Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back To School for Me (Again)

Classes started again this week. It seems like I am stopping and starting classes all the time. I am a third of the way through my master's program, and this new class is one more step towards being done. Off to study some more.....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Joubert Syndrome is Confirmed

Just a quick note to say Julia's Joubert Syndrome diagnosis is confirmed. I heard from the doctor that her MRI is characteristic of Joubert Syndrome. We gave permission for this doctor to forward her MRI to another doctor out of our area that specializes in Joubert Syndrome. We had done basic research on this before the adoption and this was in her paperwork from China, so is isn't a shock to us. It is a relief to have the doctors here agree and now we can move forward with her care. Basically, she will have extra tests done to check her kidney and liver functions as she grows, and if they notice any changes, we will go from there. Also, we will have to follow up with some physical and occupational therapy to help her master large motor skills. Other than that, she is a healthy, happy six year old.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Update on the MRI, and other "stuff"

Thank you for the kind thoughts and prayers for Julia (and for my peace of mind). I am happy to report that she came through just fine. Now all I have to do is patiently wait for the doctor to call with the results (Hmmm...I think I have mentioned that I am not the most patient person in the world). We are really expecting to just confirm what we have already been told about her diagnosis, but it will be nice to have a definitive answer.

The kids are all off to school and I have just a few more days with my mom here before she heads off to her mom's house. I have decided that having a retired mom is a pretty good deal. In her "career life" she was a teacher so she came to visit for long trips in the summer. Now that she is living the "retired life" she can come whenever. Pretty good for me. So she will be here for a few more days and then drive to spend time with her mom. Saturday, they will both be back here and my grandmother will get to meet Julia for the first time.

We have had a pretty good visit so far. We have enjoyed being lazy and just hanging out at the house. The kids have enjoyed her reading to them and just spending time together. It was a little awkward the first day mom arrived and Julia ran off the school bus excited to see her, gave her a hug, and asked, "where's Grandpa?" Since I don't know how to say "he's in heaven" we settled for "he's not here." She seemed ok with it, and seems very happy to have her grandmother's attention.

This past Saturday, I found out that my friend Heather was in town to visit her parents, so we got together Saturday night for the oh so exciting grocery store run. This just might permanently stick me in the boring as mud category, but yes, we multi-task by visiting and shopping at the same time. Some people shop for clothes, we shop for groceries and laundry soap. This was my semi-annual stock up shopping, so it was nice to have extra hands. Mom, Heather, and I hit both WalMart and the grocery store, and I ended up with 2 carts at each store. Fortunately Scott was ready to help put things away when we got home. I've been doing these semi-annual stock up trips for several years. I just might have to break down and do it 3 times a year instead of 2. My kiddos are getting bigger, and I am getting older, and 4 carts in one night about did me in. Laundy soap, paper products, shampoo and such adds up quick.

That's about all around here. Hope you have a great week!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Prayers Please

Julia's MRI is scheduled for this Thursday. She will have to be put to sleep for it, and we have NO IDEA if she has any history with anesthesia. Anyway, this is to confirm her original diagnosis from China so we can proceed with her care. So, if you would, please say a prayer for her this week. Thanks.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pipe Dreams vs. Goals

Every so often my brain kicks into overdrive as I evaluate where I was, where I am, and where I am heading. This is where I have been this week. For many years I have kept an ongoing list of things to do before I die, and things I have already accomplished. These lists are sometimes in my head, but often written down in little notebooks that end up all over my house. I love to plan. I love to think strategically about how I will get from where I am to where I want to be. I keep 1 year, 3 year, and 5 year plans in the back of my head. These are my goals. I work towards them. I make progress, and I fall back, and I readjust my goals to real life. For the most part, I know where I am and where I want to be, and what it will take to get there.

There are goals for every aspect of my life (marriage, kids, education, career, finances, etc.). These goals include giving my children the best possible education and opportunities for the future that I can, but do not stop with my children, or my husband. It saddens me to think back at when I was so wrapped up with raising kids that I could not see past the toddler stage. But honestly, there was a time in my life when my only priority was making sure dinner was on the table and diapers were changed. Maybe it is because I am getting older and my kids are getting older, but as much as I want to devote to raising intelligent, productive kids into productive adults, that is not all. At the end of the day there has to be something left of me in order to draw the energy to keep going. One of the ways that I try to balance "me" in my attempt to not forget who I am or why I am here, is setting goals. It is so easy for me to get lost in the day to day activities of life.

But, before I could set goals and work to accomplish them, I had to understand the difference between a goal and a pipe dream. I know a lot of people with pipe dreams. I had a lot of them, for many years. For me a pipe dream is like a wish on a star. It is something that would be really nice, and I would like to get there, but it is either 1) not realistic, or 2) I talk about it but don't bother to make the effort to accomplish it. On the flip side, goals are 1) measured by a set of priorities, and 2) something I actively work towards.

Goals are different for everyone. If I ask 100 different people what their highest goals in life are, I would wager I'd get 100 different answers (that is not a scientific statistic, just my opinion). I would also guess that many people would confuse day to day tasks with life goals. When I look at individuals and how they invest their resources, their goals and the value they place on their priorities shine through.

Over the years, I think I have gotten better at determining the difference between my own pipe dreams and life goals. I don't want to be one of those people who looks back a hundred years from now and realize I squandered the time I had. Of all the resources at my disposal, some are for now and some are to be developed for future use. These resources include but are not limited to: time, money, education (formal and life lessons), relationships, inspiration and creativity.

So how do I measure my goals to make sure they are realistic and worth working towards? First and foremost I have to set those priorities. The one true measure of any goal or priority in my life is whether or not it will glorify God. Everything I do in this life, I want for His glory instead of my own. This focus will automatically eliminate a lot of pipe dreams that just aren't worth my time and energy thinking about. This also eliminates my need to make others happy or be what someone else determines I should be. I cannot be responsible for anyone else's happiness. Besides, happiness is fickle, it comes and goes depending on the environment and situation at the time. Life is full of ups and downs and spending precious resources trying to be up all the time or keep others up is just a huge waste of my time and energy. There is a better alternative to happiness, it is called peace, and it can only come from the God who created us. John 14:27 (NIV) states "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives." This kind of peace holds firm int he middle of a storm. This is the peace that promises spring after a long harsh winter. This is peace that comes from surrender to something greater and bigger than oneself.

So, after setting goals that I can realistically accomplish, I have the responsibility to work towards them. Remember part 2 of the goals? If I don't actively work towards it, it is only a pipe dream. Settling for the status quo just isn't me. Just because things have been done a certain way in the past doesn't mean that I have to continue to do them that way. If the current path and daily tasks aren't moving me towards a specific goal, it is time to 1) re-evaluate if the goal is still worthwhile, and if so 2) change the daily tasks onto a path that leads to the goal. This is where I tend to get stuck and extremely frustrated. I see where I am, how far away from the goal I am, get frustrated, and the lazy side of my brain whispers that I have to give up on my goals. Wake up call, little voice. If the goal is still worthwhile, I change the tasks, and I can still achieve the goal.

Many times over the years I've changed my timetable of what I think I should have already accomplished. But, I am making progress. There are a lot of things that I have already completed, and many more still to be done. So this week I have spent evaluating where I was, where I am, and where I want to be.

Am I exactly where I want to be? No, but I am moving in that direction.
Can I see where I want to be? Oh yes.
Is it realistic? I think so.
Will it satisfy everyone else around me? Nope, but oh well.
Will it honor and glorify God? I think so.
Will it contribute to raising these kiddos into intelligent, articulate, contributing members of society? I think so.
Is it worth investing my resources into it? Yes.
Am I stuck wishing on a star for a pipe dream, or waiting for someone else to do it for me? Not anymore.

This is me. I am still becoming. And if you made it to the end of this rediculously long, rambling post, congrats. I wish for you a clear set of your own goals and the energy to accomplish them.