Archive for the “Family” Category

My Family

Sometimes it seems like God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want him to. That simple statement seems true but we should analyze things deeper before we allow such an idea to permeate our thinking. Sometimes we don’t get what we prayed for but what we do get is an answer to prayer.

Those who have been following this blog know about our son Sam and his dual struggle with Autism and Hirschsprungs disease. Since September of 2009 we have been praying that we might be able to reverse the Ileostomy he was given so he might lead a more normal life. That year of prayer was recently answered but not necessarily how we had wanted it to be.

After months of waiting, we were finally contacted by the Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee Wisconsin. They were now ready to bring Sam in for motility studies; to determine the condition of his colon and see how it was functioning. Shelley and I were elated to finally be on the list so we could find out Sam’s progress. We had been praying for nearly a year for his colon to recover and become fully functional so we could hook him back up. We began our planning and looked forward to Sam being tested.

Unfortunately I had already been scheduled for a company trip during that time, however it didn’t really matter as we had made the decision early on that only one of us would accompany Sam on this trip. Off I went to Austin Texas while Sam and Shelley flew to Milwaukee Wisconsin. As parents we were both anxious to learn the outcome of the testing to know if we might be heading down a new chapter by getting Sam hooked back up.

At this point, it is crucial to understand how Sam’s quality of life has improved immensely. Since his operation last September he has been healthier, more energetic, less disruptive, doing better in school and in general exhibiting -less- autistic behaviors. A quick generalization of the situation would indicate having the Ileostomy was the best thing we’d ever done for him. And now we were seeing if we could reverse it.

Sam's 7th Birthday

Sam's 7th Birthday

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Change can be hard, and I’ll be the first to admit I resist change. When it comes to work, I get very comfortable in a job, sometimes too comfortable. Sometimes it’s time for change, sometimes because I’ve done what needed to be done and it’s time to find a new challenge, to move up in the corporate world, to force myself out of my comfort zone for a little while in order to make progress. Today, that change happened.

I have worked with Itron, Inc. for nearly 14 years. I had a year away from the company as I pursued other advancement opportunities but was able to come back when that didn’t pan out. Initially I worked in engineering as a technician. I had past experience in electronic production with Hewlett Packard and the step to a technician was the professional advancement I needed at the time.

As a technician I worked with electrical, mechanical and software engineers. I was exposed to sales and marketing, production and many other functions in between. During my time as a technician, I discovered I really didn’t want to be an engineer, I wanted to be a manager. I wanted to lead. This is what led me to completing my Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management at Whitworth University.

Currently, I work in Customer Service with Itron. Upon my return I wasn’t able to get back into engineering, but that turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. My manager and I have had many conversations, one of which illustrates how the company is held up by three things, like three legs of a stool: Engineering which builds the products, Marketing and Sales which sell the products, and Customer Service which provides a conduit for customer feedback as well as help with products. I had engineering background and now over the last three years I had gained customer service background. My next logical step was into the marketing area.
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Today, we attended the memorial service for one of my wife’s grandfathers who recently died. His death was not unexpected and we had the wonderful opportunity to visit him in the hospital a week before he died at home under Hospice care. While at the service there were reminders of how valuable Dads are.

Dads are our biggest asset when we are young men. They teach us things about life. They help us understand the difference between hot and cold, sharp and dull. When my dad accidentally drilled a hole in his finger (holding the board on the opposite side he was drilling), I learned not to do that. Sure, there were things he taught me without the need to draw blood. One thing was how to treat women right.

When I started getting interested in girls, so long ago now I can’t remember when that was, my Dad told me one thing: Never do or say anything to a girl, you wouldn’t want some other guy to do or say to your sister. Well, that sure put a damper on things. Mind you my sister was younger and it wasn’t until -after- she got married, that I finally got married.

I’m not sure this little teaching of Dad’s is what kept me from marrying so long, but his advice was sound. He had lots of good advice, just like Shelley’s grandfather did to his kids. Today I had an opportunity to live those ethics.

While leaving the service, I needed to move our Jeep from it’s impromptu parking spot next to a fence to where the others could get in. As I began to move forward I managed to run over a field tap on a water main line. I didn’t realize it was there, and it wasn’t until I felt a bump as I slowly drove forward that I found out. Suddenly a large geyser of water erupted behind me. I suddenly felt like I was in a movie and had just run over a fire hydrant. All eyes were on me. Now what?
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Back in September, I wasn’t so sure Christmas was going to be a great affair this year. Sam was in the hospital undergoing surgery to bring his small intestine out to an ostomy bag. That was four months ago. Today, we have a happy six year old, still with Autism, but in much better shape, better mood, more exciting than ever before. Even though the economy is slim and we couldn’t afford much, we’ve had a great Christmas.

Nothing could have been better, than to have Sam around. From my point of view, it was also very nice to have Shelley here. The three of us make a family and Christmas is best spent with family and friends, but mostly family. Just being with each other, to see the smiles on faces, to get the hugs and the thank yous. I think that’s all I needed, even though gift giving did come in to play.

Shelley budgeted a very small amount this year which meant we were -not- spending a lot on anyone. We focused on Sam since he’ll only be a little boy once. Thankfully, probably due to our faith, we had some other things come our way to really round things out. First, we had some generous donations that helped defray a small portion of our medical bills. That was very nice. Second, we had some donations of extra gifts that really made Sam’s Christmas more special.

Christmas eve we went to our church and watched the small service. Some friends of ours played or sang, the service was narrowly focused, well timed and a pleasure to be in. We came home, had a little dessert and went to bed. Sometime during the night, Santa made a visit and deposited a few gifts for Sam under the tree. Unlike most kids though, Sam wasn’t really aware on Christmas morning until we pointed it out to him.

Sam’s Autistic day started like any other, he wanted breakfast and to get dressed. That just wouldn’t do for mommy though, so she pointed out this was Christmas, and tried to probe Sam for anything he might remember about the day. Well, at some point he found some new unwrapped gifts under the tree; suddenly it was “hurry mommy, I have to have breakfast -quick-!” It was a smiling moment for certain.

Since the operation, Sam has been a much more energetic boy. Although it took some getting used to the Ostomy system, we are all past that now as we help him every day. Sam is also coming along in his understanding of how it works and is helping when he can, in the capacity that he can. I have confidence that if this becomes a life long thing for him, he’ll deal with it very well. I still pray he will heal and therapy can help him so he can have this reversed and be more like the normal kids. If you feel compelled, we still have the donation link available and appreciate all donations to help pay for Sam’s medical bills.

It was also a beautiful day here with the sun shining and temps in the low 30’s. We didn’t get snow this year, but then again there are plenty of people who are glad about that. Last year we set a record for snowfall, with the overwhelming majority of it coming in just two days. Can you imagine nearly six feet of snow inside of a week? It was something to behold.

So we didn’t have a white Christmas, but we did have a nice family Christmas and that’s one of the things it’s all about.

Asa Jay

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The last several months have brought about a lot of harsh and bitterly opposed viewpoints on health care. There seem to be no end to the claims on both sides of the argument that their side is the better way to go, the better way “for the people” of the U.S. Unfortunately, I believe all this has led to a shutdown of reasonable discourse on the subject, resulting in an abstraction of the real problems and the inference of band-aid solutions (with apologies to the Band-Aid brand).

So what is the reasonable course? Is the system broken? Is it hard to get health care? Is there no access to health care? What happens if I need health care? I may not have all the answers, but my family has been using health care for some time.

Most recently, as evidenced by my last post, my family had to avail itself of the health care system in a major way. Sam spent nearly two weeks in the hospital and came home with a life changing operation. There is nothing like a direct experience to help a person understand what is at stake in the health care debate. This is my point of view, a first person perspective mingled with cautious thought. Personally, I don’t think our system is -that- broken.

I’ve always maintained a view that I’m okay paying for services that I know I’m paying for. You want to pick up my trash, okay, I’ll buy into that, just send me a bill every month that is commensurate with my level of garbage production. Same with electricity, water, sewage, etc. But you want to charge me a percentage of my homes estimated value to fund schools, snow plowing and other services without giving an accounting of where the money is going? I don’t think so. Or at least I can say I’m not comfortable with that; I would rather know what I’m paying for. With health care, there is a little bit of a difference in that a person can pay into an insurance program.
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Copyright 2014, Asa Jay Laughton