Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Night at the Majestic

Last night, we participated in the Veteran's Day salute and movie premiere of Travis: A Soldier's Story. The documentary was produced by Fotolanthropy. Katie Norris and Jonathon Link filmed the incredible inspiring story of Travis Mills, a soldier whose recovery from stepping on an IED in war led to the loss of both arms and both legs. If you remember, Fotolanthropy is the non-profit organization that filmed Titus' story: Unexpected Joy. (you can find it here).

The red carpet event was at the Majestic Theater in downtown Dallas. Katie invited all the Fotolanthropy families that have been featured, along with the photographers/videographers who captured the stories to participate in the evening activities and be recognized on stage.

The boys were all very excited to get dressed up and take a trip downtown. Becky looked especially stunning with a friend helping her with hair and makeup and styling her for the event. Backstage, Titus was babbling with excitement. Tucker and Cade were besides themselves to be on such a large stage, and Aidan and Noah looked quite dapper in the suits and ties. I can only hope someone captured a picture of all of us on stage with Titus' picture shown on the movie screen behind us as we were recognized. Since we were all on-stage, we didn't think it proper to take some selfies in front of the audience.

Katie asked me to say a few (very few words - and those that know me know that is not an easy thing to do). And honestly, I can't remember much of what I said. But I do remember this.

I said "My son is made in the image of God and he is wonderfully and fearfully made" and before I could continue, the audience broke out in applause.

And I was stunned - almost speechless while emotion washed over me. A lump rose in my throat, but I knew I had to finish my statement (after all, I had rehearsed it all day - but that statement was not part of what I had rehearsed - it had just slipped out).

And there sat my little Titus in his wheelchair, beaming and smiling in the bright stage lights. It's hard to describe the feeling of affirmation received from several hundred people applauding a statement. . . but it was.

We know we are conspicuous;
We know people stare;
We know people have questions that they will never ask;
We know what people think - we see the look of pity at times.

And we somehow wish we could tell them to do 2 things: STOP STARING at my child and just acknowledge my child like you would any other child, and DO NOT PITY US - for we are blessed beyond measure with incredible joy - and that doesn't mean that days are happy and filled with sunshine and rainbows. Being blessed has absolutely nothing to do with being happy or being positive or having perfectly photogenic children or having perfect weather or finding the perfect cup of coffee or winning awards or having kids get all A's on their report cards.

We are blessed because God has given us a chance to live today and to bless others.
We are blessed because God is good all the time - even when days are hard (especially when days are hard).
We are blessed because God is still God even through hardship and sickness and difficult times and long nights.
We are blessed because God loves us so much He gave his only Son as a sacrifice for my sin so that I could live eternally.
We are blessed . . . beyond measure.

And yes, we are blessed with a child that is wonderfully and fearfully made exactly the way God designed him to be to live the life God predestined he live. And while my son may never be able to speak a word, he has an incredible story to share with the world. And we are thankfully we've been given that opportunity to share the life of Titus.

Here's a few pics we did get from the evening.

Monday, November 10, 2014

And We Are Back . . . Again

19 months is a long time to go with no posts. . . I agree. And there are no real excuses except for the normal lack of time that we all seem to experience.

So in a few short paragraphs, I'll re-cap what has transpired in the life of Titus (and the rest of us Daily's).

Titus turns 7 at the end of this week. It's is hard to believe my little one will be 7 years old. He attends SEM Elementary school 1/2 days Monday through Friday. He truly enjoys school - and his teachers/aides enjoy him.

Titus has been relatively healthy. For a child in the condition he is in, this is difficult to measure against anyone else. But for him, he's not had any major hospitalizations besides the normal ones we seem to have about twice a year. (We call those his 'tune-ups'.)

Titus remains his happy, content self. He has become quite the babbler and verbalizer - especially as we work on potty-training. But he is learning to give us the clues we need to hear that says he is ready to go - and with a little bit of time and patience, he is getting there. This is bringing up the need to remodel the bathroom to make it more accessible to get him on/off a toilet and in/out of the bathtub. He continues to grow and put on weight. He should be receiving a new set of wheels in the next few weeks which will be more comfortable for him. But he has a smile that still charms all that come into contact with him.

But the biggest news to happen for Titus (and the rest of us) is that Titus is going to be a big brother - very soon. In the next few months, we hope to be traveling to China to bring home the newest Daily boy - BaoJun. Bao is 5yrs old and is waiting for us in China. He was born with no arms and was abandoned immediately. He is quite remarkable and with the care of the aides in the orphanage, he eats, dresses himself, makes his bed, and is learning to write - all with his feet. The video's we have of him show a very content, sweet, little boy who is quite talented with his feet. We think he will fit in perfectly with our family.

More to come this week - along with recent pictures. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

And We're Back

Titus was released from Medical City last Thursday. The virus he had contracted just had to run it’s course and by Thursday of last week, he was back to a point where he could go home. This was a long 8 days in the “spa” – especially while Aidan, Noah and I were in Germany.
Monday morning, Becky and the boys left early to drive to Houston for Titus’ pediatric ophthalmologist evaluation under anesthetic. Titus is evaluated every 6 months due to the congenital glaucoma he was born with. He went back to the OR around 1pm and they quickly determined that one of the tubes in one of the ports was partially out and irritating his eye. These were installed back when he was one, but the tube has worked its way out since the last 6 month visit. They were able to remove the tube with a small incision – and he was back in his mom’s arms in no time.  It will take a few days to completely heal and he will stay in Houston before they travel back to Dallas.

Aidan, Noah and I traveled back from Berlin, Germany last Friday from our AWOL mission trip. I will write more about the trip when I have some time to concentrate without the jet lag. The trip was amazing (a little cold and snowy), but life-changing. Aidan was in Hamburg, Noah was in central Berlin, and I was in Zeesen – a suburb of Berlin – and a part of the city that would have previously been considered the DDR – East Germany.

I will say the highlight of the trip was they day we spent at a refugee camp. Spending the morning with children from Russia, Afghanistan, Iran, Kenya, and other nations was full of fun and laughter. Many languages were represented – but we learned that “Duck, Duck, Goose” translates easily – and even singing “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” can be followed. (Although, I do think they were all paying rapt attention to see if Mr. Paul could actually touch his toes). The church had planned a meal for us that afternoon with several of the refugees who shared their story. What was meant to be a small sharing time ended up being a 2 ½ hour worship service with songs and prayers in English, German, Farsi, and Swahili. Our views of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of choice were forever changed by hearing the stories of courage. I was truly humbled at how I have taken our freedoms for granted when I see men and women who have risked their life for the freedom and privilege to worship God. I have posted pictures of my trip on Facebook – so you can look there to see all the pictures.

And, as I mentioned in my last post, I had received a job offer – so it has been great to come back to Dallas and start a full-time permanent position as the Sr. Director of HR at a local company. And when I say local, my new commute to work is less than 5 minutes from the house. I do believe I have been in a daze the last few days (and some of it is due to the jet lag), but the new company is everything I was looking for in a job (and again, I’m truly thankful and grateful).

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Quick update

I am updating this on my phone while in Berlin, Germany.

Becky stated that Titus is making slow improvement but will probably spend a few more days in the hospital. We can text back and forth but everything is a bit delayed and abbreviated.

Ashley and Morgan K came up from Houston to help with Tucker and Cade. They are thrilled.

Our trip here was great and the church my group of 10 is serving in has an incredible plan for us this week. It was a bit hard to watch Aidan and Noah go off with their groups at the airport but I know they are thrilled to be on mission.

I will post when I can. And you can follow Becky and I on Facebook. Send a request if you are not one of our friends. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Day 3 Update

Titus is going on his 3rd day at the hospital. I apologize for not updating yesterday, but Titus slept most of the day - and has been mostly fever-free. When he was awake, he was content, but a little lethargic. Aidan, Noah, and I went down to see him before we leave for Germany.

Becky called this morning to say that Titus is awake and rolling all over the bed. He is much more active today than yesterday. The lab cultures are not showing any specific type of virus and he has tested negative for flu and RSV. At this time, they are giving him rocephin and watching him carefully.

I have struggled with my decision to leave for Germany with Titus in the hospital. Knowing how quickly he can go from bad to worse and not wanting to be 1/2 a world away has been a concern. I was waiting to see how he is doing this morning, and the doctor does seem to think they it is being managed and is under a control, so I am trusting in God's plan and heading out to Berlin this afternoon with Aidan, Noah, and 73 other youth/adults for our AWOL (A Work of Love) mission trip.

I will be in a group of 10 in the small town of Zeesen - just SE of Berlin. I will be serving with 7 teenagers and 2 other adults for the week in Zeesen. The beauty of this mission trip is that we never quite know all that we will be doing when we arrive, but we do know we will serve, we will testify, we will pray, and we will be a blessing since we are so blessed. More than likely we will be in the schools providing a USA presentation - and will also be allowed to share the gospel. The weather is predicted to be cold - in the 20-30's - and possibility of some snow. Zeesen is on a large lake, so I'm preparing for the wet cold that can come from that.

Aidan will be in Hamburg - 3 hours east of Berlin, and Noah will be in Berlin. We will fly back next Friday.

But let me provide a little more background about the trip along with my job situation. After Honduras last year, I knew I wanted to go back on the AWOL mission trips. While Becky goes to Xtreme Camp (and loves it), I love going on these trips. When I was laid off in November, I told the boys that I probably would not be able to go due to finances, job search, and timing. But, I also prayed that God would provide - and when I received an offer to do some HR consulting for several months, I knew this was God's provision, so I called up the youth office and made myself available if there was an opening. There had been a tremendous response for this trip - but as only God could work it out, there was an open slot for me to go. And God provided the finances for me to go. (BTW, Aidan and Noah have been working most of the summer and paid 100% of their trip with their own finances - so very proud of them).

At the end of December, I applied for a job I had located on LinkedIn. The job description was everything I wanted to do and my background was a good fit for. In January, they contacted me to come in for an interview, followed by another final interview. I was asked to come back in a 3rd time as one of the finalist for the position. And then, we had weeks of silence. And more weeks of silence. Tuesday of this week, I was contacted to see if I was still interested and could come back in. Yesterday I went in for a short meeting and walked out with a job offer. And I'll start when I get back from Germany. God's timing is perfect. Along the last few months, God has blessed us in so many ways. I have been incredibly humbled by God's provision. And I know I have been carried through this time by the prayers of friends.

Please pray for Becky and Titus - that their hospital stay will not be too much longer. Pray for Tucker and Cade as they are shuttled around a bit until Becky/Titus come home, Pray for Aidan, Noah and I that we will get rest on the trip over, but will be a bold witness with a servant's heart.
And pray that God will open your eyes to share the blessing of being blessed. Remember, you are blessed to be a blessing.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Living Color

This post was written, but never posted. Today, it seemed appropriate to post (and my mom LOVES me to tell stories on her).

When I was a little boy growing up in Premont, TX, I remember my mom deciding to paint our kitchen. Back in those days (before the large home improvement stores - and especially in a small town), you went to the local hardware store to purchase your paint. And instead of a wall of paint chips that you could take home and pin on the wall, you looked at a large book that had very, very small squares of paint. And instead of fancy names for colors (like gilded pesto or ripe avocado), you had a code. And instead of a computerized color matching and dispensing system to mix your paint, the tints were hand dispensed by a formula and a large machine.

On this day, when I was a little boy, my mom decided to paint our kitchen yellow. As she looked at the big book of paint colors with all the tiny, tiny squares of yellow - from palest yellow to deep, dark, bold yellow, she struggled to pick out the right shade. Once she settled on a nice, safe, mellow shade of yellow, I convinced her it was too light. And, having a fleeting moment of lucidity, she listened to me. I told her to go few squares down - be bold, live a little, make a statement (I have since learned to never take design advice from a 8 yr old).

I was thrilled to watch the tints go into the cans of paint - there was a lot of deep dark yellow pumped into the can. And, as we got home, and mom opened up the can, she hesitated.

"It's really bright" she said.

"It's colorful", I said.

She painted, and as it dried it got darker, and brighter. The next morning, I walked into the kitchen, and was immediately awakened by our bright, egg-yolk yellow kitchen. I had no idea a yellow could glow like that when the morning sun lit the room.
Mom decided it had to go - and I had to agree. So she mixed it with some white paint, and tried again - still to bright. So she mixed some more white paint with it, until she found the right color. (And then a few years later, she decided wall paper was a much safer/better option.)

But, as I lived through my own painting fiasco in my own kitchen, I had to laugh. I had done the same thing, but I also took a risk, took a leap of faith over a paint swatch, and decided to live outside of the box.
Let's face it, most of us live in a white (or eggshell) house. We are too scared to paint the walls, too scared to take the risk. What if we don't like it, what if it's the wrong color, what if it doesn't go with the furniture, what if the neighbors laugh! (We've had that happen too).

But in our game plan of living safe, of not taking risks, of living in an off-white bland house, I sometimes feel we have forgotten what risks are all about, what faith is about, what trying new things are about.

And in our Christian walk, we forget what faith is. It's trusting in what we can't see - it's taking a risk. It's performing a deed without knowing the outcome because we know it's what God has told us to do. Hebrews 11 tells us (in the Message version), "The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see. . . . It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him."
As I see it, we have a choice. We can live a life of little faith, trusting in only the things we see and that we consider a safe choice (like living in a house with all white walls). Or, we can live a life full of faith, full of trust, full of living color.

Viral Infection

So much has occurred since I last posted. Let me provide a quick update.

Titus has been in great health through most of the winter. He has been progressing at school and therapy. There are so many little areas he is improving in. For example, when you pick him up, he wraps his arms and holds on to you. His teacher at school swears he knows his colors, and he still remains one of the most content and happiest little boys you could meet. He even lost one of his front teeth in the last few weeks (just like Tucker did) so they are really cute with their missing front teeth.

Several weeks ago, Titus developed a lingering cough that wouldn't go away. After a few weeks, and after a difficult night, Becky took him to the ER to have lab work done to see what was brewing. We were a little surprised to find out he had pneumonia and he was checked in for a 5-day stay. As Becky always states, this is his annual "tune-up". Since Titus didn't act sick while he was there, he pretty much charmed his way into all his nurses and therapists heart while he was there.

When he came home last week, he remained on two antibiotics. Yesterday, he started running a fever - which is a little strange when you have been on a high-powered antibiotic for over a week. Just to be sure, Becky took him back to the ER to have lab work and x-rays done. While his lab work came back in normal ranges, it appears he has a viral respiratory bug. The doctors admitted him to the hospital for observation. Since Titus' lungs are always in a fragile state, we can't be too careful when it comes to this type of situation.

On top of this, Aidan, Noah, and I are set to leave for Germany with 73 other youth/adults for the AWOL (A Work of Love) mission trip. We leave Friday afternoon and will return the following Friday. In the past, I have only been out of town during one of Titus' hospital stays, but I was a short flight away. I am not feeling comfortable being on the other side of the world if he is still in the hospital. I would appreciate your prayers for Titus' health and for direction on this trip. I know God will do an incredible and mighty work (with or without me). My prayer is for peace.

And since I last posted about my job, I am still in the market for a new job. I worked an HR contract position for several months (which was an incredible provision during the holiday season). Meanwhile, I have had consistent interviews with several companies. Yesterday I received some encouraging news and continue to pray for God's direction. I will say, as a family, we have been humbled and blessed by God's provision during this time. God is good - all the time.