Tuesday, June 26, 2012

This Is Truly Tragic!!!

Sadly, Kalyn and I, along with our friend Aspen, where there when this horrible fire started up in the mountains behind Colorado Springs.  We went to Cave of the Winds for a tour. 
(Warning...lots of pictures)
 This is what the fire looked like when we drove into the parking lot.
 We were evacuated from Cave of the Winds.  I had to drive west to turn around.  And this is what was just to the north of the road we were on - I-24.

 We went to Red Rocks to hike since plan A failed.  You can see the fire behind Kalyn.

 We enjoyed our hike, though it was 98 degrees. 
 When we got back to our car, this is what the mountain west looked like.  That was on Saturday.

This is the view from my house (a long way from the fire.)  This is not a cloud.  It is smoke.
Smoke to the north/west.
All these pictures show the smoke to the west.  The fire has moved down the foothills and is now burning into the west side of Colorado Springs.

The below pictures are smoke clouds.

Please pray for our city tonight.  The Air Force Academy is now evacuating in the south area.  We have ash even falling all the way out here where we live (25 miles away).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Something New

Kiana and I are learning something new.  I am really enjoying it.  Glass mosaic is our newest passion.  
And I am really enjoying doing something special with her.

I also wanted to thank those of you who wrote on Steve’s note.  It meant so much to both him and me!
Happy Sunday!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Trying Times, by Steve

I wanted to share this - from my husbands heart. 

"I am always reluctant to get too personal and share much detail about the things happening in our lives for several reasons. One; I never want it to appear to be whining or looking for pity. Two; I don’t want anyone to think we are asking anyone for anything. Three; prior experiences have resulted in judging, even by well-intentioned people, and I really do not like being judged and to have people say “you brought this upon yourself” or, “You asked for it.” Four; I wrestle with where is the balance between sharing life with the body of Christ and trusting God.

I know many follow the ups and downs of our family on Shonni’s blog. But I know some of you do not and look here for info on how we are doing. So here I share now, as much to work things out in writing for myself (the cathartic process), as well as to share what is happening with those of you who keep us in your prayers, which we covet most of all. For those of you, who might feel inclined to judge us, please stop reading now.

This year has been challenging, to say the least. I think it best to try and categorize this under major headings.

Health issues - We have never had so many, nor so many unusual problems as we have had this year. Shonni got a bad scrape while hiking that turned into a very nasty infection, nearly put her in the hospital, and took weeks of heavy antibiotics to clear up. Kalyn became severely anemic, almost to the point of hospitalization, and it still recovery, taking iron to try and get her levels where they should be and other treatment to try and prevent it from happening again. Caresse was supposed to have two surgeries (one to remove a plate in her knee from a prior surgery and a second to remove one of the abnormal bone growths she that is one her shoulder blade and is pushing through her body to her ribs) only to find on the day of the surgery that she had some unusual infection on her hand that had infected one of her lymph nodes. She had to go to the CDC at Children’s hospital, was put on three heavy duty antibiotics, and is still on two of them as the infection has yet to clear so she can complete the surgeries. Landon of course has been struggling with his allergies to wheat, peanuts and soy. Noelani has been to multiple doctor visits for her cleft pallet (dentists, oral surgeons, orthodontists, plastic surgeons, and speech therapists) Clive has had visual problems; they are trying to correct with glasses, but will probably require surgery. He also is being treated for exposure to TB (does not have it, but was exposed) Garett has been suffering from a sever gag reflex problem that has required several diagnostics tests. The problem caused him to not to be able to eat and he lost weight he did not need to lose. They still do not know what is causing the problem and we are waiting on a referral to a specialist at Children’s Hospital. Aiden went through testing with an occupation therapist regarding some of his developmental issues and of course Keshawn had to recover earlier in the year from breaking both bones in his wrist. The time, energy, and of course money dealing with all of these issues has been significant. It has not been unusual to have one or two problems during a year, but not this many of these types.

Education - Shonni has been homeschooling for over 16 years now, but never this many students, nor this many grades. At the beginning of each year she sets out her plans for what she is going to teach. She purchases the curriculum and away she goes. That is until this year. After the first of the year she started noticing significant problems with some of the kids and how they were progressing (or not) with school. At first she thought some might need classes, but after seeing the doctor found out that was not the problem. Eventually she was able to determine that at least five of the kids had learning disabilities of varying degrees. Some were visual, like dyslexia. Others had auditory problems. Some has other issues and some had combinations of all of the problems. Shonni had to, for the most part, trash everything she had planned and start over with many of the kids, practically running her own special education class room. It has been very difficult; mentally and emotionally for everyone. It has also been financial challenging.

Adoption issues - Of course none of this even begins to touch on the adoption issues of the two newest and even some of the other children. We had never adopted children this old or done two at one time. Noelani and Clive gave Shonni and Kalyn a great deal of resistance and trouble while in China (I could write a whole post just on that experience). We had many Skype session while they were there supporting each other and talking about how to handle the problems they were facing. By the time they reached home nerves were frayed, everyone was emotionally exhausted, and the transition was only beginning.

While Noelani gave Shonni the most problems while in China, once she got to our home, while having some issues and challenges, she has settled into and accepted her life much better than Clive. There was, of course the language issue. We had to use Google translate a lot in the beginning, but less now. Both kids can understand more that they can say at this point. Shonni even began incorporating sign language to help them with the language transition. The language was and is still a stressful part of bringing these two home. More stressful has been the orphanage behaviors. Hording, stealing, manipulation, lying, yelling, and no respect for others, have been some of what we have had to deal with from these two. Noelani has come a long way in her attachment with us, but there are still problems on occasion and probably will be for years. As noted above, with her is also the need to deal with the issues surrounding her cleft pallet and the speech disability it causes right now and all that is needed to correct her condition.

Clive has been a whole other issue. We were aware of possible “learning disabilities” when we adopted him. He in no way acts his age of 8; he behaves more live a child of 5 or less at times. Sometimes it is hard to tell what are developmental issues, orphanage issues, attachment issues or maybe something else. He is very manipulative, teases excessively, demonstrates in appropriate behavior at times and demands a great deal of time and attention. We have testing going regarding his developmental issues, while also dealing with his visual issues. We thought he would be the easier one of the two, but he is by far the more challenging.

As anyone who knows, pretty much every adopted child will have wounds they need to deal with and attachment issues to one degree or another. So it is with ours. While most of the children, adopted as infants, are doing well, some continue to have attachment issues that we have to work with. This includes Kiana, Aiden, Garett, Joeliana, and Corbin. Not surprising, many of these are the same children who are struggling with learning disabilities as well. This is not uncommon for kids who have been orphans to deal with multiple issues like this.

Financial - Of course there are always financial challenges when you do what we do. Not only are there the medical and educational issues noted above that have stretched us, there is also the normal challenges of just feeding, clothing, and providing shelter for this many people. It can be daunting at times. Caring for this many often means others things have to give. We can look around our home and see things that need to be replace or repaired, that we put off for another year (or two or three). Or things we would like to get or do that we just have to say no to. And it is OK as we would much rather put our money into these children than anything else.

Isolation – Out of necessity, to care for the needs of these children, Shonni and I both have had to withdraw from other activities and even people. We can’t be involved in small groups or many church activities or programs, as our ministry is right now, all around us. At times that can make us feel isolated, lonely, even abandoned, with little support except what we get from our family. We often feel misunderstood, misjudged (for good and the bad) and on our own. Many look at and admire us, but we are kept at a distance. No one has us over for dinner and it is not unusual for us to be invited to event, but asked to not bring the children. I am afraid our experience even extends to the local church where we are looked at as some nice oddity, but not as a family involved in a ministry needing support. We often wonder if we would be looked at differently if we were “over there” doing this instead of here in the states. Virtual friends through Shonni’s blog and Facebook become our biggest sources for encouragement and emotional support.

The work we do is exhausting; emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Most nights we are exhausted by the end of the day, just wanting to crash in front of the TV for a few minutes to unwind. Most days it seems all our time is spent cooking, feeding, cleaning the kitchen, dressing, cleaning the house, bathing , schooling, putting everyone to bed, only to get up and do it all again tomorrow.

Having said all of this, I wouldn’t trade a thing. I would not have said no to any one of the children, no matter how hard and stressful it is. God never said it was going to be easy to obey. He never promised there would not be struggles, difficulties, and hardships. If fact He said we would face all of these things, but that He would be with us.

Sure we could have had a much easier life, simpler, less stressful, had or done more things if we hadn’t chosen to walk this path, but no “thing” is greater than the lives of these children. Some call us reckless, irresponsible, or worse. But lives have been saved for the kingdom. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. There are no signs that things are ever going to get better or easier. It is always going to be a struggle, and that is ok.

Its life, and it is good because of Him."

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Tomorrow I get to be home all day!!!!!  Yea, that’s pretty major if you knew what these last few days have looked like.  
Kalyn is home from her mission trip to Guatemala safely.  It sounds like a wonderful time.  There was a medical team, an eye glass team, a construction team (where Kalyn mostly worked), and a teaching time just for married couples.  And guess WHO they ran into and spent the night with in Guatemala city?  AMY AND TODD BLOCK from  Building The Blocks.  
This family is very passionate about helping the handicap children of Guatemala.  
If you do not know this precious family, then you need to.  Go, Go now and visit them (and then come back here O.K.?)

Garett is doing pretty good right now.  I think the little bit of stretching helped.  We still need to see an ENT in Denver sometime.  
I met with our Dr. this morning to get a referral to have Clive evaluated.  I need to know “what” it is that we are dealing with so that we can better help him.  I am finding Brian Post’s information helpful to me right now.
We are still home schooling.  UG.  I fell behind so; you do what you got to do.  
Steve wrote something that he is putting on face book later.  He really felt the need to share his heart.  I will share it here later.
How are ya’ll doing?  I have missed not being able to catch up on your blogs.  It has been so bad that we have had breakfast meals three nights in a row.  I think that is a first.  Kalyn blessed us this morning and put a slow cook meal together while I was running to the doctor appointment.  
Keshawn just noticed that I had come back from town (before I run back in at 2:00), and gave me a sweet hug and said “Mommy, I love you too.”  Ahhh, now that is worth coming home to!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Totally Perfect

Her beautiful face says it all.  We had a totally perfect day.
Some of the children got to go to town with daddy.
And some of the children stayed home with me.
Then a little work followed by hot dogs and hamburgers.
Happy Father’s Day to all you dads.  We appreciate you so much.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Hope She Let’s Us Come Back!

She is learning so much, and I am so proud of her.  Noelani is learning a new language and finding her way around a new culture.  She is so sweet and patient when she needs to be corrected.  And it is usually fun to see this new world through her eyes.  
HOWEVER, today I hope that she learned a lesson quickly.  Noelani had her speech therapy today.  After her therapy, her teacher told her to tell me what she had called her during their time together.  Noelani couldn’t remember what the teacher was talking about.  After a second, the teacher, with a bit of a chuckle, told me that Noelani had signed and said that she was “old”.  She then went on to sign and tell her that her hair was old, her face was old, and her skin was old.  The poor teacher told her that was enough, as she was beginning to feel rather OLD.  
What could I say?  After many apologies, I told the teacher that Noelani is also learning what is appropriate in America.  
I had a talk with Noelani on the way home.  I hope she understood, and I sure do hope that the teacher will let us come back.  LOL

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


-First, Garett is doing great.  
-2nd, that wasn’t the problem.
-3rd, we still do not know what is causing the gagging.
THANK YOU all so much for your notes and prayers for us today.  It meant so much to me to read them all!
Garett’s esophagus looks fine, and there is no blockage of any kind.  However, the doctor did discuss with me how much tissue there seems to be in the back of Garett’s throat.  So he is referring us to a pediactric ENT at the Children’s Hospital in Denver.  Goodness, I am glad that we live close to Denver.  This will be our 5th trip there this year.  
I am so thankful that we serve the LORD God of Heaven and Earth.  I know that as we ask, He will answer, as we seek, He will show us, and as we knock, He will open what has been closed!
So our journey will take us North to Denver - not sure when yet.  
Please pray with us and for dear little Garett.  
Thank you so much again.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Garett Will Have Surgery...

We found out today that Garett’s CAT scan was normal.  That means that there is no obstruction on the outside of his esophagus.  The blockage is on the inside.  We met with a wonderful and helpful doctor this afternoon who finally took seriously what Garett is dealing with each day.  This doctor is going to do surgery Wednesday morning early.  Until he gets inside he will not know exactly what needs to be done.  
Here are some key things to pray over....
-That the doctor is able to take care of the problem while he is there;
-ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT...that there is no tear in Garett’s esophagus...this would require a lengthy hospital stay and has several risks;
-for a final solution to this...
because tonight, my little Garett cried again because he couldn’t eat, and even though we try to make him nutritious drinks, he is still hungry.  I played Ninja Fruit with him to try to distract him from his hunger.  Still, as he went to bed, he mumbled, “Mommy, I’m still hungry.”  Poor baby, we look to the LORD, and we pray for healing and we thank Him for each of you who chooses to walk this journey with us.  I am grateful!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

He Literally Can’t Eat

 We have spent months now trying to find out why Garett has progressively been unable to eat.  He has always had a “gag” relax with meats, however, over the last half a year he has reached the point of not being able to eat at all. 
We have followed the “normal” medical routes, and nothing was helping.  Garett had reached the point of staying hydrated, but starving.  Finally, one weekend last month, we became so frustrated with what he was going though (he was gagging and throwing up every 15 minutes), that we took him to an emerge care facility.
 The doctor there sent us to have a swallow test done.  A week later we found out that Garett has a “web” in his throat...think “spider web”.  His body is instinctively trying to protect itself from choking to death by gagging and throwing up.  Of course, the down side is he also can’t eat and is “starving”.  Of course, we have been giving him protein drinks and trying to “liquify” his food as much as possible. 
 Still, he is hungry all the time, and you can see here that he is all “bones” (he didn’t have any weight to loose anyway!!!).  He has lost almost 5 pounds since things really got bad, and there is only so much you can do for a growing child on a liquid diet.  
We have been frustrated with the way some of the medical community has handled this.  Things should have happened sooner, and I’m just not going to go into the details beyond saying that there have been mistakes made that my son has paid the price for.  The LORD heard my cries this last Friday and sent us to a doctor that is taking seriously what Garett is going through.  
Garett will have a CAT scan tomorrow and then we will have an “emergency” appointment with this doctor to find out what needs to happen to open up Garett’s esophagus and get him back to eating.
I would so appreciate prayers for Garett.  This has gone on for so long, and he has dealt with it very well.  Still it has hurt me so much to watch him getting skinner and skinner.  And it hurts Steve and I so bad to hear him again crying because he is hungry and we can only offer the “same ol’ things” that we have been offering for almost 6 months now.  
Thank you for your prayers and for sharing these difficult times with us.  
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