Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Day We Brought Home Wheelchairs

courtesy Pinterest

Not long after our twins were diagnosed with CP, our physical therapist began to talk with us about getting wheelchairs for them. At that time, we used a double stroller, which didn't really work well at all, but it was better than nothing. We had to use blankets to help prop them up in a sitting position and even then, they had a tendency to slide down and become extremely uncomfortable.

We made an appointment at the University Hospital in Iowa City and began the process. I struggled with the whole idea of wheelchairs. The permanence of the situation became more clear when the idea of wheelchairs were introduced.

At our appointment, they shared that I would need to come with the kids and stay at the hospital for two weeks while they were being evaluated and measured for their chairs. I hadn't counted on that scenario. Our littlest boy, Tyler, was just a toddler and I wondered if he would forget me.

The day arrived and we loaded up the kids and my things and headed back to Iowa City. They were measured and fitted for their wheelchairs during the afternoons. In the mornings, they were evaluated by doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and cognitve therapists. They were extremely fussy kids during this age and to even step out of the room to go and grab a bite to eat next door required feats of imagination. They loved Barney and Donut Man videos, so I would talk to them about mom having to get something to eat, turn on the video, rush out the door, walk/run over to the cafeteria, eat quickly and walk back just as the video was ending. If I could manage that, all was well. I think I pretty much inhaled the food and wasn't even aware what I was eating. (For some reason that I can't recall right now, the patients were served meals on that floor, but the parents that were staying had to eat next door at the hospital.)

Since I stayed so busy during the day, it wasn't too bad. But the nights were terrible. I can remember the kids finally falling asleep in a strange room.  Then I would sit by the window looking out over the University of Iowa campus. There was a clock out in the center of the yard that I would look at. I cried a lot of those nights missing my other two kids. It was just a very lonely time.

One evening the staff said I had a visitor. I walked out of the room and was met by Rick and Jodie Miller. Rick had been a student at Teen Challenge where my husband worked. He and Jodie lived in a town about an hour away. They had heard we were there and had brought a whole KFC meal for us. I will never forget how their kindness felt to my heavy and lonely heart. A meal and a kind word can mean so much!

I think I was doing pretty well overall during those two weeks until they brought me a catalog with photos of various wheelchairs. Maybe they thought it was an exciting process to choose one.  It wasn't. Every dream I had had up to that point now shattered into a million jagged pieces. I sat down at the little kiddie table in the room and cried.

When Dave arrived to take us home, we put the kids in their car seats and then he loaded those chairs into the back of the van. My whole body and mind felt bruised and broken.

When we arrived back at Colfax, Dave's mom was there watching our other two children. I'm sure I must have said something to her, but all I remember is going back and lying down on the bed. I couldn't even cry anymore.  We sat the kids in their little red seats to watch television and I asked Dave to please put the wheelchairs somewhere that I didn't have to look at them right then. After an hour or so, I heard Dave and his mom talking in the kitchen. Faye was making supper for us. For some reason, the sound of normal activity soothed my spirit. I got up and walked in and watched her making meatballs. I am convinced that her presence helped me heal just a little that day.  Everything within me felt broken.  I needed something to be normal and routine and just ordinary.

The wheelchairs did help the kids. They seemed to feel so much secure in them than they had in their stroller. It wasn't the easiest thing to load two wheelchairs and go anywhere, but Dave was always so good about it. He seemed to know that on certain days, I just had to get out for awhile. Many times he would get home from work (and I'm sure he was tired) and say, "Let's load up!" I would have the kids in the van in minutes while he loaded up their chairs and we would be off for Des Moines:)

Sometimes we have to adjust.

My heart goes out to you if you are in a tough situation right now.

It wasn't supposed to be this way, you may be thinking.

I know.

Give yourself some time. Things will start to look better. It won't be this sad forever. Twenty-two years have passed since that day and there has been a lot of joy since then. There will be for you, too.

Psalm 147:3 says, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18

Saturday, July 25, 2015

My Hope Rests in God

To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future.

I used to live in beautiful southern Mississippi in a home built around 1910. It sat on 50 acres and I used to love to walk across those pastures and pour my heart out to God. I was 21 years old.

I didn't call that time a devotional. I still don't like the word devotional. Although I am sure there are hundreds of great devotional books out there, I don't own any.

It was just that time I looked forward to.

I felt like when I opened the gate and stepped into the pasture, Jesus was there waiting for me. I believe He was.

There is still something about being outside that makes me feel close to God.

We visited Colorado a couple of years ago and when I walked around Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, I caught my breath. There was that same feeling of God being close by. The beauty of His creation lends itself to feeling His nearness. (I think staying indoors too long can be detrimental to our well being.)

Anyway, back to Mississippi. I was attending college at that time and looking forward to finishing and going off to Bible school. That was where my heart was. I had some very sure promises from God that I was waiting to see fulfilled.

But I had to set those things aside for the time being while I finished my degree. I still had hope in my heart for the dreams that I had, but it was time to get down to the business of finishing what was before me.

I would often walk and talk with the Lord. Sometimes I would cry as I tried to convey all that was on my heart.  I can't always say that I heard God speak to me. But I felt His nearness and I felt His interest in my life.

Soon I finished my degree and did get to go to Bible school. The promises God gave me did come true. But it wasn't instantaneous. It was a process.

I met my husband there and after we were to be married, we would be moving to Iowa. On the last time that I walked that pasture behind my parent's home, I did hear the Lord speak to me. He said, "I'll miss these times with you." I have never forgotten those words.

Now all these years later, I am waiting for promises to come to pass. I am staying busy with the business at hand, but my heart yearns to see what I only see by faith right now.

I still feel Him beside me. He has been a faithful friend. There are a lot of things that I don't understand. Sometimes the waiting seems like it will go on forever. Maybe I won't see the end that I am hoping for.Will I see my daughter healed? I don't know. Will I see our son healed? I just have no way of knowing. But I continue to hope. He is very kind. He has seen all my tears and my fears.  He understands as He reaches out to take my hand and walk with me through the unknown.

I always tell Him that on the day I see Him face to face, I want to know Him and I want Him to know me. It is through these hard experiences that we truly come to know God.

Romans 5:5 says this:
And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

I don't know how to end except to say that I want to continue to choose to trust God.

Linking up to:

Monday, July 13, 2015

Graduation Celebration!

Our youngest daughter recently completed her 12th grade year. She was home schooled her whole life from kindergarten through her Senior year. She told me recently that she has no regrets about being home schooled. It was a great fit for her. I can honestly say that she was a joy and delight from beginning to end.

I looked through Pinterest for ideas a few months in advance of her party. I knew I didn't want a cookie cutter graduation party. I also knew a couple of things going into the planning. It would be relatively small and it would be held indoors.

I know two very talented ladies who helped me with the cake end. Emily is a whiz at making cake pops. I asked her back in February if she could make them for a June party. She has two little ones and so I knew her time was valuable. I was so grateful when she said she could.  Another friend, Kerie, makes wedding cakes as a side business. While I didn't need a wedding cake, we found a couple of photos on Pinterest that we thought would make a beautiful graduation cake.

Here are 2 inspiration pics from Pinterest that we gave her as an idea.

Here are the cake pops and Kerie's beautiful cake. Aren't they beautiful?

The top tier of the cake was almond flavored and so good!

I wanted our dining room to look like an art gallery of photos of our daughter.

I had several photos blown up in poster sizes.

This photo was made into a large canvas. You may or may not like Walmart, but they did a great job on all the enlargements.

Here are a few other of the decorations that night.

Inspiration pic from Pinterest.

A friend loaned me an old typewriter.

This Bible verse was placed inside.

Trader Joes had the most beautiful flowers!

This was a serving idea I found on a blog ( I showed it to my husband, and even though the party was only 3 or 4 days away he said, "I think I could make something like that." And he did!

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo when it actually had the food on it! This serving platter had grapes, cheeses, salami, peperoncino peppers, and olives on it. A second platter had fruit.

I am so grateful to talented friends who made the night so special and to my husband who always helps the ideas in my head come out so beautifully! We so appreciated all that came and made the night so memorable. (We are saving $$ now to take her on a trip to NYC this fall.)

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Dealing with Deep, Crushing Disappointment Part 1

I remember back when I received the news that we were going to have twins. I had one little baby and now was pregnant with two! I was very stunned and excited. No one on either side of our families had twins.  I just knew how it was all going to be.

I would often sit and dream of a little boy and girl toddling down the sidewalk. She would be wearing a little sailor dress and he would be wearing a matching sailor suit. I can't even tell you why I had them wearing those outfits in my mind's eye except that I must have thought that is what twins would wear:) But I could see them clearly. Even now, I can recall that scene with such clarity. I can see them walking with a background of a beautiful sunny blue sky. Their backs are facing me. They are hand in hand.

But it wasn't to be.

And that is why I wanted to speak to any of you who are dealing with deep, heart wrenching, disappointment.

When our twins ( a boy and a girl) were born 10 weeks prematurely, they stayed in the hospital for several weeks in the neonatal unit. There were a lot of setbacks as they struggled to breathe on their own. But the day finally came when they were both at home. Now, I thought, our lives with three healthy children could begin.

As time went on, I began to notice things. They were not meeting their developmental milestones. When I went to pick up my daughter to snuggle her, she would become very stiff in my arms. Both babies cried almost non-stop throughout the day. They didn't sit up. Crawling was delayed. Walking did not come. Fear began to crawl up my spine. Alex had an episode where he stopped breathing. What was happening?

At a neurologist's office, I heard the news that both children had cerebral palsy. In some sense, there was relief in knowing what was wrong.

There was also hope in my heart. Maybe God would heal them. Maybe their outcome wouldn't be as bleak as what the specialist was preparing us for. There was brain damage and the doctor couldn't guarantee that they would ever walk or talk or reach any of the normal milestones.

Had I done something wrong? Had I done anything to cause this?

So many thoughts began to torment me.

I tried to adjust. Our home began to be filled with occupational and physical therapists helping the kids. While I appreciated their help, I resented it, too. I just wanted to take my kids outside and watch them play. I wanted this to be over.

I prayed. I cried. I begged. I watched as things went from bad to worse. Alex began to have more episodes where he suddenly stopped breathing. It felt like time stood still as I would see Alex turn a dusky blue color. Dave would start rescue breathing as we waited for the ambulance to arrive. We stood in emergency rooms countless times as doctors worked over his body. On another occasion, he almost died as they rushed him from his room to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. He had suddenly taken a turn for the worse during a stay at the hospital.

Hope began to drain out of me.

One day, I was home and a young couple stopped by and told us that they were expecting twins. After they left, I stood looking at the closed door and said to God, "Really? Are you kidding me? I have to watch another couple have perfectly healthy twins? Is that what You are asking of me now?" (This is me being honest. I don't see the point in pretending I had an admirable reaction.)

It isn't that I wanted them to have special needs children. I wanted them to have healthy kids. But the disappointment over a broken and crushed dream seemed more than I could bear.

I was also disappointed in God. I felt He had let me down. The trouble is, where do you go if you can't go to God?

Have you ever felt that way?

Sometimes I feel that people are uncomfortable talking about God like this. But I don't think God is uncomfortable. I think He wants us to come to Him with our deep disappointments and our despair.

It is during these times that our relationship with Him is forged.

Things did not get better. In fact, they became worse.

But God somehow took my hand and my family's hand. In fact, I think He picked us up and carried us through what lay ahead.

End of Part 1

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Maxi Styles

I don't own even one maxi dress. I am only about 5'4"  and don't feel quite tall enough to pull it off. After looking at these though, I think I may change my mind.

This collage of dresses I could see my daughter wearing.

Left -

The next three are ones I would feel comfortable wearing.

Black dress-

There are always so many cute summer wedges.

Peach shoes-  Black and white striped -
Lace Wedge- Lucky Brand, Macys

I love these two pair for myself.

Left -   Right- Lauren Conrad- Kohls

Lastly, a pretty summer necklace is always fun to wear.

I love monogrammed necklaces. This one is from Bauble Bar.

 The next two are so colorful!

Left- Kendra Scott     Right- Stella and Dot

What fashions are you wanting to try?

Linking up to:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

Happy End of April to you!

I'm linking up with these girls for

to discuss these things...

We (and by we, I mean at least three of us) have been eating a lot of these wonderful things.

Roasted brussel sprouts. Just trim the sprouts, spread on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and a little sea salt and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. They are delicious.

My husband just celebrated a birthday yesterday. I was gathering a lot of photos for a slide show at our church and reminiscing quite a bit.

This was 1989 (some of you hadn't been born yet, I know!)

This was taken in 2006. We have had seven children in all. Our daughter that is in a wheelchair on the right, was one of twins. Her brother, Alex, went to be with the Lord in 1996 at the age of four.

Here are my kids today:

What I've been dreading?  Hmm...our youngest son has surgery #3 in June. I know that he will be okay, but I don't look forward to the whole process. The doctor thinks that the recovery time will be much faster this time (He is having inner ear surgery. The first two surgeries were to remove a growth that had done some damage inside).

What I've Been Loving -  I have been loving seeing all the new babies out in blogland. I really, really love seeing baby photos and cute kid photos. It just never gets old to me.

What I've Been Up to - I keep a list of "things to do" and have been steadily marking them off my list. I am currently pinning a lot of ideas for our daughter's high school graduation party. If you looked at my pins, you would probably think I was planning a wedding and not a small gathering! But I love prettiness like this:

What I'm Excited About!  We are planning to take our daughter to NYC this fall for her graduation gift. I was there for the first time last year for our 25th anniversary and just loved it. I can't wait to walk the streets of New York with my girl.

What I'm Watching/Reading -  Right now, I'm reading a book on our Kindle called, "Tisha, The Story of a Young Teacher" by Robert Specht. If you've ever read "Christy" by Catherine Marshall, you would like this one, too. They are very similar.

What I'm Listening To -  I don't often listen to music around the house, but this past weekend, my kids and I listened to Frank Sinatra sing, "New York, New York" while driving home:) It put us all in a good mood.

What I've Been Wearing - I wear this watch all the time. It was a gift from my son.

What I'm Doing This Weekend - My husband is gone on a missions trip, so I will be holding down the fort until he gets back.

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month - I look forward to eating my mom's blackberry cobbler!

What Else is New - I went to see The Lion King last night! The artistry was beautiful. My son and I sat next to a lady with a baby. She was an angel. She quietly looked around and then slept through the whole show. What a brave mama!

All of you sweet young moms are doing such an important job. Keep up the good work. Everything you are investing now in your little ones will not go to waste. You have the most important job in the world. Bless you!

Linking up to:

Friday, April 17, 2015

This Time of Life

My littlest son and my oldest son from 2009.
I seem to have begun a new journey. I don't know if it is officially perimenopause or menopause, but whichever it is, I don't think I'm ready!

I can be sitting in an air conditioned room feeling just fine, when suddenly it feels like I am at 212 degrees. I am on fire! It lasts about 30 seconds and then it is gone - hence the name, hot flash. It happens throughout the day. Thankfully, I haven't experienced anything more severe than that.

Except that I could sport a real nice mustache (or is is moustache?)  if I were interested. Yea, I'm not.

But the real reason I'm not ready is this.

When I go to the grocery store, there isn't a little one to put in the front of the cart anymore. He is nine years old and now just walks alongside me.

I walk past the girl department at Target now and instead go to the Junior Department with my daughter. But wait, didn't we shop in that girl department just a few days ago?

No more baby food. No more diapers. No more maternity clothes for me.

No more Little Mermaid underwear.

No more Mickey Mouse underwear.

No more Toy Story pajamas.

No more sippy cups.

But wait...I'm not ready.

Don't you want to watch Bubble Guppies?

Now my littlest girl is about to graduate.

But wait...she's my little girl. Won't she be working on her school work in the dining room anymore?

Wasn't it just the other day that she was in her ballerina dress twirling in the kitchen?

Can time please slow down? I'm not ready.

Now there are big people shoes in the downstairs closets. Where did the little people shoes go?

When my 15 year old son sits beside me, I notice his feet. I remember when he was three and I used to laugh at his little, yet wide feet. I used to call them Fred Flintstone feet. Where did those go?

I was so proud of him when he was four and insisted on taking his training wheels off his little bike. We were doubtful, but Dave took them off. He hopped on and began riding and never looked back.

My oldest son had to grow up so fast when our twins were born. He and I used to drive to a nearby town together when the twins were little and go to Burger King and Walmart together. He was the best company and we had so much fun together. He still takes care of his little brothers and sisters. He is the best son.

Our second oldest son is the one I used to carry around in the trailer at Teen Challenge and sing the most goofy, made- up songs to. I can still see him in his diaper as I held him and sang to him in our kitchen.

Wasn't it just the other day that I used to get our oldest daughter ready and put on the school bus? She and I would walk out to the street in front of our house when it was still dark outside. I would watch her drive away and pray that she would have a good day.

But thankfully, thankfully, we had one more little baby when I was 42 years old. I'm a lot older than a lot of ladies who have a nine year old. But I am so THANKFUL. God was so good to give me one more. He knew I would need one more.

He may not fit in the shopping cart anymore. But he still holds my hand. He still likes to sit close to me and watch a movie. He's still my back seat buddy when we have to go somewhere.

I don't like change very much. It is kind of hard to see myself about to go through this big change that is occurring.

But I know that God is able to keep that which I have committed to Him.

Don't wish for time to go faster. Don't wish away your life. Enjoy your day to day life with your little ones. Hold their hands and be in the present. Look at their chunky little legs and their dimpled little hands and enjoy.

Someday I will have grandkids and then I will get to experience this wonder all over again.

I can't wait!

Linking up to:

Friday, March 20, 2015

When It Feels Like God Isn't Hearing Your Prayers

Courtesy Pinterest

I woke up this morning after a night of tossing and turning. During the night, I was trying to figure out solutions to several problems. I know that I am supposed to give these things to God, but at times, God can seem distant. I know that is only my perception and there is no "correctness" to that statement at all. Our feelings can be very fickle.

 As I was going about my morning, I even said to God, "Do you hear me? I know You are there, but I can't seem to know it. I am really concerned about these things." I didn't hear anything back in response, but a thought came to me suddenly. I started thinking about a Bible story where David sees King Saul and his soldiers lying on the ground sleeping.  David could have easily killed King Saul that night, but he refused to touch God's annointed... even though Saul had made it clear that he wanted to kill David and probably would have had the roles been reversed.  Even after the prompting of David's friend to go ahead and take the opportunity to kill Saul, David refused. There is so much to explore in that story.

But for some reason, in my mind, I was focused on the sleeping soldiers. My prayers suddenly shifted as I thought of young women and men caught in human trafficking. I started praying and declaring that God would send a deep sleep to their captors, that there would be confusion in their ranks, and that there would be opportunities for their escape. Just like that, the whole clouded atmosphere in my mind changed. I definitely felt power in my prayers and knew that God had heard me.

My other concerns? I still have them, but it is obvious to me that God wanted me to pray what was also dear to His heart right then. He knows what concerns me. He isn't indifferent. But this morning, this is what was on God's heart.

If  the atmosphere in your home or in your mind seems troubled, ask God today what is on His heart and begin to speak out in prayer what you want to see happen in those areas. Sometimes I also have to say out loud, "God is kind. God is faithful.  He will never leave me. No matter what I feel like today, He is here watching over me and my family." Don't let your feelings sweep you away. We are all prone to allowing our feelings dictate our lives.

God will answer my prayers and give me direction. But in the meantime, I'm glad that He asks us to pray what is on His heart:)

A Friday Favorite today is...the first day of Spring! Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Favorite Things in March

Happy Saturday morning!

We have had beautiful weather this past week. I don't know if it is here to stay yet because after all, I live in Iowa where we had snow in May two years ago! But I'll take it for as long as it is here. Actually, my daughter and I were talking how we will miss the snowed in days with the fire flickering in the fireplace and a good movie. Every season has its good points, I guess.

A few favorites that come to mind for this month are:

1. Reading. I love to read, but have a hard time finding the time! This book came in the mail last week. (You know what's really neat? I think I won it! There is no other explanation since I didn't order it yet.)

If you read Sophie's blog, Boo Mama, then you will love her book. I'm only in about the fourth chapter and it is very good so far. She has a way of writing that speaks to the heart. Here's a little summary:

This nostalgic celebration of home is sure to make even those north of the Mason-Dixon line long to settle in on the front porch with a glass of sweet tea and reflect on all of the people in our lives who—related or not—have come to represent home. Because at the end of the day, it’s not the address on the front door or even the name on the mailbox that says home, but the people who live and laugh and love there, wherever there might happen to be.   - (Amazon)

Melanie Shankle, The Big Mama Blog, also has a new book about to come out. I loved her first two books. I was sitting in our living room all alone when I read her second book, The Antelope in the Living Room, and I burst out laughing several times. It's worth the price of the book to read the chapter about her husband officiating at a wedding service while on painkillers.  Her new book is:

I can't wait!

Another book I have on request at the library is:

Julia Child's life is so intriguing to me. After watching the movie, Julie and Julia, I wanted to know more about her and her life. I remember visiting the Smithsonian in D.C. and looking at her kitchen that they have on display there, but at that time, I didn't know much about her. I don't think I'll ever cook all her recipes from her famous cookbook the way Julie Powell did, but I thought it would be fun to pick five recipes and try them out on the family, or see if my daughter would like to do it to count towards a class credit?

2. I blogged some time back about one of my favorite movies of all time- Slumdog Millionaire. That movie changed me! All I can say is that God can use a movie to speak something profound to your heart.  I need to re-watch it and write about it all over again. But ever since that time, I've loved the actor who played Jamal. So, of course I'd love to see this movie.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Dev Patel)

3.  After finishing this season of Downton Abbey, my daughters and I have been watching the other seasons again. 

We still miss Matthew and Sybil and wish their characters hadn't left the show, but I loved the ending this season with Mrs. Hughes and Carson.

4. This cute Easter banner at Target is only $5!

5.  Finally, speaking of Target, I saw this recently and I could so relate. If you love Target too, then you'll know what I mean.

No matter what may be going on in your life today, know that God is with you. He hears you, He sees you, and He loves you.

Happy Spring to you!!

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