Monday, February 13

Make that two referrals to Doernbecher's

I've been wanting to give an update on Elias. Most people know that three years ago, we had him seen by a children's behavioral pyschologist who diagnosed him with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (a disorder on the autism spectrum) and with Sensory Integration Disorder. At the time, Elias was four years old. He rarely spoke intelligibly, did not respond to his name and was constantly engaging in risky behavior (checking out electrical outlets, running away and into the street, climbing on top of things and jumping off). The diagnosis was a relief (more information is always helpful!) and frustrating (now what do we do--we were living in a third world country after all.)

God provided, as He always does with just what we needed right when we needed it. He was able to receive weekly help with a special education teacher at Natasha's school. We were able to find an English speaking Occupational Therapist nearby--who even came to our home at first, a real help since he did not transition well at the time. Over the next two years we focused on building up his weak arm and hand muscles, challenging him to speak, working on letters and numbers, getting along with his sisters and maintaining eye contact among many other skills. He was unable to write more than one or two very poorly constructed letters before becoming fatigued and melting down. We continued to homeschool, thankful for a curriculum that was based on auditory learning.

Zoom to current day. Elias is now attending first grade in public school. He entered this year a full grade level below his classmates in regards to reading, writing and math. I struggled with feeling like a failure as a homeschool parent. But when I remembered where he was two years ago, I knew we had focused on what he needed at the time. This year we, along with his two wonderful teachers, have witnessed an incredible growth in areas which formerly seemed impossible for him to grasp. Literally. He couldn't grasp a pencil correctly. Now he writes out self-composed short compositions (Why I want to be an Army Man when I grow up) and is working happily addressing 44 Valentines for his classmates tomorrow.

In October, we met with the special ed. team at his school to approve testing to see if he qualified for special help. We met with them last week after they finished his evaluation. Not to brag, but he's a smart kid! His results were impressive and encouraging. The team decided, and we concurred, that he currently has NO learning disability. His teachers both said that reading the report from three years ago, they both thought, "this isn't the same kid!"

I am so thankful for his progress, for his OT in Bolivia, for the opportunity to homeschool and focus on where he needed help most instead of him getting frustrated with academics. He still has a bit of a way to go before being at grade level in all academic areas, but he loves school. He is making good progress. He has two great teachers who see his potential and invest in him every day.

Some may look at where he is currently and think, "if this boy had been in formal school the last two years, he wouldn't be below benchmark." But I know that is not true. I looked at last week's evaluation report as a badge of honor. It took, sweat, prayers and tears to get to where we are today. I'm thankful and optimistic.

That said, we are still looking at getting Elias help with some medical concerns we still have. So, we will be making an appointment for him soon at Doernbecher's Children's Hospital. Just another aspect of his health, but we are hoping for more answers and more progress.

For those of you who pray for us and especially for Elias, thank you! God has done so much for us. Thank you for lifting us up in regard to Elias's health!

Thursday, February 2

Happy Birthday Ana Sophia!!

This is a day late, but we celebrated Ana's fourth birthday yesterday with a well-child check-up, pizza and a pink butterfly cake. In retrospect, getting five separate vaccine shots wasn't a nice birthday present, but she did amazingly well.

Ana is our bright eyed, sweet, curly haired dimpled princess. If it's pink or princess-y she likes it. If it isn't, then, well, it should be. She even thinks her hair is pink. I mean if you love pink so much and you love your hair, then it only serves that said hair is pink, right?

Speaking of hair, we finally got the phone call today about a referral for her to see a dermatalogist. The balding has increased greatly with half a dozen new spots and the original spot now 3-4 inches in diameter. The LNP we have been seeing wants to do some more blood work soon, but the big hit came today when the referral was for Doernbecher's Childrens Hospital.

My stomach sunk and my heart raced. I knew we would have to take Ana to Portland if we were referred to another doctor, but I guess I wasn't expecting Doernbecher's. I'm thankful that we will be going there. But after raising money in school and hearing so many stories of the work they do there for kids with very serious illnesses it was a shock to hear. That said, I'm thankful for so many things and we have had a great week of seeing God work, even in the small things.

He is good. He provides for our needs before we know we have a need. His gifts are good. He has blessed us greatly with a funny, sweet, curly-Wehrley-girly, Ana Sophia.

Wednesday, December 28

Hair Update

We had a wonderful, wonderful Christmas. In fact, we are still having one. We will have our final family get together this coming Friday with my parents.

I just wanted to write an update on Ana's hair. She is still losing hair. The first spot is now a silver dollar size and a new spot has started. We are taking her back to the doctor Friday morning. I will be asking for blood work and to make sure we check for anything serious or treatable. But I am resigned to the alopecia areata diagnosis: untreatable, but livable.

Sunday, December 18

A mother's heart

My heart is heavy tonight. It's full of wonder and hope during this advent time, but that special mother's heart of mine is heavy with unknowing and sadness for my dear Ana-girl.

It seems silly in the grand scheme of things. I know so many others who are suffering much worse, but I'm still sad for my girl. Last Monday I noticed a dime-sized section of her hair was missing. MISSING! At once I began the third degree. Did someone pull your hair? No.
Did your hair get caught in a toy? No.
Does it hurt?
Is it itchy?
Adam, do you remember anything happening to Ana's hair?
KIDS, do you guys know what happened to your sister?
No, no, no and no.

The skin looked a bit dry and scaly, so we massaged some olive oil into her scalp and left it overnight. Adam's theory was "if it's good enough for Jesus..." The next morning the dry and scaly part was gone. It did not, however, regrow my poor girl's hair while she lay sleeping.

By Tuesday night, the patch of missing hair had enlarged to the size of a quarter. By then I had decided to seek medical help. I got an appointment for that Friday.

We are now treating Ana with anti-fungal in case it is ringworm--highly unlikely given it's appearance. In fact, the doctor wishes it to be ringworm because we can at least treat that. More than likely it is alopecia areata. Hair loss with an unknown cause and varied outcomes. It could grow back. It may be permanent. It could spread. It could stay the same.

I'm thankful that we have ruled out scarier diagnoses. It's not lupus or a nervous disorder. We're going at this with all guns blazing: treating her for ringworm at several angles, increasing her protein and iron in case it is a deficiency in either area. I have hope that she'll regrow the missing hair.

But tonight I am sad for my girl who has to hide a bald spot at age three. Who has always been complemented on her beautiful curls and now may be noticed for a different reason. Who has such faith in me that after I applied some ointment the other night gave me a hug and said, "Thanks Mom for fixing my head."

Thursday, December 15

Life and Death

In the wake of two recent deaths in my scope of acquaintances, I have been thinking about this time of year. How I have always rejoiced in the wonder and mystery of Christ come to earth; but how others struggle through the holidays grieving loved ones or not able to cope with life as they see it. Especially now as so many Americans are out of work. I'm right there with you!

I was thinking earlier today about something I learned in college. Not in class, but during a prayer and bible study meeting. We were talking about different levels of friendship. I can't remember everything, but basically there are three levels of people we know. Acquaintances (we know who these people are), people we call friends (we have things in common and hang out with these people), and friends who are our heart friends. I remember especially how these friends were described.

"These friends know the song of our heart and sing it to us when we forget."

I have been more than fortunate to have several heart friends through the years. They have often sung to me and reminded me of so many truths that I tend to forget or refuse to believe on my own.

My mom reminded me over and over that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Jeana reminded me that I am God's beloved.

Adam reminds me of my talents and strengths and loves me with a phileo love.

It was the love of these friends who have dragged me out of the depths many times. I can't thank God enough for loving me through these people.

At this time of year and after seeing so many people hurting from loss, I want to encourage you to sing that song that someone needs to hear. Has someone you know forgotten that they are loved? ...that they matter? ...that they are capable of more than they know? Let's remind them.

Here is my favorite Gaither song--(yeah, yeah...I know, but my grandma loved them and it wore off a bit). Make sure you get all the way to the last stanza. It will be worth it!

Wednesday, November 30

A new direction

Hello once again.

I'm back on the blog, hopefully for awhile. I've been wanting to write more than the occasional Facebook status to update people about our life. Some things seem too personal and heartwrenching for public perusal; but I feel the need to have a place to show others our life with honesty. Not to try to impress or even provoke sympathy, but so that we can all sit back together with anticipation and watch God work.

Since the last post, we have been keeping a sporadic blog via Avant Ministries at There you will find some posts about life in Bolivia, some health issues I dealt with there (endometriosis) and then it kind of leaves off.

Let me fill you in:
We had plans in order for a short return to the United States during the Hebron Seminary's Christmas break so I could have surgery and seek care for my endometriosis. Then I got pregnant. A great way to put endometriosis on hold for awhile!

We made our planned trip to Oregon, but then hit a snag. We didn't receive our needed re-entry visas to Bolivia. The Bolivian Embassy needed more paperwork from us. So, we hurriedly rescheduled our flights, filled out more papers, paid more money and then, once again, we were not granted the visas. This time their requirements included more paperwork from the seminary in Bolivia. The time was too close to my delivery date and we had to wait for our daughter, Elsie-Mae, to be born before reapplying again.

After Elsie's birth in May we found out that all of the many ways we had worked on for getting the needed paperwork from the seminary or another sponsoring ministry in Bolivia would not work. It would take a year of continuous work and extra money for the seminary to "register" and get the documents in order for our successful visa application. After so many months of struggling, waning financial support and being in limbo, Adam decided that the door for us to return to ministry in Bolivia was closed. Our family and our sanity were falling apart and we needed to move on.

It has been a time of fear and trust.

Of craziness and peace.

Of scraping by and of plenty.

We are still looking for full-time family supporting work for Adam. We have settled in Beaver, Oregon next to the church I attended throughout my college years. We are blessed with wonderful friends, both here and in Alaska. We are enjoying being close to family for the first time in our own home.

I wanted to start writing here again because of one main thing. It was the topic of a sermon given the first Sunday of Advent.


It's been easy for us to lose hope over the past year. Hope that we would return to ministry. Hope that we would get this job, or that one, or even hear back after sending off so many applications.

With the coming of Christmas, I was reminded that I am not to live like those who have no hope, but to be ready to give a reason to all that ask about the hope I have.

So, here it is: My hope is in Christ. He alone can provide for us so mysteriously, miraculously and lovingly. He has provided for our every need through our poverty. And I don't just mean finances, or food or clothes. He provided a way out of my sin. A way to be justified when I face a just God and have to give an answer for my sin.

My hope is not only in Christ--my hope IS Christ.

Wednesday, May 6

A Quick update regarding the seminary

Exciting things are happening here at Hebron Seminary. The second term started this week and the student population has grown some more. Many of my fellow professors are moving forward with their own education, and making progress in their own preparation to train others for decades to come. The seminary is reaching out and partnering with a wider variety of like minded churches and institutions both in Bolivia and beyond.

I am very excited about the focus on the fact that depth of love and depth of knowledge are not contradictory, and knowing Christ’s Word and lovingly serving His people never have to be pitted against each other. I sat in on the first Masters of Arts in Theology class, a two week modular on the History of Theology. It was informative, entertaining and great for my Spanish progress. These same men will be my students for several classes next year, along with the MA in Bible students and everyone taking Hebrew.

Molly and I are continuing to learn Spanish. I plan to teach Greek III in August. Next year I know I will be teaching Hebrew I, II, and III, an MA course on the writings of John and the book of Amos. Please pray for us in the next couple of months as we hope to finish our Spanish tutoring and pass our proficiency exams.