Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Reading, Listening, Watching...

This month I have been reading My One Word by Mike Ashcraft.

I have been listening to 'Christmas' at Downton Abbey on repeat and occasionally my Pandora Christmas station.

I have been enjoying my lighted blossom tree from Hobby Lobby that my husband and kids bought for me last year for my birthday, with a cinnamon candle burning early in the mornings while I sip a cup of hot chocolate or decaf coffee.

I have been working on making some adjustments in our homeschool path due to some more testing and medications and diagnoses.  I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the book Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp.  She makes it SO much easier to write down goals and to double check our targets and projection paths.

I have been reading aloud picture books.  I am a firm believer that you are NEVER too old for picture books.  I have found that some of the MOST incredibly whimsical, magical, and absolutely beautiful artwork can be found nestled in the pages of a picture book.  I have also found that picture books are a great way to break up hard days.  Some of our favorites this week are Fall of Freddy the Leaf, How to Bake an Apple Pie and See the World.  We are also reading an Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, while not a picture book but a short story by Louisa May Alcott, I find that her use of language paints the most delightful pictures in your mind.

Speaking of Louisa May Alcott, one of my children is an avid Louisa May Alcott fan so we are re-reading Little Women together.  *sigh* I LOVE Little Women!!!  My other two are not so much, so we are reading The Great Turkey Walk aloud together.

We have added a few movies to our Christmas drawer, have I mentioned how VERY much we LOVE Christmas movies?!?!  Hallmark, cartoons, old-fashioned black and white movies...*sigh*  

And finally, there are several amazing things I have discovered from following Sarah Clarkson's Instagram page.  I know I did a post a few months ago about how much I adore Sarah Clarkson and her new book, but let me just say one more time, if you have not read her blog or seen her Instagram page...please take the time to do that!!!  Anyway, I think it was last month?  But Sarah told her readers about David Suchet reading the Gospel of Mark.  OH.MY.  I did not realize why his voice was so familiar to me, but my kids have two audio books that he narrates and I absolutely LOVE his voice!  I know he is also a well-known actor, but I don't think I have seen any of his movies, series, or plays.  But I bet he is incredible!!!  Within that same post, she talked about this song by Andrew Peterson. ' Is He Worthy?'  I have listened over and over to this song, it is so beautiful.

I have also been reading aloud the Story of Redemption by Crossway - it was a free pdf download and we have been reading it almost every day, using our Bible Timeline and Maps to trace the epic story God is proclaiming.  We have paired it with 'He Is' by Aaron Jeoffrey

We are getting ready to start Hallelujah by Cindy Rollins (&others).  I cannot wait.  We are kind of eclectic when it comes to our walk with God.  I LOVE my Jewish heritage while also proclaiming the truth that Jesus is the Messiah. 

Interspersing these things in between math and Barton Method and grammar and anatomy and music and art classes...it has made all the difference in the world in the midst of a hard season.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

More Than Enough

This has been a hard year. 

As we are on the cusp of a holiday that is so often about giving thanks in the midst of the hard, I have thought more and more about God's faithful provision and direction.  Even though this year has been brutal, He has proved faithful.  So many times it truly is in the looking back that we can most clearly see His hand stretched across our lives when it felt like we were stumbling along in the darkness.

1) 2018 dawned and we were cautiously optimistic about the direction our year would take.  However, it did not take long for a situation to arise that tested our optimism.  My daughter's puppy had been sick for a while and seemed to be getting sicker and losing weight to the point that he looked neglected and abused.  I kept praying for this puppy to make it, to thrive.  After the service dog failure, it felt like too much to be going through this.  It culminated in a Sunday emergency vet trip, an emergency surgery, and a month of eating peanut butter and jelly and ramen noodles to pay for those...but through that, we found an AMAZING vet office and people we could trust with our pets.

2) Just a little over a month later my other daughter's beloved 8yo rabbit was discovered to have a tumor and needed surgery.  The vet office that we had found through Arendale's emergency surgery, specifically the vet who did his surgery, her specialty is exotic pets.  She would be able to do Stuart's surgery.  The only downfall was that surgery would need to be a few days before my eldest's 16th birthday.  This bunny is so much more than a pet to her, what an awful way to celebrate your 16th birthday, right?!?!  But we prayed over this little guy and sent him into surgery.  The surgery itself was successful, we were relieved and brought him home.  Then the night before she turned 16., he went downhill.  We thought for sure we were losing the little guy.  I prayed, I asked everyone I knew to pray, my kids and my husband prayed.   I stayed up most of the night syringing water into his mouth and praying like crazy.  God was merciful and he pulled through.  Ended up that it was such an amazing testament to God's goodness, I am glad this happened right at her 16th birthday, it's like a mile marker in her life she can look back to and say 'WOW - look what God did!'

In all of this we thought for sure that the worst was over, that better days were on the horizon.

3)  Then we caught a cold.  Which landed us in the ER twice in one night with one of my children.  Then our 14yo dog somehow hurt his leg.  Which landed us back at the vet repeatedly over the next few weeks, with me wondering if we were going to have to put him down.  At this point, it felt like TOO much.  What was God doing here?  Why were things so hard?  Then we got sick again.  And again.  And yet again.  At this point our pharmacy was seeing us every single day, the UTC was on a first name basis with us, and I am thinking that I want to stick my head in a vat of chocolate.  But each step, looking back, everyone EVERY single person we came into contact with was compassionate and kind, encouraging and so helpful.  Well everyone except for our Primary Care Doctor, which led us to look for someone else...anyone else.  It took a few rough first visits to meet different doctors until we found a doctor that we LOVE!  I am SO excited about this new primary care doctor.  We have to drive about an hour to see her, but it is worth it.  Again in what seemed like a crazy 'why is this happening on top of everything else' moment, God brought us to someone SO much better and with all of the medical issues that we have, we needed a good, solid, trustworthy PCP.

4) After we somewhat recover from the craziness of the first six months of 2018 we traveled to get some testing completed for another one of my children.  We discover that she is severely/profoundly dyslexic.  Together she and I are going to have to go through a very rigorous tutoring program (she as the student, and me as the tutor being trained how to help her).  We were supposed to be there a week, but by Wednesday I start to get a really sore throat and it hurts when I cough.  I kid you not, we get sick AGAIN.  And then again and again and again.  We are back at the UTC (we had not found the new dr yet) and pharmacy and in bed until the end of July.  

5) This craziness sets off all of the chronic underlying issues for my kids.  Issues such as autism, severe OCD, anxiety and panic attacks, cortical dysplasia epilepsy, learning challenges and processing issues, dyslexia, migraines, tics, vertigo that mysteriously lasts for six to seven months at a time, sensory issues, meltdowns, mood disorders secondary to the epilepsy, and one of my children is intermittently wheelchair bound, some days able to walk and run and play, while on other days mostly confined to her chair.  My children have seen more doctors, specialists, and therapists and gone through more testing this year than I can keep straight.  Most of our appointments are at least an hour away - one way.  Some as far as two hours away - one way.  So as we are trying to do school, live life, take care of the pets that bring us so much joy...we are traveling to doctor appointments.  Trying new therapies and medicines and ideas.  All of which has been SO hard for most of my children because they do not do well with interrupted schedules and trying new things and meeting new people and needles and medicine and textures and taste...it.has.been.SO.hard.  I am so very tired.  But God.  I started 2018 indifferent it seemed to my walk.  I had lost my direction, my drive.  I have drifted through 2018 questioning God's goodness, fighting His plan, complaining about His direction...But God.  He has been so faithful.  Looking back - we have gotten to and from the appointments safely.  We have had gas money and co-pay money - we are paying out of pocket for some of our appointments because insurance will not cover and we have had enough at just the right moment.  For example...

6) We had a yearly appointment at our home this past week.  This organization has been very difficult to work with.  Just this year, they kept scheduling appointments on days when I told them we were unavailable, I explained to them over and over and over about how crazy our schedule is with doctor appointments - how chronic the medical issues are right now etc; to no avail.  To make a long story short we had an appointment scheduled by the manager herself for this past Tuesday afternoon.  I cleared our schedule, we made sure our house was clean and ready and we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I did not make dinner, still waiting for them to show up.  Finally, I called and the manager is supposed to call me 'right back' - so I wait some more.  My husband runs to get food for us (which my dinner was a hamburger and when he got home - there was NO meat on my bun.  Seriously.)   The manager never called back, which leads to me trying to contact her and the corporate office, trying to scramble to get them here when we would be home (this appointment has to be done by the end of November and next week is a short week due to Thanksgiving). This all culminated in me deciding to no longer go with this company for their services, which frees up quite a bit of money - which will cover paying out of pocket for two doctor appointments on the same day for two of my kids next month.  In the mess, God was providing something we were going to need.  I had no idea we were going to need that appointment in December, I found out about it the afternoon of the 14th - the day after the person failed to show up at our house.

In all of this, I praise God.  His faithfulness...it is mindblowing.  If I could take one lesson from this season it would be this:  I need to grab a hold of Him and not let go because no matter what it looks like, no matter what it feels like - God has a plan and it is for our good.  And if I could just learn to rest in His presence each moment, He will most likely give me the gift of being able to look back and see His hand all over what felt impossible at the moment.  But even if He doesn't He has given me Himself which is more than enough.  He is more than enough.  

Happy Thanksgiving 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Thy Will Be Done


This has been a hard year.

We have hard years before, but it always seems harder when you are going through it, and this feels like the hardest of hards.  I am tired.  I am SO SO SO SO SO tired.  My kids are tired.  We have been to more doctors and therapy appointments in the past ten months than I think I have in my entire collective 42 years.

And I have had five surgeries.

And three kids.

And dance injuries.

And I was sick a loooooooooooooooot as a kid.

I feel wrung out by the end of the day, but inevitably God wakes me up the next morning ready to face it all over again.  That can only be explained by God, because in and of myself I tend to avoid hard things, not run towards them.


As it has almost my whole life, sometimes the only thing that speaks to my heart is music.  I don't know if it's because I spent so many years in a dance studio teaching my body to tell a story through music, or if it's hereditary because my family has a musical background.  Either way, I am grateful.  So very grateful.  These two songs are my battle cry songs right now.  They are the songs I keep returning to over and over and over again.  

I feel alone, but He has promised never to leave me or forsake me.  I feel like I would like to trade lives with characters in books, but He has asked me to be content where I am with what I have.

I feel like no one understands, no one sees, truly sees what is going on.  I feel like NO ONE listens to me.  But God.  He has said He sees, He captures every.single.tear.

I feel like He has a plan for everyone but my family.  That chaos has been unleashed and nothing good will come of these hard years.  BUT GOD!  I am God's handiwork, my husband is God's handiwork, my three children are God's handiwork.  He has created us to do good works. Which He prepared in advance for us to do.  IN ADVANCE.  Before any hard days existed, before any diagnoses were handed and branded, and even before the first drop of medicine had to be dispensed....He was prepared, He did prepare.

He did NOT make a mistake.

PSALM 139 is just as true today as when it was penned two thousand years ago. I preach the truth of that to my girls all.of.the.time.  They probably hear it in their sleep.  They are fearfully and wonderfully madeGod was present when each cell was directed to its position and when each organ was carefully stitched together, it was being knit together by God Himself.  What a wonder.

Today, today it's enough to know that He is here.

It is enough to know that He has a plan.

It is enough to know that He sees and He hears and He loves with an everlasting, never failing love.  A love that is kindAnd patient.

And it is enough to preach these truths to myself over and over and over and over and over again until they are what I cling to instead of my feelings and my ability to understand.

Thy will be done, God, thy will be done.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Books, books, and more books

We just finished Corrie Ten Boom, Keeper of the Angel's Den this week.  Oh.My.  I have fallen in love with the Christian Heroes Then and Now series of books.  


We have also read George Mueller and Gladys Aylward in that series.  SUCH great books!  


 I have a big pile of books to be read - or am currently reading, or have started and put down to read something else...in other words, I need to buckle down and use all my spare minutes wisely 😊😊😊 :





  

We are absolutely LOVING these narration cubes.  😍


We just got home from a park and a museum - celebrating my youngest child's birthday.  How do they grow up so fast?  The years have sped by and it is truly bittersweet.  The joy of getting to watch them grow up is incomparable to anything else I have ever experienced, but I dread the good-byes looming on the horizon.

Monday, October 8, 2018

October is here!


We just wrapped up "Kisses From Katie".  I feel like in the process we bid a dear friend good-bye.


My oldest is reading "Trumpet of the Swan" to all of us.  One of my favorite parts of the day.



We just began "Corrie Ten Boom" (Christian Heroes Now and Then).  I LOVE this series of missionary stories.


We have had SO SO many doctor and therapy appointments the past two months and so many more facing us.  I am SO tired of sitting in doctor office waiting rooms.  The magazines crumpled from nervous hands repeatedly rifling through the pages.  I am so ready to be done with this season.


I am so ready for the fall and holiday season.  I recently turned 42 years old, and realized that the older I get, the more special this time of year becomes.  During the first few days of cool weather I feel a bit like a caged animal being released.  The long, oppressive heat of the summer is (mostly) over and the holiday season is on the horizon.  
CANNOT wait!


Psalm 34:8
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Amazing Resources

My kids are by nature extremely private, so I don't talk in detail about the list of struggles they deal with on a daily basis.  However, I have found so many amazing ideas that I want to share some here in case someone else needs them too.

31 days of posts from an Occupational Therapist

Homemade calm down kits

Free printable visual calm down cards

40+ ideas for calming down

Hands-on visual schedule for older children

Manage Big Emotions game

Bright Solutions for Dyslexia

Sensory Processing Resources 

Spa Bubbler

Sound Machine

Slime

Mermaid Pillow  then go here  Lemon Lime Adventures there is a DIY weighted pillow

Chew Necklace

Noise Canceling Headphones

THIS book :)

and last but certainly not least

My favorite go-to blogger for special needs.

I am going to just keep adding ideas as I find them.

Calm Down Jars

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Fighting to believe God is good



The tug of war in my soul is fierce.  It is one that wants to rear it's ugly head when life does not go according to plan...which means that it rears its head constantly.  About a year after my oldest child was born, after an Anne Graham Lotz Bible meeting, I went home and pulled out my Bible.  I dusted off the front cover, cracked open the New Testament for the first time, and it was like taking a long drink of cool water after a blistering summer's day.  For the first time, the Word opened to me and I drank long and drank deep. 


                                     


Life suddenly seemed full of hope and it seemed like with faith anything was possible.

Fast forward roughly sixteen years and life has come at us hard and fast.  It has left bruises and cuts and wounds that I have attempted to stretch a band-aid across.  It has been messy and beautiful and rarely boring...but often left me questioning my understanding of the Word of God.  I have a hard time reconciling Isaiah 41:10 with what my actual life experience is and has been.  Or Jeremiah 17:14.  Or the abundant promises of peace - for example, John 14:27.  Peace has been so far from my heart for so long, I don't actually remember what it feels like.

                          

I want to scream it is unfair.  It is so unfair.  This season right now is so so very hard.  It is hard to explain just how hard it is.  We spent from late spring through mid to late summer very sick.  That in itself was awful.  Reading about and seeing all the fun summer things families were doing and meanwhile, we were basically living at the doctor offices, our pharmacy, the UTC, and the ER, oh and just for fun also the vet office. 


            
But all of that, was nothing compared to the fall out from that.  The underlying health issues that my kids have, they have basically exploded.

            
                          (this is what I feel like at the end of the day - ha!)

Last night I poured out my heart to my husband.  Asking him where was the goodness of God in all of this?  I know that I know that I know that He is good, but my experience in life does not feel like it is mirroring that belief.  Does that make sense?  I told my husband that the hardest part of this journey is that there is no guarantee that tomorrow will be better than today, I do know from experience that everything will eventually get back to a normal pace and that things will even out - but it may be longer yet.  How do I hang on to hope in the midst of the hard?  It doesn't help for me to tell myself or to be told that it could be worse.  I fully realize that, but that is not a balm to apply to the hurt right now.  It just increases the dread of 'oh no, what if it does get worse'?  Or the guilt of, 'who am I to complain when so and so lost their child or their home or their marriage or...?'

   

Then this morning dawned and I was awoken by our very, very old dog wanting to go out (he actually got me up at 4 am, thankfully, I was able to delay him until 6) and I was standing outside in the dark trying to get him to hurry up.  All of a sudden I saw the shadow of some sort of animal and I felt fear claw up my spine.  All I knew was this wasn't a cat, another dog, or the cute bunnies and squirrels...it was something that looked somewhat like a rat.  It came shuffling through some old leaves and stuff, making quite a racket, I got my phone ready to capture it or use as a weapon (not exactly sure how that would have worked exactly) when out waddled an Armadillo!   Much better than all of the terrible things I was imagining!!




I snapped pictures and went in to wake up my youngest, my fellow nature nut and we joyed in the fact that an Armadillo basically waddled right up to our front door.  As the morning sun peeked out she reminded me to check a chrysalis we have been watching on our hose spout...and then it dawned on me.  Here is the goodness of God, delighting us in the midst of the hard.  He has been showing us wonder after wonder almost every day - I just was so focused on the hard that I almost missed it.  He is a God of intricate wonder and beauty.



 He takes such care in the cocoon of a caterpillar turning it to a butterfly - something so temporary - it started off tucked and bejeweled - seriously it looks like golden jewels sealed it shut.  SO beautiful.  It now is turning translucent and inside is tucked what I believe is a GORGEOUS monarch butterfly. 



You see I have been approaching life through a titled lense.  Believing that God owed us something different than what He was giving us.  I am the creation, my children are the creation, NOT the Creator.  Why am I, the clay pot, whining to the potter, why are you forming us this way?  I have no idea where He is going but I do know the truth is that He determined our days before even one came to be, He knitted my children together in my womb, and they are His workmanship (not mine), with good deeds He prepared for them ahead of time (see Psalm 139 & Ephesians 2:10).  If He is going to so carefully create a caterpillar that makes such a beautiful (albeit temporary) cocoon, then how much more has He carefully planned my children's lives?