Friday, December 22, 2006

Give Love This Christmas

One of my favorite things about Christmas is a special Cartee family tradition. It’s very unusual, but this means as much to me as figgy pudding and Jingle Bells. It’s an annual proclamation. Given in the classiest style by my mother. She has faithfully announced this news every year of my life, since I started recording memories. Never once faltering, never once letting us down. It usually goes like this. “Gather round children, I have something to say. I don’t want you kids to be disappointed, but I’m really cutting back on Christmas gifts this year.”
I am from a normal middle class family. Not rich and even a little familiar with need from time to time. However, I am convinced that if my mother won the lottery and had billions, the compulsion to “cut back this year” would still be impossible to resist. It’s built into her. She must say it. Even now that my sister and I are grown, married and have children of our own, we still hear those predictable words. Karen (my sister) and I await them like two 5 year olds stalking Santa on Christmas Eve. We love it. Mainly because it creates more of the humor that adult children enjoy at the expense of their parents. I am sure Oak will observe funny things about me and I’ll reap the wrath of this blog later in life. Who cares? I would not have it any other way. I love my family and mom never keeps her word. She gives me all the socks and deoderant I can use in a life time and worries that I won’t be happy. However, being happy is not about the stuff. It never has been. The Christmas when I got the G.I. Joe Headquarters (tops of all Christmas presents) or the Christmas when nothing went right...nither one was defined not by the kind of presents but that I was with the people I love. So here’s a Christmas wish for you. Cut back, way back. Give your stuff away and hang on to every minute you can with the ones who mean the most to you. I don’t have my G.I. Joe headquarters anymore but I do have my family. One I could care less about, the other is my greatest possession.
Give Love and give all you can. Merry Christmas. CC

(the pic is... me, Karen, my grandfather and other grandkids)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

fear takes up too much space...

It turns out that being in the hospital is really expensive. Oak’s head surgery comes with this huge dollar amount attached. Even though we have health insurance it’s going to redefine “out of pocket expense”.

Just when I start to worry about stuff like that, last night happens. The 4th Avenue Church of Christ in Franklin, TN has me in for a concert. Not for any other reason than to bless me and take up an offering for Oak’s medical expenses.
We were honored with this huge out pouring of love and support from people who are just getting to know us. They prayed for us, cheered for the songs, loved on Heather and me and gushed over Oak. Each moment with the folks from that church was a reminder of God’s refreshing promise. “I will take care of you, worry is needless, fear takes up too much space in your imagination, I am the Lord your God, I do not slumber or sleep.”
God’s promise reinforced by his people... This is the church at it’s best. It’s refreshing, it’s liberating, It frees the mind to express courage and inspires the heart to love more openly. I just wanted to say thanks to everyone from 4th Ave.. For your generosity, kindness and especially your reinforcement of God’s truth. I am inspired to abandon worry and do what I was meant to for the glory of our Great God.

Proverbs 11:25... “A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed”

Merry Christmas, CC

Friday, December 15, 2006

Home from the Hospital!

We're so excited to report that we came home form the hospital yesterday. Exactly a week to the day of Oak's surgery, we were released. Oak is still doing well and continues to improve. He is really glad to be home. It was fascinating to see how his mood changed once he recognized familiar surroundings. He slept well last night and made us proud, getting in a stretch from 10PM to 7AM. Docs warned us that he would be pretty fussy the first few days home, but so far he's been easy to manage. Even with his first tooth popping through on the bottom, he's as laid back as a surfer. Especially considering he has a hole in his head. He is going to have to sleep in his car seat for a few months because any extended pressure on the sides of his head can cause a relaspe in his condition. He's always prefered sleeping on his belly, but that will be a "no no" for a while. Hopefully he'll get used to that. Right before he was discharged, Oak got a visit from the World Famous Rockettes. He kicked around for them and they were impressed. I, however, discouraged him from becoming a Rockette...not that there is anything wrong with that, but the fake eye lashes and sparkle suit might not match his scar. I think he really liked them, but not as much as he likes Mommy.
I can't be too thankful for all the prayers and support. The peace that Heather and I have had is so refreshing and built up by the words, prayers and actions of our friends. All of you have led me to worhsip through kindness, love and reminders of God faithfulness. Thanks so much for everything...blessings and Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Oak Update #2

We're hanging in there and the little Oak is doing great. We have experienced a tangible peace through this process and it's powerful to encourage. Thanks for your prayers.
We moved into a normal room @ Children's Hospital today. All of Oak's iv lines and the fluid drain from his brain were removed. All good signs and the report from his doctors remains engouraging.

We will most likely be here till Wednesday. Blessings and merry Christmas.
Carl and Heather

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Oak Update

Hey friends,
thanks so much for all the prayers and concern for our son. He continues to do well with his recovery. To us he looks like he's been beaten to a pulp, but the Docs say that they are pleased with everything to this point. He had a few blood transfusions through the night but that was expected because of the large amount of blood loss with Oak's surgery. All our families went home today so we're diggin in here at the hospital taking turns going back home to rest. Once he is released from PICU, we'll both be able to stay at the hospital. It looks like Monday will be the day for getting a normal room. Prayer is making the difference in this situation. Heather and I are not afraid, we're not worried, we're experiencing a lot of peace and I know that only comes when others lift the burden. Thanks so much for sharing this with us...I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Oak's Surgery

Greetings from chilly Nashville...
For those of you who have not heard yet, Heather and I went into the hospital with our son Oak yesterday to have a major surgery on his skull. He had a condition where the soft spots in his skull closed up too early creating potential for future complications.

Yesterday from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM, Oak had surgery to have the fused places in his skull seperated. He is doing fine and doctors told us that his surgery looks like it will be a complete success. Many folks prayed for the little guy and God heard every prayer offered on his behalf. Mom and dad made it through fine too. Oak has a shaved head now in place of his once famous curly locks and a cool scar that goes from ear to ear across the top of his head. Chicks will dig this.

He is in the PICU right now and will have to stay there until all the swelling goes down in his face. He's looking pretty rough right now, (eyes swollen shut and very "puffy") but we have been told it's typical for this kind of surgery. After that we'll be moved to a normal room and will spend 3-4 more days there recovering.

It's going to be a long few days, but we'll make it and God has already been faithful in every need. We're staying @ Vanderbuilt Children's Hospital in Nashville, TN. Thanks so much for your prayers and there are more updates to follow.