Thursday, December 29, 2011

God is Carrying Me

I just wanted to thank you all so much for your prayers. So far the tonsillectomy has been successful. The doc said they were not in good shape and I should be feeling much better in a week or two now that they are out.

The surgery went really well. My sis and I got out our Scrabble game after they put in the IV, and had to immediately put it away again. I went right in! Last time I had surgery I had to wait something like 6 hours. It was very nice.

The best way I can describe the way it feels right now is two baseballs covered in sandpaper in the back of my throat. So far there has been little bleeding so I'm being very careful about trying not to clear my throat and cough. Not easy when you have a post nasal drip.

Sleeping and taking my meds has been a challenge. I can't sleep because my throat is so swollen that I immediately start snoring so I can breathe. It wakes me up because it is so painful. So I just take cat naps all day and night long. I'm watching "Biggest Loser" on Netflix Watch Instantly. It is a great series and keeps my mind off of the pain.

I am so thankful for how God is carrying me. I have never counted my blessings as much as I have since this surgery. After having the bunyonectomy (sp?) about the same time last year, this is a walk in the park. So thankful for that reference point. I can walk around and be part of the family even though I can't talk. Lily is a year older, too so that makes it easier.

Pray that the swelling with go down so that I can get more liquids down me. It takes me about two hours to drink a 1/3 of a cup of liquid. I'm starving all the time! LOL! I will probably losing the five pounds that I put on from my foot surgery that I never could seem to lose.

I'm  looking forward to not having sore throats all the time. It was affecting my singing and what I could eat. I really am grateful for having the opportunity to get this done. The icing on the cake is that I don't have to pay a dime for it since we were at 100% on our insurance.

My sis and I have been playing Scrabble a lot. I'm still whipping her even being all doped up on my pain meds! LOL! She is the Yoda of Scrabble. I used to hate playing that game now I love it.

Thanks again for your prayers. God is carrying me and will continue to hold me in the palm of His hand.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Forgiving Our Children

(From the Archives)
Dear Mothers,

Do you ever find yourself taking what your children say to you personally? I find that sometimes I have a really hard time forgiving my children over particular offenses. Especially when they say things like "You hate me!" or "I hate this house!" Those words can make me see RED!!! The book, Good and Angry addresses this very issue.

Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller say this, “Forgiving children doesn’t mean we ignore offenses. Rather, forgiveness opens the door for significant confrontation to take place. Instead of taking the offense personally, you release the emotional intensity so that you can help a child develop character. The fact of the matter is that most kids don’t appreciate the correction and the amazing patience we have as parents. But the lack of gratefulness we receive in this job of parenting doesn’t lessen our task. We must continually correct our kids while looking for ways to do it that they can accept. Plan your comments and present the critique in constructive and gracious ways. Forgiveness frees you from harshness and allows for controlled, consistent training to take place. Tolerance is easier when you don’t have accumulated frustration. Forgiveness allows you to release offenses instead of saving them up.”

I love that! If I’m not emotional about every situation because I’ve taken it personally, I will be less likely to “blow my top” when misbehavior does happen. Instead of trying to control my children with my anger, I will instead be purposeful in my training techniques.

I want to develop this lifestyle of forgiveness. The only way I can do that is through intentional prayer and walking in The Spirit.

Remember that dealing with annoying behavior in children requires a huge amount of patience and forgiveness. They are still on the “assembly line”, they are not adults and yet we expect them to display adult-like maturity at all times. Children will make mistakes and they will NOT always respond well to correction. Mostly, change comes slowly. This gives us many opportunities to practice forgiveness over and over and over again!

From One Mom to Another,

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Christmas Apron and a Surprise Surgery

 Last year my MIL, Ethel, gave me this beautiful vintage-style Christmas apron. Isn't it lovely?
 I wear aprons everyday. It is fun to have one that is just for Christmas baking. I love the red trim and the back is to die for!
 I need to sew up the heart-shaped pocket because my cell phone has made it sag a bit.
 Speaking of Christmas baking, I caved in and did what I swore I would never do. I got the kids another gingerbread house. I shudder when I think of the mess, but they actually didn't do too bad. I am torturing them by making them wait till Christmas to eat it. Hopefully, there will be no cobwebs hanging on it by then! It will be harder than a rock by the time they eat that silly thing.
Everyone seems to be into drawing right now. Nana Diana surprised the kids with some drawing pads and they have gone to town! Jacob and Andrew's drawing has really improved and I love seeing what they are into. They are expanding their interests from just Legos to something else. That is a good thing! It is also hard to fight when you are drawing quietly.

Christmas is almost upon us. I am done with shopping, just need a wrap a few more presents. I am also looking forward to singing in our Christmas Eve service.

I am going to enjoy talking and singing as much as I can this week because next Wednesday I am going in for a tonsillectomy. I am sick of having sore throat after sore throat. I decided to bite the bullet and ask my family to help me while they are on Christmas vacation. They have lovingly and graciously agreed to care for me and the kids so that Steve will not have to take any days off of work. If I can do a bunyonectomy, then I can do a tonsillectomy. My insurance is at a 100% until the end of the year and my doc graciously agreed to squeeze me in at the last minute.

I ask for you to pray for two things:

1. I will not have excessive bleeding (I guess 1 in 25 people have to go back and get cauterized again)

2. I will heal quickly, so that I can start homeschooling within 10 days. I guess talking is NOT something you want to do.

Thank you so much. I value your prayers more than words can say!

Have a Merry Christmas and may the Lord bless you and yours abundantly!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Musings

(My favorite Christmas decoration. My jewelry tree that my parents made me)

I just haven't felt like blogging much lately. Life has gotten in the way. I'm not going to lie to you, it's been tough.

(My almond biscotti  is my Christmas gift to our parents)

After Grandma Mary died, my husband graciously watched the kids so that I could go to my mom's and help her with the overwhelming task of sorting out Grandma's things. It was so hard, but I was thankful that my mom didn't have to do it alone. My mom and I even took a little time to play and I got to listen to her do an Underground Tour in Pendleton. She is so cool! She volunteered to do a tour for free for the ladies who are in drug and alcohol counseling. I was shocked at how young they were, but how old they appeared. I silently prayed for them as I followed them in the tour. They were so sweet, polite and thankful.

(Our tree full of firefighter ornaments. You wouldn't believe how many firemen Santas there are!)

I hit the ground running from then on and found myself so far behind that there was one day where I didn't get on the computer to check my email! That is a true rarity!

(Steve's Dad putting the final ornament on our Advent Tree)

I have been dealing with a lot of misbehavior with my children. It has been a full-time job and I am doing my best to keep my head in this game. Part of that is not doing extra-curricular activities, such as blogging or watching movies. I am trying to be as consistent as possible and paying attention to what is going on around me. I have several children that tend to slip under the radar. They know how to escape when there is work to be done!

 (Last year, Lily had fun crawling all over the presents)

( Andrew doing some Christmas baking last year. These bacon/chestnut wraps are a family favorite!)

I've also been going regularly to physical therapy for my shoulder and arm pain. We are making slow progress, but due to my stress level, it is taking a long time. God is teaching me ways to reduce my stress and I am listening. I'm getting down right sick of this nerve pain! I want to get better so badly. I was blessed with a free pass to a gym and have been going regularly. One of the biggest strides I have made is my posture. It is 70% better! I have always had bad posture and it feels like a miracle that I can be relaxed enough to pull my shoulders back and sit up straight. My back is stronger than it has been in years and is less likely to go into spasm. I think gardening will be a breeze this year if I keep it up!

Homeschooling has been going good. Andrew is starting to put some words together on his own and we have now started the Super Silent E. Teaching reading is not one of my favorite things to do. I am so Type A and impatient. I have to really force myself to slow down and wait for him. I love teaching my children science, history and Bible though.

Jessica just finished her third grade grammar book and is headed into fourth! I am going to work more on writing skills and typing with her, especially since she is starting to email now.

The rest are just plugging along. Attitudes have been much better. We are all looking forward to Christmas break!

(Diana is enjoying her Grandchildren at two Christmas's ago. Such a blessing to have family come and celebrate with us!)

It snowed last night! Our first really big snow! Now is the season for muddy floors and wet snow pants to be flung all over the floor. Oh, but when they see the hot cocoa their mama made to warm them up, there will be squeals of delight!

(This is three winters ago, when Jacob was a baby)

I got to go on a date with my dad last night. He took me to dinner and then we went on our annual Christmas shopping trip. So fun and special! I love that man. I am so thankful for the close relationship we have.

Christmas is around the corner. We are in the thick of advent trees, parties, decorating, wrapping and baking.  I love this time of year. I especially love taking time for advent.

That's all there is. If you don't hear from me much these next few weeks, it is because I am focusing on what is the most important thing in my life, the Lord, my family and friends.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Grandma Mary's Fake Eyelashes

 As I was going through Grandma Mary's things I found a few really old items. The first thing was leg make up from WWII. It was still in it's original box! I hadn't even heard of leg make up before. I also found these massive fake eyelashes! I remember her wearing them when she dressed up for a square dancing party.
 It felt like I had huge butterflies on my eyelids. I don't know how she did it for a whole evening!
 The kids and I had fun trying them on. Here's Jess!
 By this time, the sticky stuff was starting to wear off. I'm going to go buy some more, so we can have some more fun.
Look at Andrew's eyes! Too funny!

It was nice to be able to laugh after such a hard weekend. I'm saving those babies!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Grandma Mary 1929-2011

This Saturday morning, my  mother called me and said with a trembling voice that my grandma had passed away. I was so shocked. I just cried and cried. I couldn't believe the loss I felt. So many memories flooded my mind at that moment. The children wrapped their arms around me and told me how sorry they were. They don't often see me cry like that.

I was able to get a hold of Steve who was at the fire station and he came home immediately to watch the kids so that I could go be with my mom and sister.  I had a two hour drive to think about the impact that this precious woman made on my life.
(Grandma loved dressing up. Here she is dressed up for our Revolutionary War party)

I knew my grandma loved me. She said it so often with such conviction.

 She treasured my children and showered them with gifts at Christmas time.

She would show her twin granddaughters off anytime she had a chance.

My fondest memory is whenever it was time to say goodbye until she was able, she would stand on the front porch and wave until we were out of sight. She had the most beautiful smile!

She was the Christmas toy queen! She loved singing, moving Christmas toys. You should have seen her collection!

She had really been doing poorly this summer, but she rallied and was doing great these past couple of months. She had severe COPD and was on constant oxygen. That is why we were so surprised that she forgot to put her oxygen back on after getting ready for bed. She slowly slipped away and died like the way we all want to go, in our sleep. Not a hint of struggle. Such a blessing.

We needed to start packing her things out of the apartment. It was a treasured time for mother and daughters. We laughed and cried and cried and laughed. I chose two personal things. I saw her glasses with the pearls that went around her neck, and her motorcycle boots. She had those beautiful boots since I was old enough to remember.

My sister was able to visit her the night that she died. Jackie and the kids went over and had a treasured time with her. No regrets. She wrote about her story on her blog and the pictures are amazing. It's worth the trip.

(She loved holding the babies. Here she is with Lily when she was a few months old)

I am so thankful that last time I passed through, I stopped and saw her. It was a short visit and I had no idea that it was going to be my last. Our last words to each other was "I love you".

I am also thankful to know that she was a Christian. She knew the Lord was her Savior. What a comfort, what peace I draw from that knowledge that I will one day see her again.

As I was driving home from my mom's, I realized just how thankful I am for family. I am blessed to have a family that will drop everything to be there and support each other. Not everyone has that and it is a gift. We are loyal to the bone. We love each other. What a perfect time of the year to think about such things and value them.

Hug everyone a little tighter.

Time is short.

No regrets...

This is some of her family at her 80th surprise birthday party.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Go For The Eternal!

Dear Mothers,

I was on a friend’s blog the other day and I came across this exhortation. “Go for the eternal. By God’s grace you will never regret it”. It really pierced my heart. I mean, it REALLY stopped and made me think.

How often do I actually “go for the eternal”? Not as often as I would admit. To be truthful, maybe two out of ten times. That is not a very good average. Why do I often focus on the temporary? Because, it is in my face at the moment. It is all I can see. I have trouble stepping back from the difficult situation and seeing the big picture. God’s picture. God’s view of things. Since I know I struggle with this, I need to be praying for an eternal perspective that only He can give me.

So when...

The goats get out and the kids are “trying” to get them back in as my raspberry bushes get destroyed, “Go for the eternal”.

When I have all six children at each other’s throats, instead of joining in the mayhem and getting angry because they just can’t get along and inevitably losing it myself, I need to “go for the eternal.”

When my husband calls me from work (after completing a 24 hour shift) and says there is another 24 hour shift available but it’s pure overtime and all I can think of is all the plans dashed to pieces and my “relief” is not coming, I need “to go for the eternal”. I need to graciously say "yes" if it in my power to do so. Not with annoyance and irritation. God will get me through the day, just like He got me through the day before.

When I have just finished sweeping and mopping the floor and a child drops a whole bowl of canned peaches on the way to the table, I need to “go for the eternal”. Freaking out will only hurt their heart. How many times have I accidently spilled things? Does it really matter in the scheme of life?

A great guideline is to think to yourself, “Would this matter in ten years?” Most of the time it doesn’t.

I don’t want any regrets. My time with my children seem like forever, but I know that my job is temporary. After they are launched into the world, I will truly see how these daily choices that I make are going to affect eternity.

It’s simple, yet profound…

Be encouraged. Go for the eternal. No regrets.

From One Mom to Another,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How do We Keep From Being Polluted?

I'm studying the book of James right now and was profoundly moved by Beth Moore's insight.

She says, " The hands on message of James isn't written to those who have sequestered themselves from the world. James wrote for people serving actively, openly, and humbly right in its thick, pungent pollution. So, how on earth do we serve in it without smelling like it? With some serious discipline and determination, that's how. With courage and deep conviction. With a large daily dose of the Holy Ghost. You don't live this kind of life accidentally. You make up your mind who you want to be and daily die to the rest. You surrender yourself to living in the tension where you'll always be stretched and often be broken. Religion pure and undefiled is grit without the grime. You accept that far easier ways to live exist, but you were born for nothing less.

And when we sniff ourselves and smell the world, we run to the One who can wash us."

WOW!!! Let that one sink in and and through you.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Josh's First Shave

 I bought Steve this electric razor for an early Christmas present. Little did I know that the first one to use it would be Josh! Josh was starting to get a little dark shadow under his lip and I was so looking forward to seeing how it was going to come in, but Steve shaved it off.
Seee!!!! Oh well, maybe it will grow in quicker and thicker this way. He is really starting to look more grown up now.

Now he just can't wait to get taller! It seems to be all about the height with these boys.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blessings in Abundance

I visited my lovely In-Laws this last weekend and was privileged enough to attend their church. I just love going there! They preach the Bible and make and you can tell they practice an Acts-style new testament church. They just love each other and rejoice in meeting one another's needs.

The pastor gave us a slip of paper and challenged us to fill in the blanks. I thought it would make a perfect Thanksgiving blog post. I am also going to throw in random pictures of things I am thankful for. Ready...Get Set...GO!!!

Give thanks for....PHYSICAL BLESSINGS

1. Being able to walk
2. Being able to talk
3. Being able to see
4. Being able to hear
5. Despite breaking my back, I am able to do most things

(My twin, Jackie and I riding at my parent's ranch. Mt. Hood is in the background)

Give thanks for....FINANCIAL BLESSINGS

1. A pantry, freezer, and fridge full of food.
2. I have a house that is warm and cozy and big enough for all of us
3. Closets full of clothes, shoes and coats for winter
4. A good job for Steve
5. Steve makes enough so that I don't have to work

Give thanks for....MENTAL BLESSINGS

1. I do not have a tendency towards depression
2. I have the joy of the Lord
3. I can read and write
4. I have the ability to homeschool my six children.
5. I am able to write on my blog and in a few publications

(Our Kenyan pastor and his family that we support in various ways.)

Give thanks for....SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS

2. Forgiveness of sin!!!!
3. Redemption!!!!
4. The Holy Spirit who lives in me!!!!
5.The unbelievable love that my God has for me!!!!
6. The ability to give to those in need!!!!

Give thanks for....ANSWERED PRAYER

1. Shoulder feels better
2. My brother-in-laws new job
3. A car was purchased by the church for someone who is struggling
4. Another friend's cancer was contained in her uterus. It has not spread.
5. Another friend got a free patches to stop smoking.
(and many more....)

(I get to benefit from these Titus 2 ladies, Margaret and Catherine. They keep me in line ;)  )

Give thanks for....TODAY'S BLESSINGS

1. Safe trip from my in-laws
2. Having enough gas money in an envelope to travel.
3. Our van has been very dependable
4. That I made a three hour trip with only one potty stop!
5. I have a Bible in my lap
6. Freedom from physical persecution due to being a Christian.
7. A wonderful extended family
8. A twin sister that is like my other half. She knows me better than I know myself.
9. I am surrounded by friends that hold me accountable and love me enough to tell me I am sinning.
10. I get to homeschool today and my hubby is home to help me!

Give thanks for....ETERNAL BLESSINGS

Heaven...and all that it contains and means to us!

Blessings in Abundance

Friday, November 18, 2011

16 Years of Being a FireWife-Lessons I've learned...

I posted this two years ago, but realized I haven't put much on my blog in regards to actually being a firefighter's wife. I would love to hear from you and pray that something in this might encourage you if you are struggling.

I have been a firefighter's wife for over 16 years now. We have struggled and we have triumphed over many things. I wish I would have known a few things at the beginning of my marriage that I know now. Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way on many an occasion.

First, having my husband gone for 24 plus hours is different than most people's situations. The shift work can drive you crazy if you let it. You don't get to have any relief like your friend's husbands who come home from their eight to five jobs. It's you, Baby! You and only you for 24 hours plus. You need to go into it thinking, "This is going to be hard work, but I can do it. God give me the strength that I need for THIS day."

Second, my expectations were way too high. Just because we make plans for dinner, Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holidays, does not mean they will come to pass. Fires happen, overtime comes, and medical calls never cease. I used to get so stressed out and angry when Steve would choose to go on a call instead of choosing to be with his family. Sometimes he would go in for overtime thinking that it would be two hours and he would get stuck and miss whatever event that we had planned. Then there is the 24 hour overtime shifts. Sweet for the pocket book, but hard on the family. The kids don't understand why Dad has to be gone for two days and you are left with whatever plans you had as a family that day. Sometimes you have to cancel them, or you just have to buck up and do it all by yourself. It used to frequently make me want to cry, but there is no use in fighting it. It is what it is. It is my husband's way of providing for his family. Praise God he is so faithful at it. I try not to get angry anymore. I try to be understanding and grateful.

Third, be careful when he walks in that door in the morning. Don't just start piling on the lists or complaints of what this child did and what "heck" you have been through the last 24 hours on the home front. You don't know what he has seen or done. He might have been up since 1:00 a.m. on a fire or a plane or car wreck. I learned this the hard way. Several years back, my husband came home in the morning and was unusually quiet. I remember nagging and complaining to him about something. I thought he was just being a grump and pushed even more. Later that afternoon, he finally told me that he had been on a SIDS victim. He was trying to come to grips with it in his mind. I noticed him holding his children tighter and not getting so frustrated with them. Was I a safe person for him to talk with? No, I had my own agenda. It broke my heart. Firefighters are special people. They are not usually very emotional and they deal with the stuff they see differently than most people. It is what makes them able to do their job. Be available, always if they want to talk. Consider it a privilege that they would share their feelings with you at all. Most of them don't talk about their feelings with each other, instead they use a morbid sense of humor to deal with the stuff they see.

Fourth, always ask if they slept. This is my way of being nosey in a sneaky way. He isn't just going to tell me about all the calls he has. He considers 85% of the calls that he goes on bogus anyway. He isn't going to waste his breath telling me about the heavy lady that fell for the 3rd time that day that called to have them pick her up and put her back in bed, or the stupid fire alarms that go off automatically at 3:00 in the morning. If I ask how he slept, then he sometimes says, "I didn't get to sleep until 3:00 a.m." That lets me know immediately to have very low expectations of him in the morning. I tell him to go take a nap if he needs too. Most of the times he opts out, but at least he knows that I understand his need for sleep. This keeps me from being angry and resentful when he isn't helping out more or not doing his honey-do list. Also, this opens the conversation to let him know that I'm listening if he does need to talk about a bad call.

Fifth, do not call the station all the time! Firewives, you don't want to be known as "so and so's wife, that can't handle anything while he is away." Yes, they talk about you! They analyze relationships just like we do. They can sense also if you are respectful to your husband. When I learned the art of respecting my husband in front of others, I truly believe he was more respected at his job as well. My husband is always telling me how much he appreciates it that I don't call him constantly at the station. He says he enjoys knowing that I can handle things while he's away. I'm not saying that I never call him. If I do have a financial question or scheduling question, I try to always call on his lunch break or after five. I do try to leave disciplining out. There isn't a whole lot he can do from the station except give a kid a talking to.

 If you are a firefighter wife, would you please comment and let me know what kind of lessons that you have learned? I am very interested and I know others will be as well.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Our Gorgeous Gorge!

 We are so blessed to be able to live in such a beautiful place. The Columbia Gorge is full of waterfalls, ferns, moss, and forest. A real treasure. This is Horsetail Falls. One of our family favorites when it comes to waterfalls.
 I was thrilled to capture the vivid colors of fall with my "newish" camera.
 I love the soothing sound of running water at Wahkeena Falls.
 The older boys wanted to stay home for this trip, so we packed up the little ones and had a wonderful time.
 Here is Steve with them. They loved playing on the bridge.

Anybody else notice that it is 11/11/11 today? Way cool!

Happy Veteran's Day to all of you who faithfully and unselfishly have served our country. I appreciate my freedom even though I seem to take it for granted everyday. I know freedom isn't free. Thank you for the sacrifice you and your family have made for me.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fabulous Fall!

 Jessica and Andrew buried Lily in a pile of leaves. She LOVED it!
 The flower garden is starting to change colors.
 The trees are starting to give up their leaves. It provides hours of fun for the little ones!
 I'm enjoying playing with my new camera!
 The colors are brilliant!

 Jess took this picture of my last pansy. So pretty!
I have a few roses that are still hanging on. It was 28 degrees this morning, so I doubt it is still there.

Things I enjoy about fall:

  • Sweaters
  • Cooler weather
  • Warm colors everywhere
  • No more weeding!
  • Comfort foods like pumpkin bread and soups
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