Friday, December 6, 2013

Video Thank You from the Poppe Family


I cannot believe we are almost at the one year mark for Fulton's accident.  Getting ready for Christmas reminds me of how precious Fulton looked after we returned from Christmas Eve midnight Mass.  The tree was buried in presents, but all he was fascinated with was the infant Jesus who appeared under the tree.  He couldn't take his eyes off of the Infant.

2 weeks before the accident

Time has flown by so quickly, I feel like I haven't been able to catch my breath and properly assess all that has happened this year.  The blessings, the crosses, the new friends in our lives, and dreams lost.  My cup runneth over, for even through the tears I see it is all from God and it is all good.
Thy will be done, Lord.

I am a complete organizational mess, as most of my real life friends and family know, and while I have tried to keep track of addresses for thank you notes, I think about half of the hundreds of well-wishers have gone unacknowledged.  There were so many I wanted to respond to personally, and that special pile has disappeared into the abyss, and I am left here unable to hug each of you and write to you to tell you how grateful I am for your love and support.  This pains me deeply, as every prayer, Mass, card, and pack of stickers has brought such grace to Fulton and our family.  The medical supplies (oh the needed medical supplies!), skin creams and salves, and all of the necessary but unglamorous gifts we have received were in many ways the most important.  The fundraisers, the generous donations people have made, the angels in disguise who have helped us with difficult scheduling and travel issues...  I am the unworthy recipient of such graces.  And I am so, so thankful.

Fulton, in his own way, is thankful as well.  He just does not know it yet.  But I think he can feel the love and has certainly benefited from your prayers.  He recently drew 2 self portraits (which I will post soon!) that proves how happy he is and how well he is doing.  Thanks be to God!

Until I get those pictures posted, I will simply post the video for you all to see.  Please pass this along to anyone you know who has prayed for Fulton or has followed his progress in the past - your churches, prayer groups and homeschool groups, friends and family members.  I shed many tears as I created it, but they are tears of gratitude and were shed for all of you.

Thank you, everyone, and have a blessed Advent!

***UPDATE:  I was just informed that some people are having trouble viewing the video on my blog.  You may do a search on YouTube and find it there if you type in the words Fulton Thank You.  Sorry!***

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Small Success Thursday


OK, I'll jump on in, even though this is a weird week for me.  Many CatholicMom bloggers are taking the Small Success Thursday challenge where we are to post 3 successes we have had for the week.  I think I really need to do this from time to time, just to remind myself that even on those days when I think I am getting nothing done, something I have done has still made a difference.  So here it goes.

#1  I have managed to make all of our medical appointments on time!  We are in Galveston for one of Fulton's follow up visits and have a lot on our plate.  Getting the family up and out of bed and to the hospital every day from the hotel can be quite challenging!

#2  I have passed out about 8 of Fulton's burn cards.  This means that 8 people are now better armed with information about fire safety and first aid for burns.  And perhaps a few more people will learn a little about our faith as well!

#3  I actually posted something on my blog!  LOL  Seriously, time has not been kind to me and I haven't been able to get to this blog for awhile.  I posted my first of a few articles on soap making, and now this post.  (This counts, right?)

Here is to all of you, trying to make a difference in your days!  I hope we all have at least a few successes to brag about!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Soap Making!


A few weeks ago, Shannon, Virginia and I tried our hands at making melt and pour soaps.  The melt and pour method requires the use of premade soap blocks, shredded and melted down.  You then add some extra ingredients and viola!  You have soap that is very safe to make and you may use it right away.  We made the most delicious smelling chamomile oatmeal soap - so good I was tempted a few times to take a nibble.  But I resisted.  ;)

And while this method was fun, I have always wanted to learn how to make 'real', cold processed soap - but the idea of using lye frightened me.  And after hearing people's horror stories about their grandmother's niece's best friends' toddler falling into pots of lye solution has really left its mark.  So I resisted he urge to learn a new homemaking skill.  Until now.

Last week I stepped out of my comfort zone a little more and made 'real' soap from scratch.  And yes, it required me to use the lye.  I cannot believe how easy the cold process is! And it is fun, too.

I used this book


and really liked the results I got.  I followed the basic soap recipe and added my own mixture of essential oils, dried citrus peels and pink kaolin clay to make a beautiful batch of soap for oily skin.  It is about 2 weeks from finishing the curing process and I can't wait to use it.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First Day of School! (Morning Edition)


Well, the day we both dreaded and were so excited about has finally arrived:  Fulton's and Marialina's first day of school away from home! 

"What?" you say.  "I thought you were a homeschooling family!"

Yes.  We are.

But we are also a family with children who have many needs and I have long come to realize that I am not SuperMom.  Not by a long shot.  I know my limits and a wonderful opportunity came our way like an answer to a prayer. So let me explain.

CJ, Virginia and Shannon will continue to work through their MODG curriculum at home.  The girls will have additional help through MODG teacher assisted and teacher directed programs while CJ just has dear old Mom as his teacher.

Marialina and Fulton will be attending preschool programs from 9am to 2pm every Tuesday and Thursday.  This will free up 2 days a week for me to focus entirely on the older childrens' school without interruption.

Fulton will be starting Kindergarten with me this year on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  However he will be attending a preschool program for the other 2 days a week for socialization issues.  Yes, yes, I know all the arguments about homeschooled children and how children actually fare better in life WITHOUT 'socialization'.  But hear me out. 

Ever since the accident, when we go to a playground or any other social setting where there are children he does not know, he always gets the "Woah!  What happened to you!?" 

Bless his heart, Fulton is terrific at answering their questions and most times, the children play with him for the brief time we are there.  (Or sometimes they chose not to play with him, which is fine for a child, too.  *sniff*)  But the problem is that we always go home and never see the other children again.  So the next time we go, he has to 'lather, rinse, repeat' without ever getting to a point where everyone is comfortable enough with each other to start playing pirates or dinosaurs.  No one really ever gets past his burns, and he never develops relationships with other children.  No playdates, no birthday parties, etc.

I know these are not absolute musts for him, but he is a very social creature and needs the playtime outlet with other children.  (He was SO excited about playing with other children his age last night and this morning, it was hard to settle him down!)  We are the only young family where we live, and since we go to Mass an hour and a half away from home, all the other younger children he knows live way too far for him to visit.

The doctors at Shriners say it is important that he not only learns how to deal with the initial reactions from others, but that he learns that he can have longterm relationships with others as well.  He has an extra barrier he must learn to help people break through.

Rest assured, he is in a very safe place.  Jay's parents' church runs the preschool program and they have been praying for him from the beginning.  They know his story well and are so excited to have him.  We feel they are well equipped to handle any issues that may come up and look forward to the new experiences he will have over the course of the year.

Marialina gets to go to school with her big brother but unlike Fulton's reasons, I really do not have as many good reasons for her to go, beyond the fact that I desperately need the babysitting time so I can keep the older children on track with school.  We are a semester behind because I was in Galveston with Fulton for so long, so we have A LOT of catching up to do over the next few months.  If we see she is not loving her playtime there after the week or so needed for adjustments, we have the option of unenrolling (is that a word?) her and bringing her home at any time. 

I have entrusted them to their Guardian Angels.  And I will, of course, let you all know how the first day of school went for my little bunnies.  Jay already told me a rather hilarious story about what happened when he dropped them off.  ;)  Stay tuned!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Pear Harvest!


This Labor Day we have decided to harvest the pears!  Last year, all the pears disappeared off our tree (not a single fruit on the ground even!) a week before we planned to harvest them.  So this year we thought we'd get them a little early to throw off the mysterious pear bandit.

I will be up to my ears in canning projects over the next few weeks so keep an eye out for delicious recipes!  I love this time of year! 

Meanwhile, here are a few fun shots of pear picking day.



Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Lord Giveth and He Taketh Away...


I want to thank all of you who have been praying for me ever since I announced my blessed event. It seems the baby and I needed your prayers more than I thought, as I am no longer pregnant.  After a brief bout of heavy spotting 2 weeks ago, I just retook a pregnancy test and it seems I am no longer pregnant.  I will remain as I am, and hopefully will complete the miscarriage whenever my body is ready.  Rest assured, I will not try to be a hero and go without medical help if I need to. 

No one really needs to even respond to this post, as this sort of thing makes me feel rather awkward.  Not really denial - just kind of numb. 

So I will thank you all in advance for your concern and prayers, and I shall continue to take delight in my Lord, knowing God is good. 


Friday, August 23, 2013

Planning Pages For Older Children


OK, my computer is working so well today, I thought I'd see if it will let me upload the next installment of planning/school summary pages for you.  These pages are for older children and have been a huge help for us all in keeping the children focused on their ultimate goals.

The Student Daily Planner pages help them to keep track of what they did during the day and remind them to incorporate their faith into their daily activities.  These pages are also great springboards for parents and children to have “grown up” discussions about faith and the world today for dinnertime, Daddy time, or just about any time!  These pages work especially well if your children have a specific “accountability time” with their father.  Older children can prepare for these chats by finding relevant bible verses and catechism references.  It is a great way for their father to pass on the faith in ways that your children will come to cherish as they grow. 

It may take extra paper to fill these pages out, but believe me, the repetitive writing down of long term goals and accountability for how you either succeeded or failed in fulfilling your ultimate duty to God will train your child to think along these terms as a matter of habit as they mature and will thus reap the temporal and spiritual benefits over time!

Remember to scroll down and print off a few copies of my simple planner/summary page for younger children, too.  Even the youngest students can take great pride in their daily accomplishments and love to show Daddy what they have learned!

I am really pushing it today by posting so many things, so I will give my computer a rest and will post the planning pages for MOM in a few days!  (Yay!)

God bless!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Next Stage in Wound Care


OK, I just wrote the most pathetic post ever about our appointment today.  Ooohhh, the moans and groans!  Lots of self-pity and stomping of feet, too.   (You may be thankful I deleted it)  So I wrote this one in its place.

Now in my defense, I suppose it was justified to complain.  You see, now that we have reached 'wound care specialist' status, we have reached the top.  Nowhere else to go but here.  If no one else can figure these wounds out, surely the wound care specialists can!  Right? Right?!


Nothing made sense to them, so we are in uncharted territory.  Still. 

But instead of wailing and gnashing my teeth and preparing for another 6 months of wound care with no hope of healing in sight, I have decided to look at the positives.

1)  Fulton really likes the staff at this hospital 
2)  They promised to have suckers that will actually fit in his mouth (we just learned he can't eat Tootsie Pops because his mouth still won't open wide enough)
3)  They are local so we only have to drive 35 minutes to get there instead of 10.5 hours
4)  They use weird things like medihoney, which means they might be open to looking into other natural ingredients to try on his skin
5)  They did NOT prescribe antibiotics
6)  They are generous with their little bottles of saline solution, which Fulton promptly used to squirt every staff member in the unit (with the nurse's prompting, of course)

The fact that Fulton likes going there is key, since apparently we will be showing up there quite often for several weeks or months.  So be it.  I learned today that I need to take all things for what they are and make the best of them - just as Fulton does.

The weather was gloriously cool but sunny today, so after our fruitless appointment we waited outside for my oldest son to pick us up.  I sat on the bench, silently trying not to dissolve in tears, while he squirted a few ants on the sidewalk and chattered about Lightening McQueen and which of his new doctor friends he wanted to squirt next week. 

My eyes were closed, only half focused on his happy chatter, trying to set aside my fears for his health, when I heard him say, "Mooommm! I have something you have been waiting so looong for!"  He was standing in front of me, with that goofy looking grin that only his precious little face can make, waiting for me to play my part in our little game.

"What's that?" I grinned back, leaning forward.

"THIS!" he said, flinging his arms around my neck and giving my cheek a kiss. 

And suddenly everything changed.

Yes.  My boy is in a lot of pain.  And when we are in the throes of bandage changes and ointments and doctor visits that involve a lot of poking, he is 100% in the moment.  But bless his heart, he copes and quickly returns to what every 5-year-old should be doing: laughing, loving, playing. 


And I realized that if we are to get through this current trial in one piece, I had better take a lesson from my son and do the same. 

Sure.  Embrace the pain when it comes, 100%.  And offer it up to Our Lord. 

But when those painful moments pass, do not dwell on it.  Don't let those mental wheels spin out of control with doom and gloom, dreading the next bandage change or the next doctor's appointment.  Instead, open my eyes to the countless joys Our Lord puts before us as consolations and live within those moments as they come. 

Ants and saline solution. 
The promise of a smaller sucker. 
A beautiful day. 
And a kiss on the cheek from a little boy who loves me.

Each of these little things, and countless more today, were gifts from above.  Consolations for embracing the cross He has chosen for us.  Glimmers of happiness to come.  And all of it, proof of His love. 


"In my deepest wound I saw Thy glory, and it dazzled me."
~ Saint Augustine

Monday, August 12, 2013

Planning Page For Your Youngest Scholars


We homeschool for many reasons.  But one of the main reasons we do so is to foster a sense of family unity in our home.  As a mother, I provide the framework for the paths of learning and adventure happening everyday, guiding our little blessings towards a richer experience of life through formation and education.  But one factor always seemed to be missing:  where is Daddy?

Sure, he would get an occasional story of something they learned that day, but Jay's role was really fairly minimal.  Since he takes the role as The Enforcer, he usually heard more about the 'bad' stuff than the about the educational milestones the children reached.  And that struck me as profoundly sad!

When I created the planning pages for the children, I wanted to find a way for the children to be able to present their father with the fruits of their labors in a way that would help foster discussions and a more 'involved' relationship between them.  I also wanted the children to see how daily work can play an important role in completing their long term goals in life.

With all of that in mind, I created the following planning page for your younger children.  (I will post the planning pages for older children in a few days - they are fabulous!)  Yes, it takes some paper and ink to print, but these pages can provide a tangible record of your child's successes as he or she learns throughout the year.

NOTE:  The section that says Virtue is for the child to write the current virtue they are working on if using the Rosary Quilt virtue training program.  They (or you) can also write out an example of how that child did something to display that virtue that day.

Happy planning!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

St. Lawrence and Burn Safety Activity


Today's Collect: O God, giver of that ardor of love for you by which Saint Lawrence was outstandingly faithful in service and glorious in martyrdom, grant that we may love what he loved and put into practice what he taught. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

I am so inspired!  St. Lawrence's day is today and to celebrate, I have decided to designate August 10 of every year:

The Feast of St Lawrence and Poppe Fire Safety Day If I Happen to Remember to Check the Calendar!

(I have a lot going on and I try to be honest with myself) 

After reviewing some of my early entries I wrote on the Pray For Fulton Facebook group about Fulton's burns and care, I am reliving some of that horror and sorrow all of us mothers were going through on the critical burn unit floor.  Praise God Fulton has no memory of those first several weeks, but so much of the images and sounds of utter suffering will be with me forever. 

Now over the years I think I have done a fairly good job of teaching my children what is dangerous and what can cause burns.   But what I never once even mentioned to any of them was what to do if they actually got burned.  And this will be one of my regrets I will take to my grave.  Lord help me, by kindergarten I knew to Stop, Drop and Roll if I ever caught on fire.  But Fulton never knew.   It is not like I kept the secret from him.  It just never occurred to me that such a horrible thing could actually happen to people, unless it was on TV.  But that was drama.  And actors.  And if they didn't die in the story, they never looked too bad off in the following hospital scenes.  No.  Fire wounds were never on my parental radar.  Because who could imagine seeing one's own child in flames?

Burn safety, needless to say, is becoming my passion and I will dedicate this post to remind all of you to please be sure your children are well versed in burn safety!

I want everyone who reads this to try to recall the last time you spoke with your child about being safe around hot things.  The stove, bathtub, fireplace, burn barrel, electrical outlets, power lines, irons and candles are all possible safety hazards you should point out to your children.  Chemicals and flammable fuels are also high on the list of  dangerous items.  And, of course, matches. 

I created a little fire safety activity I want all of you families to play on every Feast of Saint Lawrence.  It is easy to play and full of action, so your children will love it!  Below is a page I created with several flames on it.  It is a JPEG file, so just paste it on a document and stretch it out to fit if you need to.  (I don't but your computer may be different)  Print it, cut the squares out and go around your house and tape one to everything that could cause a burn.  Stove knobs and oven doors, outlets and curling irons, hot water taps and candles.  Everything!  Print out multiple pages if you want to.  Go nuts with it - decorate your house! 

As you tape the flames by each item, talk to them about how the burns can happen (no forks in the outlets, please!), what to watch for (is that electrical cord frayed?) and how far away they should stay from dangerous items (if you blow towards the candle flame and it flickers, you are too close!)  Tell them that steam burns are especially painful and to always let an adult take care of steaming items on the stovetop. 

The special flame with Fulton's picture on it should be used on a box of matches and a can of gasoline (if you have it).  While Fulton was not playing with matches when he was burned, matches and gasoline are extremely dangerous especially when used together.  You have permission to gently tell them of his accident and how he now warns all the children he meets that gasoline is very dangerous.

Then tell them how to treat first and second degree burns and how to tell the difference.  Talk to them about third degree burns, too.  Although there may not be much a child can do about helping to treat a third degree burn, just knowing the information could save a life somewhere down the road.  Use a medical book or this site here for now: Burn Care   (When I get the game all together, I will include this information as well)  I have an issue with the administering pain medication to anyone who is badly burned, but that is something I learned in the hospital and will be covered when the game is complete.  So you may tell them that for first and small second degree burns, this treatment is OK.  But for burns that require medical attention, this is not always a good idea.

Finally, show your children where the first aid kit is and make sure you have sterile gauze pads and a bag of clean washcloths stored with your first aid kit. You can also purchase a few packages of sterile lap rags which will come in handy for both burns and any wound that is bleeding a lot.  Tell them that when someone has a first or second degree burn, cool water will be the first thing they will want to apply to the wound.  Second degree burns should be covered with a moist sterile bandage until an adult can look at it and decide if a physician must be seen.

Then teach your children how to Stop, Drop and Roll.  It is very simple and fun to practice, too!  (Remind them to cover their face if they can, as this is what happened to have saved Fulton's eyes.) 

Once they get the basic idea, each child and parent will take a turn getting 'burned' by something you marked in the house.  Have the child holler in pain and everyone else will come running.  Ask your other children how the 'injured' child probably got burned.  Now you take a look at the injury and assess it out loud.  "Oh no!  Michael burned his finger from the outlet here.  The tip of his finger is red and has blisters on it.  What degree of burn is it?"  Have them answer.  "And how do we treat it?"  Send a child to the first aid kit and actually treat the pretend wound.  After it is treated, ask, "what should we do now?"  Call a doctor, watch it and see how it does, etc.  And finally, "What should we do if we see someone playing with an electrical outlet?" or whatever object that caused the pretend burn.

Put your supplies away and start again.  Let each child get 'burned' at least once, and let each child take care of an injured person as well, so that they all know how to quickly get the first aid kit.  Hopefully a parent will be home when a real burn or other injury happens, so having children who all know where the first aid kits are kept and how to get the washcloths wet for you will be very helpful in a true emergency.

Obviously if your child gets frightened easily, this level of teaching might be overwhelming.  Tweak it where appropriate. 

I am sorry this game is not in its final format for today's feast, but I will post it in its final form when it is complete, and on every Feast of St. Lawrence.  And St. Florian, too!  Please leave a comment below and let me know how it went in your home and if you have any suggestions on how to make it better.  And please, please, please spread the word about this game!  Like I said, if I had read a blog post about fire safety just the day before the accident, I would have been reminded to teach my son Stop, Drop and Roll.  "If onlys" and "I should haves" will haunt me forever.

One last request:  if you could, please end your game with a prayer to St. Lawrence for all burn victims.  There is a certain mother in Oklahoma who will sleep a little better tonight knowing so many pure souls are praying for her son!

Stay safe and God bless!

This post is linked up to the Catholic Monthly Bloggers Network monthly linkup blitz
 and the Equipping Catholic Families Saints Cele-linky

Friday, July 26, 2013

Making Headway!


PTL his head is showing marked signs of improvement above and beyond the previous update I posted on Fulton's Carepages page.  To give you a brief summary, the doctors were amazed with his wound progress and asked what we were doing for it.  Calendula was the buzzword in the hospital for the rest of the day, and they are including it in their research and will be recommending it to other parents as well.  I love it!

I am posting some pictures because even though it still looks pretty gnarly in places, it all looks beautiful to me!  (Compare to this post here)

OK - this side is our present cross.  This was just beginning to rear its ugly head just a few weeks before discharge back in April.  The large spot is, of course, painful, and the open areas either are flat and bleed, or they bulge up and look gelatinous (think jellyfish bumps)  They can change between the 2 states within a 24 hour period.  When it bleeds, the most healing takes place.  When it stays bulged out, it usually gets worse.  If you see the areas behind the main wound, there are several darker spots.  These are spots that are healing and are basically closed, however they can reopen at any time.  We have to keep his hair closely trimmed here, as the hair gets in the way of keeping it clean and it irritates the wounds when they open.

This side has been a battle since his first skin grafts.  While the photo makes it actually look better than it really is in real life, it is still a marked difference between this and the post I put up a few months ago when I put out my cry for help.  (If you click on the Burn label, you can see the other updates on his progress)  The spots are tiny and scattered, and they open and close, grow and shrink almost on a daily basis.  But the last few days there has been a steady improvement.  Thank you Lord!

And this is my pride and joy shot!  The darker areas in that 5 inch strip going North to South on his head is a huge patch that was headed toward the way the first picture now looks.  Terrified he would have yet another large area to deal with, I took a huge leap of faith and started applying THIS product. (Never never never on the open wounds, though!) It is the Mom of 13's 4 Thieves Germ Away Hand Sanitizer, of all things.  And this is actually keeping his head wounds at bay.  Once these spots go bad, the larger ones never heal, so this breakthrough is truly a Godsend to Fulton.  (Please see update below)
Occasionally his hair will begin to clump in this area, which is the first stage before it begins to open up, but we just avoid putting the sanitizer on it (because it stings like crazy if it gets on an open area!) and scrub extra hard with the antifungal goat milk soap we are using to wash his head 2x a day.  Within 2 days, the spots give up and go dormant again.  But if we miss an application on this large patch, the whole area turns dark red and threatens to open up everywhere, so maintenance is very important.  I have been using this for almost a month now.  We will see how this goes!
Words cannot adequately describe how THRILLED I am with Wendy's hand sanitizer.  I suspect it is the rosemary and eucalyptus essential oils that are doing the trick.  I am studying up on these oils and seeing what else I can add to this, if anything.  He also has several patches all over the back of his head that we also have to keep a close eye on, but this is so much better than it has ever been before.
And so a special thank you goes out to Wendy Cukierski for creating such a wonderfully effective product.  I don't know why it works, since we still do not know what is causing this to begin with, and all labs come back as negative for fungal, viral and bacterial infections.  But it works.  And that is all I care about. 
UPDATE:  In my research I have found that some of the essential oils in the sanitizer should NOT be used on children.  I am so happy we found something to keep additional breakouts from happening, but we are relying on simple calendula preparations now and continue to be grateful to Our Lord for such a wonderful, effective, gentle herbal fix.  As I type this, his wounds have healed and only has small sores from time to time after surgeries, which we continue to treat with calendula salves.
I am honestly tearing up as I type this.  We are so exhausted with this whole thing.  And Fulton suffers most of all.  Please keep your prayers coming - you have no idea how much we covet them! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

General Fulton Update

Hello everyone! Generally my silence means life is busy- which is a good thing. Busy is our 'normal' around here and we all are ready for more 'normal' to be sure!

We are finishing up school as best we can, although we are still a bit behind. I am also continuing to pursue my clinical master's certification in herbal medicine in hopes of better understanding how to help Fulton heal. God is so good to have given us so many medicinal remedies! I just have to take the time to do all the trial and error it will take to find out what will work best for his head wounds and his scar tissue.

Fulton's head has been keeping us on our toes lately. For awhile there, it was getting so much better. He could even 'wash' his own head and proudly show us. "Look Mom!" rub rub "I can do it myself!"

The antifungals and calendula treatments were working so well and we really hoped we were finally going to be through with the head wounds and get to get him back into his face mask. The bulging tissues were receding and the redness was going away. We even happily cancelled our appointment in Galveston a little over a week ago, since they only wanted to see him if there was no improvement.

But now the worst areas have begun to open up, like a crown of thorns around his head. Tears and pain have taken over once again and he is angry and yet very snuggly now. I have resumed part of the headcare duties, since Fulton is now mad at Jay pretty much all the time for 'hurting his head'. Jay is a little more firm and does not take any nonsense from Fulton, and this usually results in a very good scrubbing (which is needed) but a very angry 5-year-old.

His tummy hurts and his appetite is diminished. We are so grateful for the case of Kid Essentials calorie booster we received in the mail the other day, as his weight is beginning to go down. If he loses too much weight, he may have to be readmitted until they can get him eating again. (I saw it happen from time to time when we were still there - and they were always talked about in hushed tones as though the parents were doing something awful to their children. I used to think, "How can you let your child lose weight?" But now I understand. And it is a bit frightening.) Let us pray it does not get that bad!

Fulton and I are headed back to Galveston next week for a quick clinic appointment to decide how much head work they will be doing in July. I so wanted to show them his improvements! :( He also needs to get remeasured for his pressure garments. Unfortunately the custom garments we received in the mail the other day were too loose around his upper chest and shoulder areas, and since he has significant scarring there (especially on the back of his shoulder) it is vital that the garments fit tightly. They warned me that we could be going there several times a month in the beginning. I understand why it has to be this way, but it sure does rupture the normal flow of homelife.

Please, for those of you who are still here, please pray that his head finally heals! His face, at this point, is a lost cause, since the critical time for him to wear his facemask has now passed. The scars will be large and mostly permanent. I know there is a reason why this is happening - I am just having a hard time figuring it out. I have since lost my devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. I always seem to do better when I can separate myself from worldly ways, so perhaps I need to begin again and keep myself better focused on my faith instead of on the day to day trials. A week in a cloistered convent sounds heavenly right about now! I must regroup and recharge, and persevere in faith!

Wasn't our dear Papa BXVI so wise to proclaim this year the Year of Faith? Who knew?

Thank you all for your continued prayers and for fulfilling a few of our items on the Wish List. They are truly helping to ease some of this burden - and Fulton thinks it is funny that his head bandages magically appeared in a box on our porch! LOL!

Have a blessed weekend everyone, and I will keep you posted on our trip down South next week!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Schooltime Already?


Just a quick post before bed.  I have a big day of planning and organizing tomorrow, and since Jay will be home, I hope to really take advantage of the help!

School has been a bit crazy the past few months for obvious reasons.  We were already a bit behind before the accident, and with Fulton's burn happening soon after Christmas, we were not in full school mode anyway.  Since returning, things have not gotten much better, as I am notoriously horrible at prioritizing my time. 

So here we are, the ides of June, and only one semester into last year's school year!  The children have since restarted their math lessons, which is good, but now I need to integrate more classes each day.  Praise God, Ryan finished up the last of his classes before flying off to Arizona to jump out of airplanes and train for deep water rescue (be still my pounding heart!) but there are other Poppe children who still need a lot of help.  Jay has been blessed with the opportunity to change his work schedule around - at least for the time being - to help take care of Fulton's morning and evening care.  His head continues to make progress, though the healing is slow.  There will be multiple trips back to Galveston this summer and fall, each requiring one or both of us to be away, so if anyone has any tips on how to get this done, I'm all ears!

We use Mother of Divine Grace curriculum and have enrolled the children so I have more accountability and the children will have official transcripts when they graduate.  I am so happy we decided to enroll!  My family counselor has done so much to pull me out of panic mode and keep me from despair, and offers me realistic solutions to schooling problems as they come up.  If for no other reason, I highly recommend MODG for the support they offer!  While signing them up for classes will probably be far beyond our budget this year, at least I know I can call my counselor when I get stuck.

My plan of attack is to get the children through Week 24 by the end of the summer.  I have some learning hurdles to overcome this year as well as time issues, so once again the Poppe family could use a few prayers.  I know you all are very practiced at that by now!  :)

I know that through Him all things are possible - I just can't wait to see how this is all going to work out!  I am always ready for miracles!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Happy Birthday, Fulton!


June is a busy month for celebrating.  Fulton, Ryan and Marialina all have birthdays this month, plus Father's Day, and even a high school graduation to toss into the mix this year.

But today (June 10) is all about Fulton.

Today is a special day for Jay and I, as we silently acknowledged that this birthday might not have come at all.  For a few weeks, Fulton was touch and go at the hospital and I feared more than a few nights that he would not be with us when I returned to his room in the morning.  So many nights I slept in the hospital 'dorm room' 2 floors above him, willing the ventilator to keep him breathing and praying the night nurse would not leave his side.  And praying even harder that no nurse would come knocking on my door.  Praise God and the Blessed Mother he survived! 

SO needless to say, there were some pretty wet eyes this morning as we all wished him a happy birthday!

We do birthdays in a very low key way here overall.  2 presents from Mom and Dad and 2 from my mother, a special trip to Chucky Cheese (boys only - none of us girls were allowed!  LOL!) and dinner at La Fiesta.  We came home to cupcakes and ice cream and the blessed news that he would not have to sleep in his supersuit.  Not that we planned on 'treating' him to this - I actually forgot to wash all his supersuits today and they take more than a day to dry, so TA-DA!  Instant birthday surprise!  **sigh**

I would love to post a mini photo timeline of Fulton, but our computer crashed and all his photos were stored in it.  :'(  But I do have a few in this computer, so I will see what I am able to post here.

Thank you all yet again for your prayers - they are truly cherished!

He was always a little guy!

Shannon was and always will be his favorite!

Always the center of attention
And always ready for a smile
Yet ever mindful of the serious side of life
And willing to take on the role of Big Brother
I pray it is not his tragedy that defines him

But rather with our love surrounding him

May the fire be the source of refinement that he may become all he was meant to be


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Thank You!


Not a day goes by when I am not eternally grateful for the tremendous amount of love and support shown to us as we carry this current cross.  For many weeks, I survived on nothing but prayers sent above by people I will never meet this side of life.  And since I will not meet so many of you in person, I just want to say THANK YOU for all you have done for Fulton and my entire family.

Bless you all!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Some Days Are Harder Than Others


Every once and awhile I will break down and post it like it is.  This whole burn thing really stinks and today was an especially difficult day.  It is not just the drama of his care, the pain he is in, and the emotional stress and heartache - really, I suppose, it is just not knowing what is happening to his skin on his head and not seeing any end to his suffering any time soon.  Oh Great Physician, please enlighten the doctors and guide them towards a cure!  

And if anyone has any suggestions or knows a dermatologist, I'm all ears!

The following is a post I put up on Facebook earlier this evening:

Another spot on his head was starting to ooze, so I am now actively tending to 3 major areas on his head. 4 spots on the left side, a strip at his hairline on the right side and a patch behind his right ear. I applied the first calendula treatment last night and it completely broke through the scabs overnight (this stuff is amazing!) So now it will be a matter of getting it all out of his hair. The consistency is similar to a mixture of peanutbutter and gum, so I am sure you can imagine how difficult it is to get this out of his hair in areas where his nerves are exposed. This morning's cleaning and bandage change took almost 3 hours. That was not 3 hours of constant work, mind you, but it was a tiresme process all the same. (This evening's bandage change went much faster, thanks to Jay pitching in and taking over.)

left side
I try to do it in pieces to lessen the trauma. I honestly do not know what else to do with this. While the smaller patches are responding well to antifungal treatment, the bigger spots continue to grow. He currently has 8 spots 'exposed' - each one being either an inch or half an inch in diameter, with additional large spots under scabs. He is going in next week, so I am not going to even touch those areas. He already has more than he can handle as far as pain goes. Thankfully, despite how tender these spots are, they are not looking infected. But every day they are not healed leaves him open to that risk, so please continue to pray.

Aside from the pain he is in, the worst part of this is his anger at me. He frequently asks me to leave the room and says he does not like me, etc. There are times in the evening when he sorrowfully apologizes for his behavior and when he curls up with me and says, "Mom, I like you" which is beautiful, but more often than not I am the dreaded 2 headed monster who constantly chases him around with a soapy washcloth, medicine syringes and blood pressure cuffs. I am so grateful Jay does not have to do this all day, too, so that Fulton has a parent he feels more relaxed with.

I understand this is the way it has to be for now, but it still hurts a lot. My head knows this will get better and one day he might come to know what I try to do for him. But it is not about being appreciated. This is my cross and while I am trying to carry it well for Our Lord, it hurts to see that this love I have is somehow not being transferred to my son - that he is somehow not picking up on my love and is instead pushing me away.

But enough about me. :)

Thank you for your continued prayers - I look forward to reporting more good news in the future and not so much depressing stuff!

Monday, May 20, 2013

We Are Safe!


Praise God, we have been spared the tragedy of a tornado once again.  Our tears and prayers pour forth for our fellow Oklahoma families who were struck by tonight's terrifying fury.

I do not dare question God's Holy Will.  I only pray that each soul that was called Home was in a state of grace and will one day enjoy the Heavenly abode Our Lord has won for them through His most Precious Blood.

Enter not into judgment with Thy servants, O Lord; for, save Thou grant them forgiveness of all their sins, no man shall be justified in Thy sight. Wherefore suffer not, we beseech Thee, the sentence Thou pronouncest in judgment upon the ones whom the faithful prayer of Christian people commends to Thee, to be a doom which shall crush them utterly. Rather succor them by Thy gracious favor, that they may escape Thine avenging justice who, in his lifetime, was signed with the seal of the holy Trinity. Who livest and reignest world without end.
R.: Amen.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

St. Anthony, Where Are You?


Rumor has it I write a blog.  Sorry for the long silence, but time has been short lately.  In fact I should be in bed right now, but I can't seem to find Fulton's mouth stretcher and I have finally decided to let St Anthony take over while I put some words on this blog before bed.

As I write this, I realize I have lost something else besides the mouth stretcher.  Actually, I have lost many things.  Time.  Grace.  Patience.  Sleep.  And a few marbles, too.  In fact, I have lost just about everything, except the 40 pounds that continue to stick with me through thick and...(well, hopefully those pounds won't stay with me through the 'thin'!)

I will be painfully honest with you: Ever since returning home, everything has been a fabulous source of sanctification for me.  And luckily for the rest of the family, I have been a great source of sanctification for all of them as well.  Bound together by love, loyalty, and the unavailability of extra vehicles to aid our escape, we are beginning to adjust to the new demands on my time and adapt to new personality traits that have emerged in Fulton.  And in myself.

I was always been a bit frazzled and forgetful, but since returning home I think I am beginning to lose my mind.  The house is a mess.  I spend far too much time looking for things.  And I have completely deleted far too many conversations I have had with people.  I couldn't even tell you how many times Jay has heard me say, "I am so sorry!  I completely forgot to...."

While the forgetfulness is certainly annoying, it is my newly perfected skills at misplacing things that is really a problem.  Fulton's care requires so many items, it would be hard for a Martha Stewart type person to keep track of it all, let alone me.  His blood pressure cuff, medical syringes, pressure garments, lotions and potions, etc is a lot of 'stuff' to handle on a daily basis, so it was off to the antique store for me! 

We came home with a lovely 3 shelf hutch with a cabinet underneath to put in our bedroom.  I could have settled for a cheap Walmart bookcase or something, but ugly and clutter make me crazy (although you'd never guess that based on how the house looks) so I spent the same amount on a real piece of furniture.  I still need to get a basket or two to hold the multitude of tiny but oh-so-important items in my medical collection, but overall I am quite pleased with the new addition.  I am still losing things on a regular basis though, and am considering making St Anthony my new favorite Saint, but overall there is a marked improvement.

It is still ugly and cluttered, but hopefully after a few more rustic looking baskets these shelves will be a little easier to look at first thing in the morning.  Meanwhile I will continue to try to Lord willing, this is just a phase of readjustment and I will eventually become a more helpful addition to the rest of the family.  But for the time being, we have all come to the understanding that Mommy is still Fulton's special helper.   I will NOT forget that!

I continue to strive to transform his care into acts of love, thanksgiving and reparation to Our Lord and offer up our sufferings to The One who has done so much for us.  I continue to see Our Lord Crucified in Fulton's little face and am learning to love on a whole new level.  And I am continuing to lose my sense of 'self', slowly but surely, and that is one thing I hope will stay lost forever!

For everything else that I continue to lose, it is good to know that I have St Anthony to back me up!

Saint Anthony, perfect imitator of Jesus, who received from God the special power of restoring lost things, grant that I may find (mention your petition) which has been lost. As least restore to me peace and tranquility of mind, the loss of which has afflicted me even more than my material loss.

To this favor I ask another of you: that I may always remain in possession of the true good that is God. Let me rather lose all things than lose God, my supreme good. Let me never suffer the loss of my greatest treasure, eternal life with God. Amen.

St Anthony, pray for me!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

To Pray Always


Somewhere along the way, even among the suffering within these walls where we temporarily live and on a larger scale, the suffering endured in the hospital, I have forgotten to pray.  How can this even be possible?  We are in the middle of Lent, both literally and spiritually, and yet I have started most of my days without any time on my knees at all.  Most evenings are also without much in the ways of recited prayer.  Why am I failing so miserably?

I wasn't always like this.  In the beginning, I was praying constantly.  I offered every breath Fulton breathed to Our Lord as a silent prayer of thanksgiving for saving my child.  Every flutter or pain in my own chest was offered in reparation for my own sins and used as a reminder of how greatly I needed a conversion of heart.  Hours of "Venerable Fulton Sheen, please heal my son" have been sent above, begging him to ask Our Lord to grant Fulton a miraculous heaing.  Every kiss and caress was not only for my son but for the Divine Face of God as well.  I had long, penitential and heartfelt conversations with Our Lady, St. Joseph, Ven. Fulton Sheen and of course My Lord Himself.  And I frequently wept out of sheer love of God.

But the last two weeks have been quite dry overall. 

My mother came to visit for about a week, and then my family came.  Perhaps it was the change of pace and change of routine that snapped me into an 'all business' mode.  I suddenly had other people around me and others to consider.  I had a house that seemed to get a lot messier in no time at all, a 21 month old baby to fret over, constant conversations, questions to answer and piles of laundry to wash.  I suddenly was worried about dishes being broken, spots on the upholstery, and rented towels with stains on them.  Food was sparse due to not being able to go shopping, so we left the house a lot to either go out to eat or run the errands I have not been able to do in a month or more.

And then there was the string of little excursions with everyone.  The aquarium, NASA, ferry boat rides, trips to the beach.  Absolutely, it was wonderful to be reunited with my family and to breathe fresh air.  It was good to get away for awhile with Fulton and do something 'normal' for once.  Yes, very good indeed.  But why was I so quickly able to set Our Lord aside? 

Perhaps it is because I have given up on a big miracle.  I have accepted the small steps forward as all He was going to do for us, and moved on.  Like St. Bernadette, I accepted that perhaps my role in all of this was to suffer as best I could, to prepare Fulton for his own road of suffering, and offer encouragement to others whenever I could.  Miracles, I decided, are for other people.  Whether we are unworthy of such a kiss from God, or because more grace would come to us through the daily suffering, I suppose it really does not matter.  Maybe it was a mix of both thoughts that changed my outlook.  I don't know.

I feel so ungrateful.  Even though there have been no miracles to amaze the doctors, the very fact that Fulton still lives is proof enough of God's love and that perhaps He wills something greater for my son.  And obviously I am comfortable with His decision.  But what rattles me is that despite all He had graced me with, all He had done for us, and all He still has in store for us, I behaved as one of the ungrateful lepers who was healed and disappeared.

Please Lord, please.  Do not let me wander so far from Your Cross again.  I return to you, contrite and humbled once again, but trusting You will not abandon me so long as my soul continues to long for You.  Strengthen my love I have for you in Your Holy Face, that I may once again at every moment offer my care and caresses I lovingly apply to my son's face to Your face as well.  Accept these physical acts as loving prayers to You, so that when my mind wanders or becomes forgetful, You will remember the tenderness of my touch.  Amen

"I firmly wish that my face reflecting the intimate pains
of my soul, the suffering and love of my heart, be more
honoured! Whoever gazes upon me already consoles me."
(Our Lord Jesus Christ to Sister Pierina)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St Patrick's Day


And on the lighter side:  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Usually I tend to get a little giddy on this day, but this year I celebrate it with a sense of mourning.  Loss.  And a deep sense of grief.  For this is the first St. Patrick's Day I have ever had WITHOUT my precious green Hostess Sno-Ball.  And so I leave you to reveiw my musings of happier days in my childhood - days of grassy green smiles and coconut dreams:

When we were kids, my sisters and I could hardly wait for March. Not because spring was coming, mind you. Oh no. We were excited because we would get to eat Sno-balls! Those cream filled, coconut and marshmallow covered chocolate cake treats were cherished among my sisters and I. They were better than a pot of gold.

You see, growing up, I never got the kinds of lunches other kids got. While they brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on Wonder Bread, with bags of chips and Twinkies, we were stuck with liverwurst sandwiches on whole wheat with a hard-boiled egg and carrot. We longed for the treats other kids ate and would sometimes lament out loud our culinary woes. My mother would listen with a sympathetic ear, and sometimes she would bake wheat berry cookies, but overall, there was no reason for morale to improve.

Don’t misunderstand me. My mother loved us, and she did the best she could on the income we had. Every bite of food was packed full of vitamins, fiber and minerals. We simply ate to live – we certainly did not live to eat. And that was why St. Patrick’s Day was so special. Because on St. Patrick’s Day, we got to eat Sno-balls!

If there is nothing else my mother taught us as children, she made sure we knew that we had Irish blood in us. She taught us the Irish jig. We actually loved corned beef and cabbage. And we learned to never, NEVER call anyone super! (Actually, the word was ‘souper’, but to a child they sounded the same, so super was not in our vocabulary.) We knew the real story behind the potato famine by the time we were in first grade.

And did I mention that we got to eat Sno-balls on St. Patrick’s Day?

On the morning of St. Patty’s Day, the Sno-ball effect would begin. We prepared for school like an Olympic athlete prepares for competition.
Get dressed in an all green outfit, braid hair with green ribbons, and straighten ‘Kiss Me I’m Irish’ pin.
March downstairs and eat green oatmeal and drink green milk, all the while focusing on the green-gold prize: the Sno-ball.
Wait for Dad to play Irish Night at the Pops and dance the Irish jig for Mother.
Polite, Vaseline teeth smiles, arms motionless at our sides as our feet flew wildly to and fro to music only a leprechaun should dance to.



Sweat pouring off our brow, green ribbons flying.



At last, the school bus would come and we flew out the door, never looking back, always looking forward. Looking forward. To lunch.

We soon found that other kids in our classes looked forward to our St. Patrick’s Day lunch as well. During the rest of the year, they usually glanced at out lunches and rolled their eyes or snorted as they scooted a few scoots away (liverwurst, eggs and milk do not make for the best breath, after all). But, on St. Patty’s Day, they would actually crowd around us to gaze at our green feast. A can of Green River soda, a green apple, a few slices of green pepper and celery sticks with peanut butter. And then, there it was – a very special, just for St. Patrick’s Day glistening green Sno-ball.

As I ate this lunch, the kids would ask why my family was so weird on St. Patrick’s Day. I would then begin to happily babble, between bites of cake and coconut, about St. Patrick, how one day I would live in Ireland, and about the plight of the Catholics during the potato famine.

“Famine? What’s a famine?” an older boy once asked as I licked the last of the green coconut flakes from my fingers.

Satiated, I sighed and turned to the poor, uneducated child before me. “A famine is when there is nothing good to eat for anyone. Sometimes people get so desperate that they eat strange things, just to stay alive. In Ireland, they had nothing good to eat and many people died of a disease called green mouth because all they could eat was grass.”

Looking closely at my green coconut speckled mouth and the careless remains of my lunch on the table, he snorted, “Yeah. I’ve seen that before.” And he wandered off to recess.

We laugh at the stories now, but I can also appreciate their underlying theme. We were taught about our Irish heritage in a way that made my sisters and I fiercely proud of who we are. Our passion for our history was stronger than our worries of what others thought of us, and this same passion allowed us, one day a year, to boldly bring our Catholic faith to others around us. I pray that I am able to pass along this same passion for our faith to my children as well.

Your assignment: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!
Learn the Irish jig and eat green pizza. Tape a shamrock on every part of your child that is mentioned in St. Patrick’s Prayer. Discuss the Trinity. One year we had a Conversion Hunt: I hid 200 popsicle sticks in our yard and 12 kids hunted for them like Easer eggs. Each stick was a person they found and “converted”, just as St. Patrick did. Celebrate this day while instilling in your children a strong connection to and pride for their Catholic heritage – no matter what nationality they may be!

And remember to get excited about your faith yourself. Enthusiasm, after all, has a “snowball” effect on everyone!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mother's Prayer For Her Sick Child


O Heart of Jesus, merciful and compassionate Heart, look with an eye of pity upon my sick son. 

O You, Who endured upon earth all that was most painful, relieve his sufferings!  In memory of the bitter desolation You endured in teh Garden of Olives, console him in his misery.  For the sake of Your cruel scourging and frightful crowning with thorns, grant him patience in his tribulations.  By Your most wearisome carrying of Your cross, grant him unshaken constancy in this trial and perfect resignation to God's holy will.  By Your cruel death, grant him a calm and peaceful departure from this life, if so it is best for his eternal welfare. 

But if, O Sacred Heart, it be not opposed to Your greater honor, grant him a prolongation fo life and restoration to perfect health.  I beg this of You by Your own infinite goodness and mercy.  It was for his welfare that You cast him upon this bed of sickness.  Give him light to discern Your loving designs and, with great ardor, to seek the salvation of his soul.  Take from him his former tepidity in Your service and fill him with a loving zeal for Your honor.  Grant that in this present tribulation he may understand how insignificant and transitory are all earthly joys.  Strengthen his heart to live henceforth solely for You and heaven, O God; and when You have given health to his soul, restore likewise the strength of body.  O Jesus, You Who healed so many sick, heal him also, that he may gratefully magnify Your name and, after a long life of piety and good works, depart happily in You, O Lord, to love You and praise You and glorify You forever adn ever!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Prayer for a Sick Infant


I received 2 amazing prayers in the mail from a friend the other day.  Both are prayers from a mother asking for healing on behalf of her sick child.  The mother's pleas so perfectly express where I am at right now, I thought I should post them here for any other parent suffering for their child. 

The first prayer is for a sick infant, still in baptismal innocence.  The second is a prayer for an older child no longer in baptismal innocence.  Since only Our Lord knows which of these my son falls under, I have both of these prayers at my bedisde.  But be warned:  these prayers are not for the faint of heart and take on a tone unfamiliar to most people these days.  Yet despite the 'harshness', I can't help but think that such prayer, when prayed sincerely, must be very pleasing to God.

A Mother's Prayer For Her Sick Infant
O ininitely merciful God, with contrite hearts we acknowledge before You that we have deserved not only this but far more grievous suffering!  My family and I have often and deeply offended Your infinite justice and holiness.  It is right that we should be chastised.  But, notwithstanding, we fly to Your paternal Heart to implore Your mercy, to beg for a remission of our indebtedness. 

Behold this innocent child, Yours by far stronger claims than ours!  Release him from suffering.  He could not yet offend You.  Ah, free him from pain!  The grace of Holy Baptism is still all his own.  O bless Your tenderly loved child!  With the blood of Your Son he was dearly purchased.  O then, for Jesus' sake, take pity on him.  He is the pure and unprofaned temple of Your Holy Spirit.  We are firmly resolved never to commit sin and, for the rest of our life, we will serve You with fidelity and gratitude.
Have mercy, good Father, on my poor sick child, and restore him to health!  You can do all things.  If You will it, this sickness will disappear.  One word from You, and health will be restored.  I promise to train him carefully to the utmost of my ability, to use every means to make him know, love, and serve You.  Assist me by Your grace to preserve him in his innocence, to fortify him in all virtues.  But if O Heavenly Father, You forsee that he will ever deviate from Your Commandments and lose his precious soul, rather take him at once to Yourself in heaven.  I could far rather see him die in his innocence than behold him a victim of sin and eternal damnation.

My apologies, as I do not have the information about the book from which the prayers came, but if anyone recognizes them, please let me know!  I will be posting the other prayer tomorrow.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Face of God


This Lent I have decided to meditate on the face of Our Lord.  As I have witnessed the profound changes that have taken place on Fulton's face, and placed myself at the foot of Our Lord's Cross, it seems as though this devotion is very fitting for me this year.  Soon after the accident happened, I came across the following prayer, penned by St Therese of Liseaux.  It struck such a deep chord within my heart, I had decided to pray this prayer on the evenings when I needed to focus on the larger picture of God's holy will instead of the heartbreaking changes taking place on my child's face.

With each passing day, Fulton's scars are thickening and becoming more distorted and I no longer can recall what he used to look like. Even with the help of photographs, I cannot see any similarities beyond perhaps the structure of his nose. In some ways I still grieve the loss of that sweet face, the squinty eyes and beaming smile, but I have already moved on and have come to love the new peaks and valleys and contours of his face as if they had always been there, and see God's great designs as He transforms my son.  I cherish this little face and kiss it daily, loving not only my son, but the God who gave him to me and the One Who chose this path to Calvary for us.  And as I ponder the faces of Fulton and Our Lord in agony yet so loved, I pray the Little Flower's prayer:


"O Jesus, Who in Thy cruel Passion didst become the "Reproach of men and the Man of Sorrows," I worship Thy Divine Face. Once it shone with the beauty and sweetness of the Divinity: now for my sake it is become as the face of a leper. Yet in that disfigured Countenance I recognize Thy infinite Love, and I am consumed with the desire of loving Thee and of making Thee loved by all mankind. The tears that streamed in such abundance from Thy Eyes are to me as precious pearls which I delight to gather, that with their infinite worth I may ransom the souls of poor sinners.

 O Jesus, Whose Face is the sole beauty that ravishes my heart, I may not behold here upon earth the sweetness of Thy Glance, nor feel the ineffable tenderness of Thy Kiss. I bow to Thy Will - but I pray Thee to imprint in me Thy Divine Likeness, and I implore Thee so to inflame me with Thy Love, that it may quickly consume me and I may soon reach the Vision of Thy glorious Face in Heaven. Amen."

Indeed I am not saying my son's face is worthy of worship or veneration of any sort, but there are elements within this prayer that, by changing a few words here and there, certainly speak to the agony I am going through as I watch the changes taking place on his sweet face, and correlating it with the actions of a loving God.  "For in Fulton's disfigured countenance I recognize Thy infinite Love, and I am consumed with the desire of loving Thee and of making Thee loved by all mankind." 

I know this special Lenten journey has just begun for me, this passion of sorts.  And while the details of this journey are shrouded from my eyes -  the insights, the pain and the graces that are in store for me - I know beyond all certainty how it ends:  A merciful Resurrected Lord, a new beginning, a purer soul, and deep gratitude for all My Lord and My God has blessed me with!

It is my Lenten mission to make the love known to anyone who will hear me, to show to them how God's love and mercy are shown most purely through suffering. What a beautiful Lent it will be!