We are a family of six who lives each day here on lemonade lane taking the lemons thrown at us, adding some sugar and sweetening things up. We are shaped not only by our circumstances but also by the sweetness each member brings to the mix.
A little about us…..my name is Kim, and my husband and I have been married for over twenty three beautiful, adventurous years. Travis is in law enforcement, and I am an RN. He brings the humor and lightheartedness to our marriage; I often tell him, “you can’t be serious for five minutes!” but I love how he makes me laugh. I am the text-book description of a strong-willed woman and absolutely love to bake. Together, we have four beautiful children. The oldest three – Brad, Sidney and Trevor – are sweet, unique, social kids who love to laugh and spend every waking minute possible with their friends. Brad, nineteen, a sophomore in college, is extremely social, a fantastic drummer and loves to go frolfing (frisbee golf) and hammocking with friends. He dislikes most vegetables and is very health conscious. Sidney, seventeen, is a beautiful girl with a head full of thick curly hair and striking green eyes. She is a great helper whose brothers call her “the boss”. She hates drama and is someone I would have loved to have as a friend growing up. Sidney is a freshman in college having graduated a year early. Trevor, sixteen, is extremely smart, sweet as can be, and loves frolfing like his older brother and hanging out with his friends. He is sarcastic and a wealth of knowledge on lots of random facts. They all have a compassion and empathy for others most kids their age will never experience because of the influence their little brother has had on their lives.
The baby of the family, Ryan, is a sweet thirteen year old who has had many lemons thrown at him over the years. He has been diagnosed with epilepsy, autism, developmental delay, cerebral palsy, hemiplegia, neurogenic bladder and bowel; the list goes on and on. Ryan is nonverbal, has a feeding tube, and had three extensive brain surgeries in an eight-day period in November 2010 including three craniotomies and two right frontal lobectomies removing a fourth of his brain all in an attempt to control seizures. Seven months later he had a vagus nerve stimulator implanted in his chest because his seizures were still not controlled (that didn’t work either) and had his fourth brain surgery, a corpus callosotomy, in February 2012, in a final attempt to stop this monster. His brain has constant seizure activity that never stops. Unfortunately after this last surgery, Ryan spent four weeks in the hospital and struggled with a bowel obstruction and had a g/j tube for over a year because his stomach shut down too. He has suffered through numerous bowel obstructions and ileuses and has gastroparesis as well. His large intestine doesn’t work anymore due to the weakness overtaking his body so he had a cecostomy placed in July 2014. He is now on a feeding pump 18 hours a day because of his continued gastroparesis. In the past year or so, Ryan developed a neurogic bladder so in May 2017, he had a mitrofanoff placed. Our goal has always been to increase his quality of life, and we are committed to doing everything we can for him to reach that goal. In January 2013 we made the difficult decision to put Ryan on palliative care through Children’s Hospital in Omaha; this allows us, as well as his medical team, to focus on quality of life including pain and symptom control instead of trying to fix him and find a cure. That simply means we have exhausted all our options to control his seizures with medications, surgeries and other treatments. The older he gets, the more Ryan’s body weakens. As we tell others, his brain is broken, but he is exactly as God intended him to be. He loves to go for rides in the car, and often times you can find him laughing hysterically at absolutely nothing. Ryan loves toys with lights and music, turning lights on and off, throwing anything within reach, opening and slamming cupboard doors (emphasis on the slamming), and giving lots of nosey kisses to anyone who will accept them. I cannot begin to tell you how loved this little boy is. As one of his paras once said, “walking down the hall with Ryan is like being with the prom queen!”. He never lacks for attention!
We’ve had many ups and downs, fears and trials on our journey. And through it all God continues to meet our every need, holds us in our darkest moments, cries with us as we grieve, rejoices with us in every blessing, walks with us wherever the road leads. And while we don’t understand His will and purpose, we keep trusting Him as we carry on. We are learning, every single day, to take the good with the bad, the joy with the sorrow, the tears with the laughter….to mix the lemons and the sugar and make something very sweet.
Isaiah 41:13 ~ For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you’.
Matthew 6:24 (The Message) ~ Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.