Friday, March 30, 2012

Update Friday morning 3/30

I thought life was a roller coaster I see I didn't even know the half.  Our family has learned to adjust to the unexpected and take days as they come.  This is a lesson adults sometimes have a hard time with---imagine the maturing my girls have had to do to accept God's daily will (sometimes hourly!) for both themselves and Dale.

Usually we can tell what kind of day Dale is going to have by how well he is able to get around first thing in the morning.  If he is really shaky and unsteady, that's usually how he'll be the rest of the day.  Conversely (not the tennis shoe!), if he is fairly steady, that generally means he will be okay for the day.  This does not exclude the possibility of falling from having his leg buckle, but it's a fair guideline.

Wednesday morning:  not good.  In fact, really bad.  And it was, indeed, indicative of the pattern for the day.  :-(  Dale woke up and started to get dressed.......and that's when the trouble began.  He was shaking and jerking quite a lot; this, of course, caused innumerable problems for him as he struggled with various buttons and laces.  He almost had a seizure just trying to get his sweat pants off---literally.  We heard him cry out for help.  Amanda, Katie, and I raced into his bedroom to find him fallen over sideways on his bed, limbs jerking uncontrollably.  His eyes were super wide and full of fear; he was aware of the jerking but unable to stop it.  I managed to get him sitting up which helped him pull his brain back from the seizure.  He told me, "Mom, I could see the room getting dark.  I almost had a seizure!"  Dale was crying and scared and really mad at me for not teleporting instantly to his bedroom the second I heard him call out!  Eventually he calmed down and tried again to get dressed for the day.  Again, he found himself in difficulty and had to cry for help.  His bedroom door was left open so we could hear him call out (modesty being the least of our worries), so we were able to come right away.  Dale had no control over the jerking, which kept him from being able to pull on his pants or button his shirt or tie his shoes.  This did not bode well for the rest of the day.  Eventually, either Amanda or I had to remain in the room with him to assist him in dressing and help calm the jerking limbs---something we have not found necessary for a couple of months.  Getting Dale to the bathroom to brush his teeth was a challenge as well.  Every stage of his morning routine took at least twice as long.  At this point, I should have listened to my instincts and kept him home, but I was hoping things would settle down.  (Sometimes, he is shaky first thing but steadier as the day goes on.)  The next obstacle was the stairway.  Dale managed to actually step down only a few times; the rest was spent either "falling" (sitting down halfway through the stepping) or scooting down on his bottom step by step.  We finally made it to the first floor where Dale sat down, much relieved.  Keep in mind that Dale's mental perception is around 90% of a "normal" seventh grader, so he is very much aware of everything going on in his body and brain; he is aware that his older sisters would not normally be allowed into his room while he is changing clothes; he is also aware that this is the way things need to be right now.  Acknowledging these facts does not keep Dale from wishing things were different.  Every day he struggles against his unsteady hand control in order to write words and numbers for school.  He knows, and it's frustrating for him.

By this time, we were hopelessly late for school.  My younger girls were so good, getting ready and waiting quietly until the rest of us could go.  My older girls were such blessings, looking for and doing such as needed to be done, whether it was helping with Dale or assisting the younger girls.  Dale and I slooooowly made our way to the car with Amanda walking behind.  Good thing, too, because she had to catch him a couple of times.  He had almost no steadiness in his limbs, and his legs would buckle without warning.  Usually, if his leg buckles, he has a chance to catch himself---not so that day!  Dale got himself in position to climb into the van; he got one leg up, but when he tried to lift the other leg, both legs gave way.  I helped "push" him into his seat where he was able to scootch around and get settled before buckling his seatbelt.  We arrived at school about twenty minutes late.  Thank God for an understanding secretary who marked the tardies as "excused."  I took Dale in my classroom to start work for the day but soon discovered that his brain was in no condition to work properly.  Dale needed to finish one question on a page in his science PACE, but his hand wouldn't cooperate and allow him to write legibly.  He began to get frustrated again at this inability to write easily, so I had him stop for the moment.  I compared his handwriting from the day before to Wednesday's sample; the difference was obvious and saddening.  Dale simply did not have the control that he usually does.  His letters were misshapen as his hand jerked the pencil repeatedly.  I decided not to push the issue of writing at that point.

Dale did attend one class---history---and seemed to be all right.  I informed the teacher of Dale's rough morning and warned that he would probably fall out of his seat if he tried to pick up even a dropped pencil.  After history class, I tried to walk with Dale back to my classroom, but he fell a couple of times.  Amanda finally stepped up behind us and walked with us, catching Dale as needed---and he needed it.  At this point, I decided that enough was enough.  I was taking Dale home!  I called my husband to get his approval of my decision and then called PT and cancelled the 10:30 appointment.  Spring pictures were on this day, but Dale had already had his taken, so we were free to leave.  Ashley, Dale's next youngest sister, helped carry my things to the van so I would have both hands free to help Dale.  Even so, another sweet teacher came alongside and assisted Dale as well.  It must have taken us ten minutes to get from the classroom to the van.  I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when Dale was, once again, ensconced in the seat.

Once home, getting Dale into the house was not a problem.  I had a feeling that instinct would take over and that Dale would naturally do better going in than coming out.  Praise the Lord!  He walked into the house and over to the table to sit down with just a few pauses.  And, it seemed that, now that he was home and "safe," he could relax and not fear falling or having a seizure.  We spent the rest of the day quietly, letting Dale's body and brain calm down.  He still experienced the jerking throughout the day, but these did not interfere with his ability to sit in the easy chair and watch TV!  Chad chose to keep Dale home from Wednesday night church and not require him to try again that day to go anywhere.  Good idea!  Dale had had enough "exercise" to last awhile!

Thursday was much, much better!  Physically, Dale was back to his regular, just-a-bit shaky self.  He could walk down the stairs fairly well, write when doing school work, and walk with minimal assistance.  Mentally, he was raring to go!  (Are you ready for the proud mother bragging part?)  Dale completed two history lessons, two math lessons, two grammar lessons, and one science lesson, as well as two Hidden Pictures papers (just for fun) and a session playing computer solitaire after lunch!!!  Amazing, right?  I kept teaching, mixing things up so as not to tax his brain, and he kept listening and learning.  YES!!!  What an indisputable sign of God's miracle!  Dale does well learning for longer periods of time if we don't spend three straight hours on one subject.  (Really, who would?)  We did some math, then some history, then grammar, followed by lunch; then we covered more math, more history, more grammar, a couple of Hidden Pictures, and ended with science.  Altogether, it was a great school day!

I was talking to God this morning yet again about my personal desires and wishes for Dale.  I always make clear to God (and the devil who might just be listening too) that I desire His will above all else and accept whatever He decides is best......then I hasten to tell Him that, if He wants to heal Dale straight out, that would be great too!  God knows my heart; He knows I trust Him implicitly and will follow Him regardless of circumstances or wishes granted.  (I'm making God sound like a fairy godparent!)  I mean, prayers answered.  He blesses us so much daily that asking for any more seems ungrateful, at the least.  Yet He tells us repeatedly in the Bible to ask for what we want.  Sometimes the answer is "Yes"; sometimes the answer has to be "No."  Sometimes God makes us ask over and over and over again, not because He is being spiteful, but because He wants to see just how much we really want our petition answered.  He is, above all, loving and kind---and, most definitely, in the business of answering prayers.  So I continue to ask for Dale's full healing and trust Him with each day as it comes.  I have plenty of doubts and fears; there are many times that I complain about things and even question why He allowed certain events to happen.  He patiently listens and almost always brings to mind a Scripture that answers my questions.  I don't fear His wrath for my weaknesses; I know I can bring Him all my problems and failures as well as my successes.  He's a big God; He can handle it.  I am so blessed to call Him Abba......Father.

II Corinthians 13: 14  "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.  Amen."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Update Tuesday morning 3/27

Praise the Lord for good days!  They're wonderful on their own merit, to be sure, but they also help keep us going on not-so-good days.  Can you imagine a life full of bad days?  Sometimes we may feel like nothing good ever happens, and it's possible to have several bad days in a row, but, for the most part, God's blessings are evident each day.......if we look.  If, however, we choose to focus on the negative events that will happen each day, we take our eyes off God, His plan, and His promises.  We see the raging wind and waves like Peter and forget that our God is able to make us walk on water---something no human has ever done before or since!  Hey, I just figured out Dale's problem......he didn't have enough water-walking faith!!!  (Joke, people!)  When I told Dale this, he just laughed!

Yesterday Dale initiated something he has not done on his own before.  While walking downstairs in the morning, he purposely used his left leg to step down some steps.  When I pointed this out, he said, "I know; I did it on purpose."  Usually he just uses his right leg to step down each time since the right leg is the stronger, so using his left leg was a real act of faith.  I told the PT therapist about this, and she had him use his left leg more as he practiced walking down the big flight of stairs.  Dale did pretty well on the stairs.  Once we got back inside the PT gym, she had him use the shallow steps to practice stepping up foot over foot (like normal).  He got about half of them without mishap, and the other half he stutter-stepped.  Once at the top of the small flight of practice stairs, Dale walked down the other side; then, on her cue, he attempted to jump off the last step to the floor.  He actually did pretty good!  She was supporting him from behind and I had hold of his hands, and he felt confident enough to jump.  His landing was shaky; I told him gymnasts have to deal with that all the time!  Then, when given the option, he chose to go foot-over-foot stepping up the stairs again.  My brave boy!  It was obvious by the end that he was tired and ready to be done.  He had definitely worked hard.

At school yesterday, Dale worked on his science PACE and surprised me with how much he got done.  We reviewed first, and, not having looked at the material in over a week, I was unsure how much Dale would remember.  HE DID GREAT!  Then, I set him to reading half a page and answering questions.  Next came the check-up test over what he'd learned so far.  I expected Dale to take a long time and need quite a bit of help.  He asked me two questions and then filled in all but six questions before the bell rang for the next period.  WOW!!!  Six questions left out of twenty-five!  Of course, he was able to finish the check-up after his next class.  When I checked his work this morning, I had to mark only three wrong.  Isn't that amazing? I am confident that Dale will continue to do well with his science PACEs; I hold the same expectations for history, spelling, and language.  Math is the bugaboo, I'm afraid.  We're not far enough into the workbook to detemine if Dale will have difficulty learning new material, but it's clear so far that his ability to accurately work a problem is impaired somewhat.  He forgets how to set up a multiplication problem; he forgets to divide correctly; he works the problems more slowly than he used to.  When mistakes are pointed out to him, he realizes what he has done wrong and is able to correct the mistake, but this does not keep him from making new mistakes.  I'm not saying this will always be a problem for Dale, but right now he does face these difficulties.

My husband suggested Dale go to bed early last night (and possibly from now on) because of his lengthened school day.  He's right; Dale will use his brain more which will be physically exhausting, and simply being required to be alert and in school instead of going home to relax after a half-day will be more tiring.  So, against Dale's wishes and amid much groaning, Dale went to bed at 8:00 last night.  The younger girls went to bed at 9:00; Chad got home from work around 9:30; I went to bed (thankfully) about 10:15.  I'm not even sure when the older girls got to sleep, but, since it was a school night, I'm sure it was not too late.  Upon awakening this morning, I discovered to my consterntation that, when I go to bed early, things don't happen in the household as they should.  The dog left not one, not two, but three puddles for unwary feet to step in.  Apparently she was not let out before bed last night.  Blankets were left unfolded; dishes were scattered randomly about the downstairs; the lamp was never turned off; and someone left a bowl of rice on the counter all night.  On the one hand, it's good to feel needed.  On the other hand, somewhere I have failed to properly train someone in the finer points of running the household if I am unavailable!  Ah, well---a mother's work is never done.  :-)

I think I'll finish the way I started:  Praise the Lord for good days!

Matthew 6: 19 - 21  "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Update Saturday morning 3/24

Just a quick couple of notes:

The young man who injured his arm during a basketball game last year is doing well.  He still attends PT to increase muscle strength and range of movement in his arm.  I'm not sure how long he will continue to need PT.  When I was talking to him recently, he showed me that he will never be able to fully extend his arm to a straight position.  He can move his arm, pulling it in to his body and extending it almost completely out again and, I imagine, rotating it well.  Otherwise, he is in good health, although he probably has dealt with/will continue to deal with the frustration of not being able to move his arm the way he used to.  I'm sure he and his family appreciate your prayers for him.

Katie's headaches have become manageable.  She is able to handle them a bit better, taking medicine as needed and getting more rest.  These headaches do not occur constantly, just often enough to be a pain.......pardon the pun!  Her back aches at times as well, leading us to believe she is simply entering the more womanly part of her life.  Thank you for your concern.

Dear Barbara Williams Melton, I am not ignoring you, though I can see why that might appear to be the case!  I left you a reply a couple of weeks ago, but I think you may have missed it due to my delayed reply time.  If you already have my phone number, I'll tell you the best time to reach me is at home in the evenings.  If you do not have my number, I'll try to find a way to get it to you without posting it here on the blog for the world to obtain!!!  Either way, I would love to talk to you.

A quick prayer request:  without divulging too many details, Dale's PT is facing some tough medical decisions concerning her son.  He is just a boy, full of life and sweet, according to her, and she and her husband are trying not to worry while they wait for the doctor's assessment.  Please pray that God will do exactly what is best for this family who have, by proxy, become important to us because she (the mom) is Dale's PT and has done so much for him.  I'll give you updates if I can.

Lastly, if someone asks a question or voices an opinion in a comment and I don't reply to it immediately---or ever---please don't feel slighted.  I am terrible about returning phone calls, replying to letters, or even remembering someone asked me a question to begin with!  (It took me two weeks to remember to write The Columbian and ask for a copy of the paper in which they covered the Real Heroes Breakfast.  See?)  So, it's not that your questions or comments are unimportant to me or my family's situation, it's more that I'm just scatter-brained!!!  I would claim blonde roots, but those disappeared long ago.  ;-)

I cannot say enough how much everyone's prayers and support have meant to our family.  There are times when I feel all alone and times when I know my wonderful husband just gets overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.  It is at these times that our loving Heavenly Father brings to mind something one of you has said in a comment or something recently preached about at church.  We need not feel alone; we know our God is with us always, and we feel your prayers and love encouraging us too.  God bless you caring people for continuing to care about our son and all of us.

Philippians 1:3  "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Update Friday morning 3/23

I am writing this update around 5:00 Friday morning due to lack of sleep caused by headache caused by stress caused by circumstances caused by God's intervening in our daily lives.  What a convoluted way of giving God the credit for bringing us closer to Him!  I have prayed regularly for years that God would use my family for His glory, that He would use my children and myself and Chad in His service, that He would do whatever He thought best for our future in order to draw us closer to Himself.  Then, when He does just that, I pray for Him to fix the problem so that we will have worry-free, stress-free lives!  Somewhere, I got something mixed up........!

I came to this realization sometime around 4:30 this morning, having prayed once again for God's healing for Dale.  I used the same words I have prayed before, asking God to heal Dale once and for all, if that be His will; on the heels of that request, I then reiterated my desire for God to get the most glory through this trial, even if that means that Dale has to continue to struggle with daily tasks and shakiness and even never fully recuperate from his accident in order to live a normal life.  I was struck once again with the knowledge that I want Dale to be healthy and whole for his sake---so he can be a regular teenager with goals and dreams and abilities---but also for my sake so that I don't have to worry about him any more and so that I will not be inconvenienced by the need to take extra care of him.  That sounds incredibly selfish, doesn't it?  I admit, I want my life to return to its normal, self-centered, "I want God to use me but not at my inconvenience" state of being.  I pray and pray---just words, I suppose---that God will use my family and then gripe and moan when He does.  In kind words, I did not know what I was asking for.  In reality, I wanted the feeling of being useful to Him without the necessary trial by fire.  At some point, I will arrive at that much-coveted plateau of my walk with God where I thank Him incessantly for simply allowing me to be part of His plan, regardless of the personal cost.  After all, Jesus paid the ultimate price for me; the least I can do is give Him my all in return.  Realistically speaking, though, I am nowhere near that level of willingness or sincere devotion.  I love my Lord and have always wanted Him to use me; I simply had no idea that this was how He intended to do that.  Have you ever heard a preacher say that God has to break you before He can truly use you?  I always thought that I could convince God to use me without going through any hardships, as if I in any way deserved to skip the trials and still reap the benefits of service to Him by my "much speaking."  When I think of those who have given God free reign in their lives and have willingly served Him despite the daily cost---the Apostle Paul, J. Hudson Taylor, Dr. Tom Williams, etc., I am humbled and ashamed to think that I consider myself better than they.  I think God should grant me His protection against all tribulation just because I ask Him with a (semi)sincere heart, yet they gave all for Him.  Frankly, I am a worm.  I deserve hell, not just for my sins before the cross but after it as well.  There are times when I am truly thankful for God's obvious hand in Dale's life, starting with the accident and moving forward.  But most of the time, I just wish it would all go away and revert back to normal.  In the end, though, my prayer remains the same:  "Lord, I want You to use me and my family.  I know You could heal Dale instantly today, right now.  But, if You will get the greater glory by his continued struggle, then let him struggle.  If we will be closer to You by our daily necessitated dependence on You for strength, then please don't heal him yet.  If You can use us to greater purpose through allowing Dale to take years to overcome obstacles brought on by his traumatic brain injury, so be it.  We truly want Your will to be done."

Have you noticed something throughout my ramblings?  I have never wavered from the belief that God is using us through this.  I have never doubted that this hardship is from God and for a purpose.  Please, don't misunderstand me---I am not patting myself on the back or tooting my own horn.  I simply fully believe that God has a reason for this trial; this is all part of His divine design.  What a welcome comfort to realize that I trust Him fully even as I beg for relief from the burden.  I would not dare to place myself in the same class as Job with his trials or Paul with his stonings and eventual martyrdom, but I do hold them up as inspiration to myself to keep going when it seems impossible to take one more step.  God gives us so many blessings daily that are easy to overlook because they are not the "big" answer to my prayers:  Dale's full healing.  Yet I know He loves me and my family and knows exactly what we need when we need it, whether it be sighting a rainbow one day or Dale improving a small step another day.  He is a most loving Father and gracious, compassionate to the end.  He will always be so, even when I throw a temper tantrum about my inconveniences.  Isn't He wonderful?

Psalm 104: 31, 33, 34  "The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever:  the LORD shall rejoice in His works.  I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live:  I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.  My meditation of Him shall be sweet:  I will be glad in the LORD."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Update Sunday afternoon 3/18

A belated Happy St. Patrick's Day to all!  I know it's a Catholic holiday, but anymore it's morphed into just a fun day to wear green in the hopes of not getting pinched.  And to get FREE FRIES with green ketchup at Burger King!!!  Did they do that everywhere or just around here?  I'm telling you......eating anything green that should be red usually means it has spoiled, but actually the ketchup was pretty good.  And the fries were, of course, delicious.  Wait a minute---why would they serve something French on an Irish holiday?  I'm so confused........

We've had a regular, school-centered, after-school hours filled, go to church whenever the doors are open, normal kind of week.  Dale had PT again on Wednesday and did great.  We had a "day off" on Thursday.......meaning no therapy scheduled.  Then, on Friday morning, we had SP for an hour as usual.  Poor Dale!  He means so well, but he can't help his brain getting tired after about 40 minutes.  The therapist is gently helping Dale work through this weariness, teaching him tricks like forming pictures in his head to remember certain pieces of information in order for him to be able to learn and retain material.  Dale realizes this weakness and apologizes for it nearly non-stop when it happens.  We, of course, assure him it's okay and encourage him to keep trying.  He does his best, but he's very glad when the hour is up and he can rest his brain.  It's interesting to note that changing thinking activities often helps Dale stay focused.  We are getting an unusual look into how the brain works by working with our son and his memory and thinking deficits.  This gives me better compassion for other children (students) who have learning difficulties and the struggle they go through to try for good grades.

The kids pushed all week to do well in school in preparation for the upcoming Spring Break.  As a result, Saturday was spent rather lazily for me and the younger three kids.  Unfortunately, Saturday ended on a sour note.  Dale threw up.  About 9:15 he said, "Mom, just to let you know, I don't feel well."  I had him remove the blanket he was snuggled under and drink a bit of cold water.  When he reported that he felt better, I gave him his evening meds and watched as he swallowed them with more water.  Then, I followed him up the stairs to get ready for bed.  He went through his usual bedtime routine of using the bathroom and brushing his teeth.  I was in my bedroom down the hall when I heard him gag.  I guess we pushed things too far when he already didn't feel well.  He proceeded to lose the contents of his stomach in the bathroom sink, clogging it.  I'm pretty sure he threw up his meds too, but there was nothing I could do about that.  When he was done, I gave him a drink to rinse his mouth and put him to bed, making sure there was an empty trash can nearby, just in case.  He slept the night through just fine and woke up feeling better.

Sunday morning started off with a bang.  Chad and I got Dale up to get ready for church.  I told Dale to sit on the edge of his bed for a minute and get his bearings while I tended to Emily.  I guess he got tired of just sitting and tried to lean over and pick up a joke book from under the bed.  You guessed it.....he lost his balance.  Dale fell off the bed and smacked his forehead into his dresser, leaving a bright red spot above his right eyebrow.  No lump, though, so we can be thankful for that.  As a result, we decided to take things slower this morning.  Chad took the girls on to Sunday school, and Dale and I got ready and made it to the 11:00 service.  Our pastor preached about wanting a double portion of the Lord in our daily life, like Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit.  I was thankful for this good, solid, Bible preaching because so often I am content with my level of Christianity---which means my flesh is winning.  I need this thrice-weekly reminder to submit to the Holy Spirit's leading and allow God to rule my thoughts, desires, and actions.

Well, once again, our weather is being weird.  Today alone there has been snow, rain, snow/rain mix, hail/snow mix, and bright sunshine.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?  Maybe it will rain Skittles!

Jeremiah 33: 3  "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Update Tuesday morning 3/13

We woke up to a pleasant and unexpected sight today.......snow!  Sometime during the night, it had snowed, and a light dusting covered the ground.  There was even a gentle snow still falling.  Everything looks so pretty in the snow, doesn't it?  However, the light snow was not enough to cause a late start for school, so I had to get the kids up at the usual time.  Then, while we were getting ready for school, it began to snow harder with bigger flakes.  I kept calling the school hotline to see if there were any changes to the school schedule, but, alas, there were none.  We left a few minutes early to drive carefully to school; the roads were not bad, but the driveway up the hill to school was a bit tricky.  I told the kids to expect school to be half empty because some people do not like driving in the snow.  Plus, some families live farther away and would have trouble getting to school, and some driveways (steep ones) do not allow cars to get out in inclement weather.  (Does anyone have any idea what "inclement" means?  We hear it all the time when there is snow outside, but I honestly have no idea of its true meaning!  I've always assumed it just meant "bad" weather---but that could be applied to hurricanes and tornadoes, too.  I need to consult my dictionary for this one.)  Thank the Lord, the parking lot at school wasn't too slick for Dale (or the rest of us) to walk into the building.  And, once inside, we have no need to leave again until lunchtime.  So we're content.......for now.

Dale has no therapy today, so he will attend school for his usual half-day, then go home for lunch.  As I mentioned before, beginning Monday, March 26th, Dale will attend school for the full day.  I was able to speak to his teachers, informing them of the new schedule, letting them know which classes Dale will attend and which hours he will be studying in my classroom, and asking for Dale's tests and quizzes so that I may administer them as needed.  Each teacher was willing and helpful, obviously glad for Dale' sake that he will be able to catch up on the subject matter he has missed.  No one exhibited even the slightest disagreement with this plan;  I didn't expect them to, considering the God-honoring Christians I know them to be, but it relieves my heart to know that they are as sincerely interested in seeing Dale succeed whoever does the educating as I am.  I am already putting into practice with Dale the idea of certain hours being dedicated to certain subjects, similar to what he would be experiencing in a regular school day.  I've been talking with God frequently about my desires for Dale's education, both now and in the future, and remembering to ask for His will to be done as opposed to what I want.  I do not want to jump ahead of God's timetable, nor do I want to push for more than what God desires us to have, but I truly feel that Dale will do well catching up in his 7th grade work and, in most subjects, be ready for 8th grade in the fall.  I can't wait to see!

My mother-in-law gave us a CD recently from a group that came to their church (I think).  Many of the songs' messages are beautiful and sincere, but there is one that has helped me put God's plans in better perspective.  Its chorus states why God allows certain things to happen to certain people:  "For the glory of the Lord, the honor of the King, the Maker of the universe, Creator of everything.  He said this will pass; it's not here to stay.  He'll handle it in His time, His way.......for the glory of the Lord."  I so want God to "fix" Dale right now; I want Dale to wake up tomorrow morning and be back to normal, his old self.  I think it's fairly obvious that that's not what God has in mind.  He sees the whole picture and knows what we need right now.  If He gave us everything now and life was perfect, what could we look forward to in Heaven?  "He'll handle it in His time, His way.......for the glory of the Lord."  Thank You, my Father, for telling us You can handle anything---and for having patience with us as we struggle to wait on You for all things.  You are our mighty God.

I did call the neurologist's office yesterday and updated the nurse on Dale's latest seizure, asking her to ask the doctor if he wanted Dale's meds increased.  She called later that afternoon and said that yes, indeed, Dale should start taking 3 1/2 pills twice a day, and that, after he had been on that dosage level for one week, he should go to a lab to have his blood drawn so that the doctor can see if his body is handling the medication properly or if the dosage needs to be increased further.  The neurologist doesn't think Dale should still be having seizures with the medication; since Dale had one Sunday, the doctor wants to up the dosage to see if that works better to prevent further seizures.  We'll see, won't we?  :-)

Next week, we meet with the neuro-psych doctor to discuss the results of the testing Dale did last month.  I'm assuming at that time we will get a better idea of Dale's limitations (if any), expected improvements, and suggested courses of action to help Dale continue to develop and mature toward independence some day.  Sometimes I have a hard time thinking beyond tomorrow, and this doctor is talking about being able to hold a job and live on his own!!!  It just goes to show---nothing is impossible with God!

II Corinthians 4: 15 - 18  "For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;  While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen:  for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Update Sunday morning 3/11

Good morning!  To those of you efficient souls who set your clocks forward last night, congratulations on your ability to think ahead.  To those who forgot that today was "Time Change Sunday," welcome to the future!  ;-)  I cheated; I set my alarm on my cell phone, so I got up at the right (one hour ahead) time but didn't actually change any clocks until this morning.

The Real Heroes Breakfast Friday morning was a wonderful success.  I am so glad we got to go and be a part of that impressive event.  Our trip began on Thursday afternoon about 4:00 when we actually walked out the front door.  Chad decided to take the scenic route, driving through countryside and viewing God's beautiful creation before officially joining the freeway down toward Portland.  Of course, we exited I-5 shortly before the Oregon border and drove into downtown Vancouver.  It seems to be laid out much like Washington, D.C., with its many confusing one-way streets and quaint turnabouts that will have a less experienced driver than my husband going literally in circles.  I was very thankful that he was not only along for the trip but doing all the driving as I get turned around outside my neighborhood!  I am what some would call "directionally challenged."  Trust me on this one.......I have wound up driving aimlessly, crying all the while, just trying to get home from a doctor's appointment.  If I ever have to take a detour, I immediately begin gripping the wheel, knowing that my day just got a lot worse!!!  We were able to find our hotel---the Vancouver Hilton!---fairly easily and parked in front in order to check in.  The Red Cross paid for our room for the night (THANK YOU!) and even asked the hotel to waive the $13.00 parking garage fee for us.  You know how, after a long trip, your legs are stiff and you find it hard to walk at first?  Multiply that for Dale.  Chad went on ahead to the front desk while Dale and I took our sweet time getting out of the car and across the foyer to the elevators.  Then, upon arriving at the fifth floor, we discovered that our room was down one hall, around the corner, and halfway down the next hall.  Oh, well, walking is good exercise, right?!  Again, Chad went on ahead with the stuff, and Dale and I made slow progress until we finally arrived at our door.  I gave Dale the key card and waited through the three or four shaky attempts to insert the card in the slot before he was able to get it right, causing the green light to glow.  We discovered upon entering that the Hilton has normal hotel rooms just like everywhere else.  Boy, was I disappointed!  Here I was imagining some grand set of rooms with a sitting room, separate bedrooms, and those fluffy white robes hanging on the back of the bathroom door.  I'm sure that the more expensive suites (for rich people!) are large and airy and draped in gold and gilt, but our room simply had two full beds, two chairs, a TV on the dresser, and a bathroom.  The only addition to this expected comfort was the discovery of a full-length ironing board and iron in the closet.  I laughingly told my daughters later, "There weren't even chocolates on the pillow!"  I do not want anyone to think I am not thankful for the Red Cross' generosity in allowing us to stay there Thursday night in order to attend the breakfast the next morning.  I had simply, once again, allowed my imagination to exceed my common sense!  We were pleased to discover that the beds were nice and soft and comfortable and that there were plenty of pillows---something that seems to be lacking in our house.  Once we figured out the controls on the remote, we found something to watch on TV.  Of course, Dale wanted to watch cartoons all night, but Chad and I quickly vetoed that.  We had brought along some snacks like beef jerky and chips and wound up snacking for our dinner.  We attempted to get to bed early because we knew we had an early morning (we were supposed to arrive at the breakfast at 6:40 a.m.), but somehow we didn't turn out the lights until after 10:15 p.m.

Friday morning began with a bit of a rush.  My husband had asked me to set my cell phone alarm for a reasonable hour, knowing he could get ready in half an hour.  What he didn't realize was that was not enough time for Dale and I to get ready.  You'd think after eighteen years of marriage.........Anyway, things were a bit rushed.  We managed to be presentable by 6:50 a.m. but then still had the long walk down the halls, to the elevators, across the lobby, around the corner to the ballroom, and across the huge room to our table at the front.  Soooo, we arrived just after 7:00 a.m. which turned out to be okay as lots of people were still arriving and chatting and moving about.  Dale did his best to walk carefully but had to stop frequently and steady himself.  When we found our table, we took our seats thankfully.  The friendly folks already seated introduced themselves, and we soon found ourselves part of a large gathering of Waste Connections personnel.  Their boss, Derek, was the man who would be presenting the Water Rescue Award; even though the rescuers themselves couldn't be there, they would be honored publicly for their brave efforts.

First, the breakfast:  a scoop of scrambled eggs, a scoop of "breakfast potatoes," three strips of peppered bacon (yum!), and an interesting-looking item---it resembled a tiny wooden spoon, but it was edible (like a fortune cookie) and had a dollop of blueberry crisp on it.  The ten of us at the table kind of looked at it for a while, unsure if it was simply garnish or what.  Finally, Derek decided to try it.  Once he told us it was edible---and delicious---we all ate ours.  It turned out to be the best-tasting thing on the plate.  There was coffee and orange juice and water to drink.  There was also a bread basket with breakfast breads in it, but somebody forgot to pass it around, so we only discovered it after the event was over!  Dale and I enjoyed some, anyway!

After breakfast, the emcees mounted the platform and began the presentations.  There were six or seven different categories of heroes being honored:  animal rescue, education, professional, workplace, water rescue, etc.  Each award was presented by a different person from a different sponsoring company and was prefaced by a video presentation about that individual and why they had been chosen to receive that honor.  Each story was touching and truly showed why these people had been nominated to receive the Hero Award.  The lady sitting next to me and I were very grateful that there were boxes of tissues on each table; we certainly needed them after some of the videos!  If you go online to Southwest Washington Red Cross and click on Heroes Breakfast, you should be able to see part of this year's event.  We were able to meet some of the heroes after the breakfast and shake their hands.  What an honor to shake the hand of a true hero, and these people certainly are.  After each video aired, there would be a round of applause for that person's efforts, and then the presenter would call them to the platform to receive their medal and plaque.  (The medal is in the shape of a red cross with their names and the event etched on the front.  The plaques are a beautiful clear acrylic with a golden base; their names, the event, and the sponsoring presenters are etched on these.  Very nice and very professional.)  We sat through each presentation and marveled at the heroic efforts of everyday citizens who simply stepped up when they were needed and did what they could.

Dale's rescue video was last.  Derek mounted the stage and said a few words, then turned to the video to tell the story.  Suzanne Arnits had told me that they would not need any additional interview footage because of all the national media coverage of Dale's drowning and miraculous recovery.  A man named Dan had called me to have Dale speak a few words of thanks to be included in the video.  To our shock, Dan had also managed to get ahold of the 911 call that had been placed when Dale was swept out to sea.  Imagine, if you can, the near cardiac arrest I had when I heard the actual emergency call about my son's drowning.  The man on the phone stated:  "Oh, no, they've been knocked off the board.  The girl's climbed back on, but the boy is being swept back out.  I can't see the boy anymore.  (yelling) Nobody go back in there!  Everybody get out of there!"  I was crying; the lady beside me was crying; I didn't even try to look at anyone else.  The video went on to cover Good Morning America's newscast about Dale's hospital rehab.  When the video ended and the applause died down, Derek informed everyone that the two men being honored, Doug Knutsen and Eddie Mendez, could not be present due to their training schedule but that Dale Ostrander and his parents were there to accept the awards on their behalf.  He asked Chad to accompany Dale to the foot of the platform..........and the entire assembly got to their feet, clapping.  They remained standing and offering their applause during the entire time Chad and Dale slowly walked the twenty feet the platform, accepted the medals draped around their necks, and walked back to our table.  Only then did the crowd seat themselves.  What an incredible honor; words cannot express how deeply our hearts were touched by their display.  Photographers were on hand to cover the event and pictures were being snapped.  After the breakfast was officially over, a reporter came up to Chad and interviewed him for the next day's paper.  We are hoping to get a copy of that paper for our collection.  If you go online to The Columbian, you can view the front page of Saturday's edition; there is a nice picture of Chad and Dale walking back to the table.  Oh, the emotions rolling throughout that ballroom!  The emcees took the podium again, urging people to take out their checkbooks and fill out the donation cards.  I sincerely hope the Red Cross garners a great amount of support due to this event.  They play such a vital role in our communities.  We were able to wait around after the breakfast for a few minutes, during which many people came to our table to shake Dale's hand and tell us they have been praying for us.  Dale got his picture taken with one of the honorees, a young man who helped save his friend's life after he fell during their hiking trip.  Another lady asked us if she could take our picture as a family.  Such kindness and warm thoughts from folks we don't know and will probably never see again!

Chad, Dale, and I drove home Friday morning and arrived at our house around noon.  This gave each of us a chance to relax, eat lunch, and even take a nap before life took over again.  I had to pick the girls up after school, and Chad needed to be at work by 5:00.  Saturday was a lazy day for us.  Good thing, too, since Sunday started out kind of rough.

The reason I am writing this now (around noon Sunday) is because, while trying to walk down the stairs to go to Sunday school, Dale had a seizure.  It had been three weeks and five days since his last one, and we were hoping not to see any more.  This seizure only lasted about 20 seconds but displayed all the same symptoms:  arms stiffening, rapid breathing, eyes blinking, inability to talk.  Dale was conscious to entire time and could hear us talk to him.  When it was done, Chad held him close and Dale began crying.  Since Dale was sitting on the step the whole seizure, Chad opted to carry him downstairs to the couch to recuperate.  Within a few minutes, Dale began to regain his movement, moving his head first, then his arms and legs.  Chad took the girls to church, and I stayed home with Dale so he could rest.  He balked at first at the idea of a nap, so I had him sit up and drink some water with his meds.  Once I was satisfied they were all the way down, I had Dale lie down again and covered him with a blanket.  It took him about 20 minutes to settle into a nap, but then he slept for about an hour.  He's awake now and eating breakfast.  Things should be back to normal now; Dale will still be shaky and need assistance walking.  I'll call the neurologist tomorrow to see if he wants to up Dale's dosage again or just schedule a follow-up appointment.  Praise the Lord for all things, seizures included!

John 1: 1  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Update Thursday morning 3/8

We are fairly excited about the upcoming  Red Cross Heroes Breakfast tomorrow morning.  I'm looking forward to the event while at the same time trying not to stress out over it.......something I do with frequency and skill!  I've made myself a list of things to take care of before we leave this afternoon and am enjoying striking through each task upon completion.  The only problem is......I keep adding new tasks to the list!  Eventually, my husband will have to throw me in the car in order to actually depart!!!

I'm so thankful for the dear church friends who have been so willing and helpful in getting my girls to/from school when I am unable to take them myself.  Sometimes Dale has appointments that run into the after-school hours or, in this case, we will be gone Friday, and these sweet ladies go out of their ways to fetch my girls.  I only hope I can be of service to them or others in turn.  The original "pay it forward" concept has been written in God's Word for centuries:  "Do unto others."  Funny how the world likes to take God's ideas and try to pass them off as their own.  If only we would realize just how much effort God put into setting this world running to perfection before sin began corrupting our very planet, not to mention ourselves.  Once again, His ways are perfect and right; we would do well to copy them.

Yesterday morning, I sat down with our school principal to discuss Dale's academic future and my own "in limbo" position as well.  I left that meeting feeling great about the upcoming months!  Bro. Minge assured me that Dale would not be left behind by his class (unless we find that necessary) but that we would all work towards bringing him up to speed in every subject.  Beginning the week after our Spring Break (March 19 - 23), Dale will attend school for the full day.  I am very excited about that, though Dale may not be!  Bro. Minge and I went through Dale's class schedule and decided to set some aside that are not as needed for him to advance (like literature---I know it's important but not as much as math) and allow Dale to spend more time in my classroom with me as his official tutor.  I received permission to teach Dale starting at the beginning of the books and administer quizzes and tests as we reach them.  I've already begun this process with math, but I will now add science, history, and English to our schedule.  Plus, I intend to change the format of our learning time together, making sure we learn science during Dale's regularly scheduled science period, language during the normal English period, etc.  Dale will be able to work at his own pace, taking extra time with math if he needs to, while still working steadily toward the goal of learning all his 7th grade materials---and retaining them.  We will work through the summer as well, so as not to lose the built-up momentum of learning we hope to achieve.  I fully believe Dale will be able to start some 8th grade subjects with his class come September, such as English, history, spelling, etc.  He may (or may not!) be behind still in math and science, depending on at what pace he progresses through his 7th grade books.  All in all, I am thrilled to have a definite plan in place for Dale's continued education......and I'm so thankful for the care and wisdom that our principal and school have for Dale and our family.  It's true that we are part of a bigger family than just the seven of us:  our church.  What blessings they have been in numerous ways even before Dale's accident but most definitely after!  They are strengthening our hearts here while laying up treasures in Heaven.

To return to the original subject, Dale seems to be almost fully recovered mentally from his drowning, with only some side effects such as difficulty focusing, being easily distracted, difficulty retaining recently learned information, etc.  SP has been working with him steadily to improve his ability to focus, to work through distractions, and to retain short-term memory.  I truly think he will do fine in school once he is fully caught up.  This may take longer than just this fourth quarter and summer school, perhaps even throughout his 8th grade year, but I think Dale will be fully caught up by the beginning of his 9th grade year.  Just in time, too, as that is when he starts accruing real credits needed to graduate high school.  Throughout his 7th and 8th grade years, Dale will simply be learning new material and building the foundations needed to understand the subjects taught in high school.  So, as Bro. Minge wryly put it, "This is the perfect time for Dale to have had his accident!"  He can make up the schooling missed without endangering his high school diploma.  Something else for which to be thankful!

Since Dale will still be attending PT and SP throughout the rest of this school year, all summer long, and most likely through next school year, I will not be available to teach full-time next year.  However, one of my goals is to help Dale study and learn independently (on his own) in some subjects like history, science, spelling.  That will free me to step out of the classroom and help in other areas like our Learning Center, perhaps.  That is the classroom where students go for study hall and to work on their PACEs

I'll let you all know how the Heroes Breakfast went and how well Dale did when I post again.  No matter what happens, God is good, and we have much to praise Him for!

Revelation 22: 3 - 5  "And there shall be no more curse:  but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him:  And they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads.  And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light:  and they shall reign for ever and ever." 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Update Monday morning 3/5

Good morning!  Long time no write, it seems.  ;-)  I was surprised to realize that I only blogged once last week, as if things only happen in our family once a week.  Dale was set to attend classes as normal on Thursday, but the weather got in the way.  To our surprise Wednesday evening, it began to snow (just flurries), but these throughout the night were enough to bring about a 2-hour late start Thursday morning.  What fun for the kids to sleep in extra during the week!  Since school did not officially start until 10:25 a.m., and Dale had to leave at 12:20 p.m., I just kept him in my classroom to work on stuff for those two hours rather than make him try to shuffle between classes that lasted only thirty minutes each (2-hour late start schedule).  We went home for a few hours, then went to SP at 3:00.  I was so glad to have been able to reschedule that appointment and leave Friday completely open, since we already had a day off scheduled.  We did a little bit of cleaning before just spending family time together.

Chad's newest (part-time) job began Friday afternoon.  He will have a good schedule, I think, as his new boss made clear that she understood that Chad's daytime job is his primary income and concern and made sure he started work at 5:00 p.m. and got off by 10:00 p.m.  She wants to ensure he gets some good sleep before his daytime job begins.  Praise the Lord!  Chad came home from his first full night's work Saturday tired but doing fine.  He said he'll have to get used to the routine of flipping burgers and making sandwiches, but I know he's thankful to have some extra money each week.  One funny note:  Chad had to buy some non-slip shoes for this job.  When he tried to put them on Friday, he discovered that there were two left shoes in the box!  He'll have to return them and get one shoe for each foot before he can wear them!!!

Our pastor preached a convicting sermon last night on "How to Get a Divorce."  He was, of course, being sarcastic but made several good points during the message.  He showed us from the Bible how to prevent strife in our homes and broken marriages by telling us what to do to "if we want a divorce."  His main points were things like:  (1) Practice your faults.  (2) Bring sin into your home.  (3) Use the word "divorce" frequently.  (4) Keep your old "youthful lusts."  There were more, but these were the ones that spoke to me.  I'm so thankful for a pastor who preaches straight from God's Word what we need to hear, not what we want to hear.  I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit Who convicts me of sin in my life.  And I'm thankful that I still hear the Spirit's voice, that my heart has not grown hard over the many years I have been saved.  As Preacher said yesterday morning, none of us has "arrived."  We are all still growing as Christians and need to be constantly on guard against complacency and sin.  Satan knows he will not get most of us to turn away from God completely, so he tries to make us satisfied with our present stage in our Christian walk.  He tries to make us think sin is not so bad, thereby distancing us from God and His Spirit by our very thoughts and actions.  Please, Lord, make my heart ever tender to Your instruction and prodding.

Chad, Dale, and I have a special trip planned this Thursday/Friday.  We will drive down to Vancouver, WA, Thursday afternoon, spend the night in the Hilton (WOW!), and attend a special event Friday morning.  The Red Cross of that region accept nominations each year for heroes, people who get involved when someone needs help.  They look for folks who may or may not have had training, folks who are prepared to help when needed, folks who do what needs to be done regardless of convenience or danger.  Then, each March, the Red Cross hosts a giant fundraiser where they honor these brave people, and, this year, they wish to honor those men who pulled Dale out of the water.  We have been invited to attend as well as the Red Cross' guests.  Originally, they wanted Dale to present the award to those men, but, due to a training schedule conflict, the men will not be able to be present; so Dale will accept the award in their stead, and we will give it to them personally when we make our hoped-for trip this summer to see all those who were involved in Dale's rescue and subsequent care.  Still, what an honor to be a part of the Red Cross' Heroes Breakfast and see all the people who will be awarded for their selflessness, courage, and kindness to others.  Suzanne Arnits, the one in contact with us about this fundraiser, said this is the only public fundraiser they do each year, and there will probably be about 650 people present at this event!  No pressure whatsoever!  Seriously, please pray that Dale will have a really good, steady morning this Friday when he needs to go up to accept the award.  I'm quite willing to allow my husband to assist Dale in this effort while I remain seated, out of sight, at the table!  Suzanne believes that, once the attendees revisit the story of Dale's drowning and rescue via video presentation and then see him in person at the breakfast, they will gladly give donations to help the Red Cross work.  She contacted us a couple of months ago, asking us to be a part of this event and telling us that our room would be paid for Thursday night as well as the breakfast Friday morning.  We are very excited about going!

I need to sign off for now.  I do ask, though, for your thoughts and prayers these next few weeks as our family faces decisions concerning our future, Dale's academic success, and general questions.  God be praised for His continual mercy and grace through times of trials.  He is, above all, good.

Psalm 111: 1 - 2  "Praise ye the LORD.  I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.  The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein."

Friday, March 2, 2012

Update Friday afternoon 3/2

I apologize for my computer's blunder.  Apparently, after I had proofread the last entry, my computer deleted part of a paragraph.  I didn't catch this until today, so I have re-posted the missing half of the paragraph.  You may re-read it, if you wish, or just assume that I have lost my mind and pick up writing in the middle of a sentence!  Either option is reasonable!  :-D