A Parable of Two Trees

Our family made a little trip south to visit my family in Mobile before school starts.  Trevor had to go back early for NEW TEACHER orientation!  He will be an English teacher at Terry High School this fall and we are praising God for His provision.

Yesterday I was outside where my dad planted trees to line either side of the driveway.  When Kales was born, he planted two Japanese Maple shoots at the end of the row of trees.  He named one “Karis” and the other he named “Kales.”  Daddy reminded me of the story of his Karis and Kales trees and I am always so overcome by it that I wanted to share it with you.

When dad planted the trees they were exactly the same size.  Just two little bitty shoots.  The tree that he named, “Kales” (Pictured on the right) began to thrive immediately.  It grew beautifully, just as a young Japanese Maple should.  The Karis tree did not grow as it should. It started to, but then it began to wither.  The center stem that should have supported the tree started to blacken.  I prayed for the tree (Y’all…His eye is on the sparrow.  He can fix a tree, right?)

"Karis" and "Kales"

“Karis” and “Kales

Daddy did everything he knew to do to make the Karis tree grow, but it continued to die.  He even had the soil around the tree tested, but results indicated that the environment for the tree was excellent.  Nothing wrong with the soil.

Next, dad called a tree expert in.  He examined the withering little Karis tree and explained to dad that there is a disease inside the main part of the stem.  Think of it as, I don’t know…tree myelin.  ”It’s okay though,” the Tree Man said. “All you need to do is prune back the tree until the diseased part is gone.  You’ll have to do it in several stages.  It’ll likely take a while.”

It has been almost three years and my dad has lovingly and painstakingly pruned back the little Karis tree in hopes that the Tree Man was right.  He was.  Shoots are starting to form from the main stem and the tree that once had a rotted, diseased core is now thriving.  It is growing out, but taking it’s time growing up.

That’s okay.

We’ll wait for you…

little Karis tree.

And we’ll still pray.

Because His eye is on the sparrow.

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“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.   But even the hairs on your head are all numbered.  Fear not, therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Matthew 10:29-31

 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY KARIS!

Since Ander’s arrival I have been slacking in my video making, so here is a video of Karis as a four-year-old.

The song is “Thrive” by Casting Crowns (Apparently I’ll be sued if I don’t put that EVERYWHERE. :) ) and I believe it tells our story so beautifully. Yes, Karis has a “terminal” illness, but by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in her, she can THRIVE…not just survive. If she can live a full God-glorifying life in that little body of hers, WE can too! Amen?

Karis’ birthday is always hard for me. I’m flooded with just about every emotion, but above all, I’m grateful. We continue to pray every day for walking legs, speaking lips, and miraculous enzyme production. For now, He has called us to wait on those things. So we wait. Knowing that Karis’ Savior will (and does) supply ALL HER NEEDS according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

This video was fun. Don’t blink!

To celebrate turing five, I’ve painted this scripture on the walls in Karis’ room. I’d love for you to pray it with me:

“Because (she) holds fast to me in love, I will deliver (her). I will protect (her) because (she) knows my name. With long life I will satisfy (her) and show (her) my salvation.” Psalm 91

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How We’re Celebrating 5 (please read!)

Hi friends,

For several reasons it’s just not feasible for us to have a large celebration for Karis’ birthday this Sunday. The most important thing to Trevor and me as her parents is that Karis is prayed for, and that she feels special and loved on her birthday.

We would love for you to be a part of that. If you’d be interested, please think about sending Karis a card with a prayer, scripture and/or words of encouragement for her birthday. After church this Sunday we plan on decorating her room, dancing, and playing with Karis. During that time we would read your cards and hang them on her wall to look at and enjoy.

If you’d like to stop by Sunday afternoon and wish Karis a, “Happy Birthday” I’m sure she would LOVE it!

Thank you for loving our little girl and for bringing her before the Throne of Grace.

Here is our address:
Karis Almy
603D McDonald Dr
Clinton, MS 39056

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It’s hospital time!

Hi friends!

We have been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to sit down and update you all on prayer requests and praises!

I can proudly say that Trevor Almy is an OFFICIAL graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary!! He was awarded his Master of Arts in Theology (including Biblical languages) Saturday, May 17th. It has been such a long journey and I am so proud of him. It was very emotional for me to get to hold Karis’ hand through her daddy’s graduation ceremony, since we were told she would not likely live to see it. When they asked the children of graduates to stand I raised her little arm high and she looked so proud. Thanks be to God.

Trevor also just finished his certification to teach public schools and is pursuing employment for the Fall. Please be in prayer that we will find a position soon!

RTS Graduation

RTS Graduation

Next up is Miss Karis. Her seasonal seizure increase is upon us and we are doing what we can to keep them under control. During an appointment last month her neurologist (who has experience with leukodystrophies) suggested that we try putting Karis on a Ketogenic diet to help control the seizures. This diet is almost exclusively protein and fat, with very little carbohydrates (Think extreme Atkins Diet) They’ve recently developed a Ketogenic formula that makes the diet very g-tube friendly. After discussing it in-depth with the Ketogenic nutritionist and doing a little research on my own, it looks like being in Ketosis is very protective of the brain, particularly myelin (ding ding ding!). I am not aware of any leukodystrophy friends who have tried this approach before, but we’ve prayed over it, weighed the pros and cons, and we’re going to give it a whirl.

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Since Karis’ blood sugar is going to be dropped quite low, we are going to admit her to Batson Children’s Hospital tomorrow morning and monitor her for four days until she is in Ketosis. This will allow for constant monitoring and frequent blood sugar checks. Please pray for wisdom as we make decisions for Karis. Please pray that her body will respond FAVORABLY to the diet change. Please pray for Ander, while he’s in the hospital with Karis and me this week and for Kales, while she’s with my parents in Mobile. Please pray for Trevor, as he is battling a very aggressive virus right now.

Thank you all so much for your faithfulness to bring us before the Throne of Grace!

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Shopping Cart Theology

The beautiful, blooming Bradford Pears and the blanket of pollen on the grass and cars have finally made their way into sweet Karis. She fought hard, but they fought harder. We have begun the rotation of Benedryl, Tylenol, and Motrin peppered with plenty of prayer that she will kick this quickly. Karis’ day shift nurse only comes a few days a week, so this morning Ander and I went on a date to the fabric store to get fabric for sewing orders (THANK YOU!!) and Target to pick up some things we needed using Target Gift Cards from Ander’s birth (THANK YOU!!). While at Target I got a call from Karis’ nurse saying the “yuck” was picking up, so I tossed some more Tylenol into the basket. They didn’t have generic Tylenol, so I got the REAL THING (Thank you, mamas, for the collective “gasp!” I heard it.) I knew the name brand pain-killing/fever-reducing/cancer-curing Tylenol would take a whole gift card, but Karis needed it.

I paid for my things and picked up Ander’s car seat out of the basket when I saw it: The Tylenol. A second went by before I reached in to take it and in that second something awful happened- I hesitated. I was the only one with a heartbeat who would have known that Tylenol was NOT paid for. What broke my moment’s hesitation was the Holy Spirit lending me this thought: “Do you not believe your God will supply all your needs? He Who didn’t spare His own Son, how would He not graciously give you all good things?” Gulp. I ran the Tylenol to the nearest checkout and nearly threw it at the lady (sorry, ma’am).

I realize my hesitation wasn’t about the money. Not really. It was about where I place my trust. I didn’t believe the truth of God’s promises regarding His care for me, and my lack of faith tempted me to sin. Of course I would never have taken the Tylenol, but that’s not the point. The point was that it revealed the fear in my heart that our needs wouldn’t be met. How strange that a woman who has watched God open her daughter’s closed lung and breathe life into her would believe, even for a second, that He wouldn’t provide her with a little bottle of Tylenol. (And He did. There was cash in my wallet) I’m an awfully feeble saint.

Be encouraged friends, that your theology matters! Your scripture memory is for your sanctification, so that when you’re tempted to make a bonehead move like I was, the Truth can shake you up and pull you back in. He will continue to prove Himself faithful as you trust Him with all your concerns and hide His Word in your heart.

Feeling puny but looking pretty!

Feeling puny but looking pretty!

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A Wish and a Birth

Last year I submitted a request with the Make A Wish Foundation for our dining room to be converted into a bedroom for Miss Karis. The wish was granted and last week we were able to celebrate with some friends from Make a Wish Mississippi. Karis has truly seemed to enjoy having a space of her own!

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Our Make A Wish friends came just in time because Saturday, February 8, 2014, I gave birth to Karis’ brother, Ander Christian Almy. Born one day before his due date, Ander was 9lbs 5oz and 21.5 inches long.

Ander Christian Almy

Ander Christian Almy

THE BIRTH STORY
-Warning: This is a story only for those who desire to know a realistic depiction of the birthing experience. It’s going to to be a little clinical and a little graphic.-

My children don’t like to be born. It’s not their favorite thing. They require much encouragement. They tease with timed, intensifying contractions and then fizzle out. Ander is very much an Almy child. I’d had increased, intensifying contractions from 2-5am every night for about five nights. The morning of Friday, February 7th, I finally decided that I wasn’t interested in doing it for another night. My mom was due to come in the morning and I called my dear friend Mary White, who was planning on attending the birth with me, to come on up from Florida.

By the evening of the 7th, everyone was in place but my contractions weren’t as regular or as intense as I thought they should be. We all caught up on an episode of Downton Abbey and went to bed around midnight. As usual, my contractions began around 2am and I took little naps in between. We headed for the hospital around 8am and I called on our way there. They instructed me to go to a different hospital than the one I was registered at because that was the location of the doctor on call. I explained I’d never set foot in that hospital before, but they weren’t very sympathetic.

Once we got to the hospital, Mary and I found the cafeteria and enjoyed some coffee through contractions to avoid the hustle of shift change. By the grace of God, my contractions kept coming, though at extremely varying times, and didn’t fizzle out. We got registered and settled into a room. I quickly realized that the Lord had PLANNED for me to be at this hospital that I had NOT planned to be at (Gasp! He PLANS things? Yes-yes He does, folks, despite my brilliant pre-registration and everything) My nurse informed me that none of them were taking me on as a patient because they were saving me for the midwife-in-training who was coming on shift at 9am. Ms. Karin. I heart Ms. Karin.

They put me on a monitor to watch the baby during my contractions and noticed that his heart rate was decelerating during a few of the contractions. We decided it might be best to keep an eye on him, but agreed that I should be allowed to go for walks and to the bathroom between monitoring. They checked for dilation and found that I was a whole 6cm dilated ON MY OWN. Unprecedented!

We walked the halls, watched some Netflix, did lots of squats, at some popcorn (shhh..don’t tell) and I dilated another centimeter. I still wasn’t making it to transition, so when my doctor checked me around 2pm I asked him to go ahead and break my water (it pretty much happened on its own by the time he checked me) and strip my membranes. Within a few minutes we were in transition (yay?). Unfortunately, all my hard work in transition still wasn’t getting me dilated enough to push that baby out! Since I know my babies and I know my body, I agreed that a little pitocin was probably called for at this point. (boo, hiss!) Pitocin brought me to what I call the Zen-Whisper contractions. My eyes were closed the whole time and I spoke in whispers between contractions. Here’s what went down as extremely intense contractions came closer and closer together:

Whisperer: Trevor. I need you to call the nurse.
Trevor: Okay honey, is it time to push, you think?
Whisperer: No, dear. It’s time for an epidural.
Mary: We can get the nurse…
-Karin enters-
Karin: Okay, time to get going here?!
Trevor: She’s asking for an epidural
-Mary and Trevor exchange winks and shake their heads and feel sorry for the poor Whisperer who will NOT be getting anything resembling an epidural-
Karin: Oh you don’t want an epidural sweetie. Let’s check how dilated you are.
Whisperer to self: Manipulation.

It turned out that I was still only dilated 8cm, but that information was wisely withheld from me. Karin knew her little patient was giving out quickly, so instead of discouraging me with news that it wasn’t time to push, she felt the baby’s head and pushed the cervix over his head, holding it there so I could push him out (This is not fabricated, people. This is a true story.) She didn’t have to tell me what just happened. I started pushing and wasn’t interested in stopping, even to breathe. With Karin’s hand opening the cervix, making way for baby’s huge head, I was sure I’d just pop him out quickly. I was proud of myself for maintaining pushes and low, guttural moans, but once I realized my plan wasn’t working and I was STILL PUSHING, I screamed (somethin fierce). Just then, the doctor on call (who happens to be pro-Let-The-Woman’s-Body-Birth-Without-Drugs) came in with a, “Well hey there! I was just waiting on Karin to call me, but I got the message.” Karin later said my screaming was divinely appointed because she couldn’t reach the call light to ask for help, what with her hand on my child’s head.

As the dear doctor is calmly suiting up, I plead with him, “Out! OUT OUT OUT! Get it OUT!” He explains that that’s my job but would be more than happy to come over and catch him for me. As he approaches I continue my pleading, sure that there is some little trick he can do to just pull the baby out. In the mean time, sweet Mary is encouraging me to take the force I’m using to pull her and Trevor down with my arms to push the baby out. I simply told her, “No.” I was wondering why my biceps were so sore today until I remembered Mary’s gentle urgings for me to redirect my muscle contractions. Mary- I hope you’re okay and that I didn’t disconnect your shoulder. That would not be a polite way to show my gratitude.

By this time I could feel Ander’s head emerging and I was about to bolt to the door to leave the craziness that was going on in that room. I so desperately wanted to give up, but my cheerleaders were SO enthusiastic that I was “ALMOST DONE! 2 MORE PUSHES! GO GO GO! GREAT JOB MAMA!” I was sure that my absence would be a HUGE disappointment to them, so I opted to stay there and pushed on. With a few more pushes, I felt an incredible, overwhelming release and knew that the toddler’s head was out. One more big push and…VICTORY! Dr. Awesome held up my beautiful baby and let the cord stop pulsing before Trevor cut it. Ander was place on my chest immediately and stayed there until I asked for his weight. It turned out that the cord had wrapped around him twice (hence the decelerations during contractions), but he pinked up nicely.

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I’ll spare you the story of my continuing recovery :) Thank you for all of your prayers, gift cards, and meals! You are a blessing!

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