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! 

Looking Back- 2014

This last year has been one of changes and growth for our family. It started out with our family being in a very hard place. We had been dealing with Sarah’s breakdown for 9 months and it was taking a toll on us all. A year later we are still dealing with it, but we are in a much better place spiritually and emotionally.

In 2014 we confirmed what I had  suspected for years, Sarah is autistic. It plays a great role in her breakdown and inability to handle the great rejection that was placed upon her.  We have learned so much in the last year about how diet can help or hinder her autism. Sarah now eats gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free and low sugar foods. She also avoids artificial preservatives, colorings and additives. This has put us on a huge learning curve as to how diet, nutrition and medications affect her.We found out that some foods are like a drug to Sarah and she is addicted to them just like an addict is to drugs. We also found out the hard way how something as simple as rice can send her to a place you don’t want to go.  Sarah has been off of her seizure meds for over a year now and hasn’t had a single breakthrough seizure. She used to have them whenever she didn’t sleep enough, but she has had some nights with no sleep and still no seizures. We are working on getting her on a decent sleep schedule which hopefully will allow me to get to sleep before 4:30am (sometimes it’s 10am).  

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Gene has been working 10 hrs a day (before dawn to late afternoon) 7 days a week since July only having a couple of days off during that time until last week at Christmas. When he did have a day off he was on the road to Louisiana (more on that in a bit). Hannah, Rachel & Caroline have been such a blessing to me during this time. I couldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for them and I wouldn’t have gotten any sleep. Thankfully, when I can’t stay awake any more they can usually take over for me. Though there were several days where I only had an hour of sleep a day for several days in a row. Thankfully we seem to be past that and boy am I thankful. 

From August until October things with Sarah were off the charts crazy (that’s when I got little to no sleep) but things have evened off greatly. Sarah is much more cooperative and has improved greatly since then. We still have a few days of craziness when her hormones flair, but she is much better than during those 3 months. 

Sarah is improving in obedience and awareness of others, though there is still much work to be done. We are so thankful for what the Lord has shown us in this area. A year ago I wanted the “old Sarah” back. This year I am much more realistic about it (more on what the Lord has taught me in a subsequent post). Now she is the new and in some ways improved Sarah. I would say she is at about 75% of where she was. I think it will probably be harder for her to trust others in the future. It’s hard for anyone to learn to trust again after being hurt in such a way. 

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I can see a great deal of spiritual growth in the girls this last year. They have been my right hand and my left. They have encouraged me when I am discouraged and helped me greatly when Gene is working. They are each battling Lyme and are at different stages of treatment. Hannah and Rachel are both seeing progress with their treatment. Caroline will be starting back on hers after the first of the year.

The last half of the year has been prepping for a move back to the town in Louisiana where Gene and I grew up. We hope to be moving back in early  spring, Lord willing. Gene has already made a couple of trips up there with boxes and will make a couple of more before the big move. Last Sept it seemed like spring would take forever to get here, but now that it’s a mere 12 weeks away, it seems awfully close and there is just so much to do. 

We’re ending our year on a very special day as we do every year.Today Gene and I will be celebrating our 31st wedding anniversary. I am so thankful to be married to the man I am! He is above gracious and understanding with me. He has been a rock for me during these difficult times and I am so blessed to have him here to help me. 

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As our year wraps up I look back and thank the Lord for every day in it. He has taught us to rely on Him, to rest in Him, and to trust in His faithfulness (I will share more on that in a following post). We have been blessed beyond measure and the Lord has given us what we have needed moment by moment. I pray that this new year will find you seeking the One from whom all blessings flow. 

 

 

 If you’d like to read more about what’s been going on with Sarah, this link will give you all of the articles I have written on her.  

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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Lies Women Believe– Introduction

Last week I mentioned that we would be starting an online Bible study this week on my FB page. This week we will be discussing the Introduction to “Lies Women Believe”.

Satan using lies to trip us up is one of his oldest and most used ploys. It began in the garden with Eve. The lies we are told are usually not big whopper lies, but lies that are 85% truth with just 15% of it being a lie. Our believing the lies that we are told keeps us from having the productive and abundant life that we have been told are ours as His children. I don’t mean abundant as in material possessions, but in the fruits of the Holy Spirit. If we are feeling defeated by our circumstances fruits like joy and peace are going to be far from us.

Recently I have been through some tough things that made me feel as if I was in a bottomless pit. I couldn’t see how to get out. The darts of lies were flooding my spirit constantly. Through the early days of that trial I spent countless hours in the Word and prayer. It took a few days but it became clear which were the lies and which were the truth. When I focused on the truth I felt a peace I couldn’t comprehend. The lies brought about doubt and confusion.

I don’t want to minimize things and make it sound as if once that week was over, things were great. They weren’t and still aren’t. We are still dealing with this and probably will be for a while. Are things better? A ton! But the trial is still here and the Lord is continuing to teach us through it. Daily we pray for wisdom, not for the next week, but for the day. I can’t tell you how many times I would pray for the Lord to give me wisdom for the day, and He would. Honestly, I would often forget I had prayed for that wisdom and when a realization would come to me someone in my family would remind me that I had prayed for wisdom and that the Lord was hearing me and answering my prayers. I think that is often one of the lies that is spoken to us, that God really isn’t listening to us.  He is and He is answering in His time and in His way.

I don’t know if you have ever dealt with someone who lies to you, but once you know that you have been and are being lied to it seems to be freeing. At least it is to me. It helps me tremendously to know the type of person I’m dealing with and what I have in them. If we learn to recognize the lies that are being told to us, the truth will become more clear and we will be able to combat the lies.

If you’re reading along with us (and even if you aren’t) share your thoughts. I’d love to hear them. Drop by my FB page and join the conversation as well.

Time For New Beginnings

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For a while I have been wanting to get back to writing but the Lord has been putting things in my path to prevent that. I am now at a place where I feel the freedom to write and with Gene’s blessing am starting on this adventure once again. In the last year the Lord has shown me many things, though it has taken great hardship and many trials to learn the lessons He has had for me. He has reminded me of the ministry He has given to me of serving my family, and how that should be my primary focus.

Though my primary focus is my family the Lord has also called us to be a light into the world and to encourage one another. That is the purpose of this blog. I chose the name, “My Titus 2 Journey”, because my life has been exactly that. He has taken me on a journey that has taken me through many dark valleys, but also some glorious and amazing mountain tops. I want to share the things He has taught me and is continuing to teach me as I go on this journey. The picture in my header is one that I took on our 25th anniversary trip to San Antonio. It is one of the walkways in front of the Alamo. When I look at it, it looks like a walkway you would travel through to start a grand adventure. While our lives may not be fraught with the adventures of Bilbo Baggins or the other Hobbits, our life is still a grand adventure full of unexpected twists and turns. Our ultimate goal should be serving Christ as we go through our days looking at every experience to see what He is trying to reveal of Himself to us.

 I hope to encourage women to be who they are in Christ and to follow the model of Titus 2 in this endeavor. I will be trying some new things as I begin again. One of the new things will be an online Bible study through the My Titus 2 Journey Facebook page. The first one will start on Aug. 5th. I will post more details about it tomorrow.

Please leave a comment and let me know how you are doing. If there is a specific topic you would like to discuss, let me know and I’ll consider a post about it.

May the Lord’s face shine upon you today!

In The Midst Of The Storm

As we were all getting into the van tonight after being out for the eveing, we noticed a storm was brewing. Lightning was flashing across the sky as we all scrambled to get into the van. For a while it seemed as if it was just going to be lightning and wind threatening us. About 20 minutes into our 45 minute drive the bottom fell out of the sky. As the minutes went by the rain began to come down harder and harder. The rain became so hard that you could hardly see the car in front of you, and it began to hail. As the hail was bouncing off of the roof and hood of the van we could barely hear each other talk. The hail lasted a little over 5 minutes, but at the time it seemed as if it was an eternity. The rain kept pounding. As we came to a stretch in our journey where the road is surrounded by fields and there are no houses or businesses, the sky became extremely black. It seemed as if the sky was pressing down on us as the rain continued to pour. It felt lonely, as if we would never see the light again. Gradually we could see hints of light, and the rain began to abate. As we came to an area that is peppered with businesses the rain stopped. The shiny appearance of the road and the signs still wet from the rain gave everything a clean, new appearance. I began to relax from the tenseness that had built up in riding through the storm. I could still see lightning in the distance, and the possibility of another storm coming, but for that moment there was peace.

As I contemplated the storm and all of the emotions it brought along, I began to think of storms that I have had in my life, and of friends who are in the midst of their own storms right now. Often we can look ahead of us and see a storm brewing, with situations resembling lightning flashing in the distance. As the storm comes closer we can feel the wind blowing against us, then the rain begins to fall. Sometimes the rain gradually gets worse and sometimes it comes in an instant downpour. We can’t stop the storm, keep the lightning from flashing, the wind from blowing or the rain from falling. What matters most is what we do when the inevitable storms do come upon us.

Did we prepare for the storm when we saw the first hints of it. Did we ground ourselves in God’s word and go to Him in prayer, or did we think we could handle things just fine on our own? When we began to see things getting worse did we ask for Godly counsel and spend even more time in study and prayer, or did we continue trying to handle things on our own? As the storm became seemingly unbearable did we cower in the corner hoping it would pass quickly, or did we search for His truth and pray for wisdom in how to handle the situation, trusting that God was in control at all times?

When we are in the midst of the storm it is important to remember that we are not on a ship being tossed about on the waves without anyone to guide and steer us. We have only to take the time to read His word, turn our eyes toward Him, and ask for wisdom.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
James 1:2-8 (ESV)

Lessons Learned Through Tough Times

When I got married I had the typical fairy tale view that life would get nothing but better for me as time went on.  I’m sure that is what most women feel on their wedding day.  I had lived the typical upper-middle class life in America and expected that it would continue, only getting better with each passing day.  The Lord had other plans for me though, and many other lessons for me to learn.

The first year of our marriage went well, like the first year in most marriages.  I became pregnant a few months after we were married and I had Lindsay 16 days after our first anniversary and 9 days before my 21st birthday.  Things went well most of the second year as well… then August came along.  After August 1985, Gene and I pretty much decided we would skip that month in the future.  At this time I was working full-time during the day, and Gene worked nights.  That was hard on us, but I felt that I just needed to be a “real person” and I wanted more “things”, so I got a job. (I won’t even go into all the sin issues behind this, trust me, there wasn’t a reason I was working that wasn’t based in sin)

Because I had a job, I then wanted a new car ( ever read “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”?).  Through some unbelievable circumstances we were able to buy my car at a very good price.  We went to pick it up on my lunch hour from the bank.  I got off work about 30 minutes after Gene went to work. Before I picked up Lindsay from daycare I was going to go show my brand- spanking new car to my little brother.  As I was driving down a street I had driven down hundreds of times, I was blindsided. A teenager had run a stop sign while speeding and hit my car, turning it and, pushing it over a stop sign.  I had some cuts and scrapes and hurt my shoulder pretty good, but I could walk.  One of the people offered to let me come in and use their phone to call Gene. Gene was at work, talking to some of his friends about the great deal he had just gotten on my new car, when I called him crying, saying, “The car is totaled.”  At first he thought I was laughing, then he realized I was crying.  Due to the injuries I suffered I wasn’t able to pick up anything for two weeks, which meant I couldn’t work.

The insurance of the driver who hit me provided me with a rental car, which on my first day back at work promptly broke down at the daycare center when I was picking up Lindsay.  That night Gene went back to work after coming home for dinner.  My little brother and I were on the phone for a while talking, and afterward I called Gene to ask him to bring home some milk. Gene didn’t come to the phone, his boss did.  He told me Gene was at the hospital going into surgery and that they had been trying to reach me.  He had cut his Achilles tendon in half and they were trying to repair it.  My brother picked me up, and my parents met me at the hospital and took Lindsay home with them.  It was a very long and painful night for Gene.  They had to give him a spinal because he had just eaten, which caused him to have terrible headaches.  I called into work the next day and explained the situation to my supervisor, then on Wednesday, while I was at the hospital with Gene, my boss called me and said that if I wasn’t at work the next day I would lose my job.  Gene was getting out of the hospital the next day, and everyone else in our families had to work, so I told them to fire me, which they did.

Gene’s injury and recovery were painful and very difficult on a number of levels for us.  First I was now out of a job, and Gene’s pay was cut to about 75% of what it had been.  If I remember correctly, at that time he was making about $7.50 an hour. His recovery took several months and for a long time we didn’t know how much disability he would have in that leg.  The Lord was protecting us though.  The general surgeon they tried to get in was unavailable, so they called in an orthopedic surgeon.  He would have had a much greater disability if the general surgeon had tried to repair the tendon.  He also came quite close to cutting through the main artery in his leg, but the wire stopped just short of it.  Gene was off of work until January.  During this time we had been working closely with our mortgage company about our payments.  The deal we had worked out was that we would pay the principle only.  About this time there was a huge shake up in the Savings & Loan industry, as well as a impending oil crash on the horizon.  One day around Christmas, I received a phone call from the Savings & Loan that held our mortgage (which was now being restructured) and told that I had to pay all of the back interest, within a few days.  I had found another job, but Gene was still on disability pay and there was no way we had the money pay all of that interest.  We worked out a deal where we could sign our house back over to the bank.

Signing our house back over to the bank just after our second anniversary seemed like one of the most humiliating things I could go through.  I really didn’t think things would get worse, but they could.

Gene went back to work in January, and later in the month, Lindsay got a very bad case of strep throat.  I had no one to take care of her, so I had to stay home with her for a week and was let go because of it.  It was at that time that we decided I needed to be at home. These experiences helped me see that I would never choose a job over my family. The Lord also showed me how important my role of being at home was.  Through that second dose of humiliation, and it was humiliating to get fired again, He was showing me that my materialistic desires were sinful. He wasn’t done with me by a long shot, I still had many more lessons in the area of materialism, but I was beginning to see the light as far as my role as a wife and mother.

In April of 1986 Gene’s company began massive layoffs.  He made it through the first round, but not through the second.  Right after this my grandfather passed away. I felt like the walls were caving in around me at times, but I knew the Lord would see us through this valley… somehow.

In early May we decided to move to Little Rock where Gene’s sister lived in the hopes that the job market would be better.  We were there for 3 months, and he was unable to find a job. In September we moved to Dallas and stayed with my brother for a few weeks until we could get an apartment.  Gene looked and looked for a job, but couldn’t find one.

In early December we went to cash our unemployment check, and found that what we thought would be a $200 check, was only $75.  We were heartsick, and panicked.  We didn’t know what we would do. Gene’s unemployment had run out, and we had no money.  His mom and step dad brought a truck and helped us move back to Bossier City.  We moved in with my parents, and Gene soon found a job.

Those 16 months were incredibly tough on us in many ways. The Lord taught us many great lessons during those months, refining who we were.  He helped us to see what was truly important and what wasn’t, and He brought us closer together as a family.  We had to depend on the Lord, and each other for encouragement and strength. We found out that happiness, contentment and joy are not brought to us through houses, cars, and jobs.  They only come from depending on the Lord for everything.

To this day, 23 years later, I still remember what I had to spend to run the house each week.  It was $35 for the three of us.  It wasn’t a lot, but we never went hungry, and for that I am thankful.  So many people today take the verses in Matthew 6 about God providing for us out of context.  They look at God as a big Santa Claus assuming that because they are Christians they will have food, clothing and shelter.  These verses are telling not to be worried about them; not to let them consume our lives. The thought that God is up in heaven just wanting to bless our socks off in material ways is a thought process borne out of sinful desires.  Does the Lord love those of us here in America more than our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia, the Sudan or China?  Do any of them go without what we consider to be “necessities”?

Times are economically tough right now, not just in America, but all over the world.  This is a great opportunity for introspection and self-examination.  What is the Lord trying to show us individually as we go through these tough times?  For our family, financially, things are going well.  But, I remember how quickly things can change.  Because of what I went through all those years ago, I am acutely aware that I’m not promised anything for tomorrow. Not Gene’s job, our house, our health,  or our lives.  We need to thankful for the many blessings that we have, and empathetic for those going through a tough time.  I remember how completely out of control things felt, and were.  I realized that even though they were out of my control, God was always in control.  This lesson has helped me to lean on Him when things seem chaotic.  I have to be reminded not to worry, and I still battle with trying to take control, but then I remember all that He has done.

I was reading in Joshua the other day about how the Lord had the Israelites  pile stones as a remembrance of what He had brought them through.  I think it’s important for us to take time to reflect and remember all the many things He has done for us, the most incredibly the gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ.

If I can be thankful, even during the darkest hour, it helps me greatly. I love the story of Betsie & Corrie ten Boom’s thankfulness for the fleas. Betsie kept encouraging Corrie to be thankful to God, even in the midst of the horrors of the concentration camp.  We can be thankful that while times may be tough, and uncertain, we are spared from many horrors that our brothers and sisters in Christ are facing today.

I’d love to hear what the Lord has taught you through a tough time.

Recent Life In Our House

Well, it’s 2 am and I am watching Fellowship of the Ring with Hannah, Rachel & Caroline, and listening to Lindsay cough uncontrollably in her bedroom.  In the last 24 hours the girls have had about 6 breathing treatments for their asthma, we have done several steam treatments tonight, countless doses of medicine, and hot tea by the gallon.  Sarah, the child that though she has special needs is rarely sick, even has an upper respiratory infection.  Gene seems to be getting over his URI, and I hope it stays away for a while.  Me, well, I’m not sick, I’ve just been running like crazy trying to keep up with everything that needs to be done (and quite honestly, I’m not succeeding).  I have started about 5 blog posts, which are currently waiting to be finished.

The opening to this post isn’t very cheery, but in all honesty, it’s not as depressing as it all may sound.  The Lord is teaching us all a great deal through this trial, and for that, I am very thankful.  Our holidays, while not full of activities, parties, and excitement, were full of meaningful times and expressions of love for one another.   For Christmas it is our common practice to have the girls draw another sister’s name, and they are given a certain amount of money to buy that sister a gift, or gifts.  They look forward to this with great anticipation, not looking forward to what they will get, but toward what they will give.  They spend countless hours in thought and preparation of their gift.  This year something spontaneous happened that surprised me.  The girls individually began spending their own allowances to buy small things to make for the sisters whose names they didn’t draw.  I know of many people who eschew gift giving at Christmas because of the belief that it causes greediness and the desire to get more and more.  In our family I have found the opposite to be true. The girls are appreciative of the gifts they receive, but generally have trouble even telling you what they want as gifts.  We have tried to nuture in them a desire to be cheerful givers whenever the opportunity arises, and we have seen good fruit from this thus far.December 31st, was our 25th wedding anniversary and Gene planned a big surprise for me.  On Wednesday evening, December 17th, Gene told me that first thing Thursday morning we would be heading out for a trip to San Antonio.  I have wanted to go for years, and love history, so this was the perfect surprise for me.  I was so excited to get to go to the Alamo after hearing about it for so many years. This may sound strange, but it was all I could do to not start crying as I entered the building for the first time. The realization of what had taken place there was heavy upon my heart.  The grounds of the Alamo are beautiful; it is hard to believe that they are right in the center of the city.

After the Alamo we went and checked into our Bed & Breakfast before going to the Riverwalk. It was a beautiful little B&B right on the river.  It was so peaceful and beautiful. It was quite overcast the two days we were there, which gave the city an unusual feel.  The river was beautiful, as was the boat ride down it.  As I was riding on the river, in the fog, under all of the bridges, it felt as if I was in London.  Once the sun went down and all of the Christmas lights came on, it was even more beautiful on the river.  I felt as if I was a child in a wonderland of lights.  After walking along the river for a while, we then at dinner at Boudro’s.  The food was amazing, and the bread pudding was a great end to the meal.  It was nice to eat on the riverwalk, watching the people as they walked by.  After we walked a while longer we went back to the van.  Gene knows how I love to take pictures, so he took me by the Alamo, so that I could get pictures at night.  It was an amazing site to see it with the lights illuminating it’s historic walls.  The next morning we ate breakfast at the B & B and then drove through a historic district nearby.  After a quick stop at the Buckhorn Museum downtown, we headed home.  The trip was wonderful for me, as it gave me a much needed break from the holiday rush.  It was nice to spend a day not thinking about all that I had to do to finish preparing for the holidays.  I don’t know that I have ever been so completely able to lay my thinking and planning aside.

San Antonio Album 1

San Antonio Album 2

San Antonio Album 3

Lindsay went to Little Rock the afternoon we returned from San Antonio for the wedding of some friends.  While there she was able to stay with Gene’s sister and to see her cousin’s new baby.  She had a wonderful trip, but picked up a bug on the return plane ride.

We had a very subdued but nice Christmas enjoying a lot of time together, with us all playing the new Wii together when the girls were up to it. Gene surprised me, and the girls, with a very nice present for Christmas. He had taken the girls shopping, and they picked out several nice things for me, not knowing about the secret gift.  He surprised us all with a top of the line Kitchen Aid Professional mixer.  The girls were as excited as I was to receive it.  We didn’t wait long to try it out either!

Since we had already celebrated our anniversary on our trip, on the 31st we just went to our favorite pizza place, New York Pizzeria and the mall.  Gene didn’t make it until midnight (I think he was beginning to get sick at that point) but the girls and I did.  We went outside at midnight to watch the fireworks, which lasted quite a while.  The next day Gene’s brother, Guy, came for a visit. We had a really nice visit while he was here, though the girls weren’t feeling quite up to snuff.I haven’t been taking a lot of pictures as of late, but I did get a chance to Friday at Gene’s office.  Lindsay was taking pictures inside for a brochure and the website, so I went outside to take pictures.  Gene’s new office is located on an acre of land in old Katy, in the middle of a neighborhood, which provided a few flowers and such to take pictures of around the office.

These are a few of my favorites.

It was fun to watch this little fellow flit from flower to flower. He almost looks as if he could fall in on his head and get stuck!

One of the things I have come to appreciate about nature photography, is the details that pop out at you that you didn’t even notice while taking the pictures.

I have also come to see many things I would have overlooked before, such as this flower.

These little fellows were none too happy that I kicked their mound to see if they were home. Yes, they are fire ants, but none of them got me…. mwahahaha.

This tiny fellow was almost invisible, until I got down really close to take this picture. Isn’t his little red self cute?Well, it’s after 4 am now.  Fellowship has finished, they have taken another round of breathing treatments, and they have started Two Towers.  I hope they are feeling better before it ends, but we’ll have to wait and see how that goes.  You are pretty much caught up with everything going on here.  I hope to begin posting more often, but only time will tell.