Monday, January 29, 2007

The Foolishness of God's Calling

A friend shared with me how "strange" (and scary) our decisions appear to those observing our lives. Most people are barely surviving residency and then for me to decide to adopt, to decide to adopt a child with special needs, to decide to adopt this child from the uncertainty of Liberia, to decide to start my Master's of Public Health during residency... it all seems crazy and overwhelming to the observer.

But what my friend did not take into account is that God's calling on our lives will not always appear sane. Our choices are neither noble nor insane if they are what God has called us to. These choices are simply obedience to sovereign God! We are not living for life in this world, we are in fact aliens to this world and shouldn't settle down and get too comfortable because our joy is in heaven. God calls each of us to "not waste our lives" but live each day with an eternal focus. With an eternal focus, we should not only adopt a child with disabilities, we should care for all the orphans and widows that we possibly can. We should not only complete the training that God has called us to, but we should work to fulfill God's calling with a sense of urgency as tomorrow may be the day that we stand in glory and have to give an account for our lives. We should reach out to our neighbors, church, family with Christ's love and an answer for why we do what we do with that same sense of urgency since they too might be before God tomorrow, asking us why we never told them the saving truth.

So why have we knowingly adopted a child with several chronic conditions? Why am I pursuing my MPH while in residency? Why is Josh going to seminary while working at the church and trying to find odd jobs to help sustain us financially? For only one reason: To bring Glory to God. Today is our day to serve the Lord, today is the day that we must do everything we possibly can to His glory.

While I was in Kenya as a medical student, God dramatically taught me a lesson about my calling to mother children. I lost a 3 week old baby whose mother had valiently been in the hospital since birth trying to keep her alive. As I walked from the hospital, through the grave yard to my house at 3:00am, I asked God why He would permit such futility. This mother had sacrificed so much of her scarce resources to maintain her pregnancy and sustain a sick baby in such a resource poor setting for only 3 weeks of a baby's life! What was the point?!

God distinctly told me, "if I call you to love and nurture a child for one day only, that is what I have called you to and that is worth eternity to that child." In other words, if God calls me to nurture a child with a terminal illness just for a couple weeks until the child dies, that brings glory to God and is worth all the grief that I may feel. The point is that it's not about me, not about my emotions, not about my pride, not about my achievements, my earthly pleasure - it is about God's glory, eternal joy, and obedience to God's call on our lives!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The professor

Little Gracie is doing quite well keeping her glasses on and looks so cute in them too! :)

She seems to be surviving Mama going back to work and is enjoying her time with Grandma and Daddy. She has been more "needy" of late, but seems to be catching on that Mama can be gone for a few hours and will come home!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Routine...?

We are finally settling into more of a routine - or as much of a routine as possible given that I am still on vacation. Between winter weather, nearly daily doctor's appointments to see every specialty possible, lab visits for lab work, parties, swimming therapy, and church responsibilities, this 3 year old is busy. Through the busy-ness, however, she remains focused on people and loves to spend time with her extended family with periodic huge grins, hugs, snuggles, and slobbery kisses for Mama and Daddy to reconnect in the midst of all her adoring fans.

She is learning certain important lessons these days, such as: root for the winning team! Go Patriots!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Adventures in Medical Land

Gracie decided that the New Year needed a little spice and excitement. So, shortly after 2007 rang in, she had a seizure which then lasted 2.5 hours! She had to be paralyzed and intubated and put on the ventilator and shipped down to Boston Children's Hospital. Needless to say, her family was very concerned and the trip to Boston seemed to last an eternity.

At Children's, she was in the medical intensive care unit and spiked temperatures to 105.4 degrees! Poor baby! She had every test in the world done to try to find a source of her infection - nothing has come up yet except that she now has a terrible cold/bronchitis. She only stayed on the ventilator till Monday afternoon and was out of the ICU Tuesday evening. We spent the night on the neurology floor and convinced them to let us go home Wednesday evening - maybe one of the shortest stays in the history of ICU patients at Children's (per the chaplain).

Those three plus days in the hospital, mostly in ICU, felt like such a long time of torturing little Gracie as she quickly learned to cry and whine anytime that someone entered her room in a yellow gown and mask. She had uncountable blood draws (and she's a hard stick so most blood draws took more than one needle attempt) and 3-4 IVs in addition to foley catheter, ET tube for breathing, rectal probe for temperature monitoring, spinal tap, CT scan of her head, PPD placed, EEG to monitor brain waves, and monitors on her at all times. By the end, she was starting to be braver with all the medical experiences but preferred being snuggled on our chests at all times. Her discomfort and pitiful whining/crying made the days go even slower and we were only too happy to take her home to sleep a full night through in our own bed.

God clearly orchestrated this experience in so many ways, here are a few:
1. We were in America not Liberia when this happened.
2. We were within 5 minutes of police and ambulance help.
3. We were within 1 hour of Boston.
4. We were awake when she started seizing and could help her immediately.
5. We got tons of tests done in a very short time which would have taken months to do as an outpatient.
6. We met very compassionate and expert specialists who were attentive to our concerns and answered many questions.
7. We had family nearby who attended us as Christ's very hands.
8. We were home and not traveling for the first time in 2 months.
9. We were both off work on vacation.
10. We were able to reach the director of a local agency that provided us with vouchures for food and parking and gas to relieve that burden.
11. Gracie's IV infiltrated (i.e. medication went into her hand and not her vein) with vancomycin in her most functional hand but the swelling is going down and she's using the hand again.
12. We have strong prayer support surrounding us.
13. Gracie suffered no obvious ill effects from such a long seizure - she remembered how to take steps again yesterday!
14. We are now equipped to keep her seizure free and help her faster if she does start having a long seizure.
15. We now have direct phone numbers to neurology and infectious disease if something comes up with her.
16. We have a closer relationship with her pediatrician who was quite concerned about Gracie.

Please pray for her as we resolve her Hepatitis A, work on her failure to thrive, try not to worry about her microcephaly, manage her seizure disorder, and get her the resources that she needs for her cerebral palsy. She will be on seizure meds long term and our prayer is that she will be able to go off the meds within a few years - pray with us to this effect!

Friday, January 5, 2007

Eskimo Gracie

Gracie on Christmas Eve

Gracie's Steps

Gracie is making leaps and bounds daily - it is so rewarding and amazing to watch her develop before our very eyes! She took her first steps the other day (supported) and has been working on feeding herself snacks. She is quite bonded to us and still enjoys meeting new people as long as mama and daddy are around. She is bonding to her grandparents and aunts and uncles with still a clear sense of who her parents are. We have been so blessed by our friends and family - this child will never want for a cute outfit or fun toys while we are in the States! We even are blessed to borrow this gait trainer which will help her learn to walk "on her own" and gain some independence!

The First Rattin Family Christmas photo!

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