Monthly Archives: April 2013

Health & Healing (Prayer #7)

It’s only 11:21am and I’m wondering, “Is it too early for afternoon naps?”  Yep.  It’s Monday.  After two nights of being up with kids not feeling well, I’m tired.  What happened to the girl in college who used to stay out until the wee hours and bounce back the next day?  She’s gone!  My coffee has not given me the needed boost.  And this morning has had some surprises of it’s own, leaking pull-ups, exploding diaper genies, splashing juice on my freshly clean wood floors, and kids who normally get along pretty well, fighting over everything.  Both erupt into tears with the slightest provocation.  The weather is GORGEOUS right now, but instead of being out basking in it, I’m counting the minutes until naptime…naptime for them and for me. 

But I am also thankful. Thankful that Ryan is well and at work providing for our family and that I’m not a single mom who has to juggle sleepless nights and work.  Thankful that there have been no vomiting incidents and no insanely high fevers.  Thankful for the moments when my two little ones are tender and compassionate towards each other despite neither of them feeling well.  My heart absolutely melted hearing Evan call Makenna, “sweetheart,” this morning when he was speaking kindly to her. 

This is normal life.  Health and sickness.  Joy and conflict.  Energy and fatigue.  The other day I was thinking about how long I’ve had migraines—24 years.  They are normal to me, a part of my life, I’m used to them.  To me, it’s a regular part of my life and I consider myself a lucky person compared to so many others who have way worse chronic health issues.  They’re more of an inconvenience than a true burden–well, maybe Ryan would disagree. 

I can’t imagine experiencing life without my headaches and yet, that was God’s original intention.  This world is so broken, sickness and death entered in.  It is our reality.  The thought of living eternally without migraines, without Evan’s medical issues, without the fear of death, without pain, sorrow, and grief, blows my mind.  These things are “normal” in our human condition.  But they weren’t meant to be our “normal”. 

During one of the recent tragedies, someone wrote about how so many of us were surprised, but that if we really stopped and contemplated how broken and messed up this world was, how true evil exists, we wouldn’t be. We shouldn’t be surprised as this is what humanity is without God.  Evil, pain, sorrow, brokenness…what a horrible “normal”! 

God’s heart is about joy, peace, relationship, reconciliation, and health.  Healing and restoring the very things that have gone awry.  Banishing evil and death.  Can you even imagine life without pain, sorrow, sickness, and death? As I pray today for the health of my family to the one Who can and does heal, my heart longs for a time and place where sickness and death will no longer be part of our “normal.”  How about you? 

Stormie Omartian, author of “The Power of a Praying Parent,” wrote this prayer:

Lord, Because you have instructed us in Your Word that we are to pray for one another so that we may be healed, I pray for healing and wholeness for (name of child).  I pray that sickness and infirmity will have no place or power in his (her) life.  I pray for protection against any disease coming into his (her) body.  Your word says, “He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions” (Ps. 107:20).  Wherever there is disease, illness, or infirmity in his (her) body, I pray that You, Lord, would touch him (her) with your healing power and restore him (her) to total health.

Deliver him (her) from any destruction or injury that could come upon him (her).  Specifically I ask You to heal (name any specific problem).  If we are to see a doctor, I pray that You, Lord, would show us who that should be.  Give that doctor wisdom and full knowledge of the best way to proceed.  

Thank you, Lord, that You suffered and died for us that we might be healed.  I lay claim to that heritage of healing which You have promised in Your Word and provided for those who believe.  I look to You for a life of health, healing, and wholeness for my child.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen

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“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit; Who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like an eagle.” Psalms 103:1-5
“Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.  That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.  II Corinthians 5:4-8

Feeding Therapy Update

We’ve been working with Nissa since October 2011.  When we first started working with her, Evan was about 19 pounds, ate yogurt and a few other purees (with oil or DuoCal mixed in to add calories), was not interested in food, never exhibited hunger or verbalized it, and vomited often.  Speed up to April 2013, Evan now weighs 30 pounds, is eating lots of different high-calorie purees (no more oil or DuoCal) and is making progress eating solid food, is super interested in all sorts of food, can recognize and verbalize when he’s hungry, and rarely vomits.  Whohoo!


A few weeks ago, I got a postcard in the mail, the type of which I had never received before, well at least for Evan.  It was a postcard telling me that he was past-due on a doctor’s appointment…his four year wellness check.  It was pretty cool because in the past, we were at doctors’ office so often, there wasn’t a chance for us to miss scheduling the next appointment.  But this year, we haven’t had to have a lot of doctor’s appointments and hence, I totally spaced on getting him in for his four year check.  So I got it on the calendar and this past week we showed up at our pediatrician’s office. 

I have mixed emotions when it comes to Evan being weighed at a doctor’s office.  Part of me wants to see what he weighs on their scale (per medical professionals recommendation, we also have been weighing him at home on a baby/child scale) but the other part of me doesn’t.  Many times what he’s weighed for us at home, hasn’t matched up with their scale, or we’ll think he’s doing well, but when it’s charted on the percentile charts, he’s still not gaining enough to get up into the 5thpercentile or higher (where the lines are).  So, I get guarded.  I get quiet, I know, that’s rare, right?  Well, the physician’s assistant who saw us this week was so excited.  She came in with a huge smile on her face and gave me the sheet that listed Evan’s height, weight, and body mass index. 
 
Here’s what I saw:

 

 

Then she handed me the percentile charts.  For the first time EVER, Evan is now in the 5TH PERCENTILE for WEIGHT (he reached that in height awhile ago) and BODY MASS INDEX!  And he’s all the way up to 10-25TH PERCENTILE for HEIGHT!!!!  It took awhile for it to sink in. 


At the end of the appointment, she said that we and our feeding therapist had worked so hard, would we like a copy of the percentile charts?  Um, YES.  This is great progress to memorialize! Check them out below–I know, I’m a nerd to post the actual charts, but for us, these are BEAUTIFUL!



TOP DOTS SHOW EVAN’S PROGRESS RE: HEIGHT,
BOTTOM DOTS THE PROGRESS RE: WEIGHT



EVAN’S BODY MASS INDEX–FINALLY IN THE 5TH PERCENTILE!

What are our goals in feeding therapy now?   Evan still struggles eating solid food without gagging.  He also can’t do it efficiently (he can take 10 minutes or more to eat 5 bites) so we’re continuing to work on him eating solids (probably 10% of his daily intake, the rest are still purees).  We’re using incentives (including him getting to make videos of himself or us and watch them, earning $1 toys, or getting to do something fun w/ an adult) and timers, including the one pictured below to keep him motivated Stoplight Timer Found on Amazon. 

Stoplight Timer, Evan LOVES it!  Can
be used for other behavioral things (time outs,
going potty, when to get up, etc.)

We’re also focused on him self-feeding.  He can hand feed himself, but he lacks smooth motor skills when using utensils.  Because he struggles to remain focused and motivated while self-feeding, when we do it, we’re using an old technique, watching videos, to keep him invested.  If he uses his spoon and feeds himself, the video remains on, if he stops or starts to dawdle (stirring his food for five minutes, “painting” with his food, or just sitting there), its stopped until he starts again.  I feel like we’ve been climbing a mountain and the peak is in sight.  We still have exhausting and frustrating days at times, but they are few and far between, especially compared to the beginning of this venture. 

Our grant money expires in June and our current insurance authorization expires a few months after that.  I’m hoping and praying that Evan won’t need feeding therapy after the grant expires.  That he will have made such progress in May that we won’t need a specialist anymore (even though we’ve loved working with Nissa).  Will you pray with us? 

Blinded Because of Mercy?

Ever since I counseled teenagers who were living in group homes in Colorado Springs, I’ve had a heart for kids in foster care.  When working in DYC, I also encountered teenagers who had little to no family support.  My heart broke for them.  I knew that teenagers in foster care, especially those who had legal issues, were unlikely to be adopted.  I couldn’t imagine facing the world without a caring and loving family being there for me.  And that’s just in our state.  There are millions of orphans around the world with similar stories and worse!  Whether the orphans are here in Colorado or there in Africa, my heart goes out to their plight.  And I delight in hearing stories of how God places orphans into loving homes.  I don’t exactly know what God is going to do with my heart for orphans in the long haul, but for now, I feel honored to pray for and support ministries and families who are on the front lines.  So last Friday evening, Ryan and I went to see Suzanne Mayernick & Gwen Oatsvall speak.  Suzanne and Gwen are the founders of a ministry called 147 Million OrphansThey have known and served with Katie Davis from Kisses from Katie for years which is one of the reasons I wanted to hear them speak.  (Curious about Katie Davis and her book, check out: One of My Favorite Books in 2012).  And we learned that Suzanne and Gwen used to run Katie’s stateside portion of her ministry until it got too big. 

On Friday, both Suzanne and Gwen shared how God called them to care for orphans, both by adopting children into their families and by founding this ministry.  Just like Katie’s story, it was amazing to hear what Jesus can do when His followers cultivate a heart that says “yes” when He asks, even if the situation seems overwhelming or impossible.  I also loved how honest they were about their journeys not always being easy, but that they wouldn’t trade it for anything because they have been incredibly blessed and have seen God work miracles!

Two statements stuck out to me as they shared:  Obedience trumps worst-case-scenario” and “God funds what He favors.”  We are called to be obedient, even in the face of worst-case-scenario and through our obedience God can work miracles!  Worst-case-scenario situations are not a challenge to God.  There is nothing that He can’t heal, overcome, or redeem.  And there are times when in His mercy, God blinds us to the worst-case-scenario.  

Suzanne shared how she and her husband tried to get all the facts about a child’s medical issues before they committed to adopt her.  No matter how hard they tried, it just wasn’t possible.  So they had a choice, adopt her with the unknowns or not.  They felt God calling them to adopt her, so they did.  Only afterward did they learn the specifics of her medical issues and they were significant.  Overwhelming, initially yes, but they knew they weren’t alone in the situation.  God had called them to adopt this beautiful girl and He would be with them in the journey.  Suzanne reported that God has worked miracles as they have loved and cared for their daughter.  (To hear their full story, check it out at: Mayernick Family Adoption Stories.)

I resonated with this story.  I could totally see myself doing that… knowing God may be calling me to something but wanting to gather all the information FIRST—so I could make an informed decision.  “God, I’ll obey after I have all the information (to know I can handle it in my own strength)!”  Not exactly how God asks us to do it, right?  When He asked the disciples to follow Him, did they take a few weeks to scope out the pros and cons and potential outcomes of following Him?  Nope.  He expected them to trust Him and follow Him.  Follow Him into the unknown, trusting He is in control and that He is good.  That is faith.  

I’m seeing more and more that God’s ways aren’t my ways.  He wants us to depend on Him, not our own skills and strengths and available information, so sometimes we won’t get all the information we crave.  Many times He calls us to take the next step into the unknown without being able to fully understand the path ahead.   That sooooo goes against my personality!  Suzanne also shared that she felt it was God’s grace that He “blinded her” to parts of the journey because if they had known certain details beforehand, they might not have stepped out in faith due to fear.  And I agree, I think He blinds us at times to what is ahead for our own good.  

As I thought about this, I was struck by a realization that there had been a “blinding” in my own life.  When Evan was in the NICU, the doctors were concerned about his sacral dimple.  That’s a dimple on the lower back that can indicate a tethered cord.  (I’ve written about this subject before, for more info about it, check out: Sacral Dimple & Tethered Cord?)  At the time I learned as much as I could about sacral dimples and tethered cords.  Out of all of his medical issues, this one concerned and scared me the most. 

A few months later, per the recommendations, Evan had an MRI on his back.  I dreaded hearing the results.  Our pediatrician called and said: “basically, everything looks okay, but they still want to do another MRI when he’s older.”  I remember at the time being frustrated because the statement seemed to contradict itself…basically things are good, BUT they still need another MRI?  After a few weeks though, I put the sacral dimple out of my mind because he had said things looked okay, right?  It soon became the least of our worries as we were busy with surgeries and therapies.  

Fast forward a few years.  Evan is 3 ½ and its time for the follow-up MRI.  We meet with a neurosurgeon who looks at the original MRI scans and clearly sees that his spinal cord is tethered.  She asks us to schedule the follow up MRI to get a clearer sense of the condition his lower spinal cord, more for gathering information for surgery than determining if there will be a surgery.  I was shell-shocked.  As I drove home, I cried.  From the backseat, Evan said several times, “Mommy, you are sad?”  I was a mess emotionally, but didn’t want Evan to worry about me.  He had never seen me cry like this before.  After talking with my mom over the phone and her praying for us, the tears stopped.  

As I continued to process this situation, my fear, disappointment, sadness, and concern quickly turned to anger. If the scans were so clear the first time, why had the first doctor made it sound like things were fine?  I felt deceived.  I felt blindsided and I hated feeling blindsided.  Urgh!

But a year later, I look back and see God’s mercy so clearly.  When I was in over my head with all of the other things going on in our life, He saved me from additional worry and burden.   He “blinded” me about the tethered cord for two years while we addressed all of the other issues.  He knew no good would come from me knowing the condition of Evan’s spinal cord that first year.  Philippians 2:27b also came to mind: “But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.”  My past anger is now gratitude.  I praise God for blinding us!  I’ve since learned that sometimes my desire to get all the information I can is fine, but other times, it reveals a lack of trust in Him.  And I need to work on that.   

Well, that got kinda long!  I should wrap this up.  The other thing I loved about Friday night was a
handout they had at the tables called 10 Ways Every Christian Can Care for the Orphan and
Waiting Child by Hope for Orphans.  I loved it because it gave tangible, practical ways we can all
help orphans and foster families, whether we are called to adopt or not. Check it out: 
Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” -John 20:29 (MSG)

Blue Monsters, Bears, and Joy? (Prayer #6)

One of the books I’ve been reading lately is Jodie Berndt’s “Praying the Scriptures for your Children.” (Check out this book on Amazon.)  Berndt shared that one of the techniques she has used in praying for her kids was to ask God to give her a verse for each of her kids to focus on each year.  I don’t know if it’s something I’ll adopt long-term as it seems a bit structured for me, but I thought it’d wouldn’t hurt to give it a try and see where it goes.  So what verses are for Evan and Makenna for 2013?  Curious?  Full of anticipation?  We’ll get there, keep on reading! 

Batterson also mentioned something similar in his book:

As you read through the Bible, certain words, phrases, or verses will jump off the page and into your spirit.  The ones you circle over and over again will become prayer mantras…We have a natural tendency to remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember.  That’s where mantras come in.  They serve as reminders of who we are and what we’re about as a family.  And there is something about repeating them consistently that gets them from the head to the heart.  They become part of our operating system (66-67).

So all that being said, as I thought about praying a verse for each of my children throughout a year, I thought about themes that have come up in my prayers already for each of them.   For Evan, I was drawn to a verse that addresses fear/anxiety: II Timothy 1:7 (for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control).  It has been a verse my Mom has prayed through with me when there have been stressful or scary times in my own life so it holds a special place in my heart. 

I’ve written about anxiety and fear before on this blog (Splish, Splash, I Won’t Take A Bath, Spiders and Bees?), so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s come up again. Lately, Evan’s anxiety has increased again.  In the past he was afraid of bears, (imaginary) bees, and (imaginary) spiders.  He even told his teachers at school that the reason he was scared of bears was because we encountered one on a trail, while on a hike.  Did that happen?  No, but it showed us how creative Evan is to come up (and sell) a story like that!  The teachers said he shared the story so emphatically that they thought it was true but wanted to double check with us.  So, it took a lot of prayer and creativity to address his various fears, but eventually, most of those concerns had faded.  Now there are new concerns and we never know what sorts of things might be on his scary list as things that should cause anxiety, don’t always, but other things, such as this cute card from Heidi, are put on the list.  A few days ago, he was talking about hanging it on his wall he liked it so much, and now tonight, it is not to go in his room! 

Additionally, he’s gotten more concerned recently about going places, such as school, church, and other places we regularly go, and tries to refuse to go.  Maybe some of it is normal, developmental stuff as he becomes more independent, but part of me wonders if it’s some fear popping up again.  So he and I have been focusing on a paraphrase of Joshua 1:9 together, “God says ‘Do not be afraid.’ Why? Because God is always with you.” I hear him say it on his own, too, “Don’t be afraid because Jesus is with me.”  I hope that the truth of that statement sinks in from an early age, that it becomes one of his mantras, and that he experiences God’s presence with him and knows true peace as a result.

For Makenna?  I hadn’t memorized the verse we chose for her dedication yet and thought it’d be a good opportunity to do so and to pray about the beautiful things in it for her.  Makenna’s dedication verse was: Psalm 16:11 (You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.) 

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Lord, thank you for our backyard and how much fun our kids have in it.  It was so fun
seeing them play in the dirt, the water, and, yes, eventually the mud.  You have blessed us so
much.  And thanks that the mud came out in the wash! 

Father, you know our son’s heart and mind.  You know that he notices everything and that he worries about different sounds or shadows.  You know his fears and concerns better than I do.  Please help him experience the truth that you have not given him a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.  Remind him that You are with him, no matter where he is and no matter what is going on.  Bless him with a sense of your presence and your peace, both in scary moments, but also day in and day out.  Help our son to overcome his fears and keep him from developing a tendency to worry or hold onto fears.  Empower me to live out a life of courage and strength so he sees others trusting You and depending on You.  Help me pray more, trust You more, and worry less, especially about my children.  Give us as his parents wisdom in how face his fears in a loving and compassionate way.   

Father, thank you for our daughter’s joyful spirit.  Her laughs, her smiles, her feisty little personality are such a blessing to our family!  As she continues to grow from toddler to little girl, may she continue to exude joy.  As she grows into a woman, may joy make her radiant and beautiful, from the inside, out.  And as she matures, may she know that joy comes from being in Your presence and that joy is more important than happiness and temporary pleasures.  Give her wisdom to know what life is truly all about, even when young.  May she seek to know You and remember that You delight over her with singing.  Show her the path of life. 

Let our children take refuge in you and be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them that they may rejoice in you (Ps. 5:11).

In Jesus’ name,

Amen
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What verses have you felt led to pray again and again for your children?  What do you think of the idea of praying a verse for a year for each of your children?

Wet Paint? Tricking Myself Into Cleaning…

Our pastor says that truth (or good ideas) is like paint…it’s only good if you actually apply it.  I’ve decided I want to be truly “painting” not just what I learn in church but also things I glean from other websites and ideas from Pinterest.  Some of my ‘painting’ has been good, other times, not so much….like when I tried to make dairy-free versions of both evaporated milk and condensed milk…I basically ended up with a bunch of goo!    

So occasionally I’m going to post “Wet Paint”…it’ll just mean something I’ve actually tried (like a recipe) or incorporated into our lives (a cleaning tip or a philosophy or truth)…doing, applying, and hopefully not only will it be fun, but it’ll also be a good challenge!  And who knows, maybe you’ll get a hankering to do some painting too!  

One of the blogs I stumbled upon and have enjoyed is called The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.  The author is a wife and mom who is very down-to-earth and shares simple but useful tips to make home life more enjoyable in creative ways.  Last year, when I was in the throes of being home with two little ones and feeling like I could never get or keep the house clean, her post about tricking herself into cleaning gave me hope and motivation.  It’s something I still apply on days where I’m having a hard time cleaning or picking up our house. 

Basically instead of focusing on lofty (and likely unrealistic) goals like getting the whole house spotless daily or cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom while chasing around a toddler, she tells herself she has to pick up or clean 100 things each day.  She counts every single little thing she puts away (including dishes, toys, etc.) and acknowledges that she is making progress, even if it’s not the ideal, it’s still making a dent in the household.  Since incorporating this into my daily life, I have felt less defeated by my house and more productive.  It’s perspective, baby!

My kitchen table currently…if you have a yellow pig and blue spray
paint on your table, you need to implement the 100 item pickup!

Here’s the original article: Imperfect Homemaking Count to 100…she explains it better and discusses how she uses it with her children too…I’ve applied that paint as well, with Evan…it works!

Sibling Relationships (Prayer #5)

A few months ago, Evan went through a phase where he would follow Makenna around and imitate what she was doing.  She truly didn’t connect her actions with his actions, but he loved it!  And it amazed me that Evan enjoyed it as much as he did because, at that time, Makenna didn’t do a whole lot…she mostly walked around, carrying toys or books with her, or would sit down various places!  But that was fun for him, following her around FOREVER, doing what she did.  Fast forward a few months and now Makenna is following Evan around, wanting to be like him, doing as he does.  Sometimes Evan likes this, “Kenna, let’s go play in my room,” and other times, he just gets annoyed, “NO KENNA!” and wants his space.  And the love and frustration, goes both ways.  I always know when Evan steals food from Makenna’s plate because she has a very specific food-violation screech!  Or when Evan is being too rough-n-tumble with his smaller sister…she’ll erupt, but calms down quickly after the incident.  And lately, it’s like he’s obsessed with seeing how little he has to actually touch her to bump her over.  Its subtle.  He’s not shoving her, but he does intentionally bump into her, enough that she loses her balance and falls down.  Oh the joys of siblings, right?        

I couldn’t help but laugh the other day when Makenna joined me in Evan’s room to get him up from his nap.  He had fallen asleep on the floor and Makenna crawled over to him, got up on her knees, and then body slammed him!  He rolled away, so what did she do?  She crawled over to his new location and did it again!  I should have had more empathy for my son, but it just cracked me up!  Makenna was giggling and having so much fun and, for once, she was the physical “aggressor.”  

With all that said, it has been so much fun watching their relationship grow.  Thus far we haven’t
really had any sibling rivalry and for the most part, they get along well.  But on occasion, we
have the typical spats, where they both want to play with the same toy or can’t get along when
on the Learning Tower together or while sitting on the couch.  I often watch them together and
hope that they will always cherish each other and continue to be close as they get older….that
they will be each other’s biggest advocate and encourager.  Those sound like lofty dreams…
goals for the future.  But right now, I’ll be honest, I’d gladly settle for smaller goals of them
sharing “well” and truly caring about how their actions impact the other. 
I was drawn to Philippians 2 this week when thinking about praying for my kids.  I originally went
there because of Philippians 2:15-16, where it talks about us standing out in our culture like
bright stars and holding out His word to others.  I thought that was such a neat picture of what
our children could become as they get older.  I wanted to pray for them to stand out and to
make an impact!  But as I read through the whole chapter, I was drawn to the earlier portion
too, about how we should treat each other…what our attitudes should be.  
 
 
Lord,
Thank you for giving my children each other.  It is such a delight to watch them laugh and play together.  Please help us, Lord, as we teach them how to treat each other.  Give us wisdom about when we need to intervene and when we need to let them work it out themselves.  Help them to not just share with each other, but to put each other first.  Give them a heart for each other, one that cares deeply about their sibling, one that helps the other get ahead.  Convict them when they take advantage of each other.  Bring reconciliation and forgiveness quickly.  Help them look to Jesus as the role model of how to love others sacrificially. 
Lord, may both of our kids be sensitive to Your Spirit and to others.  May they be reverent before you and show respect to others, especially each other.  Help them to serve each other willingly. Thank you that you are already working in their young lives and that You will not stop until Your will is accomplished.  Remind us as parents that You are working within them to will and to act according to Your purposes.  May their choices and attitudes bring You glory!
Father, give both of our children cheerful spirits.  May they not be known for grumbling or arguing but rather be known for being full of joy and peace.  Lord, may they go out in the world and be a breath of fresh air.  May those who interact with our children get a glimpse of good living and of what it looks like to have a relationship with You. 
We love you Lord,
Amen

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When you pray for your children’s relationships with each other, what types of things do you pray about?  What verses come to mind for you? 

 

Two Peas In A Pod Twin Baby Shower

As previously mentioned, the Jacobson twin boys entered the world last weekend.  The baby shower had been originally scheduled for the coming weekend and it went on as scheduled.  It was really fun planning this shower, especially with all the ideas I got from Pinterest.  One thing I’ve really enjoyed about being a stay-at-home mom is having a bit more time to be creative.

Here are some of the ideas we used for the shower…making sure to give credit to where we got the ideas.  Warning, this is a long post.  I wanted to give details about how each of these things were done as I grew frustrated that the pins I went to only contained pictures (not how tos) or the ones that had specifics, it was only for one item.  Below I’ve included pictures and how-tos for the decorations, the menu we used, and our game.  Credit was given to where I got the original ideas and resources I used were listed as well.

1.) Diaper Pea Pods–When I had Evan, the housekeeper at my job made me a diaper cake.  I had never seen one before and was floored by it!  I felt so treasured when I received such a beautiful gift and loved the creativity of it.  I told myself then that someday I’d make one for someone else.  This shower provided that opportunity, with a twist!  Instead of making a “diaper cake,” I made diaper pea pods!

Here’s the video that helped me create them: How To Make A Pea Pod Diaper “Cake” on YouTube

The video has pea pods with one large pea with two small peas.  My blankets were pretty large so I had two large peas and two small peas in each.

What you’ll need to create ones like those pictured here:

  • 28 diapers for each pea pod (so 56 total if you’re making two like I did)
  • 2 green receiving blankets (we bought flannel material we liked from Joann Fabrics baby fabric section and my mother-in-law surged the edges to prevent fraying–and the new mom has two more receiving blankets…large, cute ones!)
  • 2 other receiving blankets
  • Green Ribbon
  • Rubber Bands
  • Possibly a small bowl to help you “roll” your diapers into a circle shape (most diaper cake tutorials online showed each diaper rolled individually).  I wanted to create diapers rolled together to create the peas.  I rolled two diapers up together and put a rubber band around them, then laid down the other eight diapers on top of each other, layered so that you could see 2-3 inches of each diaper in the pile, and used the two-diaper roll as the center and rolled them around it.

Here’s a photo I found on another site that shows the layering, (they used a paper towel roll in the center of their diaper cake) from www.ourbestbites.com.  They have a great step by step explanation for making a regular diaper cake.

2.) Flowers with Real Peas in the Bottom of the Vase–Loved, loved, loved this idea we found on Pinterest!  I tried to pull up the actual website the photo that gave me my inspiration was from, but was denied (stating that I needed to be invited by the blog author to view her site, funny since this was a pin on pinterest!).  I’ll still give credit to www.ahotpairofboots.com for the idea.  Our vase w/ peas is shown below and the peas were recycled after the shower, meaning someone agreed to take them, refrigerate them, and eat them in the near future. Talk about truly going “green.” : )

3.) Pea Pod Cupcakes–another idea I became obsessed with recreating was making cupcakes with a pea pod on top!  I originally saw this idea from a pin by www.baby-shower-cake-ideas.com (baby shower cupcake of the month).  Here’s the link if you’d like to see their photos (their cupcakes were ADORABLE, much better than mine): Original Pea Pod Cupcake Pin.

I figured it couldn’t be that hard to make two crescents for the pod and rolling two fondant balls into peas.  This article gave me tips on how to use fondant for the first time: How to Use Fondant for Absolute Beginners-by someone who is not a cake expert.  For it being my first time using fondant, I think they turned out pretty well. : )

I used these Wilton items (Green Sugar Sheets & Primary Color Rolled Fondant) to create ours. If you plan your shower ahead, use a Joann Fabrics or Michaels 40% or 50% off a regular item coupon (found in almost every Sunday newspaper) to keep your shower purchases to a reasonable cost.

I cut the pea pod parts out of the sugar sheets using a small pair of clean scissors and then rolled the green fondant into balls for the peas.

I created the pea pods the night before the baby shower and put them in a tupperware container to prevent them from drying out.  I then made the cupcakes and frosting the morning of the shower.  It was a little difficult removing the pea pods from the tupperware container to the cupcakes, but since I had made extra pea pods, it worked out.   I think if I had used fondant for both the pea pod parts and the peas, it wouldn’t have been such an issue.  Something to try if I ever throw another pea baby shower I guess!

I found the cupcake stand, that displayed 13 cupcakes, at Michaels.  With their 40% off a regular item coupon (found in almost every Sunday newspaper), it cost about $8.00.  As we had more than 13 guests in attendance, the remaining cupcakes sat around the base of the cupcake holder.  Craft stores also sell cupcake holders that can hold a lot more than thirteen cupcakes, but I felt that this was the best size cupcake holder for other events we’ll have in the future.

4.) Shower Menu–Here’s what we featured for food:

  • Gluten Free and Regular Breads and Crackers
  • Curry Chicken Salad
  • Green Pea, Bacon, & Cashew Salad
  • Light Green Punch (made with lime sherbert & 7-up–we didn’t have specific amounts…just added them together until it tasted good)
  • M&Ms that matched the shower colors (luckily Easter had just happened so I got pastel M&Ms on clearance and only used the green, yellow, and blue ones)
  • Coffee
  • Bowl of Sugar Snap Peas
  • Almond Chicken Salad–6 cooked, chopped up chicken breasts, 1 tsp. garlic salt, 1 ¼ c. mayo, 1 c. sliced almonds, 1 c. shredded monterey jack cheese.  Mix all ingredients together, except for almonds.  May be refrigerated overnight.  Add almonds before serving. 

5.) Two Peas in A Pod Scattergories Game–we only played one game at the shower but it was a great one.  Briefly, Scattergories is a game where you are given different categories and you need to come up with an answer for each category.  You get a point for each answer your put, but you need to be creative.  Why?  Because if your answer matches another person’s answer, you both have to cross it out.

Your answers must all begin with the same letter.  We had the mother choose the letter on the spot (she chose from four letters…her first name initial, her husband’s first name initial, and first letters of the twins’ names).  We did two rounds (our letters were C and N).  I threw our game worksheets together using Word and Clip Art.  Here are the categories from our game.  Feel free to use them too!

            “Two Peas In a Pod” Scattergories

Twin Boy Baby Names (2)

Item found in a Diaper Bag

Food A Pregnant Woman Craves

Symptom/Complaint About Pregnancy

Worst Place to Give Birth to Twins

Thing Mom Needs In Hospital

Adjective to Describe Dad at Hospital

Adjective to Describe a Newborn

Baby Food Flavors

Baby Nursery Theme

Coping Strategy Used by Parents of Twins

Place to Avoid with Newborns

Activity for Toddler While Mom Nurses Twins

If you have your own Two Peas in a Pod Shower, I hope you have as much fun in preparation and in celebrating as we did!  Let me know how yours went or other tips for this type of shower by writing a comment below.

Trust & Thankfulness–Jesus Calling

Another entry from “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young–loved this one as it addresses something I need to continue to grow in…thankfulness.  I’ve seen in my own life that the more I cultivate thankfulness, the more I tend to trust. 

Rejoice and be thankful!  As you walk with Me through this day, practice trusting and thanking Me all along the way.  Trust is the channel through which My peace flows into you.  Thankfulness lifts you up above your circumstances.

I do My greatest works through people with grateful, trusting hearts. Rather than planning and evaluating, practice trusting and thanking Me continually.  This is a paradigm shift that will revolutionize your life.  

Philippians 4:4, Psalm 95:1-2, Psalm 9:17

The Twins Come Early…Prayer #4 (NICU Mom Prayer)

Wow, our family has now had three premature babies!  We started with Evan four years ago, and this past weekend two more Jacobson babies were born early.   I think if we have any more NICU admissions in our family, we should get a freebie!

For those who hadn’t heard, Angie gave birth to her twins, Camden and Blaise, this past Friday, due to developing preeclampsia.  They arrived eight weeks early.  They will be in the NICU for about a month, but were a good size and seem to be doing really well.  It was amazing to hear the whole story from Angie and Nate this afternoon.  And I loved Evan’s question on the way home:  “Mommy, did Angie’s babies wear diapers in Angie’s tummy?”  Who knew that as a mom I’d be trying to explain how babies expel waste in-utero!   

Anyway…
When I think about my little nephews, my heart is drawn back to Psalm 139, which I know I’ve
already written about, but there is just something so special about the words contained there
when I think about preemies.  When it really sinks in how small these babies are, when I stop
and think about how God has formed them so intricately and already knows them so well, it
blows my mind! 

 

Tonight I’d like to divert a bit from praying for my children and pray for Angie, who is now the mother of twins!  Twins who are currently in the NICU, which takes some getting used to.  Will you pray with me?

 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Lord,

 

We lift Angie up to you.  Thank you for protecting her and the twins and knowing exactly when they needed to arrive for the health and safety of all involved.  Give Angie rest.  Give her peace.  Help her to not just survive, but actually enjoy, this time of adjusting to being a mother of three.  We thank you for these little boys and for giving them such an amazing mother.

We pray that You would show Angie how to best juggle the needs of Finley and Nate with the needs of Camden and Blaise.  Give Nate wisdom in how to best support Angie during this unique time.  May their relationship not be strained during this time, may it only grow stronger through the addition of these two sons and the unique experiences their early arrival brings.  Help them to laugh together during moments of chaos or confusion and even exhaustion.  Show those of us in their extended family and in their community of friends ways we can support them in tangible ways.  Prompt us to lift them up to you in prayer, especially during this first year.

Father, we know that emotions and hormones can be all over the place in post-partum.  We pray that you would help Angie’s body heal from delivery and help her hormones to stabilize quickly.  Give her extraordinary strength as she cares for so many, especially when she isn’t able to get much sleep.  

We pray that you would give Angie’s heart a supernatural peace, one that remembers who is ultimately in control.  Whether she experiences frustration, sadness, disappointment, fear, confusion, or guilt, may she remember that You are on the throne and that Your heart is good, regardless of what she is feeling inside.  Bring friends and family around her that she can be honest with about her thoughts and feelings.  We pray that you would guard her heart and mind against guilt.  May she have peace that you are in control and that she’s doing the best that she can.  Help her to not focus on her limitations, but rather on what she is doing well.  Remind her that You have her children in your hands and that you are watching over them when she can’t be with them in person.  

We praise you for Camden Hollis and Blaise Clayton! 

In Jesus’ Name, Amen
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Psalm 139…Twin Style 

You have searched Camden and Blaise, Lord, and you know them.
You know when they sleep and when they’re awake;
    you perceive their thoughts from afar.
You guided their delivery and placed them in a great NICU;
    you are familiar with all of their ways.
Before a cry is on their tongues, You, Lord, know it completely.
You hem Camden and Blaise in behind and before,
    and you lay Your hand upon them.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for their parents, too lofty to attain.

Where can Camden go from Your Spirit? 
    Where can Blaise flee from Your presence?
If they go up to the heavens, You are there;
    if they make their beds in the depths, You are there.
If Camden rises on the wings of the dawn,
    if Blaise settles on the far side of the sea,
10 even there Your hand will guide them,
    Your right hand will hold both boys fast.
11 If they say, “Surely the darkness will hide us
    and the light become night around us,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to You;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to You.

13 For You created Camden and Blaise’s inmost beings;
    You knit them together in their Mommy’s womb.
14 We praise You because Camden and Blaise

have been fearfully and wonderfully made;
    Your works are wonderful, we know that full well.
15 Camden and Blaise’s frames were not hidden from You
    when they were made in the secret place,
    when they were woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw their unformed bodies;
    All the days ordained for Camden and Blaise, especially these early days,

were written in Your book before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to us are Your thoughts,[a] God!

    How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were we to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—

    when the twins awake, they are with You still.

19 If only You, God, would slay the wicked!
    Keep them away from the twins, including those who misuse your name.

May the twins delight in spending time with friends and family who love you, who do not rebel against you.

23 Search us, God, and know our hearts;  test us and know our anxious thoughts. 
Remind us when we worry about
these precious little boys, to bring our concerns to you!

24 Help us teach these boys about You—
lead all of us in the way everlasting.

23 Blessings in the Early Years

About a month ago, my table leader at MOPs asked me to share some of our family’s story with our table for “Friends & Faith” morning at MOPs.  Although I didn’t know what I’d say, I felt God clearly nudge me to agree to share. 

I wrestled with what to say.   I didn’t want to share our story in a self-pitying way.  I didn’t want sympathy.  I wanted to glorify God, but didn’t know how to do it.  A few weeks before the scheduled talk, my table leader emailed me that I needed to send an outline to our mentor Mom so she could give me feedback.  My anxiety spiked.  What if this type of talk wasn’t what they were looking for?  I panicked.  Then I prayed, sat down, and eventually wrote.  And wrote.  I felt God giving me the words to say.  He calmed my spirit and gave me an idea.  I’d use what God was teaching me right now as part of the talk.  

In the process of working through the last few years of our journey, God had asked me to memorialize the ways He has “shown up” for our family.  In the midst of such hard times, He poured blessing after blessing on us, but so often we failed to highlight those blessings and focused on the difficult circumstances.  I had just received a free Shutterfly photo book coupon and had not figured out what kind of book I wanted to create.  God brought these ideas together…create a book that looks back at the blessings God gave us the past few years. 

So today, at MOPs, I shared this Shutterfly book, that contains the 23 Blessings we received from God during the difficult, early years in our family journey.  In order to understand the blessings though, they needed a sense of the context–what had happened in the first three years of my life as a mother. 

Below are my talking points and the 23 Blessings described in my Shutterfly Book.  I didn’t share all the blessings with my table, there wasn’t time, but did share some.  I’m sharing all the blessings in this posting because there isn’t a time limit!  I know it’d be more fun to see the actual book, but that’s not possible…come to visit, it’ll be on our bookshelf!

Have you ever gone through something and asked God why?  Why did He allow something difficult to happen?  Why did He choose this path for you?  I have.  I became a mother for the first time four years ago and the first three years of motherhood were the hardest, scariest, roughest years of my life.  During those years, I had a lot of questions for God.  And like that Footprints in the Sand poem, there were many times where I wondered if I was walking alone.  But there were other times during the three years where we clearly saw God providing for us and blessing us.  And the cool thing is that now that I’ve had time step back and reflect on the past few years, I’m in complete awe of how God stepped in and took care of us over and over again.  He blessed us in so many ways.  I still may not have all the answers to my questions, but I know I can trust God with the unknowns because He was with us the whole time.

I have brought a Shutterfly book with me this morning.  I love to scrapbook and the past few years have enjoyed doing Shutterfly too, especially when I get a coupon from Target for a free book.  I really felt challenged by something Beth Moore said about writing down the ways God has “shown up” in our lives.  Cheesy, sure, but it works for us.

The Reason For This Book

…If we don’t enscribe these moments, burn them into our memories, they start to fade, and instead of remembering all of His blessings, we look back and think of the tough times or see only the monotony.  I want us as a family to delight in all the blessings God has given us, especially during the hard times.  In the hard times, His grace and His mercy shine even brighter.  These pages detail God’s faithfulness in the early years of our little family. 

When circumstances and our emotions are screaming “God has abandoned you” or “His heart is not good.  He has allowed this suffering, pain, and hard times…,” may we always remember that He is right there with us.  When we look back later, we will see His fingerprints and protection all over the dark portions of our journey.  He is there.  God is faithful!

I want to share some of those blessings with you this morning, but in order to understand the blessings, you need to hear a little about the hard times.  During my first pregnancy, I was 32 weeks pregnant when I was put on bedrest.  Our son wasn’t growing and my OB-GYN was concerned.  When I went to my weekly check-up at 35 weeks, the doctor was alarmed and told me to head over to the hospital immediately.  Evan was born via c-section about an hour later.  He weighed only 2 pounds 14 ounces.  Evan was discharged from the NICU after three weeks.  We were scared to take him home because he was so small and he cried all the time.

Blessings #1 and #2: An Answer to Prayer (Giving Evan a Strong Will to Survive) & God’s Protection in the Womb His first surgery was only a few weeks later.  Evan’s throat closed when they removed his breathing tube.  He ended up in a new NICU and when I went to see him, he looked close to death.  He was very still, ghostly white, and his breathing was rough and difficult.  Evan had three more surgeries in front of him.  He also would require physical therapy, speech therapy, and most importantly feeding therapy.

Blessings #3 & #4: NICU, Again—Which Gets Us Connected to Developmental Pathways (DP) for Free, In-Home Therapy (3), and Wise Advice from a Red Head (4) I had always planned to stay home with our kids.  I had a supportive boss, but he pulled me aside before I was put on bedrest and encouraged me to consider coming back, even if it were just for a few months.  Why?  Well, Ryan’s company had just gone through a round of layoffs and while he had been spared the first time, there was another round coming up in October, which would be a few months after my maternity leave ended.   I didn’t know why at the time, but I felt like God was using my boss, Mike, to speak to me.  Despite not wanting to, and it being a few days after Evan’s second surgery, I returned to work.

Blessings #5 – 8 God-Sent Caregivers for Evan (Angie, Shelly, Nana, & Erin D.)    October arrived.  The day before Evan’s third surgery, Ryan was laid off.  We were devastated.  Not only did it hit Ryan hard being a man and wanting to provide for his family, but we were scared realizing that we’d have to change all of Evan’s medical professionals because we’d now be covered by my insurance which was an HMO.  But now I understood why I had returned to work.

After six months of eating and growing well, Evan plateaued.  Pretty soon his medical professionals became concerned.  At age one, he was under 12 lbs, at 2 he was under 20 pounds.  At 2 1/2, he was still under twenty pounds.  All the professionals we were working with seemed at a loss of what to do.  Evan went through a lot of GI tests and was even inpatient at Children’s Hospital to evaluate what was wrong.   After that, we worked with a special clinic at Children’s Hospital but besides pushing us to add oil and DuoCal—a high calorie powder—to his food, there were few other practical suggestions.

We begged DP for a feeding therapist and they sent us a speech therapist. We think they thought it was just an oral/motor skills issue.Evan continued to get thinner and thinner.One night, when I was giving him a bath, I started to cry because he was literally a skeleton sitting in the tub.I could see each of his ribs poking through.His legs had only muscle, no fat, he had no cheeks to his face. When our schedule no longer worked with our current speech therapist, God intervened in a huge way.  When Evan started to throw up from the oil added to his food and refuse his high calorie drink, we were scared. 

Blessing #9—Pint Sized Professional (Erin our amazing speech therapist who advocated for us to get a feeding therapist and connected us to the right GI doctor)

Blessing #10—Our Miracle, Literally (Our feeding therapist, Nissa, whose name means “Miracle,” starts working with our family and helps Evan gain much needed weight)

Blessing #11—Pureeing Away (We are gifted a ninja chop food processor months before we’ll need it several times a week for feeding therapy)

Blessings #12 – 14 Feeding Therapy is Covered by DP (12), Then Covered by Insurance after Initial Denial (13), and We Receive A Grant to Cover the Rest (14) 

Feeding therapy has been incredibly hard.  It involved a lot of patience, strategy, and prep work, but it has paid off.  Evan is now on the growth charts for the first time in his life and we have hope that he will be eating like his peers in the next year or two.  His fourth surgery, the one on his spinal cord, was hopefully his last one.  I am in awe of how God has brought us through all of this. 

Blessings #15 – 17 Dr. Marvelous, Dr. Stupendous, & the Amazing Hospital

Blessing #18 Traumatized? Definitely Not (Evan may have anxiety about other things but he has no fear, no anxiety, no negative emotions connected to medical appointments, tests, procedures, and surgeries)

Blessing #19 Bundle of Joy—Makenna is born, weighing a healthy weight

Blessing #20 Goodbye DYC, Hello SAHM!—Ryan gets a permanent, full-time job in Denver the same week Makenna is born, providing enough for our family that I can stay home and just in time for feeding therapy

Blessing #21 It Takes a Village—Ways Our Family and Friends Supported Us Through These Hard Times

Blessing #22—“Walked-A-Mile-In-Your-Shoes” Friends

Blessing #23—Pressure Cooker—A Marriage Strengthened Through Adversity

As I look back on our journey, I am in awe of all the ways He took care of our little family.  Many times, things we saw as setbacks or crises ended up working for our good.  And this year, He did answer one of my questions.  During the hard years, I had wondered if I had done something during my pregnancy to cause Evan’s medical issues, even though I had followed doctor’s orders and prenatal care tips to a T.  Or wondered whether we had somehow sinned or didn’t have enough faith in the days and months where our prayers for Ryan to have a new job went unanswered.  God spoke to me clearly one night when I was reading in John.

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  

Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3

This verse gave me goose bumps, especially because I really felt God was speaking to me, to our situation.  It got rid of the guilt I’ve been carrying.  It answered some of my “why” questions.  And it made me excited to see what else God is going to do in and through Evan’s life.  I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that God’s heart is good and that He can be trusted, especially in the really hard times.  

There’s a saying I’ve heard several times in the past month: “We often remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember.”  How do you memorialize or remember the ways God has “shown up” for you?  What are some ideas you have about how families can do so?