Saturday, October 31, 2009
12/31/08 compensation: $633,722.00
W. Franklin Graham III, CEO of Samaritan's Purse
12/31/08 compensation: $308,826.00
Grand Total: $1.2 million if you add in his expense allowance.
Just so you'll know I'm not picking on Franklin:
Richard Stearns, President, World Vision: $336,472.00
Dennis Ryberg, CEO, Young Life: $279,338.00
Charles Stanley, President, In Touch Ministries: $226,704.00
Frances Jones, Executive VP, Feed the Children: $182,952.00
Wesley Stafford, President, Compassion International: $206,673.00
The list of salaries for "nonprofit executives" goes on and on.....I've just picked a few you are all probably familiar with.
My question is, what is a fair salary for these execs? It is a difficult question, isn't it?
A post script to the above Philanthropy Survey, Franklin Graham is now giving up one of the incomes. When the report came out, it apparently caused quite a stir. From now on, he will only receive income from Samaritan's Purse---which in both 2007 and 2008 (including all benefits) exceeded $500,000.00.
While Hope has been recuperating from surgery, I have been home alot more than usual. The doctor's orders were for her to stay away from public places for a month after surgery (only 12 days, 14 hours, and 51 minutes left----but who's counting, right?). Since I am her primary caretaker, I don't want to be exposed to germs and risk bringing them home to her, so I have been staying home and Chappy has been doing the running for the rest of the gang. On occasion, I have felt a bit stir crazy and have wanted to escape my house to step into Target (if for only a few minutes). However, I have tried to use this time to be productive.
So....with my time, I am self-publishing a book. And the best part is, I want to give the proceeds away.
There are two ministries I whole-heartedly believe in. Each sows almost every penny given back into their ministries:
1. Amazima Ministries (http://www.kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/)
2. Reece's Rainbow Waiting Children (http://www.reecesrainbow.com/)
I am not computer savvy at all, so it is laughable that I would attempt such a feat. (In fact, I am laughing right now when I think about it). However, I want to do something.....and right now, trapped in the house for another two weeks, I have plenty of time to do something meaningful.
This is my plan:
35% of proceeds to Amazima Ministries
35% of proceeds to Reece's Rainbow Waiting Children
20% to be put aside for our future adoption of a waiting child with DS through Reece's Rainbow
10% of proceeds to be put aside for production/shipping costs
Many self-publishing companies charge a 20% royalty for every book sold; this would obviously defeat the purpose. As a result, I am doing all of the work myself. Not easy. Once it is complete, hopefully within the next 10-14 days, I'll give an update.
The holidays are near, and I want to give....I want to bless others.....don't you??? My plan is to keep the book as affordable as possible while still making enough profit to give money to Amazima and Reece's Rainbow.
That is my news of the day. I've been working on this for about three weeks now and have managed to keep it a secret. Won't it be fun to tally up the money that will go to Amazima and Reece's Rainbow? I am excited to see what the Lord will do with this project.
"Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God."
Thursday, October 29, 2009
She rips her glasses off her face,
When she's flustered, quick as a flash;
Across the room to begin my search,
I hurriedly make a mad dash.
They have landed in mashed potatoes,
Hit the back of our heads in the car;
Were almost flushed down the potty,
Have been stuck inside Lydia's guitar.
In the fireplace they have been hidden,
Deep in a toy box, beneath a chair;
Even thrown into a garbage can,
Thank goodness I thought to look there.
So full of smudges and scratches,
How on earth can she possibly see;
Please don't let the dog chew them again,
Is my nagging, but earnest plea.
Only if you have a young one in glasses,
Can you fully, to me, relate;
For the day Hope learns they are not a toy,
I can hardly wait!
"Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law."
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Since the month of October has been set aside for National Down Syndrome Awareness and the month of November has been set aside for National Adoption Awareness, I thought it would be interesting to combine the two.
I hope you'll take a few moments to watch the attached YouTube video. It is very compelling, because it beautifully shows the children without hope when they were stuck in an orphanage and then shows the transformation that took place after only a short while with their new families....no longer orphans. A little bit of love goes a mighty long way, and this video proves it!
P.S. The face on the video belongs to Micah....he is a little fella' Lydia's support went to help last December. He is one Lydia chose from the many. It turned out, a family in nearby Spring Hill adopted him, and now we are friends with the family. In fact, they are one of the three families who have young children with DS we go to church with. Is God amazing, or what??? He saw ahead and placed Micah in Lydia's heart through a photo on the Reece's Rainbow website long before our families would "officially" meet.
"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act."
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
When dad goes out the door to leave town on business, many of the house rules go out the door with him.....especially the ones having to do with bedtime. Our evenings without dad consist of take-out pizza and late night movies piled in my bed with occasional tickle fights. All 6 of us! We miss dad when he's gone, don't get me wrong, but we put forth our very best effort to make the most from his absence.
Monday, October 26, 2009
When Hope turned one, we began three different therapies: Physical, Speech and Occupational Therapy. When I first met her speech therapist, I was surprised when she began teaching Hope sign language; but what a welcome relief! Hope picked up on it right away and was less frustrated, because she had a new way to tell me what she wanted or needed. Since we were learning this new language together, we completely understood one another (and still do!)
Above is a picture of Charlie and Hope sitting together this morning watching a new sign language video that was recommended by a friend. They LOVED it!!! They sat together for 30 minutes and watched the entire DVD without moving. I was able to sneak in and take a quick photo without disturbing them. Amazing. This is just another kind of "different" that goes along with a "special one".....it is not bad, at all.....just different!
"Who has made man's mouth? or who makes the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing or the blind? Have not I the Lord?" Exodus 4:10
Hope will speak at the precise time that has already been ordained by her heavenly Father, and not a moment sooner. I trust Him and can hardly wait! When she finally says, "Mommy", I believe all of Nashville will hear a big "hoop and holler"!!! Then, post celebration, I will fall on my face and thank the Lord.....
I have to brag on Caleb's football team for a second.....the Knights will play Aaron Academy for the MTAC Championship this Saturday!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Life's no longer "normal",
But brimming with new-found fun;
Every day is unalike,
With my Special Ones.
Heaps of pursuit and therapy,
Have only just begun;
Still toting and changing diapers,
For my special ones.
Mealtime is oft a challenge,
You see, neither can be outdone;
Food is playfully thrown everywhere,
By my special ones.
A total joke is discipline,
No need to become undone;
For life is always a party,
For my special ones.
Learning time, I suggest,
Answered with hugs for everyone;
They'd rather love than do their work,
They're the special ones.
Placed into chosen families,
A gift from the Son;
Bringing boundless joy to share......
Sometimes more than your heart can bear.....
The special ones!
At the end of each day, Chappy and I sit around the Great Room with our older children to have prayer, Bible Study, and a "family meeting". During our time together, it is amazing how frequently we talk about Hopey and Charlie, often remarking how incredible it is to be loved so completely by them, and to in turn, love them so completely. Our cup truly runneth over.....they are little treasures....there is nothing else in the world like this gift!
"And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness----secret riches . I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the One Who calls you by name." Isaiah 45:3
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Have you seen the movie, "Faith Like Potatoes"?? We watched the movie last Saturday; the movie is available on DVD now. If you are looking for something that will inspire your family, I would suggest you find the movie and watch it this weekend. It is based on a true story about a farmer in Africa, and it has challenged our family to think more about life.....what our brief time on earth should be about.....the purpose of it all.
As believers, I guess if we really believe we will face the Almighty some day.....I mean believe it deep in our souls.......we will live our faith out every single moment......always mindful of the greater call in our lives.....the Kingdom that is to come! While this means different things to each of us, all of us who believe should be seeking ways to actively live out our faith in some tangible way.....continuing to dig deeper, stretch ourselves a bit further, give of ourselves until we are uncomfortable.....even giving sacrificially.....out of our love for the One who redeemed us and saved us. Knowing for certain, the day will come when our actions on earth are manifested in Glory.
Giving money is easy for many of us. It is a guilt-easer too. I know I've been guilty of throwing money at a problem.....letting someone else do the grunt work while I sat by feeling good about my "donation". Giving of our time, our talents, and our gifts......sharing our family......that's much more difficult.
Does that mean adopting an orphan who has been left with no family? Yes. Feeding the hungry? Yes. Loving the unloveable? Yes. Clothing the poor? Yes. Inviting those who are suffering hardships into our homes? Yes. Caring for Widows? Yes. If we, as a group, believe James 1:27 is accurate, then Yes: "Pure religion in the sight of God is this: to take care of widows and orphans who are suffering and to keep oneself unstained by the world".
You all know the list as much as I do; but isn't it difficult to schedule time for others? to be inconvenienced for others?
"Whatever you have done for the least of these.....you have done it for Me." The message that keeps ringing in my ear is the Father's voice saying: "How much do you love Me?" "What will you do for Me?" Over the last few months, my heart has been answering: "Anything".....The movie, "Faith Like Potatoes", just further confirmed it to me. If you take time to watch the movie, I am certain it will confirm the same in your spirit.
Chappy is going to have an awesome opportunity to do some mission work in Africa very soon. I am incredibly excited for him! Upon his return, I will be eager to sit down and hear how the Lord used the experience to speak new things to him. I know it is going to be life-changing. Who knows what will come from it? Something I do know, is that we are willing and open for God's "Anything".
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Little Miss Mischief Wearing Her Elmo P.J.'s and Elmo Slippers....Sitting In Her Elmo Chair Surrounded By Stuffed Elmos.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
With every beat of her four year old heart,
A balloon escapes from the weakest part;
The walls are thick on either side,
But Hope's Love Balloon does slyly divide.
It's called strange and unique....a mystery,
For another like it, there is no case history;
Is it life threatening? No one knows for sure,
As of this moment, there isn't a cure.
Typically balloons are used for celebration,
This one, however, comes with much tribulation;
Even though we see it not with our physical eyes,
It's abiding presence in our lives, we cannot deny.
Is God big enough to be utterly involved?
Did He ordain....purpose...or is He somehow absolved?
Is the balloon a result of some hidden sin?
To admit my struggle makes me feel quite chagrin.
Once again, an unyielding choice must be made,
Armor on, sword ready, can't let Enemy invade;
Standing in faith for what we believe
Trusting God's Power Hope will continually receive.
Could He deflate the balloon and toss it away?
Cut the string and let it fly at break of day?
For certain He can, and I pray He just might,
Though if He doesn't, it is still alright.
A choice I have made, and I will not be shaken,
By God little Hope has not been forsaken;
This is all part of the path He specially designed,
When He first formed the thought of Hope in His mind.
So, steadfast, will I march toward God's unknowable call,
Determined to seek Him...to stand and not fall;
Hope's "Love Balloon" will accompany me wherever I go,
Placed inside my little one, to remind me, He is in control.
I am honored to be both Hope's mom and nurse right now....she is tired and sore, but she continues to push through with lots of smiles and hugs. Oh, how we love our little girl!
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
First of all, an echocardiogram was ordered. This is routine before releasing an open heart patient. The fellow who did the echo was someone new, Danny. During the process, I mentioned that I hoped he would be able to see what was left of Hopey's aneurysm. As he continued working, he asked: "You mean the one the surgeon removed?" I then told him there was some significant debate going on between the cardiologists as to whether some of the aneurysm remains in Hope's heart.
Immediately, he went to the area where he knew the aneurysm was supposed to be located.....the aneurysm that had never been seen by echo.....the aneurysm we were told could only be seen through more invasive procedures where Hope has to be put to sleep like a heart cath or MRI/Angio.
As he searched, I prayed.....then I would encourage him.....then I would pray.....then encourage....etc. All the while, I held Hope as still as possible and spoke softly to her while my mom fed her vanilla ice cream. Amazing. She was completely still and cooperative, which hasn't been her strong suit since being prodded by the medical staff continually for the last few days.
He found it! It has NEVER been seen by echo.....in over 4 years.....and Danny found it!!! What does this mean? I don't know yet. He took lots of pictures which were reviewed late today by the cardiologists who are experts in "imaging". We hope to find out tomorrow morning!
Second, Hope MAY be released tomorrow. I'm still in shock about it. When Hope entered the hospital, we were told it would probably be a 2 week stay. The surgeon felt she would have temporary heart block due to the extreme swelling that follows this type of surgery. She did not have a moment of heart block! The 8-10 days that are usually needed to overcome heart block, therefore, were not needed. On her two previous surgeries, she did have heart block. We are thrilled beyond belief the Father has chosen, this time, to spare her from a long hospital stay. Way to go, God! Way to go, Hopey!
Before releasing Hope, though, chest tubes have to be removed. The chest tubes are placed way up into her chest cavity....waaaaaay up in her chest cavity.....to drain blood post surgery. In her last 2 surgeries, I was asked to leave the room before they were removed, because it is so painful and traumatic to the patient. Today, I asked to stay, and they said yes. I knew I would see my baby in more pain than she has experienced in her life. I just wanted her to see me in the room during the procedure, because I also knew she would be more afraid than she had ever been in her life as well. The Nurse Practitioner, however, asked if I would like to stand beside Hope and hold her little head in my arms instead of just standing as a spectator. I was so thrilled with the trust she placed in me at that moment. Therefore, I was ab le to hold my baby's head in my arms, look into her eyes and speak to her during the entire ordeal. The scream that came from her was unlike any scream I've ever heard before. It cut through me like a knife and plunged deep into my heart. I was able to share the pain with Hopey. I believe I took some of her pain! Isn't that every mother's desire? It might sound odd, but at that moment, there is no where on earth I would've rather been.....the bond I already shared with Hopey as a result of her health issues strengthened and solidified even more today. What a privilege, and what a gift that Nurse Practitioner gave me!
Third, I had the opportunity to meet two sweet families this evening in my required CPR training. I have taken the training 6 times now, so if you ever need CPR, I'm a person you'd be fortunate to be around (ha!) I am required to take it after every hospital stay since Hopey is a heart patient. Better safe than sorry. Anyway, I was in the class with two other families who have newborns with heart defects.....both infants had just undergone their first open heart surgeries. One family lives in Knoxville and the other in Dothan, AL., so both are far from family and friends. I had the opportunity to love them this evening, and share my phone number with them for when they are in town for follow-up/additional procedures. Even though we live in different cities, I was able to establish a connection with each of them.....a person we all have in common. Accident? Of course not!
Last, I'm not sure if I shared this yet, but I'd like to mention it again, regardless. On Monday morning at 5am as we were entering the hospital, my "March for Hope" had become more like a "dragging my feet for Hope". I was dreading it so badly. Then, just as I came to the electric doors to enter the hospital, it hit me: There is a man in this hospital who has been medically trained and is able to save Hopey......and suddenly, I realized I shouldn't be marching toward the surgery floor, I should be running to the surgery floor! And peace washed over me.
The last two days have been filled with many ups and downs as we have learned more about the potential issues Hope may still have as a result of the remaining aneurysm.....the cardiologists words today were this: "If it ruptures, even though I do not believe it will, it would be catastrophic for Hope". OK, I had to digest that all day. But you know, tonight when I had the opportunity to minister to and encourage the two families who were placed in my life in my "umpteenth" CPR training, once again, a wonderful peace washed over me.
More than ever before, I am certain there is purpose in all things.....those parents needed me tonight, and I was here for them! (Chappy wasn't with me, because he was dealing with a flat tire----spare was flat too----it was raining----not a good evening for Chap!)
Depending on the news we receive from the cardiologists regarding the echo that was done today, our 30 day blog may be extended for a bit longer. I would love for you all to keep up and continue to make Hopey a part of your families. Afterall, because of Christ, we are all in the same family anyway, right?
WELCOME HOME PARTY WILL BE SOON!!! Thank you Lord, for sparing our girl......I am most thankful that your plan included allowing us to keep her with us for a bit longer.....I hope a LOT longer. No matter what is ahead, Father, I promise, here and now, to trust You!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Throughout the day, we received at least 3 completely different opinions about Hope's condition from 6 different cardiac experts. The opinions were as varied as: "She still has an aneurysm that needs to be dealt with" to "I don't think it's an aneurysm at all, but possibly swelling/tissue from post surgery trauma"......"She needs an MRI right away" to "The MRI will be a waste of time and put unneeded stress on Hope"......"The aneurysm is very serious" to "I don't think the aneurysm is going to cause any issues even if it is still there".......etc. At many points during the day, we felt like screaming: "HELP!" As parents, we want to make the best possible decision for our little Hopey......however, we will be the first to admit we are ill-equipped when it comes to medical/heart knowledge. We certainly aren't doctors!
At 6:30pm, our lead cardiologist came through the door and put everything into new light for us. He was a God-send! I told him all of the opinions we had been receiving throughout the day, and how we were feeling pushed toward the MRI by many, but nervous about Hope having another procedure so soon after surgery. He laughed, pulled out his pager and said: "You think you have gotten alot of opinions today, my pager is FULL of messages from people in this hospital telling me what they think needs to be done with little Hope". Everyone wants to care for our girl.....it is really very sweet.
His answer to us was that we do not need to make a decision right now; and he does not feel this is an emergency situation. He encouraged us to get Hope home, allow her to recover, and then we'd talk about the MRI in a few months. PRAISE!!!!
Hope's heart situation is fairly complicated and involves more than I can go into here. During the chaos of getting so many differing opinions today, Chappy and I were able to stop and think about what we would be willing to put Hopey through. We agreed wholeheartedly that for right now, the little thing has been through enough, and we will trust God with the rest! Three heart surgeries in four years is alot......for now, it is plenty.
So, with excitement, we are planning ahead to Hopey's "Welcome Home" party which may be very soon. We can hardly wait! Wanna join us???
At the moment, we are waiting to meet with the Cardiology/Surgery team this morning. They are trying to arrange with anesthesia to put Hopey back to sleep and do an angiogram/MRI today. The post-operative echo showed there is a good possibility the entire aneurysm was not removed during surgery. Some of it appears to still remain in Hope's heart, which can affect blood flow/routing. We knew it was difficult for the surgeon to know exactly where the aneurysm was located when he had her chest open, because it is in the posterior part of her heart, which makes it difficult to visualize since he is working through a tiny hole in her aorta. In addition, with no blood pumping through her heart during surgery, the aneurysm was not ballooning in and out. I am going to ask you, again, to pray with boldness throughout the day that first, the cardio surgical team will be able to find an available cardio anesthesiologist who can put Hope to sleep so the angiogram/MRI can be done as soon as possible. Second, that the aneurysm was completely removed during surgery afterall, leaving Hope's heart with no pressure or blood flow issues. And third, that the team will NOT desire to re-open Hope's chest and do another procedure.
I know our battle is not against flesh and blood----there is a very real dimension that is unseen to our eyes, but nonetheless, hard at work on a daily basis to undermine the Father. In your prayers, please pray against evil that would try to come against Hope in any way while she continues to recover. She is touching the hearts of many at the Children's Hospital, and I am sure the evil one would like nothing more than to interfere with God's tender plan for our little one. You all would be so proud of her. She has proven to be a strong little soldier---she is in alot pain, but still manages an occasional smile. Her throat is so sore due to the surgery, she can't eat or drink without alot of pain and gagging----but to make me happy, she tries. She is nauseous, and has thrown up a few times, but she keeps pushing through. I'm amazed at Hopey, and I love her more today than I've ever loved her!
Thank you in advance for your prayers.....thank you for making her a part of your lives! I'll update when I know anything, but sometimes information is slow coming.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
I have to admit, I really did give Hopey to the Lord. After 30 days of marching, I had actually come to a point where I was ready to accept HIS will......whatever that meant. I am thrilled beyond belief that HIS will is for Hope to not only live, but have what looks like a speedy recovery. I would be elated to be out of here in only 7 - 10 days! The nurses remind me that we are still in "Critical Care" with alot of balancing left to do, but I have a peace and assurance. My answer came from the Lord today.....loud and clear. My baby is coming home healed and whole.
I'll be by her side all evening. New rules in Critical Care.....I don't have to leave her for shift change. So, I'll update as I have a chance. Thank you all so much for your prayers. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, each and every prayer was needed for Hope today. Those of you who prayed mightily for our girl, you were called for that purpose. Some day, in the Kingdom to Come, you'll see exactly how your prayer was used today.....and some day, my little Hopey, in that Kingdom, will have words to speak and will be able to hug your neck and say thank you!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I WOULD DO............
Today was a gorgeous day......truly a gift of sunshine from the Lord! We spent ALL day outside. We hooked up 3 bubble machines, blew bubbles ourselves, danced, played music, and enjoyed our time together.....being absolutely covered in bubbles by the end of the day and not caring one single bit!
Hope has so much energy, it is difficult to believe she is in such need of heart surgery. Today was a tough day for me emotionally; I laughed one minute while dancing with Hope and then boo-hoo'd the next while cradling her in my arms. To everyone who has taken time from your busy schedules to stop by these last couple of weeks to check in on us, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your visits, your smiles, and your love for Hope have helped me more than you can imagine....you have been the arms of the Father to me....arms I have desperately needed!
Only 3 more days.....I can't believe it.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tonight's celebration included taping bubble wrap to the floors in our great room, kitchen, and entry way. Hope (and the big kids) stomped all around popping with each step! Isn't that every kids dream??? They enjoyed it so much, we decided to leave it down through tomorrow too (at least until all of the bubbles are popped).
Also, we met with the surgeon today at Hope's pre-op appt. We didn't learn anything new; however, he drew a picture of Hope's heart condition and then described (on our level) what he intends to do during surgery.....his "plan of action". Thankfully, it made some sense to us.
Finally, Sunday will mark our very last "March for Hope" around our house. 30 days have flown by. We will be marching at 6pm on Sunday evening if anyone wants to join us. We will end the march with a prayer for our baby girl.....thank you, again, for all of your many prayers.....we continue to expect BIG THINGS!!!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
We are getting ready to go to Vanderbilt this morning for Hope's pre-op work and to meet with her surgeon. I'm not looking forward to it at all. To be honest, I have thoroughly enjoyed being silly with the kids the last several days. The kids and I have been spending alot of time in the house together since Hope is limited from outside activities and from being around heavily populated areas at the moment (Dr.'s orders), so planning nutty things for us to do together as a family has been fun! Meanwhile, unfortunately, "REALITY" has also been busy........busy preparing to force itself upon us.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Yes, we did.....While this will probably freak the grandparents out when they see it.....the kids had a total blast! They slid down the stairs over and over and over again. As soon as Caleb slid down the stairs with Hope, she jumped up and started climbing the stairs again......living life and loving it! Ain't it grand?
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Tonight, we pulled 5 twin mattresses from the kids' beds and covered the rec. room floor with them for "jumping WITHOUT the bed" instead of " jumping on the bed"!!! We continue to march in celebration for our little "Happy Hopey"! The love we have for this little gal the Father has placed in our lives is just overflowing.....more than our hearts can handle.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Hope had a big time this evening at big brother, Caleb's, football game......at half time, she went out on the field and danced until her little body was exhausted. She LOVED it (and so did the spectators who watched her).