This Roller Coaster of Life

I can’t believe it’s been 9 months since I last posted on here. I had such good intentions of updating, then life happened. I thought the roller coaster we were on was one with a few hills and descents- little did I know last July that just around the corner lurked a roller coaster that would rival anything I had dealt with before. Due to health issues just about all home reno has had to stop. I’ll explain more on that in a bit. Gene’s recently changed jobs, but that was for the good and we are so happy about it. We have had a lot of doctors’ appointments & a few therapy sessions. In August and September I took the girls to a combined total of 50 appointments. We stopped seeing the chiropractor in August when we realized the adjustments were causing us to have more dislocations (this may not be the case for everyone, but all 4 of us agreed on this for us). In the last 9 or so months Hannah, Rachel, Caroline, & I also started getting treatment for Fibromyalgia. We have had a few ups and downs during this time and I wanted to share some of them with you.

Sarah has been much improved in the last few months. The first struggle since her breakdown was overcoming her feeling of rejection and grieving that. The next biggest struggle was her eating. It seemed like most everything caused her stomach issues, which in turn caused extreme pain, which led to anger and lashing out. Sarah is mentally about 6, deaf, and autistic. When she begins to hurt, she doesn’t understand where it is coming from and doesn’t know how to communicate that, much like a young child. We have been doing a lot to work on her gut health with probiotics as of late and have seen tremendous strides. She is happier, more engaged, and sleeping much better. 

Caroline’s health journey has had the most ups and downs. Last summer she started by having gastro problems, trouble eating, and feeling extreme nausea- all of the time. She still has this issue but all of her gastro tests came back as normal. She has also had some neurological issues with buzzing in her head (imagine a lawnmower in your head), tinnitus, migraines, night terrors, and a type of paralysis that comes with her allergic attacks. The allergic attacks range from passing out when she smells, touches, or eats something (the list of things in this list is ever growing and we never know what new thing will cause it to happen). She has also reacted by having mild anaphylaxis (which at any time could go to full blown) and the paralysis I mentioned which will last from 30 minutes to an hour. We have seen many doctors about these issues. This week we are seeing our second neurologist and we are traveling to Jackson to see our third allergist. Many doctors will look at the symptom list and either tell you it’s not their field, they don’t recognize it, or the really wonderful ones (note sarcasm) will tell you it’s all in your head- no pun intended. She is also going to be seeing an endocrinologist and cardiologist in the near future. 

Rachel has seen huge improvements in the last 9 months. In October of 2015 we bought her a wheelchair because she was gradually getting weaker and by January of 2016 she couldn’t walk more than a few steps without collapsing. Part of this is due to POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), and part of it has a neurologic component that we haven’t pinned down yet. The neurologist initially thought she had cataplexy (part of narcolepsy) but the sleep study didn’t show that. We go back in a few weeks to see what we can determine there. She also began having a lot of neck pain last summer and began using a neck brace. In August she began PT and they helped her a great deal. By the end of it she was able to walk around with the aid of a walker. Then her aunt and uncle gave her a treadmill which helped her endurance and by Oct she was walking in a store for the first time unaided. Now she only uses the chair very rarely on a really bad pain/weakness day and she hardly ever needs the neck brace. Rachel is also having some issues that seem similar to Caroline’s allergy issues (not the passing out though) so we have been using some antihistamines with her and they seem to be helping.

Hannah has many of the same issues that Rachel and Caroline experience but sadly can take little medicine to alleviate the issues. Back in the fall the doctor put her on Claritin to try to help the issues and after taking one pill (it was gluten free) it had her in bed barely able to function for 2 weeks. Thankfully she is able to take Gabapentin for her fibro which is really helping. She has started to take some vitamins that seem to be helping, but she has to add them in very slowly. It can take two weeks to get her up to a full dose. She has to start by holding the pill, then she moves on to tasting a little and gradually increases until she is able to take the pill. We have found that by going this slowly we can often find something that causes her a reaction. Though that didn’t work with the Claritin. She is also able to take BC when she has pain (most days) and we are very thankful she is able to tolerate it. 

I was able to go to the doctor in November and was also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I suspected that I had it for years, but back when it first flared up there wasn’t really anything doctors were doing for it and it seemed manageable, so I didn’t worry about it. The doctor started me on Gabapentin as well but unfortunately I don’t respond as well as the girls do to it. For me it makes me really tired and run down feeling. I have heard from others that it causes them severe neurological issues. I will go back in a few weeks and will talk to him about some other alternatives. The day after Christmas was a very sad day for us because my mother died. She had been in declining health for 2 1/2 years. It was a very sad time, but it was good to be able to re-connect with family we hadn’t seen in so very long.

Here are some stats from the last 9 months:
Caroline: 
ER visits: 4

Hospital admissions: 1

MRIs: 2

Major Tests: 6- colonoscopy, endoscopy, swallow study, gastric emptying, gall bladder function (2) 

Rachel:

MRIs: 2

Major Tests: 2- sleep study, nerve conduction

Hannah:

ER visits: 1

Every time they go to the doctor there is usually some type of bloodwork to be done, so we wouldn’t really count that as unusual. 

This brings you up to date on our life and the wild roller coaster ride that it is. We have been truly blessed through these trying times with strengthening love for one another and seeing how God sustains us even in the most difficult of times. This slideshow is a small glimpse into our life over the last 9 or so months. I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and let me know who you are. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask and I will answer them to the best of my ability.

Blessings! 

Please Don’t Pray for God to Heal Me

I know I haven’t written in a while and my next several blog posts will give you a fuller picture as to why I haven’t. Before I get into why I don’t want you to pray for God to heal me, I want to give you a snapshot of my life at this very moment. If you are unaware Hannah, Rachel, Caroline and I all suffer with chronic Lyme and for the last 3 years Sarah’s has been recovering from a breakdown (read about that here). It’s 11:43pm, I’m sitting at my desk with most of my joints hurting in addition to an unexplained pain in my lower back that is shooting down my leg with no end in sight. I have been suffering from much more frequent Lyme attacks and many nights am unable to get to sleep until 6am because of muscle spasms, Sarah, or both. If Sarah is asleep before 3am I will be happy. Now, waiting for her to get to sleep doesn’t consist of just sitting back chilling, it is a constant battle to get her to stop screaming- and I mean screaming- blood curdling screams. The other night, she never went to sleep. I finally tapped out at 7am and Hannah took over for me. Hannah is battling extreme fatigue, muscle weakness, brain fog, confusion, difficulty communicating, and exhaustion. Rachel has been dealing with atonic seizures, general overall weakness, brain fog, and exhaustion.  Caroline has been having migraines and has hardly left her bed for two weeks. She has many of the same Lyme symptoms as Hannah as well as some others. The other day we went to a new doctor to have her checked for POTS and EDS. The doctor found an arrhythmia and did an EKG at that time. They have also run blood work and she will be going in for an echo-cardiogram and CT.   All 3 of the girls are pretty much home-bound. They each haven’t left the house more than a couple of times for anything other than chiropractor visits since Thanksgiving. 

I’m not listing all of this for sympathy, but to put the following in context for you. As of late the girls and I have had many conversations about where God has us. Due to a conversation one of the girls had with someone I have really been thinking about this. Over the past almost 5 years we have had a lot of conversations with people about our illness. Actually, it’s been longer than that. For many years before we knew what was going on they had issues and symptoms that kept them at home most of the time. 

We have heard many different comments from people over the years. Some meant to encourage, some were veiled criticism, and some were just plain unkind. Here are a few of them. 

“I think the girls just have their schedules switched around like a baby’s. If you flip it, everything will be fine.” — Referring to the girls insomnia

“I think we should all want to be at church so that we can fellowship with other believers.” — from an elder’s wife when the girls were too sick to attend for months

“There must be sin in your life, if you repent they will get well.” This comment has been made by everyone from pastor to layperson to Gene and I as well as the girls. 

“You just need to eat this/use this herb/oil/supplement/routine.” This is something often said to us by people who haven’t really taken the time to understand what is going on and who are offering us a cure all. We do have people that know what’s going on that make good/informed recommendations and are helpful.

“They don’t look sick.” or “I saw a picture of them on FB and they looked like they felt fine.” They don’t realize that because of whatever outing they were on in that picture they could be in bed for up to a week or more.

“I saw that they did _____ why weren’t they up for ______.”

“God doesn’t intend for us to be sick, if we’re doing things right, we should have good health.”

Many of these comments are meant with good intentions. They are often borne out of a lack of understanding of our circumstance and of scripture. The reality is, it’s easier for people to lay blame rather than face the reality that God doesn’t promise us an easy life. If we look at the life of our friend Job, we will see this to be true (he’s become a very good friend of mine over the last few years. If he’s not your’s, you really need to get to know and understand him). God called Job “blameless and upright”. All of the tragedy that befell him wasn’t due to his sin, though his friends said it must be (sound familiar?). Job never cursed God though people told him he should. He suffered, he agonized, he didn’t understand, he felt overwhelmed. I have felt all of those things many times over- on an almost daily basis. Yet in all of the despair, he knew God was there and in control.

The thing is, God didn’t promise me happiness, he promised me joy in Him. He didn’t say I wouldn’t have trials- He said I would and that they would bring about fruit in my life and work together for my good. He said I would be weak, but that I could find strength in Him. He said I would despair to the point of not knowing how to pray- but that the Spirit would pray for me. He never said that He wouldn’t give me more than I could handle- He will never give me more than HE can handle. 

You may be asking yourself, “Why don’t you want me to pray for your healing?” Because I want God’s perfect will for my life, as do Hannah, Rachel, and Caroline. We recognize that God has allowed this in our life for a reason- to bring glory to Him. To think otherwise would imply that God is not in control and He is. He is in control of every molecule and atom in this universe. Nothing escapes His notice, so therefore, He must have allowed this in our lives. Does that mean we sit back and do nothing? No. We treat our illnesses as best we can, but trust God for the outcome. 

Many believe that God’s main purpose is to heap blessings upon us. It’s not. Our purpose is to glorify God in all that we do and say. If I am spending my days and prayer time saying, “God, please heal me- take this away.” I’m not saying,  “God, show me your will in this and how I can best serve you through it.” To be honest, as of late my prayer has been more along the lines of, “God, I don’t know how to bear this. I am overwhelmed, exhausted and hurting. I can’t even focus to read your word or pray. Please help me! Give me the strength I need to take care of my girls. Give me the wisdom I need to help them! Forgive me where I fail you and let my fatigue and feelings of being pressed down and spent cause me to be unkind, selfish, and self-pitying.” 

So, how can you pray for us and others in similar circumstances? We need prayers in so many areas. 

You can pray for: 
                Strength, Wisdom, Sleep, Encouragement, Seeking His Will, Being Accepting of His Will, Contentment, Compassion, Patience, Joy, Peace, and so many more Godly traits. 

Every trial that has come into my life is for a purpose. I don’t pretend to understand it. And please don’t think I am above total despair- I’m not (just keepin’ it real here). I can’t count the times I have asked God to deliver me from this. To deliver my girls- as a mom it rips my heart out to not be able to help them. But God has taught me so much. I think I love them- but His love for them greatly surpasses what I can even imagine. He’s got this! I just need to be reminded of it sometimes. 

This song is our hymn of the month at church. God knew it was exactly what I needed. I hope that you will be blessed by it as well. 

 

A Break in the Storm

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We are rejoicing that there is a break in the storm that has been in our lives for the last year! The Lord has been so faithful! I don’t want to give the impression that He is faithful because the storm is breaking, He was faithful when the storm was at it’s worst. He was there to calm the stormy seas that were about to topple us, not by removing the storm, but by helping us through it.

Sarah has been on the SCD diet for almost a month now and she is showing great signs of improvement. Since I first wrote about putting her on the diet I have done more research and made further changes. One of the things we have eliminated is all dairy. Apparently dairy can work like a narcotic on the brain of an autistic child. I can believe it. Since we have taken her off of cheese she has behaved like an addict about it. We finally had to duct tape the cheese bin shut so that she would not be able to steal it before we could get to her. In the last few days we have had to remove eggs as well. We were suspecting that they were causing some issues and I did some research on them and found out that many who are negatively affected by dairy and gluten are also affected by eggs. This article was very interesting on the subject.

In the last week it is as if a fog has lifted from her brain. She is alert and you can see clarity when you look into her eyes. She will tell you what she wants and answer questions (sometimes). She is much more attentive and is paying attention to things. She has become interested in her surroundings and is actually focusing on movies, coloring and conversations. For the past year she would just sit stimming for most of the day seemingly staring into space. We still have a lot to overcome. If you ask her what she wants, needs or is upset about her first response will be, “I don’t know”. If she initiates it though, she has very precise desires. I found that out on a recent shopping trip. Her favorite color is yellow and she wanted a yellow hand towel to match her bath towel. I was fine with that, but then she started getting towels of every color of the rainbow to put in the cart. It took everything I had and a few tears on her part, to get out of there with only 2 towels.

We want to thank all of you who have been praying for her over the last year. It means more to us than you can know. We still covet your prayers as we now have to go through the stage of re-establishing boundaries and getting her on a schedule and getting some semblance of normalcy in our life. I’m sure there will be times of regression, they are to be expected. Today I feel more confident in her prognosis than I have all year. We are so thankful for the Lord’s provision and direction in all of this.

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Making Hard Decisions

Last night as I was typing up my post I got the kind of phone call we all dread. My brother called me to tell me that my mother had fallen in a hospital parking lot (actually she was blown over by a strong wind) and had broken her hip. I was faced with some hard decisions. My parents live a 6 hour drive from us, so that makes things complicated. For some people picking up and going at the drop of a hat isn’t a big deal. For us, it’s a big deal. I have two daughters who can’t eat anything other than what we prepare, and we have to make all of our food in advance. The last few times we have gone Hannah and I have pulled all nighters preparing several days worth of food, for 6 people with 3 different food restrictions/diets.

As moms we all have many decisions that we have to make every day. What meals to cook, what errands to run, how to do school. . . the list is endless. Some decisions are easier than others. Trying to decide what to do about traveling was making me physically ill. I don’t know about you, but I hate to feel like I’m letting someone down and not living up to their expectations of me.

As I tried to decide what to do several things were weighing on me.

Sarah- I’ve shared about her trials here, here, and here. Just last night I was up with her all night. Caroline relieved me at 8 am and Sarah finally fell asleep at 8:30am and slept for a few hours. Right now Sarah sleeps well about every third night. Sleeping well means that she is asleep sometime between 12 am-2 am and waking between 5am-8am. We just started her on the SCD diet and are starting to see some results. A trip might throw a wrench into things as she tends to regress after a trip or any additional stress.

Hannah- has been battling Lyme which presents in her differently than the rest of us. She has vestibular hyperacusis which can cause her to have anxiety issues, which can in turn lead to bouts of depression. These are chemical issues that we are treating, but it has flared to a severe level lately like it has only one time before. I have been staying up at night keeping watch over her. She often wakes between 4-6am having a mild panic attack and needs someone to be with her. Since we have added some supplements to help with this she is doing better, but they are not completely effective yet.

Rachel- has been battling her Lyme which can present with atonic seizures and many other symptoms. She has to take things easy a lot, though she tries to do as much as she can when she is up to it. She has written about her Lyme here, here and here.

Caroline- has also been battling Lyme, her symptoms have started getting more severe in the last few months. She has a lot of fatigue and brain fog. She has also been battling her asthma  a lot lately.

Gene- works long hours and has been working 6-7 days a week since last September. Between my schedule and his, we are getting to see each other occasionally on Sundays and about an hour and a half before he goes to bed.

Right now my sleeping schedule has roughly been 8 am – 2 pm. As I was going to bed this morning I got a text telling me that my mom’s surgery was happening in just a few minutes. At that point I was too exhausted and emotionally drained to think about what to do. I prayed before I went to sleep wanting some direction. It took me a while to fall asleep but once I got to sleep I rested well. When I awoke, I knew the decision I needed to make. We already have a trip planned to see all of our parents for Memorial Day weekend, so I decided to wait until then to go home.

This decision wasn’t easy, but I knew it was the right one. Often there will be demands coming at us from all directions. All of these things may seem urgent and like something we must do. It helps me to stop and think about my priorities. Right now the most important thing for Gene, the girls and me is to get Sarah better. We will sacrifice most anything for that to happen. So as I weighed out making a rushed trip, lots of long hours and the stress this would put on Sarah and the other girls (I knew that if we did this, there was a high probability that the girls would be in bed for up to 2 weeks after, trying to recuperate) I decided that the cost was too high. Going by myself wasn’t an option due to Sarah needing my constant attention. I also didn’t feel that I could juggle Sarah’s needs and the other girls while on the road alone.

Was this decision hard? You bet, but once I made it I knew it was right. I decided to stop beating myself up because I can’t be everything to everyone. I have made the wrong decision plenty of times, and my whole family has paid the price. It is so easy to fall into the trap of doing a lot of good things and pushing yourself harder than you should. It is important to know your priorities, which will help you not over-commit.

Choices come in different forms, whether to let the kids play ball, or take a class, to go on a trip or commit to something at church. All should be weighed according to the responsibilities God has given to you. We need to be good stewards of our time, just like we are with our money. I have also learned to sleep on such decisions before I make them. Things always seem clearer after sleeping on them.

Over the last 30 years I have made the wrong decision many times. I have worked over the years to streamline our commitments and to focus on our priorities, but I don’t always get it right. Everything we have been going through in the last year has really helped me solidify my priorities. My hope is that when life gets back to normal (whatever that is), that I will continue to be diligent in guarding our time and making the right decisions for it.

How do you make the tough decisions? How do you know you are making the right one?

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 A Wonderful Life

One of our family Christmas traditions is to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” together.  This year as we watched it together many thoughts came to me.  Maybe it is because of the economic climate and the realization that many are having a very hard time this year, or maybe it’s just because I’m getting older that I saw the movie through a different light.  I see so many parallels in this movie to our Christian walk, and it was a much needed reminder that my life, no matter how humble, is really quite wonderful.

George Bailey always had a plan for how he wanted to live his life, which included travel, adventure and excitement.  He saw Bedford Falls as a sleepy, boring town that constrained him. He wanted to do something important. Don’t we want this?  I know that I do.   I often see others’ lives as important or exciting and see the life they lead as somehow better or more important than mine.  In reality, I have been placed in this life, to serve the purpose that God has for me.  When all the girls are having asthma trouble, the nights get long, and my work seems never ending, I can feel overwhelmed.  I see my life as mundane and unimportant.  As I begin to pray for encouragement, the Lord reminds me that He has placed me here. He has me going through this circumstance to help me to grow to be more Christ-like.  The role He has given each of us is important.  We only need to serve Him faithfully and work to bring about His purposes.One of George’s greatest character traits was his unselfishness. When there was a run on the bank, in order to keep the Savings & Loan afloat he used his own money to help others out. I know that selfishness is a battle we must all fight.  One of the greatest things I have learned through being a mother of many, and one with special needs, is to set my own wishes aside.  Like George, I often don’t set out to do this and may even resent doing it.  With time I am learning to set aside my desires, and the way I am able to do this without having resentment is by realizing I am doing the task in service to the Lord. When I try to do things with other motives, it always seems to bring about frustration and resentment.  When I see every task as a service to Him, it seems that the frustration and resentment melt away.

Mary Bailey was great at making lemonade out of lemons.  When the money for her honeymoon was gone and George had spent the day saving the Savings & Loan, Mary could have built up resentment toward George and their circumstances.  Instead, she made the best out of a bad situation.  She put her own desires aside and looked for creative ways to serve George and to make their honeymoon special.  We often put pressure upon ourselves to have everything “just right.” We especially heap these expectations upon ourselves during the holidays.  On Christmas Eve as I was cooking our holiday meal and things began to go wrong, I started to feel that pressure. The three younger girls had been down with asthma & colds, and Lindsay was the only one who was able to help me prepare the meal. Then mid-afternoon, she realized she had the flu.  I sent her to bed and continued cooking.  For a while I let the pressure of trying to have everything “just so” get to me.  As the feelings of frustration and defeat began to take hold, I began praying.  I realized that I was taking the burden of the holiday being special on my shoulders, and I felt it’s success or failure rested wholly on me.  It was only when I began to realize what made the holiday special was our time together and enjoying one another, was I able to relax and enjoy the day.  I still had a good deal of work to do, but when I saw it as serving my Lord and my family, it became a joyful task instead of a burden.

As George’s life went on, he became more and more dissatisfied with his circumstances. He seemed to always be wishing for something other than what he had.  Discontentment is a joy robber.  When we are discontent, we are truly being ungrateful. We are saying to God, “I know that these are the circumstances that you have given me, but I would really like to be somewhere else. ”  Think on that for a moment.  We are telling the God of the universe that we have a better plan.  I cannot count the number of times I have done this very thing, and not even subtly.  I have flat out said that I had a better plan.  It makes me cringe to think of it.  How often do we ask God to deliver us from our current circumstances, when we should be looking to see what He is trying to show us.  Through many trials the Lord has shown me so many truths. I look back on my life and see the various trials I have gone through, not with regret or remorse, but with a thankful heart.  I feel blessed that the Lord has seen fit to show me His mercies and truths.

Times of despair will come to all of our lives, just as they did to George’s.  Often they are not of our own doing, just as George’s desperation wasn’t through any fault of his own.  Where do we turn when those times of despair come?  Who or what do we lean on? When we first found out that Sarah had medical problems, all we were told was that her head wasn’t growing.  Because we had no health insurance we had to wait for three months to see a neurologist.  I knew enough to know that if her head wasn’t growing, but her brain was, there were serious issues. All of this sent me into the pit of despair.  I had nowhere to turn, no one with any answers, except God.  I did a lot of praying during those three months.  When we finally did see the neurologist, the news was not good.  We were told to institutionalize Sarah, because she would never walk or talk and would basically be vegetative.  At those words the bottom fell out of my pit.  It felt as if the world were crushing in around me.  The only thing that got me through it all was the knowledge that God was in control.  I knew that He had me in His hand, and that nothing would happen that He wouldn’t help me to handle.  That doesn’t mean it was easy. Each day had a great many struggles, but I made it through each day.  He gave me the grace and mercy to make it through each hour, but He only gave me the grace I needed for that moment.  I learned a great deal about faith , and with each step I learned to have faith that He would be there to hold me up for the next step.

At the end of the movie Harry makes a toast to George saying, “To my big brother George, the richest man in town!”  Harry was right, George was rich . . . in everything that mattered. This is such a wonderful picture. Mr. Potter, who had all the worldly riches a man could desire, had none of the riches that really mattered. He may have lived in comfort, but he was bitter and lonely.  George, while poor in the things of this world, had love, family, and friends.The jewel of life that matters most can’t be purchased for any amount of gold.  That jewel is what Christmas is all about.  It is the redemption that was bought for us through the birth, death and resurrection of Christ.  As the decorations and lights come down, please think about the meaning behind your life and who you have served through it.  Though you may be rich or poor in the things of this world, at the end of time only one jewel will matter, that is the jewel of Christ Jesus.  If you would like to understand this better, please read this article.

The Month of March

This last month has been rather crazy…. yes that’s the word for it. Many ups and downs and surprises happened along the way. March 1st I took Lindsay, Rachel and Caroline to some area historical sites to take pictures. We first went to the Katy Historical Village. This village has several old homes, an old post office and a WWII era mess hall that have been moved to the site and now are re-furbished as historical sites. It was a beautiful day and many of the flowers were beginning to bloom.

After the historic village we went over to a place in Old Katy that had an old caboose. We took a few pictures of the caboose and a beautiful fruit tree that was in bloom.

We then went to the old train depot which is also a museum. The museum was closed, but we hope to visit it soon. This is where the fun really began.

As I took my last picture I heard Caroline walking up behind me, when I turned around she was pale, looking as if she might faint; all the while holding her arm. Her lips began to turn white and she started saying it was hard to see. She had tripped on the cobblestones and fell on her arm. She was in severe pain and later told me she didn’t remember most of the ride home. After we came home Gene and I discussed what needed to be done, and decided I would take her to an urgent care clinic nearby. When they X-rayed her arm, it turned out that she had green-stick fractures in both bones. They couldn’t cast her at the clinic, putting her in a splint instead. She hardly slept that night even after taking Tylenol with codeine. The next Monday Gene & I took her to the orthopedist to be casted. He told her it would take 4 weeks for her arm to heal. Here she is a couple of days after she received her cast.

Tune in over the next few days to find out how the rest of month went.

September 20, 2007

The stomach bug hasn’t completely left the house as of yet, but those who are affected are showing signs of improvement. I’m just hoping that Gene doesn’t come down with it; tonight he was looking a little peaked.

My outside work has been very rewarding this week. Sunday evening Lindsay and I weeded the much overgrown herb bed. While doing so we came across a sweet basil plant that had grown from the seeds dropped last year. What a pleasant surprise. We lost a lot of our mint, as it’s extremely hard to weed around. I’m not worried about it though; I know it’ll be back with a vengeance. It’s amazing what a little water will do for your plants. I had been quite neglectful in this area (I’ll blame it on the fact that we had so much rain early in the summer) and most of my plants reflected it. I put additional dirt in my hibiscus’ pot and watered it quite well, and now it is thriving. My new mums are beginning to bloom and my roses are producing new buds each day.

Things inside the house have gone more slowly this week due to the stomach bug, but I plan on putting a lot of time into it this weekend. I’m hoping to do some fall decorating along with the de-cluttering. If I’m able, I’ll post some picture of the outcome.

Well, as I was writing this, another mini-crisis occurred. I was up quite late with girls with asthma problems, when we noticed that the A/C wasn’t blowing much air at all. What air it was blowing, was barely cool. When I opened the top of the unit, I found it covered with ice. This is not a good thing. I unfortunately had to wake Gene. How I hated to do that, but I didn’t know the procedure for a frozen A/C. He told me what to do for it, until we can get someone out next week and as of this writing, I am blow-drying the unit. The time is now 3:19am. Hopefully it won’t take too long, but it was frozen on both sides of the cooling unit, so I may be at this for a while. Thankfully, all of my girls are pretty self-sufficient and they will let me sleep late in the morning

Here are some pictures from around the yard, I hope that you enjoy them.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by, and have a wonderful weekend.

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