Thursday, January 14, 2016

Throwback Thursday: This Day in History (originally posted January 13, 2009)

Note: We just passed the 10 year mark of Michael's diagnosis.  He stands tall at almost 6 feet and is looking forward to graduating high school this May.  Thank you for all who have prayed for him in the past.
I also realize I did this as a Throwback Thursday in January 2015.  However, as we are now facing an MRI for another child, which we pray will prove clear of everything, I felt led to re-post this...as a reminder to myself.

January 13, 2006 - Michael is diagnosed with scoliosis.

Mike had been complaining of back pain for a few months. At his 8 year check-up in October 2005, I mentioned it to his pediatrician. We did the scoliosis check then - just as routine. Nothing out of the ordinary. Figured he was having growing pains or just repeating the complaints of his aged parents!

However, on January 11 Michael seemed to be in real pain while trying to sit through the Wednesday night church service. Again, I didn't really know what to do with these complaints. We're not the type to run to the doctor for every little ache and pain and, besides, he just checked out fine 3 months before.

On Thursday or Friday, Michael was hurting. I gave him a hug and one side of his back felt a bit swollen. "Pulled muscle," I thought. To make sure everything was ok, I called the doctor to make an appointment. Neither Eric or I thought it was anything - just wanted to assure Michael that everything was ok.

So, late Friday morning, January 13, I took Michael to the doctor and filled him in on what was going on. He had Michael bend over so he could look at his back. What I saw made me sick to my stomach immediately. He had a huge hump on the left side of his back. I couldn't believe it. The doctor said he was pretty sure it was scoliosis, but he needed to have x-rays done right away. We were to return with the pictures as soon as they were developed.

I couldn't move. I literally had to put my head between my knees as the room was spinning so fast. How could I have missed this? I messed up HUGE this time around!

I called Eric and told him I couldn't do this by myself. I needed him to come to the hospital with us. As I went back to pick him up, I stopped in the house to make sure our babysitter could stay a while longer. My life had just turned upside down.

Michael? Oh, he was taking the whole thing in stride. No big deal. I'm trying not to pass out and he's thinking it's kind of cool to have x-rays taken.

I waited in the waiting room while Eric went with Mike for his first of MANY pictures throughout the coming years. My mind went crazy. What if there were tumors? What if it was more than "just" scoliosis? What if he had cancer? I began to pray that it WAS "just" scoliosis.

The x-rays were developed and the three of us went back to the pediatrician's office. He took them out of the big envelope and held them up to the light. I wish I could post those pictures here. Mike's back looked like an "S". I'm not kidding. And, it got worse in the next 2 1/2 years!

Michael took one look at the pictures and said, "Um, isn't my back supposed to be straight? Wow!" He was actually more IMPRESSED than he was nervous!

Can I just stop here and say that God has blessed us with the most wonderful pediatrician EVER? This man referred us to the BEST pediatric orthopedic surgeon in the area (possibly in the state). That's not just our opinion - that's the opinion of other doctors and people in the medical profession. Our pediatrician made the appointment for us knowing that if we were to call, Michael wouldn't be seen for a few weeks. He needed to be seen almost immediately. Our doctor ALWAYS has referred our children to the best specialists, has ALWAYS acted quickly when needed, but has never over-reacted. If you live near us and are looking for a great doctor, I highly recommend ours.

Anyway...Eric, Mike, and I went out to McD's for lunch. I was trying SO hard not to cry in front of Michael. I didn't want to scare him. I didn't know how much longer I could keep the tears, so I told Mike I had to return his grandma's call and then I'd follow he and his dad inside. After I called her, I allowed myself to shed some tears.

We knew this whole thing was a result of his NF (so the tumor scare was a real possibility...I wasn't really too far off with that concern). We had never discussed his NF too much. Now we were going to have to give him a little more information. Everything seemed so overwhelming. "Lord, please give us the strength to go through this and the wisdom to help Michael!"

When I went into the restaurant, I thought I had it all together. But, I just had to look at my son and I had to fight the tears all over again. Eric was explaining to Michael why he had scoliosis. Explaining how God chose for him to have NF. That it was something that God was going to use in his life. Michael took all that information with faith greater than I had. He already knew he belonged to God and he seemed pleased that God had a special plan for him.

All the while Eric was talking to Michael, I couldn't speak afraid that the tears would flow. So many thoughts were running through my head: Why did I wait so long to take him to the doctor's? If I had taken him earlier, maybe we could have gotten control of this thing. That hump was unbelievable! That curve - my baby was damaged! He'd never be the same! What have I done? I failed!!!

Right then, Michael turned to me and said, "It's a good thing we found it now when we did. Just think how much worse it could have been!"

That's when I had to turn my head and just cry. Eric knew I was blaming myself. Michael was looking on the bright side - just like he did through most of his ordeal. Oh, there were some down times (the time he got his brace and couldn't even eat his dinner; when he would have a growth spurt making the curve worse and causing tremendous pain; the recovery from his surgery which you can read about herehereherehere,and here), but through most of it, Michael always remembered that God had a plan for him and he kept his eyes on his Father, trusting in Him.

I know this is long, but I want to quickly tell you what the surgeon said on that first visit. First off, he subtly suggested that Michael leave the room with me while he gave the information to Eric. I knew it was bad when Eric barely spoke on the way home and I could barely choke down my dinner waiting to hear what he had been told. Michael just went about his life, not concerned. Later that evening, through the first tears I had seen my husband cry in years, Eric told me that the doctor told him that Michael would probably need surgery in 2-3 years. That his back would never grow any more after that surgery.  That there was a possibility of Michael dying or becoming permanently paralyzed during that surgery. In four days time, we had a diagnosis, a prognosis, and some scary possibilities put on our shoulders. But, as Eric had tears streaming down his face, he helped me to see our opportunity to offer Michael on the altar, just as Abraham offered his son Isaac. God would choose to do His will.

We put our son on that altar. God was gracious. We may have to put Michael, or another child, on that altar once again. May God continue to give us the strength and grace that He did beginning on that day - Friday, January 13, 2006.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Saturday Scripture, Sayings, and Suggestions: January 9, 2016

This last week went a lot more smoothly than I thought it would.  It seems everyone was pretty happy about getting back to the routine of things.  Having ice skating on Friday to look forward to helped, I think.  The fact that we take off time from ministry during the month of January allows us to breathe together as a family and I, for one, am enjoying that!
This weekend is a calm one.  We're having what normally would be called a "January Thaw" except we have nothing to thaw!  Yet, my husband has faith and just texted me a picture of his snowmobile all ready to go when the snows do come.  For now, I'll enjoy the warmer temperatures.  
And, I'll enjoy these next few minutes with you before we delve into our weekend of rest. :)


Scripture

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
-Matthew 7:12

But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity...
-Psalm 26:11

I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
-Psalm 30:1

I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
-Psalm 30:4

O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
-Psalm 30:8

Sayings



Suggestions

App:




For only $4.99, you can organize your homeschool, make completing assignments fun for the kids, and save your sanity!  Maybe it's too late for your sanity, but definitely get organzed with this iPad app.  This is, at least, my third year of using it.  Every weekend, I sit in a comfy chair, grab my kids books, and enter their assignments for the week in Homeschool Helper.  During school, the iPad is in a central place where the children may come find their assignment and check them off as they complete them.  It will help you keep track of grades and allow you to record field trips and attendance.  You can also archive each year!
Of all the planners I have used over the years, this is, by far, the best. And, the $4.99 is a one-time fee.  No yearly subscriptions.  Go, check it out and make your life easier!

Recipe:

photo and recipe courtesy of lecremedelacrumb.com

Home-made candy is daunting.  I never have a candy thermometer and I am terrified of anything that takes a ton of time, expensive ingredients and 50 steps, only for me to mess it up.  So, when I found this recipe for one of my favorite confections which boasted only 4 ingredients and NO CANDY THERMOMETER, I immediately clicked on it.  Then I went to the store and bought the ingredients I didn't have (I was low on everything that week).  
Then I made them.  
Then I fell in love.  
Melt in your mouth buttery goodness.  


Book:



Basically, anything by Ann Tatlock is a fantastic read.  However, if you love historical fiction, the Legacy Editions are exceptional.  A Room of My Own takes place during the Depression and gives us a close look at the camps that were built in our nation by families who had lost their jobs and homes.  We also see the violence that often accompanied the organization of labor unions and the suspicion of others being part of the Communist Party.  
While my pathetic description thus far sounds like a history book, it is not.  What I love about Ann Tatlock is that she researches her subjects deeply so that I learn things I never knew about a period and then creates a wonderfully personal story surrounding real life happenings.  This particular tale is told through the eyes of a young girl, but I become attached to all the characters that come in and out of her life.  
During these cold months, discover a new favorite author in Ann Tatlock and start with this book.


YouTube:


Yesterday, January 8, was the 60th anniversary of the deaths of five missionaries whose tale has become legendary and has placed them in the Christian Hall of Faith. The above is not a video, but a wonderful audio recording of Elisabeth Elliot giving us a personal biography of her husband, Jim.  Included are priceless recordings of the Auca Indians and of Jim Elliot, himself.  Set aside an hour and listen to this with your family.  

After listening to this, listen to the actual memorial service that was held for the five martyrs just one week later in Ecuador.  Video footage with photos and quotations from the men are included.  





I love this song, He is No Fool, based on the quote above by Jim Elliot.  This video shows us the lives of two great missionaries who gave all, then makes us think of what WE are doing with our lives for Christ.  

I guess I'm leaving you with some sobering thoughts this weekend, but it is good to meditate on our lives and if we are fulfilling our purpose.  May you live for Him this week.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Doctors, Lawyers, and Riders

Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. 
-Psalm 26:2

I read this at the beginning of last week and I meditated on it as I never have before.  Here, David is asking God to go over him, prove who he is and try his obedience and dedication, just as we need to ask God to do.  The fulfilling of this verse results in some difficult times for us...for me.

Examinations are anything but fun.  Who really skips off to the doctor's office for their exam?  They poke, probe and ask embarrassing questions.  Often, procedures hurt and are not at all pretty.  But, the doctor must go beneath the surface, to the ugly parts, to determine if we are healthy or not.  
At the end of the examination, we are told what is good and what is not.  The doctor prescribes treatments and suggests how we can keep the healthy parts healthy.  

Lawyers prove cases.  No one ever looks comfortable in a court room.  It is a tense atmosphere as the hard questions are asked and evidence is held before the judge as the prosecution and defense try to prove the the guilt or innocence of the defendant.  Where was he on the day of the crime?  What did he do?  Where are his fingerprints found?  What was going through his head?  The judge will decide the consequences dependent upon the jury's decision.  

When a rider tries the reins of a horse, he must begin slowly, but at one point he must push the horse hard.  Will the horse obey if they rider pulls the reins to either side to turn or if he pulls on them in order to slow or stop?  If the horse will obey at slow paces, the driver can push him faster.  How hard does the rider have to pull to stop the horse?  Does the animal obey at the slightest touch or does the driver have to use more force?  Often, the horse is tired and sweaty at the end of a work-out.  

Back at the doctor's office...in order to really decide if a heart is working properly or having difficulties, the doctor will put a patient on a treadmill.  The patient will need to walk/run for a time, putting stress on his heart.  The doctor determines if the heart is strong or about to quit based on how it responds to the stress test.

The Lord will exam, prove, and try us.  He will probe and seek way beneath the surface to the ugly places we hide from all others. What will He find?  Am I spiritually healthy?  What will He prescribe for the areas in which I am infected with sin?  How can I maintain or improve where I am thriving?

He will ask us difficult questions and search for evidence as to our service to Him.  Will He find enough evidence that I truly love Him or will it all point to loyalty to self and this world?  

Hardest of all, He will push us further than we have been to see if we will obey.  Our hearts will be put under stress, sometimes to the point of completely breaking.   The word "try" is the root word for "trial."  To have my obedience and dedication to God tried, I will go through and have gone through trials.  Even as recently as in the last week, my heart has been put under a tremendous amount of stress.  Deep cuts that were healed and scarred over began to re-open.  But, because of God's proving Himself to me time and time again, I know I can trust Him.  It's been hard, but I cling to Him.  He's my strength and is still the Healer of my wounds. 

The older we get in the Lord, the more thorough the examination, the more evidence we store, and the further God can push us.  In the difficult times, I can be thankful that God loves me enough to exam, prove and try me; that He wants to be sure I am healthy, working, and thriving in Him.   And, the best part of all, is that He never forsakes me throughout the process.  How do I know?  Because of the very next verse:

For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes...
-Psalm 26:3

As I am being challenged to the core and feel the stress on my heart and being, I look up and see God's love and His kindness.  He is there.  He loves me.  And, because of this, I believe my examination will show that I am pretty healthy and the evidence will prove that my heart desires to serve the Lord.  I may need some work on my obedience, but the Lord will continue to patiently tug at my reins.  And, even under stress, my heart beats strong with dedication and trust in my God.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Saturday Scripture, Sayings, and Suggestions: January 2, 2016

It's the first Saturday of the New Year!  Today, we will take down our Christmas decorations, go shopping for "real" food for "real" dinners, and get back to school planning.  Reality is bearing down on us hard!  But, before we put our feet to reality, grab your coffee and spend a little time with me this Saturday....


Scripture

A couple of good verses to meditate on and pray at the beginning of 2016:

"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer."
-Psalm 20:13-14

"Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart."
-Psalm 26:2


Sayings

The answer is in how you live your life.

It's been a rough week, but God reminded me that I am His treasure.  
So are you!

Suggestions
  
App:
 

When I do my daily Bible reading, I most often do it directly from my big black wide-margined Bible that my husband gave to me for my first married birthday, almost 21 years ago.  It is heavily marked with notes, the gold edges are long worn off, there are scribbles from a toddler many years ago (which, by the way, I was so upset about 14 years ago, but now I count them precious). 
ANYWAY - I do, however, sometimes read from my phone or iPad.  One of my favorite Bible reading and Bible plan apps is SheReadsTruth.  Not only does it have the Bible, they also have many different studies that you can go through on your own...some free some for a small cost.  My personal favorite is the hymn series.  Check it out.  Download it.  Let me know what you think.

Recipe

(photo courtesy of cookingclassy.com)

So, I can't make homemade bread.  No matter what I do, something goes horribly wrong.  Well, unless it's cinnamon rolls, pizza crust or biscuits.  But, "just to eat" bread...forget it. But then, I found this recipe.  I held my breath and tried it.  And, when I breathed again, it was a sigh of joyful contentment!  These are incredibly easy and absolutely delicious.  Try them!


Video/Song


Happy New Year from one of my favorites!! :)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and may your first week of 2016 be a successful one!  Spend some of your time with me here as I plan to post a couple of times next week.  Of course, I plan to be back here next weekend, too....we can re-group together!


Friday, January 1, 2016

Improvement


Happy New Year!!  I hope your New Year's Eve was spent just the way you like.  I was sick, but I enjoyed a quiet evening at home with my husband and children - just the way I like!

On my last post, I reflected on 2015.  What a blessed year it was for me personally.  Not everything was perfect - we had more doctor appointments this year than in many, we've had to make some tough decisions regarding relationships, and I've run myself ragged a couple of times.  Yet, in the trials as well as in the countless joys, I have heard God, felt His presence, and have seen Him work.  

To be honest, I forgot what phrase I had chosen for my theme this year.  I looked back and found it:  walk with God.  It was my goal to walk with God throughout the year. And, though I forgot that along the way, I truly believe I walked with God.  I may have strayed from the path a bit from time to time, but I really could not for very long before I knew I would get terribly lost without Him.  Sometimes, the path has been so dark, I could not see where God was taking me, but He has led me safely to the light each time.  It's been a great walk...a walk I plan to continue.

This brings me to this year's theme.  Let me share with you some of my goals for this year:

1. To, not only read my Bible through again, but to read it daily.

2. To ride, at least, 300 miles on my bike throughout the year.

3. To crochet a couple of scarves and, at least, 1 blanket.  Having just learned this skill, this is a pretty big goal.

4. To trust my husband even more.

I had set my goals a few days ago.  Then, I read Heidi St. John's post on why New Year's resolutions don't work.  Instead of resolve, we need inspiration.  Instead of doing, we must become.  What is my inspiration for my goals?  

Improvement.  

I want to improve this year.  I don't want to pick up a new hobby.  I don't want to learn a new skill.  I don't want to change who I am.  I want to improve on what I do.  I want to improve who I am.  Improve my relationship with the Lord.  Improve my relationship with my husband.  Improve my new-found skills.  Improve  my physical self.  

I do not look within myself for this improvement.  I ask God for wisdom, strength, grace, and character building.  I have walked with Him long enough to know He will help me.  I will continue to walk with Him and He will prove me throughout this year.  

With His proving, I will improve.  

Monday, December 28, 2015

Reflecting on 2015

In just a few days, the fifteenth year of the second millenium A.D., will come to an end.  For about a week, I have been contemplating my goals for the coming year; however, I realized how I should look at the year I've just been through and what I have learned and accomplished.  It is by this reflection that I am better able to set new goals and assess how I can improve myself.

1.  For what I believe is the first time in my married life (21 years), I read my Bible through this year.  I began January 2 and was able to finish on December 23.  I was blessed to have many times when God truly spoke to me through His Word, I was able to spill my heart to Him and lift my spirit while praising Him.  

 2.  I was able to learn more of what it is to "be still" and see God work.  There were many times this year when I wanted to jump in and fix something and other times when I knew something needed to be done, but I just didn't know what.  I would wait and pray...and I would see God work in ways I never would have thought.  Being still and waiting does not come naturally to me...this is someting my husband has been teaching me for years and, by God's grace, I am learning this lesson.  The benefits and blessings of waiting are tremendous.  It's so much more fun to see God work things out than having me mess things up.

 3.  Almost 2 years ago, I read Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts for the first time.  It was then I began to give thanks and count gifts, making my own list of 1000 blessings.  It shouldn't have taken as long as it did, but I finished my first 1000 this year.  I am on my second list now.

 4.  My husband bought me a wonderful brand new bike and I biked may miles along the Erie Canal this summer.

 5.  In the last month, I have learned to crochet and have completed a couple of little projects. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

 6.  After about 10 years or more, I have picked up my guitar again.  It's surprising how much I remember.  I have no plans to play publically as I wholly play before the Lord.  I am so blessed to have this wonderful and fun way to worship.

 How I have been blessed this past year!  All I have learned, experienced, accomplished and have been given has come from my Saviour.  I believe I will concentrate on just praising and thanking Him these next few days.

 How about you?  In what ways have you grown and been blessed in 2015?  I would love to hear!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday Scripture, Sayings, and Suggestions: September 19, 2015


I had a busy Saturday morning going to the Rochester Public Market and the grocery stores getting stocked for tonight's dinner with friends.  Now, I am finally enjoying my "morning" cup of coffee with a fresh cannoli I treated myself to at Market.
Last week, I was out with my sweetheart celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary.  One of the fun things we did was visit a State Park we haven't been to since our dating years.  I am often amazed at the beauty that surrounds us in the state that most outsiders assumed is all skyscrapers, pavement, and hurried people.  (You can read about the rest of our anniversary in Thursday's post)
Now that I have all the necessary ingredients for a yummy dinner, I need to get my house in order and start cooking.  But, that can wait until after my time with you here...and after my cannoli is eaten!



Scripture

"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers  in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
I Timothy 4:12

"But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content...and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
I Timothy 6:6-8,11b

Sayings 



Suggestions


Children's Book: We Are in a Book!


Just about everything from Mo Willems is brilliant. And funny.  Brilliantly funny.  I must say, at this time we do not actually own any of his books.  But, every time my younger children and I go to Barnes and Noble, we look at this guy's books.  We Are in a Book is my current favorite.  You have to read this with expression.  Warning you, though...you'll not get through it without stopping to laugh.  And, let's face it, laughing with your kids is necessary.


Good Reads for Adults:  One Thousand Gifts


  It's feeling and smelling like autumn here in Upstate New York.  With that comes pumpkins, corn, scarves, and attitudes of gratitude.  This book is perfect for the season.  I have read it twice, so far, and plan on cracking it open again this week.  Two words I don't use often:  Life changing.





So, we know this guy who ran 6 marathons in 6 continents in 5 days.  Don't believe me?  See it for yourself.





First, watch this.  You might cry.
Then....



....watch this.  You will cry.
Then, watch the song again.
One of my favorites.



So, two years ago some college students released a weather balloon with a GoPro camera attached.  After several minutes soaring above the earth, it crashed into the Grand Canyon.  It was recently retrieved.  Two thoughts:
1.  Amazing footage from the stratosphere.
2.  That is one tough camera!


Well, the cannoli is gone and time is passing.  I pray all have a marvelous weekend.