Union Pacific’s No. 4014 – The Big Boy Visit’s Longview, Texas

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Last Sunday, after lunch had been hastily scarfed down after church, I packed the family (+inlaws) into the car. We headed down to the local train depot to welcome Union Pacific’s Big Boy No. 4014 into town.

There were so many people at the station. Many in the crowd still dressed in their Sunday finest. All held back by a fence from getting closer to the Big Boy. I have to admit, I was disappointed by the view from the depot. So we hopped back into the car, as Big Boy No. 4014 rolled out of Longview. We took a quick trip down down Highway 80 in order to get ahead of the train. One could say we had the perfect spot the second time around.

I would like to thank Union Pacific for adding a bit of history and steam to an otherwise slow Sunday afternoon. You can read more about the Big Boy here.

Adoption Update – National Adoption Month 2019

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November is National Adoption Month. In church, we’ll typically show a video or two that highlight the need for adoptive families for children in foster care. Online, say on social media such as Facebook, you may see graphics highlighting the need like the one below released by Buckner International:

Tabitha and I are in the midst of the adoption process, as you may well know. A process, that we are finding, is filled with weeks and even months of silence. I was recently about to email our caseworker to see if her email address was working when she suddenly made contact. Our caseworker wanted us to know that she is still looking for us and has not found any potential matches.

If you look at the graphic above, you’ll see that there are 452 kids waiting to be adopted here in Longview. But note my previous paragraph, specifically the part where no match has been found for us, even though there are a supposed 452 kids waiting. I can’t help but get a little passionate. You’d think out of that 452, which are JUST here in Longview (not across the State of Texas even), there would be one child for us.

Having attended foster/adoption classes and being certified to adopt, I realize that there are many variables in this equation:

  • Siblings Groups
  • Level of Care (we are certified for basic level)
  • Special Needs (Behavioral, Physical, Learning, Risk Factors, Emotional, Medical, Developmental)

But at the same time, I bristle a bit at the above graphic. I understand that it communicates that there is a need for families. At the same time, the longer we spend in this process (which to be honest, hasn’t been super long, only since May), the more I see that the need is not so much for adoptive families but for families to support the system through foster care.

I would hope that during National Adoption Month, that you would indeed see that while the need is great, the need is also complicated. These kids are immersed in a complicated system… What drives me nuts is that I know that Tabitha and I can provide stability. We are here to fill that need in a child’s life. There are just so many variables, so many factors, between us and our potential son or daughter.

I am amazed that the system works.

I am discouraged over finding no one on the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange.

I am hanging onto the hope that the God who nudged Tabitha and I down this path is bigger than all of variables.

Cancer Benefits

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There is nothing quite like paying someone not to listen to you.

Me: “We need to do something different. The diabetes medicine is triggering my IBS. I’m at the point where it is affecting my work.”

Doctor: “Did you know that the drug you are on has benefits for preventing cancer?”

Me: “What? I’m in the bathroom at least 4 hours a day, every few days, because of this medicine.”

Doctor: “I wish I was on the diabetes medicine you are on just for its cancer preventing abilities alone.”

Me: “You have diabetes?”

Doctor: “No, but the cancer benefits.”

Photo by Abby Anaday on Unsplash

*The above conversation is slightly exaggerated but not too far off from the actual conversation.

After weeks of dealing with side effects from my diabetes drug, I had hoped for a new path of treatment. Instead, I was told that I am:

Doctor: “You’re doing good. Keep taking the medicine.”

So frustrating to waste time and pay someone not to listen to me. All the while they are messing with medication, and my health.

I’m hunting for a new primary care doctor. I shouldn’t have to feel like I am fighting against a domineering/non-listening doctor who doesn’t care whether I am sicker than a dog or not.

When Halls Converge

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Spent the weekend hanging out with my brother and his family from Arkansas.

Roughneck

Saturday, we planned on heading to the Caldwell Zoo. But the weather ended up being cold and drizzly, so we stayed inside and hit up the East Texas Oil Museum.

Oil men

The East Texas Oil Museum is one of those special places that is far cooler than it has any right to be. Something about the museum having:

  • A replica of an oil boom town. Complete with a muddy street that has cars and donkeys stuck in it. We learned that the donkeys have been with the museum for 40 years. Each of the donkeys has a name (there are 4 of them) and are real (taxidermy).
  • A mine elevator ride (puppets included).
  • And even an audio-animatronic lineman.

Learning about where oil comes from.

Not just a Disney thing anymore.

My sister-in-law said that the museum reminded her of Knott’s Berry Farm, in California.

The kids loved the scavenger hunt and resulting prizes for finding all of the listed items.

Post Office Boxes

My artsy shot.

Overall, we spent a good two hours at the museum.

After lunch, we let the boys hang out and play. They fought with their Beyblades on the trampoline. I’m not sure who “won”, but I know that Wyatt loved hanging out with his cousins.

Spidermans

Wyatt ran into some other Spider-Mans.

We ended the day with some trick-or-treating at LeTourneau University. Afterwards, we did some big eating at Papacitas, a two story Mexican food restaurant here in Longview.

Sunday, we hung out and talked. Even got my sister-in-law and niece to play a few games of The Mind.

I hadn’t seen my brother nor his family in over a year. The weekend was a great time to catch up with them, hang out, and eat.

Thanks, Mike, for driving down.

Mom and dad, ya’ll really need to come out and visit.

From Across the Net – “The sacrifice in adoption that I didn’t plan for”

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God is good.

Adoption is often referred to as a beautiful tragedy, and it is—for all involved. The tragedy of it is man-made, but the beauty of it is fully from God. He used our adoption story to not only change the life of our precious baby boy, but he also used it to transform the life of our precious baby girl.

I knew God would use my sacrifice to change my heart and draw me closer to him, but I had not been willing to let him do that with our children. Thank goodness he is the one in control, though.

You can read more here

Life Changes: Learning to Live with Type 2 Diabetes (for now)

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I am having trouble remembering which finger I used last; which finger was pricked with a needle to test my blood sugar. It has been more than a few weeks now, but I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

Shock, anger, and even disbelief were my first reactions. Looking at the symptoms for Diabetes, I had none of them. My soda intake wasn’t terrible (maybe two a week). In fact, I am eating better than I ever have (unless you count the candy that has been introduced at work).

Diabetes Symptoms

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Slow wound healing
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling hungry (even though you are eating)

I had gone in for a routine doctor’s appointment. I needed some refills on medicine. Happened to mention that I have been losing weight for awhile now (about 10-15 pounds). The doctor started panicking, looking over past blood tests I’ve had, and then looks at me:

“I don’t want to alarm you, but I think you have Diabetes.”

We finished up my visit, and I was sent to go have blood work taken without fasting. I walked away trying not to panic.

The next morning, at work, the doctor called me:

“Your A1C tests, average blood glucose levels for past 3 months, are really high. You have Diabetes.”

He went on to throw out a bunch of medical jargon. Something about my liver being surrounded by fat, diet changes, and how he thinks I can be off medicine in 2-3 years. Never was checking my blood everyday talked about nor slowing ramping up the Diabetes medicine he called in for me to take. Once the shock, depression, and FEELINGS wore off, I made some phone calls. Had my doctor’s nurse call in a glucose meter.

Photo by Kate on Unsplash

Stabbing Myself

The evening I first tried lancing myself, I was soaked in a puddle of sweat. No matter what, I couldn’t press the button! Suddenly I was flashbacking to summer camp in high school. I remember waiting in a long line for the rope swing. I waited all this time in line to ride, got to the front, and I couldn’t do it. My fear of heights kicked in. So I stepped off the swing platform. Although their faces are fuzzy, I can still remember having to walk past the other kids waiting in line. Pure shame. Not being able to push the button on the lancing device, I went to bed. I had dreams about needles and woke up to pray many times. My anxiety threatened to swallow me as I lay there in the dark.

The next morning, I woke up exhausted. As I headed towards the kitchen table, where the glucose meter and lancing device were, I could feel my anxiety kick into a new gear. Thankfully, Tabitha started making breakfast. The smells of food cooking proved to be the motivation I needed. I finally pushed the button, tested my blood, and I went on with life. Not a big deal. Funny though how small things like momentary pain keep us from doing things.

Moving Forward

At this point, I’ve given up things like soda. I see my soda intake / liquid intake in general as something I can easily control–hello water!–. I am learning a lot about sugar in food.

HINT: Sugar is in EVERYTHING!

I am also learning not to freak out when my blood sugar levels vary from day to day (in this case, when they go up). I am trying to focus on collecting what I see as personal data points to a much larger picture. The medicine I’m on, Metformin, has been horrific. The side effects of dizziness, weakness, and nausea, early on, were very hard. I still have moments, but I can tell that my body is getting used to the half dose I’ve been taking (the doctor wants me on more).

Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash

Since my diagnosis, I have learned that Diabetes runs in my family far more than I ever knew. I have also realized that this is not a death sentence. Checking my blood sugar, everyday, isn’t that big of a deal. I know that some have to check it far more that just once a day. What I need to do though is come up with a system as far as which fingers I use to test:

  • Left Side of Index Finger = Monday
  • Right Side of Index Finger = Tuesday
  • And so on

I am relearning that life can be trucking along, we think we have everything under control, and then something happens. In my case, my body decided to ambush me. But cutting back on sugar and watching what I’m eating (food, portion control), even more so, aren’t such bad things.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8:28 (NLT)