Sarah and Autism

Many who know Sarah now don’t know all that she went through as a child to get where she is today. I have been talking a lot about where she is now and the events that have transpired over the last year.  Since I wrote my post yesterday I have confirmed some suspicions I have had for years and wanted to share it with you. I thought it also might help to have some detailed background as it might be helpful to someone who comes across this blog.

Sarah was born full-term on 9/10/87 weighing 5 pounds 10 ounces. That was average for me, though small for many. During my pregnancy there was an issue with ultrasounds, every ultrasound said she was due Oct 15, but I saw my doctor at 2 weeks gestation, so we knew that was wrong, just not why. That mystery is still unanswered.

Sarah did fine for the first three months. She rolled over on time, smiled on time and seemed normal. She had her shots at 2 and 4 months like babies are supposed to. At 6 months she didn’t sit. She was like a floppy doll with no upper body strength. Then a friend moved in next door with a baby 2 days older than Sarah. The differences were so obvious. I will never forget the day I took Sarah in for her 6 month check-up. The doctor told me her head wasn’t growing properly and that she was micro-cephalic (that is a big word meaning she had a small head).  We had to wait 2 months to see a pediatric neurologist who then told us that Sarah would never walk, talk or do anything and that we should just do ourselves a favor and institutionalize her. During this time she also had her first seizure. A month after this we realized she was probably deaf.

There were no answers coming from any doctor. They didn’t give us a diagnosis or prognosis other than what the neurologist said. Right before her first birthday we moved to Dallas. At Texas Scottish Rites Hospital we saw the first doctor that gave us any hope. I will never forget that day either. He looked me in the eyes and said, “I can’t give you any medical reason to back this up, but I believe Sarah will do things. Let her try what she wants and don’t give up on her. I see something in her eyes that tells me she’s there.” That’s all this mamma needed. At that time we were trying to get her a special chair called a freedom seat because she couldn’t sit.  Even though Sarah couldn’t crawl, she could get around really well though. She rolled everywhere and she was quick. At 18 months she sat for the first time and we canceled the freedom seat. After that came scooting. She never crawled because she had a right side semi-paresis. Once she could get around she would pull herself up into a chair by grabbing the rungs in the back and pulling herself into it. She was very strong in her good arm. Things continued like that for a couple of years.

During this time of her life Sarah also had a lot of choking/gagging issues. Usually the hardest foods to eat were things like mashed potatoes. At two we had the diagnosis that she was profoundly deaf. In other words a jet could be behind her and she wouldn’t hear it. A very small percentage of people with hearing loss are that deaf.

As she grew she had several things that were different that she did that I didn’t have any explanation for. Because she wasn’t walking she was in diapers still. Every day, after lunch, she would dirty her diaper and then proceed to smear it’s contents all over her bed, her wall and anything else you she could smear it on. Sorry if this is TMI, it’s just how things were. You might say to yourself, wait her out. We tried, didn’t work. I tried duct taping her diaper on. I tried everything I could think of, all to no avail. This finally stopped when she was potty trained and never has someone been so happy for potty training!

She is the only child I had who would climb out of her bed. Long before she could walk, she would work her way out of the baby bed. After a while we gave up and put a mattress on the floor for her. Then the battle of staying in bed began. Oh, what a battle that was. When she was 3, before she could walk, I would put her to bed, put two gates in front of her door, and then a small dresser in the hall in front of that. She would lie on her back and push with her legs until she has moved the gate and the dresser enough that she could escape, and then off she would scoot. I don’t know how many times a night we did this.

She loved going to church, but wasn’t really social when she was there. At home, church, playground, everywhere she pretty much stayed to herself. You could interact with her for a short while but not for very long. She loved having her toys/dolls but she was not really one to cuddle with them or play with them a lot. She was very OCD about them though and wanted them in their certain spots.

Sarah finally began walking at 4. Then she took off! We jokingly nicknamed her “Stopper”, because we were always yelling ahead to people in the halls at church to, “STOP HER!” as she ran off.

Sarah has been diagnosed with several issues. She is classified as having a seizure disorder, cerebral palsy, an anxiety disorder, developmental delay and she is deaf. I asked one of the many doctors for a “name” for what she had. Her response was, “Does it really matter?” We could have done lots of testing, but it wouldn’t have changed anything. In the back of my mind I always wondered if she might have autism. Just because of how anti-social she is and how she doesn’t like to interact a lot. Recently a friend spent some time with us one evening and she suggested that Sarah might have autism. She has a son who is a high functioning autistic so she recognizes the signs.

I have been reading the book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, because we are putting Sarah on that diet(referred to as the SCD diet). It has helped children with emotional issues which is the reason I was putting Sarah on it. As I read and researched more online I began to see Sarah in much of what I was reading. Since her breakdown she has begun doing odd motions/movements and making odd sounds that she didn’t make before. Her behavior and actions drastically changed. Today she is nothing like before. Though we get glimpses of “the old Sarah”. I came across this video last night and it is amazing how much like Sarah this is. I found out that those odd mannerisms, movements and sounds had a name, it’s called stimming.

It may be true that having a diagnosis for what she has doesn’t really change anything, but it helps me greatly to understand what is going on better. We started the diet about a week and a half ago and we are already seeing great changes. When I got up today I was surprised at how different she looked. The Lord is in control of her progress and we are trusting in Him as we go through this daily. We are thankful that this diet may help her. Our hope is once she works through the stress and anxiety that she is working through the stimming will diminish

Please share any thoughts or experience you may have. I’d love to have input if you have encouragement to offer.

It’s Been One Year

It’s been one year since a dark cloud passed over our house. If you had asked me then if I could still be fighting this battle a year later I would have probably told you I couldn’t survive it that long. In fact, I’m sure I said something about not being able to carry on like this in the early weeks. The war is still being fought, but many battles have been won. We know who has victory in the end, but we must continue to fight until that time.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23

This Psalm and many others have brought me great comfort and remind me minute by minute that the Lord is there and that He will restore my soul. He has taught us many things over the last year. The valley that we have passed through has been deep and very dark at times, but we were comforted by His presence.

Family- The Lord has brought us much closer as a family. Gene, Hannah, Rachel Caroline, and I have grown spiritually in ways that we couldn’t imagine. We have learned that we need to be willing to share our deepest hurts and concerns with one another so that we may get support and so that they are not used as a tool of the enemy.

We have had to watch Sarah writhe and wail in emotional and spiritual agony. This is not easy to see (or write about). The complete helplessness we have felt has no description. We have had no choice but to trust in the Lord. We saw early on that it was only the Lord who can heal the heart and mind. We have been called to love and direct her but He must do the work. That was a really hard thing to learn. It’s like the old saying, “Let go and let God.”

Friends- Boy, did we learn a lot here! We found some true friends that are like precious jewels to us. They listened as we cried, admitted that they didn’t have all the answers (or sometimes any answers) but they were willing to listen, lift us up and encourage us in doing good.

We also found many that were more like Job’s friends. Gene and I were told more than once that this affliction on our house was due to our sin and that God wouldn’t remove it until we repented.

 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind ?”  Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents ; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3

I have many thoughts on why people say/think such things. I believe that it is easier to think that things such as this can only happen to people because they are in sin. It can make us feel better about things and not have to face the possibility that something devastating  could happen to us. It also feeds our pride, with those lovely holier than thou thoughts we all like to think- “at least I’m not like them” – we say to ourselves. It also shows a lack of understanding that trials come to us all. As scripture says, “rain falls on the just and the unjust.” The truth of the matter is, God has His ways, and they are beyond our comprehension.

Faith- We have been strengthened through this in many ways. We know that we can do nothing without His help. So many days I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed, I didn’t even know where to start (I still feel this way many times). I don’t know what my day will hold. Will Sarah be calm and cooperative, or angry and combative? I don’t know from moment to moment how she will act/react. I often melt into a puddle, crying out to God to help me, this is so far beyond what we know how to do.

“I used to tell young preachers, in order to preach you’ve got to have the power of God on your life. Now I tell them, in order to tie your shoes you’ve got to have the power of God on your life.”-Paul Washer

He has been faithful and brought us through many days of little to no sleep. The emotional roller coaster at times has so many loops that I get dizzy. But He’s there through all of the twists and turns to comfort me and carry me when I can’t go on. We often think that we have to be strong (that’s another Christian myth that has been shattered in our lives), we don’t. We need to be weak. It is in our weakness that we are made strong, only through Him.

Our prayer is that the Lord will restore Sarah, if it is His will. Other than that, we pray that the Lord will use our suffering in the lives of others. So, here are some challenges for you.

Think about those in your life who are struggling. Have you called/texted/e-mailed them lately? Often we are good about keeping in touch with people when a crisis is fresh, but forget about them as time goes on. I can promise you the loving words of a friend can be a balm.

Make sure that you aren’t like Job’s friends when dealing with those that are hurting. Are you encouraging or laying blame?

Listen- I can’t emphasize that enough. Listen to their circumstances, their needs and struggles. Don’t assume that you can come into a situation and fix everything. When it doesn’t work out, it just causes them to feel more defeated, hurt and confused. If you don’t know what to do or say, ask. Ask how you can pray for them, or if you can run to the store for them.

Do you have any other challenges you can offer based on something you have gone through? Please share if you do.

Here are a couple of posts that Rachel has written where she shares her heart about what we have been going through.

A Blessed Weekend

Prayers Answered

 

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5 Reasons I Want My Daughters To Watch Frozen

Spoiler Alert!! There will be many plot spoilers in this article. Read at your own risk.

1. Conceal, Don’t Feel, Don’t Let It Show— Elsa’s parents in not knowing how to deal with her abilities and differences told her to hide them. They were told that fear is what would be a danger for Elsa, but instead of teaching her to deal with her differences they told her she must suppress them. They created the very fear that would be a danger to her. She was afraid to feel, afraid of herself.  If there is anything I have learned over the last year it is that suppressing feelings and emotions doesn’t make them go away. They will come out eventually. We have to learn to address the issues in our life head on and learn how to work out our differences. If we don’t they will come bursting forth in ways we don’t expect with unintended consequences. As a mom, I want to teach my daughters to deal with their emotions in a scriptural and healthy way. They don’t need to bottle their feelings up, deny them or be afraid to face them.

2. Be The Good Girl You Always Have To Be— Elsa didn’t fit the mold of what was expected of her. She was different, and this caused problems. She was told she had to be a “good girl” and hide who she really was.  Having been in the homeschooling movement for the last 20+ years I have seen this same thought process and have seen it be terribly detrimental. Young women (and men) are expected to fit a cookie cutter mold. They should dress alike, talk alike, like the same books and movies (but only those that are approved by the gurus), do the same crafts/hobbies and pursue a common dream. I fell prey to that as a parent. It’s so easy to think if I just check the right boxes and use the right formulas I will have the perfect adult children. I hate to be the one to break the bad news to you, but it just ain’t so. You can do everything perfectly(not that any of us can achieve this) and still have children who aren’t what you expected when they are adults. God has created us uniquely and we need to develop and encourage our children in their God given talents. We have to be cautious that we don’t allow legalism into our families. We shouldn’t be following gurus, they are just sinners like us, we should following scripture.

3. Prince Charming- Maybe Not— In the movie Prince Charming wasn’t so charming after all. I want my daughters to be discerning about young men. To know the character qualities and personality traits that are important to their success as a wife. I don’t want them to fall for the first guy who shows interest, just because he is showing interest. I would rather them marry a blue collar man who loves the Lord with all his heart and wants to serve Him, than a man who desires riches, position or fame.

4. Actions Have Consequences–  Some of them unintended— Elsa had kept her emotions pent up for so long that releasing them felt good. She didn’t realize that letting go like that had unintended consequences. We don’t live in a vacuum and everything we do affects someone else- either positively or negatively. We have seen that in the last year in more ways than you can imagine. I want my daughters to know that they are responsible for setting things right when their actions have unintended consequences.

5. Selfless and Self-Sacrificing Love— Anna was told that the only way to get the coldness out of her heart and to be healed was to do an act of true love. Everyone thought of a true love’s kiss. This time Disney got it right. It wasn’t the kiss of a prince or a pauper that would save Anna, but her act of selfless and self-sacrificing love. She was willing to sacrifice her life to protect her sister. I want my daughters to see that message and apply it. As a Christian we have the example of Christ laying down His life for us and it is how we should be living. We may not have to actually give our lives, but we should give them every day in service to one another. When we put someone else’s needs and wants above our own we are being selfless, that is a lesson our world needs to see.

I am not a Disney fanatic, I think some of their movies send a wrong message about many things. We have chosen to take those things in the movies we watch and make examples of them to our daughters. One of my goals as a mom of daughters is to raise my girls to be discerning and to be able to see the deeper meaning in what they are reading and watching. I want them to not just see the surface issues, but to understand the motives and thoughts of the characters they read about and watch. I often see many Christians parroting what they have heard some guru claim about a book or a movie without having taken the time to read or watch it. Scripture tells us to be like the Bereans and to study for ourselves, comparing what we see and hear against scripture. Paul told them to check what he said to make sure it was truth. When we start repeating what someone else has said without checking the veracity of a statement for ourselves, what we are doing is akin to gossip. It isn’t much different that telling everyone that Sally told you Joe had an affair. If you don’t know the fact to be true for yourself, then you shouldn’t be discussing it.

On more than one occasion we have had an adult tell our young adult daughters why they didn’t like this or that book or movie and in some situations tell them why we shouldn’t have let them read or watch it. This is dangerous ground for a couple of reasons. First, they are out of line for correcting our daughters for something we have allowed. Second, they usually have not read or watched the movie or book they are talking about, but parroting what someone “they trust” has told them. Going back to Paul, he didn’t say, “trust what I’m telling you”, he said to check it out for yourself. Things get really sticky when these well meaning people say such things to my daughters because our daughters  have been taught to be critical thinkers and know how to discuss the complexities of these subjects. The adults who felt the need to criticize the choices we have made are then shocked when my daughters will defend our choices. When our daughters were young we taught them a phrase that applied to different choices our family made, “Others may, but you may not.” There need not be judgment about such things.

Being a Godly woman doesn’t mean you are demure, sitting and waiting for someone to tell you to think or believe. There isn’t a uniform, or certain hairstyle, or a certain type of literature you have to read. We are all made as unique creations with our different giftings and personalities. We do our young women a disservice if we try to make them all cookie cutter copies and don’t allow them to develop the gifts that the Lord has given them. There are limitations set up in scripture and we should follow those, but we must be cautious about adding to scripture and being legalistic.

Darkness

Writing has been difficult as of late. Words don’t flow – emotions are percolating too close to the surface. I have shared in the past some of what we have been dealing with both here and here. Last night was a difficult night – I’ve had quite a few lately. It was filled with tears, raw emotions and a lack of sleep. When I awoke today, this free verse poem was floating around in my head – well, really it was stomping around and wouldn’t stop until I wrote it down. I’ve never done this before, so please don’t judge too harshly. It shares some of the emotions and feelings we have been going through for the last 50 weeks. Yes, it’s been that long. Truth be told, many days I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Darkness

My eyes open with a start!

I’m surrounded by darkness.

Where am I?

How did I get here?

I’m alone, afraid, panicking!

How do I get out?!

I just want out!!

I want to feel the sun on my face and hear the birds singing.

I hear the slow drip of water- it’s damp and cold.

Little feet are scurrying around me.

Where am I?

Why has no one come to help?

 

I move, but am aimless.

I can’t find my way in the darkness.

I feel it pressing down on me.

I stumble and fall – scraping my knee.

I cry out!

I Am! Where are you?

He is here! I can feel His presence.

I feel peace in the midst of the darkness.

 

I hear someone crying out.

Pain – torment- agony – terror!

I run toward the sound, stumbling again and again.

I Am! Help me find her!

He calms me.

I move toward the sound talking to I Am as I move.

I can’t see anything but I know that He is with me.

He reassures me – He will provide a way.

 

I reach the crying one- in a heap, covered in dirt.

The gut wrenching wailing continues.

I reach out to comfort her.

She thrashes at me,

directs all of her anger and sadness toward me.

I feel heartbreak – sadness – confusion – panic!

How can I help her?

 

I try to get her to come with me.

We must find a way out of the darkness!

She resists.

She wants to stay?!

I try to help her along but she fights me.

In the dark and dank we argue for hours.

I call to I Am.

He is there- I can feel His presence.

The battle rages on.

Eventually she trusts enough to come with me.

 

We find a tunnel and see a speck of light.

A way out!

Pulling her toward the light – still she resists.

I Am! I need strength!

Struggling with her is making me weary!

I don’t know if I can go on!!

Rest.

He wants me to rest?

The end is near! I can see the light!

Reluctantly I rest.

She rests.

 

We move toward the light –

a little less resistance.

The light!

Disappointment and despair!

This is but a crossroads-

not the end of the journey!

 

I can’t continue- the struggle is more than I can bear!

What direction do I go?

I don’t want to go back into the darkness!

Is there no other way out?

She doesn’t want to go!

She seems to like it here.

She rails against me – blames me – yells at me – fights me.

I Am! Help me!

Which way do I go?!

How do I help her?!

We bow together.

She calms.

Peace returns.

I have direction.

I step into the darkness once again – she follows.

Afraid- but at peace.

 

I don’t know how long the darkness will last.

It may never end.

I Am will be with me.

He will guide and direct me.

No matter how dark it gets – He will be there.

 

This doesn’t end with a “happy ending” because life isn’t like that. The truth is, God isn’t up in heaven saying to himself, “How can I make Lora’s life easier so that she will be happy all of the time?” He has a purpose and a plan. Sometimes that plan is raw, painful and difficult (just ask Deitrich Bonhoeffer). It has a purpose none the less. The hard part for us is to figure out how to glorify Him in the midst of the darkness. Because my purpose above all others is to bring glory to Him.

If you feel as if you are in the darkness, please share. I will pray for you. It helps me to have others to pray for, to remember I’m not the only one trying to find my way in the darkness.

Rachel re-did my blog for me! She is a great blessing and encouragement in my blogging adventures!

Trim and Healthy Sausage Pancakes- E

Today I made some yummy and filling pancakes. Breakfast is always hard for me because I don’t like to eat when I first get up. After looking in the fridge and finding some browned ground turkey I had a plan. I made the turkey into breakfast sausage and made some Trim Healthy Pancake batter (page 223 in the Trim Healthy Mama book). I’m going to share with you how I made my sausage and my sausage pancakes.

I put my pre-cooked ground turkey into a small skillet. I used a good handful of it, don’t you like my precise measurements? 😉 I added to the turkey a little water, homemade sugar-free brown sugar (Gwen has a great recipe), sage, marjoram and salt and pepper. You could add a few red pepper flakes if you like, but I’m a wimp when it comes to spicy. I cooked it on medium heat until it was heated well while my blender did the work to make my low carb/ low fat pancakes.

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 As the sausage finished up I began to heat my griddle on medium heat. I then took my sausage and put it into little piles on the griddle. I only made 3 pancakes because that was the most I could eat. I think I ended up eating a little over 2.

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I then poured my batter over the sausage. The edges took on the shape of my sausage pile so it looked more like flowers (if you’re really imaginative).

 photo THMSausagepancakes03_zps2d90c16a.jpgSince my edges all oozed together I had to take my spatula and cut through the joined places. I want you to know that we are just simple home cooks here and though we like our food photography to look nice, we want to keep it real too. Yes, I have weird looking pancakes, but they taste awesome!

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 I had only greased the griddle with a tiny bit of butter (I mean really tiny) and din’t have any issues with them sticking. Often with gluten free and different flours sticking can be a real issue.

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 These pancakes were really light and satisfying. What a great way to start the day! What do you do to your pancakes to make them special?

Cheesecake Dip & Trim Healthy Mama

For about the last year I have been seeing my friends link to recipes and testimonials from Trim Healthy Mama. I didn’t really know anything about it and one day in late July I started looking into it. I joined the Facebook group and ordered the book. The last year  of my life has been filled with many ups and downs and much sorrow. I was ready for something positive in my life. I began reading the book and trying to implement some of the things I was reading. Then we got a call we all dread and found out Gene’s step-father was dying. While on that trip Gene’s brother was testing out his new glucometer and one morning we all decided to get our blood sugar tested. This was a big wake-up call for me because my sugar level wasn’t terrible, but it was higher than I would have liked.

If you know me well, you know that I usually have a Dr. Pepper in my hand. Even after the high sugar level it took me a few weeks to get off of Dr. Pepper completely. At this point I haven’t had a soft-drink (with HFC) since the beginning of October. I actually don’t desire them any more. The only type of soft drink I have had is Vitamin Water Zero and an occasional Izze (made with fruit juice, no added sugar). I did cheat last weekend and have a drink like an Izze that had added cane juice in it, and I am still paying for that with major joint pain.

So far I have lost about 10 pounds, but I haven’t been anywhere close to faithful with the diet except on the soda front. I see now after my sugar binge this weekend that it really does play a major role in my Lyme and joint pain. I am going to be much more careful from here out. I also have some adrenal fatigue issues which may cause my loss to be slower as I heal my adrenals.

Many people think that everyone who is over-weight is obsessed with food. I even had a “friend” talk to me about it one time. She was trim but was obsessed with food and assumed my weight issues were related to my food obsession. I actually have the opposite problem. . . I could care less. It is not unusual for me to be up for 4 or 5 (or more) hours before I take my first bite of food. Often I would hardly eat all day and I rarely if ever felt hunger pains. I was just never hungry. This causes your metabolism to shut down and it stores fat instead of burning it. I now have to reverse this process through the way I eat and supplements. If I were to go to a restaurant to eat, I might be able to finish 1/2 of what they served as an entree. The biggest struggle for me is to eat. What will happen often is I forget to eat and then realize it has been over 4 hours and I panic and eat just anything because I know I need to eat. I am working on planning ahead more and having friendly foods ready and easily accessible so that I don’t blow it when I need to eat.

We do have sweets on this plan, just not with sugar. We use stevia, erythritol and xylitol to sweeten with. I will be sharing recipes that I have made and use that incorporate these sweeteners. I will also post some recipes that have sugar in them because Sarah cannot use these due to health issues.

In THM (Trim Healthy Mama) meals are classified as: S= satisfying (these are higher in fat/low in carb) E= energizing (Low in fat/ higher in carb) and FP= fuel pull (these are both low in fat and carbs and burn the most fat). My recipes will be labeled to denote which category they fall into.

Cheesecake Dip

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This recipe came about last night when Rachel offered me a snack that she had made. I think she called it cheesecake. When I tasted it I found it to be very rich, which isn’t a bad thing but I wanted to eat it with something else. I remembered about Gwen’s Low Carb Cinnamon Dippers. After baking these I sat down for my snack. Gene asked me what I had. I told him and gave him a taste. He loved it as well and asked me more than once if this was really on plan.

When I asked Rachel how she made this she said she added some of this and a dash of that. I made some today and got the measurements so I could share it with you. I hope you like and enjoy it. Let me know if you try it and if you do anything else with it.

Cheesecake Dip (Trim Healthy Mama -S)
A wonderfully satisfying sugar free cheesecake dip that makes you feel like you're cheating.
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1- 8oz package of cream cheese (we used 1/3 fat but you could use full fat or fat free)
  2. 1/2 cup of heavy cream (I'm sure you could substitute with almond or coconut milk but why would you? 😉 )
  3. 1 tsp of vanilla
  4. 2 tsp of lemon juice
  5. 3 Tblsp of Truvia
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix until combined.
Notes
  1. This is a super simple and adaptable recipe. I was thinking about the ways to adapt it and I will play with some other ideas and post them as we make them.
My Titus 2 Journey http://www.mytitus2journey.com/

I hope you enjoy the recipe and will let me know what you think of it. What ideas do you have as to how to adapt it? If you have any questions about THM, please feel free to ask.

How Do We Show Love?

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Today is Valentine’s Day and I know that most people write about love for our spouses today, but I have been thinking about a different type of love. Love for friends, family, acquaintances and the lost. Scripture tells us that we are to be devoted to one another, show love to one another, and of course, love your neighbor as yourself. We can’t forget the love chapter of 1 Cor. 13; in it we are given many examples of what love is.

Several years ago I wrote a post in which I shared some practical ways to show love. In this post I want to cover heart issues as opposed to practical suggestions. This past year has taught us many things that you can only learn through heartache, sorrow and despair.  I am still working on many of these areas as well and am learning from my own failings.

Be genuine- So many times we use the phrase “How are you doing?” as a greeting and aren’t really interested in how that person is. We would be shocked if they actually shared what is happening in their life. We live in a culture that boasts of self-sufficiency and independence which makes it difficult for people to be transparent and genuine. We need to be willing to listen to & help those who have needs and also be willing to share ours.

Be Selfless- We live in a time that everyone has their days booked and scheduled to the point that we get frustrated when someone’s needs interrupts our day. We should be on the lookout to meet the needs of others. Christ showed His compassion to many by meeting their physical needs. Shouldn’t we strive to follow His example?

Be Thoughtful- Valentine’s day (and other holidays) are special and everyone needs to be shown love on special days. We need to look to those who may not have someone in their life to show them love on these days and encourage them. I had not thought of this until I saw the example set by a family I know. They showed up at the door of a single woman from our fellowship with a bouquet of balloons to wish her happy Valentine’s day. Maybe you know a widow, widower or single adult who needs someone to show they care. Perhaps a young mom would enjoy meeting at Chick fil a to chat. Also be thoughtful and don’t put added pressure on those you are trying to minister to. For instance the young mom might prefer to meet out as opposed to you coming to her house because she would feel pressure to clean, or maybe just getting out of the house and letting the kids play on the CFA playground would be nice.

Be Encouraging- Try to catch a child doing something good when you are out and tell the parent about how well they did. Something as simple as, “Joe held the door open for me on my way into church this morning. He sure blessed me and I’m sure he blesses you too.” I fondly, with tears in my eyes, remember Mrs. Bennett. I was the only homeschooler in our church and our growing family caused great consternation for those around us. I would get the rudest & most critical comments from friends about my pregnancies. Not from Mrs. Bennett. She was about 80 years old and every time I saw her she would give me a big hug and say something about the blessing all of my children would be and how she loved big families because she came from one. Those words literally made my time at church bearable. It is hard to be different from everyone, even if you are following your convictions.

Don’t judge- Let me start out by saying, there are things we are told in scripture to judge and those are things that God has deemed sinful. We are not to be speck inspectors though. We aren’t to judge whether we think someone’s need is great enough for compassion. The rule should be that we show compassion and let God worry about the rest of it. We should never judge someone’s motives. We can judge their actions but we don’t know their hearts. For instance, we can say someone acted in a prideful (angry, rude, you fill in the blank with the adjective) manner but we cannot say the did the because of ______. We don’t know their motives. I had a woman get very angry at me and when she finally came to me she exploded in a tirade of judgment and assumptions. She was mad because I didn’t hug her on the way into church, and that I didn’t talk to her as much anymore and on and on. She then gave all of the reasons I was doing these things. When I said that my reasons were quite different, she called me a liar. What she didn’t take into account was that I was going through a lot emotionally at that time. If she had watched, she would have seen that I didn’t hug anyone (unless they came to me to hug me) because I’m just not a huggy person. We don’t know what someone is going through and it is best not to assign motives. If a person’s actions hurt you, go to them calmly and in love and ask them about it. Don’t judge and assume.

Don’t take a meal- I know that sounds crazy. Everyone knows that when a person is in need you take a meal. At least that’s how we do it in the South. I have been the recipient of countless casseroles (way too many frozen lasagnas. . . whatever you do, don’t do that) after babies, miscarriages, surgeries and during illnesses and I appreciated them all. But it also would have been nice to have a conversation. A real conversation about how I was really doing. Oh, and don’t say call me if you need anything. You call, be there, let them know you care.

Live it- In many churches I have seen that so often we spend time studying and learning about what we should do as Christians but not a lot of living it. We spend a great deal of time in busy activities that make us look good and feel good about ourselves, but what are we doing for the cause of Christ? Do the lost see our compassion? Do they feel we empathize with their pain? Or do they hear us criticize them? Make judgments about what they do? There is a passage in scripture that I seldom hear discussed. It points out that we aren’t to be judging the unsaved that’s for God. We weren’t told to judge them, we were told to love them and pray for them.

 For what is it to me to judge outsiders? Do you not judge those who are inside? But God judges outsiders. . .   1 Cor 5:12-13

As Christians we should be continuously showing love and compassion. We are to be a light to the world. Not by hammering the lost over the head, or shouting at them, but by showing them the truth in love. We should be showing the love of Christ to our brother’s & sisters in Christ as well.  We often hear 1 Cor 13 during this season of love, usually they begin at verse 4, but to me the truly telling verse is verse 1. Are you a clanging cymbal? Am I?

 If I speak the languages of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Cor 13:1-7

Homemaking Joyfully in 2014

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This last year has been a little crazy, OK, a lot crazy. We’ve had issues with Sarah; Hannah, Rachel & Caroline dealing with Chronic Lyme disease, Papaw’s death & Caroline’s emergency surgery. Needless to say, it’s not a year we want to repeat. We are starting 2014 off with an optimistic outlook.  It’s a year of new beginnings and we are looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for us.

This blog has been woefully neglected in the last year due to the aforementioned events. Our hope is to start posting what we are doing in our homemaking adventures. We will be sharing our photography, our recipes, organization and other homemaking skills/tasks, I may do a series on small space living with a large family, food budgeting, monthly shopping and money & time saving tips. 

Our food journey has taken on many different complexions over the last few years. In an effort to combat the Chronic Lyme and other auto-immune issues we have changed our diet. We believe that what you eat can drastically affect your overall physical and mental health. We have experienced this first hand. Our recipes will cover several different diets and restrictions. We will have recipes that are one or more of the following: gluten free, egg free, grain free, dairy free, corn free, soy free, sugar free, low carb, high fat, or Trim Healthy Mama

We try to keep our food as clean as possible while also keeping our budget in mind. We don’t buy organic meats, our budget just doesn’t allow for it at this time. We believe that food should be tasty, fun, affordable and pleasing to the eye as well as being good for you. 

This week I am focusing on cleaning out and organizing our middle bedroom. It is very small and for the last few months has been the room that you put things into that don’t have a home. There are no before pictures (I didn’t want to be cast on hoarders) but when I finish, I’ll post some. This room is going to be used for storage of some of our 8 million books, our craft/office supplies and is home to our deep freeze. 

Please take time to stop by our other blogs (there are links in the right side toolbar). Caroline also has her photography website. You can also find Rachel and me on Twitter.  We also have Facebook pages for our different sites.

Joyful Homemakers

My Titus 2 Journey

Lavender and Honey

Currahee Photography

What are your homemaking goals for the upcoming year? 

Homemaking Joyfully in 2014

 photo Carohospitaleditedblog_zps4e6d4a93.jpg

This last year has been a little crazy, OK, a lot crazy. We’ve had issues with Sarah; Hannah, Rachel & Caroline dealing with Chronic Lyme disease, Papaw’s death & Caroline’s emergency surgery. Needless to say, it’s not a year we want to repeat. We are starting 2014 off with an optimistic outlook.  It’s a year of new beginnings and we are looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for us.

This blog has been woefully neglected in the last year due to the aforementioned events. Our hope is to start posting what we are doing in our homemaking adventures. We will be sharing our photography, our recipes, organization and other homemaking skills/tasks, I may do a series on small space living with a large family, food budgeting, monthly shopping and money & time saving tips. 

Our food journey has taken on many different complexions over the last few years. In an effort to combat the Chronic Lyme and other auto-immune issues we have changed our diet. We believe that what you eat can drastically affect your overall physical and mental health. We have experienced this first hand. Our recipes will cover several different diets and restrictions. We will have recipes that are one or more of the following: gluten free, egg free, grain free, dairy free, corn free, soy free, sugar free, low carb, high fat, or Trim Healthy Mama

We try to keep our food as clean as possible while also keeping our budget in mind. We don’t buy organic meats, our budget just doesn’t allow for it at this time. We believe that food should be tasty, fun, affordable and pleasing to the eye as well as being good for you. 

This week I am focusing on cleaning out and organizing our middle bedroom. It is very small and for the last few months has been the room that you put things into that don’t have a home. There are no before pictures (I didn’t want to be cast on hoarders) but when I finish, I’ll post some. This room is going to be used for storage of some of our 8 million books, our craft/office supplies and is home to our deep freeze. 

Please take time to stop by our other blogs (there are links in the right side toolbar). Caroline also has her photography website. You can also find Rachel and me on Twitter.  We also have Facebook pages for our different sites.

Joyful Homemakers

My Titus 2 Journey

Lavender and Honey

Currahee Photography

What are your homemaking goals for the upcoming year? 

My Journey: 2014- My Personal Journey

I’ve shared with you some of the things I learned in 2013 and now I want to share with you the direction I’m heading on a personal level in 2014.  I’m not exactly sure what to call this, because goals just doesn’t seem to fit the bill. I guess that “My Journey” will have to do.

Gene’s work: Last September Gene switched jobs/careers. Up until 9 1/2  years ago he had been a machinist full time and built scientific equipment on the side. He was offered a job to build scientific equipment full time and has done that since then.  For many reasons he decided to go back into a machine shop to work and now his hours are vastly different. He works from the afternoon until the early morning hours usually working 10 hours a day. Since the beginning of November he has worked every Saturday and most Sundays. This can be difficult at times, but we have some goals we are trying to attain and this will help to get us there. His work schedule is also giving me a lot of “free” time which plays into many of the things I am pursuing.

Personal: I am really trying to lose some weight this year and am changing my diet to help with that. I haven’t had a Dr. Pepper or other high fructose soda since the first of October. That is the longest I have gone without them and the first time I haven’t really had a desire to drink them. I cut out most sugar back at that time as well. If I talk about what I’m eating and how I’m doing on my diet, it will most likely be on our homemaking blog. 

I am also working on several other areas like reading, organization and self-discipline at this time.

Spiritual: I have really been trying to work out my best times for Bible study/reading with Gene’s new schedule. We are all on his schedule so that we can spend as much time together as possible but that raises it’s own set of difficulties. I am planning on reading a couple of books a month that will be spiritually challenging and uplifting. As I complete them, I will share them here.

I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t read my Bible every day. My main goal is to walk in closer harmony with God. Over the last year I have learned how important it is to have continuous and open communication with the Lord. I’m working on improving in this area this year as well.

Financial: I’m not going to go into complete detail on this, but the goal we are working toward is to be debt free in two years, including our home. We would like to eventually move back to our home town to be near our aging parents, but we need to take care of this debt first.  We are sacrificing now, so that things will be better in the future.

Writing: Writing is a passion of mine and because I love it, it can feel like a luxury. I feel led to write and share what the Lord is laying on my heart, and I am working hard at spending more time doing so. My goal is for my blog to grow and if the Lord allows that in the future I am able to speak to women about the things He has taught me I would love that. The difficulty comes in being true to myself and God’s word. It is so easy to fall into the trap of writing for an audience for the sake of readership and numbers. I don’t want to be that person. I want to write in a way that reveals my heart as broken and sinful as it is. I want to be real, honest, and challenging, but always from a place of love. I hope to encourage other women to love and respect their husbands, to raise their children with grace and mercy, and to show the love of Christ to the world around them.

If you know of resources that will help me on my journey, please share them in the comments. What journey are you on and how will you get there in 2014?