Monday, December 31, 2007

A Year of Blessings

Many of you received my family's Christmas letter for a review of this past year, but here are some additional thoughts I have regarding 2007. . .

. . . I began a blog for no particular reason but it quickly became a way for me to write about my daily trials and blessings for all of the many hats that I wear.


. . . Through my blog, I am better able to see the Hand of God at work in my life, both in the present and the past. This has helped me to grow closer in my walk with the Lord.


. . . I have been able to encourage others, which is an awesome by-product of having this blog.


. . . I am able to express myself better through writing than I am in person.


. . . The bond between my sis-in-law Jenn and I has been strengthened because of blogging.


. . . I have been humbled because of various circumstances that happened to friends and acquaintances this year, and I appreciate my family so much more, particularly my husband and children.


. . . I learned that life with 3 children is not the end of the world, but rather it is the beginning of a whole new set of experiences.


. . . I learned that duct tape inside of a dryer only gets stickier with each use.


. . . I learned that the pipes in a toilet bend in an elbow curve.


. . . I learned that cell phones, especially modern ones, will flush down a toilet.


. . . I learned that it's possible to have sight and not see, have ears and not listen, have a heart and not love. I also learned how I need to change, and am working on implementing those changes.


. . . I learned that my husband's favorite candy bar is Hershey's Dark chocolate, not milk chocolate.


. . . I learned that it's easy to stray in my walk with the Lord. Daily I must determine to walk with Him.

. . . I realized I have 2 favorite books: Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary and Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. I read both several times this past year, and enjoy them more with each read.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Julian's World

In the wake of the phone incident, I have been busy washing towels and scrubbing the kids' bathroom- every square inch of it! No fear, my dad got himself a new phone, the toilet is back in place after 2 days off, and the stench from the drain hole is finally subsiding. Only 5 more days until my dad goes home; pray nothing else happens until that time...

On a more serious note, I have been thinking of and praying for a little 4 year old boy who lives in Texas. He is in his final days of battling brain cancer, and I have difficulty bringing myself to read his daily updates. I know soon I will click on his care page and the update will tell of his passing. I have been following his story since the fall and although it's difficult to explain, I sort of feel like I know his family. I guess perhaps it is because he is close in age to my Th, and his mother Mimi has pictures posted from before his cancer; Julian was very much a boy like mine. His care page depicts Mimi's thoughts and feelings regarding the entire situation, and I am encouraged and amazed by her strength in the Lord. I selfishly pray I never have to experience a situation similar to hers, although I guess in some ways I know what deep grief and loss feels like because of my miscarriage. I know there are some who feel like a miscarriage is not the same as losing a child, but I don't care. To me, pain is pain and grief is grief regardless of the cause.

Julian's Care Page is titled Julian's World.

Registration is required on this site to view the pages, but it's free and I highly urge you to do so. If anything, Julian and his family are a good dose of reality, and we all need that every once in a while.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Where's My Phone?

Below is a video of an event that occured yesterday in my home involving my dad and his phone. . . enjoy!

video

Monday, December 24, 2007

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. ~Luke 2:11

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Technology

I use the Kraft website weekly to plan my menu and then daily to follow the recipes when preparing supper. I run like a crazy woman back and forth between the computer and the stove. TJ has been after me for a while to replace my cookbooks and many recipes with a more modern digital version. I have been reluctant to change because, well, our desktop computer isn't that far away from the kitchen and I have a lot of hand-written recipes. I find it difficult to see the necessity of typing them into a Word document to save in a digital format. But, as usual, TJ had a solution: he removed my cookbooks and replaced it with a laptop that sits on the counter next to the stove. For my other recipes, he has a machine at work that scans the document and saves it in a digital format, meaning he can email it to me to save to the laptop. He finished the laptop Tuesday, and this weekend I have really put it to good use as I baked Christmas cookies. No more sprinting to the computer desk or sifting through pages of recipes searching for a specific one. I love my laptop; but, of course, I'll never admit that I should have agreed to the change sooner! :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday on Ice

Last week, I received free tickets for ice skating at the outdoor rink in downtown Charlotte, along with free skate rental and hot cocoa vouchers, followed by tickets to watch the Charlotte Checkers play a hockey game as part of the WBT radio station’s celebration of Veteran’s night. It was awesome!

Driving in downtown Charlotte is easy compared to a city like Chicago or New York, but nonetheless we made a few wrong turns and had to drive around the block in order to get into the parking garage. I am the navigator while TJ is the pilot (like our airplane talk?); however, he gets nervous driving in places he’s not familiar with. He was also driving fast, making it difficult for me to read street signs. Once we passed the garage, he was a little upset that I didn’t see it before he passed it (sorry, I try my best to read at 40 mph!) because, of course, the next intersection we came to was a one-way street. After much arguing discussing we got back to where we needed to be and found a good spot to park.

We made it to the rink, ordered skates for TJ and Th, and got laced up. I was a figure skater growing up and still have my old skates. TJ dug them out of our shed for me to wear. I have not skated since 1998, living in California, and was a bit nervous at how well I would do. I am happy to report it is much like riding a bike; one never forgets! I had no idea they made these cool U-shaped bars that the kids push around to help keep them balanced. In my day, parents had to hold their child’s hand, and the next day required a trip to the chiropractor because their back was permanently bent at a 45 degree angle from trying to keep the child on his feet.

At first Th was hesitant, and truth be told, TJ and I left him to fend for himself the first few times around the rink as we both worked out the kinks. Th eventually got used to the skates and was able to push the “walker” quickly. Of course he fell a few times, one of which he landed on the end of the bar and bruised his tailbone, but overall he enjoyed his skating experience and I am glad he was able to go with us.

After skating we walked right next door to the rink and ate some pizza at Fuel Pizza. It was a really neat place as it was all about vehicles and gasoline and full of memorabilia. We sat next to an old fuel pump that Th insisted belonged in a gas station and not a pizza place, but once our food arrived and his mind was focused on eating, he dropped the subject.

We ate, then headed to Ovens Arena to watch the Checker’s game. We drove there, paid for parking, parked the car, and headed to the Arena. Just outside the door, TJ took the tickets out of his pocket to hand me mine. He read it aloud: Charlotte Checkers versus Columbia Inferno, Charlotte Bobcats Arena, Saturday, December 15, 2007, 7:30pm. Bobcats Arena?! We were at the wrong place! Duh, TJ!!! How long have those tickets been in your pocket and you’re just now reading them??!!

We waited to get a parking refund, loaded back up in the van (time is now 7:20pm), and headed back to Uptown to find where we need to be. Of course, as I wrote above, TJ gets nervous driving in unfamiliar territory, and of course neither of us has ever been to Bobcats Arena nor knows where it is located. Ugh! After some good navigating on my part, we arrived at the arena (there were no directional signs, just so you know) and again pay to park. We made it inside the building just as the National Anthem was playing! Th had a great time. He was so excited and it was nice to spend time alone with him. He felt so grown up accompanying me and TJ on a “date night”!

I have never been to a professional hockey game and was surprised at how violent it is! There were probably 5 fights in the first quarter (I still don’t understand why it’s called a quarter when they only play 3 of them) but it was entertaining to watch Th as he watched grown men fist-fight. I sort of felt like I was at a boxing match, but I guess that’s one of the draws to the sport.



Th skating with the bar. . .
TJ. . .

Me. . .

Al and Stacey, radio hosts on WBT, and us. . .



Monday, December 17, 2007

Homesick?

I received Christmas cards today from 2 very special people. Both are friends of ours from California, and both have had such a huge influence in my decision to go into the field of Special Education. They were both on our Special Olympic Swim Team (again, I haven't yet gotten that far in the writing of my life) and have been a part of our lives since 1999. They are definitely worth sharing about, and hopefully I can find some digital pictures (my Special Olympic years were well before I ever had a digital camera!) to share.

Michael and his mom Pat are both brave people. Michael was born with Down Syndrome, and he has 2 other siblings (a brother and a sister). The children are grown and married, except Michael. Michael's father passed away quite a few years ago, and Michael requires constant care. Pat and Michael lived down the street from us when we lived in our apartment off base. It was nice to be able to stop by for a visit anytime I was so inclined. Pat was a probation officer, but as Michael aged and grew progressively more dependent on her, she had to quit working. Pat is now in her late 60s and Michael is in his mid-40s. A couple of years ago Pat informed me that Michael has severe dementia. Obviously the older he gets, the worse his dementia becomes. It breaks my heart because he doesn't remember us, and even more sadly, the impact on our lives that he made.

The other card we received was from our friends Dick and Carolyn, and their family. They have 4 children, and Dawn, their 3rd born, was born with Down Syndrome. TJ and I still laugh at some of the sayings she had, and just the other night we had a good laugh. Dawn and another good friend of ours named Kendra used to affectionately call us "Chicken Nugget" when they saw us. We never understood why (it was part of the humor of their mental ages- at the time, the chronological ages of both girls was 15 but mental age was closer to 6 or 7 ). Anyway, Carolyn enclosed a picture taken from their oldest son's wedding this past summer. I can't believe at how much older everyone has become. Their family is originally from Marion, OH and Carolyn gave me some dates as to when they will be in Ohio next summer. I hope to coordinate something as we would LOVE to see them again.

My dream vacation since we moved here was to take our children back to California to meet the families who had such an impact on our lives when we were away from ours. I loved the athletes on my swim team dearly, and spent many hours outside of the pool realm with them. The athletes and their families knew TJ well before my own family did, and they were with me for 8 months of my pregnancy with Th. We moved just before he was born in 2002.

Thanks for the memories Pat and Carolyn, and thanks for the updates! We think of you all often!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Letter

Below is the draft I typed up this afternoon to use as our family's annual Christmas Letter. I keep going back and forth as to whether I should send this. I'm not really sure why, I guess because most family members like to read an update on our family and how things have changed, which this is, but on more of a spiritual level. Anyway, here it is in all its glory. . .

2007

This year the Lord has really revealed Himself to us through various situations, and I feel compelled to share what TJ and I have learned as a result.

Life can change in an instant. The Lord has proven that to us by the circumstances surrounding some people that TJ and I know. I do not know why any of the following life events happened to these specific people, but I do know they were God-ordained and He will be their source of strength (Isaiah 41:10).

I will first begin with our friend Mark. Mark had cancer, and he was fighting for his life. But, to most people he appeared healthy and never complained about his situation. He instead turned to the Lord in prayer, and appealed to his church family and friends for their prayers, too. One Monday morning in July he was out shopping with his 15-year-old daughter. He felt dizzy and nauseous, and could no longer talk. He began fumbling with his keys and as they left the store, pointed across the street to the hospital. She drove him there and he was life-flighted to another hospital where he later died. The cancer had unknowingly spread to his brain and the tumor ruptured, causing him to stroke. He left behind a wife and 5 children, as well as a host of other family and friends, TJ and I included. Mark was a true man of God and wonderful example as a leader, husband, father, and friend. He exemplified Christian living and set a high standard for others to follow his lead; however, he was very humble in his living and, honestly, most of what he taught us we learned after his untimely death. I often think of Mark, remembering how only a few months before we sat on our patio laughing and joking while Mark and TJ grilled burgers and hot dogs during our Sunday School get-together. I remember how the Sunday before he passed away he inquired about my dad’s upcoming visit, and he encouragingly patted me on the shoulder as a sign of friendship and genuine interest in my life. There are countless other ways Mark has touched our lives forever; but, in an instant, he was taken from this earth to live with his Savior Jesus Christ.

In September I received news that a friend of mine from the MOMS Club had been rushed to Duke University to undergo brain surgery. All summer Carrie had been experiencing headaches and was told they were caused by sinus problems. Thankfully she persisted in searching for an answer and doctors at Duke found a massive tumor on her brain. Suddenly her life was changed, as were the lives of her husband and almost 2-year-old son, along with her close friends and family. I immediately went to God’s Word to help get perspective on this situation, as Carrie is my age and her son and Ta are friends. I focused on 12 promises of God and studied the Scriptures, reminding myself of God’s presence and faithfulness (Hebrews 13:5) no matter what the situation. I emailed out those promises to encourage others in the MOMS Club, and we held a prayer vigil for Carrie the day she underwent surgery. I have witnessed miracles and received answers to prayer before, but none like this: Carrie’s tumor was benign and the surgeons were able to remove it in its entirety! She has made a full recovery with no side effects. Nevertheless, her life is not the same as she better appreciates the gift God has given her by extending her years on this earth. Lord willing she will live to watch her son grow old and have children of his own.


In early November another friend of mine in the MOMS Club experienced a similar situation to Carrie’s. Michelle had not been feeling well and went for some tests. In an instant, Michelle’s life was forever changed. The tests revealed colon cancer, and it has since spread to her liver and brain. She is scheduled to begin chemo in early January, but her prognosis is not very good. She has only a short time remaining on this earth, and I have been praying for her and her family since receiving the news. She, too, has 3 children, all boys, ranging in age from 11 to 5. My heart hurts for her but I know God will use this for His glory (Romans 8:28-29), even though in my finite mind I am not able to understand God’s plan for Michelle.

Finally, today we received news of a fellow church member. He has been working out-of-town and was involved in a head-on collision this morning. He is in a coma at a hospital in Indianapolis. His wife and daughter have flown to be with him and we are awaiting further news. How quickly their lives were changed! But, just as God has been with them in the past, He will continue to be with them now and in the future (Heb. 13:5).

This Christmas season, we pray that each of you would come to know Christ in a personal way. Christmas is so much more than gifts to each other and to your children; it’s celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is God’s greatest gift to us. I am sharing, because as in the above examples, our lives can change in a flash. One day we will all appear before the Lord, and since we do not know when that will happen, I pray you stop and think about your standing before Him. Christmas is the perfect opportunity to accept God’s gift of Salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” ~John 3:16

Monday, December 3, 2007

Because of Travis

Today marks the 4 year anniversary of my miscarriage. I have not gotten that far in the writing of my "life journey", but because this day is both the worst and best day of my life, I want to share with you.

Thanksgiving 2003 was spent visiting family in Ohio, although it was only myself and Th. I don't remember why TJ stayed in SC, but he did. While I was gone, I began to spot. I phoned the doctor and was told it is/was normal to spot around the time I would normally have my cycle (I was almost 9 weeks pregnant). The nurse I spoke with said to make an appointment the following Monday if the spotting didn't stop. I planned to go anyway because I was fighting a severe cold and needed some medication.

The spotting never increased, but it didn't decrease, either. I also remember not feeling pregnant- you know, the exhaustion, the nauseousness, tenderness in the chest- I did not have any of those symptoms. I also remember thinking it was weird that my pants weren't feeling any tighter, either. Granted I wouldn't have been in maternity clothes that early, but I should have felt bloated.

I returned home on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I didn't spot at all that day, and began to trust what the nurse had said. The next day we drove to my in-laws for a birthday party. We were gone all day, and got back home about 6pm that evening. My in-laws live about an hour and a half away, and I needed to potty as soon as I got home. I ran into the house to go while TJ got Th out of the car. I screamed and he came running in. I showed him what I had seen, and we immediately drove to the emergency room.

Once there, I had some blood work done. The doctor did not do an ultrasound (looking back, I don't know why) and after a few hours, I was released and told I may or may not be having a miscarriage. I needed to make a follow-up appointment in the morning with my OB doctor. My heart was crushed and I was confused. I barely slept that night.

The next morning (Monday, Dec. 1), I was still bleeding pretty heavily. I called the doctor and went in to be seen. I met with the nurse practitioner, Robin, and she had me go in right away for an ultrasound. The technician showed me on the screen where the baby was, and I immediately felt relief. I was okay! She attempted to find a heartbeat, then asked me some questions. The baby was measuring 5 weeks, and I was now 9 weeks. Could I be off on my dates?

When meeting again with Robin after the ultrasound, she said I needed to have more blood work taken and would have to come back in the morning. She wanted to compare my hCG levels to that taken from the hospital (when you're pregnant, your levels double every 48 hours). Basically I still did not have a definitive answer as to whether I was having a miscarriage. In my heart I knew the answer, but I would not allow my mind to accept it. I kept telling myself everything was going to be okay.

The next day (Tuesday, Dec. 2) I went back for the blood work. I would not receive the results until the next day, so I had to make it one more day before I found out if this baby would survive this pregnancy. That evening, and it is as real and vivid now as the night it happened, I sat on the couch upstairs in the playroom. I watched TJ and Th playing together, and I had severe cramping. I knew then that I was losing my baby, and I cried silently to myself as I watched them together. My heart was breaking and my world was crumbling around me. TJ, always being positive, told me to stop worrying because I didn't know for sure, but I did.

Th was sick that night (I had shared my cold with him) and woke a little after midnight crying. I usually got up with him by myself on the rare occasions that he woke in the middle of the night, but this night TJ got up with him, too. I used the opportunity to go to the bathroom, and just as TJ was walking in the bathroom to get Th a tissue, I pulled my pants down and the baby literally fell on the bathroom rug.

I immediately began to cry as this was the confirmation I had been waiting for all week, but especially the past 4 days. TJ calmed Th down and got him settled in bed while I just sat on the bathroom floor crying my heart out. I don't really know how I felt. I know how I felt after, but that specific point in time, I'm not too sure. TJ held me, and then we called the doctor.

The doctor on-call that night was horrible (he later delivered T.G.). He told me I probably did not miscarry but rather it was just a large clot. No, Dr. M., you don't understand. I see arms and legs, and little tiny hands; I KNOW this is my baby! The doctor told me to pick up the "clot", flush it down the toilet, and come into the office first thing in the morning. Regrettably, I did as he instructed.

When I went in on Wednesday, I again met with Robin. It was very quiet and somber as the technician performed the ultrasound, which only confirmed what I knew deep in my soul. I had miscarried, and then I flushed my baby down the toilet because some pompous doctor told me to do so! I was horribly mad and sad. I had so many questions as to why it happened, but all I could muster was a "Why?" and "Was it because of . . . ". I succumbed to just crying in Robin's office as she quietly sat there and allowed me to. As I got up to leave, she hugged me and said to come back in a couple of weeks to ask my questions. I needed some time to let it all sink in.

I was in shock, yet I had known for 4 days I was not going to be delivering a baby in July 2004. However, that did not lessen the hurt or pain I was experiencing. On top of my loss, I had to deal with telling everyone. Family was the worst. I gave that job to TJ. He did a great job- he really hadn't shown any emotion about the miscarriage anyway. Don't get me wrong, he was sad, but nothing compared to what I was feeling/experiencing. I listened as he made the calls, and I could tell the reactions of those on the other line by the conversations that took place after receiving the news. I know it was my loss, but my pain was made worse by listening to those phone calls. I felt like my world had stopped, and I couldn't understand how everyone else could still be living while I was in such pain. To this day, I am still amazed at how much my heart hurts for that baby, and I can feel the emotions of that day deep into my being.

I only knew one other person who had experienced a miscarriage. It was none other than my friend Chelsea. I called her and she immediately knew what to say. I so wish I could have had her with me. The feeling of isolation I felt was overwhelming. I know I keep saying I was in so much pain, but I really was. The deep sense of loss is overpowering. I cried uncontrollably for a long time. I was mourning the baby, the unrealized dreams, our "incomplete" family, all the things people don't realize they think about when they're pregnant until something happens. Chelsea knew how I felt. Chelsea understood me more than my own family, my own husband. And she was in Ohio and I was in SC. Alone. Locked in the bedroom crying on my pillow.

Relationships were strained after that. I was embarrassed to see anyone in the family because of a comment made by a family member. Something to the effect that if I got pregnant again, maybe the next time I wouldn't get sick. Like my being sick had caused the miscarriage. I realize the absurdity to that statement now, but then I didn't. I honestly had no idea why I miscarried and definitely blamed myself. I reasoned I had given birth to a healthy baby once, it had to have been my fault if I didn't do it again. I avoided family at all costs, and Christmas that year was very difficult. I did not feel any joy, any reason to celebrate. I was angry at the world because life continued despite my pain, and I didn't like it.

I met with Robin a few weeks later. I asked her about the possibility that something was wrong with me. She gently rebuked that option and said matter-of-factly that the only person who knows what happened is the Lord above. That statement angered me because if it was me, I could do something to change so I could have healthy children. If it was God, pregnancy was totally out of my control.

Now, here is where the Lord begins to heal my broken heart and shape me into who I am today. This is where I begin to understand that ALL THINGS work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Up to this point, I felt I was being punished; I had taken one of God's children 8 years earlier (almost to the day), and the Lord, I irrationally thought, was taking one of mine so I could understand the pain I caused Him.

I had planned to be a SAHM whenever I had children, but because of various life circumstances surrounding Th's birth, I was forced to find a job. I did, and I loved my job. I worked at a community college in downtown Charlotte, and I was very happy. My boss was a retired Army Sergeant and we got along great. I enjoyed my coworkers, and the job was relatively easy. Of course some days were stressful, that is to be expected, but overall it was a fun job and I felt useful.

However, I missed being with my baby, especially when he started doing all of his "firsts" at daycare and I missed being there to see them. On top of that, he became sick and was sick often that first winter. I missed a lot of work, and the stress of having to call off (again!), plus recently moving to a new house in a new town, not feeling 100% confident in the new daycare, and the added drive time back and forth to work began to take its toll. My miscarriage sort of confirmed my desire to stay home with Th. I was willing to sell our brand new house and move into a box if it meant I could stay home. I just had to be with my baby, especially because at this point in my life, I was not going to have any more children. I couldn't bear the thought of experiencing this kind of deep pain again.

So, the first blessing out of my miscarriage was that 2 weeks before Christmas I turned in my resignation. My boss was unhappy to be losing me, but completely understood, as did my coworkers, especially my friend Cindy. I returned after our Christmas break and finished out the month of January. As of 1 Feb 2004, I was officially a SAHM.

As I mentioned above, we had just recently moved into the house in which we currently reside. I knew no one, and knew nothing about the area either. I began to look for groups to become involved with, and came across a group called MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers). It is a Christian-based group, and I attended a couple of meetings to see if I liked it and fit in. I did, and I did. I met some wonderful women in this group, and I can see the Lord's hand in this all, especially now.

Through MOPs, I met a woman in my small group who belonged to a club called the MOMS Club. She lived in a different town than I did, but informed me there was a group in my town, as well. She gave me a website, I contacted them, and joined about 2 weeks later. I have been a part of the MOMS Club since Feb. 2004, and I can't imagine my life without the friends I've made in this Club. They have supported me through so many life situations that I wouldn't have wanted to face alone. TJ has made friends of the spouses through this Club, and our children have great friends through this Club.

Besides getting involved with the MOMS Club, another woman (Susan) from MOPs put me in contact with a woman (Heather) who attends Harvest Baptist Church. Now, a man (Bob) TJ worked with had been inviting us to attend this church since we first moved in October 2003. This gentleman was an older man, and I told TJ I didn't want to go to a church full of old people! When Susan said her neighbor Heather attended Harvest, I knew it was God trying to tell me something. The Lord definitely wanted us at Harvest since He was using Bob to invite TJ and Heather (through Susan) to invite me. I was willing to try it out, and we have been attending ever since. Just a quick blurb about Bob. Bob, of all the people TJ and I know, actually touched me the most when I miscarried. The day TJ told him the news, I guess he said something to the effect of "My wife had a miscarriage." Bob replied to TJ, "No, you both had a miscarriage and I'm so sorry for your loss." When TJ told me what he said, I began to cry because finally someone else understood the overwhelming pain I was feeling. I later found out Bob really does understand my pain. He and his wife lost their only son a few years back. He was killed by a drunk driver. He had recently been married but did not have any children. Bob was devastated, to say the least. Bob and his wife have become very close family friends, sort of like surrogate grandparents to our children.

To recap, my miscarriage allowed me to become a stay-at-home-mom, I joined MOPs and received my beloved Mom's Devotional Bible, I joined the MOMS Club, and we began attending Harvest. On top of all those many blessings, I have met so many other women through my church and the MOMS Club who have all miscarried. Not only that, but I have had a couple of friends miscarry, and because of my experience, I knew exactly how they were feeling and how to better minister to their needs.

So you see, sometimes great pain causes blessings we are not prepared for, nor able to see, when we are going through trials of various types. Before I miscarried, I thought my life was in my hands and under my control. God used a miscarriage to bring me back to Him, and I praise Him for that. I was a very selfish, ungodly person a few years ago. I still am selfish and ungodly at times, but I have changed so much since this experience. I have learned so much about God through all of this, and that is the most important thing, I believe. I would definitely suffer again if it meant I received those same blessings, because to me, the blessings far outweigh the pain. There's an old adage, "pain is temporary", and it really is, especially when one turns to the Lord, our God of Comfort.

To help with my grief, TJ and I named our baby Travis after the Air Force Base we met at. To this day, every Christmas we place a poinsettia in our church to honor him and remember what God has done in our lives through him. Travis is our miracle baby, because if not for him, I would not be where I am today spiritually, and the same for TJ. Because of Travis, TJ got saved. Because of Travis, I had 2 more beautiful, healthy children. Because of Travis, I can relate to and encourage other moms when they experience similar circumstances. Because of Travis, TJ would not be the spiritual leader of our home, nor the father and husband he is today. Because of Travis, I would not be the mom I am today. Because of Travis, I would not know or love the Lord like I do, and that is a scary thought. Thank you Lord for my miscarriage.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Help!

I am trying so hard to "decorate" my blog for Christmas but to no avail. I have no idea how to change the background colors or anything. I found a neat header I want to use but it just doesn't go with the white background I currently have. Anyone who is willing to help me, I would greatly appreciate it!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fools

I try to read my Bible every day (I set aside time during the kids’ nap time) and I try to read the chapter in Proverbs that corresponds with the day of the month. For example, today I read Proverbs 19. I have been doing this for several months, so this is not new material for me. Yet, for some reason today, the words in verse 3 seemed to jump off the page at me. I don’t know why they seem so clear to me. Here’s what is says: “A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord.”

That is so true! I know in the past, before I learned I needed to have the mind of God, that I felt that way at times. Think about all the stupid decisions, mistakes, etc. we have made, I have made, and how God receives the blame. Also think about all the blessings He bestows on us yet we take the credit. I know not every bad thing that happens to a person is because of a foolish decision, but in most cases, this is true. Think about drug users. They make a foolish decision to do so, and then they get angry at God when they get caught selling/buying/possessing drugs. I know that’s kind of an extreme example, but you get the point. I can think of several examples from my own sin-filled life where I have made a poor decision and than wondered why God would allow “this” to happen to me. It’s crazy thinking that way, but more importantly, it’s wrong to think that way!

Anyway, that’s my post for the day. I am going to spend the remainder of the day pondering this verse and I’m sure I’ll be reminded of my folly while doing so. I just pray I have learned from those mistakes so I don’t repeat them!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Will Not Pick My Nose Today

Call me crazy or weird or strange, but just because all kids do it doesn't mean I have to like it. . . or accept it!

Just before bed this evening, as I was laying with Th talking about the upcoming week, he casually mentioned to me that every morning, upon entering his class, he tells his teacher he will not pick his nose. He said he didn't like telling her that because he wanted to pick his nose. I tried my best to not even hint at a smile because he was very serious as he told me this. In a controlled voice I simply explained that nose picking is not socially acceptable nor appropriate, and more importantly, germs live in noses; he could get sick from picking his nose and then doing what most kids do (I'll refrain from continuing, but if you don't know to what I am referring, spend a few minutes kidwatching and you'll quickly figure it out!) He agreed and said he'd try his best not to pick his nose tomorrow at school.

I hope he's able to control himself and his pickin' finger.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day

As if I don’t have enough on my plate, I am praying about adding another HUGE undertaking. Last week while driving to school, I heard a radio interview with a man, named Carroll Moore, who is attempting to take as many WWII Veterans in my county as possible to see their Memorial in Washington, DC. I immediately knew it was something I wanted to help with, and I pray the Lord allows it. As a Veteran, this is near and dear to my heart.

I called him today to discuss his needs and hung up both excited and overwhelmed. His list of needs is many, but that is where I think you as my blogging friends can help. First I’ll give you the facts, then I’ll list the needs and ways you can support this worthy cause. There needs to be a sense of urgency in moving forward because:

  • Approximately 16 million Americans answered the call to arms in WWII.
  • 400,000 made the ultimate sacrifice
  • An estimated 3 million are alive today, BUT they are dying at an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 PER DAY!

The youngest of these Veterans are in their late 70s, but most are much older. These men and women deserve to see their Memorial, but because of health, financial, family, or other limitations, they would never be able to do so. There are many other cities and counties within the US that have successfully done this very undertaking, and the man I hope to work with has modeled his program after theirs. Locally in SC it has not been done, but in Henderson County, NC it has (visit HonorAir.com for more information). Mr. Moore is using their suggestions and guidance to rally local support here from the community and others.

If anyone locally wants to help, please contact me and I will give more specific details and instructions. Currently he is looking for anyone who supports this cause and will use whatever skills/knowledge you have. Specifically, Mr. Moore needs people who are willing to solicit monetary donations from the community, people to act as guardians and make the 1-day trip with the veterans, a photographer to document the trip and its planning stages, a media coordinator to contact local news outlets, etc. There are too many needs to list them all!

There are so many ways one can help honor our Veterans. Not everyone answers the call to serve, but you can help these heroes realize this dream before they die. Please help this cause by volunteering your time and skills. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Having a contraction. . . (natural labor/delivery- no drugs!)



10 days old. . .
3 months old. . .

6 months old. . .

9 months old. . .

Happy Birthday to You! Happy Birthday to You! Happy Birthday Dear T.G.! Happy Birthday to You!


Today T.G. is 1! I can't believe it; I remember when I found out I was pregnant how scared and worried I was about having children so close in age (Ta and T.G. are 19 months apart). It took a very long time for reality to set in, and thankfully the Lord has blessed me with a very sweet, laid-back, easy-going baby. She has brought so much joy into my life, our lives, and I have difficulty remembering before she was born. I look forward to sharing in this next year of her life as it will be characterized with many more "firsts": walking, talking, and so much more!



I love you baby girl!

Friday, November 2, 2007

New Links

By the way, I added some new links under "My Favorites." When you get a chance, check them out as I feel they will be helpful to many.

October

I cannot believe October has passed! T.G.'s first birthday is fast-approaching, and I am a little saddened. My baby is growing too fast!

I posted some pictures from this past month, including Halloween. I love looking at the pictures, especially seeing the smiles on the faces of the residents in the nursing home; it is nothing short of sheer joy at seeing the children in their costumes. Th was a robot, Ta was Piglet, and T.G. was a pumpkin. I made her costume for $2.40 and I am really proud of myself. It's not the best in the world, but considering I didn't have a pattern and had to make one on my own, it turned out pretty good. It was a little big, but I knew it would be: I used Th as my mannequin because the only opportunity I had to sew was while she was napping. The picture is difficult to see, but I even sewed some green leaves out of felt for her hair.

Oh, I wanted to update about school from a few weeks ago. I found out I need 2 classes in order to get my Elementary certification. The only problem was that the 2 classes required a bunch of prerequisites, and I had most of them except 2. This meant that in order to register for the 2 classes, I needed to take the 2 prerequisites courses first. It was still worth pursuing because 4 classes now is cheaper than waiting until after I graduate and going back to finish a Master's in Elementary Ed. I'd have to take at least 12 courses to complete that degree!

So, after much prayer, I met with my advisor last week to talk about registering for the spring semester. The topic of the elem certificate came up, and I told her about needing the 2 prerequisite courses. She made a phone call and together we walked upstairs to talk to the woman over the entire Curriculum and Instruction Department (keep in mind my advisor just happens to be the Assistant Dean to the College of Education- she's pretty high up in rank). The prerequisites were waived, meaning I was able to just get into the 2 courses, because of my extensive college career. As I jokingly say, I am a career student! I have been working on this degree for 11 years (since I was a Senior in high school!) and have taken so many different types of classes. However, not to minimize the Lord's hand in this, I definitely give Him the credit because the classes were not exact matches. For instance, I needed a Physics and Geography class, and I have not had either. Instead, I've had Biology and World History. Similar, but not exact. So, that being said, I am still able to graduate on-time instead of postponing 1 more semester. I will be taking 4 courses next semester instead of my usual 2. Please begin praying now for my sanity! :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hallow's Eve

1 Corinthians 10:31, "And whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God."

We used to "celebrate" Halloween until I really understood how it is not pleasing to Christ. My boys have gone trick-or-treating 1 time and it was horrible. They were scared and it was then that I was convicted by the Holy Spirit through the above verse. Now, we allow the children to wear a costume to their preschool fall festival, and then in the afternoon we go visit a local nursing home in their costumes. The residents love it, the kids love it, and I love knowing it brought joy to everyone involved. We no longer go trick-or-treating, and the costumes I permit the kids to wear cannot be evil or scary in any way. This year Th is a robot, Ta is Piglet, and T.G. is a pumpkin. I made Th and T.G.'s costume, and a friend gave me Ta's last year. I'll post pictures tomorrow from their festival at school and from the nursing home. Until then, read the devotion below taken from Proverbs 31 Ministries, and I pray it will open your eyes to the truth behind Halloween.


October 30, 2007

Spooks, Skeletons, and Saints
By Micca Campbell

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15 (KJV)

Devotion:
When Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” did He mean for us to include ghost and goblins? I view every Halloween as an opportunity to witness to “the dark side.”

Many Christians don’t know what to do with Halloween. They wonder if they should ignore it; protest against it; go along with it, or find alternative ways to participate without offending their faith. We often reason, nothing good can come from evil so why take part in this holiday? Yet, Joseph tells us in the bible that what is meant for evil God can use for good. In that case, Halloween can be an opportunity for us to do good!

Some of you may be wondering if I’ve been living on a far away planet unaware of what Halloween is. No, I’m very much aware of its meaning and tradition. Before Christ, Halloween was part of the Celtic Feast of Samhain. This Druid priest celebration commemorated the beginning of winter. The Festivals consisted of animal sacrifices to the dead and bonfires in recognition of departed souls. Those who participated in the festival believed that goblins, demons, witches and elves were sent from the world beyond to harass the living. For self-protection, the Druid’s would dress up like ghouls and goblins and involve themselves in demonic activities. They believed participating in this way kept them from being attacked by real witches and demons.

The early church responded by moving All Saint’s’ Day from spring to fall and renamed it Hallows’ Eve. In doing so, Christians used the pagan festival as catalyst in which to proclaim Christ’s death and resurrection. Halloween, for the early church, became a time to evangelize. They took something evil and used it for good. We would do well to follow their example.

Halloween is full of trickery and illusions about mystical powers and the living dead. Christians today can use these illusions in comparison to the truth that Jesus overcame the grave by the power of God and is the true Resurrection and Life. Better yet, those who are in Christ will also conquer the grave and live forever in the presence of God. What good news to share on a dark day!

There are many ways to share the good news of the gospel. My church has a Harvest Party on October 31 every year. The children play games and collect candy while the adults enjoy hayrides and wiener roasts. The most significant part about our party is the gospel room. This is where a drama is presented sharing about the good news of Jesus Christ and His saving power. One way for you to share Jesus with others is to invite an un-churched family to your church’s festival.

Another way to participate if you’re a stay-at-home kind of person is not to turn off the lights and hide as some of us tend to do. Instead, be a shinning light on a dark night. Tie scripture or gospel tracks to some candy and hand it out at your front door with Christ-like love and joy.

If you have the gift of hospitality, then have a Harvest party at your house. Invite friends, family, and neighbors to sit around a camp fire or your living room floor and swap Holy Spirit stories rather than ghost stories.

Halloween is not a time for avoidance. It’s a time to communicate with your children, family, and friends that, “yes,” evil, death and the grave are real, but through Christ, we are more than conquerors over it all. What better time to share this good news with others then when our minds are on such things? It’s an opportunity to take something meant evil and use it for good.

Dear Lord, Give me your perspective on Halloween. Help me to be a shining light on this dark night by sharing about your saving power with my children, family and friends, in Jesus Name, Amen.

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Child

I want to share with you about my student who I have been working with at a local elementary school. She is a beautiful, sweet girl and I am extremely burdened for her and her family.

N. is 8 years old and in 3rd grade. She has pulmonary arterial hypertension, which is something I had never heard of until meeting her. She has a catheter that enters directly into her heart and wears a backpack that carries the liquid medication. If the catheter becomes dislodged, she has approximately 3 minutes to have it replaced before she faces death. One of my tasks at the school is to ensure this does not happen, and it is very daunting!

With her disability, she faces fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and a host of other side effects. Today I came in and her face and neck were covered in what looked to be red hives. It was caused by her medication. She looks like a normal 8 year old, and generally acts like one, too.

I did some research on this particular condition (you know me, I always love a challenge!) and found that it mainly affects adults over the age of 25. It is rare in children, and the prognosis is not very encouraging. One study I found said the median survival rate in children is 10 months- very short! I don't know much about N. so I can't give the details as to how or when she was diagnosed, but I can tell you she is one of the sweetest children I have ever met!

She has befriended another girl in the class who just moved here from a Spanish-speaking country. N. is the only one who can talk to her, and it is amazing to see God work in N.'s life through this unlikely friendship. I am burdened for N. and her family only because I am a mother myself. I don't really know all of the challenges N.'s family will be facing, only what I have read from the research. Regardless, please pray for N. and for me to be an encouragement to her.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Missions

I've not posted in a few days because I've been busy with school (as usual) and getting ready for last night and tonight. Specifically, this week is Missions Conference at church. We are blessed to have five excellent missionaries and their families in attendance, and even more blessed that we were able to get to know them on a more personal basis.

We ate lunch with them all at church both yesterday and today, hosted one last night and another tonight for supper, and the church is having its Fall Fellowship tomorrow evening in which all will be present. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have so much interaction with such a diverse group of people. I hope these past few days have been and will continue to be a memorable event for my children, particularly the meals. Sharing 4 meals with 4 separate families has really provided a great opportunity for the boys, Th especially, to get a better idea of what a missionary is and why it is such an important job.

The missionary we hosted last night is actually from our church. He is a pilot and is currently looking for support to be a full-time missionary to Papua New Guinea. We enjoyed learning more about the country, and what exactly he will be doing within the country. Tonight's family is from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I'm sure they will have neat stories to share, as well. There is also a couple from China (they were born in Hong Kong) that is preaching the gospel to Chinese people here within SC. They have many neat artifacts from China and Th has enjoyed listening to him share about some of the items.

It's been a great week and again, I am so thankful for the opportunity to be in a church that has a passion for missions. All need the Lord, not just those in this country, and without these dedicated workers, many would still be lost.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday Toast

Jenn gave me another award today. I don't really think I did anything special, but I appreciate her thinking of me. It brought a smile to my face nonetheless. Visit her blog if you're interested in finding out why she chose me.

The Man Meme

Jenn had this posted and I thought it was a cute way to get to know TJ and me better.

1. Who is your man? TJ

2. How long have you been together? Total 9 ½ years, married 8

3. How long did you date? 1 year and 4 months

4. How old is your man? 32

5. Who eats more? Unfortunately I do

6. Who said “I love you” first? He definitely did. I think.

7. Who is taller? I am by an inch

8. Who sings better? He definitely does! He sounds a lot like Travis Tritt, and I often encourage
him to join our church’s choir, but to no avail.

9. Who is smarter? We both have our strengths. I am much more knowledgeable about history and English (i.e. grammar), and we’re equally talented in math and science.

10. Whose temper is worse? Hands down. . . me. His temper debuts while driving, mine in pretty much everything else.

11. Who does the laundry? That’s a sore subject! I do the laundry and I HATE it! He’ll help but I usually have to ask.

12. Who takes out the trash? He does, unless I see it needs to be done while he’s at work. We’re pretty good about sharing household chores- it makes the house run smoother.

13. Who sleeps on the right hand side of the bed? I do. I am afraid of the dark, and the bathroom with the nightlight is on my side of the bed.

14. Who pays the bills? He does, although when we were first married, I did. I just don’t have the time it takes to do bills along with everything else. He is also the "saver" out of the 2 of us, so
it just makes more sense that he'd pay the bills.

15. Who is better with the computer? He definitely is- he’s the IT guy for a University!

16. Who mows the lawn? I have laundry, he has yardwork. Secretly I know he loves it!

17. Who cooks dinner? I do during the week, he does on the weekends.

18. Who drives when you are together? He does. I can’t watch though, because he makes me a nervous wreck. The kids think it’s great fun when he drives, but I get carsick. Plus, the roadrage only adds to my nervousness.

19. Who pays when you go out? If I remember, I do because I earn points through my debit card.

20. Who is most stubborn? Depends on the situation.

21. Who is the first to admit when they are wrong? See above!

22. Whose parents do you see the most? His, but our schedule keeps us pretty busy so we only see them once every 4-6 weeks.

23. Who kissed who first? He kissed me first.

24. Who asked who out? He asked me. Then he asked me again. Then he asked me again. Finally, after 5 or 6 times, I relented and we went to Applebee's and to see the movie "Titanic".

25. Who Proposed? Me. I told him if we didn’t get married I was moving (it’s a long story). We were married within a month! :)

26. Who is more sensitive? Me, but not as bad as I used to be. I used to be way more sensitive but learned that small stuff doesn’t really matter.

27. Who has more friends? Hmm... That’s difficult. He has friends at work and at church, and I
have friends through the MOMS Club and church. We usually do things as couples so I can’t really say who has more. Our best friends are married to each other so it works out well.

28. Who has more siblings? He does. He has 4 sisters and I have 1 sister and 1 brother.

29. Who wears the pants in the family? He does, but it took me a long time to learn to submit to his authority. Submission is still a struggle for me on some issues, but with God’s grace, I can do it. Looking back on our early years of marriage, we definitely fought more before I was willing to submit. I guess it goes back to stubborness- he knows what is best while I think I do.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Calling All Princesses

We do our grocery shopping as a family, although occasionally TJ will take only the boys to allow me to get some things done around the house. We typically go to the grocery store on Friday, but this past Friday TJ and I went to a wedding reception together, so our weekly grocery trip occurred Saturday.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering why I don't just go by myself or with T.G. , and it's because I spend more when I do that. I have a difficult time remembering what we're out of, and so rather than not have any, I buy it. I have 2 unopened bottles of Ranch dressing in my pantry, along with several boxes of noodles, macaroni. . . you get the picture. I don't know why I have so much trouble, but I do. So, TJ helps me remember what we have and don't have, and we save money because of his memory.

Okay, back to Saturday at the grocery store. I have heard stories about those who go to the grocery store and return home and as they're unpacking the bags, find they have purchased something they didn't intend to buy because their kids put it on the checkout counter without the parents looking. I never believed any of those stories; rather, I thought the parents were just idiots. However, I am not an idiot and it happened to me, only thankfully I caught it before we left the store.

T.G. was fussy so I was holding her, meaning her stroller was unoccupied. The boys were playing with these Disney Princess flip phone musical toy thingies and were actually being very well-behaved. TJ was unloading the groceries and reloading the bags into the cart, and neither of us were carefully watching the boys. After he had paid and I went to put T.G. back into her stroller, it was LOADED with the silly Disney Princess phones. There were at least 10 in her seat, and if I hadn't put her back in there but carried her to the car instead, who knows how far we would have gotten with those phones!

The Lord never ceases to use real life experiences to change my opinion about certain things, and this was definitely one of them!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

God Tests Us

As I wrote in my last post, Mark’s son C. preached at church this past Sunday evening. He did an awesome job! The subject of his message was about how God allows trials into our lives for various reasons. He presented text from Job 1:6-2:10, 42:1-6, 10-17. The entire time he was preaching I just kept thinking about what a strong young man C. is, his entire family is really, that he could apply the truths of God’s Word to the passing of Mark.

God really blessed me through C.’s message. First, I was caught up in the nursery getting Ta and T.G. settled. I entered the sanctuary just as the service was beginning. TJ and Th were already seated, so I found them and slid into the chair next to an older gentleman. I didn’t know who the gentleman was, but he shared his hymnal with me since the congregation was already singing the opening hymn. The service began with C. preaching, followed by 2 other teenage boys preaching. I already stated what C.’s topic was, and as I listened to him, I realized that if he could see the Lord’s hand at work in his life and understand the purpose of trials, I knew that I could do the same. I have not suffered loss like C. and his family and that was a very humbling moment for me. At the conclusion of the service, the gentleman I was sitting next to introduced himself and said he was the proud grandfather of C. I asked if he was Val’s father, and he said no. I immediately saw his face soften as he said he was Mark’s dad. I teared up and said I was sorry for his loss. He hugged me and said he would tell Val he met me. The blessing in meeting him is that it was sort of like seeing Mark again. Mark favors his father, and I was so grateful to be reminded of him. Val stopped me and we hugged, and of course I cried, as we talked about how proud Mark would have been of C. Words cannot describe the strength she has, the entire family has, and I am convicted each time I talk with her. God is SOOO GOOD, and it’s true His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9); the Stiling’s are living proof! I was very teary-eyed when I spoke to C. so I merely shook his hand and told him he did a good job. I really wanted to hug him and tell him how proud I was of him, so maybe I’ll have the chance soon. I am so amazed by this family, and am so blessed to know them.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Galatians 6:7-9

This weekend was so nice. It all began with a phone call Friday afternoon. . .

My friend J. called me and presented me with 2 propositions: we could go shopping for a wedding gift and then have dinner ALONE (as in a “girl’s night out”) OR we could do the same thing as couples (with her oldest girls staying with my children to baby-sit). I called TJ to get his input, and honestly, I was thinking he wouldn’t be up for either of J’s ideas. He had a rough day on Friday and I didn’t think he’d like the idea of being home alone with the kids and it was evident from his mood he didn’t feel like being sociable. But, he surprised me by telling me he and P. (J’s husband) had planned for J and me to get together for a girl’s night out while we were at the Wilds. So, J and I went shopping and then had dinner at the Olive Garden (which, if you know me, is my FAVORITE restaurant)! After dinner, we went to Panera for coffee and sat there 45 minutes after the store had closed drinking coffee, talking, and laughing, tuning out the world around us. It was very refreshing to just be able to finish a thought without being interrupted or having to share my meal with someone else. I cherish my friendship with J and I hope to make this a regular occurrence (i.e. once per quarter).

After Th’s soccer game on Saturday we drove 2 hours to visit TJ’s great aunt and uncle. We love spending time with them, and I can tell the feeling is mutual. The boys went horseback riding and had a blast. Then, we headed over to the community playground for a little while. Aunt Joan is a wonderful cook so after playing, we headed back to the house for supper. After supper, she took the boys on tractor rides, and that is always a highlight of their day. When talking with Th about the visit, he ranked horseback riding and tractor rides equally. Oh, the simplicity of being 5!

Today the Lord really spoke to me in Sunday school and then again this evening at church. I don’t have time to go into all the details about SS, but basically TJ and I are becoming involved with a campus ministry called “Cross Impact”. TJ is the Faculty Advisor and we are working with missionaries who just recently moved here from Vermont. They ironically moved down the street from us. They have 4 small children about the same ages as mine, and I look forward to getting to better know them.

I just gotta say, it is such a blessing to be able to serve the Lord daily. Not growing up in a Christian home, I have at times felt “left out” whenever around others who have been serving the Lord for a long time, especially those who are dedicated missionaries. Today, however, we were talking about Galatians 6:7-9 (the principle of reaping and sowing) as it applies to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to others. I got to thinking about how I feel it applies to me more so as a mother than as a Christian. If I want to reap spiritual fruit in my children, I must sow spiritual fruit. My greatest burden for my children is that they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus at an early age, and praise the Lord Th has! I just don’t want my children to experience life as I did, without the comfort of knowing and having a personal relationship with Christ. Anyway, I was blessed and convicted all in a matter of 15 seconds in SS. I am also beginning to see how the Lord is using TJ and I WHERE WE ARE HERE IN SC, not out in a far away country sleeping in a lean-to. It is very encouraging, especially because we have no idea what He has in store for us. This is where trust comes in to play, and based on what I know about the character of God, He only wants what’s best for us. Please just pray for the Cross Impact ministry and that many college students would come to know the Lord through it.

Well, I’ll finish tomorrow. Mark Stiling’s son preached tonight, and I want to share with you. He did an awesome job, and Mark would have been proud!

Friday, October 12, 2007

What Do You Think about. . .

It's registration time for next semester (I can't believe it- the semester is flying by!) and as I was going over my degree planning sheet, I came across something that I'm still not sure how to interpret. I found out that ALL Special Education majors also graduate with a certification in Elementary Education. Now, for those who may not know, Special Ed. is a K-12 certification, meaning I can teach any grade level but only in Special Ed. Elementary is specifically for grades 2-5, and I would LOVE to have this additional certification because then I wouldn't be limited to only being able to teach Special Ed. The problem lies in that I have a feeling I need to take some additional methods courses (i.e. how to teach) in science and social studies. I'm not sure, and when I went to ask the degree planning person, she is out-of-town until next Wednesday. The suspense is killing me, especially because I was hoping to complete my student-teaching next year and graduate. Additional courses may put me behind another semester, and that causes some anxiety. Like I said, I'm not sure how I feel about this. . .

On a different note, TJ had an endoscopy done yesterday to try to find the source of pain he's been experiencing since January 2006. The test revealed a hernia, but the doctor said it's small and probably not the cause of his troubles. On the one hand, the news is good because everything looks good in his digestive system. On the other hand, still no definitive answer, meaning more tests. He will be scheduling an MRI soon, so pray we will get an answer. I hate to see my husband suffer, and although he's a very strong man, his side causes him great pain and discomfort.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Laundry and Spiders

Of all of the many chores I do as a wife/mother, laundry is probably my most dreaded. Perhaps it is because it seems to be never-ending; there are always clothes to be washed. I have been the type to only do laundry once per week for that very reason: I hate it and couldn’t possibly bear the thought of doing laundry every day.

I should clarify that I don’t really hate laundry. I have no problems with sorting clothes, putting clothes into the washer and/or dryer, or even getting them out of the dryer. No, my problem is folding them. I do okay for the first 4-5 loads. After that, it’s all downhill. I fold laundry on my bed, so what usually happens is that any clothes that happen to get washed/dried after load 6 is left in the laundry basket until Wednesday, Thursday, or even Friday. By then, it’s slim pickin’s because we’ve picked through the basket, finding and wearing the necessary item of clothing. I’m usually left with a handful of stray socks, underwear, and a few shirts or shorts.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I decided to split my normal 8-9 loads of laundry that I completed on Saturday to 4 loads completed twice per week. I have chosen Tuesday and Saturday as my laundry days. It seems to be working well. In one day I can wash, dry, and fold all of the laundry without feeling overwhelmed or hopeless at the sight of huge mounds of clothes on my bed.

Putting the clothes away in the same day is another story. Every girl needs a dream, right?

**************************************************


My new favorite old book is Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. I read it to Th this summer, and I absolutely love it! I haven’t read this book in a long time, and it has such a wonderful story of friendship, unselfish love, and loyalty.

Every spring, we get several (10+) spiders who make their home in the bushes along our front porch. In the past, they really crept me out, especially because they grew to such a large size. However, after reading this book, we really enjoy having these spiders welcome us home each day. As the spiders grew, they all left (or were perhaps killed) except one. This particular one has grown to be exceptionally large. We have spent many nights sitting on the porch watching her in her web. The boys especially like to examine her and her markings. I took some pictures of our pet “Charlotte” for you to see.

I went out to get the mail today and she wasn’t there. I’m not sure if she left to go lay her eggs somewhere (last year it was on the water spicket on the side of the house) or if something happened to her. Th hasn’t yet noticed she isn’t there. I hope she returns soon, especially because we didn’t get to say goodbye.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Mom's Overature by Anita Renfroe

Above is a video that helps keep the humor in mothering. Remember, perspective is everything! I hope you enjoy it; I certainly did!

Friday, October 5, 2007

CDH Awareness Day

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." ~John 9:3

As you are aware, CDH is a little-known birth defect, that, according to Breath of Hope, Inc (2007), occurs almost as frequently as Cystic Fibrosis and Spina Bifida. Several families I know (some in person, some through the Internet) have been greatly affected by this. Out of compassion for them and my love for children (especially those with disabilities!), I am trying to help spread the word about CDH. With a minimal investment of time, you can help, too.

CDH families and friends are trying to get March 31 declared as CDH Awareness day and we are asking for your help! If you would like to participate, please email cdhawareness@breathofhopeinc.com and you will be forwarded a sample letter and the Proclamation to mail to your governor.

Please help us to bring this horrible birth defect to the attention of everyone and not just those personally affected.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Puzzle Pieces

Everyone is feeling better. . . except me. My stomach is killing me, and I don't know why. I have been fasting out of fear of vomiting, except if you know me, I LOVE food! So, for breakfast I settled on a handful of animal crackers. It's taken me 4 hours to eat them all because I'm afraid the next bite will put me over the edge.

I did my presentation today. I just finished it at 11:15. It went very well, and I think I did great. I presented the information and then we went from our classroom into the gym to do an activity. I used one of Th's giant floor puzzles and each student had 1 piece of the puzzle. The first time we did it, no one was allowed to talk. *Remember, my presentation was on PDD which includes disabilities such as Autism- communication skills are a deficit* The second time we did, I permitted the students to talk. We completed the puzzle faster the first time (silence) because everyone watched and patiently waited for pieces that matched their own. The second time, everyone jumped in and it was sort of like controlled chaos. The goal was to simulate how a child with Autism would feel completing this task. Again, I think my activity illustrated the points in my presentation well. I am glad it's over; now I can relax a little bit in this class.

Still no word about my sister's kidney. The OB specialist said the baby looks good now, but she will continue to see him through the remainder of her pregnancy. He wants to ensure the baby continues to receive adequate nutrition. Please keep her in your prayers.

Also pray for a couple at my church. Their daughter has been battling cancer for some time and she has stopped her treatments. She is grown, married with children, but her decision has greatly affected her parents. They understand her decision, but at the same time, feel as long as she is receiving treatments, there is still a chance she could beat the cancer. They received a phone call informing them that she doesn't have much time left. Our church took an offering for them to help pay for their travel expenses from here to Minnesota where she lives. It was heartbreaking to see Mrs. W at church on Sunday because she knows this will be the last time she sees her daughter, at least on this side of Heaven. My heart goes out to them; I can't imagine having to say goodbye to my child. I know some of my readers have shared in this experience because of various reasons, and I thank God that He gave you the grace and strength to go on. I imagine it is probably the most difficult thing to do. Psalm 118:14a, "The Lord is my strength and my song"

Take comfort in God and His Word.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

God's Plan- Revised

Well, apparently we are in for the long haul. The stomach bug has claimed another victim- T.G. I now have Ta and T.G. who can't keep anything down, and I feel nauseous myself.

Poor Ta, after getting another bath this afternoon because he vomited all over the kitchen floor (again!) said to me, "Me need medicine for my mouth. No more throw up. Me not like it."

Have you ever seen your heart crumble right in front of your eyes? I did after hearing that comment. I can't give him anything for I fear it would only make him vomit more. And poor T.G.! She doesn't know what's happening, and unfortunately I can't predict when it will happen, either. She got me, the playroom floor, and the hall floor all before I realized she was actually vomiting and not just "spitting up". Duh!

James 1:2, "Count it all joy. . ."

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to learn kindness and compassion as I watch them suffer.

God's Plan

"Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts shall be established." ~ Proverbs 16:3 NKJV


My plan for last night and today:

Put the kids to bed at 9PM and work on the slides for my presentation Wednesday.
Go to bed around 10 or so and get a full night’s sleep.
Wake at 6:30AM
Drop off Th at preschool at 9
Go to a friend’s house with Ta and T.G. to make a craft to bring to the nursing home next week
Come home and work on Thank-You cards and make lunch
Eat lunch and head to church for Bible Study
Come home and put the kids down for a nap
While everyone is napping, finish my other Bible study lesson and finish up my presentation

God’s plan for last night and today:

Put the boys to bed at 9PM
Nurse T.G. and put her in her crib to go to sleep at 9:30
9:45 Ta woke crying with vomit EVERYWHERE in his bed
I give him a bath while TJ changes the sheets, deodorizes his room, and disinfects his mattress and pillow covers
Get him settled in bed at 10:15 and go get T.G. who has been screaming in her crib since I laid her down
10:45 put T.G. down for good and head downstairs to work on my presentation
11:00 Ta wakes crying again and a repeat of above (including the bath!)
11:15 decide to put Ta on our floor in our room since we don’t have anymore clean sets of twin sheets and we don’t want him to wake Th.
Up every hour or so because Ta is vomiting (no sound sleeping tonight!)
Wake at 6 when TJ’s alarm goes off
Wake for good at 6:30 when Ta vomits again
Change his pajamas and go downstairs so he can eat a cracker
Change his pj’s again while TJ cleans up the kitchen floor (Ta never ate the cracker- he drank a small amount of Gatorade and it upset his belly)
Cancel all my scheduled outings for today


As you can see, God and I had very different views of how the last 15 hours of my life would go. I am trying to remember that all things work together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28) and that I will be able to accomplish what needs to be done in His timing. Right now both kids are sleeping (Th is at preschool) and I was able to finish my presentation. I am going to begin working on those Thank-You cards, as well as finish folding some laundry and making lunch for TJ and Th. Please just pray no one else gets sick (especially me- I have my presentation tomorrow!) and that Ta doesn’t vomit anymore today. I have such a weak stomach and I get sick at the sight/smell of vomit (which is why TJ has had to do all the cleaning, changing, etc). I almost lost my stomach when Ta got sick in the kitchen this morning because it literally was at my feet.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Testing. Testing. 1-2-3

I've been busy with school lately. I had a test last Monday, some assignments due last Wednesday, and another test this morning. I just finished taking it, and I feel okay about it. I am giving a 30 minute presentation on Wednesday about integrating children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders (Autism, Asperger's, Rett's) in the physical education setting. I LOVE doing things like this because I have such a heart for children with special needs. I enjoy researching the various disabilities and finding the best methods (both physical and social) to incorporate these kids into the regular education classroom. I know a few children who have Autism and Asperger's, and I like talking with the parents to gain their perspective of the education their child is receiving, especially in the public school.

For those of you who attended Th's birthday party, I am going to try my best to write thank-you cards this week. Along with my college courses, I am leading a Bible study with friends and attending a Bible study at my church. I not only have homework assignments for my classes, but I have to read and respond to 2 Bible study books. I also have to begin planning a baby shower for my sister. I had hoped to have the invitations in the mail by the middle of this month, but I still need to find and order the invitations!

Speaking of my sister, please pray for her. She found out she is having a girl, but there is a problem with the umbilical cord. As I try my best to describe the problem, please keep in my mind I am an education major and not a pre-med student! I guess there are 3 tubes within the umbilical cord, and only 2 of the tubes are functioning in my sister. So far the baby seems to be healthy, but my sister has been having trouble with her kidney's and the doctor's can't figure out why. Her kidney's may be overloaded as they filter out both her and the baby's waste, but she doesn't have a definitive answer. She is going to see a specialist about the umbilical cord this afternoon, so please pray for answers and a healthy baby girl!

That's all for now. This week I also hope to finish the post on "my life". TJ begins grad school tomorrow so I'm not sure how much computer time I'll have in the evenings since he'll be taking classes now. Pray for us as we adjust to both of us going to school- it's definitely easier to do without having kids, but we appreciate our education more since having to work so hard! :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Nice Matters

My sister-in-law Jenn presented me with a "Nice Matters" award last week and I am just now finding time to post it. You can see it on the right. Thanks, Jenn, for thinking of me!

Monday, September 24, 2007

The WILDS

TJ and I visited the Wilds Christian Camp in Brevard, NC this weekend with some very good friends. Words cannot describe the sense of renewal and refreshment we left with on Saturday evening. It was evident that the Lord used various situations this past week to prepare us for this weekend, and coupled with the preaching we received, we left better prepared to lead lives pleasing to Christ.

Pastor Dan Brooks of Heritage Bible Church in Greer, SC preached several messages on love from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. I have read, been preached to, and even taught this passage several times prior to this trip. However, Pastor Brooks applied this message in a different, more appropriate way, and both TJ and I were convicted of sinning against each other in various ways within our marriage. Basically, Pastor Brooks preached the concept of living the gospel each day, not just the day of salvation. Now, if you are not saved, this won’t make much sense to you. However, if you are saved, it’s basically turning to the One who loved first: God.

It was because of God’s love for us that we are saved and find mercy and forgiveness at the Cross. When we are tempted to be bitter, irritated, etc. with others because we feel we have been wronged, we are to remember how God loved us. God is patient, God is kind. God does not boast. God does not rejoice in iniquity but rather rejoices in truth. God never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). By replacing the word ‘love’ with God in the above verses, we get a better picture of what the Lord requires us to do. Remember how broken you were when you got saved. You admitted your wrongdoing and accepted the forgiveness Jesus had to offer. God requires us to have that same repentant heart daily, and to extend it to others as He has extended it to us.

We also had plenty of time to reflect on God and His goodness. This time alone with the Lord allowed for us to make some decisions in our lives. One major decision I made over the weekend was to have more children now. I had always planned to have more but wanted to wait until I was finished with school. I have 1 more year to go (only 8 classes!) but the Lord has really been convicting me to have more in His time, not mine. Some verses used to convict me are Psalm 127:3-5. These verses compare children to arrows, and blessed (happy) is the man whose quiver is full of arrows. I haven't shared that with anyone, as most people in my family think I am crazy to want 4 or more children. We'll see what happens. Now that I've agreed, I may not be able to get pregnant again or it won't happen for a while. I don't really care; it's more of a heart matter between me and the Lord. The important thing is that I am willing to submit to God's control over my life instead of me trying to control it. I can't really describe it- I hope it makes sense.

Along with the preaching, we had plenty of free time to enjoy ourselves. Probably the most exciting time for me was the Giant Swing (see the pictures). It is 75 feet in the air, and is AWESOME! We also went on a hike, rode the “land trolley” and enjoyed coffee equivalent to that of Starbucks. The food was wonderful and the time spent with friends even better. TJ has promised me a return trip in February for a Valentine’s Day retreat; I can’t wait!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Time Such as This

I am writing to ask for prayer for me. Compared to what my friend Carrie and many others have recently experienced, my request is very minor. However, it is causing me stress and anxiety, and I am feeling extremely overwhelmed. The next week is very busy for me both as a wife/mom and student.

We are celebrating Th’s birthday at preschool tomorrow so I need to bake cookies to bring in the morning. Before going to preschool, however, I have a MOMS Club meeting and it is my turn to bring snacks, so I also have to bake a breakfast cake to share. I have to be at a local middle school tomorrow afternoon to teach an adapted physical education class to 4 students with disabilities. Tomorrow is my first day with this, so I am a little nervous about meeting the students and planning activities for them. Friday morning I have my weekly MOMS Club Bible study, and Friday afternoon TJ and I are leaving for our couple’s retreat. I still need to complete my lesson and make the handouts for Bible study. To prepare for going away, I have laundry and packing for us and Th, as he is staying with my dad-in-law. I also have to clean my house because my mom-in-law is coming to stay here with Ta and T.G. I have a test Monday morning that I need to find time to study for, and a group project I need to work on for Wednesday. To add to my load, TJ is working crazy hours because some new equipment arrived that was back-ordered. It needs to be assembled and computers and other electronic equipment installed. . . in 33 classrooms. I am now temporarily a single parent until he finishes all of his stuff at work for the next 2 days. I also have to go to the grocery store, and you know how it is when you have to take your children to the grocery store. I'd rather have my teeth pulled out one at a time without novacaine while sitting atop a pile of burning ash rather than take all 3 of my kids to the grocery store, but that's another story.

So, above is my “To Do” list for the next 5 days. Here are specific ways you can pray:
· A good night’s rest so I can wake refreshed, ready to serve the Lord
· Clarity of thought so I can prioritize my list
· Patience and self-control as I care for my children amidst my craziness
· Time to complete all of my tasks
· For me to remember not to worry (Matt. 6:34)

Thank you so much, and if I don’t write here in a few days and you're wondering why, re-read the above post.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Carrie Update

"For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers" ~ 1 Peter 3:12a

Praise the Lord! God has heard and answered our prayers regarding Carrie. She made it through surgery well and is very responsive. The doctors found that the tumor was not cancerous and were able to remove all of it. She still has a long way to go for recovery and needs to be very cautious so that she does not get any infections. Her husband said she was up and talking and it was like she never even had surgery. He wanted to thank everyone for their prayers and will give more information as it comes. This is a HUGE answer to prayer, and although I am crying, the tears are tears of joy. Thank you all so much for the support you have given this family through prayer.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Surgery

Her surgery was at 1PM today. I have not yet heard any details, but please continue to pray for Carrie and all who will be caring for her as she recovers. Also, pray the tumor is not cancerous, and if it is cancerous, that it has not spread. Also pray for her family as they are split between caring for her son and being with her in the hospital. God's hand has been sustaining Carrie thus far, and I know He will continue to do so. He is the Ultimate Physician and can heal any ailment or affliction. I thank you all for your prayers and words of encouragement; they are greatly appreciated!

Specific ways to pray:

  • God's will to be done and for Him to recieve all the glory and honor in whatever happens
  • Carrie's spritual, emotional, and physical strength as she faces the unknown
  • Ken (her husband)- his spiritual, emotional, and physical strength as he goes between home and Duke to care for Carrie and their son; travel safety as he goes back and forth; for him to be strong for Carrie; insurance and finances to go smooth
  • Ken & Carrie's son- to adjust to staying with his grandparents for the time being; to not question too much where Mommy & Daddy are; to be an encouragement to his family
  • Doctor's wisdom as they perform the surgery and decide best treatment
  • Nurses and other healthcare workers- to speak encouraging words to Carrie and the family to help calm their fears; patience in caring for Carrie; wisdom in healthcare decisions
  • Carrie's family as they make healthcare decisions; physical and emotional strength as they watch their daughter going through this
  • Ken's family- wisdom and patience as they care for their grandson; emotinal strength as they minister to and support Ken
  • The MOMS Club- for us to come together to support a fellow mom who is facing such a dramatic life circumstance; wisdom as we decide how to best support and encourage Carrie
  • West End Baptist Church- Ken and Carrie's church- discernment related to supporting the family during this time

Please pray as you feel led by the Holy Spirit. Already, God has used this to draw so many to Him, and that in itself is such a blessing. Again, thank you very much.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

God's Promises

I literally just checked my email and received some news I definitely was not expecting.

A friend of mine from the MOMS Club just found out she has a tumor on her brain and is undergoing surgery at Duke University. She and her husband have a son who will be 2 in October, so I'm sure this is especially scary for them. HOWEVER, it is times such as this that, as a Christian, I MUST turn to the One who ordained every circumstance in this young couple's lives. Here are some promises to help me, my friend, and all of you in cyberspace get through various trials in life. Please keep them in your prayers, and also us as a Club so we can better know how to serve her family at this time. Thanks!

God's presence -- "I will never leave thee" (Heb. 13:5)
God's protection -- "I am thy shield" (Gen. 15:1)
God's power -- "I will strengthen thee" (Isa. 41:10)
God's provision -- "I will help thee" (Isa. 41:10)
God's leading -- "And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them" (John 10:4)
God's purposes -- "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil" (Jer. 20:11)
God's rest -- "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28)
God's cleansing -- "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9)
God's goodness -- "No good thing will He withhold from them that work uprightly" (Psalm 84:11)
God's faithfulness -- "The Lord will not forsake His people for His great name's sake" (1 Sam. 12:22)
God's guidance -- "The meek will He guide" (Psalm 25:9)
God's wise plan -- "All things work together for good to them that love God" (Rom. 8:28)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Date Night

I'm still here. I have been busy with school, and this past Saturday TJ and I went on a "date" to Carowinds. A girl from our church offered to babysit free of charge, so TJ and I took advantage of her offer and spent a couple of hours getting back in touch with each other and our childhood.

We had such a good time! We went on rides that we hadn't been on before, even testing some rides for future trips with Th. When we left the park, we went to dinner and shopping for a birthday gift for Th. It was pleasant, yet very strange to be out and about without a stroller, diaper bag, or even kids for that matter! It was such a blessing and I am so thankful for this girl's attitude of service. We've not been out together alone in over a year (not even for dinner)! I am looking forward to our overnight getaway coming up in a couple of weeks!

I am still working on finishing my "life story". I like to work off-line but I have several papers, tests, and projects for school that I need to complete before finding time to work on my blog. I haven't forgotten about it, and will try to work on it some the remainder of the week. In addition to school, TJ and I are having a yard sale Saturday morning, followed by a birthday party for Th Saturday afternoon. I need to finish getting everything done for both of those events.

Oh, by the way, I quit my job yesterday, although technically I never worked. Reality hit me and I realized I was nuts to think I could squeeze in time to work.

One day maybe, but not now. For now, my job as a wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, and student keep my pretty busy.