Monday, December 29, 2008

3 Words

15 years ago, I said 3 words that changed my life.

"I Love You"

And the person I said them to knew that the next words would be:

"Will You Marry Me?"

As I was growing up, I had a sweet Bible teacher during my teenage years. Her name was Mrs. Jones. She grew up in Syria, had come to the US as a teenager, had attended Moody Bible Institute, then married Mr. Jones and moved to South Texas to become a farmer's wife. Mrs. Jones drilled into us as teenagers to never tell a girl you loved her unless you can follow it up with "will you marry me?" She told us this would protect our hearts and keep us from ever leading a girl on about our intentions. She taught me many things about the Bible, but those words I never forgot and made a deep impression on me.

So, on that December night, in front of both of our parents and family, I got down on one knee and told the most beautiful girl in the world that I loved her, wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, wanted her to marry me and be the mother of my children (we never knew it would be this many). And, (after she squealed), she said "YES!"

So, 15 years, 5 boys, and 7 dogs later, I still want to say to the most beautiful girl in the world,

"I love you!"


Saturday, December 27, 2008

4 Dogs and the Cast of "Finding Nemo"

In addition to Quita, our golden retriever, we are currently keeping Star, a lab/border collie mix, and Mulligan, a 5-month old Shih Tzu. And we are getting visits from Meg, a geriatric golden. Fortunately, everyone is well-behaved and potty-trained. But if you ring the door bell, it may sound like the city pound here.

Mulligan is about as cute as they come - and we are definitely getting our puppy fix. Mulligan loves Titus and thinks she is one of the big dogs when they are in the back yard.
And, on top of that, the boys got a 40 gallong salt-water aquarium for Christmas. We now have 2 clown fish, Marlin and Nemo (of course), a large Tang (like Dory but gray instead of blue), a blue damsel, a rabbit fish and a very long snowflake eel (which eats frozen shrimp). We have spent the last few days learning all about saltwater reef aquariums. Now, we are on the hunt to upgrade our light so we can grow coral. I'm not really sure who is more excited about the fish - me or the boys.

And last of all, Titus either has a small cold, allergies, or he's teething. He's had a lot of secretions the last couple of days (thank goodness for the suction machine) and he's been running a slight fever off and on. It could be teething since that would be normal for most kids teething, but then with our Texas weather, it could be allergies. It was 83 degrees yesterday and we had to turn on the AC since it got so hot in the house. In the last two weeks, we have had temps below 20 with ice on the road, to rain, to winds so hard it will blow you down. But either way, Titus is happy and growing. He was almost 19 lbs at his checkup this week. And, the boy needs another haircut. This child can grow hair faster than any one I've ever seen.

Christmas Images

Before we start taking everything down, I thought I would post a few pics of Christmas at the house. Plus, I had forced amaryllis bulbs late this year and didn't think they would bloom in time for Christmas, but lo and behold, they bloomed on Christmas day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Jesus

The stockings are hung and filled.

The carols have all been sung.

And all my boys are under one roof tonight and in bed.

This year is so different than last. In fact, Becky and I remember very little about last Christmas except for spending the afternoon in the NICU with Titus.

But this year is different. All of us went to the Christmas Eve CandleLighting Service - and Titus even preached a little during the sermon. And all of us will be here in the morning when Santa visits, gifts are opened, and fun is had.

So, to all of you, Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful day tomorrow celebrating our Saviour's birth.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Am Second

Life can be crazy . . .
Life can be busy . . .
Life can be scary . . .

But, Life can be good.

When I reflect back on the past year, I don't think there is anyway I could have survived without knowing that I am second. There were days I only wanted to think about me, take care of me, satisfy me. And, honestly, there were days I did. But circumstances kept putting me back in my place and on my knees.

Let's face it, being second takes work. It's hard putting God first. My personal nature would much rather take that spot.

But, it is amazing how God has a way to put all things in perspective and make you realize that the best place for me to be is second. Second to a little baby in a manger, Second to Holy of Holies, Second to the Creator, Second to the "I AM".

Last night, Titus was a little fussy around 1am. And, I couldn't sleep, so I went in his room and scooped him up and settled down into his rocking chair. I wrapped him up in his blanket, and kissed his forehead. Titus reached his hand out and stroked my arm - knowing by touch it was his father. He then grabbed my finger and went to sleep . . . a peaceful, deep sleep. And I thought, that's being second. Submitting to the touch of his father, wrapping his tiny hands around his father's finger, and resting . . . knowing that it was the safest, warmest, happiest place he could be.

I need to do the same . . . submitting to the Father's embrace.

If you live in Dallas, I'm sure you have seen the bill boards with the words "I Am Second". A friend of ours has developed this incredible website - I encourage you to check it out.

And live your life striving for second.

In 2nd Place,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday Update

Titus is doing great. Becky brought him home Tuesday afternoon - and fortunately, the roads had cleared of ice and she made it home with no problems. Lisa, our day nurse, was there immediately and took care of Titus so Becky could get some sleep - and stayed till Vanessa, our night nurse, got there.

Titus is back to his happy self - you would never know that he had surgery on Monday. He has a tiny scar behind his left ear that is not noticeable.

The main question is - "can he hear?", but we will not know that for 3 weeks until the turn on the device and he gets his receiver to where over his ear. As you can imagine, we can't wait for the day.

And, please pray for our two oldest, Aidan and Noah. They have spent the week in Colorado skiing and playing in the snow this last week and will be coming home tomorrow. We have missed them tremendously and are anxious to get them home. We pray they have a safe drive home tomorrow.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Out of Surgery

Well - surgery is over. They were running about 2 hours behind schedule today, so Titus didn't go back for surgery for awhile. Although he was pleasant and took a nap for awhile, he was starting to get hungry and fussy. Dr. Bauer told us they had no problems intubating him and prepping him for surgery, adn the surgery itself went beautifully. But, as has happened in the past, extubating Titus afterwards proved to be a bit of a challenge. Titus did his "bronchial clamp" making it difficult to extubate him. But after an hour, they were able to get extubate and move him to post-op recovery.

Due to the late hour, and the issues with extubating, they decided to keep Titus overnight in the hospital. Becky is staying the night with him and will bring him home tomorrow.

Titus has an incision just above his left ear and right now has a huge wad of gauze being held in place with a velcro head wrap. That will come off tomorrow. They have given him some painkiller tonight and they should keep him comfortable.

And, since life is never normal, we have an ice storm hitting Dallas tonight. Just as I was nearing home, the ice and sleet starting falling hard and the roads were getting slick. Now, I know for most people, a little bit of sleet is no big deal. But in Dallas, a little bit of sleet shuts the town down since no one (and I do mean NO ONE) knows how to drive in it.

Pray for Titus tonight - that he sleeps and rests peacefully.
Pray for Becky tonight - that she will get some rest during the night.
And pray that Titus can be released in the morning to come home - and the roads will be clear to drive home from Fort Worth.

Thanks for all the prayers today.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pre-Surgery Update

We are set for tomorrow. Surgery is scheduled at 1pm (CST). We check in at noon in Fort Worth, so we will leave the house around 10:30am. Becky took Titus for all his pre-op checkout last Friday, so we should be good to go once we arrive. The doctors have already planned for Titus to spend the night in the hospital - mainly since surgery is later in the day and his past history, but he's much healthier now than he has been in the past. It would be wonderful to bring him home tomorrow night, but whatever happens, we know he's in the best care.

Dr. Bauer (our ENT) is performing 4 cochlear implants tomorrow and for most kids this is considered day surgery. When you think about it, that's totally amazing that you can sand a spot into your skull, implant a device, go home the same day and a few weeks later, have everything activated that will enable you to hear. But to also think of the technology that will provide my child with the gift of hearing - well, it's mind-boggling.

Titus has had a good weekend and at this very minute, is playing on the floor - cheering the Cowboys on (and at this moment, the Cowboys are winning - let's hope that continues).

Someone asked us this past week if it's hard preparing for surgery. It's always hard, but as Becky told one of the nurses, we love Titus with "open arms". Handing him over and watching them take your child out of the room and into surgery is never easy - I don't think I will ever get use to it. But, it is an exercise in faith. Faith in knowing that God has a plan and this does not take God by surprise. Faith that the doctors and nurses know their job and are the best at what they do. And a peace knowing that we are surrounded by prayers each step of the way.

So, I'll close and provide an update tomorrow once surgery is complete.

God is good!

Tidings of Comfort and Joy,

Paul & Becky

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It Must Be Christmas: Lights, Santa, and Angels

Here are some recent pics of Titus.

Titus loves to play with this string of rope lights.

And, Titus and the boys got to meet Santa this week. Titus wasn't too excited, but the fact that Tucker did not run screaming from the building (as he has done in years past) was a huge step.

And, here's Titus with his new day-time nurse - Lisa. She comes twice a week and along with Vanessa are two of Titus' guardian angels. Our life is so blessed that these two ladies are part of our family.

Monday, December 8, 2008

All I Want for Christmas . . .

We found out this morning that Titus will have his Cochlear Implant surgery for his left ear on Monday, Dec. 15, 2008. Yep - a week from today!

We found out late last month that insurance had approved the cochlear implant, but the surgeon did not have any availability in December. Our insurance at work is changing carriers in January, so we have been praying very hard that a time slot would open up in December. Last Friday, we met with hearing specialist to review the two different brands/styles of implants so we could choose which one to use when surgery is scheduled. We mentioned to the specialist that we were still waiting on surgery date and she mentioned she would discuss with the doctor on Monday morning to see if they could schedule a time in December. Well, the next thing we know, is that we received a call this morning. Surgery will be at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth. They have told us that it's basically day surgery, but we will see if Titus will need to spend the night or will be able to come home that night.

As an FYI, the cochlear implant consists of two devices: a small receiver that is installed into his skull with a fine wire that wraps around his cochlea and an external receiver/decoder that takes the sounds and translates it. The external device is worn around his ear with a quarter-sized, magnetic attachment that attaches to the internal receiver (which also has a small magnet).

After the surgery, they will wait for 3 weeks before they turn it on and then they will fine-tune it over the next few months.

Needless to say, we are thrilled and are praying that the cochlear will work as designed and provide Titus with the gift of hearing. If all goes as planned, they will do his right ear in 2009. Please pray for Dr. Bauer and his staff as they perform the surgery and that Titus' remain healthy this week.

Titus is growing - he's up to 17lbs and he's truly filling out. His knees are getting chubby! And, if anything, the child can grow a head full of hair. He is already in desperate need of another haircut since his hair is getting in his eyes. He continues to show improvement in therapy. And, he is just the happiest baby to be around.