Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My First Furniture Re-do

From this:

To this:

I have no experience, and this project is proof that if you're content with imperfection, you can have beauty! This is a chair that came out of my G'pa and G'ma Byrd's attic. The original cover was totally torn up by our sheltie when the chair lived out on the front porch for a while. The chair itself has been extensively repaired by Jonathan as it had taken several injuries. It's been sitting in our room, too ugly/messed up to use, just taking up space. Time for it to be lovely again!

One of the boys and I unscrewed the seat from the chair and I ripped off all the old stuff. I didn't have any padding, but I thought of this old worn out mattress cover. I folded it over and over, and cut it to the right size. I think I ended up with seven layers.

Then I took a jumper a friend gave me several years ago. I love the fabric, but it had several worn (or burned?) spots that made it unwearable. So I very roughly cut it, leaving plenty of room to bring it to the underside of the seat.

At this point, I checked the stapler and found it empty, so the project was put on hold until we could pick up some more staples. Today, as I prepared to load the staple gun with new staples, about an inch and a half of staples fell out of the gun. I think God just knew on Saturday that I'd done too much and needed to stop.

So, I have no idea of the "right" way to do this, but I stapled the sides first, pulling the fabric snug, then trimmed the side fabric. Next I did the front and back, also trimming after stapling. Last came the corners, which I pulled together rather haphazardly. But it worked!

Now it waits for Jonathan to come home and screw the seat back on the chair.

The fabric is just cotton and not super sturdy, so I'm sure it will wear more quickly than official upholstery fabric. But it was free, I think it's lovely, and I can find something else fun next time it needs to be redone. Or whenever I get in the mood to change it!
Thanks, Nester, for telling me over and over that IDHTBPTBB! I don't think I would have tackled this otherwise.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Communion Hymn

A link to this hymn was posted by Ann Voskamp today. I'm not familiar with the hymn, but love the thoughts expressed on the beauty of the love feast that is the Lord's Supper. The weekly remembrance is precious, and never grows old or stale to me. What love He has for us! And what love to Him we owe!

Here, O My Lord, I See You Face to Face
By: Horatius Bonar

Here, O my Lord, I see you face to face;
Here would I touch and handle things unseen,
Here grasp with firmer hand eternal grace,
And all my weariness upon you lean.

Here would I feed upon the bread of God,
Here drink with you the royal wine of heaven;
Here would I lay aside each earthly load,
Here taste afresh the calm of sin forgiven.

This is the hour of banquet and of song;
Here is the heavenly table spread anew;
Here let me feast and, feasting, still prolong
The brief bright hour of fellowship with you.

I have no help but yours; nor do I need
Another arm but yours to lean upon;
It is enough, O Lord, enough indeed;
My strength is in your might, your might alone.

Mine is the sin but yours the righteousness;
Mine is the guilt but yours the cleansing blood;
Here is my robe, my refuge, and my peace;
Your blood, your righteousness, O Lord, my God.

Too soon we rise; the vessels disappear;
The feast, though not the love, is past and gone.
The bread and wine remove, but you are here,
Nearer than ever, still my shield and sun.

Feast after feast thus comes and passes by.
Yet, passing, points to that glad feast above,
Giving sweet foretaste of the festal joy,
The Lamb’s great marriage feast of bliss and love.

Hymn # 243 from Lutheran Worship
Author: attr. Henry Lawes
Tune: Farley Castle
1st Published in: 1855

Something new

This pregnancy continues to be my most interesting pregnancy to date. Boring would be fine with me, but "interesting" give more opportunity for growth, doesn't it?

I blogged about our midwifery Cookie Day at the capitol a couple weeks ago. I didn't mention how thrilled I was at my energy level and the fact that I walked all the way around all four floors of the capitol building, taking the stairs between levels. That's probably because the exhertion that I was initially so excited about had some not-so-great consequences. By the time we stopped for lunch, I was experiencing an irritating burning sensation under the surface of my skin to the left of my belly button. I asked my midwife about it, and her guess was that it was my diastasis. I have never had pain from the diastasis before, so this was a whole new sensation. The fact that that evening I could feel where the diastasis had "spread" from its previous gap of 1 1/2 fingers wide (the spreading was right around my belly button where I felt the burning), pretty much confirmed her assumption that the pain was from the diastasis.

On Saturday, I started having the same burning belly pain that I did at Cookie Day. I had a pretty active day around the house, and the burning started while I was on my feet for an extended period working on supper. Saturday night and yesterday, I was very careful about not doing much, in order to not put extra pressure on the area. I was standing for a while before supper while helping to dish up the kids' plates at our buffet-style supper at Dad and Mom Smith's. The burning started again and I sat down right away. I have remained a bit sore in that area, and feel the beginning of the burning sensation if I do much of anything active.

This development is very disconcerting to me. In a way, even more so than my various mystery pains. I think that's because the mystery pains are "maybes." I can't do much about them, which somehow makes it simpler to put them in the Lord's hands. But this... this isn't a vague maybe. It's a definite physical "event" that has palpable and lasting consequences that have the potential to be more than cosmetic. And at 28 weeks, I'm very aware that my belly is going to keep growing and putting more pressure on my abdominal wall.

I feel the need for a plan for how we're going to deal with this and try to prevent the diastasis from spreading further. Jonathan has told me that he'll put me on bedrest himself (actually, "tie you to the bed" were his words) if we can't figure out a plan that works for preventing further separation.

Here are some of our ideas so far...
~ No lifting anything heavier than 5#
~ Limit standing/active work to 10 minutes at a time with a conscious and determined effort to prioritize/let things go.
~ Dr. Mary (my chiropractor) has some special tape that we have used before with great success for supporting weakened muscles. I don't know how tape on the outside can have so much effect on the muscles inside, but it somehow does. I'm planning to have her apply this kinesio tape at my next appt. and see if it helps. Our hope is that it will help to keep the muscles from pulling further apart without the heat and possible negative effects of the maternity belt. The downside to the tape is that it usually falls off around Day 4 and my appts. are once a week.
~ We're wondering about going ahead and using a maternity belt for the days in between the tape coming off and my next appt. I don't really care for them, but if it keeps things from spreading more...
~ After the baby is born, I will be focusing on exercises that will strengthen my abdominal wall and hopefully pull those muscles back together. We've read that the first six months post-baby are the most critical time for this.
~ My current pilates exercise routine is up in the air right now. Once this flair-up has subsided, I'll get back to the pilates and see how things go.

So, there's my latest pregnancy news. Your prayers are treasured, and resources/input are always valued.

Psalm 131
A Song of Ascents, of David.

O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time forth and forever.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Clean Up Project and Thoughts

I started getting sick the day after Cookie Day (so, last Thursday) and seemed to take a long time to kick it. Wednesday was the first day I managed to make and execute a to-do list, mostly of things that involved me sitting at my computer. Yesterday I at last was able to tackle a more physical project and felt driven to do a major clean/purge in the Blessings' rooms.

If you want some encouragement that your house isn't that bad, take a closer look at this Picasa album (complete with notes)! We're not done yet, but we've made a great deal of progress.

One thing that is a constant struggle with having 7 Blessings in two bedrooms is how to manage the "stuff."

I had packed up a lot of the girls' toys a while back in an effort to minimize what they need to deal with on a daily basis. I'd gotten rid of a lot, also. Over the last few months, things that had been packed away have been sneakily making their way out of tubs and back into the bedroom. I didn't realize how bad the situation was until we buckled down for cleanup yesterday. I will need to keep a closer on on things to help them establish some room responsibility.

The boys have the toy shelf in their room that Dad and Mom Smith built for us years ago when we had a designated play area in our basement. The Blessings had just cleaned and rearranged it recently, but I was again amazed to find that, despite our efforts to be sure they "clean their room" each morning, a huge amount of toys and stuff were all over the place in there.

I've seen where moms have made lists for their children that they are responsible to follow for room cleanup, clearly defining what it means to "clean your room." This is something I think I'm going to incorporate, and would welcome any ideas.

I'm also contemplating further reducing the number of toys available at a time. Some thoughts/ideas include:
~ Using only one shelf on the toy shelf in the boys' room at a time.
~ Putting the girls' "out of circulation" toys in the boys' closet and using their closet more for storage. Is removing temptation in this way a cop-out? Or is it giving them an opportunity to earn the privilege of having the tubs back in their room?

I've also petitioned for Barak's guinea pig breeding endeavor to be halted, and to give away/sell either the male or female guinea pigs. It has not been a successful money-making venture, and I would dearly love to gain back the space in the boys' room taken up by the extra guinea pig "pen" (which is a kiddie swimming pool).

The simple fact is, I know very well that the less clutter there is, the easier it is for children to play, use their imaginations, take care of their space, behave themselves happily, etc. When you have seven children in two rooms, the need for less clutter becomes much more critical, and to date I have not found an effective way to accomplish this. But I am determined to find a way.

I appreciate and welcome your input!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

One Step Thou Seest

A friend posted the following poem yesterday. It fits in so many ways where our family is right now. "One step is far enough for faith to see." May it bless you also.

Child of My love, fear not the unknown morrow.
Dread not the new demand life makes of thee;
Thine ignorance doth hold no cause for sorrow,
For what thou knowest not is known to Me.

Thou canst not see today the hidden meaning
Of My command, but thou the light shall gain.
Walk on in faith, upon My promise leaning,
And as thou goest, all shall be made plain.

One step thou seest: Then go forward boldly;
One step is far enough for faith to see.
Take that, and thy next duty shall be told thee,
For step by step thy God is leading thee.

Stand not in fear, thine adversaries counting;
Dare every peril, save to disobey.
Thou shalt march on, each obstacle surmounting,
For I, the Strong, shall open up the way.

Therefore go gladly to the task assigned thee,
Having My promise; needing nothing more
Than just to know where'er the future find thee,
In all thy journeying - I GO BEFORE

(Author Unknown)

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Missouri Capitol

Tracy mentioned this bit of trivia about the capitol: The "pretty" side of the capitol is facing the river. Supposedly this is because when the capitol was built most people arrived by boat and so that was the side people saw first.

I think that's correct, but the other side (that many folks today call the "front" is also very impressive. Since I didn't get any pictures of that side this week, I thought I'd post again and show both sides of the building.

The river side:

And the side that faces the town (picture from a couple of years ago):

From either direction, I've always thought it was a beautiful building.

Cookie Day!

Wednesday was our 6th annual Cookie Day at the Missouri State Capitol, when families from around the state bake and package cookies and deliver them to the legislators in Jefferson City.

Here are our 24 packages of cookies:

And a close-up of the labels:

"Our" alcove next to Rep. Davis's office.

Families came here to get their assignment sheets, then moved out all over the capitol to deliver cookies, cheer, and a message of, "We love having legal midwives in Missouri. Please don't let that change!" 3,550 homemade cookies were delivered this year by 150 midwifery supporters. Great work!

We moved to this area just off the rotunda for lunch.

Jesse and Emily arranged for pizza delivery and folks were able to order ahead of time - it worked great! Samanda brought lots of drinks, which were most welcome. The above pictures were taken before the pizza or the crowds arrived.

The thing about which I'm always disappointed in myself on/after Cookie Day is the fact that I get so involved in what's going on that I forget to take pictures. The preceeding pictures are all ones that Jonathan was thoughtful enough to take. If it weren't for him, we wouldn't have any of Cookie Day events. Thanks Babe!

And here are some pictures I took on our way to the van around 3pm. The Missouri capitol is a beautiful building, and I would love to plan several hours someday to take pictures both inside and out.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Our Redeeming God

One of the dads in our home school support group posted this to our elist, and I think it's a great reminder.

The next time you feel like GOD can't use YOU, just remember...

Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Sampson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
John the Baptist ate bugs
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zaccheus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer... and
Lazarus was dead!

And this is really just a small list of examples from Scripture. I treasure that our God's business is redemption. He is the Expert at taking the dirty/ugly/unworthy and turning it into something for His glory.

I love snow, and I've been thinking lately on the fact that here is yet another example of God's redemptive work. From everything we know about the pre-Flood world, there was no snow. Talk about global climate change - the Flood brought it in a big way, including the arrival of snow. And the Flood came because of sin. Yet look at the beautiful example we have of God's creativity in the snowflake, and of His majesty in the beauty of freshly fallen snow. What an awesome Creator-Redeemer God!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Ann Voskamp shares some lovely thoughts on life-stages in how to assemble the parts of a life when beginnings end & kids grow up. To get the background to my thoughts below, read Ann's post first.

I've been there. Watched Jonathan take down the crib for what I thought was the last time. Sorted through and gotten rid of most of the baby clothes, saving only favorites and a few extra "just in case." Placed my desire for more children on the proverbial altar, and found peace and joy in acceptance of moving on to the next stage of our lives.

And now, I promise-swell.
Grateful for the unexpected, not having lost the lesson of acceptance.
His plans, not mine. For His glory and my good.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Rom 15:13

Monday, February 08, 2010

Thoughts on Leadership

A couple of great posts from my hubby's blog on leadership.
Part 1
Part 2

Jonathan doesn't post very often, but what he has to say is invariably worth reading. I know I'm partial, but I'd suggest you add him to your reader.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Power of a Picture

Today, I read a beautiful and touching story of a mother's first hours and days with her newborn daughter Nella, whom she immediately recognized as having Down's Syndrome. A beautiful testament to unconditional love. I expected to be emotionally moved by the story, but I wasn't expecting the emotional journey-in-time I encountered.

Nine years ago this summer, our precious Kate was born. I told her birth story a while back (in six parts, starting here). My unexpected emotional journey-in-time was sparked by this simple picture, borrowed from Nella's birth story:

While I had somehow refrained from crying as I read this lovely birth story, when my eyes absorbed this picture, the tears started falling. I wanted to weep. I sputtered out something to Jonathan ... what I would have given to have had a setup like that when Kate was back in the hospital. He gently reminded me ... Babe, it's been eight years.

My head knew it was eight years ago, that time heals and God is good. But my heart was suddenly there again...

* Our first (and only, to date) hospital birth.
* The miraculous victory of the vaginal delivery of our transverse-to-breech baby ... in St. Louis.
* The illogic of the gestational age misdiagnosis ("The reason her hips are so loose is because she was a frank breech. We're only judging her to be 34 weeks gestation because her hips are so loose. Everything else looks like a 37 week gestation baby.")
* The successful manipulation by the hospital staff, particularly the pediatrician, to get us to to agree to what they thought was best, despite the fact that everything in us was screaming they were wrong.
* The extra days in the first hospital ... the loneliness of being stuck in a hospital room alone while my baby was alone in the nursery, of Jonathan needing to be gone taking care of our other Blessings, of longing for my newborn daughter in my arms and for the arms of my Mama around us both.

And then, the return to the hospital after a week at home, just hours after Jonathan had departed for a business trip...
* The kindness (and yet loneliness) of a friend I barely knew taking Kate and I to the hospital and dropping us off at the door... because there was no one else to do it.
* The bili-bed the nurses were so excited to see in use for the first time; the bed Kate and I hated.
* The hours of trying to find a comfortable position on the hospital bed that would allow me to at least touch my baby as she lay in the bili-bed.
* The CD the kind nurses brought in of music with a heartbeat in the background to try to soothe my baby... when what she needed to hear was my heart.
* The countless tears of longing and loneliness that Katie and I both cried through those two eternal days

There was also good in those days - the kindness of the hospital to provide cafeteria tickets for a mama who arrived in haste, with no money in her purse; the arrival of my Papa and Mama from Kansas on Sunday, just in time to take Kate and I back home; the faithfulness and unceasing love of my Heavenly Father; the eventual homecoming and health of our sweet baby. I don't mean to seem ungrateful for these blessings.

But as I looked at this picture and thought of how different the whole experience would have been if I could have only held my precious baby under the bili-lights, I was once again that lonely and hurting new mother.

If you've stuck with me through my need to re-process this experience, thank you. The suddenness and intensity of my emotions today makes me more understanding of how things that happened years ago and that have been "dealt with" can come rushing in on someone.

God is good, and He is the great Healer. Even of wounds that get ripped open when you least expect it.

Katie's Birth Story -
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, The Power of a Picture

Monday, February 01, 2010

Refining Thoughts

There are some desponding, morbid, murmuring, ungrateful souls who find reasons for complaining everywhere, but a man of David’s spirit, on the contrary, sucks honey out of every flower and praises God in connection with everything. --Spurgeon

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
Job 23:10

"In whatever trial we face, we can be strong and courageous because it's not over...there is more to the story...The end is always that THIS - whatever "this" is - will result in our good and His glory."
source unknown

I don't know the writer of this chorus, but as we drove home late last night, it was the prayer of my heart and lips:
Living God, consuming fire
Burn the sin from my life
Make Your will my desire
Take my life in Your hands
Purify me with Your blood
Till I shine far brighter than purest gold
In Your eyes.

While googling for the author of the above lyrics, I found a post of my own from Feb. 2007 that included those words, as well as the below passage from Hind's Feet on High Places that has been on my mind again lately:

Last of all he took her up the stairway to the highest floor. There they found a room with a furnace in which gold was being smelted and refined of all its dross. Also in the furnace were rough pieces of stone and rock containing crystals. There were put in the great heat of the oven and left for a time. On being taken out, behold, they were glorious jewels, flashing as though they had reeived the fire into their very hearts. As Much-Afraid stood beside the Shepard, loving shrinkingly into the fire, he said the loveliest thing of all.

"O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay they foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones" (Isa. 54:11). Then he added, "My rarest and choicest jewels and my finest gold are those who have been refined in the furnace of Egypt," and he sang one verse of a little song:

I'll turn my hand upon thy heart,
And purge away thy dross,
I will refine thee in my fire
Remake thee at my cross.

Yes, Lord! Refine and purify us. Make us choice jewels and finest gold, not for our glory, but for Your own!

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Psalm 115.1