Monday, September 27, 2010


Right now, my oldest sister is sitting in the emergency room at Doernbecher Children's Hospital holding her youngest son. Doctors think 15 month Kaden had another stroke today, and for the third time this month he's been rushed to the hospital for answers.

Answers. I wish we had them right now. Doctors have ran every test they can think of, prescribed medication, diagnosed the problem, but still have no answers as to how the problem got there. Kaden has six blood clots close to his brain, one that is large and dangerous. And though we know the blood clots are causing the strokes, we don't have any idea what is causing the blood clots. It's the strangest feeling to love someone so much and be powerless to do anything on their behalf; to be so completely out of control of what happens to them.

So we wait, and hope, and pray being confident that before Kaden was formed in the womb God knew him, before he was born, God set him a part. The doctors may not have answers, but God created every artery, every blood and brain cell. And in His omnipotent hands he holds the answer.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Being Aunt Dot

There are few words I love to hear more than, "Aunt Dot, wanna play?" When three-year old Daniel looks at me, it's hard not to drop whatever I'm in the middle of to chase him outside. We both pretend to be Buzz Lightyear exploring a new planet or mow the lawn with our imaginary machinery so Daddy doesn't have to do it later.

And then there's little Kaden. At 15 months, he can say little more than "Da da da," but he loves to be in the middle of whatever Big Brother is doing. His cheeks drip with drool as he races from one side of the house to the other. He shrieks revealing two lower and four upper teeth, a little smile that leaps its way right into Aunt Dot's heart.

But that was not Saturday. Saturday, I watched little Kaden chuck his pacifier across the play room of Doernbecher Chilren's Hospital. Frustrated at his wobbly legs and inability to walk on his own, he threw himself on the floor and flailed his limbs in anger. He couldn't understand what had happened; that blood clots had cut off blood flow to the brain causing multiple strokes and loss of mobility. He couldn't understand the doctors when they said he wouldn't walk on his own again for at least a month if not much longer.

I'm so grateful Kaden didn't understand. Whether it meant bear crawling across the carpet or lifting one unsteady leg on top a chair, my little nephew was determined to regain his mobility. Saturday night he was walking. Sunday morning he was running again. And as I looked at Kaden, I couldn't help but think of all the times in my life where someone told me I couldn't, so I didn't, or someone said I might fail, so I never tried. I'm so quick to understand my circumstances that I forget my circumstances don't dictate my future--no that's held by hands that are much more secure. So fall as I might, I'm determined to look past the "what happened" and past the "what might never be" and with one wobbly leg in front of the other take the first step and the next until eventually at a full gait, I'm running across the floor.

We still don't know what is wrong with Kaden. The blood clots near his brain are inexplicable by doctors, but I like Daniel's attitude toward his little brother. A nurse entered the room on Sunday to change the sheets in the crib. Daniel was sitting in a chair next to her and informed the nurse, "Kaden all better now."

It's amazing how caring and perceptive a three-year old can be. On discovering his younger brother will have a shot of blood thinners in the leg twice a day, Daniel informed the nurses about twenty times that "Kaden no like shots. Shots no fun." Daniel told his daddy that they should buy his brother a Lego spaceship like the one Daddy bought him because, "Kaden be happy". Despite the fact that I sometimes think Danny would prefer to be an only child (especially when Kaden touches his Buzz Lightyear doll), Danny truly missed his brother while he was in the hospital, "I looked and looked for brother and couldn't find him," he said. "I was waiting for him."

But the most compelling moment to me during Daniel's visit was the moment I held him in my arms while the nurse administer Kaden's shot. Although curious, he was scared. As I held Danny's head against my chest, I cradled the side of his face with my hand. The moment I moved my hand, he reached for it and placed it back on his face.

And I thought of all the moments when I'm scared. When I don't understand what is going on and when I'm powerless to change things. I thought of sitting at my desk at work waiting for a text message from my mom letting me know my precious nephew was going to be ok. I thought of Kaden leaving the hospital without a clear answer as to why his blood was clotting. I thought of the way this whole situation was so out of my hands, that no matter how much I loved this baby boy, I couldn't do anything to help him or change what was going on in those small arteries flowing through his tiny body.

And I was glad that I have a Maker who holds me just like I held Danny. He pulls me close to his chest and cradles my head in his hands saying, "It's going to be ok. Kaden is going to be ok. He'll get better." And just like Danny, I choose to believe, "Kaden all better now".

Friday, September 3, 2010

Running: Lesson #1

I use to sit in the park and scoff at all the runners with their cute little short and iPods acting as though running was a perfectly sane and acceptable endeavor. Well, I'll have you know it's not. There has never been anything sane about huffing and puffing for at least a good 20 minutes in order to eat that chocolate chip cookie guilt free. However, in recent months I have joined the ranks of the insane and now find myself almost addicted to the sport. In addition to the incentive of toned legs and a tight butt, there are the endorphins that make running oh so good.

I run a very scenic route past fields, gardens, horses, and even a cute old church. My favorite moment on my run comes when I start a downward slope after a mile of subtle hills. The whole Willamette Valley suddenly opens up, and no matter how tired I am, at that moment, I feel like I could run forever. However, I find myself often paying more attention to my feet than the scenery. And in these moments where my feet are the focus, I grow tired as I listen to my breathing and think about how long I've been running. But I keep putting one foot in front of the other in perfect time. No matter how slow my progress down the road and how long it looks like before I'm up the next big hill, I know the steady pace of one foot then the next will eventually get me there.

There are other moments where my best option is to keep my eyes on my feet. I end my run by climbing an impossibly big hill. Mid-way through, there is a steep incline that lasts for about 500 feet. That's 500 steps and progress seems so slow as I look at the crest of that hill. However, if I dial in and pay attention to my pace and not the length of the hill, soon I'm able to look behind and see the progress I've made. The incline subsides and before I know it, I'm sprinting on the top.

My relationship with Jesus is no different. I'm either so focused on the moment and the pace of my feet or so focused on the scenic big picture, that I often forgot the balance between the two. Without the big picture, my pace is futile, but without the pace, I stand still in the big picture. Sometimes I'm so focused on where I'm at and the obstacle set in front of me that even monumental progress feels like no progress. I look at the big picture and think I'll never get there, I will never be there, and forget to celebrate the moment of the last 25 steady paces that allow me to take my place among the fields, and the barns, and the scenic Willamette Valley. And sometimes I'm so focused on those paces, I fail to see others around me; I fail to find the joy that comes from lifting my eyes to the hills and looking for hope that doesn't rely on me.

So, here's to the balance. Lesson #1 in running: keep your pace, don't try to match someone else's, but take some time to enjoy all that is around you. Soon like me, you'll be hooked on the endorphins.