Posted by: Jim and Stephanie | December 28, 2016

Merry Christmas from Team K!

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Please take our Christmas photo with a grain of salt. If I recall, it took a few takes to get everyone to look at the camera. Ben was crabby because he decided he didn’t think he needed sleep. Selah’s hair was fixed multiple times to be camera ready. Jim had to correct my dad (who got roped into taking the shot because “why pay a photographer?”) on how to correctly create the best photo composition. I was most likely muttering through clenched teeth, “SMIIIILLLLE”. And there you have it, our perfectly imperfect 2016 Christmas greeting.

The REAL update:

Levi (5 years) continues to do well and, other than sporting a camo cast that he earned last week from an elbow fracture, he has had an overall healthy year. True to the 5 year handout his doctor’s office gave me, Levi is in the golden age of childhood: playing with Legos, building friendships with kids at church and preschool, lots of pretend play, and soaking up all kinds of facts about the world around him (mostly space, Star Wars, and nature).

As accurately portrayed in the photo, Selah (3 years) is full of LIFE. I’ve recently seen the term THREEnager which fits as a description of our Selah. She is proficient in turning the screams and tears off in the blink of an eye. For example, “I HAVE A BOOOOGGGEERR!” can quickly transitioned to “Please may I have a tissue.” in her best sing song voice with a smile on her face. Parenting Selah is a fine balance between getting her to understand the “world doesn’t revolve around her” without putting out her fiery spirit. She loves to help with Ben, play with Levi, pretend play with her cousins when Levi is at school, dance to music, and pose for pictures.

Benjamin’s (14 months) little personality has been emerging these past few months. Ben loves to elicit laughs from his siblings. He is cruising along all the furniture and always on the hunt for items that are not his toys. In the past week,  I caught him with his hands in the toilet bowl and then licking them for hydration. Later, while unstacking the dishwasher, I turned to put a dish away and upon turning back around I see him face-down licking the soap dispenser. When Jim and I look at each other and question what happenned to any of the perceived control we thought we had over our household, the chaos is unfairly/fairly pinned on Ben as the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.

Jim and I have been blessed to have our ten year anniversary this past October which also marks ten years of moving to Colorado. We hope to sneak away for some time sans kids in the upcoming year. Jim continues to work at Woodmen Valley Chapel as one of their “video guys”. He had the opportunity to travel to Cuba and Estonia and use his video gifting this past summer. I begrudgingly made it known that I was the one “suffering for Jesus” as I single parented three kids. He enjoyed his time away and the bugs that were crushed every morning in his bed from his feet overnight while in Cuba made my end of the bargain not too bad.  I get to mostly stay home with the kids and work about 4-6 days a month as Case Manager at the local hospital.  Funny how perception changes in your different stages of life, but my work days have now become my “vacation days”. I really enjoy my work there.

This past week, as Jim worked late at church prepping for Christmas services, the kids and I snuggled in bed and read from the Jesus Storybook Bible. We were reading about God giving His people the Ten Commandments. Moses asked the Israelites if they would follow the rules and they replied that they could do it! It goes on like this:

But they were wrong. They couldn’t do it. No matter how hard they tried, they could never keep God’s rules all the time.

God knew they couldn’t. And he wanted them to know it, too.

Only one person could keep all the rules. And many years later God would send him- to stand in their place and be perfect for them. 

Because rules couldn’t save them.

Only God could save them.

The kiddos snuggled in and like so many nights they wanted to keep reading. Since it was Christmas week, I fast forwarded and read on about when the shepherds found the Baby Jesus in the stable:

They caught their breath. Then quietly, they tiptoed inside. They knelt on the dirt floor. They had heard about this Promised Child and now he was here. Heaven’s Son. The Maker of the Stars. A baby sleeping in his mother’s arms.

This baby would be like that bright star shining in the sky that night. A LIGHT to light up the whole world. Chasing away darkness. Helping people to see.

And the darker the night got, the brighter the star would shine.

And that’s about when this weary Mommy’s heart was nudged by the Spirit. In the day to day repetitive tasks of motherhood, somewhere along the way, I fell into the cycle of believing tomorrow I can do better. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do (Rom 7:15). I won’t yell as much tomorrow, but I will have patience. When a stranger tells me to “enjoy every moment”, I WILL enjoy every moment so that the guilt of not “enjoying every moment” doesn’t suffocate me. After a long day, I will engage in a meaningful conversation with Jim rather than disengaging with Netflix and falling asleep 5 minutes later. I will keep the “rules” better.

But rules can’t save me.

I was reminded of how under the most imperfect circumstances the most Perfect Person was born in a stable so many years ago. He came to chase away darkness and be a Light to the whole world. A Light that can permeate the darkest parts of any heart and satisfy the deepest longings of any soul. A Light who is about the business of taking the imperfect and redeeming it wholly into perfection. And the darker the night got, the brighter the star would shine. 

God knows I can’t perfectly parent my kids. He was not surprised that Jim and I’s marriage would be put to the test when more babies and commitments fight for our attention. God was well aware that friendships would be harder to maintain in this busy season. When He was knitting me together, He understood that I would would struggle with finding “joy” in mommyhood’s repetitive tasks in comparison to my occupation. That’s why He does not call me to perfection. He does not require me to create perfect circumstances for my family. His plan for me does not include filling the deepest longings of Jim’s or my kid’s hearts. My purpose is simply to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Yet, as simplistic as that is, I can confuse it so easily. I am so thankful that the darker the night gets, the brighter the star will shine.

So as you look at the 2016 Team K Christmas photo, please realize we are just five imperfect people bound together and sustained by the Perfect Baby whose Light shines brighter in the darkest nights.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and bright New Year!

Posted by: Jim and Stephanie | December 25, 2015

Finding Hope in 2015

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As I sit writing this long overdue blog update, our child of two months, Benjamin, snores peacefully in the bassinet next to our bed. It creaks with any movement he makes, threatening the peace of the night. Benjamin  means “son of my old age”, and as I reflect on 2015, it seems all too appropriate. From the depths of despair with Levi’s illness in the spring, to the joy of a new birth and chaos of a household with three children four years old and younger, this past year has indeed felt more like a decade!

Our year began with a couple fun trips, but also a nasty bout of RSV for Levi and Selah. While Selah recovered quickly, Levi’s suddenly became viral meningitis which became meningoencephilitis, resulting in hospitalization and intubation. With Stephanie and I contemplating the reality we might have to say goodbye to our son, so much seemed hopeless and unknown. Each night we’d lie next to Levi with Hillsong’s “Oceans” (Levi’s favorite song) playing on repeat, hoping that he could would be soothed by the music he would recover enough to sing the lyrics once again.

Although the lyrics are a call to trust and follow, I know my heart was like Peter’s in that moment, unsure of whether I could truly put my trust in Him, whatever the outcome. I’m thankful He reached down and pulled me out (maybe kicking and dragging a little) and allowed us to cling to that Hope.

In the midst of that situation we also found out that Stephanie was expecting our third child. As the juxtaposition of such joy and despair played out over the coming months, the hopelessness faded away as Levi began to make a full recovery and Stephanie had a successful delivery in October. Now as we look back, we know the pain makes the joy sweeter, and begs us not to take any moment for granted. We are so thankful to God for giving enough strength when we were weak, and LOTS of grace as we navigate parenthood in this new season. We also want to thank the friends and family who prayed and journeyed with us this year. Your kind words, help with our kids, meals and prayer were a source of life in the midst of the storm.

Here is a little window into this past year:

Posted by: Jim and Stephanie | July 1, 2015

Overcome and Outnumbered

For in the hour of our darkest day

We will not tremble, we won’t be afraid

Hope is rising like the light of dawn

Our God is for us He has overcome

Bethel Music, 2015

A few months ago, Jim and I sat across from one another in an empty waiting room; it was about midnight. We had watched our 3 year old deteriorate into non-stop seizing over the past day and a half. We were now waiting for him to be sedated, intubated, and placed on a ventilator. We sat there and questioned whether or not God would take Levi. Knowing we had a lost our first baby at 9 weeks into pregnancy, I replied, “He could.”.

Fast forward to today, we have every bit of our little boy back. We have seen no ill effects from the encephalitis thus far. His follow up with his neurologist included a cognitive assessment that even placed him slightly ahead for his age group. Besides having to take a seizure medication for a few months to allow his brain time to fully heal, he has come out virtually unscathed. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Jim and I have discussed how we can process this season of our life. How do we honor that experience? I’m not sure we ever will be able to fully process and honor it, but the last thing we want to do is to rush back into the status quo. Sitting in that waiting room arguing with my husband whether or not we could lose our son, I was reminded that as a believer I am not immune to pain in this life. No one is. I am so thankful to know a Savior who has overcome. If Jim and I would have lost Levi that night, our ONLY comfort would have been that he was with Jesus. We are so blessed that God was not done with the story he was writing through Levi’s life. In God’s sovereignty, Jim and I get the privilege of continuing to parent and steward this time with our little man.

Reflecting back and resuming the day to day, I realize that I am changed. In the busyness of being Mom, I had lost a bit of the raw gratitude I once had as a held my new baby in my arms. This experience has taken me back to that place. After a day of repeating myself multiple times and placing fighting kids in time-outs, rather than dreading having to do it over again tomorrow, my heart is energized by gratefulness in that I get another day being Levi and Selah’s mom. I am going to hold on to that feeling for as long as I am able.

To all those who have prayed for us through this experience, words can never express our gratitude for those prayers. Looking back, the calmness that our whole family experienced, from Jim to Selah, could have only come from the presence of Jehovah-Shalom, the One who has Overcome.

And finally, for those who don’t see us on a regular basis, Team K. also wanted to make the newest member of our team “blog official”:

Outnumbered

We’re going to outnumber our parents, October 2015!

Posted by: Jim and Stephanie | March 31, 2015

A Beautiful Day for A Walk

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Today was a beautiful day!  So, I took the kids for a walk before updating all of you.  My apologies. Here’s the latest scoop:

Levi was discharged yesterday in the late evening.  He will be on Valproic Acid for six months with neurology follow up for his diagnosis of complex febrile seizures.  He was having a lot of balance issues due to his medications while hospitalized, but this seems to improve daily.  However, Jim and I have turned into helicopter parents with him, making sure he doesn’t fall or hit his head while this improves.  We have even rearranged his bed, so it is on the floor next to ours for the next few nights while his balance improves.  He really likes that!  We plan for that move to be temporary.

Thanks again for all your steadfast prayers and words of comfort during this time.  They mean so much.  We are so thankful to God for His gracious healing to our Levi.

Posted by: Jim and Stephanie | March 28, 2015

A Case of Deja Vu

Last night Levi started having seizures again.  He also complained of abdominal pain, headache, and had a fever.  We were admitted to PICU as the seizures were difficult to control. He underwent a lumber puncture, multiple pokes, an EEG, and a head CT.

imageWe met with the nuerologist and PICU doctor this AM to review the game plan (By the way, it’s good to have doctors that were all very familiar with his previous admission).  The spinal fluid showed two bacteria, however they are suspecting it was a contaminant as he did not have laboratory changes associated with meningitis (increased WBC, decreased sugar, increased protein in spinal fluid).  He will be kept on antibiotics due to fever of 104, seizures, and + cultures for 48 hours. He has started to have some loose stools, and the thought is that he caught a GI bug causing the fevers. Due to his recent illness, his brain is still irritable and has a lower threshold for seizures.   He is being diagnosed with complex febrile seizures.  The good news is that there is only a 9% chance that this could later turn into a form of epilepsy.

He had an EEG this AM that looked way better than his EEG prior to discharge from the last admission.  His repeat CT was normal. Praise God!  We will be here for at least until Monday.

Thanks for continued prayers and well wishes.  Levi is extremely whiney, irritable, hard to understand, and off balance from his medications.  Please pray for patience for Jim and I as well as comfort for him during this time.  Also, please remember Selah as she is out of her element with different caretakers (we are so grateful for all the offers for help with her) while we are at Levi’s bedside.

Posted by: Jim and Stephanie | March 21, 2015

Good to be Home

Today Levi was discharged from the hospital! Sitting and reading bedtime stories in Levi’s bed tonight…

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Thanks everyone for your thoughts and prayers! We are overwhelmed by your love and support.

Posted by: Jim and Stephanie | March 18, 2015

Way.Better.Day.Today.

Levi has improved dramatically today.  His personality is coming through and he is much more engaged with what is going on around him.  He has had no vomiting today and been able to keep down all of his meals.  He loves his magic cups (calorie packed ice cream) which are giving him some extra calories and protein.  He was able to play with therapy for a little over an hour today as well as take a bath and get EEG goo out of his hair.

The neurologist has decided to take Levi off of the Keppra.  Since we will be there a few more days, they will watch to make sure he does not have anymore seizures.  If not, we can go home without any seizure meds.  The Keppra definitely seems to be the culprit for the vomiting as well as personality changes.

The best news of the day is that Levi moved from the PICU to the general Peds floor.  Yay!  He will spend the rest of his time at the hospital working with therapy to gain his strength and balance back.  Thanks for all your continued prayers!

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Posted by: Jim and Stephanie | March 17, 2015

In His Time

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Levi has had a bit of a rough day today.  He has continued to vomit, had increased lethargy, and increased pain.  He was only able to complete one therapy session which included a vomiting episode all over the therapy balls.  Medications continue to be adjusted.  Due to his increasing symptoms, he had a CT scan repeated this evening.  The doctor just came in and said the results were normal.  Thank God!  He has really perked up following a dose of Morphine this evening which has been nice to see.

As  Levi’s mom, it has  been a bit discouraging to watch these set backs.  I have been missing my Levi for one week now.  I am probably annoying all the staff with my questions of “When will I get Levi back?”.  As a nurse, I know they can not answer this question nor give me a specific timeline. While I have been told he should make a full recovery, it is hard not to let your mind wander to the unknown.  Will he ever return to the Levi I knew before this illness?  So, I am left impatiently waiting for my Levi to return.

As I sit at his bedside waiting, I am reminded of who is control of the timing of Levi’s healing.  I reflect on how we found out we were expecting Mr. Levi the week we finished our home study for adopting.  After months of not conceiving and clearly hearing God calling us to adopt, we were pregnant.  While we were ecstatic to be expecting, it halted our adoption process.  Yet, God’s timing was perfect.  Levi has a purpose.  While I do not know all the details and intricacies of how Levi’s story matters, God does.  So, I choose to lean on that truth today.  God will heal Levi in His time.  God will heal Levi in the perfect way that fits His perfect purpose for his life.

Posted by: Jim and Stephanie | March 16, 2015

To the Playground

Levi is continuing to improve day by day.  He is weaned to just Keppra to help control the seizures, and he was changed over to oral medication rather than IV.  However, this AM he’s thrown up the last two doses.  So, they restarted his IV.

Yesterday evening he got really  jittery and started hallucinating.  This is related to the sedation medications he was on while intubated.  He was started on a Methadone & Ativan wean to assist with his withdrawal symptoms.

He started working with therapy today.  Between the meds and encephalitis he’s really off balance and has generalized weakness.  It seems like things are coming back daily.  May be a few more days to get him closer to baseline and allow his brain to heal.  The highlight of his day was when the fantastic therapists took him outside to the playground on this gorgeous day for his therapy session.  Hopefully, we are busting our way out of the PICU and headed to the Peds Floor soon.

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Posted by: Jim and Stephanie | March 14, 2015

Out of the Fog

This morning Levi was successfully extubated and weaned off several of his medications. The residual effects of all the sedation medications were evident as Levi slept a large portion of the day. While he was free of the tubes down his nose and throat, we didn’t see much of Mr. Levi until these past few hours. What began as a few whimpers has turned into polite “thank yous” and “I want to watch Planes Fire and Rescue”.

What a joy watching Levi as he comes out of this necessary rest, giving us glimpses of the Levi we all know and love. Thank you Lord for restoration and healing! We are looking forward to what tomorrow holds in store, please continue to pray as Levi starts his road to recovery. Pray that we are able to successfully wean the Dilantin tomorrow.  He is also showing slight signs of withdrawal from the sedatives used while intubated.  Pray that his body adjusts easily to the discontinuation of the sedatives.

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