Thursday, November 9, 2017

Growing our Heritage: In Search of a Full Quiver Month 3

Wow!  Here we are, PAST the 3 month mark.  I feel as if we may have found our new rhythm of life.  Behaviors have calmed down, and all the pieces are beginning to blend together seamlessly.  We still have hard days, but their frequency continues to decrease.  If I'm honest, I can already feel the pull to do this all over AGAIN! 
Yes, it is hard.  Yes, it is messy. Yes, it is stressful and conflict is inevitable.  But the benefits are so very great.  I have watched a child simply transform in front of my eyes in a very short 3 months.  I can think of no greater way to impact society, and The Kingdom, than to take a helpless/hopeless child and give them hope, love and a possibility for a future.
We covet your prayers as there is still much to learn and so much ground to cover; but I have faith that all of the tears, time, effort, heart-break, frustration and exhaustion will pay off in the end.
ALOT has changed for all of us this month.  Most of which I don't feel comfortable going into detail about on a public blog, but just know that the amount of firsts and new experiences in this past month alone would leave most adults dumbfounded.  However,  this child of mine has taken it all in stride and with a healthy dose of grace.

We serve an awesome God who can do supernatural things!









Romans 8:15 –

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"

Month 1
Month 2
How We Got Here

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Growing our heritage: In Search of a full quiver Month 2


We are flirting with our two month mark--it is a few simple days away.  However, in adoption, no day is truly ever simple.  I recall myself dealing with an extremely petty situation at my child's school last week (one in which would have never been on my radar or high on my priority list FOR ANY of my children--let alone one with a history like, and dealing with issues like W...I'm a fan of simple, natural consequences) and this situation prompting me to say to my husband, "There are only so many things that I can possible say out loud (if you are a teacher think in the world of Think Alouds) every day and this just wasn't one of them".  However, for the other parent  involved, and the school, it was important so we did everything we could to comply.  But I distinctly remember myself thinking, this just isn't high on my priority list.  You see folks, when you are dealing with a child who has come from trauma you deal with the BIG issues first, and sometimes they are REALLY big, then you trust that all the little pieces will fall into place over time.  My little guy needs to experience the feeling of success, and if that means we celebrate a day of not screaming and hiding then we celebrate it, whether he used his table manners at lunch that day or not. 
W is making HUGE gains.  I barely recognize him as the same guy who joined us two months ago and for that I am thankful and blessed.  Honestly, things are good most days and great others.  However, I have found myself forgetting that our new normal is not every one else's normal.  Families who are intact, and have always been that way, fail to understand what it is like to have a child in their home who fails to know basic skills-- let alone that we should hold doors open, or not cut in line, or say please and thank you. 
I was once one of those people.  People who thought, "If my child ever.....!!!".  Ha!  My how times have changed.  I find myself looking at the world through completely different lenses now.
Yes, W has made great gains in these last 2 months; but so have we.  We manage our time better.  We communicate more.  We love harder.  Our empathy, patience, and compassion are growing exponentially every day and at the same time we have gained another person to love. 
I can only imagine how things may be in 6 months, a year and longer!

Read about how we got here HERE
Read about month 1 HERE

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
       ~Ephesians 4:7

Monday, September 11, 2017

In search of a full quiver: How we got here

So, many people have asked about our adoption journey--from the outside it most likely seemed like a sudden decision.  In reality, it was light years away from that.  God laid adoption on my heart about 4-5 years ago.  My family was blessed to be surrounded by family and friends who blazed this path long before us.  Through witnessing these stories, God softened my heart towards the plight of children awaiting adoption; specifically children who have lived through trauma and have been removed from their biological family for reasons outside their own control. 
I approached Jason about 4-5 years ago and asked what he thought about adoption.  I had always wanted a larger family, but for him this was a bit much to process--you see, Jason is an only child.  We were stopped dead in our tracks after  the birth of our second child because I became seriously ill with an autoimmune disorder and having our own was no longer an option.  My heart immediately leapt at the thought of adoption.  Jason's....not so much.  He initially scoffed, and I'm pretty sure he may have literally asked me if I was nuts.
Fast forward about another year.  More and more people in our sphere of friends were traveling this path of adoption that my heart SO longed for, so I asked again--and again his answer was a resounding NO!  At this point I asked him if he had prayed about it.  He was honest and admitted that he hadn't, but was also very clear that he wasn't interested in the least.  I gave it another year to two.  This was right about the time we made the decision for me to leave my full time job, sell our dream home and acreage and become youth leaders (eeeeekkkk!).  As we were discussing this MAJOR life change I kinda threw in, "Well, you know, if we ever chose to adopt this would be the perfect time!  I'll be back home for a few years."  It was at this point that I saw the first shimmer of hope...I got a maybe!
After living in the parsonage and me being back in the home full time (during this time my disease went into full remission and I am doing better than I have in nearly 10 years) I started sending Jason adoption bios on kids I would find on social media or TARE.  Right after Christmas 2016 he called me into the living room and said, "Let's talk about this adoption thing".  EEEKK!!!  His heart was ready!!!
Needless to say I already knew exactly what needed to be done, where to do it, how to begin, when to begin, etc--we started our training in February.  We spent hours and hours in classes, filled out unimaginable amounts of paperwork, reorganized our home to meet state standards, went through countless inspections and then finally the homestudy...by April we were licensed.
Once we were licensed, we began receiving daily/weekly emails about children in our age range who were either almost legally free for adoption or who were completely legally free (meaning parental rights are revoked or relinquished and there is no one else seeking to adopt).  We had a few matches early on.  The way it works is that your homestudy can be chosen with a few others to be considered for a best match with a child awaiting adoption.  Once you are selected as one of the top families you go into what is called staffing---the people associated with that child meet with you either face to face or over the phone to get more info on you and share more info on the child.  Then after they meet with all the top families they choose THE ONE.  We did this about 3-4 times before we were finally chosen.  During this time we also delved into  respite care a bit and got to get our feet wet before our official adoptive placement was made.  I'm skipping several steps here but you get the gist.
Once we were chosen as THE FAMILY we sent our family life book for W to view and then followed up in  a few weeks with a face to face visit.  It was so very scary, and exciting, and fun all at the same time!  W even got to spend the night with us at the hotel one night during our first visit.  After that it was a series of short visits here at our home and then finally placement. 
Before we can legally adopt, W has to live with us for 6 months. You can read about our first month together HERE. This is just a formality.  He is a legally-free child so we are not awaiting any court rulings or revocations of rights etc.  He is ours, our family, our child--the only things left is a court date sometime around February 2018 and a simple name change!
Thanks to everyone who helped and supported us on this journey.  It is unlike any other!

                   
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
6 God sets the lonely in families,ahe leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
Psalm 68:5-6 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Growing our heritage: In Search of a full quiver Month 1

Well, we started this journey after our decision at the end of December 2016 and here we are.  It is September and W has been with us for a full month.  We knew the potential struggles and joys going into this matched adoption--but nothing can really prepare you.  It feels like a Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"....ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
Our hearts are full, our plates are full, our schedules are full and slowly but surely our little arrow is getting more and more comfortable in his new quiver.
I'm not going to lie--some days are just plain hard and others are fantastic. On any given day I can find myself crying from exhaustion one moment (I used to think teacher tired was the worst, but new adoptive parent tired trumps it every time), and laughing with joy the next.  No matter what we are on this roller coaster for the long haul.
I want to thank those of you who have supported us in help with his transition via clothes, supplies etc. for W and we covet your prayers now more than anything.  If you are one of the individuals that work one-on-one with W at school or Church we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts for your care and patience.  W is making huge strides towards normalcy each and every day because of people like you.
I am often reminded throughout this new journey how Christ chose to die for our sins in order to justify our adoption as Christians even while we were yet still sinners.  We didn't earn our salvation--we never could meet that standard, but He gave His love and eventually His life while we were filthy, stubborn and ungracious. I fail every single day but this is where my mind goes when things get rough.  I love W when things are hard, uncomfortable, messy or exhausting because my Savior first loved me.

Here's to hangin on!
Read about  how we got here HERE
Here is our month TWO

"Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed."
Psalm 82:3

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Once upon a @(*^&$E#*&@@) !... (part 2)

So I met with my rheumatologist today, I am going to be brief because the drive and visit completely wore me out.  I must say that I am so very thankful for an understanding and patient physician.  He listened while I walked him through the whole schpheel, asked a few questions and this is the answer I got.


Having the flu in March suppressed/messed up my immune system to the point that I became more susceptible to infections.  The parade of infections that followed have now culminated into a super-infection that is no longer responding to basic antibiotics.  He instructed me to remain off the methotrexate because it will only worsen my healing and gave me a new antibiotic RX to get me through til Monday.  Monday I will see an infection disease physician to come up with a long term treatment plant to eradicate the underlying infections.
 


Continued prayers are welcomed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Once upon a @(*^&$E#*&@@) !...

Let me tell you a story.  I haven't 'babbled' in quite a while and when I get really low it seems that, along with God, writing gives me great comfort.  It is extremely cathartic. 


So I will begin at the beginning.  Last summer I suffered sever sprain in my left ankle, the 6th total. I had to have surgery and the details of that are a story for another day. But long story short, I have not been well for any long period of time since the surgery. I could walk through all of the insane ins and outs of it all but I will focus on these last three to four weeks simply because otherwise it is simply too much to try to convey in one post.
So to begin with, I started having severe headaches, to the point that my teeth hurt and pretty constant nosebleeds.  I headed in to my GP who diagnosed a sinus infection and prescribed a round of cephalexin.  Because of my methotrexate use due to my psoriatic arthritis I can only be prescribed certain antibiotics because some can cause methotrexate toxicity.


Well because methotrexate slows healing, I have to stop it anytime I undergo a procedure or have an infection, so at this point I stopped my weekly dose. 


About a week later, I was still bleeding from my nose and now had a very raw sore throat which I thought was strep (one of my daughters were sick at this same time and I thought we both had it). I returned to the doctor only to find out that I still had a sinus infection and drainage from it was causing my nasal passages to leak and be inflamed--the sore throat was from the drainage (my kid had allergy drainage as well).  I was then prescribed cefdinar to try to clear up the sinus infection for a second time.  After about 3 days, I starting coughing very badly and just called the GP rather than going in--she called benzonatate into the pharmacy to help with the cough and said to keep on with the antibiotics and all should be well.  I was supplementing with  several OTC cough meds at this point too as well as Benadryl.


I waited four days and the cough continued to worsen to the point of gagging, wheezing and vomiting. Frustrated with my GPs ability to get me well, I went in to urgent care for the cough.  He immediately diagnosed me with bronchitis and said the reason I wasn't getting better was because the antibiotic the GP gave for my sinus infection wouldn't clear up the bacteria associated with bronchitis.  He then wrote me ANOTHER RX for antibiotics and said to take it with what I was already on.  This antibiotic was Doxycycline.  He also prescribed codein cough meds, since the OTC stuff I had been taking had not touched the cough, and 2 different inhalers since the bronchitis had inflamed my asthma. It was at this point I thought I better get my rheumatologist involved and made an appointment for Wednesday the next week. I took my 2 diff antibiotics and my cough meds all weekend with hopes of returning to work on Monday. At this point I am 3 weeks off methotrexate.


--Mind you I have missed ridiculous amounts of work at this point in the year due to surgery, methotrexate withdrawls, recovery, flu, misc illness etc.


Weekend went well with lots of rest, so I stopped the cough meds so I could return to work--codein makes me loopy.  Almost immediately after coming off the cough meds, I began to feel nauseous.  I suffered through work Monday with a trashcan by my desk, and as soon as I made it home I began to have severe intestinal distress--IT WAS BAD.  I was having a reaction to the doxycycline that had before been masked by the constipation causing narcotic cough med.  Once I realized it, I called the urgent care doc who called in new antibiotics for me.


So here is where I get ticked.  I skipped my meds Tuesday morning and Jason picked up the new antibiotic after work.  I hadn't eaten all day due to the continued nausea.  As soon as I opened the bag I laughed in frustration.  What did he prescribe? Cefdinir--the same RX I was already on from the GP that HE, the urgent care doc, told me wouldn't clear up the bronchitis--I am still hacking my lungs out at this point.

I am now 3.5 weeks off Methotrexate. (withdrawl from these meds cause me to live in a mental fog, stutter, feel lethargic more than usual and swell beyond imagination)


Luckily I made the rhemytologist appt the week before, and will see him tomorrow.  I'm not even going to call the urgent care doc back--urgent care is great in a bind. but you totally lose the intimacy and personal care that you get from a GP or long-term care doc.  I am just going to take this hot mess of a story to my doc tomorrow and ask him to help me get well--whatever it takes.


I realize some people have never dealt with chronic illness so I would like to put things into a little perspective for you.
Here are the meds I have taken over the last 3-4 weeks just for the infections.




These are the antibiotics alone:




Here are ALL the meds I have taken over the last 3-4 weeks for infection AND my long term autoimmune issues.






I am so frustrated, fatigued, exhausted and just mentally and physically ready to give up...I am not a crier and I have been crying every night as that is when the coughing gets worse.  I don't know if you've ever had a bad cough AND diarreah but lets just say it isn't pleasant. 
I should be exuding antibodies from my pores at this point but cannot get well.  I know what spiritual warfare is and the power prayer has against it.  I know that surgery can set off autoimmune issues, I have experienced this before--but never for this long of a consecutive period of sickness.  Please pray for wisdom for my doctor tomorrow and divine healing for WHATEVER is happening with me.




Link to part two and diagnosis:  http://rachelstolle.blogspot.com/2016/05/once-upon-part-2.html

Saturday, July 11, 2015

MoDRN day 5--research platform presentations

Our group discovered just what we expected.  Many companies market their products as green with labeling etc without actually having been held to any green standards.  The only products that have been tested to meet green chemistry standards are those with the EPA safer choice label.

So this last day of MoDRN at Baylor University was great.  All the groups worked on their platform presentations that morning and presented after lunch.  As far as the findings go, they were very interesting and unpredictable between product groups.  We found that the insect repellent marketed as green was indeed less toxic,  however, in the case of body wash green marketing did not exactly mean less toxic (to D.magna)
For example, we showed these two examples of product marketing and asked the audience to pick which one they would buy if they were looking for a green product.  Everyone chose Simple Green, however, Odoban actually has the EPA safer choice logo meaning that it has been tested and help to the EPA standards that the Simple Green may or may not meet.
So consumers beware.  The people who market items are sneaky smart and sometimes although they use naturally derived chemicals, those chemicals may be more toxic than their synthetic counterparts.
So how do we make informed safer choices?
  • Look for the safer choice label
  • Research the active/top 5 ingredients listed in the products you are thinking of buying and see what the MSDS or SDS sheets (available online) say about them
  • Don't fall for packaging or claims of 'natural' if there is no science to back it up
Next week we will be moving to the Baylor Research Innovation and collaboration center (BRIC), as well as the Waco Wetlands, and turning what we did in week 1 into useable lessons to take back into high schools.  Ill keep you posted!
Shout to to one of my students La Vega Early College High School students who took the extra credit opportunity and came to sit through all of the platform presentations.  He and his mom left far more enlightened about their household chemical purchases.
One really neat unexpected thing that has come of the platform presentations is my 9 year old daughter's new-found interest in green chemistry.  After sitting through 4 platform presentations she has approached me several times this weekend with products her fathers bought while grocery shopping and talked through her own hypotheses and experimental design. One in particular was a  I tank toilet bowl cleaner that claims to kill 98% of bacteria. She said, " Hey mom, look at this. It says it kills bacteria, I bet it would be toxic to Daphnia too!". How cool is that?!?!



I would have added photos but Blogger isn't cooperating tonight so I will try again later!