Saturday, July 30, 2011

WIFD day 7

Today's the last day of WIFD. It was very hot here...for North Idaho. It's in the 90's, and since I'm pregnant, I was wilting. So, most of the day was spent inside...doing a bit of laundry, cleaning a cupboard that I 'inherited' from our church ~ which will be home to my fabric stash, and playing with the baby...hate that! ;-)

Today I wore a Style and Co. skirt. It's not maternity, but it has an elastic smocked waist, so it works! I had thought maybe I would wear one of my other skirts that is similar this week, but I haven't. However, I will share that one of my newest, easiest maternity skirt modifications is to take a sundress, that has the empire waist that is elastic smocked, and cut the top off.  They make a nice, modest skirt, and the elastic smocking is perfect for a maternity waist band...and I'll be able to wear them when I'm not pregnant too!

I also wore a brown crinkle camisole that I bought at WalMart, and a white gauze Motherhood top that was thrifted. Just some flip flops on my feet...and no jewelry today.

Not a great picture of my outfit, but you can see the skirt pretty well. I just had my hair twisted and in a claw so it was up off my neck. :-)

Friday, July 29, 2011

WIFD day 6

Today was a laid back day at home. I worked on laundry a bit...I'm getting to the point in this pregnancy where I can't do a lot at once. Sore hips and pelvis and a good sized baby equaling a sore back...I do a bit and I sit. I do a bit and I sit. Very frustrating. Thankfully, I have an understanding husband, and he encourages me to do what I can, and he helps with the rest.

My outfit today was a beautiful brown and turquoise Liz Lange Maternity top that I just bought off eBay. It's not particularly modest, so I wore a brown Old Navy tank top under it. My denim skirt is a Faded Glory skirt that I modified for maternity wear. Just as a side note, I've had a terrible time finding denim skirts this pregnancy! Of course, I lost almost all my maternity clothes in the fire. Most of the new denim maternity skirts I find are mini skirts...and I'm just not interested in those. Even on eBay most used denim maternity skirts that are long enough to be modest go for $30 or more by the time you pay shipping. And on principle, I'm just not going to pay that much for a used skirt. You would think though, that clothing manufacturers would pay attention to the used clothing market, and pay attention to what is selling well there.

The length of the skirt is shorter, although below knee length. It's just a nice, summer length denim skirt.
Just for fun, here is a picture of our calf, Eliza. She is fascinated by fire!

Here's a better shot of the front of my top. It's very flowy and feminine looking. The neclace is thrifted, and although you can't really see my cute teapot earrings, they are from an etsy shop.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

WIFD days 4 and 5

I missed posting yesterday! Mike was gone most of the day, and by the time he got home and took my picture, I was too tired to mess with posting. :-)

Yesterday was an at-home day ~ Yay!! Wednesday afternoons Jethro's physical therapist comes to the house, so usually the morning is spent getting things tidy and ready for his PT.

I wore a brown and white floral motherhood shirt ~ thrifted, a navy Down East Basics skirt (not maternity, but it's a nice stretchy knit!) ~ thrifted, flip flops from Fred Meyer, and my necklace is from WalMart.
Ezra decided to pose with me. :-) He was just in from playing in the hot tub (which is basically a small swimming pool at this point ~ no heat!)

Today, I wore the blue skirt again, but with a yellow plaid Old Navy top ~ thrifted. Just another day at home, trying to get some laundry done.

Sorry for the quality of the picture. I decided to do a self-portrait instead of asking someone to take my picture.

It's hard to see in this photo, but the top has a button placket, and pin tucks on either side, down to the empire waist. And, just little flutter sleeves.

A Child's Bible Study Review

There will be a post later today for WIFD. :-) This is a long-overdue post...a quick review of a children's Bible study on the armor of God. It is produced by Quiet Times for Kids. I will post a more thorough review of this Bible study after we have completed it.

One of the things that drew me to this Bible study is that it encorporates Lego dioramas. In fact, if you order this Bible study from them now, your child can get in on a photo contest of the dioramas for a chance to win a building block set from Vision Forum. The photos must be submitted by August 31, 2011, so if you or your child is interested, go get this study!

This is a 6 week study on the armor of God. I spent some time this morning working through week 1 ~ even as an adult, I found some of the questions to be challenging to my thinking. The study is designed for individual study, helping young people develop a habit of daily time in the Word. There are projects for some of the days. Each week a cube is built for the piece of armor being studied and a Lego diorama is worked on. It's designed to be done 5 days a week, so it would fit in well with a school schedule. We will be starting it on Monday, when we start our new school year.

So far, the only "complaint" I would have, and it's not a big deal is that they have Ephesians 6:10-18 printed out on Scripture cards, designed for your child to cut out and put on their wall. They have used 4 different versions for this. KJV, NASB, NKJV, and NIV. At our house, we use the ESV. Not a problem, I'll just print it out on our computer in our version. :-) And, they can't really cover every version of the Scriptures.

So, while we have not gone through it yet, I believe it looks like it will be a good study, generating conversations with the children, providing fun with the projects, growth in the walk with the Lord...and I would encourage you to click on the link above and check it out!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

WIFD day 3

So, today is just a day at home. I need to get some laundry done, organize the school room (or at least start!), and get working on supper. I have a webinar this evening, so I need to have supper stuff ready to go before the webinar starts.

It's a little cooler here today, and the house tends to stay nice and cool ~ almost chilly if we have left the windows open over night. So I have on long sleeves.

I am wearing a grey Motherhood hoodie with a deep v-neck ~ thrifted, a lapis blue tank...I think it's Old Navy ~ thrifted, and a denim and floral Motherhood skirt ~ also thrifted. Just flip flops for shoes. For jewelry, I am wearing a lapis blue pendant that belonged to my great aunt Olga. One of the few pieces of jewelry left that I inherited from her. It's a favorite, so I had it at the hospital with me when the house burned. I am also wearing heart shaped earrings with blue handpainted roses on them ~ yep, you guessed it, they are thrifted as well. :-)

The skirt is a bit longer than knee length and it's tiered.

Here is a closeup of the pendant.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Week in Feminine Dress

So, I have at least one more post rattlin' around in my head on suffering, but this week, I'm going to be posting what I am wearing. :-) I have been a member of the forum over at Sense and Sensibility Patterns for several years. At least a couple times a year, we do a week in feminine dress or a WIFD. The point of it is to encourage the ladies to dress in a feminine manner no matter what we are doing, and to give new ideas and inspiration to those of us who regularly dress this way. I have done this a couple times before here on the blog, but it's been a while, so I thought it would be fun to do once again. Today is actually Day 2 of WIFD, but in normal fashion, I completely forgot about it yesterday, until after I was changed out of my church clothes...and I really wan't dressed very femininely after that. :-)

So, here is todays outfit:

I am wearing a thrifted Motherwear sundress. I don't normally wear dresses that are only knee length, but I have been having a terrible time finding maternity sundresses this year, let alone ones that are a length that I would normally wear. I love it though because of all the bright colors. The necklace came from Burlington Coat Factory, and the earrings are from WalMart. I'm just wearing flip flops on my feet.

Isn't he just the cutest? I couldn't resist having my picture taken with him...he's such a HAM! LOL Tomorrow he will be 17 mo. old. The Lord has truly been good to us. :-)

Today's plans involve going to town and picking up a few groceries. I'm also going to be getting some rock and hopefully a few plants to put down at Tucker's grave. I'll also pick up balloons for the children to release this evening, in memory of our dear Tucker. He would have been 7 today.

Happy birthday, dear Tucker!
Enjoy your birthday in Heaven ~
Play in peace my sweet boy.
Mama loves and misses you.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Suffering Part 3 ~ BFS for the Soul

Not too long ago, I was listening to Chris Fabry Live. He had a couple on who had gone through some very hard circumstances. As he was talking, giving the introduction, Mr. Fabry likened suffering to football. Often we feel like it's one thing upon another. Much like a football player who is carrying the ball, and then is tackled...he usually isn't tackled by just one player, but once he is down, player upon player jumps on top of him. This analogy got me to thinking about the BFS program, that our local school uses for their athletes. The 'BFS' stands for Bigger, Faster, Stronger. It's a strengthening program that utilizes weight-lifting, plyometrics (jumping), strength and agility training. The motto for BFS is "Be an 11". They encourage the kids to give their utmost. Don't be satisfied with being a 10, be an 11. Give it your all.

The first year our school implemented the BFS program, we saw a huge improvement in our second oldest's football game. He was the main running back for our team, so he ended up with the ball a lot. During one play of a home game, he had several guys try to tackle him, but he just kept running. I think he ended up with about 5 guys hanging on, and Levi just drug them down the field, on his way to a touchdown.

So, how does this relate to suffering? Well, if suffering is the guy trying to tackle you and take you down, then if you have been involved in a 'strengthening' program for your faith, it will be more difficult. We often want easy answers. Just give me a list to follow. Tell me the secret. Hand me the key to live victoriously. But you know what? There isn't an easy answer to faith. It's a gift from God, most assuredly, but it's also work. You have to exercise it. You have to spend time in God's word, getting to know it and Him better. You have to put forth the effort.

Levi didn't get strong enough to drag those guys down the field by wishing he were stronger. He had to get to the gym everyday and do the workout. It took determination and commitment on his part. He had to follow the program. Our faith isn't strengthened by us wishing we had stronger faith. We have to have the commitment to be in the Word and know God more intimately for our faith to be strengthened. When we enter into suffering ~ and we all will ~ we have to determine to keep our eyes uplifted and *trust* God to do what is in our best interests. But, that will be easier if we have put in our time in the 'gym' of Scripture.

Breaking those tackles wasn't easy. Levi still felt the full weight of those guys hanging onto him as he ran down the field, but, because he was strong, he was able to keep going. The play didn't end with one guy jumping on him. He wasn't sidelined by an injury. He. Kept. Going. He moved forward, keeping his eye on the prize. For him, that prize was yards gained, and ultimately a touchdown. For us, we run toward a much greater prize. We run toward Christ-likeness. We run toward glorifying God. We run toward a glorious eternity.

I don't believe we should look for suffering, but I do believe that we should see the value in it. The opportunity to 'flex' our faith muscle, and grow in grace. Suffering is going to come, will you 'be an 11"?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Suffering, Part 2

Seven years ago, we were joyfully anticipating the birth of our seventh child. In mid-June, I began bleeding one night, and so we headed to the hospital. After a pretty extensive ultrasound, they determined that everything was okay with our son and they didn't know why I was bleeding. After about 14 hours at the hospital, the bleeding stopped and I was sent home on bedrest for the week.

Late at night, on the 24th of July, I went into labor. We called my mom and asked her to come and get the younger children ~ the older boys were already at her house. We were overjoyed that this child would share his birthday with his Grammie.

The midwives were called and arrived and we settled in to wait for his arrival. I slept until about 4 am or so and woke up ready to have a baby. He was very active all through labor, and his heart tones were good. Everything was progressing very normally for one of my labors. I was laying on my side, laboring, looking out the window, thinking what a gorgeous day it was and knowing it would only be a short time before I would be holding my newest son in my arms.

Once I began to push, I felt being on my side was not productive, so Mike and the midwives helped me get upright on the birthing stool. As soon as I was upright, my midwife saw a lot of 'suspicious' blood and told me I needed to push and deliver him quickly. When his body was delivered, the cord hit my leg. Not realizing the gravity of the situation, I said, "The cord broke". At which point, the midwives began doing CPR. Mike called 911 and requested the life flight. And then we began to call friends and family, asking them to pray for a miracle ~ and we pled with God for our son's life.

It was not to be. Our midwives performed CPR for 45 minutes before the life flight crew arrived and took over. But his cord had broke at some point after he had entered the birth canal and he had bled to death before he was delivered. In the blinking of an eye, we had gone from laboring with a live baby to delivering a dead one. From the joy of a new life to the heart-shattering grief of the loss of a child. In a moment, with no real preparation (is there such a thing?), we were thrown onto the hardest path a parent can walk.

From the very first moments, Mike and I determined that our grief would drive us to God and that it would not drive us apart. As that first day progressed and we were finally alone, we began a practice that I believe enabled us to keep our heads above water. We actively looked for things within our circumstances to praise God. We were very blessed to be surrounded by folks who loved us and continually pointed us back to our Heavenly Father, reminding us constantly of His great love for us.

People would ask, "Why?" And I would answer, "Why not?" Who was I to be spared suffering? I don't have the words to adequately share my thoughts without perhaps giving the impression that my grief was not deep and overwhelming. Let me assure you, it was. I spent many days barely able to rise from my chair and many, many nights my pillow was soaked from crying myself to sleep. I carried within me a physical ache, that I truly believed would have killed me had it not been for my faith in Christ. Although my heart was broken and my arms ached to hold my son, I never really felt that Tucker's death was unfair. For me ~ perhaps. But not for him. I never looked at it as if he had died 'too soon', or 'too young'. 

Psalm 139 says, "Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them." v.16

Tucker lived out every day God had ordained for him. His life was not cut short, it was lived just as fully as someone who we would consider had lived a long, full life. And God showed great mercy to Tucker. He leapt from the warmth and safety of my womb into the waiting arms of Jesus. He never knew or will know pain and sorrow, sickness, or sin. As we grieved the death of our precious son, he was in the presence of the Savior, living life more fully than I can even imagine!

I took great comfort in knowing that God knows what it is to grieve the loss of a child. We live in a world marred by sin. The immediate consequence of sin was death. We still live with that consequence today ~ each of us is born dieing. Each of us is born spiritually dead. God has grieved much over the loss of life and He is able to draw us close as we grieve and bring peace and joy to our hearts and lives once again.

God did not allow me to wallow in my grief. We had a houseful of children who needed me (what a blessing that was!), and within a few months of Tucker's death, God began to bring other grieving Mamas into my path. It was not an easy thing to do. Each time I heard of a baby or child dieing, emotionally I would be back at the morning we lost Tucker. But I found that as I reached out to other Mamas just beginning their grief journey, I was less focused on me and I was 'giving' purpose to Tucker's life and my own grief. While I certainly hoped and prayed that I was a blessing to them, the truth was that they were a huge blessing to me. To be able to reach out, to make 'use' of my own suffering ~ to be able to offer comfort to others out of that suffering, brought healing to my own heart.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
Matthew 5:4

There is blessing in suffering, in mourning ~ God will comfort us. And then, as we take the comfort we have received from Him and in turn comfort others, we are again blessed.

I do want to point out that I did not just commisserate with these grieving Mamas. There is no comfort ~ for anyone ~ in that. I came alongside with compassion. I grieved with them, because I knew what it was to have my life shattered by the death of a child. And I did my best to glorify God and gently point them back toward their Heavenly Father. To remind them of His great love for them. This is where true comfort and blessing comes from. We will never find comfort and peace apart from God.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Suffering, Pt. 1

"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."
1 Peter 5:10

In our nearly 22 years of marriage, God has brought us through many trials. Some, in retrospect weren't that traumatic or significant, and others were definitely traumatic and life changing. 

We have lost four children to miscarriage, buried a stillborn son, had a son born dead (but thankfully revived!) with a severe - read: incompatible with life - heart defect, lost our home and belongings in a house fire while our youngest was in the hospital recovering from open heart surgery, and gone through over 2 years of un/under-employment for my husband. That would be the 'short list' of traumatic and life changing.

As you might imagine, I have given some thought to the topic of suffering. We live in a society that shuns suffering and tends to shun the sufferer. While we have certainly been shown a lot of love and care during our various trials, we have also experienced (and observed in the lives of others) abandonment during suffering.

We don't like to suffer. It's uncomfortable, difficult, unknown, and very often, lonely. Suffering lays bare our deepest beliefs, and, depending on what they are, either sets us adrift or anchors us more firmly. Suffering can bring us to misery and ruin, or suffering can be the catalyst for great growth, maturing and joy. 

Wherein lies the difference? How can we know which direction we will go when faced with a trial? It all depends on where (or on Whom) our faith and trust is placed. But faith alone is not enough. If our faith is not placed in the God of the Bible, the Creator God of the universe, then our faith will leave us flailing. Even then, faith without knowledge can still be of little help. If we don't know anything about the One in whom we place our trust, how can we really trust Him?

I believe a major problem within the church today is a lack of knowledge/relationship with our Father God. We say a lot of things about Him, which are true, but we don't know Him or His word well enough to actually believe those things. 
  • We say, "God is trustworthy." And yet we live like He's just waiting to grind us under His thumb.
  • We say, "God is faithful." But we live like He is fickle.
  • We say, "God is my provider." Yet we live like the providing is all up to us.
  • We say, "He will never leave us nor forsake us." Yet we live as if His presence is non-existent in our lives.
We say a lot of things that would 'prove' our faith, and yet we live our lives out practically as athiests.

Why don't we trust the One who created us? Who thought about us and our lives before time began? The One who numbers the very hairs on our head and who, according to Psalm 56, keeps count of our tossings, and puts our tears in a bottle, keeping record of them? Do you know what that means? God knows each tear you have cried and remembers what it was about. Do you? I know I don't remember every tear I've cried, but God does. That is how important you are to Him. 

Again, I ask, how can we trust someone we don't know? We can't. Not really. Until we have at the very least observed their actions, it is difficult to trust someone. If we observe them from afar, we might determine that a person is likely to be trustworthy or not (think: political leaders). If we are able to more closely observe someone and hear personal testimony of their character from someone we know, then we might determine that a person is true to their friends and those they come into contact with (think: a friend of a friend). If we are in relationship with someone, spend time with them and those that know them, then we know if they are trustworthy or not. We have personal, intimate knowledge of that person. Think about it ~ within your circle of friends and acquaintances, you know who you could call in an emergency and who you wouldn't think to call. Where my analogy falls flat is that at some point, every human, no matter how trustworthy, no matter how close your relationship, will fail you. It's inevitable. However, God will not. God never fails. 

Let me finish this with this thought. Suffering in our lives is not failure on God's part. If we are suffering, it does  not mean that God was taken by surprise, or that He somehow dropped the ball. God will have our lives glorify Him. God is interested in molding us into the image of His son, Jesus Christ. This just does not happen without suffering. 

"He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
Isaiah 53:3

I have also posted some thoughts on how this affects us as wives over on my marriage blog, Beneath Beams of Cedar  

Here is a song that speaks very much to my heart right now. I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

God Speaks My Love Language

Yesterday, as I was driving to town for a midwife appt, I was listening to Dr. Gary Chapman on Chris Fabry Live. They began by talking about Dr. Chapman's new book, God Speaks Your Love Language. Dr. Chapman spoke more specifically about how God speaks to us in our love language when He brings us to salvation, but as I was driving, I was overwhelmed by God's love and care for me when Tucker died, almost 7 years ago.

My love language is quality time. And the morning that Tucker died, God showed up. Physically. He knew I needed Him desperately that morning, and He was here. Where we live is almost always windy, we almost never have fog because of the wind. The morning Tucker was born was a glorious, sun-shiney day at the end of July. That morning, as friends began arriving at our home, they noticed that the house (and only the house) was shrouded in a cloud. Clouds are mentioned just over a hundred times in Scripture and all but a small handful of those times the cloud represents the presence of God. I know that God showed up here to comfort and hold me as the realization that my son was dead hit me, as I sank into the deepest grief a Mama can. As my heart was shattered into a million pieces, God was here. My precious Father, who freely gave His son, so that I could spend eternity with Him, came and spoke my love language, came and held me as I grieved.

I don't have any idea how many times I have told people over the years that God's presence was so *tangible* to me during that time. I have always recognized God being here ~ especially in that initial, horrible time. I often call it the most horrible, precious time. Horrible because we were living such a nightmare, and yet precious because we were able to lift our eyes and praise our God in the midst of it ~ surrounded by those who loved us, and encouraged us in our faith. But, until yesterday, I had never made the connection that God was "speaking" to me. That He was showing me love in the way He created me to "see" love. I am undone. To think of the depth of His loving care, for a simple woman such as I...What words can I share to express the depth of realization that came to me? They all seem so inadequate.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Big News Around Here...

is that our little Jethro is going to be a big brother!
Along about the first part of October there will be a new little blessing in our house. God is truly good to us, and I am so thankful that He has chosen to bless us again!

I would appreciate prayers for a healthy, uneventful pregnancy, and a healthy baby. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

Jethro's 1st Birthday!

Wow, I have spent the last couple days in tears at various times. Tears of joy and thankfulness to my Father God for His wonderful faithfulness to us. I can't believe a year has gone by already.

We have a baby who is happy, adorable, content, adorable, engaging, adorable, playful, funny, and did I mention adorable? ;-) We have a beautiful house that is almost done, and we have been blessed with wonderful folks who were there when we needed them.

Yesterday, we had an open house to celebrate and at one point had over 80 people in our home! And, you could still move around. I think it's going to work well for family gatherings and hospitality. :-)

Here's a few pictures from the big day.

2d year MWSB students. They were here last year when Jethro was born. Although they didn't get to see him, they held a prayer vigil for him, and ministered to our family in a tremendous way. We were so thankful that they were able to celebrate this milestone with us.

The oldest and the youngest. A couple of handsome young men, I think. :-)

Just a little of the crowd of party goers.

Singing Happy Birthday. That would be a pepperochini in the baby's hand. He thought they were the bomb.

Me thinks the baby likes chocolate birthday cake! That would be a very Happy Birthday Boy!
Thank you, Lord for a wonderful year with this precious child! We give You praise for all that You have done!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Progress on the house

I haven't posted any updates on the house here lately. I update Facebook pretty regularly, but it takes more time to do it here, so I just haven't.

We were hoping to move today ~ things aren't quite done, but I want to be at least mostly moved in for Jethro's birthday party which is Sunday. AAACCCKKK!!!!! Yesterday they were supposed to lay carpet. We didn't have everything we needed at the house (which they didn't tell us we needed), so the carpet layer threw a fit and left. :-P Can I just say I have been totally un-impressed by our carpet buying experience and would STRONGLY DISCOURAGE anyone from buying flooring from GREAT FLOORS. They sold us product they did not have, they piddled around for a week and a half before reluctantly telling us they could get ahold of the manufacturer to see if they could get more of it, they didn't make sure that we knew what all we needed to have done at the house so that the carpet could be laid. Yesterday, when I called and laid into the salesman about how this whole transaction has gone, I was basically told it was our fault it hadn't been laid yet ~ excuse me??? I am not the one who didn't tell me you could order more of my carpet! So, now we are about a month behind on getting the carpet laid. Not happy. And they wait until you are about ready to pay to tell you how much you are "saving" when they charge you more. :-P Anyway, unless you like it when you pay for product and then the store you are dealing with gives you nothing but a run-around, I suggest you stay away from Great Floors. It has been nothing but an exercise in frustration.

Today the carpet is finally getting laid, and I am hoping to at least get a start on moving furniture.

Here are some pictures of the progress we have made.
Kitchen, breakfast bar, and in the left background the school room lights.

Light in the living room.

Light in the master bedroom...bought for $20 on clearance!

West wall of the kitchen. Hickory cabinets, tile countertop, glass mosaic backsplash.

South end of the kitchen. The 'L' that the counters make is open to the rest of the house.

Chandelier in the greatroom. Cedar on the ceiling.

Laying the laminate. The girls were lots of least *they* thought they were!

Will sweeping up after the laminate was laid. He claims he can out-sweep any woman. ;-)

Once we're down at the farm, we may be without internet for a few days. I forgot to call to let them know we would be moving. As soon as we have it back up and running, I will post pictures from Jethro's birthday bash!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Awareness day 16 ~ What can you do?

When I was visiting off air with Mr. Fabry the other day, one of the things he wanted to talk about was 'What can the folks in the pew do?' God had other plans for the program though, and we never got that far.
It's something I had already been giving some thought to, so I thought that I would address it here as part of CHD Awareness month. It is difficult to know how to help someone when they are going through trauma. I know in the past, I have felt at a loss as to how to help. We have also told folks to give us a call if they needed anything ~ and we meant it. However, to expect someone who is dealing with traumatic issues to be the one to reach out...often we don't even *know* what we need. This post is written on the premise that you should not expect much of anything from the family in crisis. They are *in crisis*, so they just need to be ministered to.

So, here are some suggestions. These certainly apply to families dealing with heart defects, but would also apply to families dealing with cancer, death, downs syndrome, or any other defect or illness requiring hospital stays (or not, but I am including some hospital specific ideas).

  • Be there. Call, email, send a card, physically show up. Your presence means more than you can imagine. When Jethro was just days old, two of my friends showed up at the NICU with a basket full of china, tea and goodies. What a refreshing time that was. It meant a great deal. Days spent in the hospital get LOOOONNNGGG. You might want to call ahead, just to make sure they aren't taking a needed break from the hospital, or at least the room, but I was always so glad to see a visitor! I wish there would have been more. Even if you can only stay a few minutes, don't underestimate the value of your visit. This doesn't just apply to when someone is in the hospital. A chronic or catastrophic illness by nature creates a feeling of isolation. Your existence is travel, Dr. appts, and home. Maybe, if it's cancer, they can't have company, but you can still have contact and let them know that you are thinking of them. Don't assume they know. Don't expect someone who is dealing with hospitalizations, surgeries, learning new routines, dispensing meds, traveling back and forth to Dr. appts, on top of whatever they had going on before to make the call. They are likely thinking of you, they would probably have time to talk, but to expect them to initiate contact when their world has been a little impractical ~ they're just trying to make it through the day remembering everything they *have* to do.
  • On the day of a surgery, if you cannot physically be there; again, call, send an email, or if you're both on FaceBook, send a FB message letting them know that you're thinking of them and praying for them. If you have never turned your infant or child over to a surgeon for major surgery, I can't even explain to you what it's like. It's definitely an, "I HAVE to trust God" moment. With Open Heart Surgery, you know that they are going to be stopping your child's heart, putting them on bypass, etc. To have support on that day is invaluable. But don't expect them to ask you to be there. I know folks are busy, I know they have their own lives to live. I'm not going to impose on them by asking ~ I was sure thankful for my dear friend who came and sat with me the day of Jethro's Glenn. She asked me ahead of time if I would like her to be there, giving me the freedom to say "yes!", and know that it wasn't an imposition.
  • Provide meals. This may seem like a no brainer, however, they may be needed later than you would think. Jethro was in the hospital for 5 1/2 weeks. Our wonderful church family provided meals for my Mom (who had the rest of our children), so she didn't have to cook for so many extra mouths. They offered when we got home, but I had been away from my family for well over a month. I just wanted some semblance of cook and do laundry, etc. A couple weeks down the road, when I was overwhelmed with the new "routine", and multiple trips to town (an hour away) every week, meals would have been greatly welcomed! By that point, no one was offering, and I just didn't ask; we just struggled along. This is also VERY applicable when there is a death in the family ~ especially if that death is a child (no matter how old). Folks are great about providing meals right to start with and that is wonderful. But, if you have lost a child, you might really appreciate a meal months down the road when the rest of the world has continued moving forward, and you are still drowning in grief.
  • When someone is in the hospital, if you can afford to give them even a small monetary gift, it is so appreciated. Our hospital is great about providing meal tickets for parents of children in the NICU or PICU, however, not all families are provided those, and they do have a daily limit. And honestly, if you are spending an extended amount of time in the hospital, you are going to want to get food from somewhere else. :-P Hospital food gets old, FAST. Even if they can do the meals on meal tickets, the little extras, like vending machines or coffee add up quickly.
  • Along that line, taking them a fruit basket so that they have healthy munchies, or giving them a coffee wonderful and appreciated. Our hospital has a local coffee company that has set up a couple or three different coffee bars within the hospital compound. I loved getting Thomas Hammer gift cards! If they are not in the hospital, but making a lot of trips to the Dr., you might give them a gift card for gas...I don't even want to think about how much we've spent on gas over the past year! Having someone in the family with an illness can add so many unexpected expenses, it's hard to even list them all.
  • If they have other children at home, then bringing the children up to the hospital is great. Don't spend a lot of time telling mom and dad how much the other kids need them. They know that. All you are doing is creating unnecessary guilt ~ adding to the guilt they are already feeling for not being at home. Even a sedated newborn NEEDS their Mama and Daddy there. They need someone to advocate for them, and to keep track of what is being done. As much as we don't like to think about it or consider it, mistakes happen...and often, it's Mom or Dad's sharp eye that catches it before it's too late. They need to be with their infant. If you have never had a child in the hospital, it's hard to understand. I knew my other children needed me, but I also knew that they were surrounded by family and friends that loved them and were caring well for them. Jethro needed me to be there watching over him. Giving support to the parents, and reinforcing to the kids that they are only away because they have to be, not because they want to be, that is a gift. We were overjoyed when someone would bring the other children up to visit, and wished it could have happened more often ~ but once again, not something I felt comfortable asking for because folks were already doing so much to help.
  • Not everyone has this ability, but some folks can just observe another's life and know what needs to be done. This can be a blessing for a family in crisis. As I mentioned earlier, it can be hard to know what is needed. But showing up unexpectedly with a meal, or offering to drive to a Dr appt., or a myriad of other things, without being asked. These are truly gifts to the family.

Families going through trauma need a lot of support. They may not be able to reciprocate much, if at all. Depending on what is going on, they may have all they can do just to stay afloat mentally, emotionally and even physically. That doesn't mean that down the road things aren't going to be more stable and the relationship will get back to 'normal'. Honestly, if folks didn't make the effort to at least stay in contact with me during the worst of our last year, by the time things settled down and I could catch my breath and think about something besides Jethro and the rest of the family's needs, I figured that they were gone. And I have so much on my plate, I am not pursuing relationships with people who aren't interested. It's fine. We move on. God is sovereign, He knows what is best and I trust that.

I know that I have asked you to step up and take the initiative. To be giving and self-sacrificing, but isn't that what God asks us to do? Aren't we to step in beside those who are hurting and do what we can to ease their burden? I know that I have failed to do that in the past ~ mostly because I just didn't know how to help. I just didn't understand. I am not fussing about how things were done for us ~ we were very blessed! God has provided us with an outstanding, loving church family and I am extremely thankful for them and all the support they have given us. They have truly been the hands and feet of Jesus to us this past year. I did want to share from a Mama's perspective, what is helpful...and a little of what is not. Ultimately, *ask*. But don't ask in a general, what do you need, sort of way. Ask specific questions. "Do you want the kids brought up?" "Do you need x, y, or z?" When your brain is overwhelmed with tons of information and emotions are running high, and you are exhausted, you can't necessarily answer a general question, but specifics can be easier.

May the Lord bless you as you seek to come alongside those in your life who are hurting and needy.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Disappearing Friends

It's awareness day 11, and while this is not a CHD statistic, it is a CHD reality. This was one of the things I wish I had known going into this journey...although I'm not sure I would have believed it of any of our friends. Once you have a child with a catastrophic or chronic illness, you will have friends who just disappear from your life. It will likely be the ones you would have least suspected it of.

I share this because if you are dealing with this right now, I don't want you to think it's you. It's not. It's them. I have talked with folks dealing with CHDs, folks who have lost children, folks who are dealing with cancer or other big health issues and across the board, they tell me that people have just dropped out of their lives.

It can hurt, it can make you wonder if you did something, it can make you wonder at your discernment in choosing friends. But, as I have struggled through this, God has shown me that I need to recognize His sovereignty over my friendships, just as I do in the rest of my life. If the friendships would have been beneficial during this season, they would still be here, but they are not. I have to believe that God removed those relationships for our good. Because everything He does is for His glory and our good.

I have been very blessed in that God has provided me with a huge network of heart moms. Mostly online, but some I have had the joy of getting to know in real life. They know and understand the things I am going through, and that is invaluable. Some of the people in our lives that were more on the fringes, have become better friends through our struggle, and that has been a blessing as well.

If you are dealing with disappearing friends, I would encourage you to look to the Lord. He has a purpose in them leaving your life. Embrace those who would share your journey. And, whatever you might be dealing with, CHDs, cancer, downs syndrome, whatever, I would also encourage you to make connections online. If you are in an urban setting, likely there are some sort of support locally, but for those of us who live in rural areas, the internet can be a huge blessing when it comes to support and education in our journeys. It's difficult, it hurts...I am not denying that. But, grieve the loss and move forward. Do you want detrimental people in your life? I don't. I am thankful that I can trust God's sovereignty and wisdom in my relationships as well as every other area of my life.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

CHD Awareness Day 10

Jethro wants you to know...

Approximately every 10 minutes in the world there is a baby like me (With Congenital heart defects) born into the same hard fight as me. It begins with blood tests and sticky wires, being intubated & sometimes sedated from moving, talks of heart catheters & open or closed heart surgeries, IV lines, picc lines, central ...lines and many medicines & machines just to keep us alive. PLEASE PLEASE Raise Awareness!! ♥♥♥

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Psalm 139: 13-16

"For You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them." Psalm 139: 13-16

The question was asked today, "How do you reconcile that Scripture?" (In relation to CHDs) And here is my answer. :-)

Scripture is truth. It is God's word breathed out and written down for us. So, the reality of Jethro's heart does not change the truth of this Scripture. In fact, I believe that it magnifies the truth of this Scripture. God knit together Jethro's heart just as carefully as yours or mine. In that sense, while Jethro's heart has a defect, it is *not* defective, it is knit together just as God intended it to be. God has a plan and a purpose for Jethro and his heart, and that purpose could not be realized had his heart been healthy.

I stand more in awe of the wonderful creation of the human body now, after living with Jethro than I ever did before. What an amazing, breath-taking thing the human body is. What a beautiful balance of everything. So fragile and yet so resilient at the same time. Jethro's lungs were severely undeveloped because of the enlargement of his heart. But, once the size of his heart was reduced, his lungs grew! How amazing is that?

I see Jethro's heart as a physical picture of our spiritual hearts. Broken, incompatible with life, he was headed for death, until the Drs and surgeons stepped in and intervened. They "fixed" his heart so that it could be life-sustaining. We are born with spiritual hearts that are broken and incompatible with life ~ headed for eternal death. Until the Great Physician steps in and touches our heart and makes it life-giving ~ for eternity.

The journey of a CHD family is not easy. There are many hard moments, uncertainties, things that are just flat out unfair. Sometimes there is death. But I thank God for Jethro and his heart. I wouldn't have missed this for the world.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

An Opportunity to Share Jethro's Story

Wow. Last month I had emailed some different radio programs to ask them to consider doing a program on CHD awareness this week. But, I never heard anything back from any of them. Well, this morning, I had an email from the producer of Chris Fabry Live on Moody Radio.

Tomorrow, God is giving me the opportunity to share Jethro's story and to help raise CHD awareness on national radio. I can't hardly believe it.

I would surely appreciate prayer for tomorrow! I want to be able to clearly share Jethro's story and how greatly God has blessed us through this journey.

Here is a link to Chris Fabry Live I hope that works tomorrow! :-O I believe you can listen live online or later as a podcast, if you are interested.

Awareness Day 8

As a follow up to yesterday's post, here is an article with some important questions to ask at your 20 week ultrasound. Please, print it out and take it along with you ~ it could save your baby's life.

Monday, February 7, 2011

CHD Awareness Week Begins

Today through the 14th is CHD Awareness week. If you are pregnant, I would suggest a couple of things. Sometime around 20 weeks or after, get a good, diagnostic ultrasound done. Ask specific questions about the heart. Don't just settle for knowing if you're having a boy or girl. Many CHDs can be caught at this point. Be aware that the perinatalogist will probably suggest further testing to see if you want to murder your baby. Whether or not you go for more testing, please let me encourage you to give your baby the gift of life. No matter how bleak things look. They held out almost no hope for Jethro ~ and we are about to celebrate his first birthday. But life, no matter how long it is has value. Yes, a CHD or something else may take your child's life. Just don't let it be at your hands. Enjoy that baby, no matter how long you are blessed with them.

The other thing I strongly encourage you to do is make sure that a pulse oximeter test is done on your newborn. This is a very simple, non-invasive test that measures your baby's oxygen levels. They should get a reading from the hand and foot. This alone will catch many undetected CHDs. Still, not all hospitals are doing them routinely ~ make sure your hospital/midwife does a pulse ox on your newborn! You are your baby's advocate, so advocate. :-)

Today's CHD fact:
Congenital Heart Defects DO NOT have a cure. Children born with a CHD undergo OPEN HEART surgery, usually multiple surgeries to "mend" the problem. But this is only pallative, never "fixed" CHD'ers have a lifetime full of medications, heart catheterizations, and numerous procedures. 1 in 100 births! Donate to CHD research and help us get one step closer to a CURE.

Picture by Jessica Goffard ~ thanks, Jess!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Did you know???

Every 15 minutes a child is born with a CHD. That means every 15 minutes a child must begin to fight to survive. That means every 15 minutes a new family must begin to rely on doctors, nurses and modern medicine to keep their child alive. That means every 15 minutes people’s lives are changed forever. February is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Month. Help spread awareness for all the CHD warriors and angels. ♥

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Banner designed by Becki Mobley

February has long been associated with hearts. Valentines Day, sweethearts, romance. For our family, now it is associated with broken hearts. Our sweet Jethro is a February baby, so we are going to have the joy of celebrating his first birthday this month, but it is also CHD awareness month. With the week of the 7-14 officially CHD awareness week. I am going to try to stay top of things this month and post facts about CHDs throughout.

Congenital heart defects are among the most common birth defects, affecting nearly 1 out of 100 babies in the United States. Some heart defects are mild, while others can be life-threatening. Other common birth defects include cleft lip/palate, Down syndrome and spina bifida (open spine), affecting about 1 in 700, 1 in 800 and 1 in 2,500 babies respectively.

I encourage you to stop and read the previous paragraph once again. There is a difference of 600 babies between CHDs and the next most common birth defect. Yet how many of us have heard, or are familiar with Down syndrome, or cleft lip/palate or even spina bifida. How many of us are ignorant of CHDs? And yet, the possibility of knowing or having a child with CHD is much more likely.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

More to deal with

I have noticed for a while that Jethro had a curve in his lower spine. When I first noticed it, I thought it was odd, but we were dealing with so many other issues at that point that I didn't even mention it to anyone. As teh months have gone on, and I continue to notice it, I have become more concerned. His therapist had said that his lower back muscles were very weak (one of the reasons that he couldn't sit by himself), and so I was hopeful that the curve was just caused by weak back muscles and that as he got stronger, it would straighten out.

Last month I mentioned to Mike that I wanted to get Jethro into our chiropractor to see if she could help his spine. I knew that if it was something that couldn't be fixed with manipulation, she would be very upfront about it. And, if it was something more, I wanted to get on it so that it could hopefully be taken care of without any or very little invasive 'intervention'.

Thursday, Jethro had an appt with the chiropractor. I told her my concerns and she examined him. He has scoliosis. He does have an S shaped curved to his spine ~ I had missed the upper curve. So, she is referring us to the local Shriner's hospital. She had never seen scoliosis in a baby...not even in school. (This is Jethro we are dealing with!) She didn't even want to adjust him until a spinal specialist has looked at him.

I was disappointed that Jethro has one more thing to deal with, but I was encouraged that we left her office with a plan in place. Once we got home, I looked up infantile scoliosis. Only 1% of children under the age of 3 have scoliosis...Yep, that's my Jethro. :-) At least he's holding true to form...I'm wondering if I should have him play the Lotto.

I am now getting everything together to send to Dr. W, so that she can make a referral to Shriners. She said that it could take a month or more to hear from them, so we would appreciate prayers that everything goes through smoothly.

Jethro is doing well. He is now sitting by himself for long periods of time, happily playing with his toys or observing his brothers and sisters. He has 5 teeth in now, and judging by his crankiness, I think maybe 20 or more coming in. :-/ That's not totally fair. He is still very happy and content, but boy, when he decides that he is unhappy ~ look out! Bed time seems to be mostly when he decides that he doesn't feel too chipper. I'm getting in lots of singing. :-)

Happy boy!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I haven't had a lot of time to think or share lately, but yesterday I took time to post some thoughts on a song I am preparing for church. So, I thought I would send you over to my other blog. :-)

Please click on over.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Wow. A new year is upon us...where did the last one go?

2010 was a year full of trials for us, but as I look back on it and think of God's faithfulness through it all, I can honestly say that through the greatest trials come the greatest blessings.
It is in those great trials that we see the hand of God at work.
It is in those great trials that we turn to Him and draw closer to Him.

Even in our darkest moments from this past year, there was something to be thankful for.
SomeOne to be thankful for. God never left us, He was always there, leading us every step of the way.

I am so thankful to have walked through the past year with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Although it is gone, I'm not going to say "Good riddance" or "Boy am I glad that year is over!"
We received the blessing of Jethro in 2010, we saw God work miracles in his life.
God stretched me in so many areas this past year, and I have done many things I wasn't sure I was capable of doing.
I am thankful for 2010 and the lessons learned, the gifts of new friendships, the blessing of
the best medical folk around.
I am thankful for the perspective 2010 has given me.
I am looking forward to the promise and potential held in 2011.

May you see blessings in everything God brings your way this coming year.
May you have the ultimate blessing of knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

Happy New Year!