Monday, July 30, 2012

A New Perspective

Yesterday we had a guest speaker at church.  I can't remember his name, but I know his message will forever change how I read the Word of God. 

He was speaking about how he had gone to see an actor who at his pinnacle had been in Les Miserables on Broadway, but this man instead was doing 1.5 hour monologue bringing the book of Luke to life for so many.  He said he asked to meet for lunch the next day and nine hours, his way of reading God's Word was changed.  This man had talked about just spending months hanging out absorbing one specific book of the Bible until it wasn't just that you had it memorized, it was that you had absorbed it into your very being.

Our speaker talked about how it transformed how he read the Bible - no longer was he worried about memorizing verses, he began to read and hang out in Philippians, he kept moving as he became absorbed in the Word and the Word became a part of him.  He didn't just read it, and know it by heart, but he understood each book he spent time hanging out in.

How did he do this?  He spoke of three things main points.  However, he also talked about reading out loud as if we are reading for our children - even if we do different voices for them, but alone.

Here were his three points:
1.  Prayerful Reading:  He talked about a lot of things here - including the fact that sometimes we get distracted because just as in a game of football, someone is playing defense.  Sometimes we'll find ourselves distracted - there is a reason for this.  Sometimes we'll walk away with nothing but sometimes we'll also find the humor. 

2. Continuous Reading:  Just as you would sit down and read a book in a single sitting, you should do this with the book you choose to study.  You will come away having absorbed more.  I can attest to this fact. 
He suggested setting a timer for 10, 20 or 30 minutes.  Because when we set limits like "I'm going to read 5 chapters" By the time we read chapter 2 we are saying to ourselves, "I've got three more chapters."  However, by setting a time limit, it makes it more manageable and we can just read continuously until our timer goes off or we know our time is up.   I have to say, I started doing this this morning - and you can cover a lot of Matthew in 30 minutes.  I am half way into Chapter 7 now.  I even started with the different generations that lead to Jesus being from the line of King David.

3.  Repetitious Reading:  He talked about spending months just reading and rereading each chapter until you have read it so much that it is just ingrained in your heart and mind.  He also suggested starting with smaller books like Ephesians, Philippians and John, to name a few. 

I loved this idea - not worrying about memorizing, but just absorbing God's Word until it is in a part of you.  I look forward to absorbing and hanging out with Matthew first.  Learning and absorbing Jesus' teachings. 

Warning:  If you do this too, prepare to be convicted and realizing that things we didn't think much about are suddenly very visible and there in front of us.

I hope you have a good week.  Happy Monday!
In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Baby Steps

Raising children is tough.  Raising a child who has special needs can at times feel insurmountable.  No matter what your child's challenge is, it is so tempting to worry about the future and what it holds.

When Lizzie was first diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, she struggled with echolalia (repeating or echoing favorite phrases, or words) and she wore thick glasses, she was in and out of the doctors every cold and flu season and at the time it all seemed as if she would never be a functioning adult.  Part of it was because I was discouraged and part of it was she hadn't begun school yet so we weren't really sure what to expect.  We were still trying to wrap our heads around her diagnosis and didn't know what to expect from Elizabeth. 

Before her diagnosis, it never occurred to me to wonder what would become of her?  And once she started school, the pieces began to slowly fall into place.  Speech began to emerge a little here, a little there until the child who would sit quietly for hours in the car could not stop talking.  It was great!!  Maybe not for Sarah, because she didn't understand, but for Chris and I we were ecstatic.  Then after a year of Kindergarten to work on her social skills, we started Kindergarten again to work on academics and slowly but surely it all began to happen. 

In the between times though I wondered?  Would Lizzie ever grow up and go to college?  Would she ever get married?  What about boys?  How do we protect her from those who would hurt her?  What could I have done differently?  All of these questions and doubts plagued me until I realized I had to let them go and just trust that God had a plan for Elizabeth that was bigger than my dreams for her. 

It looks simple on a page or computer screen, but it was anything but simple.  It was a slow heartbreaking process and learning to take my hands off of the driver's wheel and allow God to steer her path and life.  It got easier as I realized he had sent us to Spaght Elementary for a reason.  The team there, especially Lizzie's Mrs. Silveous eased my anxiety little by little.  The knot that lived in my stomach at IEP time, became more of nervous fluttering as I realized that they were working as hard as we were to help Elizabeth achieve so much.

Here is the thing, when we try to keep control of our lives, we inevitably make a mess out of them.  Even with all of our planning, and trying to fix things, we end up messing it all up.  I have slowly (and I do mean slowly) learned over the years that when I allow God to have control (even when I don't really want to) things don't end up so messy.  Is it easy?  NO!  Is it best?  You bet!  Somehow the insurmountable doesn't seem as large when I know God takes care of it. 

Even if you don't believe in God, try taking one day at a time.  You will drive yourself nuts worrying about what hasn't happened yet.  So take a few deep breaths and go minute by minute if you have to, but know each baby step will slowly add up over time.

I hope you all have a good rest of the week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Baby Steps Adding Up


A friend and I have started a daily Gratitude List and today I thought I would share my list with you all. 
1. That Lizzie has a WONDERFUL Pediatric Opthamologist, Dr. Tom Lenart who is just as proactive as I am in her treatement.  When we first started our journey with Amblyopia, I only knew one of my aunts and my sister had struggled with it.  So I had been keeping an eye out for it.  I thought I saw a drift in Lizzie's eye several times, but the eye corrected itself so quickly I decided I was seeing things. But after an eye test at her preschool, I knew it wasn't just me anymore. 
Our first opthamologist claimed he specialized in pediatrics, but you could have fooled me.  He was rude, abrupt and impatient with Elizabeth.  In his defense, she was very busy and had difficulty sitting still.  However, the last time we saw him, Chris was with me, and I was pregnant with Beka and he grabbed her face and talked to her like she was a bug.  Chris about came unhinged right then and there.  So we called our great pediatrician and she made a recommendation to Dr. Charles Whitfill.  He turned out to be just what the doctor ordered (literally).  So when we moved, I was thrilled he knew someone in Washington and hence we now have Dr. Lenart.  He is just as wonderful and patient with her as Dr. Whitfill was when we lived in Wichita.  He even offered some great ideas to use as incentives to keep Lizzie motivated to keep her eye patch on, so I'm tickled with this visit.

2.  Lizzie now has to patch for only 2 hours a day.  When we started, Lizzie had to wear her eye patch from the time she woke up in the morning until bedtime.  So that even though her alignment has improved drastically from her surgery, her vision still requires patching.  She gets to play a game on my phone, but not until she finishes patching first - it's a reward.  I predict the purchase of a Nintendo DS in our future with puzzle games and things to help improve her eye vision in the left eye.

3.  Last but not least, I am glad that as I get older I really do get a little wise.  I am far from having all of the answers in life, but somehow it doesn't bug me as much as it did when I was younger.   With that comes more patience as I wait on God's timing and not mine. 

Have a good rest of the week. 
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Growth Out of Trials

Who would have thought that a little baby could spark so much controversy.   A two month old at that, and all because I asked for prayers.  Sometimes life takes an interesting turn.

I have been requesting prayers for Baby Hannah Mae, she's just turned two months old and is in desperate need of a heart transplant.  I am also apart of a group called Pray for Emerson.  Emerson and her family are awesome, and their story is amazing and abounding in God's miracles.  But in asking for prayer for Hannah Mae, I apparently sparked a controversy.  Some of the other people felt that it was wrong to be asking for prayer on a group for one specific child.

At first, I was ticked, then I was saddened.  Then after some much needed sleep I woke up inspired!  Why not create a Facebook page open to the public, where people with any problem for their child or their families can come and ask people to pray for them.  This circumvents the issues of worrying that one child is being ignored in requesting prayer for a child whose name is not on the site. 
So if you are a Facebook person and you are interested I have created a group named Praying for Children and Families All Over the World!  It is an open group and no matter what is going on, from family troubles to medical issues - anyone can go and request prayer for a child and their families. 

Here is the link to Baby Hannah - she in desperate need of a heart transplant at two months old.  Without it, she won't live much longer.  So prayer warriors let's get kneeling!!!
http://www.hannahmaeneedsaheart.com/

In Christ,
Maureen

 Footnote:  We are working to make the group open, but also closed, so people can find the group, but have to in it to see what people post.  Our hope is to give people a little more comfort so they can share those delicate situations without worrying that the whole entire world (i.e. those who would not understand or would say mean things) can see what they post.  Also, anyone who wishes to join is welcome, all I ask is that if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all.
Thank you.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Oddish Girl

All of our children have their own distinct personalities.  Some are dare devils who make us prematurely gray haired.  Some of our children are into computers, some into science, math, etc. . . you get my point.

Beka is my oddish child.  The child who is afraid of bugs, dogs, zoo animals, birds, vacuum cleaners and tornado sirens have a fascination with dead and dry skin.  As I write this, she is doing her darnedest to pick at the dead skin on my scalp.  It is something she seems to find fascinating for some reason.  I don't get it, but there you go. 

The same girl who is spunky, cheeky and pretty darned adorable and can be scared of anything and everything cannot stop herself from picking at me or Chris and our dead skin.   I am shaking my head.  I wonder if this means she has a possible future as a dermatologist?  I know she has a future in fashion - her favorite thing to do is to work with the few blankets she has and using them to make a dress.  I have to admit, she has come up with some pretty cute stuff.

This child is always smiling, happy (unless you wake her up from a nap, then she is like her mommy and extremely grouchy until she is fully awake), she makes us laugh constantly, but not to the point where she doesn't get into trouble for anything.  :D  It's kind of hard to be down when Beka comes and sits on your lap and gives you a cheeky grin.   

This is my oddish child, but you know what, I love her quirks and little odd things that make her, Beka.  Even if it means we'll never have a fish again because they terrify her.

Have a good weekend,
In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dear Washington

Dear Washington,

You are many things.  Beautiful, majestic with the Cascade Mountains, and amazing to drive through.   You are also incredibly sneaky.  Little did I realize that what started as a good idea - Take the girls to Jetty Island would turn into a drama fest in my household. 
I forgot that cooler temperatures does not mean you can go without sunblock when spending several hours on a beautiful fun filled (and seaweed filled - note the picture above).  But my girls had a blast, and I learned how to squelch my inner EW! so I could walk the vast expanse to check on the girls.  Thankfully the tide came in before we left so the expanse closed considerably.

You are very sneaky because just when I was wondering if I could enjoy living in your state, you draw me back into the joy and splendor of all you have to offer.   So while the girls are less than thrilled at their pink shoulders, and I would prefer to be minus an incredibly pink sunburned face, I admit it, you are a pretty cool state to live in and I look forward to finding out about your awesome hiking trails and teaching the girls about the joys of nature.  Now to find a few good books about nature, so I am at least somewhat knowledgeable.
Sincerely,
An Almost Converted Former Kansan.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Life Changing Events


Twelve years seems like a long time, but to me it feels as if no time has passed.  Twelve years ago, I walked into church and shook hands with the handsome man up above.  While it took a little help from my pushy mom to get things going, once the ball started rolling it all fell into place. 

I was home from Sicily and trying to just focus on finishing college and then going to graduate school.  I had given up.  I was 26 years old and I kept seeing all of these college peers who were younger than me getting married and I decided, That's it!  I give up I quit.  I don't care what Jaymi thought God was telling her, I give up on men.    So when in April 2000 my Aunt Nina sent me an email telling me I should meet this nice young man in her singles Sunday school class my first thought was, No way am I getting set up again! 

It's funny how when we finally quit on our plans for our timeline, God's timing kicks in and falls perfectly into place.  Twelve years and I haven't regretted a day since. 

I love you sweetie and I hope we enjoy many more years to come.

Love Always,
Maureen

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tea!!!


When I was a little girl, my Grandma Taylor would come visit - and eventually for a few years she lived with us.  She came to America from England after World War II because she was married to Grandpa Taylor.  With her she brought a love of tea.

Growing up living with Grandma meant a lot of things, including learning to love a good cup of tea.  She started with more milk than tea and slowly changed the levels until it was more tea than milk.  She taught me to love a lot of things, but it's the love of tea I take with me everywhere.  But it wasn't until Chris was deployed in 2009 that I was faced with a different sort of tea.

Chris being in Iraq, meant he had a lot of jobs to accomplish.  He created and built a CST - it's like a base truck stop where the convoys were go and park, refill their gas tanks and human gas tanks, etc...  And often he would eat or drink with the nationals.  This included camel meat and other oddities but probably the most odd thing he told me about was fish tea.

Now I'm pretty game to try new foods.  I have eaten squid, octopus, sushi, different types of food, even from India, since my Aunt Chris and Uncle Frank and their family lived there as missionaries.  It's okay, as long as they go easy on the curry.  Spicy equals heartburn for me.  I don't mind trying new things - but I draw the line at fish tea. 

The tea snob or maybe it's my British ancestory refuses to embrace the idea of adding fish to my tea?!  Mint, Lemon, I'm even willing to retry Earl Grey (it's not my favorite as Lizzie would say), but fish?  I say nay, nay!  Call me a snob, call me whatever, just please do not put fish in my tea. 

I think my Grandma Taylor would be proud or maybe amused.

Have a good weekend.
In Christ,
Maureen

Monday, July 9, 2012

Changing Gears

When Elizabeth was small she had this thing she loved to do.  It made me crazy, to the point that the last time it happened I started crying.  When you have a child with special needs you face a lot of challenges.  Some kids with Autism struggle with Pica - the desire to eat anything and everything - including their own feces.    For us, this issue kind of went away once she understood it was disgusting and bad for her. 

Now as we are struggling with constipation I have to kind of shake my head at the reverse in circumstances.  Elizabeth was my fecal artist - yes, I said it.  My child liked to paint her room and crib with her own feces.  It was a huge problem for the longest time.  It got worse when Chris was deployed during 2004.  So when he came home in 2005 and we walked in once again to find that Elizabeth had painted her room and bed with her poop, I lost it.  I just couldn't take it anymore.  Chris hugged me and told me to go visit my mom and he would take care of it.  And he did.  I too had made Elizabeth help me clean up her masterpieces (they were more like the art that looks like children's finger paintings), but something about Daddy telling you it is gross and disgusting must have made it all click with her because after that day we haven't had a problem since - with Elizabeth that is.  Rebekah went through a short bout of it, but hers was more she didn't like being dirty and was trying to get the poop off of her bottom and it seemed only natural that she wipe her hands on the doors, walls, furniture. . . I think you get my point. 

So here I was with a child who couldn't leave her own poop alone and now that same child can't seem to go poop.  I might laugh if it weren't for the fact that she is miserable.  So Karo Syrup (all I have is light Karo) in water and reading to her.  Every time I turn a page we each take a drink of water.  Once she tires of this game we started having a Chug-a-lugging contest, but instead of chugging beer or alcoholic beverages we are chugging water and water with Karo syrup in it (not my water, only her water.  One bathroom, two people needing to go means one of us isn't going to make it in time).  Tomorrow, we will keep pushing Karo water and Karo syrup in her oatmeal. 

Also a few friends who struggled with this issue or who like to read a lot recommended the following:

1. Coffee - I don't really get this one, but hey if it works, it works.  Now to buy coffee since I am a tea drinker.

2.  Biscuits and gravy- but it has to be honest to goodness homemade gravy, not from a jar or packet gravy. 

3. Aloe Vera juice - apparently this tastes a little sweeter than grape juice.  My cousin Ken is not in medicine, but he is all about health, teaches combat training and studies a lot.

4. Grape juice

5. Apple Juice - this one I knew about.  Apples are high in fiber so when you hear that saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."  It is true, because it keeps your regular, but also fiber keeps cholesterol levels down as well.

I also read on a pediatric website that a diet high in fiber helps.  So Miss Lizzie will find herself eating a lot more veggies and a lot less hot dogs or chicken and french fries. 

I'll be honest, I don't know what triggered her constipation.  I know I feel horrible that she feels so badly.  She actually raided her own piggy bank and offered to walk to Safeway and buy her own apple juice so she could help herself because we are just that broke this pay period.  That was when I broke out the Karo syrup and figured no guts no glory.  I also never thought once the girls were potty trained that I would have to worry about their poop.  Just goes to show we all still have things to learn.

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

I also forgot pear juice and movacol - those suggestions come from a mom with a son who has Biliary Atresia and has intestinal issues.  I am unsure if you can find movacol here in the States, but I will keep you posted.  Thanks Belinda!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Vacation?

For years I have considered taking a vacation.  Chris has gone off on Army exercises, which isn't quite the same as a vacation, because he is sleep deprived and exhausted when he gets back.  It's not a typical vacation - it's a vacation for one.  Chris has even contemplated sending me, and I took him with me.  And then I realized something.

I haven't been alone in so long, the idea of leaving Chris and the girls is kind of scary.  I have been some one's mom and wife for almost 12 years and I don't know how to be someone else anymore.  This is not a bad thing, except I get burned out and frustrated.  I'm sure it is equally frustrating for Chris as well - he knows I am stressed, burned out and frustrated (at that moment in time) and wants to send me on a getaway, but it never quite happens.  Not from lack of trying on his part either. 

It isn't even that expensive.  I could go to Arizona and see my best friend Jaymi, or Massachusetts and see my friend Maureen, but I realized today that I somehow end up sabotaging it, because what will I do with the alone time?  The girls did Camp Fire this year and I had two hours in the apartment alone - it was weird and very quiet.  I found I didn't really know what to do with myself. 

If you could take a vacation where would you go?  Would you go alone?  What would you do with your free time?  I am open to suggestions - because I am out of ideas.  I think I need to figure something out soon.  If for no other reason so I don't lose my imagination.

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Poop


When you are single and young, you imagine many things.  You imagine what Prince Charming will look like, you imagine what your wedding will look like.  You dream of homes, the life you hope to live and you dream big.  Never in those dreams do you dream about poop.  Never when you are in high school do they tell you that one day you will have a child and your life will be consumed with the concern for another person's poop.

Then it happens.  You meet someone, maybe he is Mr. Right maybe not - if you are lucky your partner is awesome and there for you.  Believe me, you are going to need it - because once you become a parent you find yourself doing things you never thought you would.  You find yourself  worrying about whether or not another person is pooping like they should.  And that is just your partner - never do you imagine you will intentionally smell someone's pants and see if they are finished pooping.  When you are a parent you worry about diapers, diaper rash, wet wipes - are they organic or non - organic, are they causing your child to break out in diaper rash.  Should you use Desitin or the other brands of butt gunk to sooth the red heiney your child is sporting.  How many pounds of potty do you let the diaper absorb before it's had enough (just kidding, I never did that).

Then you work on potty training this new individual.  If you are lucky, they potty train quickly.  If you are me, Lizzie's mom, you spend a year banging your head against the wall only to have her suddenly put the pieces together after Daddy comes home for war and he smirks and asks, "What's so tough about potty training."  If he's lucky you don't throw something at his head because you just spent the last year gaining new gray hairs and trying to potty train a child who apparently wanted her Daddy more than you. 

Then they become verbal, they can talk to you and you think.  Oh Good I don't have to worry about poop anymore. Right?  WRONG!!!  Not pooping is a problem, pooping too much is a problem, is their blood in their poop (that's more for your partner than your kids if you are lucky), are they feeling okay.  Is their tummy upset or is it that your stir fry just happens to make an excellent colonic.  And this is during the time when a rotovirus or some stomach flu bug is going around causing vomiting and diarrhea.

This week, we worried about poop twice.  First, Beka ate too much fruit and freaked out when she "pooped too much."  then we visited the Emergency Room with Lizzie.  I thought it was a Urinary Tract Infection but alas, no - she is constipated.  So again I am concerned with poop only this time it is how to get it to started.  Fiber One makes great tasting bars to help with this issue, stool softeners are an answer and apple juice is also a great laxative.  The only thing I haven't tried yet?  Ex-Lax.  Oh and lots and lots of water!

At this point I have to laugh, because if you don't laugh you might cry.  Tummies are still upset, husbands still need to take it easy with the stir fry and little Bekaboo's need to lay off the fruit.  Although, on the bright side, at least I don't have to worry about getting Beka to go, just Lizzie and I will gladly take this one for the team. 

I must confess though I do wonder will there ever be a day when I don't worry about other people's poop.

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen