Friday, January 25, 2008

Such a proud Aunt I am!

My nephew participated in a Science Fair this morning, and his presentation was so good that he gets to take it to the regional science fair in mid-February. Yay for Ethan!

If Blogger cooperates today and you can look at the full-size shots here, do so. The text is terrific, and so very Ethan.

Monday, January 21, 2008

More from the Post Dispatch

Monday's front page carried this article about the birth center in Columbia.

I also found this section on the history of midwifery (don't know where it was in the paper).

And the "Talk of the Day" is about midwives in Missouri. Go add your comments!

A second tooth!

Our sweet friend Georgia was over this morning, and while checking out Stephen's first tooth, she found another one had popped through. Go Stephen!

And while I haven't captured a shot of the teeth, the kids did get some decent shots while I was feeding Stephen (one of the first couple of times...)

One of the fun things about waiting for solids until they have teeth is that they're so ready to help. He loves to grab the spoon and help guide it to his mouth.

I think he likes it! :-)

The God of all Comfort

The memory verse for church next week is 2 Corinthians 1.3, the first verse in the following passage...

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
2 Corinthians 1.3-5

This is one of those passages that has been especially dear to me at many times over the years. Don't you just love those passages that the Lord brings back to you over and over again?

My first memory of this passage is sitting in the waiting room with my Papa, while my precious Mama was in surgery having a radical mastectomy for breast cancer. It was the summer before my tenth grade year, and I was definitely feeling that world-turned-upside-down feeling. As we sat together, this is the passage that Papa shared with me. My recollection is of him sharing that no matter what happened, God wanted to use it. Both in our lives ("who comforts us in all our affliction") and in the lives of others ("so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction").

Everytime I read this passage now, I am challenged. Am I accepting His comfort? Am I comforting others with the comfort with which He has comforted me?

Some other precious lessons linked to this verse came from reading the book The God of All Comfort by Hannah Whitall Smith. It's a terrific little book recommended to me by one of my favorite women, Kathy Staley. It goes through many of the names of God, and is an encouraging and challenging read. Check it out if you haven't yet read it.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Article in the St. Louis newspaper

Michelle Munz of the Post Dispatch did a terrific job with this article about midwifery in Illinois and Missouri. I only wish they had an avenue for posting comments about the story on the website.

I'll give first quote status to the opposition. After several paragraphs in which Munz has sumarized some of the extensive statistical evidence regarding the safety of planned homebirth with a certified professional midwife:
But such statistics can't tell the whole story, said Dr. Gordon Goldman, the Missouri section chair of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists."Most of the time, they are going to get away with" a midwife
birth, Goldman said. "But when (a death) happens — even if it's one in 1,000 — it's 100 percent for you and your baby."

This quote amuses me in light of the fact that the informative sidebar states that the BMJ study showed an infant death rate of "1.7 per 1,000, consistent with low-risk births at hospitals." The infant death rate itself is not amusing. It is a very sad fact of life that even in the best of circumstances, some babies don't make it. What amuses me is Dr. Goldman's double standard, and his random choice of a death rate that is actually lower than hospitals acheive for "low risk" births.

Some of my favorite quotes that resonate with what midwifery is all about:

Kris gets into the tub, equipped with a heater to keep the water warm. The temperature and buoyancy are soothing. About 15 minutes later, the midwife notices a twinge in Kris' grunting.
"That sounded pushy. Are you feeling like you're wanting to push?" the midwife says.
"Yes," Kris answers, the first word she has spoken in hours.

It was a difficult birth, Jenny recalled. She pushed for nearly an hour.
The midwife felt the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby's neck. She had
Jenny get on her hands and knees and lift one leg. That allowed the baby's
shoulders to come loose and tumble out of its cord. The new mom scooped up her baby girl in the warm water. It was a joyous and peaceful moment, she said. It was exactly what she wanted.
"I felt like the bionic woman," Jenny said. "I was completely exhausted, but I felt a sense of pride I never felt before."


She spends two more hours at the house, cooking scrambled eggs, cleaning and completing her notes. She packs her equipment in a rolling suitcase. She leaves Kris with a list of things to look out for, like excessive bleeding or if Drew catches a fever.
The midwife hugs Kris and tells her how amazing she was. The midwife will be back tomorrow to check on the family.
As always, she has her cell phone in her pocket, waiting for the next call.

There is also a beautiful audio slideshow accompanying the article.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A challenging tribute

I received a link to this post in my mail just now. May the Lord use it.

The chief end of man

"What is the chief end of man?"
"The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."

So went the adapted catechism I learned growing up in Christian school.

Ellie Skee's mom posted a wonderful post the other day about her memorial service, which I just got to read this morning. Here's a clip...

Just before the service came to an end, we did the same thing that we did in Montana. We had the song "We Will Glorify" by Twila Paris play as the lights went out. In Montana we used candles, but here we used tiny flashlights to shine as the music played. This was something very personal to me. Looking back 15 months to when Ellie was diagnosed with cancer, the first couple of weeks are such a blur in my memory. But I remember that the grace of God covered me like a blanket when I had no strength of my own. And I remember that I didn't pray that Ellie would be healed. I wanted her to be, but somehow I knew without asking that this journey would be about suffering, and that if Ellie was to be healed on this Earth that it would not be soon. I knew that there would be a long road ahead. I don't know why I knew that... I just knew. So in those early days and weeks, the only prayer that would come out of my heart was "please, God, please - take glory for Yourself through this..." It was the only prayer that my heart knew how to form. And so, in both of Ellie's memorial services, I turned around to look at the little lights shining all over the room. That light was, to me, the reflected glory of God Himself - shining from the people who loved my little girl. The people who were touched by Ellie's light, which was not her light at all, but the incredible light of her Maker and Savior. I'm crying as I type this, because God answered my prayer. You see, with all due respect to my precious Ellie, she was just an ordinary little girl - just like every other child in the world. Yes, she was special - but no more and no less than every other child... your children... your grandchildren... We are ordinary parents. We don't love our children any more than you love yours. We did not handle this situation any better than any other parent going through such a horrible situation. We simply have an unbelievably powerful God. That one fact has made all of the difference in our lives, and in Ellie's life most of all. The little lights sparkled around the room as the song played... "... we will glorify the King of kings, we will glorify the Lord. We will glorify the Lord of lords, who is the great I AM."

That is the only purpose this life has for me. It is the only reason that I will get out of bed every day. It is the only reason that I will survive the crushing pain that wants to sit on my chest when I realize that my daughter will never put her arms around my neck again. Contrary to popular opinion, I am not strong. I am the weakest human being that you will ever meet. But I have a God who carries me when I cannot walk. I only appear strong because I haven't been able to walk for a very long time. And the only encouragement that I have for you is to stop trying so hard to walk on your own, when you and God both know that you can't.

I was deeply challenged and encouraged by these thoughts. We all have circumstances which break us and render us unable to walk. Several weeks ago, I sat by myself in my van, sobbing on the phone to my dear friend Sue, struggling with "those circumstances" in my life. Sue told me she had this picture in her mind of me flat on the ground, and the Lord wanting to pick me up. I asked through my tears, "Why would I want Him to pick me up, if it's only to do it all over again??"

This is why.

May God be glorified in and through me. Whatever it takes.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Tooth!

At seven and a half months, 23.5 pounds, and completely Mama-fed so far, Stephen has broken through his first tooth. Butternut squash, sweet potatoes, avocadoes, etc... here we come! It's been a long time since I started a baby on solids, lol.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hausmann Update

Praise the Lord, Anna was released from the hospital today.

Please pray for physical healing for Anna, Ethan, and Julia, comfort and emotional healing for the family, etc.

The return trip to Kansas is planned for Tuesday, with funeral services for Luke planned for Thursday. I'm reluctant to post details about the funeral, but if you'd like the information, feel free to email me (see sidebar).

2 Corinthians 1.3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

New Camera

We had a printer go out during its warranty period recently and as a result had a "purchase card" from the store. When we stopped by today for some ink for our fax machine, J found a nice 6.2mp camera on sale (much better than our 3.1mp, which will become the work camera). So we came home with fax ink, one ream of paper, and a new camera. For $3 out of pocket. Yay!

The new camera has all kinds of nifty settings I haven't tried out yet. I have tried out the Sepia setting on my handsome hubby:

And then there's the "catch the adorable baby looking at himself in the mirror" setting...

Okay, so maybe that's not a setting, but isn't he sweet?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Another news link

Link deleted as it contained misinformation. The family was not caravaning.

Hausmann Update

Here's more information I just received...

Luke was driving, with Ethan in the front seat, Anna and Julia in the back, with Anna directly behind Luke. Apparently, and they are still piecing details together, a semi truck going the opposite direction lost a rear wheel, which traveled directly into the Hausmanns vehicle, shearing off part or all of the top. Ethan managed to pull the emergency brake, thus probably preventing a worse accident. Apparently Luke was killed instantly. Julia suffered some minor cuts and bruises and was with Abbey and the younger children at their aunt's house in the Waco, TX area when I called. Ethan has lost front teeth and sustained other injuries, however, not life threatening.

Anna, who is scheduled for surgery at 10:00 this morning, sustained head trauma, damage to one eye and has numerous glass particles/fragments embedded in her face. She is, as of my conversation with Abbey around 8:30 this morning, in stable condition. They do not believe at this time there will be brain damage where Anna's concerned, and doctors are hopeful they can repair the eye satisfactorily, though there is concern she could use some/all use of it. Last night they were mainly concerned with stopping internal bleeding.

Dave spent most of the night in Anna's hospital room maintaining a constant vigil and communication with Anna who, as we understand it, showed signs of knowing who he was. She also spoke some with her sister Julia at the accident scene, while waiting for the ambulance(s) to arrive. Later, at the hospital, she was able to squeeze a nurses hand firmly with her right hand, not so firmly with her left. She has obviously been heavily sedated and so her true mental state/facility is difficult to determine at this time. They (Anna and family) are at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, TX.

Please pray for the Hausmanns

I just found out that some friends are facing a terrible trial right now. Dave and Karen Hauseman have been friends of my family from my childhood and have been blessed with 7 or 8 children. The four oldest were on their way home last night from visiting an aunt in Texas and were involved in a horrible car accident.

The oldest, Luke, was killed. Anna sustained serious head injuries and is critical condition, in and out of consciousness. Ethan has a broken jaw, and Julia has unspecified injuries.

The Houseman's are from Atchison, KS, and the rest of the family is headed down to Texas today. Dave has requested prayer for wisdom.

Please keep this precious family in your prayers in the coming days. I'll post any updates that I receive.

Here's a link to the local news story. Thanks for the link, Lynn.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Menu Project

I like working with a menu, but I've never been very good at making them! I've purchased the Menu Mailers from the Dinner Diva for a couple of 3 month stretches, and really liked them. My family liked them as well, but I missed having our favorites.

So, I'm in the process of working on my on rotating menu/grocery planner.

What I did first (2 or 3 months ago... I'm so fast with implementing ideas...) was give everyone in the family that can write 5 little cards (I cut up index cards) on which to write their 5 favorite meals. For us, that's input from 6 people. There was overlap on some of the favorites, but I was surprised at how many different meals were requested.

Recently, I decided it was time to move on with my grand plan, lol! So the other day, I got the meal cards back out, and also went through my recipe box and a couple of cookbooks looking for favorites that had been forgotten.

I'm this quirky mix of "let me touch and feel it" and "let me do it on the computer," so on the computer I figured out the right size for a grid 7 across and 5 down, representing 5 weeks worth of menus. Then I figured out the right size to make sheets from cardstock of little squares to put on the grid, so that I could physically move things around and see how I wanted them. I used different colors for main courses with poultry, beef, "other," and "special."

Once I had the menu grid printed and the little squares with main dishes on them printed (and added a few forgotten favs by hand), I started laying the meals out on the grid. I tried to mix up the different sorts of meals, so there would be a variety.

Here's how the menu grid looks right now:

The next step (that I'm still working on) is to take each week and make a menu/grocery list file for it. The first page will have the meals for the week at the top(not assigned to particular days). Below that will be two columns - one for groceries specific to that week's meals, and another for staples that I need to be sure we have on hand.

Here's my progress on that:

The next pages will be the actual recipes for that week's meals, so that I have everything nice and handy together.

As we work our way through the weeks, I'm sure that I'll want to rearrange and refine things. Because it will be on the computer it will be relatively easy to cut and paste, etc.

I'm hopeful that when I get this done, it will be a good tool for me and my family will really enjoy having their favorites. There are several that didn't fit on the grid, and Jonathan has decided he'd like pizza to be a Saturday tradition, so I'll probably add another week or two. I find myself astonished that I have that many weeks worth of family favorites!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Bilateral Refractive Amblyopia

We're off on a new learning journey. Ellie had a long overdue exam at the eye doctor's today, and she apparently has Bilateral Refractive Amblyopia. In layman's terms, this means that she has two lazy eyes, caused by her brain being overwhelmed by the degree of her vision loss and astigmatism and, to some extent, "giving up." Her glasses should arrive in a couple of weeks, though the best they can get right now with the glasses is 20/40 vision. The hope is that by helping the brain's load with glasses, and with the addition of eye exercises, we can eventually help her brain decide to kick in full force and get her to 20/20 with lenses.

That's the factual short of it.

An helpful article I found this afternoon gives the following information:

Amblyopia is poor vision in an eye that did not develop normal sight during early childhood. It is sometimes called "lazy eye."
When one eye develops good vision while the other does not, the eye with poorer vision is called amblyopic. Usually, only one eye is affected by amblyopia, but it is possible for both eyes to be "lazy."

Under causes, it says,
Refractive errors are eye conditions that are corrected by wearing glasses. Amblyopia occurs when one eye is out of focus because it is more nearsighted, farsighted or astigmatic than the other.
Amblyopia also can occur in both eyes if both eyes have very blurred vision. This can happen when there is a high amount of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.

If you'd like to learn more, just google "amblyopia" or bilateral amblyopia" and you'll find plenty of reading.

On the mental/emotional end of this news is the fighting off of a load of guilt. It's difficult to avoid focusing on the "what if's." I realize that the past is the past, and we can't go back. So we're moving forward, going to do our best help correct Ellie's vision, and going to get the rest of the Blessings in for exams asap.

It's wonderful to know that God is sovereign and all-wise, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Abundant Life - Is our perspective skewed?

We had a good time of fellowship at our chapel on New Year's Eve - food, fun and games, a good movie, and a neat time of testimonies. My wonderful Papa and Mama were in town for a visit and it was great to have them with us at the BBC New Year's party.

Papa shared a bit about their year at the testimony time. It's been a rough year from man's perspective... having to put G'pa and G'ma into a nursing home early in the year, then seeing both of them pass away in October. Papa also shared a portion of John 10.10 - "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly," and brought out the fact that we often misunderstand what Christ meant by abundant life. He didn't say He wants us to be happy, rich, or trouble-free. The path of our lives might be rough indeed. His desire is for us to have life abundantly through Him in the midst of wherever our path might lead as we follow Him.

As Papa shared, I knew the Lord was trying to teach me something, but I wasn't really "getting it."

Yesterday, Humble Amy posted a link to a blog entry by a Jon Bloom (not either of the John Blooms that I know) entitled Trust Promises, Not Providences. He says,
Experiences are very powerful. They often feel more powerful than promises. So it's tempting to interpret prosperity and ease as God’s blessing and tribulation as God’s displeasure. And sometimes they are. But often they are not.

In his discussion of how God wants us to treasure the unseen more than the seen (and often uses trials to adjust our perspective), he gives a couple of quotes from a booklet entitled Honey Out Of the Rock by Puritan Thomas Wilcox. I've printed it out and am eager to read it. The quotes in Bloom's blog are
“Judge not Christ’s love by providences, but by promises.”
"Bless God for shaking off false foundations, for any way whereby He keeps the soul awakened and looking after Christ; better sickness and temptations, than security and superficiality."

I'm definitely in a period of life where I believe the Lord is working to adjust my perspective, to set my mind on His things, and to give abundant life to me in a much different way than I have imagined. I'm not sure how coherent this post of mine is, as I am not feeling well at all today, but go read Bloom's blog and be blessed!