Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Steven Reading

video
Steven learned his alphabet before he could speak the letters. He's always enjoyed books. Last week, he started reading. This is him reading from "Dick and Jane".

Friday, November 25, 2011

Family Pictures!

Thanks, Matt, for the great pictures!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fibromyalsia

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, fibromyalgia, here's an insiteful link: http://fibroself-help.com/fibromyalgia.

When I was 21 years old, I came down with what felt like a flu bug, within 3 weeks it spiraled into a nightmare which I was convinced would end any day in death. To say I was tired feels like such an understatement. I would sleep for 10-12 hours at night, nap for 2 during the day and never wake feeling rested. I was nauseous whenever I ate. I hurt all the time. My mind was a foggy blur. I felt an emotional wreck. I had one constant headache that occasionally morphed into a migraine and back again. I had difficulty breathing and had to sleep sitting up so I could breathe. This is just a quick glimpse into my life then, I'll spare you all the details. I would describe myself as a dead man walking. I had no energy, no ambition. The only reason I got up in the morning was because I was alive. I knew if God hadn't taken me home yet then there was a reason I was still here, and as long as I was still here, I needed to do the best with what God had given me.

I sought medical advice, was ran through a myriad of doctors and tests. Various illnesses and diseases were ruled out. Often more questions were raised than answers. Eventually, a diagnosis: fibromyalgia. No known cause, no known cure.

For three years I was this dead man walking, expecting any time to join my Father in heaven, looking forward to it. I all but asked God to take me home, as I feared Him and knew He answered prayers and there was a part of me that wanted to live. I did often pray, however, that if it be His will, that He would take me home. I was more than ready to go when it was His will. I determined to not complain; afterall, if this was God's will for me, who was I to complain. Also, complaining took energy and thought; I had neither to spare. As the diagnosis took time, and even after it was achieved it didn't clarify much, I felt very much alone, unable to understand what was happening to me and why. I spoke nothing to anyone of what I thought was imminent: my coming death. I gave little explanation to my boss when I had to quit work, little explanation to others as I withdrew from various commitments: I couldn't explain to myself, how could I explain to anyone else? I clung to the only One who did understand.

Alas, God's ways are mysterious and He had other plans for me. At the end of almost exactly three years, my ambition and energy returned and life carried on. Since then I've never been completely "cured" or "healthy". I still deal with "flare-ups" and constant body pain. But I've never been back to that dark pit, that deep abyss, so near death, so foggy with maimed mind and ailing body. I have a much better understanding of my body, a better idea of my limitations.

During my last pregnancy, my health took a definite dive, and since then it's been my goal to reach a level of health so that we may be blessed with more children and I may be healthy enough to not only life through it, not only survive, but thrive and be the wife and mother I desire to be. As of late, I've been struggling with a cold-type bug, some flu-like symptoms. During which, a few of the symptoms of my "dead man" days have reared their head, albeit not in the same intensity. Since that is how my three year nightmare began, with flu-like symptoms, this has but just enough to remind of those days and honestly it scares me immensely. I do, however, have much advantage, as I better understand cause and effect at least for my own body. I know what I must do, although it's much work, takes time, effort and money. I have hope. I don't feel alone. I trust God in His Sovereignty.

I wanted to share this with you, as I know my fellow believers in Christ will pray for me. Thank you. Also, I know I'm not the only one suffering in this mortal body. May my walk be a blessing to others looking for answers, relief, hope.

Here's a little something I'd like to share from my "dead man" days:

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A Walk and a Talk With God

That morning was so typical of numerous others, too numerous to count. I awoke stiff and sore and tired. I wanted nothing more but to roll over and go back to sleep - for a few days maybe. Instead, I forced myself to move, to get out of bed, get dressed and go for a walk. I was moving as quickly as my body allowed, which wasn't much - I felt as though I was going in slow motion. "No hurry", I told myself, "just put one foot in front of the other, you'll make it - eventually", I thought, trying to keep positive. I was trying to walk 1 1/2 miles on as many days as I could. It felt grueling as I slowly moved along.

"This is amazing", I thought, "I'm 22 years old, yet I feel like an old woman - have for years now..." I tried to push the thought out of my mind. It was hard not to think about it. My body hurt and I wished

I were dead. But I'm a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ. And I trust him with every detail of my life, including this ever eluding health (or lack thereof) dilemma. I tried to think happy thoughts as I walked slowly along. Often I felt as though I could relate to Job's dilemma in the bible. And so, I tried to pray for my family, my friends, anyone, anything, just not me. I tried to stay positive, to not be selfish. I tried not to throw any "pity parties". But of course my efforts were in vain. Soon I couldn't hold back the tears. Soon I couldn't hold back my desperate plea. And so, toward the end of my walk, I had a talk with God.

"God", I cried, "I love you more than anything. My whole life, my whole existence, my whole point of being here is to live for you, to draw others to you, to do your work here. My backpack is full, God. I make the bulletins at church for you, I play the hymns at church for you, I head-up and teach Kid's Club at church for you, I teach Sunday School at church for you, I'm the director of a teenage drama group for you... God, the list goes on. I love these things; I thrive on these things; these things are for you, God; but my backpack is full. This health thing that I'm dealing with - I can't handle it - it's too much - it just won't fit into my backpack."

God replied in his still, small voice, "This is the load I have for you to carry." He was referring to "this health thing".

"But God, it won't fit into my backpack", I pleaded with tears running down my cheeks.

Lovingly, he replied, "Then empty your backpack, because this is the load that I have for you to carry."

Caught by surprise, his response was not something I had at all expected. He hadn't said it, but it was implied that this was his will for now, not necessarily forever, although I wasn't allowed to know for sure. Afterall, it is faith that is to drive us, not sight. Slowly I started to nod. Recognizing that if something is God's will, then he provides the means to do it, I knew that he'd provide the strength both to empty my backpack and then to allow "this health thing" to fill it. I wasn't sure which one would require more strength, but I knew he'd provide. His peace swept over me as I accepted his will.

I stopped right there, near the end of my walk, slowly heaved my heavy overflowing backpack off my shoulders, and dropped it to the ground. Slowly and carefully, I knelt down and opened it up. I pulled out my commitments, one by one, and handed them back to God, who's hands were open wide. And then, once my backpack was empty, I looked up and let my heavenly Father fill my backpack with the load he willed for me to carry. I smiled as I realized the load fit just perfectly. Up until then, I had been equating my self-worth with how much I was doing for God. With my health getting in the way of doing these things well, thus overflowing my backpack, I felt worthless. Now I was beginning to see that it wasn't what I was doing for God that mattered, all that mattered was that I was in his will. For if we are in the will of God, there is no more better place to be.

With new determination and strength, I lifted my backpack and put it on my shoulders once more. "Thank you, God. I love you."

"I love you too, child", was his sweet reply.

I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I knew I was to press on. With tears running down my cheeks, I did just that.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Charles & a Mommy-Moment

Charles is our little quiet man. Very content child. He loves to snuggle. He says more words than we catch, most of his talking sounds like indiscernible baby talk.

Our nursing times are becoming more special, as I'm working on day-weaning Charles (haven't nursed during the day for the past two days). This evening, as I was nursing him before bed, he stopped, looked up at me, smiled and said very clearly, "ha-ppy". I couldn't help but smile. I repeated "happy" back to him (as if to ask, "are you happy?"), he repeated it back to me (as if to answer, "yes, mom, I'm happy"), big smile on his face.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Steve & Crystal Update

STEVE:
Steve's been working for Metro Mobility in Minneapolis, driving bus for handicapped and elderly. He enjoys driving and working with people, although the hours are long. He's been putting in over 60 hours/week since we've moved into our new place in Crystal.
Recently our car when ka-poot, so Steve's road his bicycle to work on days I've needed the car.
He's enjoyed teaching part of the series in our adult Sunday School class. He also enjoys his time with the kids, trying to keep up with friends and continuing reading and studying.

CRYSTAL:
Besides enjoying and teaching the kids, feeding them, keeping the house in order, etc., I keep pretty busy with Norwex parties, doing some accounting work from home, attempting to find time to sew, teach the 3-year old Sunday School Class, and am helping to organize Women's Small Groups in our church. I'm enjoying deepening my friendships with the women of our church.

Life is full and busy right now. (When is it not?)

Kid's Update

On Pottying...
For those of you who recall (or care), I did infant pottying with Steven, starting when he was 5 weeks old; Hannah was started at 5 days old. Charles wasn't started. :) Infant pottying can be a lot of fun and brings you to another level of communication with your child; however, it can be very time consuming. With Steven, I tried to catch every potty; with Hannah, I put her on the potty basically just during diaper changes.; with Charles, there was no time. :) Due to our crazy, busy lives, full of kids and moving around and job changes, etc., Steven's full potty training was delayed numerous times. He is now, however, fully day-trained, which has been wonderful. Hannah is currently being trained. She seems ready enough, hopefully I can just stay ready. :) Last week, I acquired another potty seat (I really like the Baby Bjorn brand of potty seats). I thought, since I now have three potties and three kids, why not potty Charles while I'm pottying the others anyways. Charles has actually gone on the potty now about 6 or so times, half of which have been #2. I don't know if it'll amount to anything, but here's to trying! And, as Charles is back into cloth, a saved diaper is great! So, Steven was 5 weeks old when he first went on the potty, Hannah was 5 days old and Charles was 14 months old - what a late-comer! ;)

On Growing and Doing...
STEVEN:
Steven is 3 1/2 years old now. He's always liked books and letters. He can now legibly write almost all his letters and a few of his numbers. He's enjoys having words spelled or sounded out to him so he can write them down. His favorite letter is "S", for "Steven"; his next favorite is "T" for "Train". He loves Thomas the train, and any train for that matter. His favorite thing to draw is Thomas. He loves to hang any of his writings or drawings on the fridge, holding them in place with our letter magnets.
I joke that Steven is our little teenager, as he likes to sleep in. He'd stay up real late, if I let him and then sleep til noon. If I turn on his light in the morning before he'd like, even if he's laying there awake, he says, "I'm still sleeping" and rolls over.
Steven likes playing board games, doing puzzles and playing with Hannah.
He can be mischievousness and likes to coax Hannah to disobey.

HANNAH:
Hannah is now 2 1/4. She's a talkative one. She has quite the vocabulary, not much less than Steven, I don't think. She can count past 10. She knows her letters. The other day she surprised me, as I was doing some phonics work with Steven. I held up an "A" and Hannah says "a, A, ah". Turns out she knows most of her single phonics sounds, too.
Hannah loves playing with Steven and they will often jibber jabber back in forth in some unknown tongue. They love playing with their animals or babies, pretend to make food, play going to the store. They are adorable to watch.
Hannah is my little girl. She can be so tender and sweet.

CHARLES:
Charles is now 14 months old. He's been walking for four months now and is an old pro. He loves to climb. If a chair is pulled away from the kitchen table he sees it as an open invitation to climb onto the table. He can climb up and down stairs just fine. He amazingly enough hasn't attempted another crib escape since that one time months and months back.
Charles loves books and often when the kids have been playing out of view and the house seems just a wee too quiet, I'll find Hannah and Steven playing nicely with their toys and Charles sitting on the floor perusing a children's book. I definitely relish those moments.
Charles says more words than we often take time to realize. Recently Hannah was crying over something and Charles walked up to her and gave her a hug and kiss. He's a very sweet, quiet little guy.
Recently I noticed he's been a bit more cantankerous than normal and realized he must be teething. I checked his mouth, sure enough he's cutting SIX teeth - poor thing.