links of the week

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

i got this idea from a friend over at the harvest blog. he posts links to interesting articles that he has seen over the week and shares them with everyone.

here are some of the things that have impacted me over the past week:

this might sound sexist at first but i think it is a good challenge.

michael jackson and the book of ecclesiastes?

one way to be the most popular kid in school.

all men should read this....and this, no matter what line of work you are in.

finally please enjoy this video as it celebrates all things canadian. happy canada day!

what do you do for family night?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

something that really motivated me to be more deliberate.

Family Nights from Carlos Whittaker on Vimeo.

life at home

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

i have realized that it is a lot harder to update the blog when you're not sitting around for hours a day in the hospital. now i have responsibilities that i have to take care of.

it is pretty exciting to see how griffin has progressed since we have brought him home. he has still been in pain and is not quite back to his normal self, however it hasn't even been a full week since the surgery. some moments you'd never know he had heart surgery and others it is quite evident he was in the hospital last week.

here are some pictures of life here at home

and a video that is about 30 seconds of griffin playing with a toy, with his foot.

a tribute

Sunday, June 21, 2009

i want to take a moment and give credit to my father and say thank you. on this father's day it is a joy to celebrate it together. me in my semi-new role as father and his from years of being a father.

as i think back to when i was three and sick in the hospital with a kidney disease. it was God who used that time to bring my father to himself and into a new relationship with Christ. since then he has not looked back. getting out of his business and feeling called to go to bible college we sold everything and moved to louisianna as an act of faith. from there the journey continued and ever since i have witnessed a desire and a sensitivity to the leading of the Lord.

i want to say thank you for being an example of what the spiritual head of the family looks like. i often remember seeing and hearing you, up early in the morning reading your bible and fervently praying for our family. i also remember the list of names written in pencil on an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper that you would pray over daily. people in the church, people you knew, or anyone that just needed prayer. that is a testimony to your belief in the power of prayer as well as a discipline to do it.

growing up there was never a time when dad wasn't singing some song to Jesus or just walking around the house saying 'thank you Jesus.' i am also blown away at the open door my dad has always had. there were always people living with us and him and my mom continue to open their home for people to live with them.

all this to say, thank you dad for being and example to me and how to lead my family and reach out to others.

now i have to run because i have a little boy who is craving my attention.

almost there

Saturday, June 20, 2009

well griffin and i are waiting for the surgeon's nurse to come around and tell us we can go home. so we will wait patiently (not easy to do after 75 hours). this is us hanging out at some ungodly hour this morning.

the kids come to visit

Friday, June 19, 2009

we had the pleasure of having grandma and grandpa bringing Eli and Eden today. it was fun to have them here since i have not seen them since tuesday. how does the human heart have enough room to love so many people? i don't know how, but i just love each of my kids like crazy and they each have their own little personalities.

anyway griffin has been eating well today but still not sleeping much. he likes the formula we brought from home much more then the stuff they have here. not much more to say here are the pictures and i am going to take a quick nap.

something i was moved by here at the hospital

when we first came up to the PICU (pediatric ICU) after surgery we had to wait in the family waiting room. it is a small little room with a couple couches and some chairs. there was an orthodox jewish family that was in there as well. the first thing we saw was a man dressed like this standing against the wall praying.

immediately i was fascinated. fascinated by the tradition, the rich heritage that dates back thousands of years, the commitment to prayer, i couldn't stop watching . these are God's chosen people. the people he led out of egypt, the ones with whom he entrusted scriptures to and ultimately from which came Jesus the Messiah. paul talks in Romans 11 how we, as christians, are now grafted into this lineage by the work of Christ on the cross. he mentions that it is only the result of the jews rejecting Jesus that we have hope and the opportunity to be saved.

there was another young man who was in there and reading prayers from what they call a siddur. the siddur actually begins from deuteronomy 6:4-9 which starts by saying "hear o israel the Lord our God the Lord is one. love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and might." i was convicted by there constancy in prayer and dedication to reading the scriptures, even in public, not caring what others thought or said.

that was my first observation; that they were passionate about praying and reading the siddur. the second was the unbelievable sense of community and family and grieving with others. other then the mother and father there have been at least a dozen if not more friends and family that have been here around the clock. friends of the family that have been sleeping on love seat couches curled up in a ball, people bringing boxes of food non-stop. most of them can't even go in to see the child so they hang out and wait. they are warm and friendly and have offered us some food of their entire table full of bagels and coffee and other items that someone brought in for them. (update: as i have been writing this over the past couple days i have come to find out that the little boy will not be surviving and now they are just waiting, and supporting the parents however they can. it breaks my heart for them and brings me to tears. as much as it is hard to see griffin go through this, i know he will come home with us soon and we will go back into normal routine. for that family life is now no longer the same).

one last observation; i was also saddened to know that although they are so regimented at what they do, they don't realize that salvation is not through works or checking things off your holy to do list. the bible is abundantly clear that in order to be saved you must confess with you mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead Romans 10:9. they have such a deep understanding of God and his ways, but they do not believe that Jesus is Lord and that he died on a cross to forgive us of our sins. that is the pathway to heaven. nothing else. Jesus said it himself "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me" John 14:6. it is by His grace that we are saved, we cannot earn it.

if you have made it this far in reading i am impressed. i went on some rambling tangents and preached a little at the end, but i haven't been able to stop thinking about this family and wanted to share some of the things that i have observed. no joke, as i just wrote the previous sentence another friend of theirs walked through the door carrying a bag of items.

love you guys


chest tube out

well today they came by and took out his chest tube. which is a big deal because it will be much easier to hold him and comfort him if he gets upset. griffin has been the talk of the doctors and nurses with his excessive smiling and kicking. i am so thankful that he is a happy baby, it makes things a lot easier.

they also said that he will probably be able to go home tomorrow as long as he eats well today. so please pray that he eats well and does everything he needs so that he can come home where we will be able take care of him better.

below you'll see the picture of one our surgeons about to take out his chest tube. nobody knows how to really pronounce his name, even the nurses, so we call him dr chowy. he is incredibly nice and answers any questions you might have.

sleep, who needs it?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

well this afternoon griffin was finally free from his sedation meds. he was acting and responding like he normally does, charming all the nurses. amber was able to get him to smile and hold him which made us so happy, because it felt like normal. now we just want to take him home so we can take care of him, and hold him, and put him to bed in his crib. he has been awake most of the day which has caused him to be terribly irritable at times. trying to get him to sleep is really hard, he starts crying and clawing at everything within reach. he also gets very agitated which doesn't help either.

My parents came to visit but were unable to stay long because he ended up kicking the iv out of his foot and blood was all over and he wasn't happy. they will back in the morning to hopefully have some better time with us and him. this evening we had our great friends dan and grace stop by as well. they brought some much needed 'outside food.' you can only eat in the hospital cafeteria so many times.

finally griffin is asleep, so i guess i should rest while he is resting.

comments on our blog

hey everyone i guess people haven't been able to post comments on our blog. and i was not aware of that until just now. i think i have fixed it so go ahead and comment away.

all you have to do is click on 'comments' below the post and it will say 'post a comment' click that and then write to your hearts content.


a few pictures from this morning

griffin was able to eat for the first time in 2 days! hooray! he downed 2 ounces in no time. the nurse said he did great because sometimes they have to really work with kids to eat again. griffin did not struggle with that. one thing i am looking forward to is to see him smile. i am still waiting for him to smile. he is normally a really happy baby and we can get him to smile almost all the time. however, since the surgery i haven't seen one smile. i will be sure to capture it on video or a picture when it happens.

quick update

griffin is doing well this morning. he had a pretty quiet night. amber was able to go home and get some rest and i stuck around to be available in case anything happened. i was by his bed until 12AM and then the nursed convinced me i'd get better rest in the sleeping room down the hall. she was right. the surgeon came back and looked at griffin this morning and said he is looking great. the chest tube will stay in for another day but they will start weening him off the pain meds and the sedation meds and then start feeding him. we are just waiting to get word on how much fluids he is allowed to have before we start giving him some sugar water.

today my parents will be able to come and see griffin as well as maybe eli and eden, depending on how he is doing. that's all for now. just wanted to let you know what was happening.

psalm 118:13-14 says 'I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.'

before and after

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

this is the difference in griffin from before the surgery to after. sad.


there has been a rush of emotions this afternoon. relief that it is over, sorrow watching him whimper in pain, anxiety knowing he is not completely out of the woods yet. griffin has had a tough time in recovery today. the surgery went so smoothly and it was done so fast. however he has had a tough time coming off of the anesthetics and adjusting to the pain medications. he will periodically wake up and cry because he is in pain. so we help move him around to a new position which is all we can do because we can't hold or feed him right now. the doctor said that he will have extremely bad headaches over the next 24 to 48 hours since all the blood vessels in his head have to readjust to flowing into an artery now. older kids who have been through this procedure have said that it feels like you have just been hit by a train. so griffin is trying to deal with what feels like being hit by a train.

the doctors and nurses here at Lutheran have been absolutely amazing at caring for us and for griffin and taking care of any need we may have. we are so thankful that God led us here. you can see some of our nurses below natalie and sylvia.

it has been a long day. please pray that griffin gets some sleep tonight so that i can get some sleep.

we are so thankful for all of you who were praying today for us and especially for griffin. we know that God moved through those prayers to get griffin to where he is now. thank you so much.

some pre-op pictures

we had the opportunity to hold him and have some moments before they took him away. he did great. keep praying over the next hours for him, thank you. love all of you.

it's here

i can't believe that it is finally here. it feels like we just left the hospital last week from when he was only two weeks old. it is such a weird feeling going back to the hospital to have him cut open again. there are a few positives, however, that we found out on monday, as we met with the surgeon's nurse. the big one is that even though he'll be on the heart lung machine they don't have to completely stop his heart. this is a plus because that can have any number of side effects or complications. the other positive was that we were told that the recovery was going to be shorter then what we were originally told. now it's hard ot get our hopes up that this will be the case, but they said he could be out of the hospital in 3-4 days. we were expecting anywhere between 5 days to 2 weeks.

it has been such blessing to us to have so many people supporting us and praying for griffin during this time. i am also so thankful for my parents who flew out from canada to help watch eli and eden. i can't say how much it means to me and i am blessed to have parents that are willing to drop everything and come. thanks mom and dad. And for amber's mom who has helped us so much to get ready for all of this. we are amazed at how much are parents love us. i guess once you become a parent you are always a parent!!!

now we will wait to watch how God works in and through this surgery and griffin's recovery. we are so thank that we get to live in the hope and love of our Lord and Savoir Jesus Christ. we often wonder how people without Christ would make it through a time like this. so much stress and pressure on them to think they are the only ones taking care of their child. we know that God has intrusted us with our children on this earth, but they are truely our Heavenly Father's. i don't know how you survive without that kind of hope. we will do our best to be vigilent parents, but we know that God is ultimately in control. Thank the Lord for that!!!

thank you all so much. we love you all.

rough day aka 'what is good vs what is best'

Monday, June 15, 2009

this shot of griffin getting his chest x ray is when things were at there best. afterwards, is when he had to get his blood drawn. that is when things went down hill. they stuck the needle in the first time and he actually did pretty well but they couldn't find the vein and they began moving the needle around in his arm but couldn't get it. so they removed the first needle and then moved over to the other arm. this is when griffin thought 'hey what a minute i don't like this at all' (we were actually thinking the same thing). the screaming began and didn't stop for a while because they had four viles to fill and on the fourth the blood stopped flowing. they checked to see if it would be enough, it wasn't. so they came back and did a finger prick and filled a vile from his finger, drop by drop filling it up. needless to say griffin wasn't too thrilled this entire time. and meanwhile he left the biggest sweat stain on the flimsy paper they have on the doctors tables. hard to watch.

leaving today i said to amber that this was the closest analogy to how God deals with us i could think of. i think of it as 'What is Good vs What is Best.' as a parent i find it very hard to pin griffin down to a table and have him scream in my face with tears running down his cheeks. the worst part of it is that he doesn't understand at all why this is happening. only amber and i can see the bigger picture that he needs to endure this pain so that ultimately he can live. to griffin, what would be 'good' would be that he didn't have to get stuck with a needle three different times today, however i know it's not what's 'best'. good vs best. sure we could have opted out of taking him today and said we don't want him to have surgery because of the pain and it just wouldn't be 'good' for him. however it would not be what is 'best' for him. what is best, is that he has surgery and it provides him with the opportunity to develop and grow up to be a boy who runs around and plays instead of the other option. I feel like griffin a lot. screaming in the face of God with tears streaming down and i cannot understand why. it is because i don't see the big picture. that is why i am so thankful to trust in a sovereign God, who is in control, has a purpose and knows the big picture and what is not just good for me but what is best. thank you Lord.

griffin's surgery update

Saturday, June 13, 2009

i have decided to give a detailed description of griffin's upcoming surgery. which, by the way, i cannot believe is already next wednesday (that's June 17 for those of you keeping record at home). it seems as though it has snuck up on us. there are a lot of emotions and feelings that are rising as we look ahead to what the next few weeks will hold.

so here we go, in the plainest english possible. this surgery, first of all, is called a glenn shunt and is the second of three surgeries that griffin needs in order to have proper blood oxygenation. the doctors have said he will never have a 'normal' heart, but rather an adapted heart that will allow him to function as close to any other normal child would. let me take you back, here is a diagram of what a normal heart looks like and then the heart defect that griffin has which is a single ventricle with pulmonary atresia.

where you see the vessel connecting the aorta and the pulmonary artery is the tube (BT Shunt) they put in when he was a week old. for this next surgery they will clamp that off and then take the superior vena cava from the right atrium and connect it directly to the pulmonary artery. you can see it in this next picture even though the heart defect in the picture is slightly different from what griffin has.

i am guessing this more confusing then helpful, so don't worry about it to much. this is mostly for the curious ones out there that want to know exactly what is going to be happening. more importantly here is what i need you to pray for. he will go in early wednesday morning where they will prep him and sedate him and then cut open his chest. after they have done that they will put him on a heart lung bypass machine. this essentially stops his heart and lung function and runs his blood through a machine. the biggest scare in this surgery is that your natural pacemaker or the nerve endings which spur your heart to pump on it's own are in the right atrium. so pray that nothing gets damaged in this process because the last thing we need is his heart to not pump properly after this surgery. it is going to be much more intense then the first surgery and he is also much more aware then when he was a week old which makes it harder when he is coming out of surgery. pray that the surgeons would do everything properly and there would be no complications and also that he recovers well. he is probably going to be in some significant pain and not sure what jsut happened to him. pray that the presence of God surrounds him when we can't hold him ourselves.

we covet your prayers over the next few weeks. we recognize that he is God's child and we are stewards of him taking care of him and raising him in the best way possible. it is comforting knowing that God has him in his arms and we can trust that He is the one who is in complete control and that He works all things out for good.

if you have questions feel free to write them in the comments and i'll get back to them as soon as i can. we will keep everyone updated throughout the whole process.


John and Amber

prayer request

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

so here is the situation, we are beginning to outgrow our ford explorer. with three car seats in a row in the back it is time to get a larger vehicle. here's the catch, we actually need two vehicles; one so that amber can drive eli to and from school, run errands, and quite frankly just be able to get out of the house and the second for me so that i can go to work.

here is where we need you to pray with/for us. we need to sell the explorer for how much we owe on it and then find two vehicles that are cheap and get financed for them. this is where it gets sticky (you may have seen this on facebook recently as well) i applied for two auto loans from the credit union and got rejected. so i am trying to get all this figured out before griffin's surgery but having trouble seeing how that is going to happen.

thanks for praying

ps. if you have a spare car laying around that you feel you'd like to give us we just might accept. ha ha (i'm kidding.....but if you do, we're open to the idea....just sayin)

words from our blog

Monday, June 1, 2009

i saw this website called and they compile words from anything. this is a compilation of all the words from our updates on griffin over the past four months. it is aesthetically pleasing to my eyes.

hinger happenings