Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Update on Emily

This post is an update to this prayer request.
You can see pictures of the progress here.

The swelling around Emily's eye went down a slight amount over night in response to the injected antibiotics. The doctor felt this was enough to indicate everything is due to a drug resistant strain of bacteria. He called in the older antibiotic to a compounding pharmacy. And, he ordered x-rays of Emily's head to rule out anything else and see just where the sinus infection is. 

Clint and Emily just went one way to get the x-rays done. Brandon, who has the flexibility of an online class this week, just now headed in the other direction to get the first bottle of antibiotic. The pharmacy doesn't have enough on hand to make all she needs so we will pick up the other bottle later. The shots Emily had yesterday only stay in her system for 24 hours, so we want to get something in her to keep knocking this bacteria back. Brandon is going to take it straight to where Emily is being x-rayed so we can start the first dose immediately.

It's a relief to get a name and a course of treatment. We are praying this works so Emily's body can get a rest, and our girl can get back to her normal self. She has felt miserable and had some very painful shots, but has maintained her sweet disposition and cheery attitude. 

UPDATE 4/29/2013 pm: Dr called with the x-ray results tonight. He said she does have a bad sinus infection on that side. He said that the periorbital cellulitis are fairly easy to treat so he's not too concerned w/ those. He is concerned about the infection going into the bone which is very difficult to treat. The problem is that there is infection in the skin and the sinuses with the bone in the middle. Because this has been going on so long & her first round of antibotics was too low, he wants us to call him every day w/ a progress report. As long as we see some improvement, we're OK. If we see no improvement or worsening, he is going to want to see her ASAP.

Update 4/30/2013: The new "old" antibiotic is working! Her eye drastically improved overnight! Thank you, Lord! Btw, the scary thing that we did not name to cause alarm was meningitis. Due to the vaccine, it was very rare and very unlikely, but still on the table due to her symptoms and failed course of treatment.

Thank you for all of the prayers, concern, well wishes directed to Emily, advice, offers of help, communications, etc. We truly appreciate the wonderful people in our lives who care about us. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Periorbital Cellulitis

You can read the update here and see pictures of the progress here.
I changed the title from Emily Needs Prayer to the diagnosis because so many parents and hospitals were visiting the page after searching for that term.

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A sinus infection led to periorbital cellulitis.

Emily was hit the hardest by the "nasty mean" strain of flu that hit our entire family hard in early April. She had bronchitis secondary to the flu and that hit her hard as well. She was leaving all of that behind when...

Emily (5) woke up last Tuesday with a swollen eye and a tiny bit of discharge. From previous experience, I figured it was conjunctivitis (pink eye). On Sunday and Monday, I had noted she seemed tired and not as active.

For the last 20 years, Goldenseal eye washes is what has worked very well and very quickly in our family for conjunctivitis. I started those immediately and noticed improvement right away. The discharge stopped and the redness inside the eye left. However, a few hours later, I noticed the pink eye was behaving differently than anything I had seen.

For starters, the skin around her eye turned dark and the texture of the skin was different. Then, her fever spiked to 104.5. Fever does not accompany pink eye. She complained of a severe headache. OTC medicine took the fever down only about a degree, and the headache was still painful. 

Just a short time later, she was complaining of photo sensitivity in her affected eye only and shortly after that, pain in her ear so bad she couldn't lay her head on a pillow. I became alarmed because I have never seen symptoms progress that quickly in any of my children and knew some ugly things it could be. I called Clint, informed him of what was going on, and asked him to take her to a doctor. (I can't drive while on hyperemesis gravidarum medication, and one adult has to be here with the younger children.)

He took her to the local doctor who was open in the evening. Our regular pediatrician keeps office hours only. Dr. Local was concerned because of how quickly it was moving too. He diagnosed it as periorbital cellulitis from a sinus infection secondary to the bronchitis/virus. Because of how quickly it was moving, he gave her an antibiotic shot in the office and prescribed two oral antibiotics and eye drops for the pink eye. The next evening, there was less color in the skin around her eye, her fever was down, swelling was down, and she was feeling better enough to be more active. We thought we had it on the run.

On Thursday, she was back to where she was. We called the doctor's office and told them this. They said to give it more time. On Friday, we told them it looked like she was going a bit backwards still and asked if the culture was in yet. They told us again to wait a little while longer for the antibiotic to work. The culture wasn't back. They told Clint he didn't need to keep calling. They would call us when the results were back. We were calling to update them of her lack of progress and get advice regarding that.  

Today, we took her to our usual pediatrician, who is quite a drive away but worth it. We have a 21+ year history with this doctor who is known for excellence in treating his patients. He is considered the best in the region. The doctors in our area take their children to him.

Cellulitis is when the infection goes into the layers of the skin. On your leg, it isn't such a big deal because there isn't as much there to invade. On the face, there are many things it can invade. The most danger comes when the cellulitis moves behind the eye becoming orbital cellulitis. Orbital cellulitis is much more dangerous and difficult to treat.

Our peditrician confirmed we should have been seeing much more improvement after seven days worth of antibiotics, and he was concerned she was not better. He said she should have improved within 72 hours at the latest. He gave her two shots of strong antibiotics in her legs simultaneously  These are very painful for adults, and she, at 5, was unable to walk for a few hours. He said the dose of one Rx antibiotic was too low, and he would have skipped the eye drops and second antibiotic. 

Right now, we are waiting to see how this shot works. If she doesn't improve a lot by morning, it will tell us that she has a drug resistant strain of bacteria. Dr will call in an older antibiotic to a compounding pharmacy. If she does show improvement, Clint will take her back tomorrow morning where she might receive more shots or be referred to the hospital for x-rays. It all depends on what her body's response to the shots are in the morning.


1. Drug resistant bacteria This is the easiest to treat and he feels very confident the older antibiotic will work.

2. Bad sinus infection in the back of her head working it's way up front These are harder to treat. An x-ray will likely be needed to confirm it.

3. Something very scary that we will not name at the moment to keep everyone from being alarmed It's rare and very unlikely, but on the table. He says if it is this, he feels he can treat it successfully. 

Please pray for Emily. Pray these antibiotics work in a noticeable way by tomorrow morning so we do not have to subject her to more suffering, pain, or testing. Please pray for her doctor to have wisdom to know exactly how to treat it. Say a prayer for the parents of special needs children. I have more admiration for them than ever. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

How Do You Know When You Have Truly Forgiven?

Last spring, as I studied my Bible to help me work through something difficult, I took notes as the Lord led me through it. I did not post it at the time because I did not want to add anything else to the situation. I scheduled it months ago to post on Sundays in April and May.

One of the questions I get a lot is how I am able to forgive certain things that have happened to me. Often, the person is cautioning me to hold onto some resentment as a way of protecting myself. That's not what my God teaches or desires from me. I can give complete forgiveness and still check in with Him every step of the way. God has never let me down in this and some very incredible answers to prayers have resulted from it. I greatly desire His blessings in my life, so that is a strong motivator to do things His way over my way. That doesn't mean I don't wrestle sometimes though.

An enemy is someone who deliberately hurts you. God says I was once enemies with Him with my willful sin. (Romans 5:10) Realizing who I was and the weight of what He did makes it easier to forgive those who hurt me. I've done the hard work through self examination, prayer, and aligning my will with God's. But, have I really let it go? How do I know for sure I've truly forgiven? 

When we hold onto bad feelings, we are in bondage. The joy I know in Christ is dampened as long as I stay full of those negative thoughts and feelings. When I surrender those, God returns my joy. My spirit soars with the freedom in Christ after being in bondage to my rebellion.

God restores my peace. I am no longer constantly thinking about what happened. 

God changes my focus. I stop thinking about how it made me or mine feel and how it hurt our lives. Instead, I start thinking about what I can do to help them see that God wants to give them more than what they have. I start praying for them to find peace and forgiveness. My thoughts change from self-ish to self-less.

My attitude towards them changes. God gently reminds me that we are imperfect people trying to relate in imperfect circumstances. He loves them, so I should too. They are created in His image so there is something good about them. 

God will give me insight to their motives. Sometimes I see the person was in a completely different place than I was, so what looked like to me was hurtful, was actually them making a good gesture. It was thoughtless, but not spiteful.

The angry feelings go away. God takes those out and puts deep, abiding love for the person in my heart. It seems like the worse they were to me, the more love God puts in my heart for them after they hurt me. I understand how someone is able to love someone who murdered their loved one. It's because of the measure of love God pours out to fill the void of the deep hurt He took away. People who have not seen this in their own walk with the Lord don't comprehend this, but it happens.

I am able to accept them right where they are. I can accept their imperfections and weaknesses. When they sin again, I understand it is because of that part of them that is weak. 

I no longer want to punch them in the nose (retaliate), but want see them so I can hug them. I want to tell them how much love God has put in my heart for them so they can hear His love for them. I can't contain this. It's spills out of me onto them. This is another thing many don't understand until it happens to them. It's real, and it happens when you give your grievances against another person to the Lord.

God puts a desire to have them back in my life. Since I am very familiar with deep hurt, this is unsettling to me. I don't like getting hurt and know very well it can happen again. Resisting what God is putting in my heart is rebellion. I have to remind myself that I can safely trust the Lord. (This is NOT the same as a relationship with an abusive person.) 

It is a sad fact that the relationships God meant to bless us can become so mixed up with sin that they end up bringing us a great deal of pain. I believe all things are possible with God. He can do anything! The freewill He has given us means all things are not possible with an individual who refuses the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. God will attempt to work in their life, but He will give them a choice to accept or refuse. We are to be focused on our lives, not theirs. God looks to our heart and knows where we stand in a relationship...exampling Christ by being willing to forgive or exampling satan by being ready to accuse...and will reward or discipline us accordingly.

To the people in my life who think I forgive too easily... You can only see the outside. Inside, there is a lot going on. It costs me to forgive, but I gain more than I lose. I struggle. I take steps forward only to slip backwards and have to do that work again. But, that is how you grow. You keep trying without giving up. You keep seeking the Lord's help and take action where He leads. You self discipline those negative thoughts and feelings with Scripture. You make the God honoring choice even when it is the hard choice.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Note to My Sis/Bro by Bethany age 9

This blessed Clint's and my heart:

A Note to My Sis/Bro
by Bethany (age 9)

Mom is pregnant right now. I am hoping it is a boy. Even if it's a girl, I will love her. 

A quick message for my brother or sister:

Even though you make Mom very sick, I still love you very, very much. I can't wait to see you, to care for you, to listen to you, and know you. I just can't wait!! I hope to see you soon!

Friday, April 26, 2013

This is Not a Big Deal

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This is not a big deal. Yeah, there's a dent and a big hole that devalues the vehicle. But, really, it's not a big deal.

Clint calmly asked three questions:

How did this happen?
Did you damage anyone else's property?
Did you learn from this mistake?

Then he issued a parenting edict:

You will repair the damage yourself. I will give you instructions, but you will do all of the work. 

When you are learning a new skill, sometimes you make mistakes. How a parent handles these moments can either build the relationship or tear it apart. We'd rather our children felt they could safely come to us than feel the need to hide. 

No one was hurt. 
No one else's property was damaged. 
Our child learned from it. 

There was no yelling, threats, or angry words. Grace, acceptance, forgiveness. The relationship between them and their father is closer for it. They will learn not only to repair their mistakes, but a new skill.

How you react to things tell your children what you value the most. I know it is hard to have self control when you see your property torn up, but what better example to give your children about how to handle life's upsets? How do you show them you care more about them than the car? Grace, acceptance, forgiveness.

Lest you think otherwise, Clint and I don't always get it right. However, when we have failed, we have gone back and apologized to our child/ren and explained what a proper response would have looked like. Humility doesn't weaken your position as a parent. It strengthens it.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Article: Living with Alzheimer’s


by Matthew Ward

Margaret “Peggy” and Ray Cicirelli have a game they like to play with new visitors to their Lake Prince Woods home.

From a photo taken during a recent family reunion, they ask folks to identify which adult children belong to whom.

Ray Cicirelli, a 70-year-old Coast Guard veteran, brought to their marriage three children from his previous marriage, and 69-year-old Margaret, who served stints in both the Coast Guard and the Navy, contributed two from hers.
Despite Margaret Cicirelli and two of the children they have raised together not sharing her husband’s Mediterranean heritage, it’s not an easy task. Five grandchildren also crowd inside the photo frame, and they are one big happy extended family.

Margaret Cicirelli said she first suspected that something wasn’t right with her husband about three years ago.

“I noticed he was not his patient, quiet self,” she said. “He would get angry and yell, and that is not my husband.”

The first neurologist they saw wasn’t much help, she said. Then, on vacation about a year later, Ray Cicirelli passed out three times within an hour.
“He didn’t remember anything,” Margaret Cicirelli said. “I had to show him a huge mirror he’d fallen against and broken.”

Doctors at the emergency room suggested another neurologist, and then Ray and Margaret Cicirelli were on the path to finally learning what they’d be spending the rest of their lives together with, bar a miracle cure: Ray’s Alzheimer’s disease.

Though Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, was identified more than a century ago, exactly how it changes the brain remains a mystery.
For Ray Cicirelli, currently in the early to intermediate stage of the disease — and still able to drive to buy groceries — the most common symptom, memory loss, was masked.

“I had never had a really good memory,” Ray Cicirelli said, “so it didn’t seem really strange” when he started forgetting things on account of the disease.
“It’s very unnerving. I do things I normally do, and then one day I can’t remember. (But) then some other day I might.”

One in nine people in Cicirelli’s age group has Alzheimer’s, a statistic set to worsen as the population ages, the American Alzheimer’s Association reports.
Virginia is among nine states where prevalence of the disease is projected to increase by between 49.1 percent and 81 percent above 2000 levels by 2025, a new association report says.

The number of Virginians with Alzheimer’s will grow from 100,000 in 2000 to 160,000 in 2025, according to the association.

“One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, which really speaks to how prevalent this disease is,” said Beth Kallmyer, the association’s vice president of constituent services.

Combined payments for health care, long-term care and hospice for Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers will increase from $203 billion in 2013 to $1.2 trillion (2013 dollars) in 2050, the association estimates. Medicare and Medicaid cover about 70 percent of the cost.

Margaret Cicirelli, who attends a support group for those in her position “every once in a while,” and also more regularly attends a different support group with her husband, is among Virginia’s 443,000 Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers. Every year, the association reports, these caregivers provide 504,000 hours of unpaid care.

The Cicirellis are living life to the fullest while they can. Travel is their passion: they’ve been to Russia, Tibet, China, Norway, England and Ireland. “Ray’s been to every state in the union,” Margaret Cicirelli said.

They’re taking a cruise to Mexico at the end of April, and this week they’re traveling to Georgia for grandchildren-babysitting duties.

Margaret Cicirelli said that Ray’s “doing really well,” adding that the retirement community they call home is particularly supportive.

“We still play poker Friday nights,” she said. “One reason we moved here, we don’t want to be a burden on any of our children.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Article: Youngest Female Doctor in the U.S. — was Homeschooled!

"Serennah Harding, will be the youngest female doctor in the U.S. on May 19, 2013. She will be graduating from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (Georgia Campus) and will be pinning on the rank of Lieutenant as a Navy resident DO at the age of 22.  She was homeschooled until she started college at the age of 12!" source

Serennah also comes from a large family. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

17 Weeks Pregnant

I am 17 weeks pregnant today. I was 17 weeks pregnant when Clint's and my son Josiah died in the womb. We were not aware he had died until four weeks later when my body went into labor to complete the miscarriage. I went through everything a mother goes through to bring life into the world, but I went home with nothing except a broken heart and empty arms. 

I have yet to get to this point in a pregnancy without reflecting on the pain filled day I gave birth to Clint's and my dead son. Everything from that day is still so vivid in our minds.  

While that was a horrible experience, I have been able to draw deep from it to minister to other mothers who have lost their babies. They share more with me because they know I fully understand and won't judge them for their honest feelings. I don't chastise them to hide their tears because I have tears of my own. 

I wish I could tell you I walk through this pregnancy with no fear, but that would not be honest. Over the last two years, I have had two miscarriages and lost three children. (One of those pregnancies was a set of twins.) I have had several miscarriages total. I even lost a child in this pregnancy due to Vanishing Twin Syndrome. I am very fully aware of what can happen. I am human. I worry. My immediate answer to the fear that creeps upon me is to pray, pray, pray, and pray some more. 

Clint says he struggles too. We've learned through our losses how very quickly things can change. We've learned not to take anything for granted. We have to live fully in the here and now because the next moment is not promised.

Today, there is a reason to praise. There is life in my womb! We've both learned to be thankful for what is... TODAY. God has allowed Clint and I to create another life through our love. If God allows, this child will be born. 

If God's purpose for this child is different than we hope, our Father promises us Heaven. Either way, Clint and I will know all of our children. 

When Daddy Let Him Drive

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When we were in the OBX as a family, Clint asked me what did I feel up to doing. I told him I would appreciate a ride on the 4x4 beach. So, he asked who else wanted to go. The only one who wanted to ride with us was Caleb. Boy, was he glad he went!

Rain was forecast. There wasn't another living soul on the beach. So, Clint let 11 year old Caleb drive the truck on the sand. As you can see, Caleb was thrilled!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Worthy Charity and Rewarding Experience: Compassion International

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It has been 11 years we have sponsored Flor de Maria through Compassion InternationalIt has been a rewarding experience for our entire family. Our children love hearing from her, seeing her artwork, and learning about her part of the world. We think about Flor de Maria and pray for her often. Her picture is with our children's picture in the den. We think of to stories share with her and set money aside for her and her family to let them know we care beyond letters. We encourage her to live her life for the Lord. Compassion is a great way to introduce missions work to your children from the comfort of your home. Compassion even has free lessons online you can use with your child.

Your sponsored child lives in the mountainous community of Colonia Los Angeles, Berlin, home to approximately 25,000. Typical houses are constructed of dirt floors, cement walls and corrugated iron roofs. The most commonly spoken language is Spanish.

The regional diet consists of maize, beans and rice. Common health problems in this are include diarrhea, colds, bronchitis and asthma. Most adults are unemployed but some work as day laborers and earn the equivalent of $69 per month. This community has water and electricity but needs tuition assistance, scholastic materials, law enforcement and alcohol abuse prevention programs. 

Your sponsorship allows the staff of Monte Sinai Student Center to provide your sponsored child with Bible teaching, medical exams, health and hygiene instruction, recreational and developmental activities, tutoring, educational classes, nutritious snacks, as well as sewing, music and poultry farming lessons. The center staff will also provide educational meetings for the parents or guardians of your sponsored child.

Proverbs 19:17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Proverbs 28:27 Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.


Last spring as I studied my Bible to help me work through something difficult, I took notes as the Lord led me through it.  The Lord keeps putting it on my heart that I need to share these notes to encourage others going through similar circumstances. I am sharing it over the next five Sundays.

It is God-honoring when relationships are reconciled , and that doesn't just refer to marriages. If you have reached out in an effort to reconcile, but the other party has neglected to reciprocate, God will still bless you for desiring to honor Him. God will deal with them, and their spiritual lives will be hampered because of their hard heart.

At the end of the day, honoring God leads to good things. Anything else leads to confusion, emotional exhaustion and a lack of good things. Lisa TerKeurst

Forgiveness is giving up ill feelings (anger, resentment, bitterness, hostility, etc) and our right to retribution no matter what they have done to us or someone we love. Even if it happened to someone else, we do not have a right to seek retribution in any form because revenge is under God's control in our lives. (Romans 12:19) We must also forgive ourselves for our failures. Unforgiveness is rebellion against the Almighty, and that makes it serious business with serious consequences. We need to take care of it immediately.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3

I believe this verse is telling us that if we face the reality of the condition of our own souls, the things our "brother" does to us will seem much less significant. This has been true in my life. When I examine closely the things I have done over my lifetime, the motives in my own heart, and am real about how weak and unworthy I am without Jesus, the stuff done to me and mine shrinks. We need to get busy dealing with our own sin rather than being angry at what someone did to us. 

If we are actively seeking to limit our sin and grow closer to the Lord, we will not have much time to look at someone else's sin. I love how God uses wood in this comparison. Growing up around construction, I know there is very little you can make with sawdust, but if you take a plank out, you can really build something solid with it. The more planks you pull out; the more you can build. The more sin we pull out to deal with, the more we can grow.

To deal with the sin of unforgiveness, we need to realize it is serious and has serious consequences. We need to acknowledge that our unforgiveness is the opposite of love and has caused harm. We need to confess our guilt to God and ask His forgiveness. We need to ask God to help us truly forgive. Then we need to take action.

When those angry and resentful thoughts come into our minds, we choose to let them go and think with compassion, grace, and mercy. When I have those hard feelings come up, I ask God to help me with the process of forgiving and to bless the other person. Sometimes I have to pray that for many months before forgiveness comes. Other times, forgiveness comes quickly. 

In Matthew 5:44, We are commanded to pray for those who hurt us. This isn't for them. It's for us. When we ask God to bless them and help them with a sincere heart for their good, God changes us on the inside. He fills us with real love for them. It's a transforming and liberating for those who have experienced it. Your spirit that was weighed down with those ugly feelings will soar with joy!

Look for ways you can be a blessing to them. Follow through if God puts anything on your heart. It may be a simple gift. It may be a card on their birthday. They may not be receptive or will falsely accuse you of other intentions. Don't worry about it! Forgive them again, and reap the joy God will send!

If God leads you to go to them, don't list their sins against you. That will fuel their anger, and  make them defensive. If you've forgiven them, then those things don't matter anyway. List yours against them and apologize. Talk about what you wished you had done differently. Don't worry about their reaction or what they say. If they won't meet your attempts at communication, don't worry about it. This is you obeying Your God, and you will reap the blessings for it.

It's a sad situation when people really do care about each other, but would rather hold onto hurt and resentment rather than extend real love through forgiveness and understanding. Holding on to it is selfish while letting go of it is selfless. Being fearful of more hurt is selfish. Our trust should be in God with the confidence that doing it His way will bring us great reward on earth and in Heaven. If they claim to be a Christian, and you claim to be a Christian, then  glorifying the Lord with your reconciliation should be the main goal. It doesn't mean you have to see them every day. It means you have taken steps to live peacefully, can come together in peace with godly love.

Instead, what we do see so often in our Christian families and churches is people rebelliously holding onto resentment and anger and even passing it on to other generations or people outside of the situation. This is not fitting for the Body of Christ! Satan is known as the accuser. When we choose to hold onto accusing and not forgiving others, we are like him. Unforgiveness is actually satan's most effective weapon in our churches and families today. The Bible even warns us that unforgiveness gives satan an advantage over us! 

I Corinthians 2:10-11 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

We should be like Paul and saying to our friends "I have been obedient and have forgiven my offender. I am asking that you forgive them too. This way, Satan can't outwit us and interrupt God's work through us."

Still struggling with the right attitude? Consider Romans 5:10 "For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!" You were once God's enemy because you were wronging Him! He understands how you feel. When you forgive someone who hurt you, you understand a little better about His Nature and what He has done for you.

I Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

How can you know you have truly forgiven? Next, I will share some attributes than can accompany forgiveness.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Watch the Baby

...in the Babystrology Window to the right. It should "grow" each week! That's why we chose that particular countdown calendar. I believe it will change every Sunday or Monday. You will get a general idea of the developmental stage of the baby.

Article: How Not to Say the Wrong Thing

"Susan has since developed a simple technique to help people avoid this mistake. It works for all kinds of crises: medical, legal, financial, romantic, even existential. She calls it the Ring Theory.
Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. For Katie's aneurysm, that's Katie. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. In the case of Katie's aneurysm, that was Katie's husband, Pat. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. 
Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, "Life is unfair" and "Why me?" That's the one payoff for being in the center ring.
Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings."

Read the rest of this article here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Article: How Handwriting Trains the Brain

Recent research illustrates how writing by hand engages the brain in learning. During one study at Indiana University published this year, researchers invited children to man a "spaceship," actually an MRI machine using a specialized scan called "functional" MRI that spots neural activity in the brain. The kids were shown letters before and after receiving different letter-learning instruction. In children who had practiced printing by hand, the neural activity was far more enhanced and "adult-like" than in those who had simply looked at letters. (Read the entire article here.)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

When the Little Ones Just Won't Stop Talking to You

True Story: Hannah is jabbering away while Clint works on the bathroom sheet rock. Clint is tired. He stayed up late last night and also took a very late night phone call from work. Yet, he's patiently listening and answering questions because he knows it's about more than the dresses she's talking about. It's more important than how tired he is. It's about building a lifelong relationship and giving her a parent who cares about what she cares about. It's about giving her a safe haven to air her feelings, a safe place to come when she needs someone.

It's called parenting. Sometimes we have to sacrifice our desire for peace and quiet to show love to our children. Real parenting is work. Good relationships with your children don't "just happen." 

Please don't consider your blessing a curse. Time with your child is limited and none of us are promised tomorrow. I personally know parents who would love to hear the sound of their child jabbering away about nothing in particular for hours on end in exchange for the silence at their graves. 

Many parents gripe that they can't watch a TV show for their children's desire to share with them. Think before you pass up something beautiful and meaningful for something that has no meaning. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness

For many years, I have been a hyperemesis gravidarum awareness advocate and volunteer to help women who are going through it. I've done this through different groups. Many HG patients have found me by simply searching the web and locating me through the different websites I have had.

Monday, Lyle, a representative of BeyongMorningSickness.com, asked me to go help a lady in Williamsburg. Since I just got out of the ER myself and am too weak to even stand for a shower and have no voice to speak on the phone with, I had to limit my services to email only. However, Lyle was so concerned about me, he sent me three books overnight to encourage me.  He also gave me one of the books in Kindle form so I could search it immediately in an effort to find solutions to the bleeding from the Mallory Weiss tears. I was very touched by the kindness of a stranger. 

Normally, I am a very healthy person with a lot of energy. I rarely get sick and when I do, I am blessed that I can shake illnesses off in a few days. Whenever I get pregnant though, everything including the kitchen sink gets thrown at me. I struggle. I think the struggles are good for me to go through now and then because they give me the opportunity to see there are good, caring people all around us.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I'd Love to Have a Pair of These

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I'd love to have a pair of these that read: "Jesus is Lord" and "God is good!"
They would add more purpose to my walks along the beaches.

"Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase" Proverbs 3:9

Monday, April 15, 2013

This Should Answer Everyone's Questions

I hope this makes sense, because I am very, very tired. I am going on my 5th day of very little sleep. I have so many emails, phone calls, text messages, etc to catch up on...and don't have an ounce of energy for it right now.

Clint and I had planned to wait a while before announcing that we are expecting. I am 16 weeks along. While pregnancy has always been challenging for me due to severe hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) that necessitates 8 months of bed rest, a plethora of drugs, and other efforts to control it, this one has had some new twists.

What is HG? Simply put, I make a lot more of the pregnancy hormone than most women do. This is good to support a pregnancy, but very hard on my body. It overwhelms my liver which my body fights by vomiting. It's a condition that isolates you socially and takes you to your limit physically.  

We wanted to have another baby after Hannah was born. I was unable to conceive. Then, I did conceive twice, but lost the babies both times. So, figuring "That's that," we gave up trying to have a baby and had set some new life goals. We had laid the groundwork for some of those goals and were about to begin pursuing them in earnest when .... WHAM! Life threw us a curveball! We are very happy and look forward to welcoming this little person into our lives.

Less than 1% of 44 year old women can conceive naturally. This, coupled with my miscarriage history, is why we didn't expect another pregnancy and is why the doctor called me a miracle when I turned up in his office pregnant.

The baby is on target growth wise and looks great. The doctor said he sees no reason why this pregnancy will not continue. Still, Clint and I are very familiar with how fragile life can be. We covet your prayers for the life and health of this child. 

Right after I learned I was expecting, I experienced some spotting and a tiny bit of tissue loss. At the same time, the symptoms of pregnancy stopped. I have had several miscarriages, so I knew what all of that meant. I prepared myself for my womb to clean itself out. It didn't. Instead, I started feeling "pregnant" again. Then, I was violently ill. Our heads were spinning! What in the world was going on?! I felt like I was going crazy!! It is called Vanishing Twin Syndrome. I was carrying two. One baby died and was reabsorbed while the other baby lived. 

The HG hit hard after that. I did everything I was suppose to and still felt like I was fighting a losing battle. I kept getting sicker and sicker. We had to resort to liquid meals, hydrating enemas, and anti-emetic suppositories to keep me out of the hospital. 

On the very first time I threw up, fluid (with food particles) was forced up into my tonsils. I got an infection that lasted nearly 3 months! (I finally cured this by using a honey, garlic, cayenne mixture I used 1 tsp at a time to wash over the area every 30 minutes for half a day. It was extremely effective on removing the pus and worked very quickly to kill the bacteria.)

I mentioned to my new OB that I have always been aggressive on self care to avoid the hospital, but this time, I felt like things weren't working for me. He didn't really say anything to that, but he did write a prescription for everything I asked for.

As a result of the vomiting, laryngitis set in. So then I couldn't talk on the phone. I didn't want everyone to know how bad it was lest they worry, so I withdrew.

We had already paid for the rental in OBX before I got pregnant, so we had to go or lose our investment. That was a different kind of vacation. I mostly sat around and watched my active family go, go, go without me. It was OK though. When they were gone, I slept, slept, slept! 

Then, the flu hit us. Have mercy! I was trying to be there for my sick children and husband, support a growing baby, endure and manage the HG, fight the dehydration, clear up the tonsil infection, cope with the flu, then I got bronchitis. That's where it got worse.

I started bringing up lots of bright red blood. 

Because I have literally thrown up thousands of times during my 14 pregnancies, I have significant wear and tear to my insides. It is normal for me to see a little blood when I vomit now due to Mallory Weiss tears (click for pict). The bleeding usually stops within minutes to a few hours. However, this wasn't "the little" I am use to seeing. And, it didn't stop. It would slow down, but not go away completely. The heavy coughing from the bronchitis was/is aggravating the tears. I had to continually work to spit up the blood because if I swallowed any at all, I became very nauseous which only compounded the issue. It kept getting worse, and I kept getting weaker. That's what sent me to the ER. 

I had a wonderful, caring, "HG aware" doctor give me excellent care while I was there. Honestly, in 20 years of having children and struggling with HG, he was the best doctor I have seen. He listened to me. He cared I was struggling and clearly wanted to make it easier on me. He was a bit shocked I had been given such a low dose of Zofran to control my vomiting. He told me I can safely increase the dosage many times over and take it closer together to give my body the rest it needs to heal. Now, this is information I could have used many pregnancies ago to save my body wear and tear! He gave me more tools to use to try to get this bleeding stopped.

So that's what's been going on. 
We thank those who have known all along, kept our confidence, and prayed with us through everything so far. I very much appreciate each text, email, voice message, etc. Those "little" things helped more than you can imagine.

I was asked if the HG will go away like it does for some women at 20 weeks or so. No, mine lasts until the baby is born. I have even thrown up in labor. A lot of women say they will do anything for their children. HG suffering mothers have already been tested in this area before their babies are even born.

A Better Way to View Your Body (Worth the Read)

This article covers more than the changes child bearing do to a woman's body. It also touches upon normal aging, losing elasticity, and the effects of disease. It is worth your time to read and share with someone else. Friends combating disease taking away their mobility and affecting their appearance have said they found these words comforting and refreshing. 

These Are the Lines of A Story

“Yes!” he says. Then I take his little finger and trace it along one of my stretch marks and ask, “Do you know what these are?” “No.” he says. “These are the lines of a story. Do you know what the story is about?” “What?” he asks.  “These lines tell the story of Isaac and Ben and Elijah. They tell about how you grew inside me and how I stretched to make room for you because I was so glad you would be my boy. Aren’t they beautiful?” “Yes!” he answered."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Unforgiveness and the Havoc It Can Cause

Last spring as I studied my Bible to help me work through something difficult, I took notes as the Lord led me through it. I did not post it at the time because I did not want to add anything else to the situation. The Lord keeps putting it on my heart that I need to share it to encourage others going through similar circumstances to open their Bibles and seek the Lord. I am sharing it over the next five Sundays.

It is God-honoring when relationships are reconciled , and that doesn't just refer to marriages. If you have reached out in an effort to reconcile, but the other party has neglected to reciprocate, God will still bless you for desiring to honor Him. God will deal with them, and their spiritual lives will be hampered because of their hard heart.

At the end of the day, honoring God leads to good things. Anything else leads to confusion, emotional exhaustion and a lack of good things. Lisa TerKeurst

Unforgiveness is the willful choice to refuse to give up negative feelings and the right to get even demanding that someone has to pay for the offense you feel was committed against you or someone else. It is a very serious sin and has some very serious consequences.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

At first glance, these verses look like you can lose your salvation if you are hold grudges in your heart. An overview of Scripture would prove nothing can separate us from God's love. When we dig deeper, we learn these verses are regarding our fellowship with God. When we hold onto those bad feelings about someone else, we suffer in our relationship -that closeness- with God. Psalm 66:18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;

"Well, I forgive them, but they will know I am not happy about it." Stop lying to yourself! You are still seeking a form of retribution so it's unforgiveness. You might be trying to punish the with your silence or absence knowing full well that is not what God wants. There are all kinds of lies we tell ourselves to let the harsh feelings stay. We need to be honest with ourselves about what is in our hearts. Lamentations 3:40 Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.

"It takes me time to forgive. It will take me a while to get over it. I'll avoid them until then." What this speaker is saying is that they are slow to obey, are not in touch with their own failings and God's redemptive work in their lives, and they will punish them with silence and absence. This is not our example. God doesn't treat us like that. I am thankful for the people who have exampled Him in my life by forgiving me quickly and eagerly. 

The other person is probably not affected very much by our unforgiveness. I know that disappoints you, but it's true. They don't get up each morning and wail "Oh no, so and so won't forgive me! They are still mad at me, and I just can't go on!" You are the one who will be wallowing in the filth of your rebellion to God's way of doing things! We can blame others for our misery, but doing that reaps us more frustration and hostility.

If they are a godly person who stumbled, they are going to probably forgive  you and move on with it. You are the one who will be suffering loss while they are trying to learn and gain all of the spiritual growth out of the situation. You look like a weak Christian, but they are growing stronger in the Lord. Their testimony increases while yours decreases. 

If what is going on in your heart is not right, you can attend church, sing in the choir, be a deacon or Sunday School teacher, help the needy, serve on committees, run a ministry, go on mission trips, etc...and you will still lack in faith and fellowship with the Almighty. He cares more about what is IN YOUR HEART. Unforgiveness is the opposite of godly love. It is not Christ-like. In fact, unforgiveness goes against the very thing Jesus exampled: forgiveness. When we see it, we need to rid ourselves of it immediately.

Here are a few ways unforgiveness negatively affects us:

·     Bitterness in our attitudes, actions, and words affects those around us which in turn affects us. (Luke 6:45, Ephesians 4:29) 
·         Blocks our spiritual growth (James 1:22)
·         Hinders us in our witness (I Timothy 4:16)
·         Affects the acceptance of our offering (Matthew 5:24)
·         Hinders us in our prayer life (Isaiah 59:2, Psalm 66:18)
·         Hinders us in our worship (How can we demonstrate our love of God if we             are not obeying Him? John 14:15)
·         Affects us physically  (Proverbs 3:7-8)
·         Affects the counsel we give. We can't give godly counsel if our hearts are harboring ungodly feelings. (Proverbs 28:26, Proverbs 14:12)
·    We lose part of our harvest. (James 3:17)

Hebrews 12:14-15 says that we are to make every effort to live in peace and not miss extending grace because bitterness reaps us trouble and affects many people. This command requires our action and our communication with the other person. We are to forgive and extend peace. Just because we do our part does not mean they will do theirs. They may not know Christ as well as you do, so it's a good thing you exampled Him with your forgiveness. They may have other issues going on in their life. Their reaction doesn't matter! Forgiveness isn't about them; it's all about you and your relationship with Christ! That's why it is such a big deal in a Christian life. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Free Language Lessons

At this time, there are nine different languages to learn with free Vocabulary Trainer. This even has a feature where you speak into your microphone and it checks your word for proper pronunciation.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Article: Crosswalk Parenting: The "Me Time" Myth

"I once heard a talk show host give a very compelling argument for why moms need time away. He said mothers give and give to the point of empty. They must refuel themselves so they can continue to give.
It sounded quite reasonable to me. Then why did my search for this hallowed “me time” always leave me feeling as though I needed more? While taking time for myself, I definitely felt refreshed, but the moment I got home and realized the sink was still full of dirty dishes and I would still have to give baths to all the children before the night would be over, I wanted to head right back out the door." 
Go read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Poncho the Friendly Crocodile

I could try to explain this to you, but you'd probably not believe me. Read the story and watch the video for an amazing story.

Man's Best Friend...A 17ft Long Pet Crocodile features the story of the unlikely friendship.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

FCC set to drop ban on f-word, nudity on television and radio stations nationwide. They are seeking public comments; make your voice count!

"FCC set to drop ban on f-word, nudity on television and radio stations nationwide.

They are seeking public comments; make your voice count!"
Instructions are here.