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.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Home from the Hospital

Titus received his cochlear implant in his right ear yesterday. It was a very long day that started very early since his check-in time was 7am and we are an hour away from the hospital (Cook Children's Hospital in Ft. Worth).

Everything was running right on time and we immediately went from registration to pre-op preparation to surgery. Titus was very content the entire time.

He was immediately moved to a room after surgery - and then the real fun began. As you see from the picture, he had a large dressing wrapped around his head due to the drainage from the incision/surgery. And you can also see he had restraints on his arms to keep his little hands off of it.

We should know by now - where there's a will, there's a way. Titus was NOT happy with the restraints, the IV, or the dressing on his head. He kept finding ways to sneak his hands out of the restraints, or to scoot his head down the bed to remove the dressing. It was almost comical to fix his dressing, and then turn around and he already had it covering his eyes or off completely.

He was pretty fussy most of the afternoon - but we realized it was mostly due to the IV in his hand than his head - and after a little convincing (and Titus starting back on his regular feeds), the IV was removed and he settled down for rest. After a good night, he came home this morning - and he has spent most of the afternoon asleep.

After the surgery, the doctor came out with a small bottle - and asked us "guess what I found in Titus' ear?". Titus had tubes installed when he was a baby - and with most kids, as they grow older, the tubes fall out. Over the years, the ENT had noticed that Titus' tubes had fallen out, but over the last two years, we have noticed that Titus would experience a lot of ear infections in his right ear. Come to find out, Titus' tubes didn't fall out - they fell IN - into his middle ear. The doctor suspects this could have been the source of those ear infections. We are thankful they noticed it and were able to remove it.

The cochlear implant will be activated in about 6 weeks. It is a slow process when they activate - only turning it on for a few frequencies/sounds - and slowly adjusting it over several months. We are so thankful for technological advances such as this that will allow Titus to hear.

Thank you for all the prayers. We are comforted in knowing that Titus is prayed for daily by many of you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Titus

It's hard to believe, but Titus is 5 years old today. Although it's been a few months since I posted, Titus has been doing great. He has been healthy most of the summer and fall (avoiding hospital stays) and continues to grow. This past fall, he started back to school at Early Childhood School in Frisco. On the way to school each morning, he chatters and chatters - and it's obvious that he is very excited to be going to school. Throughout the week, he continues to go to therapy everyday after school.

Next Monday, Titus will have minor surgery to implant a 2nd cochlear implant - he will now have a cochlear implant for each of his ears. It should be a simple procedure but they will keep him overnight for observation. And since he is out of school all next week, he should be able to return to school after Thanksgiving.

On other news, I was laid off from my job last week (it wasn't a big surprise since all the indicators were there of a department re-structure). Me, along with 3 others, were let go immediately - so I am actively on the lookout for the next great opportunity. God is good and we are already seeing small miracles each day that provide for our needs.