Thursday, June 4, 2015

It's been a while...

In case you've missed that past 5 months- and no doubt you have, no fault of your own- here's a brief re-cap:

The "Easter Bunny," (aka PawPaw) gave us a bunny... without prior parental permission... because we "always say no."  So, there's that...

Dominic loves his baby bubba Kolbe

But Kolbe sometimes tortures Dominic... and does mean brother things like pull his trach out... cause we like to live life on the edge.  Sigh.

Kolbe wore his first pair of shooting ear muffs (I sound like such a girl right now- I don't know what the stupid things are called) to watch daddy do a SWAT competition.

...And Daddy is kind of a stud...

...Cause he shoots stuff and climbs high things...

...and then flips over them like it's nobody's business.

Dominic had a power wheelchair trial where he got to try out using a power chair for the first time!

I had to help him find the joystick, but once I did...

He was a holy terror.  You can't see his face right now, but you can see his huge cheeks in an all-out smile, getting to control where he goes.  He turned himself in circles and was able to drive straight several times. 

So, next time you come to our house, we may or may not have drywall... it's over-rated any how.

Dominic is getting Kolbe back for pulling his trach out.  "Take that Bubba!"

Dominic has been working so hard in therapy.  Here he's working on standing with the best PT in the whole world and his sweet Nurse Krystyn.  Clearly, he's revolting- look at him screaming at them!

And Kolbe is getting huge- how does that happen!  This is him trying food for the first time.  he hated it.

Dominic is kneeling in therapy and jamming to old country- his favorite singer is Johnny Cash, thank you very much.

He's got such a sweetness about him and he works so hard in therapy and school, he smiles even with the really hard things, except for standing.  He screams with standing.

Finally he gets to sit down- look at the relief and happiness on this boys face!

And this happened- cuteness

Best friends.  Dominic will reach for Kolbe and if Kolbe gets a hold of Dominic, he will 1.) try to eat him or 2.) pull his hair or trach

But sweet Dominic always forgives him :)
So, there's the briefest five month re-cap ever.  I've missed all of you and I know you have missed sweet Dom, so I'll be back real soon. :)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

He's here!

Our family is overjoyed to announce the newest Short baby, Kolbe Francis, born December 22nd, 2014.  We were prepared to receive this child with grateful hearts despite any health complications he may have had, but in God's infinite mercy Kolbe was born completely healthy!  When he was placed on my chest pink, breathing, and eyes wide open, Mike and I had the greatest relief of our lives.  We have been blessed and taught so much with our Dominic, but man is it nice to have a healthy baby.  What a joy it is to nurse, to have him home with the family, and even to hear him cry.  More on all that later... for now, here he is!
Pink and alert right away

We thank the Lord for His goodness and pray that this little soul grows to be a great lover of our Lord, His Church, and His Mother, just like his name-sakes.
St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Francis, pray for us!

Monday, December 22, 2014

"As long as it's healthy"

I've pondered these 5 words during my whole pregnancy- a rote response given by a pregnant woman to the question: "do you want a boy or a girl?"  The mother always smiles and says she doesn't care, "as long as it's healthy."  This is an innocent enough and admittedly convenient response, but each time I hear it said I feel a stab which leads me to silently follow up with the question "well, what if it's not?"  It doesn't mean much to the mom who says it, perhaps she hasn't pondered in her heart the reality of the child she carries not being healthy, perhaps it's just a response to politely end the conversation.  The fact remains we were given the ability to speak to convey truth and our words are not meaningless, they in fact hold the weight of the world.

We all want healthy children who grow and thrive and eventually leave our home to do great things.  But sometimes Divine Providence steps in and gives us not what we, or the world for that matter want, but what we need- a child that is not so healthy.  Then we are forced to choose- allow our hearts to be expanded through the trials and tortures, joys and beauty of having a child who is disabled, or close in upon ourselves in anger and retaliation towards God.  If we embrace this most generous gift from God we will know love in a way we never imagined.

I am writing this post at 4 in the morning after waking from my nightmare: I can't bring Dominic back.  In my dream I am on the floor with a limp child, doing everything I was taught to get him breathing again, all to no avail.  At the end I am holding him, screaming to God that it's not time yet.  By the time I wake up in tearful panic I am pleading with God that He give me the grace to accept His will gracefully when He deems it time to bring Dominic home.  THIS is what you embrace when you say yes to a child- healthy or not- the lack of knowing what might happen, but having hope.  Not the shallow hope the world holds out that everything is going to be okay- because eventually everything will not be okay and if we cling to this pseudo-hope our life will be shattered when the unthinkable happens.  But to true Hope- hope in the Christ, in the resurrection, in the infinite and unshakable goodness of our God, in the truth that this world is not our final destination, in the reality that our Father loves us more than we can ever fathom.

Today is the day I deliver our sweet fifth child- Kolbe Francis.  I so very much want a healthy child.  I want him to be born and be pink and to cry and to nurse.  I want him to keep me awake at night not with the beeping of machines but with the healthy cry for food.  I want him to learn to sit and crawl and walk and pull ornaments off of the Christmas tree next year.  But I realize that it is not what I want that glorifies God, but what I say yes to.  My Father knows what I want and in his goodness He often grants me my hearts desire.  But I must be willing to also accept the gifts he gives that I do not want, but need.  All indicators point to the fact that this child will be healthy like his three oldest siblings.  Still, I struggle to say not "as long as he's healthy," but rather "God's will be done."

Please pray for a safe delivery for Kolbe and myself.  May God be glorified in all things!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It's okay, stare...

Have you ever been in public and had grown people stop in their tracks, suddenly loosing control of their ability to keep their jaw closed, and stare at you?  Have you heard the hushed whispers of adult women echoing behind you "what a shame" as you walk by?  What about the nervous shifting eyes as you wheel your disabled child past?  Have you seen mothers pull their children out of your path with more force than necessary when you walk past to avoid any awkward conversation?  What about the frantic scolding of a child by his embarrassed mother after the little one says loudly "what's wrong with him?"  Have you looked up to see the face of the offending child, being dragged away, looking back at you with beautiful, curious, sad eyes?

If so, you have felt the tinge of pain that floods your heart, the sharp anger that flashes in your soul, the silent rebukes known only in your mind made to the offenders.  You have grown accustomed to the sad state of desolation people's hearts drown in, the lonely existence of generations of people turned inward, unable or unwilling to go outside of themselves and stare reality in the face.  When you have done this long enough, you have experienced the transformation whereas your stony, angry heart has grown softer, more understanding of the suffering humanity who have not have the privileged to learn to love from the most lovable of us.  You empathize with the embarrassed mothers who you now know are doing their best to protect you from the seeming ridicule of their children, who unknowingly ridicule you themselves by correcting their children with such force.  You are able to pity the poor souls who don't see the pure beauty and goodness of the face of God in your disabled child.  The anger leaves, the hostility melts, and what is left is a desire to make your child known to all- to spread his light to these impoverished souls who so need to know what real love is.  To give your child as he was meant to be given- as a sign even this stony generation can see- of the mercy and love of God.

In light of all of the times we have been stared at, whispered about, and pitied, allow me to share with you a truth I have learned.  It's only been 3 1/2 years with Dominic but I learned not in the school of books and theory, but rather in the school of perspective.  That agonizing school of day to day reality that painfully takes your cold heart, that same heart you were sure knew how to love those uncomfortable to love, but actually pitied, and makes it real.  Let me give you a secret so many of us parents with saint-babies want you to know but don't have the words to share.  The key to loving them, and us, as you ought:

When your child stops and is overcome with doe-eyes, don't rebuke him.  It's okay to stare.  The rule to teach your children is "look, but also speak."  It is natural for a child to be curious, don't hinder that.  If you do, you are building a stone wall around their hearts.  Let them look.  But always help them come up and talk.  Don't talk about Dominic as if he were not there, talk TO Dominic.  I will introduce Dominic to your child and you can help your child shake his hand.  Touching an "untouchable" will forever impact them- will make them unafraid of the next encounter and hopefully eventually they will not need your help to love those so different from themselves.

There is nothing in our lives to be pitied.  In fact, I would argue that our lives are fuller than yours by the simple fact we are literally living with a saint.  Sweet humans with such profound disability do not posses the ability to sin, making them closer to God than we.  After all, it is not God who leaves us, but we who leave him.  So please, don't say under your breath "what a shame," instead say "what a blessing!"  Go ahead, come up and say hi, tell us what a beautiful child we have.  This will help to soften the fortress guarding the heart that prevents you from being comfortable with the severely handicapped, and that makes us suspect everyone we meet.  Coming up to those of us with children will prime you in effect to being confident to smile at those of us with "unsightly" adult children with the same disabilities.

If you are in the medical field, please don't pretend to understand.  Practice humility, realizing you do not know what it's like and your book knowledge will not make up for that reality.  Presumption is one of the greatest offenses we receive by those "educated" in the medical arts.  Your education is in facts, books, theories, processes and procedures.  You have much to learn.  Know that and embrace it.  If you have been called to this profession, realize your little years in school have taught you nothing compared with what you can learn by silencing your mind and listening with your heart to a child such as this for 10 minutes.  A good practitioner is someone who can diagnose and treat.  A great practitioner is someone who will learn.

I used to pray for Dominic to be healed, to be cured.  I prayed for him to survive and be just like everyone else.  But now I see such prayers are futile and shallow.  It is not he that needs to be healed, it is us, me.  It is not he who turns his back towards God, it is I.  God shows his mercy to Dominic by preserving him from the ability to sin, but in an even greater respect, He showers his mercy on us by allowing such great a teacher as Dominic to show us how to love.  We turn inward, into our plastic world, our well-manicured cyber-reality and deny the fact that God himself is calling us.  What profound love He has for us to send such as Dominic in our midst- we may be able to ignore the whisper of God, but we can not ignore the shocking reality of those such as this.  Now my prayer is merely "your will be done- may I learn what you intended me to learn in whatever time you give us."  But he is not just ours, he is also yours, a living sign of the love God has for all of us.  It is my hope you can hear His whisper through Dominic- listen, before it's too late.
This July Dominic had emergency surgery for a twisted bowel.  We thought our time with him was up.  God had other plans.

He teaches us to embrace our cross- just as he embraces his.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Incase you needed a smile...

There is so much to write, so much to say, but this little baby boy in my tummy wants me to go to bed so he can wake up and party.  For tonight, here's a little something to brighten your day.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

"What's so wrong with that"

These are the words I heard after confiding to someone a couple years ago that I was too scared to have another baby.  I said there was always a chance that the next baby would be like Dominic and I just couldn't take that risk.  The response came quickly and simply; innocent and with pure intention.  "What's so wrong with that."  Those words cut my soul.  They made me pause, flush with red glow, turn interior and admittedly get a little embarrassed and mad.  What did I just say?  Is my whole understanding of life and the value of each and every human person a sham?  Do I really wish that no one else like Dominic be born into our family? Did I actually love Dominic and his handicaps like I said I did?

I remember pausing and looking at this person with the knowledge that all is pure to the pure, and this comment was just that: pure.  Dominic was not a burden in this person's eyes, but an amazing blessing from an all-powerful and generous God.  Most other people would have tilted their heads and nodded with that sort of pitying agreement that one doesn't mind at times like this.  But not this person.  This person spoke truth.  And truth isn't comfortable and fluffy.  Truth about ones self, when it comes from looking into the deepest recesses of one's own heart is miserable, bare, vulnerable, uncomfortable and sometimes even awful.  It was these words which cut into my soul, leaving in their wake the bare naked reality of my closed heart.

It isn't often that something strikes you so deeply, wounds with that beautiful blade of raw truth, that you remember exactly where you were, what the room looked like, the expressions in the faces around you, and your gut feeling when this event took place.  I have a hand-full of these memories, most occurring as a child, and this statement added to my collection.  Why in these few little words was I so convicted?  It is because of this: these words were spoken in love, all comforts and niceties aside, with no regard to making me feel happy in an earthly way, but in an eternal one.  The memory is vivid in my mind and since that day years ago I have pondered this question with uncomfortable sincerity.

It is true another child would make things more difficult.  It is true I will always have a huge infant to care for in Dominic (God willing as long as we have him).  It is true that my resources may be at times completely spent emotionally, physically, and monetarily.  But it isn't all about me.  Any parent knows this job isn't about them.  It is about these tiny little eternal souls that we have had the privilege to co-create.  About their good, and theirs alone.  And when we tend to their good, we in consequence enhance our own good.  It's a great design, don't you think?

And so it happened that through these almost three years the fear of "what if" has lifted in my heart and I have become aware of my smallness in this world.  I have learned that in this smallness God has chosen me to mother this baby saint Dominic.  And it is precisely in the smallness of his forever infant-hood that he has touched countless souls, shown the face of God to those who can not see it elsewhere.  Who am I to close myself off to another gift if that is what God desires?  And so it is in this that I found my real fear and surprisingly it is not of having another child with special needs, it lies in my selfish desire to be free.  It all boiled down to me: how will I do it, how will I transport a baby and a wheelchair, how will I care for two infants at the same time, one just much bigger than the other, how can I ever be independent with another child.  And the answer came, as it always does, in the sweet stillness of my heart.  My life is not mine, in fact it's not about me at all, but rather about all those I am called to serve while on this earth.  About loving the Lord the best I can in the situations He places me by serving those he puts in my path.  About the little jobs done lovingly which come with being a housewife and mother, however unglamorous they may be.  This is what I am asked to do, what we are all asked to do.  Serve where we are. 
Dominic joyfully finding his newest friend, baby Polly.  He wouldn't keep his hands away from her the whole time she was by him.
In this light saying yes to the possibility of another child is a no-brainer.  Another baby would do nothing to Dominic but make his days filled with joyful squeals.  He laughs hysterically when a baby cries and seeks them when they are laid down next to him.  The other children have been praying for another sibling for years.  They see another baby not as a burden that will take up their resources but as a priceless addition to their personal wealth. Another sibling is the best gift we could give them.

And so it is that we are over-joyed to announce the newest Short baby due Christmas 2014. We are humbled that the Lord has chosen us again to foster another eternal soul who will, God willing, spend his eternity praising God with the Angelic Choirs.  My prayer is that this baby is healthy, but in all things, God's perfect will be done, not mine.
This is a profile with the baby lying on his/her back, looking up.

Monday, June 2, 2014

My dad taught me all I need to know about God

Remember back when you were a kid to your first trip on a roller coaster.  It was hot, the ground smelled like tar, your dad's huge arm was wet with sweat but you didn't mind- that is what held you in to the roller coaster seat.  He knew he couldn't trust the safety bar to do the job so he strapped you in behind his strong arm; you were safe.  The car started, you were going up higher and higher on the tracks until suddenly you reached the top of the drop off.  Now stop.  You had so much faith in the protection your dad had over you, but now suddenly when you can see the entire amusement park, when you can see two cities away, you had the smallest glimmer of a doubt.  Could he really hold you in?

This is how I can describe these past almost three years, but more precisely these past 6 months.  There have been ups and downs, twists and turns.  Sometimes I know my Father is there, other times I panic wondering if he has really got this under control.  I have squeezed free of the safety of His arm, trusting myself more than him, just to fly into a complete panic and seek refuge again.  I have found that under His strong arm is scary, but I can hide, knowing I cannot be harmed, but outside of that protection is terrifying.  Outside of His grasp is utter chaos, mortal danger, certain death.  I am a stubborn child; He is a patient Father.  I escape, He waits.  I seek refuge, He embraces me once again, holding me tighter than before.

A few months ago I was certain our life was about to come crashing down.  I just knew Dominic's time was up.  I was in a state of panic, mistrust, and utter agony.  Dreadful mourning.  Mike told me not to presume God's will- I responded no presumption was present- I just knew, this was it.  I didn't write because I was too vulnerable; cut open, bleeding.  I didn't want to hear everything was going to be okay, because it wasn't.  It just wasn't.  Finally I came to peace and waited.  But nothing happened.  Why?  Why did he wake up every morning?   Why did he come through surgery okay?  Why did the surgeon say everything was great?  This isn't the plan!  I am ready now- if you're going to take him, then DO IT!  Nothing.  Stillness.  I fly into a mistrust- a sort of crisis.  I thought I knew God's plan.  I was ready, I begged, He didn't listen.  Where was He?  Didn't He care?

Once I prayed for peace and my heart was quieted, I heard Him, a whisper in my soul.  He had been there the whole time.  Trust.  Trust is what he asked from me.  Complete abandon.  Just like when I was little.  The roller coaster would start the fast descent and all my panic would vanish.  It was just my dad and me.  I held on to his big, strong arm with all my might, a smile across my face knowing everything was going to be okay- my dad had me, nothing could hurt me.  I may have been shaking from the fear of the unknown but I knew I was safe.  He had me.  No matter what may come around the next bend, my dad protected me and I knew it.

God is like this.  We are like little children being held in to that roller coaster.  He does not let us see what's coming after the next hill.  He doesn't say we'll have easy lives with no hardship or sickness.  He doesn't say terrible, awful things won't happen to us.  He says "Trust Me.  I'm enough."  All we have to do is hang on, knowing whatever may come He is there... and He won't let us fall.  He holds us tight, like my dad did.  If we remain in Him, trust in Him whatever may come, He will never fail us.  Though I tremble in fear, peace surrounds my soul knowing I belong to Him alone.  I am His daughter and that makes me immovable.  Even the gates of Hell can not overcome me if I hide behind his great, immovable arm.  When the awful time does come when Heaven rejoices over their newest saint, I will no doubt be crushed.  But I will remain safe under the protection of my Good God.  I will look up to Him and He will say to me "Trust Me, I've got this."  And God willing, I will.

I thank my dad with all that I am for teaching me how to trust my Heavenly Father.  The father's job on earth is to show his children some of the truth of our Father in Heaven.  He has made it natural for me- I learned to trust my dad which makes trusting God that much easier.  Thanks for holding onto me tight.  You never failed me.

Thanks Dad,
Your  Dega Bear Hunter
A boy and his dad