Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Patterns

Isn't it true that football coaches try to come up with new play patterns in order to stump their opponents? I mean it doesn't take a Allstar to figure out that if you use the same play done over and over, the other team will figure it out and upset your plans.
I believe the same is true for our life, but I'm not quite sure which "patterns" are staples we should keep in the playbook, and which ones are outdated and useless.
When I look back at the life of Kyra, I know that she lived out a different pattern making it difficult for her opponent to penetrate her peace and purpose.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind so that you may discern what God's will is for you, what is good, acceptable, and perfect. --- Romans 12:2

When it comes to decisions for the life of littles, a clear pattern isn't always obvious, nor is God's will the same for each child. Does every little boy have to play on a baseball or soccer team before the age of seven? Does every little boy have to attend public or private school? Does every little boy have to have big muscles to be considered strong and healthy? The questions for what is right for each family are diversely different, and sometimes living out normalcy is an act of conformist rebellion in and of itself. On the other hand, it is only by transforming our thoughts and being open to a new acceptance of perfection that we live out truth despite the criticism of those around us.

It's not always as easy to live in luxury and escape conformity. In the same vein, an impoverished  place doesn't mean you are living out God's will either. I have always longed to move away from mainstream, while still connecting with mainstream America. I'm not sure what this looks like for my boys, but I find myself considering more heavily those decisions that most never question.

Our summer draws to an end, and so does it's seeming simplicity. Decisions placed daily at my feet for the upcoming year for every member of our family. Please pray that we all hold true to God's perfect will for our family...
 Levi update below too...



I love these boys something fierce!


Silas made lunch one day and found his old little lunch box for Levi. He didn't want to let it go!


No he's not on any teams, but this boys is a natural sportsman simply by playing with his daddy!

And this one just wants to be like his brother!

Here's our lefty


Here's our righty
Who doesn't love marshmallow/spaghetti engineering?!

This nine-month old is the sweetest

Most adventurous

Most easy-going

Biggest eater, 

Happiest baby.... Please stop growing Ro Ro!

He's going to be my big-explorer for sure

Celebrating Kyra's Heavenly anniversary with her sweet family. Her life continues to affect ours for the better! 
Thank you for continued prayers!

All three boys got yucky end of summer colds this past week, which for Levi means low appetite and more puking. We were able to check off our pulmonology appointment this week with a stern warning about how his small stature means premature lungs for life. We don't have to go see that doctor in the future unless we have a problem with his lungs, but I was warned Levi will most likely never run a marathon, and he should really put on some pounds to help fight infections. "Thanks doc, cause I don't hear that enough!" Insert hand-in-face icon.
Please pray for a miracle in Levi's weight-gain because we have our nutrition appointment next week, and I would LOVE not to see the concerned faces about my little boy. He's so happy and healthy that it hurts my heart to see a preoccupation with size. I don't mind extra eyes and charts for good-measure, but sometimes I think they miss the big picture of his overall health.

Please also pray for Silas as he starts a new school season at the same pre-school but with new teachers. Pray for his heart and his ability to not bring home too many germs for little Levi. :)

And PRAISE our little Roman is growing so easily and normally now at a healthy nine-month age he is such a sweet gift to our family!

We love you all and praise God for His perfect Pattern!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Flex that muscle




My boys love showing me how "big their muscles are;" on command their arms fly up with bent elbows and tight fists. Yet, I can't help but notice there is zero flexing involved. I myself have never been very good at showing off my biceps until I started picking up twenty-pound babies in their thirty-pound car seats. It takes practice, but it's easy to forget how to flex if you stop using a given muscle.

Whenever things start to feel a little too smooth around our house (i.e. everyone is healthy, everyone is sleeping through the night, their is more space between our doctors appointments, and our therapists have only positive feedback), I begin to feel as if my life is too easy. I yearn for a challenge, not because I'm a glutton for punishment, but rather because I don't want to lose my metaphoric muscles. I know that challenges ebb and flow depending on the season of life, but I'm speaking to the really hard unexpected things that rock your world and force you to flex muscles you never knew existed.

I admire those people who search out ways to strengthen and grow themselves before tragedy forces such stretching. When we openly invite opportunities to inconvenience us, press us, or make us uncomfortable, we draw near to the One who helps us in ways that bring on bulky biceps. Whether it's foster care, elderly parent care, or simply neighborly care, when we give of ourselves and get rid of our personal comfortable agenda, we can maintain the right perspective when the daily "normal hard" hits us. Instead of lamenting about my preschooler's attitude or my infant's blow-out diaper all over my pants, I can laugh at the days to come because my tolerance is greater. My previous circumstantial "work outs" have prepared me to tackle life with the correct mindset. The barometer at which I view soreness infiltrates through the ranks as I see the world's pain.
I know that I am easily enticed to sit back and rest with "deserved" pleasure, but I want to buck that system because I've seen how it weakens my immunity. I want to revel in God's design for surrendering and enjoy more of life's pleasures by enjoying more of my own self-discipline. It is only through Christ's example that I can hope to grow in obedience to His will for my life. I just hope that I don't ever forget how to flex.

My growing boys are continuing to help me flex too...

All three? Could it really be?

Look who grew enough hair for a single blond hawk!?

Look who wore his first pair of footy pajamas (in the dead of summer!)



Their is something exhausting about having your children all under two years apart, but their is something equally as sweet!

~Muscle Buster

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Credible Sources

According to the Society of Professional Journalists, ethical journalism holds responsibility for communicating truth. But I think the reason for all the media scrutiny and lack of ethics involves differentiating views of truth. Some of the distinct caveats of the SPJ's code of ethics include, but are not limited to: 
"Taking responsibility for the accuracy of one's work. Verifying information before releasing it. Using original sources whenever possible. Considering sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserving anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and having information that cannot be obtained elsewhere." http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

Everyone has a motive right? Can we trust anyone or anything anymore? Many people don't know that my original college major was broadcast news journalism. When I read another keynote from the SPJ during my undergrad, I knew that I had found my calling:   "Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear." 

For me, giving a voice to the voiceless wasn't just an admirable quality, but the definition of a reporter. I imagined traveling the world bringing breaking news to my peers while simultaneously making a lasting difference in how rules and regulations were maintained. Once I achieved acceptance into UGA's journalism school, I quickly realized my naivete. My dream job was just that--a dream. The lifestyle and commitment would negate every other goal I held. Thus, a standard journalism degree was more fitting for my diverse dreams. However, I still hold a torch for credibility, accountability, and responsibility as it pertains to media. I've seen two multifarious films recently and LOVED them both because they were true accounts of journalists seeking to enlightened the world on important topics. First, Case for Christ, whose title signifies the story (and if you are still searching for truth, I'd highly recommend you try reading or watching this former atheist's account). Second, The Promise, gave me a whole new appreciation for the recent turmoil in Syria. In the movie, actor, Christian Bale, risks his life to expose the Armenian genocide that occurred during the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the start of WWII (an under-told story that puts my current American lifestyle akin to royalty). 

There are so many fabricated stories and personal agendas today in the mass media that it gives me great peace to know my favorite piece of literature, the "Great Book," as some call it, is neither fiction nor discredited. Without it, I believe I'd camp myself in high pride and eternal skepticism, which is a place of perpetual unrest. 

In terms of credible sources, "friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world (1 John 4:1)." And false teachers or doctors for that matter. We should never be afraid to ask questions, and always be willing to ask ourselves the hardest ones! Only then can move forward in peace. 

Photo credibility: your's truly

Playing together is such fun now... 




My little slugger!

He's mastered the plank and moved on to crawling!

The usual bus-load of kids

Roman is already sneaking a taste of ice cream when no ones looking!

Third kid = ice cream at 8 months old. 

Could take or leave it. Like most things for this chill baby.

We are ready for Halloween over here! Thanks cousins for making us ninja warriors!
 ~Credible Buster
 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Rainy days

There have been a ton of isolated thunderstorms around our city this summer, which I have always loved. I think it reminds me of childhood since I grew up in Florida, and summer storms were a daily occurrence. It is amazing how a darkened sky or rumble in the clouds can set a new tone in the air. Because they come and go so quickly, they are much more enjoyable than the storms life inevitably brings our way.
I have had the distinct pleasure of re-living some of my life's storms. This time two years ago, I finally brought little Levi home from the hospital with all of his adaptions, and I was preparing to mourn the loss of my best friend while simultaneously mourning the loss of one of my babies I never met. Please don't read sarcasm in my voice here. It's been a real pleasure to recall these memories because I've not only been able to use these experiences to help others recently, but I've also understood why I have so much joy in this mundane season.
I ventured back to Northside hospital last week and stopped by my old home on the high risk unit with the intent of encouraging a fellow mommy on bed rest at 22 weeks. As per usual though, I was the one encouraged by visiting this family who is forced into living each moment with gratitude and trust, wanting their baby to stay put and grow as much as possible before entering the world. There was a strange spiritual circle formed while I shared my story in her hospital room. Instead of the Lion King's circle of life version, it was this beautiful circle of hope lived out of 2 Corinthians 1:3-5,
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ."

Moreover, I met another sweet, strong woman who is currently writing a biography of sorts for Kyra's daughters. I was filled with sad joy as I shared all my memories of Kyra, but I was also especially grateful for the task of holding on to every precious moment so that each one is never lost. That's when I found my own literal lost box of keepsakes. Going through my own history made me realize that some things we hold onto for real nostalgic purposes, others for our loved ones to remember us, and still others we just hold for a rainy day...
like mommy's old middle school dance medals...

Mommy's medals or two British Open champions?
 In light of joy-filled rainy days, here is some of our favorite in door activities. Can you guess what they are?

Paper towel rolls or Car race tubes?

Pillowcases or sleeping bag hideaways?

Public transit or train thrill ride?

Borax on pipe cleaners or magic rock crystals?

Underwear hats or scary pirates?
Pulled weeds ora bouquet for mommy?
We had an unexpected trip to the GI doc this week due to Levi's complaint about his g-tube bothering him. It turns out that he's just getting a little bit taller and thinner causing it to stick out a bit more than usual. The doctor was really not happy about the lack of weight gained. Levi is fine, but I was given a lovely reminder that his feeding tube is a safety net that we are far from losing. Insert your sad face here, but then recall what was happening two years ago, and insert your dancing face here...

At least I'm tall enough to push my own cart now!

And I'm getting my three top teeth already for my 8 month bday!

Finding this gift from Kyra with all my other reminders this week, couldn't have been more perfect. She never got to meet our Ro, but I'm glad she bought him a shirt with his Italian name on it!


Please continue to pray for Levi's weight gain this summer, but more than that, pray that we remember his weight isn't all that important. The important things are moments like this:

~Rainy Buster

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

American Strong

Do you remember learning to walk? Probably not. What about learning to chew or talk? Doubtful. Yet riding a bike seems to carry it's own significant simile: "It's like riding a bike," we say, because we all remember that muscular memory of incorporated balance.  As I have said, little Levi's biggest issue is muscle strength, but more than that, it's now understood as "motor-planing" with regard to his speech. Because Levi waited so late in life to eat by mouth, his oral muscles are probably his weakest ones. In fact, I just read one of my old posts from two years ago where I wrote that Levi struggled to handle his own saliva! Wow. What a great reminder of how far we've come! Now I'm praying for speech instead of saliva. Thankfully we not only love our speech and feeding therapist, but she believes with practice (like walking or chewing) once Levi is stronger, his speech will develop normally. When his (seemingly bright) brain tells his mouth muscles to make a certain sound, sometimes he needs a visual or tactile cue in order to remember how to make a certain syllables. However, some words he can simply say without any help, better yet, some flash cards he can actually read letters on his own accord! Levi is making wonderful steps in speech, and even bigger ones with his feet!
At our orthopedic appointment yesterday, we got approved to discontinue his leg braces at night! Now this is a two month trial to see if he feet turn back or his walk wavers outward. Our doctor said she likes for kids to wear their braces until they are four years-old, but Levi is "A-tyical" with regard to his clubbed feet. It wasn't a bone issue, but rather a "packaging issue." Even though his feet look great, she said there's a chance he'll either need to wear them again, or have a new kind of brace on his right leg only. That was the side he couldn't move in utero, so it's always been a little tighter. Either way, we are so thankful Levi is able to sleep with a "big boy blanket" for the next two months!


Please pray that he continues to gain weight and walk correctly for the next two months. Then we'll have big appointments in September with all our docs to see how we move forward this fall!

We had a great fourth of July doing "normal" American Independence things, which is a huge praise on our Homefront from years passed! God bless America, and God bless you all! Here's some good-ole American fun for you to enjoy...
















~4th Busters