29 August 2007

Rachel's Doctors Appointment

Hi, my name is Yafo (that's Hebrew for Jaffa, Israel--where Todd lives), but they call me Yafi. Rachel and her brother (Todd) call me the 3rd child of the family. They also call me spoiled, I just like to think I have very loving parents! Anyways, since Rachel and I have become best buds while she's been here (and I've had to take care of her while she's not been feeling well) she asked me to write tonight's update.

Her doctors appointment with the asthma/allergist specialist went very well. We were all encouraged that the doctor spent as much time as was necessary listening to their (Mark went along too) concerns about Rachel's health. As far as doctors go, I think they were pretty pleased. A real answer to prayer!

They tested her in a very simple way for asthma. (She was afraid they'd have to do a big test that would send her into an asthma attack. She'd heard these were no fun and didn't really want to have to do that. Thankfully, the doctor didn't even mention that test!) Praise the Lord that it does not appear she has asthma! However, the doctor does agree something strange has been going on, so after seeing that an inhaler helped her breathe even better, he gave her some samples to try for the next couple months. The whole family looks forward to seeing if her tight chest relaxes some on these treatments. It seems to be already working because she was able to be around everyone else's food tonight at dinner without any problems! She also hasn't had any tightness since being at the doctor's office (about 5 hours now). She's quite excited about this! I do know, though, she is a bit concerned because some of her allergens are present in the inhalers she needs to take. She thinks that over time they might begin to affect her in other ways. Time will tell.

They also scratch tested her back and found she is still allergic to those despicable cats, as well as ragweed, an assortment of grasses and weeds, and a couple trees. Mark tells me some of the welts were quite big! The exciting news was she isn't allergic to mold (well, the 4 they tested), like they thought, so that is good news for the upcoming move.

Speaking of which, the doctor seems to think she should be okay to travel along with Mark next Tuesday (they weren't sure if she was going to be able to or not). They are both pretty excited to hear this news. The doc even said she may get a "holiday" from some of her environmental allergies because they have different allergens in Scotland. This was also exciting news! I think Mom, Dad and I are a little sad they'll both be gone this time next week.

It's getting late so I better make sure Rachel gets to bed soon because she has to get up tomorrow morning and go have some blood drawn at the doctors so they can test for even more things. It was nice chatting with you all. Please keep praying for my Mark and Rachel. They wouldn't be doing so well without you! Good night!

23 August 2007

This Week's Updates

I wanted to share with you a few other pictures I took while we were in Cayman. Ever since my first time in Cayman I have been highly entertained by the chickens (except for when they cock-a-doodle-do at 4:30am!) that live around Mark's mom's house. They seek shade under these bushes (that the chicken is on) and maybe sleep there too? I found it humorous that they got on top of the bushes and ate from them.

I also kept an eye out for the green iguana that lives by her house too. I caught him on camera a couple times...once running away as you can see!

For those of you who have been asking or wondering about Mark's family regarding Hurricane Dean, they are doing well.

Thankfully there was only some coastal damage done to some parts of the island. His family was safe throughout and their property sustained little to no damage. Praise God for answering our prayers to turn the hurricane south of the island!

My health continues about the same as it has been. I was grateful to have about 5 good days in a row. I was so blessed to been seen on Monday by a Respitory Therapist who attends my parents' church. He tested my lungs and how they were functioning. At the time of the test I was within normal limits. He also gave me a Peak Flow Meter which has allowed me to test my breathing at home. This has been very helpful so I can see that when my throat feels tight it is indeed tight! It's nice to know sometimes that things aren't all in your head :)

Tuesday night of this week I suffered another pretty strong reaction, but I am doing better again. I have not been able to get an earlier appointment with the allergy/asthma doctor, so I will be going this coming Tuesday the 28th at 3:00. Please keep us in your prayers as we seek this doctor's advice regarding my condition. I will try to update this Tuesday or Wednesday of next week if I am able and let you know how that turns out.

17 August 2007

Change of Plans

This week has brought more highs and lows and certainly a change in our plans. Before we left Raleigh I was spending time reading in James. I was impressed with James 4:13-15 as I thought ahead to our upcoming move. This week as plans have changed, the Lord has brought it to mind often: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there…Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’” This week I am again humbled at how my life is indeed a vapor, and how I don’t know what tomorrow will hold, as I sometimes believe I do in my pride.

Shortly after writing last week’s post I began having reactions again to various things I had smelled either cooking or just in the air (i.e. perfume). And this time there seemed to be little relief. By Friday or Saturday Mark and I knew that we needed to change our plans and leave Cayman much earlier than first planned. By Sunday night I had a confirmed ticket for a flight to Charlotte on Monday, and Mark had a “buddy pass” to be used on Monday or Tuesday. (We praise God for this provision of a stand-by ticket given by friends of my parents.) On Monday God answered our prayers of a reaction-free flight for me and a seat for Mark. We left Cayman with sad hearts as we cut our time with his family short. But we also had hope that I would have some relief of my symptoms in an environment I was more familiar with.

So, we have spent most of this week north of Charlotte at my parents’ house. At first I was doing very well being back here, but an experiment with last night’s dinner brought on another reaction. It seems to be confirmed now that I am most definitely reacting to corn being present in the air. Whether or not I am also reacting to other things (like shellfish or tomatoes) has yet to be decided. It has taken me the past 24 hours to even feel somewhat “normal.” I have started seeing a chiropractor again and pray that that will at least help settle my system down some. I am also praising God today that I was finally able to get an appointment with Carolina Asthma and Allergy on Tuesday, August 28th. Would you pray with us that they might be able to get me in even sooner if possible?

The emotions of the past two weeks have been up and down, but I also have had much comfort from our Lord. I appreciate each one of your prayers for me. While God has not chosen to take the reactions away, He has provided the grace to go through them. And He has given me a most wonderful husband who has served me faithfully in the face of pain, exhaustion, and uncertainty. We are unsure if we will be able to leave for Scotland on the 5th as planned, but know “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

I leave you with a song that has touched my heart since really listening to the words yesterday while driving. I hope you can actually hear the song some day--it's beautiful! What an encouragement to me. The chorus is my prayer during this time in my life, and I hope always.

In the Valley
Taken from: Sovereign Grace Ministries

Words and music by Bob Kauflin
As recorded on Valley of Vision

When You lead me to the valley of vision
I can see You in the heights
And though my humbling wouldn’t be my decision
It’s here Your glory shines so bright
So let me learn that the cross precedes the crown
To be low is to be high
That the valley’s where You make me more like Christ

Let me find Your grace in the valley
Let me find Your life in my death
Let me find Your joy in my sorrow
Your wealth in my need
That You’re near with every breath
In the valley

In the daytime there are stars in the heavens
But they only shine at night
And the deeper that I go into darkness
The more I see their radiant light
So let me learn that my losses are my gain
To be broken is to heal
That the valley’s where Your power is revealed

© 2006 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI).

09 August 2007

Highs and Lows

This week has been full of highs and lows. We'll start with the highs!

We have been able to catch up with various relatives throughout the week. The biggest amusement has come from listening to our 2 year old nephew trying to say new things, especially ones his older, 6 year old brother tells him to say. They have entertained us several times now and it's a joy to hear "Uncle Mark and Auntie Rachel" in their accents.

Mark's enjoyed fishing a couple times. The first time was unfortunately not very fruitful, but the second one was! This past Tuesday, Mark and his mother went fishing way off the shore (probably about 9-10 miles). Mark was lucky enough to reel in a black-finned tuna (7 lbs) , a skipjack (3 lbs) and a Wahoo (20 lbs). (We have a picture of the Wahoo that is stuck on a cell phone...hopefully we'll get it on here soon!) He really enjoyed his time and finally caught some bigger fish like he's been dreaming of. Now if only there had been more fish to take the bait! We are both looking forward to fishing off the iron-shore banks soon. I'm also looking forward to seeing the fish while snorkeling rather than on the end of my hook!

My week in particular has been filled with highs and lows. I have had more allergy reactions this week than I have had in a very long time, and I've not had any quite like these before. The problem has been that the reactions aren't coming from anything I've eaten, but from things I have merely smelled. I am still uncertain exactly what is setting off the first stages of anaphylactic shock (I am all about educating everyone on food allergies, so click the link if you are interested to learn more!) but we have it narrowed down to shellfish and vegetable oil being used to cook/fry foods. I praise God for medicine that has been able to stop these reactions before they got more critical. We are trying to take precautions to keep this from happening again, but it is hard to not smell and hard to not be afraid to smell! Thank you for your prayers in this matter. After two very rough days on Monday and Tuesday this week, I have had some relief yesterday and today. I have been reminded of how grateful I am to be alive and how dependent on God I am for each breath to sustain me.

03 August 2007

In an Effort to Stay in Touch

Mark and I have decided to start blogging in an attempt to stay in touch with friends and family while we are gone. I'm not sure how often we'll post, but we'll aim for at least once a week. Hopefully, we'll even post pics occasionally so you don't forget what we look like :)

Since leaving Raleigh on the 15th of July, we've spent 8 days in Missouri with my immediate and extended family (fishing at a state park, rafting down a river, and lots of hanging out at a couple of my aunt's houses), 6 days north of Charlotte at my parents house (unpacking, sorting, repacking and generally making my parents house look like a tornado struck--they graciously put up with it!), and 3 days now in Grand Cayman with Mark's mom. It's been a very busy 2+ weeks and since arriving here we have done a lot of laying around trying to recuperate! It's a good thing island life is slow-paced!

My health has been good overall, but I have continued to have some reactions to things I have eaten because of my food allergies, despite eating only what I should eat. Traveling so much and eating out more than my body is used to has taken its toll. Please be in prayer with us about my health during this transition time in our lives.

We can't believe that in less than 5 weeks we will be in Scotland! As we spend this remaining time resting, preparing, and packing please pray that we will glorify Christ. Pray also that God will provide an apartment/flat for us to rent either before arriving in Scotland or shortly thereafter. Thanks for going on this journey with us!

"God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us--That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. Let the nations be glad

and sing for joy; For You will judge the peoples with uprightness and guide the nations on the earth. Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us. God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him." Psalm 67:1-4