Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Brother

Yesterday was my brother's birthday. My sister-in-law, Amber, thought it would be a really great idea to get 31 people to write him letters of encouragement on his 31st birthday. Fun! Most people who know me at all also know that I'm pretty close to my brother and that I think he's one of the coolest people I know. I thought I'd go ahead and share the letter I wrote him so you can see why I think he's so great...



In honor of your special day, I decided it would be fun to list 31 really great memories I’ve shared with you. There is a rough chronological order, but since I’m nearing my elderly years as your much older sister, my dating is a bit foggy. I’m sure you can forgive me. Here goes…
  1. Watching you play baseball and soccer… and many other sports.
  2. Seeing you in the stands (or beside them running around) while I played softball and soccer… and many other sports.
  3. The first time we got to go to the concession stand by ourselves to purchase a pretzel or the ever-so-coveted chili pie (or whatever that mix of Fritos, chili and cheese was that we hardly ever got to eat) at the field.
  4. Enjoying the Cosby Show every Thursday at 7pm… followed by Family Ties, Fresh Prince, and whatever other show filled in the fourth slot. No television lineup will ever be as good.
  5. Playing NERF basketball in that teeny tiny bedroom of yours.
  6. Breaking into the house after school through the bathroom window when we would forget our house keys.
  7. Riding our bikes or walking to Taco Bell to break up the boring summer days at home.
  8. Playing wiffle ball in the back yard with Greg, John and Dad.
  9. Going to that water park in Waterloo, IL where they had the super-fun waterslides.
  10. Swinging upside down on the monkey bars at Salem. First the little ones, then the big ones, then the really big ones where we all played that strange dodgeball game knocking people off the bars.
  11. Grand Haven. Getting our clothes totally soaked the first day we arrived and couldn’t resist running out into the waves. Russ’s. The pool at Days Inn. Walking the pier. Running down the sand dunes. Taking our rafts way out into the lake and then seeing how far the waves would take us before we reached the shore again… and realizing that sometimes it would take us much farther than we had anticipated. The day you dug a hole in the sand as tall as yourself while I made a mermaid beside it. Watching the sunset.
  12. The long car rides to Michigan and back. Stopping at the same truck stop restaurants in the middle of the night every time: Brazil and Tecumseh. Ordering a cheeseburger and fries every time no matter what the hour of night was and knowing you thought I was a little crazy for it.
  13. Running into you and chatting for a minute between classes in high school.
  14. The day we went to the riverfront right before you left for boot camp. Sending letters back and forth during boot camp. And better yet, the day you came home from boot camp!!!!
  15. Hearing about the Lord’s work in your heart and seeing you IMMEDIATELY begin to run hard after Him.
  16. Writing the first check to help you fund an overseas mission trip. Then seeing missions become your life. It has been more than amazing to see all the Lord has done throughout the world as He has used you as an instrument!
  17. New Orleans!
  18. My wedding weekend. We laughed hysterically at all manner of silliness during the rehearsal. There aren’t many people who have such a fantastic laugh as you. Then on the wedding day, you carried the train of my dress all around the Botanical Garden so it wouldn’t get dirty. Even when other people offered to carry it, you took over and made sure to do it yourself. You take care of me just as well today, even if it’s from far away.
  19. The first time you told me about this girl you met in Houston and then proceeded to hand the phone over to her so we could talk directly. She was great from the start!
  20. Spring break in Houston and Galveston. I remember standing off to the side with Amber and Chet praying as you shared the Gospel and a few dollars with that homeless man we encountered.
  21. Going shopping for Amber’s engagement ring with you.
  22. Praying for you the December day you proposed… and then getting really excited when you told me how it all went down!
  23. Your wedding weekend. Do you remember when all you guys were hanging out the night before the wedding, and Chet decided to drive the Corolla over a speed bump? Then there was that Sesame Street character that flatulated quite loudly at the push of a remote button. Oh my word. On your wedding day, I got to help you get wrinkles out of your shirt, watch them reappear just minutes later, and then try to get them to go away again. Then we had the joy of watching you forget all about the wrinkles when it was time to demonstrate to everyone watching that marriage is a picture of the Gospel.
  24. Laughing with you on the phone when you repeatedly suggested that we attempt to simultaneously conceive. And finding out within a couple months that we got pretty close!
  25. Thanksgiving in the mountains of New Mexico. Remember that porcupine on the post high in the air? Weird. Remember how the wind was so strong that it blew all the smoke from the super-cool fireplace back into the house, and we all had to sleep with wet washcloths over our faces so we had some humidity to breathe? HILARIOUS!
  26. Getting to walk through some of the hardest times of our lives TOGETHER. Mom and Dad’s divorce. Dad’s death. Relationship struggles. Marriage struggles. Parenting struggles. Personal sin struggles. And then getting to celebrate together as we’ve witnessed God’s grace to help us and sanctify us in and through each of those situations.
  27. Seeing you hold Ladan just a couple days after he was born and watching you smash his cheeks to your own. Seeing Gabe’s cheeks squish between your fingers. Seeing Claire’s cheeks jiggle like Jello when you shake her high in the air. Knowing that you love them like they’re your own… and not just because they have great cheeks!
  28. Talking to you as you nervously drove Amber to the hospital to give birth to Titus. And then talking to you in what seemed to be only about four-and-a-half minutes later when he was born! Receiving texts in the middle of the night when Justus was on his way and seeing photos of his sweet face just minutes after he was born. Then getting the opportunity to love on your boys like they’re my own.
  29. Titus’s and Ladan’s first birthday party when we ended up washing the icing off them in the waterfall at Forest Park. Hiking with the kids in and along the creeks in Benbrook. Taking them all to the beach in Grand Haven and hiking up the “cliff” at Gram and Ken’s. Watching the boys do science experiments together and then watch football with you to insure that they both get to share what they’re most interested in with one another. Enjoying the similarities and differences of all our kids and appreciating how God has created each of them to be unique and still equally loved.
  30. Getting iced/snowed in at your house during moving week, resulting in opportunities to help you load your vehicles in snowy 1-degree weather, watch those hilarious comedy videos on YouTube all smashed on the couch, eat pizza that was literally swimming in butter, and wave to you as you drove off.
  31. Throughout all these stages of life and specific memories, we have had almost daily contact no matter how far apart we are geographically. We may not remember the exact words of most of these conversations—and there may not actually be a whole lot of words spoken in a given conversation depending on the day and how many millions of things we’re doing—but you’re there, and I’m here. And that’s a pretty great thing to remember.
The Lord not only gave me a pretty great brother, but He gave me one of the best friends a person could ever hope to have. I love you more than words can say.

Happy birthday, Bro!


Phyll (a.k.a. Sister… and later, Phatty)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Long-Awaited Perrin Twins Update!

SO MANY of you have been praying for and asking about our friends, the Perrins. I have had good intentions of writing updates, but they haven't materialized over time. Earlier today, I started a new blog entry and added a title just so I was that much closer... but I was wondering how I'd think through and write an update that is helpful. The Lord knew. I just sat down to start typing as much as I could in a few minutes, and I had an update written by Chris in my e-mail! Praise the Lord! Here are his words:

I haven’t sent an update in awhile, but since the babies will turn 7 months old this week, and we have some more medical hurdles to clear in the next couple of weeks, I thought it would be a good time to update everyone, and solicit some more of your prayers.

Both Hayes and Bailey are doing really well since settling in at home, and we’ve managed to keep them both healthy to this point through flu and RSV season which is a major accomplishment considering the weakened status of their immune systems. We were even able to get through a scare a couple of weeks ago when Emily was diagnosed with the flu, thanks in large part to the help of good friends and family who stepped up to help out when I couldn’t be there so that we could keep Emily quarantined long enough to get better so she didn’t spread it to the babies. Luckily we caught it early enough that Emily was able to get back on her feet in 4 or 5 days, as daddy, grandma, aunt, uncle, and good friends’ love just isn’t the same as mommy love! We visited the pediatrician yesterday for the final round of flu/RSV shot for this season, and the pediatrician said that she thought both babies were doing great… what a huge praise!

Bailey is now 22.5 inches long, and 10 lbs 12 oz (from 1 lb 9 oz at birth), which puts her at about the 25-50th% in length, and 10-25th% in weight for her adjusted age of a little over 3 months… if any of that means anything to you. I don’t think she could be a better baby. She is so playful and expressive, and really very calm most of the time… especially compared to Hayes… which might not be the best comparison for “normal” baby behavior (he is very fussy). Speaking of normal babies… we finally got Bailey off the oxygen! Her breathing test was during the time that Emily was sick, so I took off work to take her. I think it was more a test on me (and my patience), as she had to lay in a crib for 4 hours, and I had to try and keep her relaxed, and keep her from kicking off her monitor equipment… those of you who have seen her live in action, know that if she is awake she’s moving. She only kicked or pulled the monitors off twice, so I think I passed my test. More importantly, she passed the breathing test and has been off the oxygen for two weeks now… no more helium sized oxygen tanks with 50 feet of tubing running through my house, no more dragging a tank with us everywhere we go, no more taping a nasal cannula to her face and trying it in her nose when she keeps trying to stick it in her mouth and suck on it (gross). She’s been doing great (as far as I can tell) since she has been off of it, and will have a follow up appointment in a couple of weeks for the pulmonologist to check how she’s doing without. Please continue to pray that that goes well, and she continues to breathe well without any additional support.

Hayes is now 23 inches long, and 12 lbs 1 oz (from 1 lb 7 oz at birth), which puts him at about the 10-25th% in length, and 10-25th% in weight for a boy at his adjusted age of a little over 3 months. So they are both a little undersized, but Hayes is in the 50-75th% weight for length percentile which means he’s a good weight for his size. Unfortunately Hayes has not been as laid back as his sister. We are hoping that this is largely due to the pain and discomfort of the double hernia he was born with. They didn’t want to fix this until he got older and stronger, so he has required a lot of attention most of the time to try and keep him calm… a lot of holding, bouncing, rocking, shushing, etc. We have been told that because of his brain damage he wouldn’t have the self soothing abilities of a normal baby, so we are hoping/praying that his issues have less to do with that, and more to do with
the hernia because he has finally reached the point where they can do surgery. The surgery is scheduled for 8:30 tomorrow morning.... Earliest possible time and place we could get this scheduled for, and since we’ve been praying for this day to get here for the last three months it can’t get here soon enough! Dr. Bloss (who performed all of Bailey’s surgeries) will performing the procedure, in addition to circumcising him as this wasn’t done at birth (I assume due to risk of infection or something… don’t know why they didn’t do this at birth). It’s supposed to be a fairly routine procedure, and of course we have the utmost confidence in Dr. Bloss, but we would still appreciate your prayers. If all goes well, and he’s able to come off the vent fairly easily and timely, we should be able to take him home later tomorrow afternoon/evening. If not, they will keep him over night, and should be able to come home on Friday. So, in addition to praying for the surgery procedure, and for Dr. Bloss and the rest of the medical staff, please pray for his recovery, and that there aren’t any infections, side effects, or setbacks.

Also pray that this is able to help him relax, and be more comfortable, and that the issues we’ve been having with him aren’t all brain related. Of course we also continue to pray for his brain, and for miraculous healing to take place there, and that remaining portions of his brain can take over some of the responsibilities of the damaged portions. By all accounts he has been able to do more than the average baby who has suffered the degree of damage that he has. Unfortunately because of the discomfort from the hernia, the early childhood development (ECD) specialist has not been able to take him through all the motions, and really assess how he’s coming along. Bailey on the other hand is doing extremely well with her therapy, and we praise God for that! Hopefully we will be able to get a better idea of where Hayes is at next week when ECD specialist work him out again. In addition, he has an appointment next week with the neurologist who diagnosed him following his first MRI. Pray for a positive report there as well.

I know everyone has been asking for more pictures so attached are several of the latest. Maybe it’s just the stress level and sleep deprivation, but they really do seem to have a lot of personality and are a lot more fun to interact with than I thought they would be. I hadn’t spent a whole lot of time with babies before, which was a conscious effort on my part, because I just thought that all they did was eat, sleep, poop, and pee. I was pretty much right (only with less sleeping and more pooping/peeing than I ever could have imagined), but every now and then, in about 10-15 minute increments, they can be pretty fun.

Thanks again for everything you’ve done and continue to do,
CP, Em, Hayes, and Bailey

I am amazed daily at how the Lord has grown these babies! They have squish! They smile! Hayes is upset for much of the day, but he does smile! These kids LOVE their family, and they know that they are loved by their family. These and many other things are miracles that are not to be taken for granted.

Please continue to pray for the Perrins. Pray for Hayes tomorrow as he goes in for surgery. Pray for the physicians. Pray that he experiences relief from his discomfort. Pray that his brain continues to develop. Pray for Bailey's continued growth and development as well. It's always a bit scary to even enter a hospital with your children, knowing that it's a germ factory. Pray for protection from illness for everyone in the family so that there is nothing else getting in the way of the babies' wellness, healing, and growth.

PRAISE the Lord for all that He is doing in their lives! Praise Him for preserving the lives of both of these babies through so many major obstacles. Praise Him for using this whole situation to draw the Perrins and countless others closer to Himself, the only One in whom we have any hope!