Sheriff Sarah

Sheriff Sarah

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Embarking on a New (Job) Journey

My recent foray into the job market, brought out of necessity by a layoff, can best be described as feast or famine. Early on things seemed promising and I flattered myself into believing I'd easily land a new position prior to my mid-July layoff date or shortly thereafter. I had some interviews in March, April and May and then three in one week in July but no offers. I joined a career group and rode the wave with some other career seekers and last week signed an offer letter with Panasonic Avionics. I started the new job yesterday.

But the road was not easy and confounded me at times. I did everything I knew to do regarding networking, LinkedIn, and trying to engage people at companies of interest. Things heated up late last month when I received calls for three interviews, all with local aerospace companies. I received an offer from the first one and was ecstatic. Then I received another offer. Honestly, I'd never been so popular in all my job seeking days. I believe the position I accepted is with the right company, for the right job at the right time and I'm grateful and blessed. I'd prayed for a position to come before the holidays. I could bore you with my insights into the lessons of patience, perseverance and warding off frustration but suffice it to say the experience was well worth it.

I was able to spend untold hours with my kids, including attending one field trip with all of our school age children. I was able to get them ready for school and drive them to & from school each day. I was able to spend most of the summer with them. Precious time not to be overlooked. I'll remember this time fondly and the fact I was looking for a job will always be secondary to the memories created with my family.

But now it's time to get back to work.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Three Years Ago...

It was on this day in 2008 that we heard the words "biliary atresia" for the first time. I can remember it like it was yesterday. Sarah had visited her pediatrician for her two month appointment and for some reason, the doctor didn't like the fact she was still jaundice. She ordered complete labs and Patty waited at home for the results. I was finishing my second week at a new employer when I returned home. Patty was just completing a call with Dr. Gan and she looked at me and said, "We need to take Sarah to Children's ER right now."

I still remember the looks on our other three kids' faces. Patty had planned a pajama movie night and was getting them all settled in with some popcorn. We called my parents and took the kids over, pajamas, popcorn and all. We didn't know it would be almost two weeks before we returned home. I'm recalling those days and the singular focus of Sarah's well-being and it brings great pain to my heart. It's not only because Sarah was diagnosed with a life threatening disease. The time I lost with the other kiddos; not being to explain what was happening; completely consumed in life at Children's through the Kasai. It's only God's grace that they weren't traumatized by our absence. My parents moved to Washington for the sole reason of sharing life with their only grandchildren and watching them grow. This proved a major godsend through the entire ordeal. But I digress...

When we entered the E.R. that evening, we had no clue what was in store for Sarah or for us as a family. When we were greeted by the staff - "this must be Sarah!" - we knew things were far from normal. I clearly remember the first time I heard "biliary atresia" uttered by one of the E.R. docs. I immediately ran a search on my laptop and didn't like what I saw. In fact, when the doc saw my face,she said something to the effect of "Do not read that out loud." I remember being in a fog most of those first ten days at Children's Hospital. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be reflecting about the days that changed our lives forever.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Celebrations and Transitions

Sunday we spent time with some dear friends sharing communion and a meal. One of the couples will be moving out of the area and it was a time to share stories, laughs and food before they leave. It’s a difficult time for me, personally, as they’ve both shared in many aspects of my life and my family’s life. A new chapter begins for them and I can envision great things ahead of them. I’ll miss them but realize God has bigger plans in mind for them. Their willing hearts to serve wherever they go are inspiring and I hope someday to reflect that same heart.

One week ago, my wife and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. It’s amazing to consider how much time has passed and all that’s changed in our lives. Four little munchkins invaded our home at different stages over time, each one a beautiful addition and challenge. Somehow I’ve gotten older and my hair grayer. I’ve worked more jobs than I’d care to admit and have been laid off twice. I went from dreaming of writing to actually developing a habit of writing daily. We’ve survived Sarah’s illness and transplant. Through it all, my lovely wife, Patty, has stood with me, sharing this journey through life.

So, yes, it’s a time to celebrate. I’m celebrating the friendships that will change but not end. I’m celebrating a marriage I hope endures for another 40 years. I’m celebrating my kids growing, learning and their creativity & resourcefulness. It’s also a time of transition as we look to the future. Yes, I’m searching for a new job but there’s also the stories I believe I need to tell through my writing. There’s watching my oldest child begin the 4th grade and realize she’s growing ever closer to becoming a young woman. My parents and in-laws are growing older and their health is no longer at an optimum level. I would never say I’m experiencing a midlife crisis but it’s definitely time of change. So the question is this: Do I choose to embrace that change and what’s behind door #1, relying on God to lead me along His path for my life? O do I choose to lament where life may be headed and take my chances with door #2? It can be frustrating and challenging in certain moments but I think I’ll stick with door #1.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back to School

Fall is almost upon us. Leaves are beginning to change color and fall from the trees. Summer is getting in those final gasps of warm weather and our children have gone back to school. Our summer weather got such a late start in the Puget Sound, it really seems like we hardly experienced summer at all. Once it began, though, the weather was glorious and my family had ample time to enjoy it.

As I've noted recently, I'm in a transition of sorts. I wouldn't call it a mid-life crisis but at 44, some people may take it for one. I consider it more of an opportunity for change and growth. In some ways, I'm headed back to "school" as well.

I have a lot to learn and I will be the first to admit it. Just three short years ago I found myself out of work following a layoff (are we seeing a pattern here?) but it seemed different. This go around, I'm determined to land a new career squarely centered on my strengths and interests. As fall brings changes galore, so has this job search. I'm considering a full-blown career change into the medical field but would also like to engage in some writing classes. Lord knows I need the help!

I'm learning --- slowly, perhaps --- that life is more than just working a 9-to-5 job. I'm looking for fulfillment in a few different areas. One of those is completing due diligence about the formation of a non-profit to assist families of seriously ill children; specifically, families with liver diseases. There are many organizations already out there that offer financial assistance and even housing. Our idea is more about emotional and physical help based on our experiences in the hospital. I will delve into this in a little more detail in a future post.

Then there's my writing, which is taking on a different nonfiction-focused edge. There are three books screaming to be written, including one picture book. I have an essay idea or two burning a hole in my pocket, and that doesn't count the one I wrote about Sarah's initial diagnosis that I still hope to land somewhere.

So, leaves begin to fall, the kids are in school and I get to learn new lessons and step forward in faith into a new beginning with my career, my writing and serving others. What a fabulous season to reside in.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Summertime Fun

Well, look at the time --- it's nearly September! Can you  believe how this year has flown by? It's at this point I would generally joke with my co-workers about how many shopping days remain until Christmas, but I'll let you figure that out on your own. I find it hard to comprehend the speed with which the years continue passing. I wish I could slow that train down --- and with it, my kids growing up --- but it's impossible. Better to enjoy each day for what it's worth and look forward to the blessing of another day.

Sarah's fighting off a cold or something right now and we're hoping she won't need labs. As we approach her 3rd birthday, we've been reflecting back on the past couple of years; the opportunities gained and lost. We're watching other liver families struggling with serious medical complications and others who have lost their children. This cycle is endless. We never knew that when we became part of this community how much exultation or sadness would  become part of our lives. For those of you battling: we continue to stand with you through whatever crisis you're fighting. We're knit together by liver disease and you are never alone.

But this is summer, time for taking in some rays, family vacations and lots of fun, right? Yes, it can be that and we've experienced our own fun days this summer, including the christening of our new backyard fire pit last night with marshmallow roasting. Summer is for making memories and I've been blessed to enjoy some time with my kids I normally wouldn't have if I'd been working. If you're going to be laid off, summer is the perfect time, I suppose. We didn't get to do everything I would have liked but we did make it to Rockaway Beach, down to Oregon to visit some friends and up to Diablo Lake in the North Cascades.

Even amidst the joy of sharing time there comes the pressure of finding a new job, though. And the fact I put my writing on the shelf probably didn't help me. But I've resolved to resume writing and am full of fresh ideas and new twists on stories already underway. It's a priority to finish some projects this year and I am refocusing on those efforts.

With school set to begin in a week (aw, c'mon REALLY?!?) I will have more dedicated time to work on those projects and to also spend some one-on-one time with Sarah. Might even work in some coffee dates with Patty. Now, that is a novel idea! Three kids in all day school --- where has the time gone, indeed!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Why the Long Silence

I just looked and I haven't made a blog entry since May 9! Wow, my apologies to the loyal readership. There have been a couple of reasons for the silence:

1) not much to talk about as Sarah has been doing great

2) I've been immersed in training my replacement at work and spending a lot of time on my job search.

As for #2, my last day at my current employer is Friday, July 15. It's hard to believe I originally learned of the layoff back in late February and the time has finally arrived to depart. I spent three days last week in Wisconsin insuring the new team is ready to go, and answering last minute questions. I'll be honest: this last month and half has seemed very surreal. It's been an interesting road to reach this point, to say the least.

We received even better news regarding #1 today: Sarah's labs looked so great at clinic that she doesn't have to be poked for THREE months. And get this, no clinic for SIX months if she stays healthy. We are sending out HUGE prayers that will be the case. We couldn't have done this without you and your prayers. We know this is no coincidence. Sarah has been enjoying a steady time of trouble-free days and we are grateful.

In the meantime, I hope to update the blog more frequently (where have you heard THAT before?) but no promises. A man has to know his limitations, after all.  :)

Monday, May 9, 2011


At Sarah's last lab visit, she reached a milestone. Her liver labs ALL came back within the normal range. WAHOO! She still tested for EBV, but the number was so low, it rated as "negative." You may wonder how we can take so much joy from normal readings. Simply put, this is the first time we can remember that Sarah's had normal labs across the board. Ever.

So we pause for a little cheer and a sigh of contentment. Those days seem to have been far and few between the past two years, but in truth we have experienced more than our share of blessings and those continue even as I await for a layoff in July.

Remember to celebrate daily, whether it be a baby's new tooth, a child's joyful personality, a friend's wisdom, a word of encouragement or happy medical news about your liver child. Make it a point to look for those tiny grains of happiness, contentment and thankfulness among the chaff in life. Treat every day as if it were extraordinary. Because, really, isn't life just that?

Friday, May 6, 2011


My oldest daughter turns 9 today. Some days I lament how quickly my kids are growing but I know God has great things awaiting them as they grow in faith and maturity. It's my privilege to be their father and to guide them on this journey.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

All Quiet on the Homefront...but Prayers Needed for Others

We returned from our vacation to Medford, Oregon Sunday night, stopping by Children's for Sarah's labs to save a trip. At her Tuesday clinic visit, everything went smoothly. A couple numbers increased a little but nothing alarming. Dr. Murray decided to leave Sarah's tac dosage at .5mg twice a day for the time being since she appears to fighting off EBV again. Our next clinic isn't scheduled until July - let's see if we can make it the full three months between appointments this time!

While things are going well for us, others are need of prayer. Chloe received her 2nd transplant late last week and while early indications are positive, I'm sure her family would appreciate your prayers. Then there is little Annabelle Phillips who hasn't left the hospital since she was born last July due to heart issues that necessitated a heart transplant. She waited three months for her heart and late last week, received her gift! Her mother says the heart is working well but she may have an infection, so please remember Annabelle daily. It can be a long road post-transplant and I expect even more difficult for a heart recipient.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

When Life Throws You Unexpected Disaster

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami that wreaked  havoc in Japan this week has me thinking a lot about life in general. It's so easy to see the devastation and simply tune it out. After all, we're treated to daily doses of bad news: murder, kidnappings, starvation, war, and disaster. We've become such a visual culture that many of us have become numb to the pain around us, whether close to home or in a far off country.

My mind had already been pondering our lives a bit more following the New Zealand earthquake. It jars us to see "modern" countries with strong, earthquake resistant buildings suffer such destruction as occurred there. This isn't Haiti or Indonesia where thousands can be killed in only a few moments.  But an 8.9 earthquake? It's difficult to fathom the power of something that large.

As many of my readers know - especially those who've followed our adventure and our dear liver families - our lives were forever changed over two years ago. In an instant. Our baby girl was diagnosed with biliary atresia; a disease we'd never heard of. But what about those whose lives are changed, far more tragically, in just a moment.

The moment that incredible 8.9 earthquake subsided, a tsunami of incredible force slammed into Japan. Even many of those who'd heard the warnings had little time to evacuate and escape the tidal wave's deadly force. All that they knew, maybe even their own lives, disappeared in just a few minutes. How do you deal with the loss of your home, your city, your loved ones? How do you prepare for such a thing?

Only God can comfort you during such destruction and pain. There is no other. And while your question of why it happened might never be answered, the one thing you have to hold onto in that moment is Jesus. Everything else of earthly value is gone. But He will never desert you.

I like to think I'm prepared to die any day. If I get in a fatal car crash or something like that, I'm ready to go home. But what about being at work when a massive earthquake strikes the Seattle region? What if I can't make it home or contact my loved ones? What if I survive and they don't? Am I ready for that? Are any of us?

You've seen me write on Facebook and on this blog how important it is to express your love, your gratefulness, your heart, to those most precious to you. Each day. Every day. Because when the day comes when you or they are no longer on this earth to talk to, will you hold close the treasured memories of those last words or the regret of things left unsaid?

Monday, February 28, 2011

One of Those Days

Happy Monday!

Ok, so it will be one IF we can keep from heading to Children's for yet another liver biopsy. Sarah's temperature hit 101.4 last night but I'm hopeful it will drop today. She is definitely trying to fight off a cold. She's congested with a runny nose and a little fussy. Since she's rarely ever fussy, we know she's not feeling well.

We have some urgent prayer issues today. We learned that a friend associated with liver awareness just found out his wife has a brain tumor the size of a grapefruit. She is scheduled to have surgery tomorrow. Please lift the family up in prayer. This was quite a shock to us.

Keep Austin Wright lifted up in prayer as well. He continues to have off and on issues with his new liver or internal issues. This little guy is such a blessing and possesses such a joyful spirit. Please remember him, his sister Makayla, and his parents, David and Courtney throughout this week.

I learned last week that my job will be eliminated in the coming months and moved back to Wisconsin. It will be another time of adjustment but I'm hopeful new doors will be opened. I've been considering changing careers for awhile and this may be the catalyst for doing exactly that. I've been sitting on whether to complete my bachelor's degree since Sarah's birth and subsequent medical issues. It's likely I'll move forward now (no, for real this time!) after some starts and stops and pursue a degree in the medical field or something health/mental health related. I just can't see myself doing the type of work I've done for the bulk of my working life (customer service/sales support). That may emanate from what I've witnessed through our journey with Sarah but I find myself drawn towards serving those in need, like the liver families we've met.

God knows where the road will take our family but we are excited about the future. May you know His peace and will today and everyday.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Do We Just "Survive"?

I'm hoping to get back into a regular blogging routine soon. In the meantime, some miscellaneous thoughts crossed my mind in the past few days and I'd like to share them. I've been watching some friends walking through difficult times. Some of our online liver friends have received the gift of a new liver. Most are thriving and it's a blessing to see the little ones restored to health. Others have struggled but are moving in the right direction.

I also follow two families whose little ones are faced with unbelievable challenges. These little ones, Annabelle and Bowen, have serious heart issues. Little Annabelle is a beautiful girl, about seven months old, who hasn't known life outside the hospital. She is on the transplant list for a new heart. Her parents have three other girls. Many of you who've experienced health issues in your family can easily relate to the daily, maybe minute to minute, stress this family is under.

Bowen is a sweet little man who has a rare heart condition called HLHS. He's the son of Matt Hammitt, lead singer of Sanctus Real, one of my favorite bands. The family is gearing up for the 2nd heart surgery in Bowen's young life this coming Monday. If you're not following Matt's blog, you should be. It's incredibly candid and transparent - Both these families need our prayers and support.

In light of these desperate situations (and those many of you have experienced), do we consider it a success to just "survive" in our daily lives? Or do we fight through the pain, the frustration, the desperation of our circumstances, reaching for the promise, the encouragement we can find on the other side, by reaching out to others? I'm not trying to ignore honest feelings and pain. Please don't get me wrong. I've walked this road, I'm still walking it, and it's no fun. But in the midst of it, do we miss some of the blessings that could come our way by being too consumed by hopelessness or concern for our kiddos?

Pain is a real part of every life, not just those watching their children battle life-threatening diseases. So many of you are my heroes. You are such role models. Not only do you love your children, facing uncertainty with grace and determination, but you extend an open hand to others, to join them in their own pain journey.

I salute you. Let's continue to lift each other up; to carry those with heavy burdens and loss; to join arms and stand together so that no one feels alone. Together we can accomplish much. To carry a burden alone is too hard.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Back Home after Negative Biopsy Results

All is well in Kraftland. Patty and Sarah arrived home this afternoon around 4pm. Sarah's labs had improved this morning even without intervention and the biopsy (though late in coming) returned negative, as I suspected they would.

Now we just need to make sure no one catches Katarina's cold. Sigh.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Operation: Thursday Biopsy you can tell I'm tired of boring blog titles. Time to spice it up a little.

I'd prefer nothing be spiced up when it comes to hospital visits but we just try to roll with the punches. Having officially "struck out" on waiting three months for our next clinic visit (this is our third try and third failure to make it that far), Sarah is set up for another liver biopsy Thursday morning.

The festivities get under way with labs prior to 730, an ultrasound right after and then her biopsy about 915-930. Her AST level is over 300 which has caused some concern. The EBV level came back at 4500. The transplant team is a bit confused about this increase since she is on the minimum dosage of .5mg twice per day. Her immune system should be awake enough to do a better job of fighting it off. The only time she's been on a lower dosage is when we had the adventure during her last rejection adventure.

We appreciate your continued prayers. We're covered for childcare which is a major blessing. Just hoping the hospital stay is one night.

Monday, February 7, 2011

So Much for Three Months...and some Thoughts

That's three months between clinic or any other visit to Children's (besides labs). Not going to happen. Patty took Sarah for her monthly labs last night and, yes, you guessed it, her numbers have risen. Probably enough to warrant a liver biopsy though we still need to confirm that with Dr. Horslen.

This has become old hat for us and we try to keep things in perspective. While this entire exercise complicates our lives for a few days, like getting kids to and from school; figuring out where they need to stay if a hospital stay is needed - this is a reality we live with and we are grateful.

Grateful, you say? Yes. Our dear liver friend, Austin Wright, has been in-house at a Navy hospital and then UCLA for six weeks. We rejoice with his family that he received his new liver (via a loving uncle) but then there was some bile leaks. Through it all, he's been a trooper.

Or our dear little friend, Chloe Chaput, who may or may not be looking at the possibility of a 2nd liver transplant. Remember these two families in your prayers. They could both use a long break from hospital visits themselves.

When I say I'm grateful, I mean it. Things could be so much worse. We still have Sarah - full of life and mischief, laughing, running, talking. Isn't that what it's all about?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My New Writing Blog

A quick note: for those of you interested in my writing pursuits, I've started a blog devoted to entirely to writing with a little parenting thrown in, from time to time. Please hop on over to the blog and follow me! I would appreciate it and if you could spread the word, that would be great.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cruise Control

The blog has been quiet because, well, things with Sarah have been quiet. All is well in the Kraft household for the moment, and hopefully that continues for many months. Sarah had some virus that made all her fingernails peel but besides saying "owie" and continually pointing them out to us, they didn't seem to bother her.

At the last clinic visit on Jan 11th they cleared her, once again, for 3 months between clinics. We take her once a month for labs and as long as the numbers are okay, we won't have to see the docs until April - which, coincidentally will be her 2 year transplant anniversary. It would be cool if we could reach that milestone without any issues.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Moving Forward in 2011

I hope everyone had a truly wonderful Christmas and New Year's. I know it was a great time for my family and provided some quality down time. After getting our Wii connected a couple of days ago, I'm sure our house will never be the same. We've never owned a gaming system before and I've never even played games on the new-fangled systems out there. Our first weekend with it was a hoot and I'm looking forward to many more fun times playing with the kids.

While it's difficult to believe another year has arrived, I'm optimistic about what 2011 brings. On the personal side, I'm hoping for a little more normal in our "new" normal as far as Sarah's liver goes. A few less hospital trips and biopsies would be welcome.

I'm humbled to watch my children grow, year by year, into wonderful people. I'm looking to continue to focus on leading by example and instructing them through the life of Jesus and the Bible. They really are amazing kids if I do say so myself.

I'm going to focus more on set date nights with Patty, dedicating the time necessary to nurture the most important relationship apart from God. I'm looking forward to engaging in a Bible study with two friends for accountability and growth.

You know I couldn't go an entire post without mentioning my writing. This fire has been fueled the past three months to the tune of 75,000 written words. One manuscript is complete (less the editing "ring of fire" I will now be passing through) and I've nearly completed half of the second novel. My goals are modest - continue to write at least 25,000 words per month and complete three more novels this year. I'm going to begin querying in March and hopefully can land at least a smidge of interest from agents or editors at the two or three writers conferences this year. When December rolls around, I'd like to say that an agent has offered me representation.

What about you? What are your dreams, goals or expectations for 2011? Think lofty, but also be realistic.