50 “dives”

We have officially completed 50 “dives” in the hyperbaric chamber.  It feels great!

Thank you, once again, to so many of you who helped make it possible for us to do these treatments each day.  We are seeing results!!!!  And it’s exciting!!

Here is a list of some of the progress we’ve noticed since beginning the oxygen treatments.

* More energy.  Not only does Judah seem to have more energy; but Chad and I feel more energized after our 90-minute sessions in the chamber.  With that energy has come a better mood.  He seems happier and is adjusting better to his surroundings and to position changes.

* Judah’s babbling more.  He’s making new sounds and new inflections in his voice.  AND he’s imitating our sounds!!

* He’s interacting more! He reaches for our faces and playfully interacts with us.  What’s even more exciting is seeing him interact with others outside of our family.  Yesterday during vision therapy Judah was hilarious… and he knew it!  He was in such a playful mood – it brought joy to all of us.

* His left side continues to show more movement.  He’s kicking with his left leg.  His left arm is loosening up.  And he’s doing a better job grasping objects with his left hand.

* Judah likes toys!  We’ve waited so long for Judah to play with toys.  He has had a couple of favorite toys in the past; but lately he’s become more curious.  Yesterday he was exploring a new toy – he’d pass it from hand to hand, then lift it up in front of his eyes to look at it.  YAY!!

* Judah’s eyes are straighter.  They still dart off to the left side, but this is greatly reduced.  (Please continue in your prayers for his eyes and his vision.  Doctors are still determining the cause of the darting we’re seeing in his eyes.)

* Judah is eating better.  His gag reflex is almost non-existent now.  Praise God!  He’s anticipating the spoon and able to swallow easier.  (Please pray for Judah as he learns to eat textures, learns to drink from a bottle or a sippy cup, and eventually learns how to put food in his mouth by himself.)

* Judah can roll either way from tummy to back.  And can now roll from his back to tummy!

* He’s tolerating tummy-time much better!  It’s fun seeing him realize that it isn’t so bad after all!

Thank you for your continued prayers.  And thank you for all of the encouragement you bring to our family.  We are thankful for each and every one of you.

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“I thank my God every time I remember you.”

What’s In A Name?

When I was growing up I enjoyed hearing my parents recount the story of how they chose my name.  They’d remind me that my name, Krista, means “Christian – a follower of Christ.” My middle name is Grace, after my grandmother. I have many vivid memories of my grandmother praying with me, reading the Scriptures to me, and teaching me how to memorize the 100th Psalm. Still today, she encourages me to continue in the ways of the Lord. I loved knowing that my name had meaning – a meaning I wanted to live up to and fulfill.

From the beginning of our marriage, Chad and I have asked the Lord to tell us how many children to have, when to have them, and what to name them. He knows my children better than I do. He knows their purpose, their callings, their gifts and abilities. It only seemed fitting that He’d choose their names – names my children would strive to fulfill.

Each of our children love hearing the stories of how God named them. And I love telling them! Josiah was named after King Josiah. Isaac, our gift of “laughter” after a miscarriage. Ellianna, “God has answered my prayers” — my first baby girl. Rhema, God’s promise to fulfill His rhema words spoken over our lives. Adonai, God is Lord over every part of our lives. And Judah, “praise,” — I look forward to the day I can sit down with our little guy and tell him the story of his name. Judah Forrest James Dearey.

Four years ago, pregnant with our 5th child, I was reading through Genesis and a verse seemed to jump off the page. Genesis 29:35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.

Let me pause this story for a minute to ask: have you ever finished God’s sentences for Him? I chuckle as I look back over my life and see how many times God began speaking to me and in my naive excitement I took off running…completing His sentences….filling in steps 2-10 when He’d only revealed step 1. Can you relate? This particular morning was no exception.

I sensed God’s presence as I read that verse and in my excitement I ran to Chad, showed him the verse, declared that surely this pregnancy MUST be a boy! And we’ll name him Judah! And I’ll never have to be pregnant again!  (My 5th pregnancy had been my toughest – I’d later realize why, after delivering a whopping 10 pound baby.) And his name means “Praise!” We must be entering a season of “praise!”

I was thrilled at the thought of entering a new season of “praise.” Why? Because on that particular morning when I read that Scripture I had been spending my devotion time at a different table than usual – the dining room table of very precious, very gracious, very hospitable friends. Our family was….for lack of better terms…homeless. Through a series of events — the economy crash, poor investments, poor choices, a loss of Chad’s job, and having thousands stolen from us in an investment scandal — we lost our home, 30 acres of land, and 5 rental properties. A new season of “praise” was definitely in order.

A few days later we’d have our ultrasound and discover that once again I had gotten ahead of myself and of the Lord. I wasn’t pregnant with a boy! This wasn’t Judah! I was pregnant with A GIRL! We were shocked! Speechless.

That night as I crawled into bed (the bed of a sweet 7-year-old boy who was gracious to give up his room to our family of 6) I cried out to the Lord, “God! My goodness! Have I ever heard from you? I thought we were having a boy! Judah! Praise!! But it’s a girl?? I don’t understand. And I don’t know what to name her. God, I surrender. My flesh is tired. The thought of having more children seems like too much. But if you tell me to, I will have more after this. …But please, Lord, name our daughter…..”

In the night I had a dream. All that I remember from the dream was a bright light and beautiful voices singing “Adonai.” I woke up just enough to tell Chad, “Her name is Adonai.” He exclaimed, “That’s it!!!!”

The next morning Chad and I spent time discovering that “Adonai” was a Hebrew name used to describe God as Lord of your life, of owner of everything – giving Him total control of all. How appropriate!

Our sweet, little Addie!

Our sweet, little Addie!

We surrendered total control. God showed up and worked many miracles in that season. I wouldn’t trade our cute, spunky Addie for anything. But I was very curious how many more children would come before my Judah. I felt so strong in my heart that Judah was a mandate from heaven.

Our family of 7 - we all love little Addie!

Our family of 7 – we all love little Addie!

Fast forward to March of 2011.  It had been two years since those homeless days.  At 20 weeks pregnant with number 6, I went alone for my ultrasound and asked that the sex of the baby remain a mystery so our family could discover it together at the same time. Here is our video of the moment we found out we did indeed have our baby boy!

I had a wonderful pregnancy with Judah – a “praise” pregnancy.

Judah will be here soon!

Judah will be here soon!

On the morning of July 15, 2011 we delivered our baby Judah. We had a beautiful home water-birth after a 2-hour labor. A water-birth had been the desire of my heart. Throw in labor lasting for only 2 hours and that, in itself, was enough reason to name him “praise.”

Daddy and his new baby boy!

Daddy and his new baby boy!

We named our new “praise baby” Judah Forrest James.  I’m not ready to finish God’s sentences on the full meaning of Judah’s name; but so far Judah’s name brings me so much faith and encouragement.

“Praise” – I praise You, God, for saving Judah’s life! I thank You that You were not the author of the pain in our lives. It’s the enemy who comes to steal, to kill and to destroy! You came to give us life! You have also promised in Your Word that You will work all things for the good of those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. Thank You for working good in our lives. Thank You for teaching us how to praise You through the trials! Praise and worship brings victory! It brings peace! It brings joy and freedom!

“Forrest” is after my great-grandfather, Pastor F.H. Toliver. Before he passed away he wrote out his life testimony in a book for our family to pass down. We’ve enjoyed reading his stories to our children of how he found the Lord, when he was baptized in the Holy Ghost,the call of God on his life, tent revivals and healing testimonies.   I sometimes let my mind drift off and wonder if in those moments that Judah seemed to pass away from life here on earth to life in the eternal, did he see heaven? And if he did, did he meet Great Grandpa? Even if he didn’t, I love imagining my great grandfather peering over the banisters of heaven cheering us on as we stand in faith that Judah is healed and whole. I’m going to read Great Grandpa’s stories of faith, of preaching to the masses, of healings, and of revivals to our little Judah. Maybe Judah will continue in Great Grandpa’s steps.

“James” is our favorite book of the Bible. Specifically James 1:2-4: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.. At the time of naming Judah we thought we had persevered through life’s hardest trials. There was no warning of the attack that was about to hit our family. What a surprise it was to continue to persevere through more trials. But I will count it as joy. And I will stand on the promise that when perseverance has finished its full work, we will find ourselves perfect and complete, lacking nothing. I love speaking that verse over Judah. In fact, it’s posted on our refrigerator as a reminder that Judah is perfect, complete, lacking nothing.

Deep down, I believe Judah has an important calling on his life. It’s no coincidence the enemy struck as he did. But we have the victory! This is just the beginning of Judah’s story. The best is yet to come.

Judah's 1st Birthday

Judah’s 1st Birthday

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Step by Step – a Miracle in Progress

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I am currently inside the hyperbaric chamber – our 39th “dive.” Judah does so well during his treatments. It’s the grace of God!

Judah continues to surprise us with new abilities. Yesterday I placed him on the floor near some toys and walked away. A few minutes later Chad was walking past Judah and immediately froze when he saw what Judah was doing.

Judah was about 18 inches away from where I had placed him. He rolled from his back to his tummy! He’s rolled that way a couple of times in the past; but every time he did it he immediately rolled back onto his back (his position of preference for sure). If we wanted him to stay on his tummy we’d strap him into an anti-roll device. But yesterday was different. He rolled onto his tummy, propped up on his elbows and happily played with toys in front of him. Chad and I watched him for quite some time and praised God for this victory.

We love seeing Judah intentionally make effort to move! We love seeing him play with baby toys! We love seeing him interact with us! We love hearing him babble! God is working mightily on Judah’s behalf!

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

Hold Me Together

During the ten days Judah was in the hospital Chad and I took turns spending time at home with our other children. It brought healing to my heart to be with them, yet I also missed my little baby and longed to be by his side.

We did not tell our children many details of Judah’s condition at that time making those days at home even more of a struggle. While holding back tears and burying the pain I made every effort to maintain joy and faith in our home.

The most vivid memory I have of those times was a moment I felt like crumbling but instead made a decision to praise Him through the pain. We turned on the song “Hold Me Together” by Royal Tailor. Playing it as loud as we could we danced all through the house. I can still picture the kids’ faces and hear their giggles — so trusting, so unaware….so happy!

I smiled. I laughed. I danced. All the while, I cried out the lyrics as a prayer…

“Can You hold me together? Can Your love reach down this far? Can You hold me together? ‘Cause without You holding my heart, I’m falling apart.”

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him…”

Back to the Beginning

I was reminded this morning of a promise I made to God 17 months ago while driving home from Tampa General Hospital during those dark days after Judah’s brain bleed.  I promised Him I’d be willing to give Him the glory and share our story even if it made me feel uncomfortable.

It’s taken until now to muster up the courage to publicly share more of the painful details of our story.  I’ve shared bits and pieces, many times through tears, in occasional one-on-one conversations.  I’m not much of a writer.  In fact, it’s quite intimidating to sit down and write.  But I want to give glory where it’s due!  And share a story of the way God showed up in my darkest moment.

It was around midnight when Chad followed the ambulance out of our neighborhood.  I closed the front door, turned around to our peaceful home.  The kids were sound asleep, unaware of anything that had happened.  Over the next few hours I received numerous calls from Chad of the different tests they were performing.  When he called to let me know they were doing a spinal tap it began to sink in that this was more serious than we had first imagined.  I crumbled to the floor and cried out, “Oh God, save our son!”

His next call was even more of a shock…

“Honey, I need you to get up and get dressed.  They’re transferring Judah to Tampa General Hospital.  I’m not following them.  I’m coming home….  I was stopped and questioned by cops.  They think we hurt Judah.  Police and DCF are on their way to our home right now to question you and the kids.  I’ll be there soon to be with you.  Tampa General will hold off on surgery until we get there…”

I quickly got dressed and started gathering some things to take to the hospital.  Then began texting to find a friend to come watch our children for us.  When the garage door opened I went out to find Chad…not just Chad, but a police car parked outside our home…

Soon I found myself in what felt like a dream.  We sat down at our dining room table with a very nice female police officer (whom I later found out attends our church) and a man from DCF.  Recorders rolling, notebooks and pens in hand, they began asking questions.

Next, we were asked to wake our sleeping children one by one.  (It was approximately 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning at this time)  We weren’t allowed to say much.  Just bring them out to be questioned.  Our children were so confused.  Who were these strangers?  And what were these questions?

After this “appointment” Chad and I rushed out to Tampa as our sweet friends arrived to take care of our children.  We could tell by the tone and looks from the staff at the hospital that we were considered guilty.  Guilty of a crime we never committed.

Nothing made sense.  Nothing added up.  I felt as if I was walking through two nightmares at once.  Watching my son fight for his life…and discovering that in the minds of these doctors we were guilty until proven innocent.

That first day is a bit of a blur to me…lots of doctors, surgeons, a surgery to place a temporary shunt in Judah’s brain…friends, calls to family, prayers, tears, and lots of questions.

That evening Chad returned home and I stayed alone in Judah’s hospital room.  I prayed over Judah then crawled into “bed” to finally try to sleep.  It had been at least 36 hours since I had slept. I had just closed my eyes when the lyrics of a song began to play in my heart.  My hands raised to the ceiling as if He was the one lifting them for me.  I knew others were praying for me as I somehow found the strength to sing in my heart these lyrics from a old Point of Grace song…

“When it’s dark and it’s cold and I can’t feel my soul
You are still good
When the world has gone gray and the rain’s here to stay
You are still good
With every breath I take in
I’ll tell you I’m grateful again
And the storm may swell even then it is well
You are good
So how can I thank You
And what can I bring
What can a poor man lay at the feet of a king
So I’ll sing you a love song
It’s all that I have
To tell You I’m grateful
For holding my life in Your hands”

…I fell asleep….a miracle!

The next morning started off in a hurry.  Many came in and out that morning running tests, asking questions, checking Judah.  A pediatric neurosurgeon came in.  She introduced herself, looked at Judah, then turned to me to say, “They’ll probably be taking your children away.”

My heart sank.  I was alone.  Hurting.  There before me was my baby fighting for his life.  Tubes everywhere.  His eyes hadn’t opened.  He hadn’t moved.  I wasn’t allowed to touch him for fear of causing a seizure.  I began to sob as a sweet nurse tried to comfort me with the information that at least the children would go to friends.

She stepped out of the room to give me a moment alone.

“Lord!!!!  What is going on?!!!!”

It couldn’t have been a minute later a kind lady came into my room and asked if she could clean it.  I pasted on a smile, wiped my tears and apologized for crying.  She stopped, looked me square in the eyes, and said, “Don’t cry.  Just pray.”

She proceeded to empty the trash and mop the floors.  While she did so she prayed softly under her breath.  The peace of God filled the room.  My tears stopped and I sat in silence in awe of the way God showed up in that hospital room.

Before she left the room she came back to me, looked me in the eyes again, and reminded me, “Don’t cry.  Just pray.  If you believe in Him, and you trust in Him, nothing is impossible.”

Then she left…

It would be a few days, a few questions, a few doctors later that we received Judah’s official diagnosis “Late Onset Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn.”  Our case was eventually closed.  Praise The Lord!!

I often think back to that sweet hospital janitor.  Out of all of the hospital employees we met (doctors, nurses, surgeons, etc.) a janitor, what some may consider to be a less significant position, made the biggest impact and left the most lasting memory.  I pray I can make so great an impact as I go about my daily duties as well.

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

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Rolling, Rolling, Rolling!!

I’m SO EXCITED!!!!!!! Judah rolled from tummy to back on his left side. I feel so silly that I’m doing a happy dance and screaming through the house, but this is a BIG DEAL!!!! While I know other children his age are crawling, walking and talking by 18 months I’m choosing to celebrate each little milestone. All this time Judah has been able to roll from tummy to back to his right side. In order to roll the other way we’ve had to help him by straightening his left arm and showing him how to do it. But tonight it was as if something clicked and Judah was intentionally rolling towards his left!! We rolled across the living room laughing and screaming and praising our little man!!!

“…from glory to glory…”