t help but picture my Heavenly Father reminding me of His truth and all the glory that will come… If we’d given Levi the option, he would have chosen to not feel anymore pain and keep the trache. In fact, he told us this! So thank you Lord for not asking me what I want, but giving me what you know I need… 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pictures from almost a year ago...

 Last year, we got to spend time with both of my grandmothers, it is always such a special time, I don't take it for granted and I savor the sweetness of it for a long time...
 This is the boys with my cousin's daughter Dariana. Her older brother, now in heaven was born with a heart condition. His life brought so much joy and love, can't wait to see him again!
 For their 5th birthday they wanted to be superhero's!
This little boy is David. His mom, aunts and uncles lived with us in the children's home for many, many years. I hadn't seen the girls since they left about 6 years ago. The boys realized that David does not know Jesus and doesn't follow God... it was very sad for them and for us. We pray that God will remind them of His goodness and unconditional LOVE...

Sovereign God

It's amazing to me how in the Bible, God started revealing Himself to humanity little by little. He is so gracious and realizes how small we are, how small are brains are and how we just can not get it all thrown at us at once. We would probably explode if He did.
So, in the beginning He reveals Himself to us as the Creator, MIGHTY, Strong GOD. In His name He adds that He is three in One. He shows Himself as EL ELYON, the Most High, Ruler, Sovereign God. El Roi, the GOD who sees (me). Adonai, Master... Lord. El Shaddai, GOD Almighty, all supplying, sustainer. Jehovah, the self existent One, the Most Holy, the Great I AM. Jehovah-Jireh, The Lord Savior, provider. Jehovah-Rapha, the Mender, the cure, the one who makes us whole, the Healer not only of sickness but of our souls....
We had the opportunity to share with the youth kids from Church two Sundays ago, that got me rethinking of a lot of stuff. Also, on Thursdays Im going to a Bible study that my mother in law is leading on the names of God, called 'Lord I want to know you'. It's the second time I have had the opportunity to study this book and it is just so amazing. When I look back at my younger years, I know that I loved God, that I knew Him well, I thought anyway. But I definitely had Faith in HIM. I could see Him as my provider, my sustainer, the One who Rules over all, my Master, my healer, etc. With the boys birth He tested it all. He had tested me before on a smaller scale, but He really tested me big time. It's crazy that almost 6 YEARS later, I am not even close to done processing it all. In a way I see this as Gods grace, not showing Himself to me in a way that I can't handle. I saw a dear sweet friend a couple of weeks ago, she was our connection to Baptist Hospital and the boys first nurse. She was telling me how some of her nurse friends get frustrated with parents, saying that they are so in denial. She tells them to leave them alone, to allow them to hold on to hope and not take that away. I can see how this happened in my life, God sheltered me from my own brain and little by little He has let me experience some of the emotions I could have had during to hardest part of the trial. Sometimes it makes me a little bitter, and I am ashamed to admit how long and slow this is all been for me to grasp, really to accept. I am a slow learner, I have so many questions and frustrations, I make myself feel overwhelmed and like I'm drowning! Thank God that He sustains me even in my hurt, anger and confusion. He slowly leads me into the deep.
God never makes mistakes, my name means 'little rock'. I know that my parents did not pick out that name for me because they just loved the meaning of it! I used to say that I could never survive another NICU experience, I said that if that's what God would give me, then I never want another child. Slowly, surely I can say that no matter what GOD, sovereign Ruler of all, who is ABOVE all and has POWER over all, if He always the trails in my life, then by His Grace I will survive them.
I've heard people say that because we live in a fallen world, bad things happen. That ALL evil comes from the evil one. And although this is true, it was a infuriating thing for my heart to hear. MY GOD is greater, MY GOD is bigger than the universe, NOTHING can happen without HIS permission, nothing can catch Him by surprise, we do have free will and I cant explain or understand fully how the two work together, but my heart knows they do. The conclusion that I come to is this. Everything, good or bad that God allows us to go through, weather its an attack of Satan, a 'natural' disaster or His doing, it all is filtered through His great and perfect Love for us. He is outside of time, He knows that pain will only last a moment, compared to eternity and the Glory that awaits us, it's but a blink of an eye. So yes, we live and operate in this 'fallen world' but GOD is over it all, above it all. Sovereign(possessing supreme and ultimate power, absolute, unlimited, unrestricted, boundless, total, unconditional power and authority).
I praise you Father, Ruler of All and I choose to rest in your great love for me today...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Going back in time...

Since I stopped posting here so long ago, and I always want to but I feel overwhelmed about how much there is to update on, I've decided to go ahead and 'go back'. I feel like I need to anyway to maybe process some of the 'stuff' that has happened. Please always feel free to leave a comment, even if you don't think it's something I want to hear, I need truth spoken into my life! Sometimes my emotions get in the way of growth...

One of my  dear cousin in law's twins is having his tonsils removed in the morning, she asked me to be there to 'keep things in perspective'. It's been such a mixture of emotions being a part of her twin experience. Her twins were born a little over a year after my boys were born. They were premature, 34 weeks I think. I've heard her tell people many times that her NICU experience felt like a breeze because she had just watched us go through ours. I always feel a little sad about the fact that she didn't really feel the right (maybe?) to let herself feel the typical things that one would feel having a preemie(or two) and leaving them in the hospital. And at the same time I get why she felt that way. But then I think if I put what i went through, what my babies went through up against other moms and babies, some of these being my friends, I can feel really bad about complaining! Our pain, whatever scale its on is still pain. We feel it, even if it's gratitude that we should be feeling... its real... it's validated.

All this got me thinking of Levi and his reconstructive airway surgery.  You know? Jesse can remember tons of little details surrounding the day of Levi's surgery. It blows my mind how he will, out of the blue start talking about it and things that happened that day even though it was over two years ago! Levi was given medicine that causes amnesia after every surgery... man, I wish I could have had some of that! He doesn't really remember anything about that horrific surgery. I am definitely thankful for that... if only I could forget.

We had waited for it for so many years... we thought he would be able to have it before age two. The time had finally come and although I knew(or I thought I knew!) it would be hard, I was so excited that it was finally happening. I so wasn't prepared for the process, but then I think nothing really could have prepared me. It was something we had to go through to obtain the amazing goal of being trach free. Such a valuable prize on so many different levels!

The process... oh the process... After the 7 hour surgery, in witch they cut part of his rib out(he has a big ole 2 inch scar there), cut his throat open(one inch scar), cut away part of the scar tissue inside his airway and used part of his rib as grafting. Then they put a tube in his airway to keep it all from collapsing, the surgeon described it as feeling like a 'lipstick tube' stuck in his airway.   That was a lot to handle. We were told that they would keep him sedated for at least 24 hours after the surgery, that sounded great to me! But instead, when surgery is over and they have taken him to the pediatric intensive care unit where he would spend a week at, we find him half awake, confused, angry, in pain. There are about 5 medical people messing with him, he's trying to fight them of! There is a bright spotlight right above him. He wanted me to hold him but I couldn't, the surgery was so fragile and moving him was to painful and dangerous. He had two IVs in him, a feeding tube in his nose. It was worse than when he was in NICU because when he was there, he was a little innocent baby unaware of everything. This time, he was aware and it was so painful and confusing. He would sign that he wanted water, couldn't have any, he would sign that he was hurting, that he wanted to be held, that he wanted his bottle! Oh it was torture.... Lucky for me, a friend was there with me and she helped me breathe through the initial shock and kept me from fainting.

I realize that most likely nobody will benefit from reading this, it's really just me that needs to get it out! We all want the prize, the end result, the benefits of our situations! I knew that all the pain was going to be worth it when we reached our goal. I got a glimpse of our Fathers heart towards us, his little children. Levi absolutely could not understand what was going on, why we were allowing it. I know that he felt that NOTHING could be worth that amount of pain and discomfort. And had he had the choice, he would have said that he would rather keep the trach and not go through the process! But we knew, we understood that it would all be worth it, that the pain would go away and the benefits would be so amazingly wonderful, and we were right! It was all worth it. And like I said before, he doesn't even remember any of it!

Whatever painful circumstance that you find yourself in, even if it's on a smaller scale, remember there is purpose in it. Anything that our Heavenly Father allows us to go through has a purpose, otherwise he would spare us the pain! But HE knows what we need to go through in order to grow, to be whole, to obtain the prize and reach the goal. This summer that Levi got to swim was so incredible! He loved it so much and was so proud of himself for jumping in the water a million times. We are so thankful for what He's done and the gifts that He has given us...

So, please pray for little Peyton's surgery tomorrow, that all will go well and that his family will have peace through it all...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Last Monday

SO, last Monday went really well! I’m sure many of you know all this by now, especially if you’re on facebook. We got there at 2pm and actually got to back into the O.R. a little early, that’s always a good thing! By 4:00 the doctor was done and came to talk to us (we weren’t even scheduled to start until 4:15). The first thing he said was “I like Mexico. Mexico was good for Levi.” Things looked so much better, good enough to start ‘capping’ the trache and downsizing from a size 4.0 to a 2.5! We started out with a 2.5 when he was two pounds! We ended up staying overnight to make sure that Levi could breathe with his trache capped(it’s literally a little cap that goes over the opening of the trache tube so that it’s not being used but still available in case he needs it). Unfortunately Levi took a really long time to wake up and even longer to settle down. He. Was. Furious. I think that the latter in the day the procedure is, the worse he does waking up. He’s gone all day with no food, no nap and it’s just not a pretty picture. We needed him calm before he could have the cap. They moved us upstairs to a room and by this time it was after 6. I started asking for the cap a little after that and no one knew what I was talking about :S That was frustrating! Finally they realized that that was the whole point of us staying over night, it was so that they could monitor his breathing while capped… at around 10:30 pm they realized that they could get a cap because they were locked away at the clinic. They ended up using a passy murry valve instead (it goes in the opening of the trache and lets you breathe in but closes so that you breathe out through your mouth or nose, it’s used to speak). Levi didn’t get much sleep and I didn’t get any at all, but we had to stay all day the next day to make sure that he was okay with the cap. He did great and has been using it ever since! He loves it, to say the least… he is talking non-stop and is constantly making sound effects for everything he does, it’s pretty amazing! Several people of commented on how much clearer he sounds and how easy it is to understand him. The funny thing is that I don’t notice that as much. But he definitely is louder! When we finally made it home after being at the hospital so long, Levi grabbed Jesse’s face and said “Jesse… Shut up…” We have NEVER told them to shut up before! Now, those of you who know Jesse, know just how much he talks… really it is non-stop and Levi believes it’s his turn now! They got a CD for Christmas from an aunt and uncle and he is singing the songs at the top of his lungs, it’s amazing…
We will be going back to Vanderbilt in three weeks. The Doctor will check his airway again, if things still look good the trache will come out… Wow… I can’t believe this is happening! Thank you Lord for bringing us this far, and thank you all for your prayers!