Yoda’s Journey #operationbringyodahome

Mar
19

Every adventure starts somewhere, right. Mine started in prayer. A little, small prayer, that went something like this… “Lord take my day and make it yours, let me be your hands and feet.” Simple right, no big deal. God totally took me seriously on this one. Ha! Maybe you have seen a bit about where this prayer took me and my family, so I wanted to share a little back story for ya’ll and why we call her Yoda.  We met her years ago, in Honduras. My mom and I were there for a ladies conference. We were staying in a little room with lot’s of bunk beds, it was a chicken coop but now it is beds and sleeping quarters for anyone visiting the ministry there.  My mom and I had been told by the missionaries wife to be careful of our passports and anything valuable. So, when we walked into our sleeping quarters and there was a little Honduran woman sitting on the couch outside of our little room, we were a little worried. Stupid Americans. Seriously, we talked about where to put our stuff, I mean, we were told to be careful but one of the ladies staying in our chicken coop with us was Honduran. So do we have to be careful???? LOL Looking back, I can still remember us staring at the back of her head as she sat quietly on the couch and deciding to go ask the missionaries wife what to do. I mean, ya….. we were excited about being there, but if our passports got stolen there was no way home for a while and that did not appeal to either of us. We grabbed our bags and went back to the missionaries wife to ask. When we asked what we were supposed to do with all our stuff since there was a little Honduran lady staying with us, she laughed her big country laugh and said, she’s from Texas! What!!!! Back we went, marched right up to her on the couch and said, Texas…really! She just grinned from ear to ear.  That was the start of a beautiful friendship. Anyone that knows me, knows that I like to nick-name people.  Yoda earned her nick name because she never liked to show her ears, so we joked that her ears were pointed like Yoda’s from Star Wars and that they were really green. She is also highly intelligent and full of little nuggets of knowledge that are easily gleaned from her in conversation. The clincher for Yoda, was her skirts. She is maybe 5.3 and her skirts go to the ground covering her feet, when she moves it looks like she is levitating – thus Yoda.

Today is maybe 10 years from that day of meeting her and falling in love with our new friend. Her powers are waning lately and levitation is not so easy for her. Her hair is thinning and you can now see her little green ears. (LOL ok so we were a little disappointed that her ears are not green or pointed….) She is still on the field after over 25 years of faithful service for her Lord. If you tell her she inspires you, she will respond with, glory to God. I think that pretty much catches us up to today. Just fill in those 10 years with laughter, fun, service, 1 Thanksgiving together, a family vacation and many amazing memories and yep, that brings us up to date.

March 15, 2015

We got a call from Magda, Yoda’s Honduran little sister. She was speaking quickly in Spanish. I could not figure out everything that she said, but I knew something was wrong with our Yoda.  After much translating and talking we figured out that Yoda was sick. That it started about a week ago with a UTI and that it quickly progressed into a fever and a lot of memory loss. She needed to come home and get medical attention. Our prayers began for her and for the money to bring her home.

March 16, 2015

After communicating with Magda through email and having an amazing friend of mine who speaks fluent Spanish translate each and every message ( Emily M. you are God send my dear, I don’t know what I would have done without you) we found out that there was no way that Yoda could fly on her own, someone had to go to Honduras and get her. Guess who just happens to have a current passport. Yours truly. Guess who also has a HUGE fear of flying into the airport in  Tegucigalpa, this girl. Fear or no fear, Marc booked my flight and hers.

 

 

 


March 17, 2015

We got up at 3 a.m. and Marc took me to the airport, after one flat tire on the junk mobile he got me there and my little adventure started.  I flew into Atlanta, had a layover and then straight into (gulp) Tegucigalpa.  The Lord was so good to me, the flights were awesome and thanks to Nitro from Young Living, my energy levels were great and no headaches thanks to Deep Relief, maybe that does not seem like a big deal, but it is to me. I always get major headaches when I fly, this was the first time EVER, that I did not get headaches. Once I landed in Honduras, which was not as bad as I thought it would be by the way. I feel a little silly about all that fear now. I had to get through customs, find Yoda and get back on the other flight back to Atlanta and I only had 1 hour. Have you ever tried to explain to a Honduran customs agent in broken Spanish why you are there for only an hour. He finally got fed up with me and walked away with his hands in the air going ayyiyiyiyiyi. No idea if I spelled that right, but it was funny! Finally, through customs and was greeted by Magda’s son, Samuel. He was so little last time I saw him and now he is a handsome young man. I got the precious cargo and now to get her and I to our flight. Yoda said her good-bye’s and we started toward the gate. Then she said her good-bye’s again and again and again. LOL that is the think about short term memory loss, bless her heart, she had no idea she had already said good-bye, several times in fact. Her Honduran family is full of the sweetest people that love her as much as I do. There were lots of tears, I had to  pry her away and she kept trying to back and say good bye. After just a few minutes with Yoda I realized that wow, they were not kidding. Her short term memory was gone.  It cycles through about every minute or so. Less if she is tired or under stress. The flight to Atlanta from Honduras was a 3 hour flight. We spent that in a 3 seat row, the seat next to us was open so Yoda scooted over to lean against the window and get some sleep. But, she didn’t sleep, she couldn’t. Every few minutes we would go through the same questions. Finally we just cuddled up comfortably in our seats turned toward each other. She would ask her questions and I would answer. “Do my sisters know?”, “Where am I going?”, “Magda seems sad?”, “Am I going to your house?”, “Where is my passport?” “Does my Pastor know?” This would go on and on every few minutes. She would close her eyes and try to rest, but no rest. A long layover and another flight, same questions. We got to my house and in bed around midnight. Sleep.

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March 18, 2015

I was hoping that some rest would clear her mind. I don’t think she rested. Her mind was cloudier than the day before and simple tasks like finding her socks or getting her shoes on were delegated to Sophie. (she is my daughter and Yoda might just be her favorite person in the world) Evan made her scrambled eggs and Emily stayed with her and answered her questions so I could shower. We headed to the ER at Citrus Memorial Hospital and praise the Lord there was not a long wait, they got her right in. Lot’s of tests and questions with no answers. Getting people to understand her situation, that she is a missionary to Honduras, that she has pretty much no income, that she serves people was difficult. They could not comprehend. After much frustration with a very snarky doctor my response was very witty, I thought any way – Look Dr. she is basically the baptist version of Mother Theresa, now do you understand. I think all she understood was that she was irritating me.      They decided to do a Lumbar Puncture because there was a possibility that she had Meningitis, sounds fun right. The good thing is, she doesn’t remember ever getting the Lumbar Puncture….. so that is one plus of short term memory loss. (we like to look on the bright side) There was blood in the spinal fluid, so they decided to fly her our to Shand’s hospital for a possible neuro consult.  They would not let me go with her as she was being flown by helicopter and when you tell her that she says, oh man… cool! One of the down sides to short term memory loss, you don’t remember your cool ride in the helicopter.

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The hospital here has been pretty good, nurses are awesome. They have ruled out Meningitus and really are not sure what is going on. We are still in an ER room because although they are going to admit her, there are no available rooms. One Dr. which I will call Dr. Fortune Cookie – remember I like nick names and he likes chinese proverbs, thinks that her blood sugar, blood pressure combined with the UTI could be the cause of all this. She didn’t sleep much last night, but if the lights are off and she is resting there is a little time for sleep. As much as you can sleep with the guy next door coughing up a lung as Yoda says. That brings us to today. Now you all know what I know, Yoda is amazing, she is kind and good, she is a child of the King and she is sick.  I hope that you all will be praying for her and lifting her up in prayer.  If you want to be part of this journey with us, feel free to keep up with her story here, I will try and update. I know there are people all over that know her and want to know what is going on with her.  It is shift change again…. praying for just the right doctors and nurses.

 

March 19, 2015

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She got a room today. They moved us out of ER this morning – yippee. Last night was rough, no sleep and well, one tired Yoda. Today they sent the neurologist in to see her and I was so thankful that they listened, really listened and waited around to see that she was really running in  a loop. They ordered more tests, including another spinal tap. That was awful, she did not want to do it, but finally said yes. She was already very sore from the first one yesterday and so this one was especially miserable. I can’t imagine what that must have felt like. The thing is, she didn’t cry out, why God… why? No, she cried out, thank you Father. She prayed and asked Him to make it stop and when He didn’t she praised Him. Take away her strength, take away her health, take away her memory and what is left is an amazing song of praise.  I held her hand and she squeezed it tight.  There is so much connection in being with someone when they go through their pain. I feel blessed to have been a small part of that moment with her.

*little bit of humor for you… Shands is a teaching hospital, so a Neurology student was doing her tap, she had taken a step back while the Dr. was prepping something, I looked at her and she was shaking and her eyes were fluttering…all I could say was, dude, dude, dude….she’s going down! Yep, down she went, poor thing. She landed on all my stuff, so that was good, a nice soft landing. I told Yoda what happened and little Miss. Compassion says, “Does that mean we are done?” ummm no….

 

Shift change

It is 9:28 and she is going to finally eat dinner and then they are going to take her for her MRI. I am hoping that all of this excitement will lead to sleep for her.  No matter how tired she is, she tells each and every nurse that she appreciates them. They smile.

 

Our beautiful Yoda! Smiling, even when she really doesn't want to!

Our beautiful Yoda! Smiling, even when she really doesn’t want to!

March 20, 2015

Yoda can see the date on a white board in front of her bed, it confuses her. She thinks it is 2014 and she is just getting to Honduras. They have not come for her MRI yes but have decided to hook her up to an EEG machine. She gets so anxious with each and every change, every shift change, every meal, every test. She can’t understand why in the world she now has gauze wrapped around her head. She asked if she fell. She handled the EEG good and I told her it looks like she has dreadlocks now.  She thought that was funny.  After the EEG they left the leads on and brought the machine up to her room for constant monitoring. She is really tired and sluggish. She saw the American flag outside of her window and was confused because she thought we were in Mexico, as she took a trip there several years ago. She is slipping further back into her memories.

FINALLY some answers.

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The Dr. said Viral Encephalitis. She had gotten sick in Honduras with a tropical disease that apparently, best guess here, went to her brain. Everything feels like a guess at this point. One thing we know for sure, she is having seizures and a lot of them. Every seizure pulls her further back in her memories and confuses her more. The infectious disease dr. came to talk to her and when I stepped out to talk to him, it was only for maybe 5 minutes. I came back in and she was different. She was slumped over and mumbling, slurring her words, one eye was closed and one was open. She was so tired. She was fine 5 minutes ago, well she was looping still with her questions and memories, but she was there. The nurses seemed to think this was normal, I did not. They continued to monitor her and humor me in checking on her. They started meds for seizures. This was at 2:25 in the afternoon, by 4:00 she was coming to but so different. No longer sweet and patient, she is frustrated and irritated. She is disoriented and dizzy, she cannot sit up or stand up without falling. She is still wearing her dreads and hooked to the EEG machine which spikes with every seizure. The hardest part is that instead of seeing me as me, she sees me as Pam. Someone she knows from her past. She does not like to listen to Pam and blames everything on her. I guess it has to be someones fault but man. I miss Yoda. She is still witty and funny but she is so different. I hate seeing it. It is harder to help her now because she doesn’t see me as someone who is trying to help her.

I decided to go home and see the kids and get some sleep. It has been a few days since I slept and the nurses were going to put a sitter in there to be with her through the night. I would rather it be someone she knows and trusts, but I am seeing double. The hospital called before I got home. The hospital is about 1 hour 45 minutes from my home. They said she was refusing her meds and wanted to talk to me. She knew who I was, which I was so thankful for. I talked her into her meds and asked that they wait till morning when I can get there to do any more. She isn’t going to let them anyway. So, I am headed back this morning. Please continue to pray for her. She is so tired and frustrated. She still is praying and thanking God for this trial and pain. I am still thankful that He chose our family to be a help to her. When people as about why she spent so much time in Honduras, why she would give up so much to do that. I tell them that she is a child of the King. She loves her Lord before all else, she is laying up treasures, she is basically the Baptist version of Mother Theresa. I will update more after her MRI.

 

 

March 21, 2015

Day 6

I am trying to put this day into words. It is all muddled up in my head, so I will do my best. I got to the hospital at around 1:00 p.m. I had gone home for a good nights sleep, which seemed very unfair to Yoda, but I needed to see my kids!  My mom drove me and stayed the afternoon, Yoda says we talk to much. Yoda was in her loop again, which I guess is a good thing, better than a thick fog and thinking I am Pam. (see above for explanation) Nothing new as far as diagnosis, still thinking the Viral Encephalitis and waiting for the MRI to get done. The leads for the EEG that have been in a few days were driving her nuts today, combined with horrid itching from one of her many new medications. So,  she keeps itching them. The tech’s were not very happy with her as they had to keep coming up and checking on them, 5 times total between yesterday and last night. This morning they told me that they were going to restrain her, they have mentioned this before and I keep saying no. I am right here, it isn’t like she is going anywhere. I understand they need a clear read for the EEG but exactly how many days of data do you need when you have not even read the first data.  Finally, it was decided that they have enough information and to remove the leads rather than restrain her.   Praise God.

 

This was at around 3 a.m. and we were pretty much going on no sleep for 3 days, at this point we were a bit weird. She was thrilled  to finally have the leads off!!!!!

This was at around 3 a.m. and we were pretty much going on no sleep for 3 days, at this point we were a bit weird. She was thrilled to finally have the leads off!!!!!

She slept really good after that, course that was like 4 this morning….. but hey, I will take what I can get! She struggled yesterday with understanding everything that is going on. She is tired and frustrated and wants this to all be over and to go home.  I have never seen my Yoda cry, not really cry before….. I am just so thankful to be here for her. Even if she does think I am Pam and threatened to drop kick me through the wall… feisty Yoda!

 

March 23, 2015

Day 7

I am truly praising God for her Neurologist. I found out that he was the one that gave the order to stop the EEG so she would not have to be restrained and I would not have to be kicked out of the hospital for pitching a holy fit about it! LOL He is a God send, truly.  Her day was the best yet, she was exhausted but able to sleep, the itching is under control as long as we stay on top of the meds for her itching.  She sat up more and ate everything on her plate all three meals. Small memories are there that were not before.  She has an awesome sense of humor and we had a few fun moments, I need to be writing down her “yoda”isms that she keeps popping out. Cracks me up!  She slept through most of the night and did really good. Lord willing they will start physical therapy today. Her nurse is funny and when treated with a smile is a joy to work with.  Her feet are still tingling and her hands as well.

Sophie is the only child to get to visit Yoda at the hospital! Sophie was thrilled.

Sophie is the only child to get to visit Yoda at the hospital! Sophie was thrilled.

 

People keep asking me why I am doing this, taking time away from my family, my kids. I am not going to lie and say it is easy. Yesterday was our anniversary and yep… I cried myself to sleep. But you know, we have been blessed to have so many anniversaries and I have faith that we will have many more and you know, I will appreciate them  more than ever before. There are times I want to scream at the staff and slap a few …. God is working on my people skills….  I know this is where God has me. He has me here for Yoda, she is His and I am His, but He also has me here for me. To grow me, change me, mold me and shape me. The thought has also crossed my mind that my daughter who is very drawn to missions may be in this very same spot some day. I want to believe that if I am not there that someone will pick her up and carry her through, that they will show her compassion, understanding and patience and fight for her when she cannot fight for herself.

 

March 23 & 24th

Day 8 & 9

I am going to go ahead and mush these two days together. They were pretty uneventful. They have changed some of her meds and the itching has gone away, so we know which med was causing the itching. Some of her meds make her a little paranoid.  We just had a very lively discussion about whether the door was open or closed.  (it was closed) She has come to understand that she is in the hospital and that she is sick, but she thinks that she got here yesterday.  She is eating really good.

Special Prayer Requests – that her MRI will be done soon and that Physical Therapy will get started soon. I have been massaging her legs and arms, but I am no therapist. Tomorrow I am going to ask to take her outside and get some fresh air.  She is a blessing.  We have an amazingly fabulous nurse today that was just such a bright spot in my day!  My hubby came up tonight and bought me dinner and we talked about the kids and life and Yoda. It was awesome. The kids are doing amazingly well and I am so proud of how thy are pulling together on this.

 

 

March 25th

Day 10

She is still so shocked every time she realizes how long that she has been in the hospital, finding out is always met with an, “Oh man.”  She is out of her normal loop of questions, but still has no idea about time, place or why.  One of the medications makes her especially irritated and suspicious, I don’t like that medicine, but it is helping to reduce her seizures.  She is able to move around easier but gets tired really quickly. Her MRI was finally done, praise God! The Infectious Disease Dr. came in and told us that it is most definitely Viral Encephalitis.  There is more about the MRI but they will not discuss it until the Neurologist also reads the MRI.

The BIGGEST prayer right now is clarity for Yoda.  Healing for her brain, every seizure caused damage and scaring on her brain. The amount of memories that return and the amount of constant brain function will depend on how badly the brain is damaged.

 

I am going home and spending a few days with my family. I have 2 friends lined up to come and spend some time with Yoda so that she is not alone. She likes to have someone there that can answer her questions so that she does not feel so lost. I am thankful for this journey, even though it is exhausting and sometimes I feel like I just can’t answer another question for the billionth time. God has brought us here and He will sustain us.

 

March 26-30th

So much time – but not to much to tell.  Yoda is doing better, praise God! I went home for a few days and the Lord really blessed  and sent 2 awesome ladies on 2 different days to spend some time with Yoda! She is remembering more and sometimes it seems like all the memories come back at once and makes understanding them very difficult for her.   From the way that the nurses are talking, it looks like she will not be in the hospital very much longer, isn’t that HUGE!  Keep praying…..

 

March 31st

Last night was rough, she didn’t sleep much. She had a 3rd lumbar puncture and was very sore and uncomfortable. At night, she is extremely disoriented, confused and even agitated. If you have ever dealt with someone with seizures, they can be very angry, frustrated and suspicious, this is complete opposite of the Yoda that we all know and love. This is either caused by the medicine to treat the seizures or the seizures themselves. Either way, it is hard to see her like this. I know that the Lord is healing her brain, I see it in small things, like the way she can open her own juice now or that she can cut her own food. These were things she could not do last week. I know He is working and I am trusting in Him for a full recovery.

SPECIAL PRAYER & NEED

Her sisters and I have been talking this whole time and coordinating on what to do for Yoda. Her being in Texas, once she is discharged is what is best for her and her family.  We have someone willing to fly with her to Texas, flying by herself is NOT an option.  He is a longtime friend and she feels safe with him. The need is $$$$$, yep I am letting you know, we need money honey. We need to purchase 2 tickets, one round trip and one that is a one way.  He is a missionary himself and does not have the funds for his ticket.  She could be discharged as soon as tomorrow, so this is a HUGE need.  Thank you in advance for being willing and for loving our sweet Yoda! I am working on prices, but it looks like around 1,200. That is an estimate based on flights I am looking up for this week.

 

My Girl, Emily – Dream Big!!!!

Feb
27

From the time that this girl was born, she has given me a run for my money. She has always known her own mind, always been so sure of her direction.  She has a distinct and certain goal in her life.  I am so very proud of her. I watch her sometimes from a distance and I am just floored by what I see.  I see a beautiful, strong young lady that loves the Lord. She is kind and good and strong.  She isn’t afraid of a challenge. So, when Momazine announced that they would be hosting Cupcake Wars for the 2nd year, she was totally psyched! I was a little concerned, I mean she would be competing against adults and what if she didn’t win. What if she didn’t succeed.  She was so quick to repeat to me the very thing that I have said to her so many times… “What if I don’t try?”

So, we tried. She came up with a theme and a recipe. She loves the 50′s so she created a 50′s Pop Shop for her table, featuring Coke & p-nut cupcakes with a peanut butter frosting and Mountain Dew cupcakes with an amazing Mountain Dew & Buttercream frosting.  She had a few fails on the Coke recipe but finally perfected it. I was so proud of her persistence.  She learned so much from this, she learned to organize and implement ideas, she learned to work with a crew as the leader. I learned to take orders from my daughter. (that was fun) All I can say is that I am so very proud of my girl. I wanted to share some of her awesomeness with ya’ll!

When it came time for the awards, it was like biting nails, but YES!!!! She won BEST THEME in the amateur division, how cool is that!!!!!

She was also featured at Ocala Magazine even mentioned her win along with all the other awesome winners! Here are some photos of my Emily’s and some of our favorite competitors. SAMSUNG CSC

Family & friends ROCK – they mean the world to us! An amazing young lady that is also a homeschooler made the fun table clothe for us and the adorable apron was a gift from an amazing friend of ours. Oh! the fun little sign was made by my niece!

 

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It got seriously busy! Like completely crazy, but she stayed so calm and friendly the entire time!

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We spent our time waiting for the results eating cupcakes and dancing to some beautiful music, it makes me so happy that the entire family came out to support her.

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So there it is, another amazing moment in my ever changing, ever amazing daughters life! I praise God every day for her.

 

Amanda Star

 

 

 

It is That Time of Year Again!!!!!! {Central Florida Photographer}

Feb
14

EEEEEEPPPPP! It is here! The fair is almost HERE!!! I will be shooting at the Citrus County Fair again this year! Each session is very different and I encourage you to find a way to make it your own awesome creation! So, who will it be? You and a friend or maybe your WHOLE family! You could have it just the kids or maybe a group of friends! I have such a long list of things I love about the fair; the cotton candy, the caramel apples, the gorgeous colors and the laughter. I love the laughter! This is a brand new way of offering this amazingness to my clients, an all exclusive collection that includes all of my favorite things!!! Like seriously…. read that list again! All of that and an amazing afternoon shooting… SWOON!

Citrus County Fair dates – March 23rd – March 28th

 

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Feel free to contact me with any questions!

Amanda Star

352-568-5911

What a Mess, this Life we Live!!!! – {Central Florida, Photography}

Jan
13

My house is a complete mess right now. The kitchen is in the living room and the school work is all in boxes, somewhat organized. I emphasize the somewhat!  At first, the thought of laying tile in the kitchen was so exciting. I couldn’t wait to see it all done. Then I realized that I had to move EVERYTHING out of the kitchen and school room. oh dear. Not so exciting anymore. We got all the moving done and now nothing is where it should be. We have embraced this craziness and are making the best of it. The kids said it is like camping. I am so thankful that they see the brighter side of things. I don’t know what they are more excited about, getting to eat pop tarts or having shorter school days. Sophie is making the best of an empty room and has turned the area into her personal dance studio.  She loves the roughness of the floor and the openness in the rooms. Isn’t it amazing how beautiful something so rough and imperfect can be. The floor adds such gorgeous texture! I almost missed this moment with her. I was busy and wanted to clean things up. She wanted to dance for me. I would rather take a moment and embrace her dance than chase a dust bunny!

Being present. Being involved. Being content. These are amazing gifts that you can give yourself.

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Live every moment….

Amanda Star

352-568-5911