Saturday, October 31, 2009

Something to Think About

May I ask you a question?

If you were a football player, would you put on your opponent's uniform and go out on the football field in the middle of an intense game??

Or, if you were a soldier, would you don the uniform of your enemy and saunter onto the battlefield in the heat of battle dressed in your enemy's uniform?

I seriously doubt it!

Yet, many Christians don't think twice of dressing up themselves or their children as witches, wizards or devils and celebrating the "devil's holiday," all in the name of "fun," of course.

I find that strange, don't you?

I guess many Christians just forget that we are in a spiritual battle.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."

And Ephesians 6:12 says, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."

And yet, we are told to "dress up" for the battle. The scriptures tell us what we are to put on:

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." -- Ephesians 6:11

"Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand, therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of the salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." -- Ephesians 6:13-17.

The armor of God is to be the "costume" of the Christian, not just on October 31st, but on every day of the year, as we "fight the good fight of faith." (1 Timothy 6:12)

If you want to ponder this issue further, I encourage you to read this article from "The Teaching Home," which explores ideas on how to handle Halloween in a way that edifies our families and honors our Lord. You might also want to read my blog post from last year, entitled A Biblical View of Halloween.

* All Scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible.

Region Champs!!!

SCA (Sherwood Christian Academy) beat their rival SGA (Southwest Georgia Academy) last night to capture the Region Championship!!!! :)

Final Score 33-26!

This win was significant for a couple of reasons. First of all, this is the first time in school history that the football team has won a region championship, and it's only their second winning season with a notable record of 7-2. Winning the region championship gives Sherwood the home field advantage in the first game of the state play-offs next Friday night.

Secondly, there was a lot of behind-the-scenes drama that made this win especially gratifying!!! It all started when Sherwood's head football coach resigned late last spring due to health reasons. In the uncertainty that followed, he made the difficult decision to transfer his son, who was our star running back, to rival school SGA. In order for his son to be able to play his senior year (and not have to sit out according to GISA rules), he "transferred" there as well, joining SGA's coaching staff. Another player followed. Of course, this move created a range of powerful emotions for Sherwood football players and fans. Some disparaging comments about our team's size and abilities which were published only served to fan the flames of contention between the two teams.

However, Sherwood gained a new football coach and several new players, including our own star running back. What was once thought to be a tragedy for Sherwood, has proven to be a great blessing. Sherwood has overcome many obstacles, has achieved greater team unity and discipline than ever before, and with the Lord's help, has had a successful season. Then last night, they came out with a lot of intensity and a lot of motivation, determined to beat their rivals and proved that bigger isn't always better!!

This was just an incredible night for players, parents and fans, and I have a lot of pictures to share with you! First, some pictures of our tailgating party. With many of the booster club members contributing, we had quite a spread! The menu consisted of grilled hamburgers, venison burgers, hot dogs, sausages, and quail, plus all kinds of delicious tail-gating sides!

Then, we went over to the football field to watch the teams warm up. I took some pictures of our team warming up. I was fascinated with the way those big, tough guys move so gracefully and in unison, ballet-like, as they prepare their strong bodies for the physical exertion to come. My son, Joseph (#80) is in the center of the picture, at the end of his line, near the patiently waiting football.

This was a particularly interesting stretch. (Or were they checking to see if their helmets were on tightly enough?? I'm not sure!)

Here are the fans all lined up, wearing their white t-shirts, eager for the team to run out on the field!

The cheerleaders are poised with their banner ready for the explosion . . .

And suddenly, the players burst through the banner, to the wild cheers of a large crowd of faithful fans!

The game was Exciting and Tense! The other team scored first, but we quickly answered with an 85-yard touch down run on our first possession of the game! Then, they scored again, and we scored again. The volley of touchdowns continued, creating a tense game, right until the last seconds had ticked off the clock, at which point our players doused their coach with the cooler of Gatorade, and players and fans alike exploded onto the field!!!

It was a Joyful moment for Sherwood players and fans, but a couple of the senior boys were overcome with emotion at the long-awaited win! Tears streaming down faces, sweat streaming down arms, they demonstrated the depth of emotion that accompanies any hard-won victory!

My own sweaty son, Joseph, had a great game, and really man-handled the opposing tight-end, who had once been his teammate, before the transfer to a rival school.

Proud parents embrace and savor the moment!

Mrs. D congratulates her "adopted son", Joe for a game well played!

My favorite photo of all -- a proud papa and a happy son -- a true male bonding moment!! :)

Edit: I forgot to mention that after the game, a big group of us went to IHOP to celebrate! I'm not much of a late night party person, so it was pretty uncharacteristic for me to eat breakfast at midnight and get home at 1 am! Alan says I'm just getting ready for the new life that awaits me once I turn 50!! :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Then and Now

We have a wonderful little consignment shop in our town, called "Then and Now," where I enjoy shopping for "new" clothes and making the money to support my habit from the "old" clothes I sell on consignment. :)

They have a nice selection of attractive clothing at reasonable prices, and I find it easier to find skirts for myself and my daughters there than at the regular retail stores.

I went by there yesterday to pick up my check, and to look for some new jeans for long-legged Hannah. While there, I unearthed some real treasures! I thought I'd share some of my finds with you.

This vest is for Matthew. Mum Mum recently took him shopping and bought him some navy church pants and a white dress shirt to wear to church. (Yes, he is her special Pet!!) This vest will really pull that together and give him a nice "preppy" look! :)

I bought Bethany two skirts and a shirt, all originally from Old Navy. Each piece was either $4.98 or $5.98. Here is a peek at my favorite skirt with the cute little shirt. This will be quite a classy little outfit with her boots!

Here is my "golden nugget," but the picture just doesn't do it justice! It is a beautiful burgundy-red velvet dress with a black fur collar, that I picked up for a mere $6.98! Bethany will be beautiful in this dress for Christmas, and the short sleeves will be perfect for s Southwest Georgia December! :)

I hope to post a picture of her wearing it in a few weeks, so you can see how adorable she is!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Hidden Ingredient

Recently, I read this post on Amy Ellen's blog. About the same time, I read an article in USA Today about the perilous effects of high fructose corn syrup in our diets. Apparently, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is hidden in an enormous number of commonly consumed foods and its consumption is linked to the sky-rocketing levels of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic disorders in our nation.

Curious, I decided to take a look in my own pantry and refrigerator and learn which foods contained HFCS. Here are some of the items I discovered:

Are you surprised by any of these items? I was!!! It was certainly no surprise to discover HFCS in Hershey's syrup, dessert items, or even jelly, but I was totally shocked to see that it was in bread crumbs, diced tomatoes and Special K!!! Also, I was saddened to learn that it was in my beloved Heinz Ketchup, and in my favorite Yoplait yogurt, not just the regular yogurt, but the "sugar-free" light Yogurt!!! What a cruel trick on dieters -- why put Splenda and HCFS in the Same Product????

No wonder Americans struggle with their weight, when even "diet" products, such as Special K cereal, Fiber One bars, and sugar-free yogurt contian HCFS! According to the article in USA Today, not only does HFCS raise triglyceride levels and decrease insulin sensitivity, which both increase the risks of heart disease and diabetes, but "it can inhibit your body's ability to use leptin, the naturally occuring hormone that signals when you're satiated. In some people, it can actually convince us that we're starving, when when we've eaten our fill."

Like a hidden sin that destroys us from the inside out, this is a hidden ingredient with destructive qualities that needs to be eradicated from our pantries and our bodies! Unfortunately, this may prove to be a daunting task.

Weight Loss Wednesday -- 10 Diet Dos and Don’ts

A day late and a dollar short!

That cliche really sums up this post!

In a perfect world, Weight Loss Wednesday would always be posted on a WEDNESDAY --- but, my Wednesday never seemed to yield time for a blog post! So, this is the Thursday morning version of WLW! :)

Likewise, in a perfect world, I would always post a loss of at least two pounds per week! (Actually, I guess I would not even be overweight in a perfect world!!!) In reality, I have lost 0 pounds this week. :( I really thought I would post a loss this week -- so I'm rather discouraged. Nevertheless, I plod along.

I am continuing to exercise daily, hoping I will soon turn the corner, and I plan to post about that next week. For now, I encourage you to read this article by Jorg Cruise on the Top Ten Diet Do's and Don'ts.

Jorge’s Top 10 Diet Dos and Don’ts

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Since today is my sister's birthday, I thought I would post this Tribute to Sisters everywhere! :)

An Unexpected Blessing

When I first discovered the world of blogging, I was immediately intrigued and wondered what it would be like to have a blog of my own. Even though I knew I would enjoy it, because I've always loved writing, I never knew how much fun blogging would be! A lot of the fun comes from receiving feedback on what you've written, and from "meeting" so many Precious women in the blogosphere. I had no clue as to the existence of the whole blogging community and all of the sweet fellowship with like-minded women that was available.

I've also experienced another unexpected blessing from blogging. Surprisingly, it has strengthened my relationship with my sister, who lives about 770 miles away. After launching my blog, I hounded encouraged her to start one, too. Now we enjoy keeping up with each other's daily lives through our blogs. Not only that, but now that we both have Gmail accounts, we try to be online at the same time once every day or two, so that we can enjoy staying in touch via Gmail chats. Blogging has truly helped us span the miles and build a closer relationship, making up for the years we wasted in stupid sibling squabbles.

This is not the best picture of us, but it was all I could find! We both have daughters who are into photography, so we need to commission one of them to take a picture of us the next time we are together!

Today is my sister's birthday! An astute observer might notice that we were both born on the 27th! My day is September 27th, and hers is October 27th. That means it is time to celebrate!!

First, I want to celebrate the woman my sister has become! Rebecca is an awesome person -- caring, compassionate, creative, and an incredible cook! (I think we should all meet at her house for dinner!!!) :) She Loves the Lord and her Family and works diligently in her home! She has grown so much in the Lord and allowed him to refine her into a priceless Proverbs 31 woman!

Now, I want to celebrate by encouraging all of my readers to pay Rebecca a visit and leave a comment or two on her blog. She has a wonderful blog where she shares about her family and her walk with the Lord, while serenading you with beautiful music. I'm sure you will enjoy stopping by her peaceful little home on the web. These are some of my favorite posts she has written -- here, here, here., and here. Be sure to check them out! While you're there, why not wish her a Happy Birthday! :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Are You an Energy Giver or an Energy Taker?

Have you ever known someone who just drained the energy right out of you because of his or her negative, complaining spirit? You dread being around such a person, and try to avoid him or her, if at all possible!

You probably also know someone whose positive outlook and enthusiastic spirit is contagious! Their joyful spirit draws you to them like a magnet!

How about you? Which type of person are you? Are you an Energy Giver or an Energy Taker? Do you give energy to your family and fill your home with joy? Or do you drain the life out of your family with your negative, complaining spirit??

This dear lady, Laverne, is a lovely example of an Energy Giver. I met her at the Cracker Barrel in my town, where she works in the gift shop. I always look forward to shopping there, because I know that she will permeate the room with her joyful, enthusiastic, helpful spirit!!

My desire is to be an Energy Giver to those who come in contact with me each and every day. I try to encourage my children to be energy givers, as well. I've found that it comes more naturally to some personalities than to others. :)

Would you like to find out whether you are an Energy Giver or an Energy Taker? If so, take the Quiz below:

1. What is your attitude towards spending time with God and in His Word?
  • You enjoy spending time with the Lord and in His Word.
  • You regularly neglect your devotions or just go through the motions out of a sense of duty.
  • You disdain God's Word and want nothing to do with God.

2. Which best describes your countenance?

  • You smile at everyone you see and your eyes shine.
  • You smile only at your friends, your face looks sad or disinterested.
  • You are self-focused, sullen, and your eyes are dark.

3. Which of these best describes you?

  • You are enthusiastic and fervent in spirit.
  • You are complacent and lack initiative.
  • You are negative and complain about everything that doesn't suit you.

4. Which describes your general attitude towards life?

  • You praise otheBulleted Listrs and look for good in every situation.
  • You listen to critics and do not defend others.
  • You are critical of others and look for the bad in every situation.
5. Which of these describes your attitude towards work and service?
  • You work with eager hands and look for ways to serve others.
  • You avoid work and only serve yourself.
  • You react to work and wait for others to serve you.

6. Which of these describes your spirit?

  • You have a grateful spirit and eagerly thank God and others for blessings.
  • You take everything for granted and rarely thank others.
  • You are ungrateful, demanding, and have many expectations.

7. Which of these describes your sense of humor?

  • You enjoy good, clean humor.
  • You enjoy silliness and practical jokes.
  • You enjoy foolishness, dirty jokes, and mocking others.

8. What kind of worker are you?

  • You do more than is required.
  • You do only what is required, no more.
  • You do less than is required.

9. How do you respond when things don't go your way?

  • You yield your rights to God and avoid responding in anger.
  • You are irritable and easily offended.
  • You are quick to anger and often blow up.

10. How do you respond when you are wronged?

  • You forgive offenders.
  • You hold grudges.
  • You seek revenge.

11. How do you handle trials and disappointments?

  • You count it all joy and trust God to work all things together for good.
  • You are depressed and full of self-pity during hardships and trials.
  • You react in anger and resentment to hardships.

Now, add up how many times you chose the first, second, or third response.

If you mostly chose the first response, you are an Energy Giver! Congratulations! You are a blessing to all who know you!

If you mostly chose the second response, you are an Energy Waster. You need to work on some of your attitudes and responses to consistently be a blessing to others.

If you mostly chose the last response, you are an Energy Taker. You need the Lord to transform you from the inside out!

I don't know about you, but I discerned a few areas I need to work on, as I truly want to be an Energy Giver!

"Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that
which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in
honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit;
serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant
in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of the saints; given to hospitality.
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not." -- Romans 12:9-14

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rungs on a Ladder

I discovered this beautiful, thought-provoking post early this morning, as I pondered the day which stretched out before me. I prayerfully considered how to prioritize my impossibly long to-do list, knowing that I cannot fit all I would like into the next 24 hours. How do I choose? Where do I start? What do I leave undone??

"Our choices add up.

Habits into hours, decisions into days, lists into a life.

The way in which we live our moments, our choices for the gift of the next 24 hours, are rungs on a ladder. The rungs take us somewhere. These moments are rungs scaling each and every day . . . making a life."

To explore these thoughts with gifted writer, Ann Voskamp, climb to the next rung -- here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Weight Loss Wednesday

Not much to report this week. I made no progress on my weight loss. :( I'm afraid I had too many splurges between my boys being home on Fall Break and Matthew's new interest in baking!! :)

The one good thing I can say is I have done a T-Tapp workout or taken a walk most days this week. So, I have been building my exercise habit, and I am happy about that.

For inspiration, I'm going to have to send you here, where you can read about someone who did lose weight this past week and also has a very helpful tip to share.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My T-H-E-O-R-I-E-S about Spelling

Spelling always came naturally to me.

When I first started teaching my children, I owned the belief that a good reader would make a good speller. In the early years, I spent many hours reading to my oldest children, who grew to be avid readers of their own books. True to my assumption, my two oldest daughters became excellent spellers with ease.

Then, I had a string of sons!

This theory, as well as many others, was soon challenged! While my oldest son did not read until he was 8, he quickly became one of my most prolific readers, reading multitudes of challenging biographies and autobiographies, huge history books, and as many G.A. Henty books as I could afford to supply him! Neverthless, he never did learn to spell! Fortunately, he gets by with Spell Check, as do many members of this generation.

None of my sons are great spellers. So, I am tempted to form a new theory -- that girls are better spellers than boys. Any truth to that? I don't know. I did a little research on the web and discovered that approximately the same number of boys and girls have spelled their way to the top of the National Spelling Bee competition.

I have observed that most boys are drawn to electronic entertainment over reading. Their fascination with computer games may help them develop finger dexterity, strategy, and even some general knowledge, but probably does little to help their spelling skills. Until now!

The Blue Back Speller has met its match with!!

I discovered this FREE website just two months ago, and have been raving about it ever since! This website allows you to create custom spelling lists to accompany your unit studies or copy standard lists from your children's spelling textbooks. If you sign in first, you will be able to save these lists indefinitely. Then your child can choose one of three options: Teach Me, Play a Game, or Test Me.

Under the Teach Me option, each word is spelled out loud while it is typed on the screen and used in a sentence. After the student is acquainted with the words, he or she can learn them effortlessly by playing a variety of fun spelling games. The favorite at our house is Hang Mouse!! Then, on test day, the child selects Test Me and each word will be clearly pronounced aloud and used in a sentence (if that option is selected) and the child simply types in the word and goes to the next one. Finally, the computer grades the test for you and shows your child what he did wrong! You can also print out the test for your records.

So, now I have a new theory -- that SpellingCity will improve the spelling of any child with its multi-sensory approach and computer game format. While this may not be a proven theory, I do recommend that you test it out! My daughter, Tiffany, is using this program with her 3rd-5th grade students with good results, and I have found that that SpellingCity has both simplified my life and improved the spelling scores at my house! Check it out!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Matt's Recipe

Thursday afternoon while picking up Joe from football practice, my cell phone rang. It was 7 year old Matt, wanting me to buy 8 packages of cream cheese from the store so he could make a cake that he saw on The Food Network!! Apparently, he and Mum Mum had been watching "their favorite cooking show" when the featured cake caught his eye. I did what any normal mother would do, I told him that was a LOT of cream cheese, and we'd have to see . . . :)

Now, you must understand that Matt is not one to be put off! He is Very Persistent! And persuasive! When he gets something in his mind, you never hear the end of it!

So, as soon as I got home, he began telling me about this recipe and begging me to let him make it, assuring me it was Easy and he just knew it would be "Licious!"

I wasn't totally opposed to the idea of helping him make this cake, so I began to try to get an ingredient list from him. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: "So, what do you need to make this cake?"

Matt: "First you need bread crumbs. You put crackers in that thing that goes Bdlr . .bdlr . . bdlr." (Here he began to act out with not just his hands but his entire body the motion of the blender along with appropriate sound effects!)

Me: (holding my sides in laughter) "Oh, OK, I think you mean graham cracker crumbs! What else?"

Matt: "8 packages of cream cheese."

Me: "That's a LOT of cream cheese, Matt! This is going to be fattening . . . and expensive!!"

Matt: "You can just use 3 then, or 1! It doesn't matter!"

Me: "It will matter. We have to use what the recipe calls for. OK, we'll come back to this. What else?"

Matt: "That soft white stuff."

Me: "Flour?"

Matt: "Yes, flour. No, not flour."

Me: "Sugar?"

Matt: "Yes, sugar!"

Me: "Confectioner's sugar or sugar like we use when we make cookies?"

Matt: (perturbed with me for my lack of understanding) "Just plain sugar!"

Me: "OK, What else?"

Matt: "That stuff in ice cream."

Me: (after numerous guesses) "Vanilla ice cream?"

Matt: "Yes! Nilla! but you know, not the ice cream, just the nilla. You know, nilla water."

Me: (very amused) "Oh!! You mean vanillla extract?!?"

Matt: "Yes, like you put in Haystacks! And you need chocolate too."

Me: "What kind of chocolate? cocoa? chocolate chips? baking chocolate?"

Matt: (sighing in frustration!) "You know, just normal chocolate, Mom!!"

At this point, I think you probably get the picture! Tiffany and I have never laughed so hard as we did trying to get that ingredient list down!! But, try as we might, we still didn't know what all the ingredients were, or how to put them together or anything really concrete about this recipe, which was causing much frustration on both sides!! Matt kept insisting that he knew how to make it and that it was easy and so licious! :)

I decided to try a different approach. I sent him to ask Mum Mum if she knew how to make the recipe that was featured. No luck there. So, I sent him back to ask her the name of the cooking show they were watching, thinking I could look it up online. He came back with the channel they were watching!!!

Finally, I talked to Mum Mum myself and learned they were watching Barefoot Contessa. Thinking that I was finally getting somewhere, I went to her website, but could not find any cheesecake recipes.

Then, suddenly, I remembered this recipe for a chocolate cheesecake that my Mom had given me the last time I was there. I decided it was time to try to make a substitution! I read the recipe to Matt, emphasizing how similar it was to the recipe he had seen on the cooking show. However, Matt knew his ingredient list far too well to fall for my scheme! He knew right off it wasn't the right recipe when he heard it used oreos instead of bread crumbs . . .

Another dead end.

Eventually, by some miracle, he quit pushing his recipe and decided to "own" mine! That was on Friday evening. So, on Saturday morning, we spent some fun time in the kitchen creating our delicious dessert together. We served the cheesecake Saturday night, and it was a huge hit with the family! Everybody loved Matthew's Cheesecake! Momentarily forgetting that I was on a diet, I was hoping to have a second piece on Sunday afternoon, but when I looked in the fridge, it was all gone!!! :(

If you would like to make "Matthew's Cheesecake" (aka Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Cheesecake), I won't make you guess how to make it! I will post the recipe right here on my blog for everyone to enjoy!

Matthew's Cheesecake


20 Oreo cookies, crushed (about 2 cups)
3 TBSP butter, melted
4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese (I used 1/2 regular and 1/2 low fat)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
6 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted and cooled a bit


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Line 13x9 inch baking pan with aluminum foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. (Not convinced this is necessary.)
3. Mix cookie crumbs and butter; press firmly onlto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes.
4. Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.
5. Add sour cream. Mix well.
6. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after the addition of each egg.
7. Remove one cup of batter and set aside.
8. Stir melted chocolate into remaining batter. Pour over crust.
9. Spoon the reserved batter over top and swirl with a knife.
10. Bake 40 minutes or until center is almost set. ( I baked considerably longer than this.) Cool.
11. Refrigerate for four hours or overnight. Use foil handles to lift cheesecake from pan before cutting to serve. Store any leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator, carefully hiding it from the family! ;)

Makes 16 servings.

Interestingly, after we had already made the recipe above, I told my sister this story, and by going to the Food Network website and looking on the day Matthew was watching his cooking show, she immediately found the recipe in question! (So much for my computer skills!) However, I'm thinking it all turned out for the best. The original recipe looks rather involved, and I doubt it's any better than the incredible and simple recipe we just made.

Twenty Questions

1. What is your favorite thing to snack on while you're blogging?

Kashi Sunshine and dry roasted peanuts! (my daughter's invention!)

2. What is one thing you wouldn't want to live without?

Air conditioning!

3. Beach, Mountains or Farm? Where would you live if you had a choice?

Beach 1/2 the year/mountains the other 1/2 :) I think Donna Gibson has this one all figured out!

4. What's your least favorite chore/household duty?

matching socks!

5. Who do people say you remind them of?

different random people

6. Prefer parties and socializing or staying at home with the fam?

Depends my mood, but probably staying home to curl up and read a good book or watch a great movie or even work on a blog post!

7. What's your all time favorite movie?

The Sound of Music or Anne of Green Gables/Avonlea -- I can't decide between these two classics. They just don't make movies like these anymore~

8. Do you sleep in your make up or remove it like a good girl every night?

True confessions: I NEVER remove my make up at night, which makes me a bad girl! But I do remove my contacts every night and disinfect! Does that count??? :)

9. Do you have a hidden talent or a deep desire to learn something that you've never had a chance to learn? What is it?

I would like to learn web design; it seems fascinating to me.

10. What's one strange thing you're really good at?

falling asleep in the car!

11. What first attracted you to your spouse?

his thoughtful, caring spirit.

12. What is something you love to smell?

whole wheat bread fresh from the oven.

13. Tell something about you that you know irritates people.

Having a terrible sense of direction! This irritates my hubby, who is a walking road map!

14. When you have extra money (HA!) what's the first thing you think to do with it?

Buy books!

15. Are you a silent laugher or a loud laugher? What makes you laugh the hardest?

Loud laugher. I laugh the hardest at the funny things my children do and say, especially Matt and Bethany! We always wonder what people without children do for entertainment!

16. Where is your favorite place to shop?

Kohls/Kirklands/The Fresh Market -- depending on whether you are talking clothes, home decor, or food!

17. What's one thing you'd do more often if you had more time?

Read a book/Take a nap! (I wish I could say Exercise . . . )

18. Are you a big spender or frugal?

Somewhere in between?

19. Who is your favorite character of all time (from a movie or book)? (Can't be real)

Anne Shirley

20. Would you want to be famous?

NO! Slightly Rich? Yes!! :)

These questions are from the Harvest of Friends Blog Party. I encourage you to visit Lynette's blog and join the fun!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sticker Shock

This is the initial x-ray of Christopher's left arm. You can see on here how his elbow was broken in two places, which required surgery last Monday to repair. He now has two screws holding the bones in place, plus he is in a full arm cast.

Yesterday we received the first statement from the hospital. How much do you think his surgery cost? Remember, it was outpatient. Keep in mind, he was only there for four hours total. He had screws inserted to repair a broken bone; he did not have open heart surgery and was not on life support. However, I was afraid my husband would need to be on life support after he saw the bill!

What's your guess?? Would you believe twenty thousand dollars???? And that does not include the Orthopedic doctor's bill!!!

Can you say, "Ouch?!"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Remembering Malachi

Did you know that today, October 15th, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day?

I didn't know either until I read about it on Michelle's blog. Michelle has become a dear friend to me through the world of blogging and emailing, and I was heavy-hearted to hear of Michelle's unexpected pregnancy and miscarriage this past weekend. You can read about her loss here.

Michelle has encouraged her readers to share about any babies they've lost through miscarriage or after birth on their blogs today and then link back to her blog. I thought about it, but was really not planning to participate, even though I've had two miscarriages myself. I didn't really want to bring those memories back up, and I didn't want to take the time to write a blog post about it, and I just resisted the idea, even though I thought it was a good one.

Then, I read the story of Lynette Kraft, who has been required to give three of her precious children back to God. Her testimony of What Can be Gained through Heartache was so sad, yet, at the same time, such a Blessing! Reading it inspired me to share about one of my miscarriages, even though my story is NOTHING compared to hers!

Because it happened so long ago, I didn't think I could recall enough details to write a blog post. Then, unexpectedly, I found a folder that contained the story of my first miscarriage. Honestly, I don't even remember writing this all out! But, finding it sure makes it easy to create a blog post now! So, here is my story of "Malachi."

September 19, 1994

I was eleven weeks into my sixth pregnancy and we were all excited about the addition of a new little baby to our family. However, in the early evening, I discovered that I was spotting. Alan was out of town, and when he called to check in, I revealed the alarming news to him with a heavy heart.

September 20, 1994

The bleeding continued, despite my efforts to take it easy. Alan came home and put me to bed. Lovingly, he cared for me and the children and kept the household running. I read and reread the IBLP Basic Care Bulletin on Miscarriage, which was informative and inspirational.

September 21, 1994

I was still bleeding even though I had been staying in bed, so we decided to call our family physician. He arranged for us to have an ultrasound that afternoon. There was no time for us make arrangements for the children, so we all trooped over to the hospital.

The ultrasound was performed, but unlike previous ultrasounds, the technician was not friendly, did not tell me anything, and turned the screen so I could not see the baby. She would not answer any of my questions, either. Finally, she called the Radiologist into the room to view the ultrasound. I thought surely he would answer my questions and either confirm or calm my fears, but he never even acknowledged my presence in the room! He stared at the screen for a few moments, and then grunted and left!! The technician told me to call my doctor's office the next day for the results!!!! Can you believe it? At this point, I lost it! I burst into tears and sobbed uncontrollably. Finally, someone had compassion on me and asked the radiologist to page my physician. After they conversed privately, he gave me the phone and I was able to talk to my family doctor, who told me the bad news -- the sac was appropriate in size for eleven weeks gestation, but there was no hearbeat and the baby had apparently died at eight weeks gestation.

Everyone at the hospital had been cold and heartless, but our doctor was extremely kind and compassionate, promising to request prayer for us that night at church. A father of five himself, he valued life and his compassion and understanding were a bright light in a very dark place. We felt it was a gift from God at that difficult moment.

As soon as the children saw my face, they knew the bad news. Tiffany (9) burst into sobs. It was so hard on her to let go of that precious baby! Taylor (4) kept asking why God took our baby to heaven to live with Him. I tried to explain that God knew what was best. Finally, he said, "Oh well, Mommy, now you can nurse Joseph again! :) (My milk had dried up when I got pregnant and poor Joseph received the shortest amount of breastfeeding of any of my babies.) Wasn't that sweet?

September 22, 1994

We saw our family doctor and communicated our desire to miscarry at home rather than have a D&C. He was very compassionate and graciously granted our request, even though it was against the "accepted medical practice" in our area at that time.

My Mom took the children home with her for the night and told us to go out to eat and enjoy a break. She even slipped me some money, and told me to go buy something new to wear. She was so gracious and so wise, because it was good for Alan and me to be alone and begin to deal with our grief. Plus, going out together was much better than just sitting at home waiting for something to happen.

September 23, 1994

It was a quiet (too quiet) day at home with all of the children at my Mom's and Alan back to work. My bleeding and cramping increased, but nothing more happened. Knowing that my precious baby had died and waiting for my body to go into labor were very hard. Yet, I didn't want to have an invasive procedure like a D&C with its many possible side effects, unless medically necessary.

I knew the Lord was in control and was using the waiting time to teach me something (patience again, Lord??), but I sure struggled with the restlessness as I waited.

My pastor and his wife drove over to visit us that evening, and I began to receive cards, phone calls, and meals from thoughtful friends.

September 24, 1994

Alan and I drove over to my parent's house to pick up the children. We decided to run a few errands on the way. I was having some signs of "early labor" and was feeling very weepy, but I didn't know how long it would be before my body kicked in and began the process.

We pulled into my parent's driveway; I got out of the van, and immediately, I felt a GUSH! I ran to the bathroom, where I was greeted by lots of blood and large clots. I continued to experience uterine contractions and heavy bleeding for quite awhile, and then suddenly, I felt very sick. Everything turned gray and fuzzy and my head felt very strange. I knew I was passing out . . . I tried to call for help. . . . Finally, Alan heard my calls for help and he and my Mom came to my rescue, reviving me and helping me into the guest room bed.

What I thought was going to be a quick event turned into a four hour labor!! The contractions were regular and intense and I went through all three stages of labor, even transition! This was not at all what I had expected! I lost a lot of blood and alternated between feeling hot and sweaty and cold and shivering. We became fearful, and wondered if we should transport; however, a call to the doctor encouraged us to hang in there a little bit longer, which we did. Just a few minutes later, I passed the placenta and baby, and it was over. Immediately, I felt much better and the bleeding nearly stopped, while an unexpected peace came over me, just like I usually experienced after giving birth.

After a few moments of basking in the realization that it was all over and I was OK, my arms began to feel agonizingly empty and I yearned to hold a precious baby. At that moment, my 9-month old baby, Joseph, woke up from his nap and I was blessed to be able to cuddle him and love on him! Wasn't that a special gift from God??

Soon, the older children were back from picking apples with their PaPa and I was able to comfort them and reassure them that I was FINE. My Dad had wisely taken them on an excursion, so that they missed all the "excitement" and were kept busy during those tense hours! Although I hated that I brought all the drama to my Mom's house, it did turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as my Dad was able to care for the children, while my Mom and Alan cared for me.

September 25, 1994

I was very weak and tired and stayed in bed. Alan stayed home from work and cared for the children. A dear friend brought supper for the family.

September 26, 1994

While Alan took me to have some blood work and my Rhogam injection, my dear friend, HappyBusyMama, took care of my five children (plus her four!). Thank you Lori!! :)

Later that afternoon, we had a memorial service for our baby. Alan named the baby "Malachi," partly because of Malachi 4:6, which says, "And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers . . . " Alan prayed and read from the Psalms, and Tiffany read a poem that she had written for the baby. Then, Alan buried "Malachi" in a box in the woods behind our house. It was very pretty and peaceful with the sun shining through the leaves,, while we all stood in a circle holding hands. then, we all placed stones and flowers on top of the tiny grave, and said our good-byes to a member of our family that we never got to meet. While a time of sadness and grieving, it was also a time for celebrating the closeness and love of our family of seven, and for rejoicing in the fact that we could all be reunited some day, because God willingly gave up His only Son for us! (I had a new understanding of what a sacrifice that was!)

September 27, 1994

My 32nd birthday. Birthdays have no sense of whether this is an appropriate time for a celebration -- they just arrive anyway! And life goes on . . .
Here is the poem that Tiffany wrote.

Our Baby

The mother's pride and joy,
The children's plaything and toy.
Easing the strife
of the Christian life.
One day in heaven to meet
Our little baby ever so sweet.
Our little baby whom we never got to meet,
As he went to heaven to live with Thee.

Tiffany, age 9
September 25, 1994

"The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 2:21
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