We’re BACK…with a birthday surprise for Daddy!

Monday, September 11, 2017

We announced we’d be homebound in September, but we may have told a little white lie about WHEN.  We led my parents to believe we were arriving later in the month.  My sweet siblings had arrange a special surprise for my daddy’s 70th birthday and planned months ago to fly me in for the occasion.  As things panned out for our whole family to be coming back for a year of fundraising, we managed to coordinate the timing so that our Smith tribe could attend this special family reunion in the North Carolina mountains.

Daddy knew my mom was taking him away for the weekend, but we kept under wraps that almost all of his ELEVEN children, and spouses, and 20-something grandchildren would also be there for a weekend in log cabins in the beautiful blue ridge mountains.  18 months later, our little Eden finally got to meet his American cousins and grandparents and aunts and uncles.

This is our tribe!  We are many.  We are loud.  We are sometimes a little crazy.  But we are loyal and happily FAMILY!

….normal we are not!…..

Not exactly “restful” for our tired jet-lagged minds and bodies, but so good for our hearts to have time with these people we love so dearly.

The kids picked up with their cousins right where they left off 5 years ago.

We hiked the beautiful Smokies, roasted s’mores, played in the hot tubs, drank gallons of coffee, ate inordinate amounts of food, caught up in rocking chairs watching sunsets, played corn hole, star-gazed, and laughed….and ate some more.

This is a blessed man right here!  We are the lucky ones to have a daddy that has so faithfully loved, patiently served, and intentionally poured into our lives.  He is a man of integrity who has sacrificed and prioritized us, his children, and modeled Godly character for us!   This is what a full quiver looks like!

My talented friend Melissa has just started a business called Breadcrumbs creating memory books for special milestones and birthdays to tell stories of family members or commemorate relationships or honor individuals.  We loved working together with her as siblings to tell stories about my dad and bless him with letters and pictures through a beautiful book that he will have to read and cherish from all of us!

And check out these cakes by Cecilia Villaveces Cakes!!  We heard remarkable things about their bakery and were not disappointed.  In the book we wrote for my dad, there were dozens of references from us as kids sitting on the kitchen counter helping him make pancakes every Saturday morning.  It is a tradition he has continued with his grands as well.  It seemed fitting that we’d have a “pancake” themed cake to commemorate his trademark brunch contribution.

We just loved how this turned out and the grandkids got a kick out of it.  Delicious Italian Cream cake under all that frosting.  And since one cake isn’t enough to feed this motley crew, we had a Reeses Peanut Butter cake for him as well.   Delish!  Check out Cecilias Villaveces Cakes – a family owned specialty cake bakery located in Athens GA.

Happy Birthday daddy!  Hope these golden years are rewarding and full!  You are the daddy I would have chosen if I could!!

We’re back in beautiful America enjoying fall temps (and bracing for hurricane Irma).  Grateful for many things, not the least of which is proximity to family to get to participate in special gatherings like this and renew ties with the people we love the most!

Our Great God!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

24 hours ago, I wouldn’t believe where we’d be just a short time later!!

Who is like our God?
“Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor and comfort me once again
Psalm 71:20

We have felt the comfort of the Lord in such tangible ways!!  He has acted mightily on Evie’s behalf yet again, and the prayers of so many have carried and encouraged us!
Are you ready for this….?

Since my last post, we have seen nothing short of a miraculous turn around!  Evie had a restful night (after such a crappy and painful day!) and woke the next morning with a little sparkle in her eyes that we haven’t seen in a long time.
Anyone who has seen “Frozen” will get a giggle from this…we got her propped up in bed sipping on some juice and in a little raspy voice, she started trying to sing:
For the first time in forever, I don’t feel any pain!”
Music to our ears for sure!

Doctor approved a liquid diet which she tolerated fine all day with no bouts of vomiting and nausea.  We got her up, pushing her IV pole around, (amazing when she couldn’t even sit the day before!) and even left the ward for a slow loop around the hospital.  As she was taking huge strides and improving, the doctors began talking about perhaps switching all her meds to oral instead of IV and releasing her the next day if the trend continued.  But then, when she blew her IV mid afternoon, we took that as a little prompt that she was ready!  Rather than inserting a new line, the doctors OK’d her discharge!!

We didn’t tell the kids back home, but we rolled up in a taxi and got to surprise Izzy just in time for her birthday dinner!  My sweet friend Cecilia got a cake for our girl, a weight off my guilt-ridden mommy shoulders!!  Thank you friend!

Evie is moving a little slow, is on a soft diet, we are administering 14 doses of medicine round-the-clock, and doctors expect it to take a full 2 weeks to completely heal, but we are so grateful to be home where she is surrounded by those who love her and can continue healing and get the rest she needs.  Man, hospitals are not the place to rest!!

Can we ask you to keep the prayers coming just a little longer?…
We returned to the hospital 16 hours after being discharged to have Eden checked by our pediatrician after a fitful, sleepless first night back at home.  We found out he has bronchitis and possibly RSV.  Figures I guess, after a week in the hospital.  There is no way to “baby proof” a hospital room and there were so many germs he came in contact with!  The flu is also running through our family with crummy tummies and fevers going round.  We are all pretty exhausted and run down and need to heal and recover!  Thank you for continuing to lift us up and pray for full recoveries and for sleep!  We have precious friends who have brought in some meals which we are incredibly grateful for!  And the emails and prayers from so many have blessed us immensely!

Gigi was singing “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do” yesterday at the dinner table.
Amen to that!!

“My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”
Psalm 73:26


‘Aint No Sunshine When She’s Gone

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Nearly 10 years later, and this child is still baffling doctors and giving her parents grey hair!  We’ve been in the hospital for a week now with a pretty sick girl who has largely left doctors mystified as to the source of her pain.  We were admitted for suspected appendicitis – chronic lower right abdominal pain.  But, as the days an symptoms have unfolded, batteries of tests have been administered and specialists have been consulted, they’ve identified other culprits as factors in her pain.  It wasn’t until day 5 that they found growth of not one, not two, but THREE different strains of E.coli bacteria in her system!  Additionally, a partial intestinal blockage is believed to be trapping feces and retaining infection in her body and causing inflammation.  Her pain has ranged from moderate/constant, to fever pitch acute pain.  But in a week now, she hasn’t had a moment pain-free!

We thought we were on the right course treating with a cocktail of mega doses of broad spectrum antibiotics, anti-parasitic meds, anti-inflammatories, probiotics and laxatives. We’d even begun to discuss with the doctor the possibility of moving to oral meds and going home if she improved enough.

Then Sunday night she nose-dived!  A new symptom of nearly incessant vomiting throughout the night and into the morning left her absolutely wrecked with pain.  Doctors became concerned this might be evidence of a complete intestinal block requiring emergency surgery and began prepping her for yet another CT scan (we’ve had mega doses of radiation CT’s/X-rays and ultrasounds this week!!).  The anti-nausea meds couldn’t touch it and she was dry heaving for hours!  For a child already suffering from stomach pain, this was agonizing!

The culmination of pain, stomach spasms, depletion from not eating for days and exhaustion from not sleeping sent Evie into (what we now believe was) a full blown anxiety/panic attack – but at the moment, no one knew what was going on.  She very quickly became disoriented and couldn’t communicate clearly. Was just panting “Mommy, I can’t breathe….do something….Im scared….help me“.  The nurses began swarming into the room taking vitals and trying to assess what was going on.  But she couldn’t communicate.  Gasping, hyperventilating, eyes darting around the room, cold shaky extremities, writhing in pain, tears streaming down her face….it was agonizing to watch and traumatically, all Evies sisters were in the room for the episode!  Its amazing how quickly your mind can go to a dark place.  I was flooded with memories of another hospital room with nurses frantically trying to gage what was going on!  Sometimes “God be near” is the all you can breathe as you look into the eyes of your suffering child!

Evie was put on oxygen and sedated.  Sad to watch, but honestly the best thing for her.  She’s languishing and just needed SLEEP!  The rest of the day, she seemed to decline with no energy to even stand.  Even after sleeping off the sedation, she couldn’t keep her eyes open.  Then being asked to drink a liter of contrast fluid before the CT was awful after nothing on her tummy for days and 16 hours of vomiting.

CT last night ruled out some of our biggest fears leading doctors to continue the current course of treatment….addressing the infection, controlling the nausea, and giving her time to heal.  The thought is that the infection triggered Irritable Bowel Syndrome and that colitis may have left ulcers which are not going to feel better immediately even if the infection is gone.  They are talking about this healing process taking weeks!

We are weary.  C was out of the country most of this week and Abi has just left for a month.  Evie’s spirits are down from just sheer exhaustion and being confined to a depressing hospital room.  Mommy guilt plagues me at times with the children at home being neglected – especially today on Izzy’s 11th birthday!!  Ive been home a total of 3 hours in the past week.  Thankful that the hospital is walking distance from our home so they can visit often!  Spending time yet again in Psalm 139 – Evie’s verse!  He knows the intricacies of her frame and has ordered her days and cares even more for her than I do!

~ Pray specifically that we can get out of the hospital soon!  We need marked improvement before we can switch to oral meds and take our girl home to heal.  As Eden and I (mommy) have been her constant companions, we’ve come down with a nasty hospital bug and have crummy tummies too (no not the same as Evie – but just generally miserable!)

~ Pray for wisdom for doctors if there is anything we are missing.  They hope to see a gradual trend toward less pain.  If not, the next thing they will do is a colonoscopy and have even talked about exploratory surgery which we are very uncomfortable doing here in Thailand!