a place of abundance

"we went through fire and through water, yet You brought us out into a place of abundance" Psalm 66:12b

Naming T-shirts September 12, 2011

Filed under: perspective — vivmabuni @ 3:24 pm

I have a quirky thing I do. I give people t-shirts. Not actual t-shirts, but t-shirts in my mind of descriptive words that capture a phrase or personality trait that is true of a person or situation. For example:

Leila (of the Awesome Threesome) says “Lord have mercy!” when she gets overwhelmed or can’t find words to express a big jumbled mess. Her t-shirt would say that phrase on the front.

Margaret (National Director of Leadership Developement for Epic, and truly incredible woman) often prefaces what she says when dealing with complex ministry related challenges, “From an LD perspective” so that would be my t-shirt for her.

My friend, Kierstin, has contagious enthusiasm and passion. Her t-shirt would read: “AWESOME!”

I would give my strong, extremely broad-shouldered husband, Darrin, the same description as Starbucks French Roast coffee: “Smoky and Intense”

You get the idea…

Well, the t-shirt I would give myself that captures these past few weeks and months would read:

“Are you kidding me!?!”

and maybe down a bit in smaller letters: “seriously?”

and maybe on the back: “What in the world!?!”

Lately I’ve been muttering, sometimes sighing, sometimes exclaiming out loud these phrases. Repeatedly.

We have been in a season of bewilderment. This summer between Michael’s broken wrist, surgery and multiple casts, losing our dog Max and nearly $5000 in vet bills, and unexpected but extremely draining ministry challenges, we received a ray of sunshine in the gift of our puppy Koa. Read his story here.

Last week, after multiple visits and calls to the vet, we learned that Koa has a congenital disease called: megaesophagus. You can read about it here. The website x-rays look just like Koa’s after his barium tests.

Are you kidding me!?!

Of all the puppies in the world…

Our sweet Koa can’t swallow food normally because his esophagus muscles don’t work and the food just pools and balloons in his esophagus. This explains why he repeatedly threw up the first week we had him. It wasn’t the worms, the deworming medications, me overfeeding him, food allergies, puppy vaccines or trying a new dog food. Nope. Koa has this condition that he likely will not outgrow (a very, very small percentage of puppies outgrow it and that’s what we are praying for).

What this means is that we have to feed him six small meals a day and give him medications and we have to feed him upright so gravity can move the food down to his stomach. We need to hold him upright for about ten minutes after he eats or drinks and watch carefully so he won’t aspirate. This could lead to pneumonia which can lead to death.

Are you kidding me!?!

So this is the way Koa eats and drinks in our kitchen six times a day.

And when he grows too big to hold upright after his meals he will need to sit in one of these contraptions called a Bailey chair to eat:

Are you kidding me!?!

I’m laughing. Then crying. Then laughing and crying at the same time.


Even as I type and look at that picture I am laughing.

What in the world!?!

So now we have a specials needs dog. We have been talking as a family about what this means for us. We are praying for supernatural intervention and healing for Koa. He is not experiencing any pain and is putting on weight. Since he was born with this condition, this is all he’s ever known. Darrin wisely said, “I don’t want the kids to grow up associating that good means blessing. Life has both good and hard. Just because things are hard doesn’t mean that God has stopped blessing us or stopped being good.” We don’t know how long Koa will live because of having this condition. I’ve read about puppies who only make it a year because of complications with pneumonia. I’ve also read of dog owners spending tens of thousands of dollars getting feeding tubes and various medical treatments and we certainly don’t have that kind of luxury. There is no cure for megaesophagus. His condition taps into my ongoing struggle of wanting to fit in all of my life (it will be my second book after the cancer book). Now I’m one of THOSE dog owners. I’ll have a doggie high chair in my kitchen.

What in the world!?!

So laugh with us, cry with us. We sure would appreciate you praying for us and for Koa, too.




12 Responses to “Naming T-shirts”

  1. Mike Says:

    I want a T-shirt! Special needs dog owner – that’s your t-shirt. Nice post, friend!

    • vivmabuni Says:

      I think friends at church are going to design and mass produce the “Are you kidding me!?!” t-shirt for all who find themselves trying to figure out this crazy life we live! Thanks for reading and commenting, Mike! 🙂

  2. Melissa Niegocki Says:

    Are you kidding me??????!!!!!!!!!????????
    I”m too conflicted to know what to do, but my heart goes out to you!!

  3. Irma Iwamoto Says:

    Viv, I would use one of your exclamations (Are you kidding?, etc), but I feel so sad for your little puppy and you all. Nothing any of you was expecting, but somehow when we least expect it, another blow comes. But we don’t have to go down with the punch. You’ve been through so much, God has made you strong and your family, too. I will be praying for your little guy and may he be one of the exceptional puppies that God will heal. God bless you all!
    Love you!

    • vivmabuni Says:

      Irma, thanks for your kind and understanding words. You are absolutely right. It’s been like these sets of waves that are way over my head and I feel emotionally tumbled around and my footing doesn’t feel very strong. Thank you for your faithful prayers. I know you bring us before the Father regularly and one day in Heaven the Lord will show us both how He used your prayers to sustain our family over and over and over. Thankful for you. Deeply thankful. Love you!

  4. regina Says:

    all i have to say is prov. 12:10a – “a righteous man cares for the needs of his animal.” much love to you all!

    • vivmabuni Says:

      oooooo, love that verse and have read over it without giving it much thought until now. Thank you! I think a west coast trip may be in order for you to meet the latest member of the Mabuni fam. 🙂

  5. Stephanie N. Says:

    Dear sweet Viv, my heart continues to break for you and your precious family (including Koa, of course!) May you know God more deeply and intimately, in all His wildness, fullness, goodness, and mercy, as you walk this road with Him. You are loved, by Him and by me, and by so many others.

  6. karynd Says:

    Vivian – I cannot tell you how many times I have thought about the quote below since you posted this:
    “I don’t want the kids to grow up associating that good means blessing. Life has both good and hard. Just because things are hard doesn’t mean that God has stopped blessing us or stopped being good.”

    This is such an important lesson and I need to make sure that I convey it to my kids! I don’t want my kids to be angry with God or think something is wrong just because life is not easy.

    You are such a wise person. I have enjoyed watching your journey and look forward to your book where I can glean even more wisdom! Thanks 🙂

    • vivmabuni Says:

      Thanks for your encouragement, Karyn! Darrin is the wise one 🙂 I find myself quoting him often. Wait. I guess I AM the wise one ’cause i married him! 🙂

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