Wednesday, October 18, 2017

New baby in the house!

Our last post was an update on our year so far.  The last part that we couldn't really share was the calling we felt to pursue fostering a medically fragile very premature (earlier than our boys) baby boy.  Here is an update that we sent to a group at our church:

Ken and Rachel Barnes have been at NLC (New Life Church) for over 12 years (since the old building in the skating rink). Both serve every weekend in Kid Life at the GLR campus. They have 8-year-old twin boys, Jack and Luke, who were born 3 months early. It was 4 months in the NICU before the family was finally together at home. Luke still has a feeding tube and has faced numerous medical challenges over the years. Their family also has 4-year-old Ally, who is the princess and only girl of the generation on both sides of the family.

They thought their family was complete, but throughout this year, God spoke to both about adding another member to the family. Rachel is a NICU nurse. She fell in love with a very sick baby boy born 4 months premature and was abandoned at birth. Ken and Rachel have dealt with major medical issues through their son Luke's life, and felt called to express their interest in fostering this baby boy. After weeks of waiting and very little information from DHS, they officially became provisional foster parents. The baby boy came home from the hospital two weeks ago.

Now the hard part begins as they add all of the baby's doctors, specialists, and therapy visits to their family's already busy schedule. They also are navigating the details, requirements, and responsibilities of the foster care system. Prayers and support are very appreciated as they navigate life with a new baby, dealing with the DHS system, and maintaining normal life for the 3 other children!  

Life has been extremely busy this year and is even crazier now.  We will post occasional updates as we can, but are very limited in what we can share online throughout the foster process.

What we need most are your prayers.  Meals would be a great blessing as well (if you're not local, Bite Squad works too).  Some have asked what baby gear we need, and we have an Amazon list here.  

We are beginning to adjust to having a baby in the house again, along with all of his medicines and oxygen equipment (similar to what we had with Luke 8 years ago).  It's much different this time being older ourselves and trying to add his routine and needs into our normal schedule with the kids.  Please keep up in your prayers and thanks for your support!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Big Changes....

Hello Everyone!

God has been moving and revealing so much in our lives over the past couple months. So much has happened and so much more to come. Here are some of the things that are happening:

At the beginning of the year I (Rachel) knew that this year was going to be hard. God had put it on my heart to sit and get through. That was the goal of 2017. With me starting school and Luke possibly having major spinal surgery I felt that I (and my family) needed to hunker down and just make it through. I did not renew a leadership role at work to pursue school and sadly I had to step back from some leadership roles at church.

One role I had to step back from was pretty early. No matter how hard we tried, I couldn't make my work schedule, life group with Ken, and being co-leader to the group all fit together. So I sadly stepped back from that church group. The second one was a project that I had been praying about and working with church members for the last 2 years to get started. In May I had agreed to co-lead with another lady. It was going to be a big project but I was willing to take it on. Ultimately the project was given to a couple with more experience and more ability. After I nursed some hurt feeling and did a lot of praying God gently said "Hey--remember this year is about sitting." I was again reminded that it was not the year for this project and I am praying about my involvement with it in the future. I believe God has great plans for the program and for me--just not now!

It was also at that time that God opened my eyes about how Ken had been growing and changing. His heart has really changed and I love the man I see him growing into. I was proud of him before but it keeps growing deeper! God has also really started working and changing me. During June God revealed that to me that this year was not only about sitting and hunkering down but it was also about growing and changing our family! So not only was it a year to sit--it was a year to grow, learn, and follow God's plan.

The second thing God revealed to me in June was that I needed to go serve with Ken in the KidLife ministry at New Life Church. I take care of babies. It is my life calling--my full time job is to work with babies and then I had been going to church and serving in the infant nursery. I loved it! THEN God revealed that I needed to go to KidLife. KidLife is for Kindergarten through 5th grade--BIG kids! I cried, prayed that I was wrong but I finally told Ken and obeyed. I can't say that it was AMAZING the first time I went in but it has been getting better. I have been praying a lot for freedom to be able to get out of my shell and connect with the kids. I have found that I am very closed off and while I can be silly with my kids in my house- anytime we are out in public I get all uptight and shut down. I want the freedom to be silly in public, do the worship dance moves without being self conscious, to not be so uptight, and to ward off the thoughts of inadequacy that plague me often. I have a long way to go!

I have always struggled with my christian growth. I still have days when it is bedtime and I think "Oh I haven't prayed all day." I have been making my driving time my prayer time. When I am headed to and from work I turn off the radio and pray over everything that is happening, everything that I want to change, for friends and family, thanking for everything that has happened and thanking God that He controls the future. I still need to work on diving in and learning the Word. I just pray that I keep taking little steps forward and not fall back into stagnation.

There are many more things that are happening that haven't fully evolved yet but I feel like big changes are right around the corner for our family. Some things I can't announce yet as they are not fully developed and need some time before we can reveal them. Some other big things are :
1. Ken put his month notice in at work.
2. I won a scholarship that is fully covering the rest of my school tuition for the rest of the program! It is such a relief to not have to worry about how we are going to pay for my school.
3. Luke has not had a tube feed in over a month!!! He is EATING and maintaining his weight!!!!

What can you do? PRAY PRAY PRAY. We are making big changes and following what God is calling us to do. It is scary but it is also exciting. We know that God is doing big things but we also know that we cannot do it without the help, guidance, love, fellowship, and prayers of our family, friends, and our church family. Pray that we continue to grow, that the kids handle all the changes well, that we can become better parents, that our financial needs will continue to be met, that Ken and I can keep up with everything that needs to be done, my health nuisance can be fixed (ENT appointment coming up), and just covering us fully in prayer for anything and everything else!!

Email us, text us, call us, hunt us down at church (we pretty much live in KidLife area)! We need all the support we can get! We will update as we can!!


Monday, August 15, 2016

2 years....

Quick update. Sorry it has been almost 2 years. I am going to try to jump back on the blogging wagon! I will put up some pictures today of the family and over the next week or so do a blog post dedicated to each person. I have some blog ideas for out Twins N Tidbits page too! I have been jotting down ideas when they come to me so now I just have to sit down and find time to write the post.

Wedding Day! Hard to believe we have been married 12 years!



First day of  First grade
Ally just turned 3!

Getting a family picture where everyone is looking and smiling is hard to do. This is from our family vacation in June.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

August Appointment...Last one!

Very far behind on the much has been going on in our lives and I really haven't have much time to sit down and type. It is a decent day at work so I am typing a few sentences here and there between tasks. (It is now 2 weeks later!)

Let's start at the beginning of August:

August 4th: Luke had his medical testing done at Arkansas Children's Hospital to see if he would qualify for growth hormones. We did not get the results immediately as some of the test had to be sent out to another hospital. This was the test we were praying he would fail so that the insurance companies would cover the medication! The rest of that week was work, dr appointments, therapy appointments for Luke and his new pre-k.

August 12th: Ally's one year birthday. We did cake and ice cream at Ken's work as a combo farewell to him and Ally's birthday.

August 13th: What?!? Ken's farewell you ask...Ken and I talked and prayed a lot about what we wanted to do with the boys after school in the fall. The school day is a lot shorter (done at 2:30) than when they were at private pre-k and we had to decide what to do. We could have sent them to daycare afterwards but that would cost a lot, my mom offered to pick them up and watch them on the days that I am working and we thought a lot about that, or Ken could quit his job and pick them up everyday after school and they could be home every afternoon. After LOTS and LOTS of talking and flip flopping between decisions we decided we would trial Ken not working. I have to admit that I was very anxious about it (and still am a little bit).
When Ken stopped working after the boys were born I don't remember being so nervous about it but this time I just really hated that he leave such a good job and to lose his income...especially since we were so financially strapped to begin with. Can we pay our bills every month?..yes! Can we provide for our children..yes. Can we spend extra money on toys or lots of clothes (besides basics) or new bows for Ally or cable or date nights? Can we afford to go on a date night even once a month?! It is hard but we are willing to make sacrifices for the boys so that they don't have to stay in child care every day until 6 or later. They were in school at the private pre-k from 7:30am until 5:30pm Monday through Friday. Ken and the boys wouldn't get home until after 6 every night. That gave us about an hour and half to eat dinner, relax (lol!), let them play, get them ready for wasn't too relaxing and not enough time.
Fast forward to now and I am really enjoying our new schedule. Ken enjoys it on the days I am off but it is a little hard on the days I am working just because the dynamics of 3 kids! We all go to the school and drop them off around 7:30am and both of us usually pick them up around 2:20pm. We head home and enjoy having most of the afternoon off and being together. The weather has been really nice lately and we are enjoying park time and bike rides. Ken has an idea for some additional income and working on that but it may take a while to see any profit from it...building up a business takes time! So extra shifts for me to help make up some of the difference! August 13th was also the boys last day at Pediatrics Plus. I was hard to say goodbye to them as they took the most wonderful care of our boys and we love everyone of them so much. We can never say how much we love them and appreciate them. On a funny note...check out this video their school made...check about 38 seconds into the video...yep! That's our boys!

August 16th-23: Vacation!!! That will be another post all by itself. We had a wonderful time in Gulf Shores, AL.

August 28th: Luke's appointment in Kansas City. This was the first trip we didn't take Ally. She stayed at home with her stay at home daddy! It was a lot easier and quieter as Ally is not a good car traveler. This appointment Luke lost a large amount of weight. He had been sick and with all the activity at the beach he just didn't eat well and it definitely showed in the weight department. We were supposed to find out whether he was on the real medicine or the placebo this visit but they had forgotten to have me do a couple items so I had to do those first and then they would let me know. We talked about options for Luke and his almost non-existent eating. We decided to try Erythromycin (an antibiotic) that they give children with a slow digestive system. It helps the stomach and bowels to move things through fast and help with absorption. We also decided to do periactin. It is an old school anti-inflammatory that is used in children to increase appetite. We are trying those things to see if it increases his appetite and willingness to eat. Hoping that it will work and his appetite will pick up. It has gotten pretty rough to get him to do much of anything besides his favorite foods. During the trip home I got a call from the growth hormone company and insurance had denied the initial request for his meds. The case worker said she would start an appeal process and let us know how that goes.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

July Update

Hello, Not much of an update for July. No changes. Luke lost about 3 ounces this month. He is losing slowly and small amounts but I would love to see him stay the same or gain some next month. Our August appointment is our last appointment! At that appointment we will find out whether he had been on the placebo or the real medication (most family thinks he has been on the real medicine). If he is on the real med we will have the option of continuing the medicine or tapering off. I think we will continue it for a couple months to help transition into 4 yr old kindergarten. After a month or so and when the boys are settled into the new school we will wean him off and see how he does.

When Dr. A told me all this my reply was "I would rather have the appetite stimulant again and not the trial medication!!" He laughed but that isn't one of the options. Luke will still eat but it has drastically decreased and his drive to eat and his willingness to try new food had almost come to a screeching halt. It is frustrating but Luke hasn't had a feed since June and would hate to start that back up again. We have a couple options that we can try before going back to the tube feeds. Right now while we are in the clinical trial we are holding steady. I want to say thanks for all the prayers and it has been awesome to see Luke do so well and not require his feeding tube. The trial had been totally worth our time and money (and my mom's money--big thanks to her for all the help).

Monday-August 4th--Luke is having a medical test done and we are hoping he fails it. I have written before about Luke having procedures/test done and being conflicted about whether we want something found or not. I am 100% sure that I want him to fail this test!! He is going to be at Children's Hospital in one of their clinics Monday morning for the test. It is going to be a rough day for Luke with an IV start and multiple lab draws. The doctor is going to test his body's response to a medication and see if he produces enough growth hormone. If he doesn't produce enough then we will be able to try growth hormones. I have talked to several families...including a friend and a coworker.. and they said it was the best thing they ever did for their kids and they would do it again every time.

Growth hormones were mentioned last year and I immediately had a negative reaction to the idea. Over time, prayer, and communication with those whose kids take growth hormones, I have come to welcome the idea and look forward to starting it so Luke can grow! My mother's heart hates the idea of doing daily shots and putting him through more pain but also looks at the future outcomes and growth that can be obtained and focus on the big picture/long term goals. Please pray specifically that he doesn't make enough growth hormones and that he isn't too distraught about all the needle pokes he will have to endure!


Friday, June 27, 2014

June Update

Sorry this is a little late. Ken hijacked my computer and I just now reclaimed it!

The June appointment went really well. It was really fun too because Ken and Jack came this trip. We decided to make it a little family mini-vacation. We drove to Kansas City on Saturday and had all day Sunday to do what we wanted and then drove home Monday after Luke's appointment. It was a quick trip but really nice. The weather was good and not too hot so we enjoyed some outside time.

I will skip to the appointment first so those that don't want to hear about our weekend can stop reading! Luke only lost about 10 ounces! Not even a whole pound. I was pretty proud. The doctors were happy and we were cleared to continue for another month. We are currently in the process of weaning his appetite stimulation medicine. His last day was on Tuesday and this hasn't been a great week of eating. Even his teachers, who didn't know we were stopping, commented on how he hasn't been eating very well this week. We all have had a slight cold so please pray that his decreased eating is related to his runny nose and it will pick back up again. I really hope it is just his nose and this weekend we can get to start eating a bunch again. Thanks for all the prayers and keep them coming. Luke hasn't had a tube feed since June 2nd and that is amazing in my book. is more from our weekend.

Saturday we drove to Kansas city. We got there and our room wasn't ready so we went for an early dinner. Ken chose a little restaurant that has trains that delivered the food. He thought the boys would really like it and they did. They thought it was very cool. After dinner we went to Cabela's and wandered around. It was a cool store and we got the boys life vests. After Cabela's we went back to the hotel, got our room settled, and went swimming. The boys had so much fun swimming and Jack even did some swimming by himself (with his life vest on)! Sunday we did Father's day brunch and then drove around downtown. We went to the Farmer's market and then to Union Station. It is beautiful. There is a train museum, a planetarium, shopping, and we even got to see some real trains. It was nap time, then dinnertime, and then we drove around some more. We went to a park and walked around the gardens and paths by the water. The boys loved being outside and running around. After that it was time to go back to the hotel and get ready for bed! We were worn out. The next morning we packed up, went to Luke's appointment, and then drove home. Even though it was a quick trip we jammed a lot in and had lots of fun.

boys taking a nap in the car

At the train restaurant

Ally was more interested in the french fries than the trains

Union Station


Watching the trains

At the park

The Kansas of the main reasons we were in Kansas City. They were the paper that wrote the article about the clinical trial and I saw that article on Facebook!

Monday, May 19, 2014

May Update

Well we rocketed through the testing that the doctor wanted us to do plus got to go see endocrinology. Usually it takes 3-4 months to get an initial appointment with endocrine but I asked a few favors and because I have a good relationship with Luke's medical home clinic team at Arkansas Children's Hospital, and they were able to get Luke in within a week of asking. That is a miracle in itself! The results? Well everything was NORMAL! Glad for that but again sort of wishing we could have found a reason why it takes such an enormous amount of calories to maintain Luke's weight. We have him on 1400 calories a day from his formula and are finally getting him to grow. That 1400 calories doesn't include what he eats by mouth every day too..which is almost another 200-300 calories. When he got weighed on Thursday he was just shy of 27 lbs!! He has never weighed that much!

The doctors felt good about proceeding with the clinical trial so we have started the crucial point in the trial.....I am SOOOO NERVOUS. I try not to think about the what ifs and pray about the positives and the outcome we are expecting. For Luke to start eating everything and not needing tube feeds anymore.

This is what we are doing:
Friday: We started the appetite stimulant. It is not FDA approved for children and only given to adults but they are using it in the study.
Tuesday: (5/20) We start weaning off his formula. It is only one hour a day so it won't really catch up with him for a couple days but the goal is to be completely off his tube feeds by June 4th! Scary times!!

The results they are seeing in the clinical trial kids are they just start eating.They call it "the flip". As the formula intake decreases the kids make it up by eating more. The doctor and I are both concerned about his weight since he needs an abnormally high amount of calories to keep weight on. They expect clinical trial participants to lose about 10% of body weight and then start gaining it back. If he continues to lose past 10% then he will have to be started back on formula and the clinical trial will be over. That is the part I am so scared about and praying about. I want him to triumph over his feeding issues and move past this time in his life. I would love to post in 6-9 months that we are getting rid of his feeding tube forever!

Luke has a friend named P. P was Luke's feeding tube friend. They both had feeding tubes and love to get together to play. Jack usually asks if he can get a feeding tube when all three of them are together as he feels left out! Well P got his feeding tube taken permanently out 2 weeks ago!! YEAH P! It is funny though because Luke will now say "P is not my tube buddy anymore" and he is so sad. We take that opportunity to encourage him and tell him that if he would start eating more then he could get his tube out too like P. He says OK and then runs off to play!

Another "issue" we are praying about is that we enrolled the boys in 4yr old kindergarten! The issue is that they do not provide nursing for the 4yr kindergarten since it is not a state mandated program. No nursing means no tube feeds for Luke. If he is not eating and requiring tube feeds then he can't go. We decided to step out in faith and enroll them in the class with the expectation that he is going to do amazing with the clinical trial and not need tube feeds this fall.

Now is the time we need all the extra prayers we can get! I appreciate all the encouragement and notes from people praying for him and know that we have our prayer warriors out there! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Major changes these next couple weeks and I am holding my breath!