Sunday, December 12, 2010

It was perfect....

Perfection always eludes me. It eludes everyone. And yet some of us strive for it anyway. So yesterday I was trying to create perfection from chaos. Boxes, decorations everywhere, and an eight year old who wanted to be a part of the action. Then a message asking if we could host a group tonight. Oh no!!! But extra motivation to get it done. And I did, or almost - I was so close. In the meantime I found out the group was going to be canceled due to weather.

Let me back up a bit. Last week I asked Dave to bring up just one box of decorations so I could get started. Unfortunately, that box contained mostly tree stuff and I didn't have the tree. But it also had the candles I put in the windows, so I decided I'd get them ready, along with the wreaths and porch stuff from the garage. When I opened the box with the candles, I noticed I had two packs of unopened replacement bulbs, so apparently last year one blew out and I went ahead and got packs for this year. When I tried to screw the one I needed in, it didn't fit. Being the lazy bum that I am, I didn't want to make a special trip to get bulbs from a department store so I "settled" for something I found at the grocery store that wasn't exactly what I was looking for. What I actually got was much more expensive, but these bulbs were Tim Taylor approved, grunt, grunt, grunt. They were daylight bulbs, extra bright. Since I've had trouble w/ dim bulbs in the past, it seemed like a good idea to get them. They came in packs of two, so since I have six windows, I got three packs. I didn't want to buy extras because they cost so much, but I figured they'd last and I'd get my money's worth.

You can probably see where this is leading, but stick with me. Getting back to yesterday. The candles were all set in the windows, and Dave brought up the tree and other boxes. After all the chaos and sorting and rearranging, everything was perfect. There was just one thing I had to check. How did those extra bright bulbs look from the outside now that the tree was in place? Well, they looked fine, but I decided to reposition the ones in the front window to show off the tree a little more. They're held up by suction cups, and I made sure they were stuck on tight. After I got them in place, I went back outside to check and "voila" it was perfect.

About an hour later, we were eating dinner. I heard a noise. I thought maybe one of the candles dropped off the window, and sure enough, it had. Well, no problem, I'll just put it up again and hope it holds. WHAT???!!! I turn it on and pop goes the bulb. Perfection lost. Now I'm faced w/ a dilemma. Do I go get more expensive bulbs or do I go to the basement, dig through boxes, and get out old ones and have uneven light (if I can even access the basement ones at all). Right now, I don't care. I've had enough of perfection. I may end up doing neither.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Send Me, Lord

I feel like I could burst. I have a sense of urgency I've not experienced in a long time, if ever. Orphan Sunday is next week, and I'm coordinating it. Yesterday, a guest speaker from Compassion Int'l came to our church; he was a Compassion child that is now a pastor, and he spoke to us about the plight of the poor and the plentiful harvest of children. This past weekend, I talked w/ two moms who've adopted special needs children at an event for Katrina's school. Also, in my women's Bible Study we've been studying 2 Thes. 1:1-12 in which Paul encourages the believers to persevere in trial and prays for them to be worthy in light of the Lord's coming and wrath to come. In two weeks, we're having a Concert of Prayer for the persecuted church and orphans at our church.

Yesterday the speaker said that if every American Christian spent two weeks with the poor every year, hearts would change. Of course my first response is to want to pack up and go, but for now I know that's not realistic, although I hope there will come a day. In the meantime, I want to spend more time learning, praying, and assisting. I'm longing to be open to whatever opportunities the Lord presents.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Closure Day, Oct. 11, 2010

We arrived in Memphis just before midnight last night. So many memories just approaching the river. On our right, the first sight was the Kroger where we shopped for groceries. Every week St. Jude gave us $80 to spend! Next was the Applebee's where Dave and I went on a date when our friends the Throops offered to stay at Ronald McDonald House w/ Ethan and Samantha. Our only private time in about two months. Thank you friends! Next was the Walgreen's where I desperately waited a half hour while Samantha screamed w/ tiredness and an ear infection. I had to wait for insurance to kick in (or something). My very practical Katrina suggested I turn on a movie for Samantha since we had the player in the car. Whew. And finally, on the left, the Red Roof Inn where we stayed when our family exceeded four, the limit for accommodations at St. Jude.

Just on that short 1/4 mile stretch, the heaviness of it all touched me, as it always does, and maybe always will. There's so much sadness mixed w/ hope at St. Jude. It's an amazing place. You never know quite how to feel; sad for the situation, happy for the care you get, sad for those who've lost the battle, happy for those who've won, hopeful for those who are still fighting. A community of people - patients, caregivers, personnel; even though the travel is difficult for me I HAD to be here today. For so many reasons. There I go, I'm crying. It's just so emotional. But I need to hurry up and finish because I don't want to miss a single minute of this important day.

So anyway, after that little stretch, we crossed the bridge. Crossing the bridge is always when the first night seems so real. Feb. 17 '08 - actually it was early morning, 5 AM. Such a long drive to get there. Ethan was flown down and Dave, Samantha and I drove. That's a whole different story, an amazing one which Dave and I shared w/ Ethan as we traveled yesterday. But back to that first night and the memories it holds: where in the world are we? What's our son doing lying in a hospital bed 7 hours from home? This place we've heard of since childhood that Danny Thomas founded. That's where the really sick kids go. Our son HERE??!!!

And finally, after the bridge, as we approached St. Jude, there it was, Ronald McDonald House. Our home for two months. What a place. Today I plan to go there to see Ethan's handprint on the wall in person. I haven't been here since winter or spring of '09 if I'm remembering right. The travel's been too hard for me. But I made it! And I'm ready to do all I need today to say good-bye to this chapter of our lives.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Common Thread

It's been an interesting month. Ethan's almost done treatment for leukemia. I'm studying 1 Thessalonians and end times w/ my women's Bible study. I read MaryBeth Chapman's book Choosing to See. I've been making progress on getting my physical condition on track w/ a chiropractor and special exercises at my health club. I've also been asked to help out with our church's Orphan Awareness Sunday and our town's Adoption Conference. At the same time, I deal w/ daily struggles w/ Samantha. I've also had the opportunity to serve a Chinese international student from ISU and start a friendship w/ her. My beautiful fourteen year old going on twenty is enjoying high school and going on her first "parent-approved friendship date" to homecoming, although she's not been given permission to date yet. Yeah, I know, we're old timers. But so be it. We have our reasons.

The common thread - life is a gift, our bodies are important, and at the same time we're looking forward to a hope that will never end, when our bodies will be made completely whole. Heaven is real. Earth is temporary, but while God has us here we live with an eternal focus. A big part of that focus is bringing the nations to Himself and loving the hurting in our world. It's keeping ourselves pure and set apart from the world, while being connected to the world (I Thessalonians 4).

I'm of course thrilled that Ethan doesn't have to suffer anymore. I grieve for the Chapman's loss and their son Will Franklin's trauma. I long for my body to work the way it's supposed to, the way it was designed to work. Whether that will ever happen again in this life is a big question mark. My condition is chronic, but God can heal if He chooses. He can also glorify Himself through using it as a thorn in my flesh. Either way, I win. God won't give up on me, and I choose not to give up - to fight the affliction to the best of my ability and be available for God to use me any way I'm able. My biggest calling right now is to be a godly mother to my daughters. One a birth child, one adopted. Both with unique needs. Beyond that, I can serve others in and outside the church as God leads.

Check out this link:

Beauty Will Rise

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Two extremes

Imagine one child who's life is like this:

She's a baby in an orphanage crib. She rarely if ever gets held. It's cold, and she's wrapped in shabby blankets for warmth. Her bottle is shared by other babies, so she has to drink as much as possible before the nannies take it away. There are only two or maybe three designated times during the day for her diaper to get changed. The rest of the time she lies in soiled clothing. If she gets sick, the nannies give her less attention rather than more. Their goal is to keep the strong ones "healthy." If she gets to the point of being critically ill (an ICU patient by our standards), she gets sent to the hospital where she gets substandard care. Again, she's the last in line for attention.

When she reaches toddler age, she has to sit tied to a chair during the day so she can be controlled. She gets a little cereal, two small bowls of rice, and a couple drinks each day. She's required to sit on the potty at designated times. She mainly stares into space for lack of anything else to do, but once in a while extra treats or toys may come her way from donations outside the orphanage. She lives for those rare moments. Once a day she gets let out into the concrete courtyard to run around with the other children. If it's cold, she has to endure the elements. **

Imagine another child who's life is like this:

He's an adolescent living the American dream - nice house, good family, plenty of food, lots of friends, a great school, and tons of social activities. His house is filled w/ books, TV's, video games, computers etc.

He gets sick. His doctor orders tests and sends him to a specialist. More tests are ordered. He gets a call that something might be really wrong, and he should come in for another test, but in the meantime gets critically ill and goes to the ER. He's rushed into a room, immediately given medicine to eliminate his pain, and goes through a series of expensive tests throughout the day. His diagnosis is serious. He gets sent to the best medical facility in the country for treating it. When he comes home as an outpatient, an emergency occurs. His family calls an ambulance, which is there within two minutes. At least six medics enter his home, get him on the stretcher and rushed to the hospital. Every conceivable medication is at his disposal. The long term goal is to restore him to full health, no matter how long it takes. And he's just an average, middle class kid.

My youngest child was spared from at least some of the first scenario when we adopted her. My oldest child experienced all of the second, and is soon to complete his treatment after two and a half years. Obviously, I've been struck by how different a child's experience can be based on their country and its laws, economy, history, and position in the world. Knowing that God is sovereign over all, it's hard to process why the situation is as it is in the 21st century.

Being that as it may, my personal response needs to be one of listening to God's heart. What can I do about the orphan crisis? I'm only one person. Yes, I've adopted one child, but that doesn't "get me off the hook" for continuing to ask that question. Yes, we support a World Vision child and send Christmas presents overseas every year via Samaritan's Purse. But am I done? I think not. Most of my personal resources are exhausted because my youngest child is very difficult to raise and my own health is failing. But I still feel I need to listen. I can still become more educated. I can still pray. There may be other things that God has for me as well, and I want to be ready.

The answer can't be the same for all of us. God doesn't call us all to adopt. He doesn't call us all to give of our money. He doesn't call us all to donate our time on a missions trip. But we do all need to listen and not miss His answer.

**Silent Tears, Kay Bratt, 2008

Friday, August 27, 2010

New therapy

I've improved overall healthwise and have been able to handle more things in daily life. However, I still have chronic SI joint pain in my left lower back along with leg stiffness, mostly in the knee. My right side is perfect. This September will be two years since this condition developed.

My journey has led me to try a manual chiropractor that uses several methods of therapy, including moving my position on a table like the one pictured here. The doctor's goal is to minimize my pain level; he doesn't think my condition is reversible but is treatable. From all the previous therapy I've had, it seems to be a combination of several things - chiro adjusting, specialized massage, and physical therapy. Since I've just started I don't know how long I'll continue. It's certainly not hurting me (except my wallet). I was hoping to start walking more regularly and increase my distance, but the doctor told me to keep it to a half hour or less.

I'm making progress, but wish it could be more permanent. I'll have a discussion w/ my primary doctor about it later this month. Insurance will pay for another injection but since that didn't do much for me the first time I'm not sure I want to try it again. It put me out of commission for about three weeks.

Monday, July 26, 2010


My husband and I watched Avatar on our "small screen" TV but I was still very impressed with the excellent cinematography. It must have been awesome in the theater.

I would promote this movie based on its excellent portrayal of FALSE RELIGION. What??? Yes, I think it accurately depicts the opposite of what is true - it includes worship of created things, ancestors, and even demonic influences that masquerade as light. One scene in particular shows a possessed being.

In addition, it shows how false religion has the elements of true religion. Creation is indeed a unified "force" for lack of a better word. Genesis 1 makes that clear, as well as Revelation which shows what the restored earth will be like. There is indeed "energy" but in true religion that perceived energy is the one true God's love, power, and divine attributes that can be clearly seen by anyone who opens themselves to understanding (Romans 1, "God's invisible qualities can be clearly seen by everyone, no one has an excuse." The "energy" also includes the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to those who embrace Christ as their only hope of salvation.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thoughts on Prayer

I've been reading Paul Miller's A Praying Life. We've been going over it in a Sunday School class at church as well.

It's an excellent book, but so far has not completely answered a question I've struggled with for years. I recognize that prayer is a way God works in our lives and that waiting for answers is one of His means of sanctification in us. But too often I'm left feeling like there's got to be more, a lot more, to be experienced. Although viewing prayer in that light definitely helps us accept God's timing and sovereign control over every detail, it still leaves me feeling like something's missing. It's not that I don't want to trust God with every detail of my life, or even enter into others' lives with fervency in the same way the Apostle Paul did; that's not the point. It's just that I think prayer also involves connecting with the heart of God, entering into the Holy of Holies, and falling down like Isaiah in our weakness. It's seeing how big God is and how small we are.

Another way to describe and possibly expand this idea is to see prayer as a never ending fountain from which we experience God the Father and our Savior Jesus Christ on many levels - in our personal lives, in community with other believers, and in conjunction with God's kingdom purposes. It goes beyond what happens to us as we see the awesomeness of God; as with Isaiah, it links us to how God wants to use us as instruments to extend His grace. Isaiah ended up saying "Lord, send me." Prayer not only works its sanctification within us as we wait upon God's timing, prayer also compels us, motivates us, energizes us for what God wants to do through us.

Miller hints at this in different ways in his book but doesn't tackle it completely, or else I wasn't perceptive enough to grasp it in what he said. In any case, I'm fairly confident he would wholeheartedly agree. If I have my facts right, I believe he helped his father Jack run World Harvest Mission before entering into other areas of ministry. I think his book is the best I've read so far on prayer, so I'm not in any way disappointed with what I've learned from it. It's just that it doesn't go quite far enough (unless I missed it). What it DOES do that is especially helpful to me is link prayer with the Word of God. Miller says that in prayer we are putting the Word to work. I really like this idea. We need to be intentional in praying very specifically for needs, using God's Word as our foundation. I've done this on various occasions but have not (yet) made it a regular habit in my life. My normal pattern is to pray for a need with vague notions of how God's Word relates rather than using specific verses or passages.

Our best reference for how to pray is Jesus. We pray like Him, we pray along with Him, we pray To Him, and ultimately we recognize He is praying through us as He intercedes to the Father for us. Like Jesus, we draw into the Father's presence and submit our wills totally to the Father. We pray for our daily bread, for the Kingdom to come, for evil to be restrained. We cry out to Him when we are in a tough spot, knowing He's been there too. As Miller points out, we bring our burdens to Him and lay them at the cross. We leave them there and trust that what He did for us on the cross is our basis for hope. He conquered death and sin and it will never have the upper hand. And when we're struggling to pray due to unbelief, grief, or pain, we can simply rest in knowing He's there and interceding on our behalf. We don't have to have a big guilt trip over not praying; if we do, Satan's getting what He wants. Rather we can relax and wait for the difficult season to pass.

Like Jacob, sometimes we wrestle in prayer. We say "God, where are you?" or "God, why does it have to be this way?" This does not threaten God. In fact, it pleases Him for us to seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 says "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." When we wrestle, we're seeking. We cannot do that if we deny His existence. We know He's there. We know we're not connecting with Him the way we'd like to. There's a disconnect between what we know and what we experience. We're acknowledging our lack of abiding in Christ - our ultimate call as believers. God may break our hip in the process and make us weak so we continue to depend on Him and have a reference point to go back to when our old nature manifests itself, but He is faithful to bless us in the end. Like Jacob, He renames us, remakes us, and motivates us to pursue Him and His kingdom purposes.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Samantha's Sensory Processing Condition

What exactly is sensory processing dysfunction? The easiest way to understand it is by seeing it as a condition that’s been ranked by specialists at the bottom of the autism scale. We all know what autism is – the inability of individuals to interact with their outside worlds. In some cases, an autistic person is totally mute but can communicate in other forms. Autism also prevents individuals from appropriately processing all the things that bombard them on a daily basis.

If you think about it, there are a multitude of things that create noise in our modern lives. We take them for granted because we’ve learned to adapt to them over time. Right now as I type this I’m only consciously aware of the noise of the keyboard because I’m thinking about it. Up to this point I didn’t hear it. At the same time, there’s a hum from an appliance, birds chirping outside, and pages flipping as Samantha looks at her book. In actuality what I can do as I write is block out all those noises and focus just on the words I’m recording here.

This is a fairly quiet morning. Add to that the noise of the day as it gets going and you get the picture. Not only audible noise is an issue. What we see with our eyes is another thing that comes into play. Right now I’m focusing on the things within my peripheral vision in this room. A moment ago I didn’t “see” them at all. The other sensory things that we all easily identify are what we smell, what we feel or touch, and what we taste. There’s also a “sixth sense” that affects people that I’ve learned about as I’ve researched this topic. That is our sense of balance and position in space.

A person with sensory processing dysfunction can exhibit problems with any or all of these inputs from their environment but still function at a fairly normal level in everyday life. In our case with Samantha, she has issues with all, and functions well as long as she’s not overly stimulated. When she gets overly stimulated, she reacts in the extreme, by crying or becoming hyperactive. She has great difficulty in controlling her emotions and is unable to express what’s bothering her. Lots of times I just “know” because I’ve observed her for so long. When she was a baby, she hated sitting on the floor because of vibrations from appliances (it took me a long time to figure that out). She also reacted very strongly in cold and windy weather. Now I know that on a windy day she’ll get agitated and I’ll try to help her deal with it without needing her to tell me. But in other cases, I’ll know something’s wrong but can’t get her to talk; because she’s already agitated she’s unable to verbalize the problem. She resorts to baby babbling and fussing, sometimes even panicking. She has some gaps in language anyway which might not be related to sensory processing, but that’s a whole different story.

All of the specific ways sensory processing dysfunction affects Samantha are too many to list here. Suffice it to say that all of life is a challenge for her. Nothing comes easily or automatically. Most children learn to process inputs and then “pick up” on things without much extra effort, like speaking and running around in their back yard free of fear. Believe it or not, Samantha gets freaked out by moving clouds in the sky. She wants to hold my hand when we cross a bridge, fearing that it will not hold her up. I could go on and on, with feeding issues, clothing, and schooling. Even playing is a challenge – in fact there’s a book on sensory processing dysfunction titled “The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun” listing specific ways to “teach” your child to play.

I have struggled a lot with raising Samantha but now am used to it and feel fairly confident in my ability to deal with situations as they arise. That doesn’t make it easy, but it’s less stressful for two reasons: I understand what’s going on and can deal with it appropriately, and I don’t worry as much about how she’ll be able to function in life in the future. If she needs medicine to keep her anxiety under control, then we’ll go that route. For now, we’re working on desensitizing her and seeing how much she can outgrow on her own.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Top Ten

I'm doing a 30 day devotional from the book Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Today I'm writing a list of my top ten spiritual blessings. Nancy says, "Since a whole lifetime isn't enough to say thanks for these blessings, the next time your mind is troubled by sad or worrisome thoughts, pull out your top ten and consciously transfer your focus from whatever is weighing you down, and start giving thanks for the things on your list." Excellent suggestion.

My top ten I wrote in my journal:

1. Salvation
2. Beautiful world to enjoy (take a minute to watch my slideshow!*)
3. God's promises
4. God's protection
5. Family - immediate and extended
6. God's personal leading in my life, Psalm 139:16 "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

Normal, Illinois: Christ Church, campus ministry opportunities, Peoria clinic, wind energy, home-school community and great Christian schools

7. Health and medicine
8. Missions/ missionaries
9. Books - number #1 being the Bible and then all the rest
10. Friendships and Community

* slideshow on This is the Day if you're reading the automatic feed into Facebook Notes

Monday, April 26, 2010


Now why would I address this topic? I home-schooled for ten years and then stopped. I have one child who has never been officially home-schooled and probably won't be, unless God makes it clear that she should be.

Here's why it's on my mind. For one, I just spent a longer night than usual doing homework with Samantha, so it felt like home-schooling. Second, I took Samantha this afternoon to a rehearsal for a ballet performance she's going to do later this week for our church home-school group's end of the year show. Her teacher happens to be a teenage home-schooler and is having the class perform as her contribution to the show. Also, this morning when I volunteered at my other daughter Katrina's school, I was inspired by the lesson the librarian taught to the 5th graders, reminding me of how fun it is to teach, especially about the Lord and things we're passionate about. (She shared some stories from the Jesus Film Project.)

I still have most of my home-school materials and plan to reference them over the years as I give extra help to Samantha at home. I guess the main thing I want to convey is the conviction I've held all along, that parents are primarily responsible for their children's education, whether they do it themselves or oversee others doing it. There's a new policy at Katrina's school that I really like. They require students to bring home all their tests to get signed. In Samantha's case,instead of grades, she gets up to three stars on her work. When she only gets two stars, her work gets sent home for me to correct with her. I feel that not only are both of the schools doing a great job spiritually and academically, but they are involving the parents and value their input.

Last week, we were able to attend Katrina's science fair and see all the great projects done by the 8th graders. Tomorrow night, we have another fair at Samantha's school to see the posters they did for earth day along w/ other projects by older students. There's no way all these projects could get done w/o help from the parents, although the kids do the bulk of the work.

All this to say that even though I'm not officially home-schooling anymore, I'm still schooling. You may be wondering why I haven't mentioned anything about Bryan since he's still in school as well, and a public one at that. Well, it's true that we don't have as much involvement there; I think we would be more actively involved if other circumstances in our lives were different. But we still give him input as needed and are basically pleased with how things have worked out for him. The fortunate thing is that he makes it a priority to get spiritual input from many other sources - friends, two churches, youth group, and several Bible studies a week. He also packs up his stuff often and heads out to have his quiet time at coffee shops.

Home-schooling is wonderful and has many many advantages. I totally support anyone who continues to do it. At the same time I want to advocate that it's not the only way to effectively educate your children and teach them to follow Christ. Of course the choices we've made require additional finances, and God has made that possible for us, for which I'm thankful. Poor Samantha would be up a creek if she didn't have a classroom setting to motivate her to learn. Katrina would feel marginalized because of my own illness and having to be on call with Ethan. Not to mention that I'm a total failure when it comes to science; the experiments I had my kids do almost always flopped.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


The last four days I've come to realize how much progress I've made physically because I'm back to square one on pain. My leg has been incredibly stiff w/ a lot of stinging. I've also had the weird buzzing thing in my knee. My lower back is aching a lot, mostly on the left side.

So why is this happening now? Probably a combination of all of the following:

- my trip to Chicago last Monday
- cutting back on one medicine
- exerting myself because I thought I was well enough to do so (did some extra arranging in our house because of getting new furniture, entertained, did extra cooking for church events)
- less frequent chiropractor visits

I really forgot how bad it was in the beginning. I haven't gotten quite that bad; at least I don't have electrical impulses going up and down both legs, like tiny mice running up and down, to quote a friend. That's what landed me in the ER in September '08. I was trying to eat dinner and my "good" leg went all haywire - it wasn't physically jerking but felt like it was.

I called the chiropractor yesterday to see if I could get in early but he was booked. So I'm just going to take it easy till I can see him tomorrow. I'm also going to go back on the full dose of medicine I wanted to eventually totally cut out (it interacts w/ another med I wanted to go on for another problem).

I'm also trying to decide what to do about my garage sale, which was going to be my focus this week and next.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Update on Chiropractor Appointment

I have decided to continue w/ chiro treatment under Dr. Bly for another 12 weeks, once a week. He reviewed several things with me today - my exrays from last week and all my neuro testing. From the exrays I saw that my neck is almost 100% better and my mid and lower back have both improved but still need a little ongoing correction. One of the things he offered to do was manual adjustment to my hips along w/ the pro adjuster machine. This seemed to be the "answer" I needed when I was considering trying a different chiropractor. I didn't mention anything to him about manual vs. machine; he just offered based on the progress I was making. He actually went ahead w/ an adjustment including the manual today, and I was pleased w/ the method he used, similar to my physical therapy. Time will tell if I experience extra relief, I'm hoping so!

The neuro testing showed that I had moved from 9 positive tests for disc and nerve pressure to only 2, and moved from 10 areas of hypo-mobility to 3.

I have also been experimenting w/ inserts in my shoes for arch support and am finding some things that are working. I had seen a podiatrist and am using one that he recommended, along w/ a couple different kinds that work better in other shoes. I now know that if I relieve pressure off the heel of my foot it puts me in the proper stance to move freely w/ minimal pain.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Christmas books

I'm currently working on the following four books, all of which I received for Christmas. I keep one in my car and read while waiting for Samantha's school to let out or take it with me to appointments. I use one as a devotional, one as my fiction novel, and the other for extra moments.

Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss This book is amazing!!!! It will definitely be one that I long remember and keep on my top list of life-changing books. No matter what happens to us in life, we can always find proportionately more to be thankful for as believers. Life itself, spiritual blessings and a promised future in heaven, and on and on. Even bad health is something to give thanks for because it helps us see our weakness and dependency on Christ. I highly recommend this book!!!

Falling in Love with Jesus by Dee Brestin and Kathy Tracolli
This book grew on me the longer I read it. The highlight of the book is taking a look at Mary and Martha of Bethany. They were definitely 100 percent in love with their Lord; Jesus showed His love for them in such unique ways. I would highly recommend this book for singles. It's also a good read for married women, to remember who our first love should be.

All the Tea in China by Jane Orcutt I have just started this one, and so far, so good. I'm looking forward to seeing how this young British Victorian woman gets used by God in her dream to serve God in China. Her gender limits her from being a foreign missionary unless she's married, but she finds a way.

Stories Behind Women of Extraordinary Faith by Ace Collins
This is a compilation of great women including Harriet Tubman, Mother Teresa, Lottie Moon, and Fanny Crosby. I had asked Dave for missionary biographies for Christmas and this was what he found. I'm learning a lot about these women but reading it through a critical lens because the author emphasizes more of human accomplishment than God's work. It's wonderful to learn the details about the subject's lives, however, and Ace is a wonderful writer. I think he falls into the trap of overtelling their accomplishments because he's so gifted. He also exalts the role of women, coming from more of a "liberated" viewpoint. I recommend this book for a light read.

Monday, March 22, 2010

This is the day

I'm changing the title of my blog and adding a few extra features. I hope to write about my life in general, what I'm learning through different experiences. "This is the day the Lord has made" has always been a favorite Bible verse, and the more I journey through life, the more I see its simplicity and truth.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I have to write!

Sometimes I write out of boredom or sometimes out of rambling thoughts I need to get out, but today a Bible verse compelled me to write. I was doing my study for my women's group at church and this verse popped out at me: Deuteronomy 4:9 "Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them."

As I read this verse, memories flooded back to me. Here are the things I want to remember and thank God for all my days here on earth.

1. When God called me to be a servant. I was a junior or senior in high school, and because of where we moved to, my father got asked to preach at a small country church up the road. I continued attending another church that had a great youth group. The small country church lost its organist, and my parents didn't pressure me to fill the position, but God convicted me one Sunday morning through a sermon that I should offer to do so. I didn't want to leave going to my church on Sundays and seeing my friends, but knew it was what God wanted me to do.

2. When God called me to leave my comfortable life at a Christian college and go to a secular one, knowing I needed more experience in the outside world. At the Christian school, I served the Lord through my music. I sang in a special touring group, along with the main choral group on campus and another smaller choral group. One thing that troubled me about the touring group was that although we were ministering to people in our concerts, we had no real life connection with them. We'd do our concert and move on. I wanted to "move on" in my Christian walk and have more interaction with people in ministry. At Temple, God provided that outlet for me through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. First, I could interact w/ the small group I led and help them discover truth. Second, I could interact w/ unbelievers in a couple different ways: ones I met in class, ones that visited our IV group, and finally ones that came to a special study I led for those interested in studying the Bible.

3. When God called me to international student ministry. I literally laid awake late at nights for about a week when God called me to serve him through teaching ESL. I don't ever recall being so excited about anything, feeling so alive and so connected to God before that time. This was HUGE for me. I finally "found it" so to speak, the thing I could do professionally that would have major spiritual implications. I worked on my degree and partway through started teaching full-time. I was able to share the gospel through tutoring one on one for school requirements, teaching about religious holidays at my job, and sharing w/ students who lived with us through the hosting program.

4. When I was sure God had provided for Dave with the job at ISU. This is more his personal story, and it's a wonderful one. I'll just briefly say that he got many rejection letters and only one interview, but I told him "it only takes one" and when he visited campus he knew he was going to get the job here. This was a fulfillment of a dream for both of us, to be on campus and have an impact in the lives of students, just as we both had been blessed during our college years. Dave came to Christ during that time and I grew into a real disciple. Just recently, a Chinese student approached Dave and said, "is there a Bible study I can attend?" The Bible study he led for several years prior to this started the same way, with one student, and then it died out. God may be reviving it.

5. When God called me to home school. Okay, true confessions here. I want you to see the reality of my heart. My goal before was to have my kids as close together as possible, "get through" the younger years, and get them out of the house so I could have my freedom again. Ha! Freedom was my idol. God has "freed" me from my idol of freedom! As you know, I'm a teacher, so the teaching part wasn't what worried me. Being that I've struggled w/ impatience w/ my kids, I couldn't see how I would be able to survive with them home all day. Quite the opposite happened when I home schooled. They started getting along really well with each other and I enjoyed watching them learn and being a part of that. I especially enjoyed watching them start to develop their creativity, in writing, music, and film-making. I cherish those years and love my kids all the more because of them.

6. When God called us to adopt. This had been a desire from our early married days, but never really developed into anything substantial until God touched my heart one Sunday through a pro life sermon. The rest is history. Samantha has been extremely difficult to raise, and has tried everything apart from physical violence, but she is an amazing kid. I love her with all my heart, not just because I know she's mine, but because she truly has an incredible character that I'm trusting will be used mightily by God.

7. Ethan's leukemia. The most stretching experience of our lives!!!!! And the thing God has used to teach me the value of life. Not just living, but every little mundane thing in this life. For example, being able to cook a meal in my own kitchen. Ronald McDonald House is a wonderful place, but it's not home. I also learned through the crisis points in his treatment to let go. He's not mine, he's God's. Nothing can happen to him that will threaten his future, which is ultimately to be with His Lord in heaven. When he was four, he came to Christ after asking me questions about heaven. I have no cause to fear because his future is secure.

8. My chronic leg problem, which is what this blog is mostly focused on. God has taught me to take nothing for granted, NOTHING!!!! When I first started seeing a physical therapist, I was supposed to limit trips on stairs, not push a grocery cart, not carry laundry, not twist when putting a wet load of clothes into the dryer, not bend over for any reason, not to mention that it hurt incredibly to walk and stand. I haven't been able to travel comfortably. Every day I feel symptomatic when I drive to my girls' schools. It goes on and on. So while Ethan's leukemia taught me to appreciate every little thing, my leg problem has been teaching me not to assume I can always have certain things. It's been quite a hard pill to swallow. But God has been faithful in opening up new opportunities for me, one of which is this blog. I told someone recently that "this is my writing season." I am a writer at heart, always have been, from when I kept a diary through getting my degree in journalism. So it's been wonderful to be able to get back into it.

Well, that's all for this post. I got it out, what I needed to say. As the verse says, my eyes have seen many things, and God has given me much through them all.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On the other leg...

Okay, now you're gonna see the real Nita, the human flesh Nita, and then I'll get back to being the adult w/ perspective.

So I tell my chiropractor, now I have a slight ache in my RIGHT knee (my good leg). He says that can't be related to the treatment we're giving you. C'mon. Get real. I haven't had any trouble whatsoever w/ aches and pains in that leg but now I do? True, I had those weird electrical sensations in that leg at the beginning so it's not like it's been normal all along, but this is definitely something new. And c'mon, you told me before that my symptoms are all throughout my spine because when it started in the lower regions I became like the "leaning Tower of Piza" and had problems in other areas as well. BUT!!!...I can't have symptoms in my other leg as a result of messing around w/ my spine? You're not being consistent.


Okay, now the rational adult Nita. I actually like my chiropractor and believe his method is a good one. The question is, is it a good one for me? We shall see. I've got 6 more weeks of 2 times a week. The charts are saying I'm improving, my symptoms are still fluctuating but I'm functioning fairly well, so I'm not really any worse off even w/ the knee which only aches when I first wake up.

I would appreciate prayer for a neuro appt this Friday. I may try to change some medications, due to various reasons I won't go into here. This will get me even more confused, but I only see her every two months and need to make some decisions now.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Today the chiropractor did an extra exam, and some things have definitely improved from what he tested. However, my main two pain areas, my leg and my left lower back, are still giving me trouble on an ongoing basis, enough that I still have to rest a lot, wear shoes all day, and not do any heavy work. I have decided not to wear the belt and the heel lift in my shoe for now in case they might hinder the corrections from working properly, and I've also cut back on one medication.

I'm also still working on getting help from insurance. I'm wavering about whether to complete this course of action knowing there are other options; the only ones I'm considering would require traveling almost an hour. So I think I'm going to keep plodding ahead; it's frustrating because the charts show improvement (from the adjuster machine) as well as range of motion and pain tests I had today, but I'm still not getting significant relief. That makes me want to tough it out since the doctors keep saying it's going to take awhile. Of course, that what's PT said as well, which was why I decided to try chiropractic. I'm tired of having to "endure" a little longer in the hopes of actually finding healing.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Is it working?

Today I have a lot of time to write since I'm in clinic w/ Ethan. So I'll give an update on my chiropractic appointments.

I've been seeing the chiropractor for three weeks. The first week I went every day. The second and third weeks I've gone 3x a week.

The very first adjustment I had, I felt sure it was going to help my leg. Sort of hard to describe, but when I was doing physical therapy, I was told that my groin would start popping when things started repositioning. That happened to my right leg, but not my left, the one that hurts. The morning after my first adjustment, I got out of bed and POP went my left leg. Also, that first week, a couple times when I got adjusted in my back, I could feel sensations going right down into my leg where it hurts. These two things made me think that the adjustments were indeed hitting the affected area.

Since then, I haven't had total improvement, but I'm not getting any worse and some things are definitely getting better (my neck and lower back). My leg still feels off, and the chiropractor said that would be the last thing to get relief. I don't know if he just said that b/c he wanted to reassure me, or if it's really based on evidence. Anyway, it seems to make sense, but at the same time, it's discouraging to me to hear all the stories of people who've tried chiro care and haven't gotten help. So I'll just keep plugging away, hoping insurance kicks in at some point so I don't have to pay all out of pocket, and go the full course - 4 more wks of 3x a wk, then 6 wks of 2x a week. The doctor said we're fixing a leaky roof rather than just patching it, which would have been my other alternative w/ less adjustments.

My adjustments feel good. They use a machine called the pro-adjuster. If you want to see it, just look it up on WebMd, there's a video. The thing I like about it is that it measures how much adjustment my body needs, signals when I've had as much as I can handle for the day, and graphs my progress overall. I get a sort of pressure/vibration applied to my spine at my neck, my middle back, my lower back, both sides of my sacrum, my outer hip, and then down my bad leg. It takes about 3-5 minutes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fallenness vs. Health

Knowing that our bodies are aging, and that this is God's signal to us that something isn't right with the world and that we are ultimately to hope for heaven, how much time, energy, and money should we put into our health? Should I be paying out of pocket to get my body healthy when insurance isn't covering the cost, should I be spending my time in doctor's offices, etc.? Should my ultimate goal be to get healthy?

Well, yes and no. I think you probably see where this is leading. There are extremes to everything. My worldview tells me that right now I should be more concerned about the suffering and dying in Haiti than my leg pain. I should be praying for others' salvation and for revival rather than reading through pages and pages of WebMD. You get my point. At least if you're a Bible believer, you do. If you are of another persuasion, you may be clueless or reject what I'm saying. Let me speak to you for a minute - fallenness simply means that man and the world is in a state of suffering due to Adam and Eve's original sin. Yes, I actually believe that.

Our society puts a huge priority on personal health. This may shock you, but I've even wondered if Danny Thomas's philosophy was right, that no child should have to die in the prime of life. Millions and millions of dollars go to St. Jude. You know how thankful I am for that. But in the big scheme of things, even though I'm thankful that God has saved Ethan through this means, what are the implications? All the charitable giving that goes to St. Jude COULD potentially go to save other dying children across the world. What do we do about that? It could go to support people who are giving their resources to reach out to the lost, in the 1040 window or wherever. Then again, maybe God has a plan for at least some of those St. Jude kids and they're going to be the ones He'll use to give of their resources to advance His kingdom in the future. Wouldn't that be awesome?

Well, I need to run (to a chiropractic appointment, haha). So far, that's going fine but it's still too early to tell if it's really going to fix my leg, which is my goal. And so far I haven't gotten approval from my insurance but I'm forging ahead.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Chiropracter visits

Hi, as you may recall I had a neck MRI to see if there was some reason my arm/hand EMG was indicating a pinched nerve higher up. That came back normal. I concluded from that that the next best step would be pursuing chiropractic help, since I don't want to settle for medications to manage my pain rather than fixing whatever's wrong if possible. Since months of PT haven't resolved things, I've felt I need to take this step, being pretty sure my spine is somehow creating at least some of my symptoms, if not all. Interestingly enough, the last week or so I've started experiencing neck pain along w/ the thumb pain and aching in my arm I started having a couple months ago. The symptoms just seem to be moving up higher and higher.

One of the things that has held me back from seeing a chiropracter is not knowing if insurance would cover it. I found out that my company will cover certain parts of it, but I still need to get my primary physician to send a referral. I couldn't get in to see her till next week, but since the initial consultation w/ the chiropracter is free and ex-rays aren't covered by my insurance, I went ahead and got the ball rolling this week.

My consultation and exam were on Wed., and I went back today to go over the ex-rays. At my first exam, I watched a video, then they sent home another video, then showed me a third one today. So I'm now educated in the basic approach, which views your nervous system as the basic key to good health. Since I've known from the beginning that something was askew with my nervous system, it seems to fit w/ my needs.

Seeing my ex-rays gave me a clearer picture of what's wrong. The lower third of my spine curves to the side. My neck has a couple problem areas as well. My spine is in Phase II of degeneration (out of IV). The doctor estimates this started 3-5 years ago. I told Ethan it's not Memphis that did it to me after all - of course it didn't help and may have brought it on quicker than it would have otherwise.

The chiropracter gave me a couple options - getting enough treatment to relieve symptoms but not really fix the problem, or more frequent and focused care in hopes of restoring long term spinal health. He compared it to patching a leaky roof or getting a new one. Obviously the sensible thing is to get a new one, so I'm going to go that route even if it costs me more. My body will tell me if it's doing the job after I get into it. I've gotten to know my body so well and am always aware of my level of pain, twitching etc. If I find it's not doing anything or making me worse, I'll have to figure out what the next step is.

The adjustments will be done by a pro-adjuster machine vs. manual manipulation. This seems very safe and intriguing since it was originally used by NASA, at least that's what the informercial style / propoganda video claims. Yes, I'm joking but there's always that element to everything, isn't there? No one thing can fix everything. But skepticism aside, I feel positive about my options right now.