Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Angels of Mine

Families are important. I believe that Families are Eternal. I believe that we loved and cared for our family members long before we were born in this world and I believe that we will continue to love and watch over our family members long after we have left this existence. My Mother in law is a wonderful woman. She is a giver. One of the things she gives a lot is books. When she reads a book that she likes or that touches her in someway she will by up enough copies to give one to each of her children's families. I have been in a reading type of mood the past few days and I have picked up a few of these books and read or reread them. Last night I finished a book called "The Message". It was written by a man named Lance Richardson and it detailed a near death experience he had over the course of a few weeks in January of 1999.

Mr. Richardson had purchased a used snowmobile and dirt-bike for his children for Christmas. It was not the appropriate weather for dirt-bike riding but he and his boys still wanted to prove to themselves that the bike worked. A neighbor came over and got the bike running and Mr. Richardson took it down the driveway, turned around in the street and started back up the drive at about 5 mph. That is when everything went wrong, the bike started to slide to one side and so Mr. Richardson stuck his leg out the other way to steady himself and the bike, it didn't work. He and the bike both went down, and because of previous medical conditions which left him with somewhat brittle bones, Mr Richardson ended up in the hospital with a badly broken hip. Things got worse from there, surgery fixed his hip, but an unforeseen lung infection coupled with a MRSA Staph infection eventually placed him at deaths door. And then, Someone turned out the lights. As he got out of bed and tried to find the light switch and was taken a bit by surprise, because he couldn't walk, he had just had hip surgery and could barely breath on his own. Then instead of feeling the wall, he felt something softer, as he touched this soft curtain, it began to part and where he had been standing/walking in complete darkness, suddenly on the other side of that curtain was radiant light.

As he stepped through into the light he found himself in a beautiful meadow, or garden. He walked for a short while noticing groups of people here and there and then he felt as if someone was approaching him from behind. He turned to find members of his family who had passed away, a Cousin and Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. His story goes on to talk about how it was explained to him that he was in the Spirit World or Paradise and that he was allowed to come so that he could learn and or remember what he needed to know in order for him to be able fulfill his life's mission and keep a promise which he had made to God long, long before. He was not dead, rather he was in a coma, he was not sure just how long he was in that spirit world but he did travel back and forth from there to his body several times over the weeks that he was in a coma.

There were two things about his experience that really touched me. His family members explained to him that they were very busy, both doing the necessary work within their world as well as acting as Angels in our world. Family and Love continued to exist and his family members explained to him how they had been there to comfort and guide their loved ones on earth.

I have had several experiences where I have felt the presence of my Grandmother, Mildred Gullegde Dowdle. She passed away in the fall of 1994, but I know that she was standing right behind me at my wedding in April 2005, I also know that my mother, her oldest child, felt her presence there that day too.

My Sister Abby was in Portugal when she was 21 years old. She told me about a dream she was given, she had not had the best day and I think she didn't feel very safe, very well cared for, and so as she said her prayers before going to sleep she told God all about it. That night she dreamt of her day, clearly she saw herself and her fellow missionary leave their apartment only they were not alone. They were flanked by two men, our Grandfather Turner who had died when Abby was just 5 or 6, and our Great Grandfather Olsen who passed away long before we were born. In her dream she saw each one of the situations from the previous day that had caused her to feel uneasy and during each of those episodes she saw how those two loving Grandfathers placed themselves between the two young missionaries and whatever harm might have been. Were they there with her everyday? I don't know, but I believe they were there when they were needed, when God needed Angels to watch over Abby, those men were there.

Little J has taught me a lot about Angels, I am pretty sure they surrounded him constantly during his first year of life. (I am not so sure they like hanging out with kids in the prime of the Terrible Two's but I am sure if he is in need of Angels, they will be there for him.) I have two prominent "Angel" experiences with J, the first came as an answer to a prayer. Little J was having a hard time sleeping, he was sick and I was very very tired and it was the middle of the night. I had done all I could think of to comfort my poor baby and I was at the point that I felt it would be best to put him in is crib and let him cry. And so I did, but then I sat on the couch and listened to him cry, which is not a good thing for tenderhearted mommies to do. I knelt down and prayed for my boy, I remember praying for Angles to come and give him the comfort that I was unable to provide. After my prayer I continued to sit on the couch. Within a few minutes he had stopped crying and only a few moments later he was giggling. "No" I thought, "Stupid Angels, you were supposed to help him get to sleep, not make him laugh." The next morning I felt bad for calling the Angels "Stupid", I think the Angels forgave me, I think they had fun with my baby that night and in the end, they were on God's errand, not mine.

The next Angel experience I had with J was as the Anesthesiologist took him into surgery. A lot of times they will medicate the children prior to surgery, so as not to cause extra anxiety when they take the child away from their parents. (I think there are quite a few parents who would like to be medicated themselves at that point.) In J's case they decided that he was a happy and friendly enough child that he would most likely go with a stranger willingly (a little scary, I know) and so he wasn't medicated, the Anesthesiologist came to his bedside in the pre-surgical area and introduced himself to the little 10 1/2 month old J. After explaining to us what was about to happen he picked J up and walked away from us, taking our baby down a long hallway and out of site. Little J didn't cry, in fact he laughed and looked around, looking upward. It was an hour or so later that I was given the impression that he was not just looking around, but rather he was looking at his Angel friends, maybe even the same ones who had comforted him and made him laugh a few months before. I felt a little better while I waited for the surgery to end, knowing that Angels were with my baby. I believe in Angels, and though I have never had an experience such as Mr. Richardson's, I believe the Angels who have touched my life and the lives of my family have been just as he described, our dearly departed Family.

Mr. Richardson also spoke about the Veil. In his first experience he thought that he had touched a curtain, this was the Veil that divides the world of the Living from the Spirit World or Paradise. While he was acclimating to the new environment of the Spirit World he was able to see the Veil from that side. He spoke about how groups of people were gathered at different points along the long Veil, sometimes waiting for people who came through on their own and at other times one of the people waiting would part the Veil, reaching through to help the newcomer find their way. This made me cry. My Uncle Bob died a few years ago, he was very sick and my Mom and her brother Ron were driving as quickly as they could from Utah to Washington to see their brother one last time. They didn't make it. He passed away a few hours before they arrived, but my Aunt told them about something that happened immediately before he passed away. My Uncle moved his oxygen mask looked upward and said something like this "Oh, all the people" I am not sure if he made mention of his mother, my Grandma Dowdle, but I, as well as other members of my family, believe that he saw his Mother that day, that she had come for him, to help ease his transition. Maybe like Mr. Richardson had seen, the Veil was parted just enough that my Uncle saw not only my Grandmother, or whoever was sent to help him that day, but also all the other family members and loved ones who had gathered there at the Veil to greet him upon his arrival. Oh, All the People! There are a lot of people in our family, a lot of love has passed from generation to generation, it makes me happy, gives me lots of hope, that someday those generations might gather to welcome me. It makes me a little less scared.

Feel free to read the book, there is so much more there than what I have shared, including The Message itself, the one that he was tasked with sharing with the world. I was touched by his story, and I was amazed to see confirmation of those bits and pieces of it in my life. I believe in God, I believe we are his children, that he loves us all dearly, that he has a plan for us. I believe this life is just a part of that plan, not the beginning or the end, just a part, an opportunity for us to learn and live. I believe that Families are a big part of his plan and I am grateful to know that families and love are eternal. I don't know if Angels can read blogs, but if they can, (who knows they might be reading over our shoulders right now) I want to thank my Angels for taking such good care of me and my family, I am grateful for the lives you lived, because you gave me a heritage of faith and I am thankful for the service and love that you still provide.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Love is not a Victory March...

I don't know about you, but I stalk a few blogs. I don't have a big list on the side of my blog, mainly because I have never figured out how to put one on and also because I don't know the etiquette, do you ask before you put them on your list? But anyway, today, during my blog stalking I cam across this gem.

I love this song, and this is a beautiful rendition. The original song "Hallelujah" was written by Canadian, Leonard Cohen. I point out he is Canadian because it seems like with the Olympics I am hearing this song a lot more.

Through the years there have been many things about this song that have touched me. It makes a couple biblical references, though a couple of the stories seem a little mixed together, after all King David and Samson were different people. But, for the sake of poetry I think that can be overlooked today. Today I want to share my feelings about Love and as such I am only sharing a few random verses of the song.

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

"Love is not a victory march." It is true. Sure the first stages of love, the twitterpated part, it can feel like a victory march, but love is so much more than that. Love, True Love, breaks your heart. It is not bad, not by any means, but it is true that when you love someone you are invested in them so deeply that you feel not only their triumphs but also their despairs and their sorrows. Your heart breaks, over and over again, but given the chance it heals and becomes stronger and your love grows stronger with it.

When I married, I walked around Victoriously, after all, the Amazing and much sought after Ken Wheeler was mine, Forever. But with each passing day, month and year he becomes less my prize and more and more a part of me. My heart feels his pain and when I can not fix it, when I can not make it better I hurt too. Together we suffer and together we heal, I think that is how you become one.

There is something about that last line too, "It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah" that brings to my mind all the prayers and all the pleading that we do for our loved ones, I know God is there, that he hears me and will answer and comfort me. But I also know from experience that in the moment of despair, when I am down on my knees and all I can do is offer up my request, knowing how completely unworthy I am of the miracles I seek, my hallelujah is broken, it is incomplete. Christ completes my hallelujah, he makes up for my lacking and lets the miracles be possible. And that is why it is important for me that Christ and God be part of my relationships, part of my Love. Oh, and Parenting- so very much not a victory march, but that is a whole other post. On with the music, this next verse goes along with my thoughts on prayer but it also brings to minds thoughts of that future day when I will stand before God and Christ, hopefully I will get to sing my Hallelujahs.

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

It takes a lot of trust to Love. It takes a lot of Faith. But that Love, it is a little bit of Heaven. It is a little bit of God. So that is what this song has been bringing to my mind lately. It's that time of year I guess.

And for Ken. I love you. I love you so much. I love you forever and I can not believe that you are mine.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Since we last met....

We went bowling! With the help of bumpers and the bowling ball ramp, little J was able to beat both of his parents scores, breaking 100 both games. Ken and I are not great bowlers, and we didn't have a ramp or bumpers.

Some things we learned while bowling with J-
1. Someone must be with J at all times, this helps prevent things like J running down the slippery lane and Ken having to chase him, it also prevents J from sticking his head in the ball return, and finally it prevents J from running around the entire alley while screaming with Joy. Not that screaming with joy is a bad thing, real professional looking bowlers don't really appreciate it though.
2. Two games is too much for a little kid.
3. It is really hard to bowl while holding a 30 pound kid on your hip.

So that was bowling.

So many wonderful and fun things have happened over the past 2 weeks but unfortunately we didn't take too many pictures. We were happy to be able to visit with Wheeler Siblings and Cousins last weekend. J LOVED having more people to follow around.

While preparing for our visitors I found some more gently used cousin clothes that fit J. Here is my current favorite. The front has a football, and the back says this-

And it wouldn't be a full week without J's pictures of the day

Thursday, February 4, 2010

One More Year

This is the sweet face that greeted me this morning. Little J, so full of Love and Joy and Energy. I know that there is an Army of Angels that follow this little Guy around and keep him as safe as they can, as my Sister Carrie told me "They do watch out for their own" and he is definitely an Angel, 99% of the time. Looking back at all this little boy went through in the first year of his life, and the fact that if he had been born into the majority of other families he would not have gone through any of it, I am amazed that he picked our family to be a part of.

I firmly believe that God gives us no trial that we are not strong enough to overcome. I also believe that we lived before this life and upon entering this life we understood and accepted our trials. Once we pass from that first existence, into this mortal one, we forget, but I think that forgetting process takes a while, I think that is one reason why our little babies can't talk to us, because they still remember some pretty amazing, special and important things. So, having that belief, I feel that little J knew he was going to be our families Genetic Guinea Pig, I also feel that he knew that everything was going to turn out fine. I didn't know those things. So the events that transpired one year ago shook me to the core.

J was born with a congenital birth defect, Hypospadias. It was genetically inherited and we were assured it was easy to fix. At the end of January 2009, when he was just 10 months old, we took our little boy to the hospital where he underwent a 2 hour surgery. He had some trouble coming out of Anesthesia but other than that it seemed that everything went fine. That is until 1 week later.

It was Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009. As usual Daddy was at work and it was just Mommy and Baby J at home. As I began to change J's diaper that morning I noticed something was different. I decided that the Reddish Brown color of his diaper could only mean one thing, that there was blood in his urine, and I didn't feel like that was a good thing and so I called the Surgeons Office immediately. I was assured that this was normal, that about a week after surgery blood clots start to fall off and they most likely dissolved in his bladder making it seem like he had blood in his urine. This made sense, that is, until a few hours later when I was changing another diaper and discovered that he was actively bleeding. I rushed over to a neighbor who is a nurse, the bleeding stopped and she did her best to share her understanding with me. She had never cared for a patient who had had J's surgery but she did know that it was considered normal for tonsillectomy patients to have bright red bleeding from the surgery site about 1 week after surgery, because that is when the clots fall off and reform, it is all part of the natural healing process. Being very smart she also counselled me to call the surgeons office again. This time the office told me that as long as pressure is applied and the bleeding stops within a few minutes everything should be fine. This answer did not calm my troubled mothers heart. We had 2 more episodes of bleeding prior to bed time. I told Ken that if my baby cried that night I was going to check on him, and somewhere between 2 and 3 AM I heard a little cry. My heart broke, my baby was covered in blood, all I could do was scream for Ken.

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 is a blur. A trip to the closest ER. An ambulance ride from there to Primary Children's Medical Center and hours in their ER while doctor after doctor asked questions. Questions about what happened and questions about My own and Ken's family medical histories. Finally J was admitted to the Rapid Treatment Unit for observation. We were there at Primary Children's for about 36 hours.

So you saw what little J looked like this morning, here is what he looked like 1 year ago, in his hospital crib.

It was really more of a cage than a crib.
Several Nurses made comments about how happy he was, they love children there but the average patient isn't necessarily happy to be there. Baby J did his best to brighten the day of anyone who came into his room, though he quickly became leery of people with needles. It became clear really fast that J was not a Hemophiliac, the first few times they tried to draw blood to run any type of test, his blood clotted before it even got to the bottom of the test tube. He never had an episode of bleeding while in the hospital and by the time he was released to go home all we knew was that he most likely had a blood disorder, which was aggravated by the Ibuprofen he was given for pain control after his surgery. He had lost quite a bit of blood, 1/4 to 1/3 of his entire blood volume and he was now anemic. More blood test needed to be drawn and we would need to wait a few weeks for a final diagnosis.

The diagnosis came back as Von Willebrand's Disease, an inherited blood disorder that no members of our families had ever been diagnosed with. It was the perfect storm of genetic disorders, the Hypospadias and the Von Willebrand's. It still makes me want to cry sometimes, to think about how close I came to losing my son. At least it felt way to close to me.

As this year has past I have had little glimpses of understanding. One Sunday during a church meeting I was overcome by the realization that I had not been alone in my desperate prayers that morning as we drove the the ER. I remembered sitting in the back seat of the car holding my son's hand, constantly praying for his protection, that we would be able to get him the help he needed. As that memory played out in my mind I suddenly knew that long ago, during a different agonizing prayer, My Savior, My Son's Savior had also prayed for him. I understood so deeply at that moment that the power of the Savior's Atonement not only had the power to save us from Sin and Death, but that during his prayer as he thought of each one of us, each of his brothers and sisters, he felt all their pain, of every kind. My Savior thought of me, and saw that moment in my life, felt my pain with me, carried my burden with me. Our Savior thought of my Son, felt his pain and prayed for him. We were not alone and we never will be. That was a powerful impression, an amazing glimpse of the Love of God.

Another glimpse I have been given is of the Man my son will someday be. Several times as I have prayed, or held him trying to comfort him during the night, I have been given a glimpse of the Spirit who inhabits my Son's tiny little body. He is small now, but someday he will grow and when he does, I know he will be a Good Man, a Man of God. I don't know what he will do with his life but I know whatever he does, he will do it well.

And most recently I have come to realize that little J knew what he was in for, when he came down to earth. Like I said before, I believe he knew that these specific trials would be his, would be ours. Unlike me, he was young enough and close enough to heaven that he also knew everything would be fine. The Angels would be there for him, His Savior was there with him. Someday, like all of us, he will forget these things and he will have to relearn them, slowly and faithfully. But for now, while he is still small and doesn't talk, I believe he still remembers being with God.

I am grateful for this past year. I pray for many more years. There are many things that little J has taught us that will bless and possibly save the lives of his siblings. Thank You sweet J, for being willing to be our genetic Guinea Pig. Thank You for being My Baby.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Self Portrait of the Day

I think J wants to start a blog, he wants to call it "Self Portrait of the Day". If I allowed him computer time, this is what today's post would have looked like.

Someday he might figure out that he needs to smile and get his entire face in the frame, but his photographic skills are improving (you can barely see his fingers!) and, in the end, these pictures made me smile.