Sunday, March 16, 2014

How to help?

Last year when Emily spent so much time in the hospital we were in crisis.  It was hard and, yes, I still cry when I think how many people blessed us in so many ways. (Of course, I also cry over sappy commercials.) Thank you.  I hope that God will bless each one of you.

I've discovered that people help in different ways.  Not everyone has to do it the same way or the same amount or for every person.  Availability and circumstances affect it.  Do what works for you.  If you can’t think of something, here’s a list of the ways that I remember people blessed us.

 Cards - I'm not a card writer myself but those minutes people spent finding the card and writing some words of encouragement were valuable.  I saved each one and soaked up a tremendous amount of courage from them.

Offer to bring things to the hospital.  We live forty minutes from Emily’s hospital.  Kenton is a dairy farmer.  It wasn’t possible for him to get there every day.  I tried to keep a list and have things packed to take to the hospital…but it was inevitable, I always forgot something. Sometimes Emily threw up on things and it was great to have more pajamas or another stuffed animal or whatever.

Food -A frozen chicken, a pan of brownies, a pizza, or a whole meal, whatever.  When a family is regularly exceeding their daily allowance of cereal and sandwiches, anything tastes good, except liver.  You can keep your good intentions and your liver.  Thank you anyway.

 Visits -  A very sick toddler is not good company.  Neither is TV.  Whether you work at the hospital and pop in on a break for two minutes, you have a foster baby to visit, you’re a patient there yourself, or you make a special trip, thank you!  It meant a lot.

 Someone brought me a HUGE box of snacks(granola bars, fruit, gum, cereal packs, tuna packs, fruit, raisins, breath mints).  It lasted through quite a few visits.  The other kids loved picking a snack when they came to visit.  It was a lifesaver for me when Emily was throwing up constantly  and I didn’t feel safe to leave her.

 Offer to babysit - this is huge when you have younger kids at home.  We did not take advantage of this a lot.  We felt that consistency with grandma made it easier for everyone (except grandma).  BUT it took a huge weight off knowing that when Grandma wasn't an option and dad couldn't stop, there were people to take up the slack.  Grandma picked up a lot of slack.  Thank you. 

Listen, ask, and feel free to call (and don’t be offended if I tell you it’s not a good time)- It's okay if your question made me cry.  For me, it's a stress relief.  It shows me that you care. Once again, puking toddlers and tv aren’t the greatest company.

 Gifts – Emily got plenty of things in the hospital and it was wonderful to occasionally be able to distract her with new trinkets of bubbles, light up wands, a balloon, playdough or whatever. It was very special when the kids at home occasionally received a little something like a DVD or a game.  They picked up a lot of slack and missed a lot of special things because their sister was sick.

One on one with another kid – one of our kids had a harder time with my absence than the others.  One of the teenagers from church got together with her once every other week or so and gave her some attention by baking or doing crafts or listening to music.  It really helped that child to be the center of someone’s attention for a little while.

Internet friends blessed me from afar, assuring me that Emily and our family were in their prayers.  Thank you, Anne, Sandy, and Cheri, I look forward to heaven where I know we can spend some quality time together.   

Offers to pick up kids so they don’t miss out on things were appreciated.  A friend took Megan to a baby shower for a beloved Sunday school teacher when I couldn’t go.  Megan still talks about it and would have been so upset to miss it.

Our herd manager picked up extra chores so that Kenton could spend the occasional night with Emily and I could be at home.  Thank you.  This probably saved my sanity.

 Service - I’m not a good housekeeper.  Okay, I’m a terrible housekeeper.  TWICE people came and cleaned my kitchen.  I should mention that the second time, there was an entire clothesbasket of rotting cucumbers in the fridge.  This is going so far above and beyond the call of duty that I’m sure there’s an extra galaxy of stars reserved for their crowns in heaven. 

Money – Yes, we were blessed by gift cards and money.  Even when insurance is good, there’s lots of extra expenses with medical stays. 

Be supportive.  Both sets of parents had the same concern when we started another special need adoption.  They urged us to be mindful of the fact that the existing four kids still need our time and attention, so to move forward cautiously.  When God brought us Emily, it turned out that not only did she take me away from the other kids a lot, but Martha ended up with the other four.  I asked her one day how she felt about it.  I can’t quote her at all.  I wish I could because her words were a total gift.  The gist of it was that God must have wanted Emily here and that she was just glad that she was available to help us.  Total blessing, eh?

Pray.  Never underestimate the power of prayer.  Emily, while in and out of the hospital regularly for nine months, was diagnosed with cyclic vomiting syndrome in five months.  It took a number of months to get her in with the right specialist and begin treatment.  However, most kids take YEARS to get the correct diagnosis.  YEARS!  Emily got in to see the top specialist for CVS in the nation in three months.  I made her an appointment in December to see him again- the first  opening he had was in September.   AMAZING!

When we were in China, Emily got sick for the first time and wound up in the hospital there.  I didn’t have any way of letting people know and asking them to pray.  Later I found out that our travel mates had put Emily on their church’s prayer chain.  It was an early start to people we didn’t even know, praying for Emily.  Balsam Bible Chapel in Minnesota and Pine Creek Chapel in Florida both had her on their prayer list, as well as our own church Cherry Glade.  Thank you so very much.

I’m sure the kids and Kenton would probably remember things I’ve forgotten.  Even if I forgot, God knows.  He will not forget.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.  May God bless each of you as you have blessed us.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Queen of Best

Saturday was an unusually productive day.
  I never have those.
  At best I usually just achieve mediocre.  Mediocre, that's when the-downstairs-is-presentable-if-you-forgot-your-glasses....proceed upstairs at your own risk.
  I was so enthused by the unusual productivity that I had this totally unrealistic thought that I am actually getting this five kids, homeschooling act together.  Don't worry...reality set in quickly.

Monday we almost had death by piano lessons imminent for 0 - 4 people. This is when the mother discovers that three children haven't practiced for the lessons they will be taking in less than 24 hours.  The family patriarch and non-musician in the family fails to understand WHY piano lessons must be accompanied so frequently by wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Don't worry my dentures should be arriving any time now.

Tuesday was comforter knotting at the church, the pouring of concrete for yet another stage on the money pit manure pit by the farmer in the dell and three big kids, piano lessons for the three piano delinquents who have survived to play another day, and I did a program at the local nursing home, proving that, at least in my mother's case, the sackcloth and ashes paid off.

Wednesday, Kaitlyn went to a birthday party while the birthday girl's brother left his room unguarded and came to play with Davis.  Later on in the afternoon two more of Davis' friends came to play.  I was forced to cook two meals because Old Mother Holly's cupboards were bare of the essentials bread and eggs and leftovers. I wept.

Thursday was another day of craziness, Emily had PT scheduled, a friend came to help give me some tips and encouragement in teaching my kids to write, and I stocked up at Wallyworld. 

There are nine more weeks of school.  I'M SURE I'll have time to catch up on housework then.  Right?

In other news, Emily has been well for 209 DAYS!  She had bloodwork and an EKG last Friday.  I'm a little nervous they'll say the dose is too high for heart safety and we'll have to back it off, but in the meantime we're enjoying all these vomit free days!  It was one year ago today that she first saw Dr. B.U.K. Li for the first time.  We will forever be grateful to his expertise in helping Emily get better. 

(Please excuse the lousy picture.  It was even worse before I cropped it.)

THANK YOU to so many who walked that hard road of illness beside us, so many acts of kindness, words of encouragement, and much prayer!  THANK YOU!