Thursday, February 25, 2016

Invisible

I've taken more "trips" the past few months than ever before in my life. Silas always packs each of us a little bag filled with toys and goodies for the train or plane we are about to board. He, of course, is not only a passenger on these journeys, but also the conductor, pilot, and tour guide. Even though we haven't actually traveled outside our general zip code the last 365 days, our invisible trips become more and more enjoyable as Silas' imagination sparks my own. I wonder at what age we begin to lose sight of the invisible. For me it probably happened around age ten when my parents divorce occurred shortly after mythical holiday spirits became fictitious. While both events seemed equally dramatic at the time, it is a wonder that anyone is able to believe in anything that cannot be visually, audibly, or tactically comprehended.
I am just now beginning to realize how much of our world is invisible. At least the things that really matter. Not only is love seemingly "invisible," but hope, joy, peace, and the like. On the other hand, while many of life's beautiful aspects can't be seen, there is also a very real, yet very invisible war taking place on Earth. I'm not one to hang on the evil (as seen in my overflowing cup comments), but I recently picked up a classic fiction, The Screwtape Letters, by the brilliant C.S. Lewis. I'm not sure what led me to purchase the 1942 Epistolary novel, but I think everyone should glance at the interesting (albeit unique narration) piece of literature. It seems to pronounce fear and pride as man's greatest weakness of which I wholeheartedly agree. The narrator, Uncle Screwtape, writes to his immature demon nephew an important reminder, "[God] relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites [sic] have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else" (Lewis 38). It would appear that those who suffer more are closer to the God in Heaven. I can actually understand this because prayers are often less superficial when one is truly in need.
God: another invisible being, along with anything else Spiritual you may choose to believe in. Children find it much easier to actually see and believe in the things that adults can no longer enjoy or fear. I think that's why Jesus said anyone who wants to enter the Kingdom of Heaven must become like a little child. It is not naive, it's simply faith, invisible faith.
Instead of praying that my children are immune from hardships, or spared life's difficulties, I pray that they would know the beauty of the ashes, and that they would experience whatever is needed to get them humbly on their knees, unafraid of anything except being separation from God. 

Even though prayer seems to produce invisible results at times, it is a very real and very important tool at our constant disposal! I cannot thank you enough for praying this last week. Levi has hit a new wrung on his ladder! He's doing wonderful! We didn't get to see our ENT (a long story that can only be seen as purposefully comical), but we will see him in a couple weeks. Meanwhile, something clicked for Levi, back on formula, a hunger medicine, and new inhaler, and he's EAGER to eat. He hasn't thrown up in four days! He's leaning in to lick food off a spoon, anxious to swallow more. He's putting all kinds of things in his mouth (that are safe of course), and he's communicating in his own unique, precious ways! He is sleeping better, and just seems stronger. I couldn't be more thrilled! No matter what steps we take backwards again, it gives me a glimpse at his capable future!
 Legs free, Levi got to go in a swing for the first time! I've never seen so much joy exude from swinging!




While not invisible, this fake snow (baking soda and suave shampoo) was a hit!

I cannot tell you how amazing the last week has been. Even though Silas caught a little stomach bug, Levi was protected, and prayers for Levi have been greatly answered! Thank you. Thank you!


No.... We love you!

~Invisible Buster

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

V-day to remember








 In this marathon, and more specifically the last couple of weeks, things have been pretty rough. But like any long, long run, God gives us those sweet moments to keep us going just when we think we need to stop. Whether it's your toddler learning to make his own "funny camera faces," just when you need to laugh, the beginning curiosity and learning of your little one who showed little interest prior, one night of decent sleep among a hundred sleepless nights, a great date with your spouse after a long week, or some "breakfast" in bed made by your kiddos, we are provided what we need exactly when we need it most, and no sooner. Not only has Levi begun to throw up with the volume and intensity of several months earlier (making me feel as though I'm living a terrible version of Groundhog's Day the movie), he's also not sleeping great, day or night, because of his leg braces, and his feeding bag in bed with him at night. For that reason, I've had to get on my knees and ask for the kind of help that only God can provide. Exhaustion simply takes the joy out of positivity. You force yourself again to look at all you have and compare yourself to those who have it SO very much worse. It helps snap you back to joy and that's usually when a moment of bliss occurs, even if it is just a moment. I'm reminded that Levi's physical struggles equate to his cognitive strengths.
He has been put back on formula giving us a break for the harsh thickness of Pediasure, and we hope to learn something new at his ENT appointment next week. We'll try to big boy calorie food again in a couple weeks.
Meanwhile, because God provided us with a the perfect retired nurse, my wonderful husband planned the most random and awesome of Valentine's dates. He said simply that we were going "dancing in the city." Not having done much this past year away from our house, I felt like I was seeing Atlanta for the first time in a long time! Needless to say, neither of us could have anticipated where we were going. We attended an event similar to a massive wedding reception at the Botanical Gardens. It was probably the only event I've ever been to that drew a crowd of every single walk of life imaginable. I'm not exaggerating or viewing this from a subarbian bubble because I literally can't think of another venue that would entice such a plethora of couples. There's usually someone you are catering to in your advertisement. However, you name it, and we saw it. Every single combination of age, race, gender, transgender, ethnicity, disability, background, etc. There wasn't any distinction, and the ABG had multiple stages with every kind of music, every kind of dancing, magicians, comedians, desserts, vow renewals, prize patrols, peaceful orchid walks, outdoor fireplace, fountains, you name it. I could have people-watched forever. I only wish such a diverse group of people could hang outside of Valentine's day and get along so well.





 Thank you to all my boys for making Valentines sweet for me! I especially loved how my breakfast in bed was calorie-free!





Thank you for continued prayers for our little Levi to sleep and eat better. Time.... we just have to keep being patient and realize that he's a happy little boy that has come so far!

Check out a great moment he had on V-day (his therapists know he prefers his standing on his legs after the strength they gained from being casted, but they really don't want him to skip crawling because he needs to strengthen his weak hand, arm, and shoulder.) I love this though.... he didn't hang on long, but he's learning!


Thank you God for Coffee!

~Coffee CubBuster

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Girls Raising Boys


These early formative years that I get my boys all to myself are minimal at best because they will soon crave the attention, approval, and activities of their daddy. As much as sons love their mamas, the lengthy time just being together will soon become boring. Let's face it: I just can't swing a club, like my husband. Even though I don't have any girls yet, being one myself, I'm beginning to see a vast difference in our innate desires. As much as I love a clean and organized house, it's imperative that I let my boys be boys. They need to get dirty, make a mess, scream, and act like little wild animals from time to time. It's easy for me to try and shape them in such a way that makes my life  (and chores) easier, but that's not shaping them the way God made them.
I've been struck recently... both metaphorically and literally. My eldest child tends to expound all of his built up energy or excitement in the form of physical abuse. Don't get me wrong, he is definitely a softy and loves affection, but like any normal boy (as I'm coming to comprehend) hitting, kicking, jumping, throwing, and the like seem to be a sign of joy for him. He is now of the age when he understands the difference between intentional hitting and uncontrollable excitement, but we are having to remind him that taking out his energy on others can really hurt! Just yesterday when the snow began to fall at our house, Silas acted out throwing a snow ball twice. Once he threw a very real but broken blackberry at my body (thankfully there was a pillow in between us!) and was instantly reprimanded. The second enactment involved his hand across my face. He began to snuggle and apologize instantly. Although I knew it was not malicious, I began to cover my face pretending to cry and continued to childishly hold a grudge at him because I knew that it would upset him more than anything else I could do.
That's when the metaphor began to unfold in my mind. If God is my Heavenly Father and any "ugliness" in my heart hurts Him like a slap in the face, what would it be like if He continued to hold a grudge against me trying to make me feel constantly guilty? That idea pained me to even propose. God grants me instant forgiveness the moment I apologize. No matter how many times I childishly throw snowballs at Him (real or fake), He knows I'm still learning and accepts me just the way I am. He loves helping me grow into a better person who knows how to control those hurtful tendencies. Why couldn't I extend the same grace to my sweet son? I could, and I did. And although we didn't have much snow for real a real snowball fight, we had fun getting wet, muddy, and later chocolaty!






Our little Levi seems to have fast growing hair, but the sad news from the GI doctor is that he's still pretty little and not gaining much weight. Therefore, he wanted to go ahead and put him on Pediasure through his g-tube (normally reserved for children 12 months and older), which has more calories per ounce than formula. After just a couple days on it, I'm concerned his little tummy can't take it because he's spitting up even more trying to adjust to it. Praying it gets better soon!
Also, we scheduled a follow-up with ENT because most of his spit up seems related to the mucus build-up in his respiratory system. We'll go in a couple weeks and hopefully know more then.
Please also pray for his little heart (and mine). I'm so very thankful that Levi seems to be cognitively age appropriate, but we are seeing the beginning struggles with his desire to do things that he can't physically do. He's pulling at his hand splint at night because it bothers him. He's waking up because he hates having on his leg braces. He flips on his back and can't flip back to his stomach very well. He seems frustrated with having to wear them, but he also just wants to crawl and move but can't yet. He is interested in playing with his feeding bag and likes to pull the excess cord and put it in his mouth! All of this is concerning, yet all of it means his little brain is working properly! The hope and prayer is that we'll eventually be able to move all his feeds to daylight hours, and like most babies learning new movements, eventually they won't be new and exciting anymore.

Thank you so much for your love and prayers! More than anything, we are just blessed!

~Boy Buster

Friday, February 5, 2016

Love Hurts


The loving Hallmark holiday is upon us, and I know that love is certainly one of my whole reasons for existence, but I also know that every single person, including myself, has been hurt by love more than once. Because love binds us on a deeper level, it hurts that much more when it feels like it's taken from us, whether momentarily, permanently, or just unexpectedly; hence, those persons who seem to withhold their love from so many due to feared potential consequences.
The love for a parent, a child, a spouse, a grandparent, a sibling, a friend- all can be equally as painful when extracted from our daily lives. Yet, can love really be taken? No. I do not believe so, and I think that's why it hurts so much. Just because the person separates, moves, stops speaking, stops showing up, gets Alzheimer's, changes lifestyles, shows agression, or dies, doesn't mean your love for that person stops. We may change our daily routine or our environment, but we can't truly turn off our natural desire to love those around us.
There hasn't been a single day since my best friend, Kyra, died that I don't achingly miss her. Why? Because I loved her deeply. I miss my grandmother more than I even realize, and she's still on this Earth, but she's just not herself anymore since Alzheimer's has moved into her life. I am saddened when think about the baby I never met because I loved it even without meeting it face to face.

I'm sure this seems like a mighty depressing discussion around what should be a truly happy holiday, but I actually think it's a gift to have loved so deeply. I don't think you can call yourself a human being if you are unable to love. Even if you try to fool yourself into thinking you don't love anyone or anything, it's not true. Moreover, I recently read something that helps explain my joy in the midst of sorrow.
A fellow-blogger spoke to the sadness of losing someone dear to her in this way, "When you observe suffering from the outside all you can see is the suffering. Despair can feel like the only option... on the inside, I want you to know that despair doesn't feel like an option. Peace is too real. Hope is too bright. God, the Ancient of Days, has drawn [too] close."

It's quite true. Any suffering that we've felt this year has simply allowed us to see love displayed and felt genuinely, tangible, and just beautifully. "We love because He first loved us" (1 john 4:19). So keep on sending those hearts and hugs and enjoy a holiday of love. The more we love, the more we see love live.

I have witnessed it with my own little man. He's definitely one of the most affection little boys I know...

  Don't be fooled though, about thirty seconds after these pictures were taken, Levi decided he was too exhausted to have a picnic. After having a little cold last week, he began spitting up again a lot, and not doing so well with all his therapy. But our PT reminded me this morning that none of us likes going to the gym or trying new foods when we are sick!
After visiting our hand specialist this week, we are encouraged that Levi will simply be given time to grow his tight joints and muscles through therapy. If in the distant future he still cannot close his hand though, there are future surgeries to help when he is older.
We will visit our GI doc on Monday for a weigh-in and discussion on any new instructions as we slug along this G-tube road.

Thank you for your continued prayers. WE LOVE YOU!!!!!

~Love Buster