Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Carese Faith Einfeld

A couple of weeks ago we went in for our routine 20 weeks ultrasound!  We found out that everything looks great, and that we are expecting a girl!  She even waved at us during the ultrasound.  She was very active (still is) and changed her leg/arm positions quite often during the ultrasound...we might have a very active/busy baby this time around!

After the ultrasound, we went immediately over to the fabric store and purchased some girly yarn!  Here's what I've made so far:
Daryl found the name (we had been in heavy council on the name for a few weeks and could not agree on anything) after spending several long sessions in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance.  He found the Greek word "Charis" which is usually translate as "Grace" and is pronounced "khar-ece" and it is defined as "the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude" and I just learned that is a feminine noun!  The definitions for "charis" also includes the idea of a blessing, a gift and thankfulness.
Her middle name says it all - God has graciously given us the faith to trust Him for all things, especially in the area of family.   Easton's Bible Dictionary states "Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain statement is true. Its primary idea is trust. A thing is true, and therefore worthy of trust."

We are having another ultrasound tomorrow - they were not able to get a good view of her heart due to her position. I have since found out that this is quite common and that ultrasounds for viewing the heart are better done a little farther along anyway.  After all the we have gone through with our precious Esther, and all we have seen during our stays at Children's Hospital, we want a thorough evaluation of this little one's heart so we can be prepared if she has a substantial heart defect and she can get the care she need right from the start.  Right now we are trusting the Lord for her health and thanking Him for his precious mercies so far - statistically, a healthy pregnancy without fertility/hormone treatments at my age is rare indeed!  

Pray that our precious Carese Faith will continue to grow strong and healthy and that she will grow to love and serve our loving Saviour, Christ the Lord!

And here's my Christmas Card to you all!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Baby #12 is on the way!

If you have been following this blog, you may have noticed that I basically vanished!  In a way I did.  We found out the last week of July that God has blessed us with another baby on the way!  We were surprised that the Lord would see fit to bless us with a pregnancy again.  I am 46 years old, and according to statistics it is rare indeed for women over the age of 45 to conceive without fertility treatments.  It is also very common for women my age who do become pregnant to have a miscarriage (two of my dear friends who are my age have been struggling with this very thing in the past year).

So I took it easy.  I felt very fragile and had some problem with spotting, so I quick all exercise (even mowing the lawn on a riding mower could cause me to bleed) and laid low.  I saw the OB and we had two early ultrasounds to make sure everything was alright.  The blood test revealed that I was low on progesterone, so I started taking a supplement for that and I started feeling so much stronger, but I still had to limit my activities.

Here's baby #12 - 8 weeks in the top photo and 10 weeks in the bottom photo

I was very tired through the first three months, so I was unable to get out of bed before the children most days, and that meant that my blogging time was just not there anymore.  Starting about three weeks ago I began to feel so much better and as of 12 weeks gestation I no longer had to take the progesterone as by then the placenta takes care of that.  I had gone through nearly every test known to womankind and they could find nothing wrong with me - in fact some of my test results defied logic they were so good!

One very big change for us with this pregnancy is that I am seeing an OB and we are planning a hospital birth.  Due to the serious nature of the complications I experience with Esther's birth (hemorrhaging before and after she was born) and my age (which is considered a pregnancy/birth high risk factor).  As I said, we had two early ultrasounds, which I have never had before, and they were fascinating!  The second showed a very active tiny baby in there!  Even the OB was impressed with his/her activity level!  This next week we will be having the "BIG" ultrasound.  I do not want to know if this baby has Down Syndrome, but I will ask them to take a very good look at the heart.  The only thing I really want to know is if this baby needs to be born in Seattle due to life threatening problems, other that than, I only want to know if it's a boy or girl!

I would have come back sooner, but over 2 weeks ago I developed a bad cold that developed into a sinus infection.  I finally went in Monday and they put me on antibiotics.  Today is the first day that I do not feel sick - health is such a wonderful things that we take for granted when we have it!

But that is not all that has happened around here - here are some highlights of our late summer/fall:

Our family on the last day of our week long camping  (the church campout was the last few days)

Reuben got braces in August, but didn't lose his ability to make funny poses for the camera!

Reuben then ended up with a spiral fracture to his tibia - case on until thanksgiving, then boot cast until Christmas!

Esther celebrated her 3rd birthday by eating an entire icecream cone by herself
Also, Daryl rebuilt the engine for our 12 passenger bus so we can now go places all together as a family again!

And the biggest, most challenging change has been that Esther got glasses a couple of weeks ago - it is not easy getting her to wear them, and she's already broken the first pair (but I duct taped it together until the replacement frames come in)!
So, for now, I am back.  I can't guarantee that I'll be blogging a lot, but I'll try to be better about it in the months to come!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Kitties and Weeds...

We have kittens in the house once again...we love kittens, and so far we've let each of the girls, once they are 16, get their own cat, let them have 1 - 2 batches of kittens, and then get her fixed (all on their own budget).  So this year it's Rebekah.  She picked out her kitten from a friends house just over a years ago.  Her name is "Sweet Tea"...but it sounds like "Sweetie".

We named her that in honor of our first kitten, who was really Jeremy's cat, as this cat looks so much like she did!

Here are some recent kitty photos:

As you can see, these are going to be very mellow kittens, used to lots of handling!  

This year we had oodles of rain this spring, and very few days of sun, so I was not able to do any weeding in my flower gardens so far this year, as I used the sunny days to work on putting in more back yard that is mow-able!  So, this week I'm tackling the weeding and I had one weed I've been watching....and I think we had some kind of uranium leak in the back yard or something...this is some kind of freak of nature:

I have no idea what this is, but it looks to be from the thistle was over 10 feet tall!  It had a small root base so it came out easily.  Anyone have any ideas???

I'll try to share some "after" photos of the gardens...I'm hoping to get some new plants from the friend who is re-doing her flower gardens and has invited me to come and take anything I plants!!!  God's providence is amazing!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Photos Galore!

I was editing my new blogs and realized that I haven't done any family blogging in a while!  So here is a photo extravaganza to catch you all up on the happenings around here over the past 3 months or so!

We have a batch of 4 new kittens!
I think this little guys is a little freaked out!

Today was their first bath - I think she's just plain worn out...
I've been making soap - learned so much, but taking a break for the summer

Some of my early creations!

We've been playing lots of backyard a bat given to us that makes it possible!

lawnmower driving lessons (there's a tow rope there)

set up the pool in mid May
everybody enjoyed getting the pool up!

Esther has figured out how to get into the peanut better jar!

Even Mandy helped Daryl practice his pitching!

My mother came to stay for 2 1/2 weeks!

We hosted a family reunion!

the wiener roast at the reunion
my mom and I as we said farewell
trampoline + water balloons = way too much fun!
And Lastly, here's a little treat - Esther unloading the dryer - I had to first find her, discover her doing this, find the camera and get these shots before she saw me...a miracle to say the least!

Three New Blogs!

I have decided to start a blog just about Esther - her story is so special, and so often I refer people to my blog just to read about our adventures with Esther, so now I have them all in one place (they are all still here as well). And now I can do updates that relate to just her and blog about family events and my opinions etc here!  Today I blogged about her last year's challenges, and her current health challenges and milestones, and included a ton of new photos!

Esther's Story

I've also created a brand new blog called "My Daughters".  There I am going to write letters to my daughters about how to become a godly woman, and to prepare to be a supportive wife, devoted mother and inspired homemaker!  It am still learning, but I want to pass on what I have learned and am learning to both my biological daughters as well as my spiritual daughters!  So far I have posted an introduction of why I created the blog and what I hope to accomplish with it!

My Daughters,

Lastly, I have begun to blog about God's grace and faithfulness in our lives, but the more I thought about it, I wanted these posts to be all together in one place...I hope to make it into a book someday anyway, so I started a blog for these posts:

God's Faithfulness in Our Lives

I hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Leaning on my own Understanding

During the summer of my fourth year of life, my parents went camping way up in the in the hills that are part of Mt Rainier.  The area is pristine and the amenities are few and far between.  My father would go hunting in the fall, using old logging roads and hiking trails, and just plain hiking through the woods.  He would take a huge army salvage tent and stay up there for a week or two at a time.  Some years he'd come home with some meat for the freezer, other years no meat, but he'd also scouted out new places to camp or the perfect Christmas tree!  So our family had gone camping to one of the wonderful campgrounds that my father had scoped and had spent a wonderful week camping together.  The only part of that camping trip that I remember is being swung around in the hammock by the big kids (wrapped up like a mummy).  I was the baby of the family, and at 4 that meant my siblings were 10, 12, 14 and 16.  The hammock might have been from another camping trip, but that is the earliest memory of camping that I have.

On the trip home, we were driving past an area that had a large lake, and out past some mud flats there were these cool dome shaped islands, but they were only separated by little streams of water.  The older kids thought it would be fun to go play on them, a nice break in the long trip home.  My parents agree with them.  The kids wanted to take me with them, but my parents were very unsure if that was a prudent thing to do, as it could be dangerous for a 4 year old to be playing around the edge of a lake.  But they convince them that they would take great care of me, not to worry.  Reluctantly, they agreed.  So while they rested in the car, they watched their 5 children walk across the mudflats (the mudflats looked the size of a football field, but I was only 4, so it might have been smaller, but still a ways).
Mark and Beth were holding my hands, and we crossed what was like a small stream that was going around the first "island".  We scouted around that mound and from the backside they could see more mounds, and one that looked very interesting, but the kids thought it wouldn't be a good idea for me to cross to the other mound (I don't remember why), so they told me to sit on a stump and wait for them...they made it very clear to me that I was not to move, for any reason.  I am sure I promised to obey.  So I sat there for a while, watching them make their way to the next mound/island.  Then they disappeared over the mound and I was alone, all alone.  So I started to take in my surroundings, the lake, the other mounds, the water swirling around the mound I was on.
While watching the water, it began to look like my island was moving....swirling with the water...moving away from the shore.  I was sure that my island was floating away into the lake!  If I waited any longer the little stream that we waded through to get to this island would be too big to cross!  I yelled for the other kids, but they couldn't hear me.  I began to panic!  I decided that I needed to get off that island right now.
I ran back to the other side and ran right down to the stream that I thought we had crossed...only in my little 4 years old mind, I had not remembered things all that clearly and did not stop to look into the water.  Instead of a few inches of water, I was suddenly in over my head.  I had this jacket on, a down jacket.  It floated up under my arms and held me afloat, but I couldn't do anything.  And the water was taking me away from my parents, who I could see now standing outside our car.  They were waving their arms, and then my Dad started running down to the mud flats, but he didn't get far....he stopped moving...why oh why wasn't my daddy coming to save me!
From my parents perspective, they suddenly saw me run down and into the water and then all they could see was my head.  As you can imagine, they panicked and started yelling for the kids - and then my dad decided he needed to get out there to save me.  The only problem was that those mud flats which we children walked across were not able to hold up an dad sunk up to his knees in the must have seemed like a nightmare!  He couldn't get to me no matter how hard he tried.  But then, in God's providence, he used a skill taught to him when he was just a child - he whistled.  My dad could whistle louder than anyone I have ever known.  He used to whistled to call us kids home and we could hear it inside the homes of our friends, even a block away.  There was no way that the kids would hear my father shouting, but they would hear his whistle...his whistle was the only thing that could bring the help that was needed to keep my from drowning.
I heard that whistle...and it wasn't long before my sibling came running back to me and found me drifting towards the lake, with an almost saturated jacket.
Mark pulled me out of the water, and carried me over to the shallow crossing and across that plain of mudflats.  Back to my loving parents who wrapped me in a warm towel and their love.  They stripped off my wet clothes and dressed me in warm dry clothes.  I really don't remember anything else past this, but the rest of this memory is vivid and clear as though it happened yesterday.
God saved my life that day...the days numbered for me to spend on this earth were not finished yet, and no watery grave could thwart the plan of God for my life.  God in His sovereignty taught my father to whistle when he was young, He had my father use his whistle to call his children - and his children knew that when Dad whistled, you came running, no matter what, right away.
I had "leaned on my own understanding".  Even when I had been told to stay where I was, I did not listen to the wisdom of those older and wiser than me, and I paid the consequences of following my own way.  My family suffered much anguish because of my folly.
God is good, God is loving, God is involved, God is in control, God is wise.  When I lean on my own understanding, and follow my own way, I can get lost, I can get into deep watery places that I can not get out of on my own.  But God will always hunt me down, find me, bring me back, and wrap me in His loving arms.  He will use these times to teach, mold, and make me like His Son.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
 And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
  And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Second Chances

Everyone needs second chances, I know I do.  I had to give someone else a second chance today and it was sooo worth it!

When Esther was just teeny tiny and we were trying so hard to get her home from the hospital, I had one of the worst days, I was so disheartened.  I wrote about this day in a post entitled "It's Sooo Hard" and I talk about an encounter with the pediatrician who was caring for Esther during that time.  Every 3 days or so we'd get a new pediatrician and see saw back and forth as to what is would take to get Esther home.  I was very offended at a remark he made and have always held this against him.

Until today he's never been the on call doctor when I needed to take Esther (or any of the children) in to be seen when our doctor was not available.  I always ask who's on call, as I prefer to have Esther seen by a doctor who has seen her before when she is ill.  When I heard who was on call, Dr F I'll call him, I almost decided to wait, but Esther really needed to be seen again and soon.  So I decided to make the appt anyway.

But first a  little more background to set the stage for this second chance.  Children with Down Syndrome tend to have very tiny everything - fingers, toes, heads, forearms, upper thighs, blood vessels, ears, airways and ear canals.  Esther has typically sized things for all in the list except the internal ones.  And her ear canals are tiny - and one is exceptionally tiny.  Since she was just a baby she has HATED to have anyone, even me, mess with her ears at all.  Don't even go near them...when a doctor holds the otoscope she starts to cry and tries to hide.

Until Today.

As I was waiting for the doctor to come into the room, I could hear him talking in the room next door and in my room was a, Esther was quietly snuggling in my lap (a sign that she's really sick as she's usually trying to escape out of the room).  The battle was in my mind.  I was so ready to have an attitude when he came in.  But I kept reminding myself to think on "whatsoever things are true..." and during the time we worked with Dr F before I was sleep deprived and in a very difficult situation to say the least.  I kept reminding myself that I had heard from others that they just loved him and that he was so good with children.  I forced myself to be pleasant, friendly and "pretend" that we were seeing him for the first time - I reasoned also that he sees so many babies that he probably wouldn't remember us anyway!

So, in he walks - he immediately focused on Esther, saying "hi" and getting her to interact with him.  While he and I talked he was gently warming up to the time he was going to listen to her breathing, she was starting to get a little concerned, but he comforted her and talked to her and before I knew it, she was sitting quietly while he listened...she has been doing so much better lately, that I chalked it up to getting accustomed to the procedure.  Then it was time to look in her ears...I braced for the battle...he started talking about birdies and doing little whistles (this has been tried and met with failure by several doctors in the past), but his whistle was sweet and bird-like.  And then the miracle happened - she allowed him to look in her ear while she sat quietly...I was dumbstruck...but that ear canal was larger and more accessible, the left ear will be different, right?  Kind of - she fussed a little, and he just put light pressure on her head and she calmed right down and let him look into her ear for a good long time!  Even then, he only got a half glimpse of her swollen, pink ear drum, but enough to confirm that the antibiotics she was on were not doing the job.

So, the moral of the story?  We all need second chances!  We all need to give others second chances - we might be the ones missing out on the blessing if we are bitter or holding onto resentments.  And we are definitely the ones suffering when we do that, as bitterness and resentment do the most damage to the ones holding onto them!

And  here's eye candy - first a photo taken the day before my "first encounter" with Dr F:
Esther - 1 week - with a feeding tube and oxygen
And here's Esther last week at her daddy's softball game:
she loves going to the softball games - she loves to clap whenever anyone claps!

What to you think - would Dr F have recognized her???

Monday, May 30, 2011

Why we have and are still homeschooling

You know, I've never blogged about homeschooling least not that I can remember.  Oh - I've mentioned that we homeschool and some things that we've done in our schooling, but never the why and wherefores...and I was just "interviewed", kind of, by a sweet young lady for a paper she is writing about homeschooling (I am assuming she's writing it for a class as she's taking at the community college)...and I thought, why not share this on my blog - I love using something I've already written for my blog!~  So here are the questions she asked me and my responses:

Why did you decide to homeschool?

I went to a small Christian school growing up, but the peer pressure and clicks were so terrible - I didn't want to put my kids through any of that. Even if they would be "popular" I think it really damaged kid's mental outlook no matter where you are in the popularity contests.
And, as a Christian, I felt that it was not appropriate to place our children under the authority of our godless public school system and be taught things (like evolution) that are contrary to our beliefs.

What are the advantages?

I maintain a solid relationship with my children, I remain their authority 24/7, I don't have to retrain them when they come home from school with mis-information, bad attitudes or bad influences. I control what they learn and how they learn it. I can control who influences them, and who doesn't. The biggest things are what they don't learn - swearing, disrespect, to honor their peers above adults, drugs, premarital sex, promiscuous dating, taste for indecent fashions, to name a few...
What does it take to homeschool? (patience, time, etc)

It takes a determination to do what we, as parents are called to do by God, are held responsible to do...teach and train our children - to "train them up in the way they should go, and they will not depart from it" and the Bible also says "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. .... Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."
I believe God wants us to saturate our children with the Word of God, and a scholastic education comes secondary - it's very important, but I would rather have a child who is a janitor that loves the Lord and serves Him all his days, than a rocket scientist who has not love for God...
So, in short, homeschooling takes a willing heart, an attitude of dependence on God for grace and the determination to do what is right for your child, regardless of the difficulties (homeschooling is not easy and many parents give up after a year of two, but the rewards for diligence are beyond measure)

(I forgot to mention to her that patience is not a pre-requisite, but that is comes as a by-product!)

How did you get started? (money, special degree, were there starter "kits" of some sort?)

 I just did not ever send my kids to school - started with a reading program and some math textbooks, pencils, paper and as we needed something, I'd research it and try to figure out what would fit my teaching style and the child's learning style and try it out. Somethings worked great, others we tossed...even now, after 18 years of homeschooling, I trying new things and no longer used some things that I thought were gold 10 years ago!
I did acquire an AA in general studies with an emphasis in music (took one course in teaching and decided right there that I was never going to be a teacher! Ha!). The only way that has helped me is that by Washington State law, if you have an AA you can test your children yourself, without supervision...that is a plus - but I wouldn't recommend going through the hassle of getting an AA just so you can test your kids - it wouldn't be worth it (I consider my college education as a phenomenal waste of time and money...I remember almost nothing and the environment, even at a Christian college, was not uplifting or encouraging to good morals!)

**I'd like to add that at times I have used full curriculum from Alpha Omega Publishing, both their life pacts work books and their fully computerized Switched On Schoolhouse, but these have not always worked well for my usually we are doing a little of this and a little of each child learns differently!

What differences do you see between homeschooling and public schooling?

The differences are vast, and noticeable with most kids almost immediately.
Children that attend traditional schools of any kids relate best to children their age, have difficulty engaging adults in conversation, have little or no work ethic, and usually show disrespect to their parents in public (in private even more, I suspect). They are controlled/entertained all day long and lose their creativity and imagination, to say nothing of losing the joy of learning. They come to believe the the world revolves around them and their needs and lose the ability to see other's needs and desire to help others. They also disdain to be seen with their parents, and doing things as a family once they reach junior high is considered of the lowest importance...they would rather spend time with their school friends than with their parents and siblings. Sibling rivalry is the norm, and teasing/tormenting younger siblings is a rite of passage. Granted, these are generalizations and there are a few wonderful kids out there who turn out to be wonderful young adults, but they are few and far between! 

Homeschool children in general, on the other hand, have a strong family bond, and spend most of their time with their siblings. They learn to interact with those younger than themselves, and those older than themselves. Most homeschool children that I know have close friends that are as much as 4 - 5 years older or younger than they are and see nothing wrong with this. Homeschool children, for the most part, are adapt at conversing with adults, have time to develop their unique talents and use them to bless their families. When a family home-schools, the children are usually involved with the day to day workings of a home, so they learn to WORK - washing dishes, sweeping, mopping, changing diapers...serving others. 

They learn the skills of keeping a home running, caring for little ones, serving older ones...and just plain having fun together! 

For many children, homeschooling allows them to learn at their own pace - and this means more thorough learning, and in most cases, faster learning....homeschooled children consistently out-score public and private school kids in tests across the nation and around the world (and it is consistently regardless of the parents education too).
Homeschooled children can also accomplish so much more than children in school - they can learn what an average student learns in 6 hours of typical school, in just a couple of hours and have the rest of the day to be creative or learn more faster! (Have you ever had to do your schoolwork from home due to illness and found that you could to the work of several days in just a few hours???) They can also devote that extra time to developing their talents or volunteering in the community or playing

***I'd like to add, that I realize that while I was making generalizations that might offend some, I am  speaking from my personal experience with home schooled children, and those who have been sent to public or private schools...there are exceptions of course...

She had said I could keep my answers short, 2 - 3 sentence answers...but I just can't do it...there's so much to much to share!  

I've been homeschooling for 18 years, and I have never been so sure that it is THE BEST education for EVERY child...I know that for many families this is not possible, and so many families are hurting or broken, but that doesn't change the fact that homeschooling a child is still the best possible education that child could ever get.  I know of single moms who homeschool their children, I know of families in the middle of separation who are homeschooling, I know of blended families who are homeschooling, I know of parents who never finished junior high who did/are doing a great job of homeschooling!  I even know of many families where an aunt or grandmother does the homeschooling!  I my hats off to the many foster parents I know who are homeschooling children that have been rightfully removed from their homes and placed into the foster home, and they are being homeschooled even then!  

If you don't homeschool your children, this might make you feel guilty, and I might be stepping on your toes...good.  I think every parent should at least consider making the SACRIFICE to teach keep their children home.  

Romans 12:1 - 2 : Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Yes, it is a takes time, it takes determination, it takes diligence, and it takes also takes keeping your children home - playing with their toys, making messes, doing their cleaning jobs like kids...but I'd rather work with my kids to keep our home running smoothly, than clean my house perfectly every day and have to clean up the messy attitudes and influences when they come home from school.

So, you put your kids in a Christian School....does that exempt you from the guilt of not homeschooling your children?  Well, think about this...are all the children in that school Christians?  Do your children pick up bad attitudes/disrespect from their peers?  Is there no peer pressure to date/do drugs/go drinking/swear/dress immodestly?  If you said that your child does not encounter those problems while going to a Christian school, you are in a dream world and you had better wake up.  I went to a Christian school, I know friends of mine who sent their kids to local Christian schools...and I've seen the change...I've heard the reports...drug abuse and social stress are more rampant there than in public school...sure their teachers are "Christians" and their curriculum is (or at least should be) based on Biblical truths...but children in school become peer dependent and children are not little Christians just because they go to a Christian school.

Ok, so you are about to send me "hate mail"  I know it's coming...I know I know I know...but it's what I believe, and I just want to shake you out or your comfort zone and consider that choices you have made and are making in regards to your children's education.  Is it really the best choice for your child, or is it the best choice for you?

Is it too late?  I don't think so, as long as your child is still school-aged, and you feel that God is calling you to homeschool your child, it's never too late to invest in the life of your child.  Will it be easy?  NO - taking your child out of school does not take the school out of your will take time and lots of patience...but it will be worth it all if you can redeem the years and restore a relationship with your child and know that you are doing what God is calling you to do.

On another note, I know personally some families who have homeschooled diligently for years and have run into the proverbial "wall" with a particular child and have chosen to send them to a tutor (we did this) or to a local school in order to get that child into an environment where they can get the help they need, or to preserve the parent/child relationship...but in both cases these were children who were adopted and they are dealing with things from their past that are beyond their control, and I tip my hat to those parents for making the hard decision to do what is best for that child, even when it tears their hearts 
out to send that child to school.

An lastly, home schooling does not guarantee success or compliant children.  Our children are blessings from the Lord and we are to do the best we can with what God has given us.  We all make mistakes too, and need to seek the Lord's forgiveness for bad choices, and ask our children for forgiveness when we have wronged them.  But God is the "owner" of our children - we are only loaned our children for a time, but we are responsible for  how we care for them.  Putting a band-aid of homeschooling on your family when you are not serving the Lord with your whole heart, not supporting your husband and living a life that centers around yourself, homeschooling will not "fix" the problems in your life and home.  Look inside, make sure you have your priorities right - God first, husband second (if you have one), children sure that church/work/friends are not in the top three!  Then when you are relying on God for wisdom, daily beseeching Him for guidance, and at the same time realizing that these children are His, you can do each day what He is calling you to do and leave results up to God...

Phil 1:6 - For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

OK, so I am done ranting...but you have to understand that this is my life...God first, supporting my husband second, and raising my children for the Lord is third...a very big third.   I would willing sacrifice everything to continue to homeschool my children.  I have been at it for over 18 years, and probably have 18 years to go...I have failed lots of times, but I have also been joyfully rewarded through the years.  At this time, all my children love the Lord, and have chosen to follow in our footsteps when the Lord blesses them with families.  I have good relationships with all my children, and praise the Lord for His blessings on our family.  I am still learning and growing and homeschooling my children has been a major way for God to grow and stretch me in ways I could not have imagined.  I often stop and praise the Lord for calling us to home school our children right from the start, as we were and are so unworthy of this calling.

May you be blessed by what I have shared today~

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Our New Learning Curve

Looking out over the years we have been a family, I can see how, at times, God has taken us by the hand and led us into times of great learning, and then times of living out what we have learned, and then due to our human/sinful nature we slide into "the easy life" and go with the flow, usually backwards/downwards.

Our biggest time of learning and growing in the past was just before and the first years after we moved onto this property.  We learned that our home was intended to be the center of our life, cultivating a love for God and His word, and learning to be frugal, depending less and less on materialism and worldly living.  We homeschooled in earnest, we learned to bake bread and can nearly everything, raise animals, care for chickens all year long (not as easy as it sounds) and enjoy the goodness of fresh eggs, eating a healthy, balanced diet, and read books and magazines almost constantly as we learned how to function as a family in a way that was pleasing to our Lord.

We began to see that our world has lost the vision for families - dating is recreational intimacy until you finally decide that is is time to get married, "shacking up" is the best way to find out if you are compatible for marriage, marriages are not meant to last a lifetime (dating has trained us that when the going get tough, you get out), children are an accessory while they are babies, and then an inconvenience once they are toddlers and not so cute anymore, and the sooner you can get them in preschool/daycare the better, men are useless so women need to take command of their homes (and if they are useless, why keep them around once they have served their purpose and given us our children), religion is something that is there when you need it - holidays and funerals, and our sole purpose here on earth is to live for ourselves ("you deserve a break today") and so much more.

We began to see that being a Christian was a relationship with God Almighty, and that out of  our love for Him we were to seek how best to live our lives in a manner that would please Him, bring glory to His name, and allow us to enjoy Him forever.  When we began to question everything the world had taught us, and went to the Bible and wise counselors/writers we found that, as most of Jesus' teaching, the way we had been taught to view our world was backwards!  It is not about us, it is about God and others. That the years God gives us before marriage are to be purposeful - serving God, learning the skills necessary to be godly husbands/wives and godly fathers/mothers!  That God is very involved in marriage, and that He will lead and guide us to the one He has designed as our perfect counterpart, and that we should never enter into a relationship without guidance and commitment to find out if the other person is that one that God has for us! Marriage is sacred - so sacred that God says it is a view of the relationship of the body of Christ to Christ Himself!  So sacred, that we are to remain pure, both physically and emotionally, so that when we enter the covenant of marriage we come with no baggage! That children are a blessing,that God never makes mistakes and that we should rest in His sovereignty as to the children He wants to place in our family, and that they are to be taught at home by their parents every day and in all activities - God holds parents accountable for their upbringing and if we delegate that to the schools, that does not remove our accountability.  That men have the God given responsibility to lead their family, to desciple their wives and children in the way of the Lord, to protect their sons and daughters from the evil in our world, and to train their sons to be great men of God, ready to make a difference in their world for Christ.  That women have been given the responsibility to raise their daughters (and other younger women) to be godly women who understand that their roles as a wife and mother are sacred and a high calling, to be taken very seriously, not as a part time job, but as a lifetime of service for their Lord.

Over the last 16 years, we have tried to follow what the Lord has taught us, but at times the busy-ness of a growing family can wear you down, especially if you are not in a network of other believers who have made similar commitments in their lives.  I went through a severe time of loneliness and discouragement for a couple of years, and then, seven years ago, we were led by the Lord to change churches, and we have been so blessed there.  We have sat under solid, Bible based, teaching, found in others examples of what we were hoping to have in our homes, new books to read that encouraged us in our walk with the Lord and so much more.  But, then our home business started, and it seemed to take over my life and that of our family.  We were being taught at church, but our family and personal growth was stagnating and we began to lose our focus and zeal.

Then the Lord blessed us with Esther, and our lives were pushed out of our comfort zone.  We, once again, had to remind ourselves what we believed about God, our family, our mission in life and find out what God wanted us to do.  I committed myself to daily time in God's word, and praying faithfully for my husband, my children and others.   It's taken a couple of years, but the Lord is once again holding our hands and leading us in paths of learning and growing, and it feels so good and inspiring!  It's exciting!

The past two years I have read so many books that have helped me to solidify my purpose in this life - to bring glory to God, to serve and support my husband (especially in prayer), to raise my children to glorify God and prepare them for lives that are transformed by grace, and to minister to younger women, encouraging them to serve the Lord in their homes.

Last weekend was like getting an energy drink and new glasses at the same time!  We went to the Christian Heritage Homeschool Conference for the first time, and oh, how I wish we had attended past ones, but God knew what we needed and when we needed it, and oh, how we needed this!  Here are some of the things I have taken home and am working to put into action in our home now:

Deuteronomy 6: 4 - 7 is the pattern for homes - teaching God's word at all times, in all circumstances, and it is done by the parents.  This is discipleship!  No where in the Bible does it talk about "education".  While being "educated" is important to be a functional part of our society, it is second to a working knowledge of God's word and a relationship with God the Father through the blood of Jesus Christ.  If we pack our children's heads with "knowledge" yet fail to bring them to the throne of grace, we have failed indeed.  All "education" should be saturated with the Word of God, in the context of a God who created this world for us, who loved us enough to make our world amazing and beautiful, that He created us with great minds that can be used to bring Him glory, or to serve the god of this world.  Knowledge without wisdom is folly.

Romans 12:2 teaches us not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed with the renewing of our minds - we are also told to take very thought captive, to think on things that are true, pure, lovely and the like.  It is so easy to let our thoughts be filled with what we have been taught in our childhood.  But we must think on what is true - compare every thought to God's word.  How has the world's philosophy, attitudes and beliefs crept into our thoughts.  Are we passing on false teachings?  Are we using the worlds methods of child rearing - behavior modification verses Godly instruction and rebuke.

Do we model a life of gratitude to God, do we handle the Word of God with reverence?  Going to God's Word in times of confusion and trials, or do we "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps"?

It was also shared at the conference that it does not matter what we bring to the table - God is more than able to use us as we are!  He just wants us to do what He has called us to do and He will equip us and His grace will "fill in the gaps"!  He has given us all that we have and we are just presenting it back to Him as an offering.  And in James God promises that if we lack wisdom, all we have to do is ask and He will give to us abundantly!  Without reproach (with God there are no "stupid questions!" - don't you love that!)!

So, what changes are we trying to make in our home, now that we have become aware of how much more we could be doing in our homes to bring glory to God?

We are putting the reading and memorizing of scripture first and foremost in our day.  We are going to be studying the lives of great Christians in history.  We are going to try to apply scripture to our lives day in and day out.  We are going to equip our children to think through the filter of God's word, not worldly knowledge.  We are placing our family worship as the most important thing that we do each day - studying proverbs and the shorter catechism.  We are reading Pilgrims Progress together as a family in the evenings instead of watching movies.  And every morning the first activity for everyone is reading God's word and taking time in prayer, individually and together after breakfast.

I am excited to see what God will be doing in our family in the years to come.  I am excited to see what God will be doing in my heart and through our home as well.  I pray that we will not lose our fervor, that we will continue to strive towards further growth in grace, and that we will continue to become Christ-like in our lives and that through us and other families like ours, many more will see God's great design for families.

For further information:
Kevin Swanson was the keynote speaker and has a weekly radio broadcast, he also has created curriculum based on great autobiographies of Christians throughout history, and study guides/devotionals on Proverbs, psalms and some new testament books! -
Christian Heritage was the sponsor of the conference, and you can purchase CD of past classes and soon you'll be able to purchase ones from this one, they also host regional picnics in the fall:

And I'd like to leave you with the hymn we sang at the end (well, others sang while I cried)

A Christian Home
O give us homes built firm upon the Saviour,
Where Christ is Head, and Counsellor and Guide;
Where ev'ry child is taught His love and favor
And gives his heart to Christ, the crucified:
How sweet to know that tho' his footsteps waver
His faithful Lord is walking by his side!

O give us homes with godly fathers, mothers,
Who always place their hope and trust in Him;
Whose tender patience turmoil never bothers,
Whose calm and courage trouble cannot dim;
A home where each finds joy in serving others,
And love still shines, tho' days be dark and grim.

O give us homes where Christ is Lord and Master,
The Bible read, the precious hymns still sung;
Where prayer comes first in peace or in disaster,
And praise is natural speech to ev'ry tongue;
Where mountains move before a faith that's vaster,
And Christ sufficient is for old and young.

O Lord, our God, our homes are Thine forever!
We trust to Thee their problems, toil, and care;
Their bonds of love no enemy can sever
If Thou art always Lord and Master there:
Be Thou the center of our least endeavor:
Be Thou our Guest, our hearts and homes to share

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pregnancy Loss and Fear - do they have to go hand in hand?

I have had so many women email or talk to me about their pregnancy loss since I posted about Johanna, and I would like to share with you some of my thoughts about dealing with the fear women face when they think about going through another pregnancy after pregnancy loss.

Many women who have experienced pregnancy loss, deal with fear - fear of future loss, fear of personal guilt, fear of death, fear of loss of health, fear of the hardships of pregnancy as they get older, and fear of birth defects (especially those, like Down Syndrome, that have been linked to advanced maternal age).  I'd like to address these fears, especially how it should be viewed as believers.

If you are a believer, then you should know the verses about worry.  I was just studying them in my quiet time this morning (I am doing a book study on "Loving God with All Your Mind" by Elizabeth George.  The Bible has much to say about worry, such as "do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself" (Matthew 6:25-34)and  "do not worry but with thanksgiving in your heart make your petition known to God" (Philippians 4:6)...etc and so many others - check this list out.  

When you struggle with fear, you need to remind you of what is true - "whatever is true....think on these things" is a command!  Remind yourself that God knows your tomorrow, He knows your strengths and your weaknesses.  He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Remember that God is the giver and taker of life - He numbers our days, and those of our children, before even one of them comes to be (Psalm 139:16).  

Remind yourself that God gives strength to the weak, and comfort to those who mourn.  He does all things well, and He never makes mistakes.

Remind yourself that if it is in His will for you to carry another eternal soul, whether or not that child is born healthy and full term, He will give you the strength for each day through the journey, I can guarantee it - if you are living in His strength and not trying to do it in your own strength.

I love this quote I recently heard - "Pregnancy is momentary, a soul is eternal" I heard recently (Doug Philips was quoting someone else, I believe).  What other things can we do in this life that has eternal value?  And remember to, what Paul said about affliction in II Corinthians 4:17 - "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison", and I will openly admit that pregnancy for me would often be put in the category of affliction.  

So many women are concerned about pregnancy in later child bearing years, that it is "risky", that the likelihood of having a child with birth defects increases with age.  Yes, the statistics show this, but you have to remember that God is not bound by our statistics...our stats only show us how God has acted in the past, but He is free to do whatever He pleases at any time.  If He chose, every baby born in America tomorrow could be born with Down Syndrome...He is that powerful.  

I have also heard of mothers who are concerned about their own life, should they become pregnant again.  I, myself, could face this if I were to get pregnant again.  But remember that God has numbered our days before we were born...nothing can take us out of this world "before our time".  We are to take good care of the gift of our life, not to do things to jeopardize our health, but does this apply to pregnancy?  I think not, because I believe that God is the giver and taker of life.  I would rather die carrying a precious soul for my Lord, than live one day longer fearing the "what ifs".  I could avoid pregnancy like the plague, and get hit by a drunk driver tomorrow.  My life is in God's hand, and I choose to trust Him with all that I am and all that I have.   I do believe we are to be good stewards of our health, eating right, getting exercise, taking nutritional supplements, avoiding things that can compromise our health, but even if we are having health issues, God is still sovereign!

What about how hard pregnancy can be, especially in later childbearing years.  But I ask you - should we avoid all things that are difficult/painful?  I put this into the category of a trial, and James says that we should "...count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."  I think this is a great scripture to claim when facing a potentially difficult pregnancy, or when you are in one.  Also, Paul says in Roman's 8:28 "all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a]have been called according to his purpose"  No matter the outcome, we must claim God's promises and apply them to pregnancy as well.  What better thing to bring us to our knees in weakness, claiming God's promises and living in His Strength.  God can and will use pregnancy in the lives of women to bring Him glory, and to bring about good in our lives.  

I know about difficulty carrying babies later in life - I have carried and birthed three babies since I turned 40 (I am 47 now), and when I could not go on, God's grace was always sufficient...I had to make many adjustments (and my family did too) and lower my expectations of what I could do each day, but it was so worth it, every time.  Do I ever fear getting pregnant again?  Yes, I am at times fearful, but I try to catch myself every time I begin to think about the "what ifs", and to dwell on what I know is true, and the fear vanishes.

One last thought about fear/worry in our lives - I have come to believe, that when we worry about the "what ifs", we are taking on tomorrow's problems.  God does not promise that His grace is sufficient for the "what ifs" - but He does promise in II Cor 2:9 that "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" and in Phil 4:13 "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" - He will give us the strength to do what He asks us to do, and the grace needed for each day.  When we worry about the "what ifs" we are facing potential trials on our own...and that breeds debilitating fear - I know, because I have done this, and I do not recommend it at all!  

I recently heard an amazing talk given by Doug Phillips (Vision Forum) and he suggested that it is possible that God uses miscarriage to populate heaven - also that it might be that in His mercy, He brings our little ones into the arms of Jesus before they see this world - they never have to suffer pain, sickness, fear, consequences of sin and all the other evils this world has to offer.  And having our unborn child precede us to heaven also makes heaven a sweeter place that we mothers will yearn for all the more for the hope of seeing our little ones there for the first time!

I realize that I may have stepped on many toes out there, and that what I have shared might offend some.  But I have learned so much through the difficult times that my loving Heavenly Father has brought me through - and many of those difficulties relate to pregnancies.  So many of the truths of scripture can be applied to pregnancy and pregnancy loss if we just meditate on it.  If your hackles were raised by what you read today, take some time and read through the passages I listed here and talk to God about your questions.  I have found in my life, that when something really gets my back up, I am usually either dealing with un-resolved guilt, or have been fighting against God in something He is trying to teach me.

I would also like to share with you, that when I meditate on the truths about God and His promises, fear seems to vanish...I have said before that where there is fear, there is no faith, and where there is faith there is no fear...they just don't go together.  

Philippians 4:6 - 7 pretty much sums this up - "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"

Let me leave you with this:

I found this at an Etsy Cart - and you'll find the full lyrics to this song:

And watch to this, but you'd better get a box of tissues first.
(and you might want to get her book I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy)

If the Lord asked you to carry a little one for Him, would you do it gladly?

I pray that the Lord will use my thoughts to draw you into the peace of resting in His promises for all the things in your life.

In Christ,