Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wedding Day

In the snowy little community of Snover, Michigan, I was getting ready to be married 37 years ago today.  Paul and I each had our last minute responsibilities, but we were also keeping an eye on the weather.  There was snow in the forecast and howling winds that sent the temperature into the single digits.  We were concerned for our guests.  Inside the little country church, the ladies cooking for our reception had arrived, and I was getting dressed in my wedding gown.  Guests had started to arrive and the photographer began snapping pictures of me with my parents.  There are moments of my wedding day that still stand out in my mind, and the memories are frozen like the frame of a movie. 

I stepped from the hall into the sanctuary and saw Paul at the front of the church waiting for me.  He had been waiting a while since our minister was late.   When he saw me, he smiled, and I was relieved that things were back on schedule.  I think back on that smile, and hope Paul will keep smiling as he waits for me more often when, in my twilight years, I begin to slow down.  He still waits while I tend to the last details before leaving the house, and while I run the curling iron through my hair.  There have been 37 years of waiting, compromise, unity, and blessing, between us.  We can predict each others' thoughts sometimes, or make the same comment at the same time. 

Not enough is said these days about what it is like being married to the same person for a long time.  It's nice.  Paul knows I like my oatmeal with brown sugar; I know he likes his with white.  He knows I need cold sheets at night and I know to turn on his side of the warming blanket.   As American journalist Mignon Mclaughlin once said, "A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."  We have laughed ourselves silly over little things, and held each other close and cried over the big things.   

The making of a marriage history takes time.  Given enough time, there are many events that draw couples closer together, including having children.  No one shares that history as intimately as a spouse.  We'll probably talk about that at some point this evening as we celebrate this anniversary.  We plan to go out tonight for one of our favorite dates.  We are going to walk around Lowes and dream.  I like to stand in front of the paint colors and pick out the pretty ones that catch my eye.  Paul likes looking at tools.  We'll be together and have some laughs, and probably end our evening by praying that, by God's grace, we will celebrate again this time next year. 


 There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage. ~ Martin Luther

Married couples who love each other tell each other a thousand things without talking.  ~Chinese Proverb

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Red Fox

We had a beautiful Christmas Day snowfall.  The landscape looked wrapped in a blanket of white.  Paul and I were standing at the side door looking out of the window when suddenly Paul spotted an animal moving across the field.  "A fox!" Paul exclaimed.  I was sure he didn't mean me when he said that, because I still had bed-head, and morning breath.  Later in the day, I saw Paul go out to the fox tracks and follow them up the hillside into the woods.  He stayed up there a long time.  While he was gone I imagined our new puppy being attacked by a fox, the grandchildren mistaking it for a "nice doggy", and Qavah wanting to bring it home.  I thought about rabies, more than one fox, and danger.

Paul returned with the observation that there were numerous tracks up in the woods, "a real trail of wildlife!" he exclaimed.  He commented on the beautiful bushy tail of the fox, and seemed very excited that a creature like that would show off his red fur in the stark-white snow.  I thought, "He seems very happy about the visit from the fox, and the same fox has made me feel cautious!" This is another reason why marriage is good.  Two perspectives are better than one. 

All things bright and beautiful, 
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Friday, December 17, 2010

"So, are you ready for Christmas?"

Paul and I went grocery shopping last night and filled two carts.  I'm having a heaping helping of family over the holidays and I am looking forward to seeing them soon.  I have my menu planned, and as I went to write the check for the groceries, the young man at the cash register asked me the question, "So, are you ready for Christmas?"  Before I answered, my mind ran through thoughts like a Rolodex card system.  Did he mean, for example, are the gifts purchased?  Are the decorations up?  Are the cards sent out?  And before I knew it, out of my mouth came the answer, "If being ready for Christmas means I am ready to celebrate Christ's birth with those I love, and take the time to enjoy the gift of His love with my family, then yes, I am ready."  He looked me right in the eye with a cheerful smile and replied, "I know exactly what you mean!" On this Friday night, the week before Christmas, we are ready to celebrate. Because long ago, while the angels rejoiced, Christmas was made ready for us.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.  When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.  But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, Son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel" (Which means, God with us). Matthew 1:18-23

Monday, December 13, 2010

Super Glue

We have decided to turn our thermostat down to sixty degrees at night.  Both Kathryn and Qavah have trouble with hydration in the winter and too much heat dries their skin.  Kathryn's lips have split and we have not been able to keep her skin moisturized just by turning down the heat and turning up the humidifier.  With her platelet problem, it is hard for her to get her lip to stop bleeding once it starts. She has tried several remedies her doctors recommended but nothing is helping.  Our next line of defense is glue! (Dermabond for the skin).  If you remember back to my previous post about glue, you'll remember how much Paul loves to glue things.  Kathryn, do you trust your Dad to glue your lips?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blue Skies

I called Paul when my plane landed.  He was waiting for me just outside the airport terminal and told me to have my winter coat on before stepping out into the Roanoke air.  When the pilot welcomed us to Roanoke, and said the outside temperature was 29 degrees, a collective groan was heard throughout the cabin.  We left a balmy Florida day where today's high was 73 degrees.  It was great to have a break from the winter, and it still amazes me that it is a short hour-and-a-half flight away.

The girls and I went out this afternoon to deliver Christmas presents and it was fun.  Qavah gave out all of her packs of chewing gum and then wanted to go to Sam's Club to buy more boxes.  It was sweet the way she wanted to give packs of gum to complete strangers.  One elderly man smiled kindly, turn down her gift politely, then pointed to the place in his mouth where his teeth had once been.  What might otherwise have been a cold winter day, was filled with warmth and blue skies.  Watching my children grow up over the years, and learn that it is better to give than to receive, warms my heart better than a day in Florida.

Aunt Lil in the center.  She knows how to pamper her guests  She is seen here with her friends and went all out for her Christmas tea:

 

Thursday night's sunset was so amazing!  My camera actually captured the beauty:

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Thank You to My Family!

Thank you to Kathryn, who posted the pictures of Santa with Qavah on Tuesday.  I have been blessed with an early Christmas.  I am in the sunshine state of Florida.  Paul Burton took over Qavah's injections, Kathryn went to the hospital for the transfusion with Qavah,  and Paul has been taking the girls to their appointments.

Aunt Lil and Uncle Tony invited me for a week of rest in Florida and that is what I have had.  I have read two books, both written by missionaries returning from the countries of Vietnam and Rwanda.  They were powerful stories of faith.  Aunt Lil and I stopped our day yesterday for several times of prayer.  We also went to Uncle Tony's Greek class last night and he finished up a thirteen-week study on the book of Hebrews.  I have never been to one of his classes but found it to be very informative and enjoyable.  I took notes.

We will be having a tea for some of Aunt Lil's friends this afternoon and will be visiting the pier tonight to see the Christmas lights.  Lord willing, I will be home in time tomorrow to take Kathryn to the hospital for her Remicade treatment.  I am looking forward to that since she has prepared little gifts for the people at the hospital who have taken good care of her, and I know her spirit will be filled with joy; a side-effect of giving! 

At times like this, I wish I had a greater vocabulary in which to express my gratitude.  I have needed this rest, but I have also had a work to do that I believe was God's purpose in bringing me here.   On Monday night I was able to speak to a Bible Study class here in Florida, to encourage the believers here.  It was an uplifting time together and many of the group encouraged me and shared their salvation stories with me afterwards.  I have seen God's hand in giving me this rest, His providence in giving me something to do for Him while here, and His blessing in that I am ready to go home tomorrow refreshed in body, mind, and spirit. 

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Very Merry Transfusion Day

Today, we went to the hospital for Qavah's monthly blood transfusion.  After the IV was placed  in Qavah's arm, she settled into the bed and began watching educational programs on the portable television.  She was engrossed in Word World when a special visitor arrived to see her...


YES, it really was Santa Claus!  Of course Santa asked Qavah what she wanted for Christmas, to which she replied, "A magic wand and a Tiana tiara".  ("Santa" has some serious shopping to do!) 

Qavah wasn't the only one to receive a delightful surprise.  Earlier in the morning, Qavah spread Christmas cheer by handing out packets of gum to the hospital staff who usually help her during a transfusion visit.  So, later when she looked up from the TV and realized that Santa Claus was standing beside her bed, she frantically exclaimed, "Get the basket of gum!  Come on!  Huuueeeyyy!  I have to give Santa some gum!"  Santa was at first taken aback, but  then took the gum and  gave Qavah a joyful hug. The nurses working nearby laughed heartily.  It's not just any day that Santa visits the hospital and takes home a present for himself!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Weddings

We were invited to a wedding this weekend that made Christmas for us even more special.  As Paul and I sat there holding hands, I was thinking that I'm glad my husband enjoys going to weddings.  The church sanctuary was decorated for the wedding in garlands of greens and red roses.  It was incredibly beautiful by candlelight.  In that setting, the harpist nearly put me into a dreamy sleep.   The bride, the daughter of good friends, was being married to her college sweetheart, and the wedding and reception were full of celebration and joy.

I winced a couple of times during the pastor's charge to the couple as he spoke to them about marriage.  He was speaking to them, but was reminding me of my role in Paul's life.  This morning while Paul and I were getting ready for church I said, "You know, I felt a little uneasy as the pastor was talking about the woman's role in marriage at the wedding because I'm not so sure I'm doing my job well enough."  Paul laughed and said, "Boy I'm glad you said that...I was feeling pretty guilty myself."  We started talking about that, and agreed that we would try to stop more often during the day to encourage each other, which is so hard to do with busy schedules.  Maybe every married couple would do well to attend a wedding at least twice a year.  It is a good reminder that promises were made that, when kept, bring forth a harvest of good things.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Prepare Ye The Way of The Lord

Two of the grandchildren are here tonight having an "overnight" with Qavah.  They were all ready for bed with teeth brushed when we lit the Hanukkah candles saying the blessing for the second night.  Then we opened our devotional book for the month of December which has twenty-five stories leading up to Christmas. We read the account of Adam and Eve in the garden and their deadly decision to listen to the serpent rather than to obey God.  The two holiday stories pointed to our need for God's deliverance.  In child-like wonder the children heard the message that there is no hope for us apart from the mercy of God.  They hung the ornament on the tree that depicts a piece of fruit and a serpent, and Annelise turned to me and stated, "You know what Nonny... sometimes I sin."  "I do too, Annelise." I replied.  "But I sin when I don't obey Mommy and Daddy," she continued,  "And I'm sorry." It was only a brief conversation, but a precious one at that.  How better to prepare the way of the Lord than to acknowledge sin, and repent.

Prepare our heart, dear Lord, to hear the Christmas story once again this year and respond in adoration. Amen.



Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Happy Hanukkah

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us alive, and has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this time.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinosaur

My little grandson, Nehemiah, stood on the kitchen chair beside me while I carved the remaining meat off the turkey carcass.  He watched as I pulled off the wings and asked, "Nonny, why are we taking apart this dinosaur?"  I figured when he asked the question that he had looked at picture books of dinosaur skeletons recently.  "Does this look like a dinosaur bone?" I asked as I held up a leg bone.  "Yes!" he exclaimed.  Yes, we had dinosaur for thanksgiving.  They aren't extinct after all and they taste just like turkey.  


Our Thanksgiving feast


We ate the whole dinosaur!


Thanksgiving day was Annelise's fourth birthday.  She received a violin and her first lesson from Uncle Paul Burton.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Writing Cabin

We have an apartment which we made available to our grown kids when they were ready to be on their own.  The boys were able to get through college with relatively low college loans because they were willing to live in the small apartment on our property.  After each graduation, I had secretly hoped that the apartment would be vacated and could become my refuge; a place where Paul and I could go to talk together for an evening, or a quiet place to read and think when I need it.  However, Paul Burton will be staying in the apartment and has two more years of medical school.  After that, Kathryn is eying the apartment as her future home.

I don't know when the idea first began, but Paul has been seriously thinking of building me a little writing cabin on our property.  It wouldn't be a very big cabin, just big enough to have a space to call my own; a retreat at the edge of the woods.  This weekend we paced off the area that we thought would be perfect and went out to that spot with our lawn chairs and a cup of coffee.  It felt right.  We sat in the sunshine sipping coffee and imagined where the front door and windows would be. The plans are somewhere out in the future, but we have been waking up mornings feeling excited about it.  I dream of sitting inside the little cabin writing without interruption, while he thinks of ways to make the cabin airtight and how to provide electricity by using solar energy.

We've been sketching, dreaming, taking stock of the materials we already have on the property, and hoping that we can soon start this project in little baby steps.  I called Paul the other day because I found a poem about a cabin and read it to him over the phone.  He enthusiastically remarked that I should write out the poem and frame it to be hung later in the cabin when the walls are up. 

Is there somewhere,
anywhere...
a little, lonesome cabin
lost among the forests
on a wild, deserted shore;
an empty, waiting cabin:
rough-hewn, worn, and solid
with a dandy-drawing chimney,
books and windows little more
I'm tired of noise and traffic,
people pushing, phones and letters, 
dates and deadlines, styles and headlines,
pride and pretense, nothing more;
and I'm needing such a cabin,
near God's masterpiece of mountains,
such a lost and lonesome cabin
where a tired soul can adore. -Ruth Bell Graham

The Cabin Site: 


An idea; a dream; a possibility.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cough, Cough

I have had one of those hard-to-get-rid-of colds.  The lingering cough has given me the voice of a heavy smoker.  It would be great if I were singing jazz, but I'm not, so I sound like a foghorn.  All of this is to say I haven't felt much like posting.  I'm going into my third week of coughing but the doctor told me today that my lungs are clear.  So I am just going to keep drinking plenty of water and I've made a decision to slow down and take afternoon naps this week.  I think that will finally kick this cold out of the door.

Mercifully, Kathryn has not caught this cold from me.  While Qavah had the sniffles and a cough last week, she is entirely better.  Paul Burton generally works holidays but has this Thanksgiving Day off for the first time in several years.  Lord willing, our plan is to have our Thanksgiving dinner with the family and spend the afternoon playing games and relaxing.  It sounds like a fabulous plan to me.  

I heard a great sermon today about letting go of all anxiety and handing every single anxious thought to God for His attention.  It is written in Phillipians 4:6,  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."  I was lying down listening to those powerful words and had a mental picture of myself handing over a list of what I consider the trials in my life.  I pictured myself "presenting" my list, leaving the list with God, and returning to the kitchen where the savory aroma of a baking turkey and a grateful heart made my day perfect. This Thanksgiving I want to exercise true thanks giving, without the weight of my list in hand.  Thank God for His arms that are strong enough to carry all of our "lists."

Leave it quietly to God my soul:
the past mistakes
that left their scars.
All bitterness beyond control,
that mars
His peace,
demands its toll.
Confessed to Him and left...
it would,
like all things
work together 
for my good,
and bring release.
I would be whole.
So
"leave it quietly to God
my soul."  Ruth Bell Graham

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rainy Day Reading

On June 14, 2007, Ruth Graham left the confines of this earth to be with the God she faithfully served.  I was reading some of her poetry and quotes this afternoon.  I have a book of poems she had written and I appreciate how much of her poetry is centered around her life with her husband and children.  Although she wrote of things common to motherhood, she often focuses on her walk with Jesus as the One for Whom she lived.  Her poems create peaceful word pictures, and as the rain fell steadily on my rooftop today I felt rewarded with a ray of sunshine by reading her poems. Her husband Billy said of her, “I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth, and especially for these last few years we’ve had in the mountains together. We rekindled the romance of our youth, and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day,” Graham recollected. “I will miss her terribly and look forward even more to the day I can join her in heaven.”  I'm looking forward to reading more of her poetry there! 

Listen, Lord,
a mother’s praying
low and quiet:
listen, please.
Listen to what her tears
are saying,
see her heart
upon its knees;
lift the load
from her bowed shoulders
till she sees
and understands,
You, Who hold
the worlds together,
hold her problems
in Your Hands
.  Ruth Bell Graham

Monday, November 15, 2010

Beyond Our Understanding

Paul read a few chapters of our Jan Karon book over the weekend.  The girls and I didn't go to church on Sunday.  We decided to stay home and watch some inspirational documentaries on Netflix.  Qavah and I have the remnants of a cold.  We coughed our way through the afternoon, dozing on and off.  We seem to have the same cold virus that is going around.  When a virus comes to our home we pray for the best possible outcome, which is that the girls will not get it.  So far, Kathryn has been staying healthy.   

There was a tragic accident just outside of Roanoke this weekend involving a man who our son Colin knew well and worked with at Ply Gem in Rocky Mount.  That man's life ended in a fatal car accident.  His wife and two young daughters survived the accident, but his death reminded us that life is precious and fragile.  We have stopped to pray numerous times today for the families involved, and for the comfort that only God can give.  While we have our own challenges in our family, by just looking around us, we see that there are people who suffer a great deal and need our help and prayer in their time of trouble.

Colin's friend and colleague enjoyed life and had a great love for God and his family.  We met him at church, and it would seem to our human minds that God would protect a servant like him from such a disaster.  Instead, He took the young husband and father to his eternal home.  We are praying that God will help his family through their grief, and that their reunion in Heaven will be even sweeter because of the sudden way they had to let go of their dreams and embrace the plans of God. 

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.   ICorinthians 2:9

Friday, November 12, 2010

Reading Together

Paul sat on the comfy little love seat in the corner of our room reading to us last night.  The new Jan Karon book came out in time for his birthday.  We girls sat in the bed together, snuggled under the covers, until the girls dropped off to sleep.  I sat there listening to the story beginning to unfold as Father Tim and his wife, Cynthia, begin their vacation in Ireland; a dream come true for them.  Jan Karon does a lovely job of describing the scene in a way that places the reader right in the room to observe the same things.  In the story last night, she described the Bed and Breakfast so well that I could almost smell scones baking when I woke up this morning. Reading aloud together is something that we have done for nearly 37 years, and we would recommend it to anyone looking for a way to share some quiet time together. 

In chapter three, Father Tim and Cynthia had just crawled under a mountain of blankets and plumped the feather pillows to settle in for the night.  He felt Cynthia shivering and asked if he should close the window.  She replied, "No, I am just excited by it all.  I'm glad it took so many years for us to get here."  "You're glad?" he asked.  "That it was so long delayed and hoped for makes it all more precious."  That's exactly how Paul and I feel when there is a new Jan Karon book in the bookstores.  Tonight is Friday night and I am dreaming of hearing Paul's voice as he continues to read. I have a hunch that he is at work dreaming about the same thing.  Good stories read by someone you love, a bowl of popcorn, and a warm blanket on a cold night, makes for a perfect evening.  I'm thanking God right now for the imagination He gave to me.  I've been many wonderful places just by reading a good book.  I'm really looking forward to spending the weekend in Ireland with Father Tim and Cynthia.

Note:   At Home in Mitford is the first book in the Mitford series if you are interested.

Reading Together

Paul sat on the comfy little love seat in the corner of our room reading to us last night.  The new Jan Karon book came out in time for his birthday.  We girls sat in the bed together, snuggled under the covers, until the girls dropped off to sleep.  I sat there listening to the story beginning to unfold as Father Tim and his wife, Cynthia, begin their vacation in Ireland; a dream come true for them.  Jan Karon does a lovely job of describing the scene in a way that places the reader right in the room to observe the same things.  In the story last night, she described the Bed and Breakfast so well that I could almost smell scones baking when I woke up this morning. Reading aloud together is something that we have done for nearly 37 years, and we would recommend it to anyone looking for a way to share some quiet time together. 

In chapter three, Father Tim and Cynthia had just crawled under a mountain of blankets and plumped the feather pillows to settle in for the night.  He felt Cynthia shivering and asked if he should close the window.  She replied, "No, I am just excited by it all.  I'm glad it took so many years for us to get here."  "You're glad?" he asked.  "That it was so long delayed and hoped for makes it all more precious."  That's exactly how Paul and I feel when there is a new Jan Karon book in the bookstores.  Tonight is Friday night and I am dreaming of hearing Paul's voice as he continues to read. I have a hunch that he is at work dreaming about the same thing.  Good stories read by someone you love, a bowl of popcorn, and a warm blanket on a cold night, makes for a perfect evening.  I'm thanking God right now for the imagination He gave to me.  I've been many wonderful places just by reading a good book.  I'm really looking forward to spending the weekend in Ireland with Father Tim and Cynthia.

Note:   At Home in Mitford is the first book in the Mitford series if you are interested.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Transfusion Day

My daughter just keeps amazing me.  About the time I think she is never going to submit to another hurtful needle, she puts on her composure the way I put on my shoes, and deals with it.  Her veins were hard to find today, and once again she had to be stuck until a vein was found.  She handled it beautifully, which always makes me so proud.  I hope when I am called upon to handle a hardship in life, I will do it with the bravery and grace I have seen in Qavah.  Don't we learn more from our children than they learn from us?  Isn't that just one more reason to view them as a gift?

Transfusion Day

My daughter just keeps amazing me.  About the time I think she is never going to submit to another hurtful needle, she puts on her composure the way I put on my shoes, and deals with it.  Her veins were hard to find today, and once again she had to be stuck until a vein was found.  She handled it beautifully, which always makes me so proud.  I hope when I am called upon to handle a hardship in life, I will do it with the bravery and grace I have seen in Qavah.  Don't we learn more from our children than they learn from us?  Isn't that just one more reason to view them as a gift?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Happy Birthday Paul

We celebrated Paul's birthday by going to church for a two hour praise and worship time last night.  The praise team did a great job choosing songs rich in Biblical content and we all enjoyed the evening together.  Kathryn had reserved a table for our family and the church also provided several delicious homemade goodies served with coffee and tea.  It was an uplifting evening and a great celebration for Paul.  We met several people last night and introductions were a part of the evening as well. 

I woke myself up during the night when I burst out laughing.  I was dreaming that we were still at the concert and some people came up to us and introduced themselves as the "Nimble" family.  Then they smiled and pointed to their 6 year old son and said, "This is our son Jack B."  Since I woke myself up, I sat up in bed and tried to think why in the world I would dream about "Jack be nimble."  The nearest I can come to an answer was that we all went into the nursery after the event at church and looked around at the way things were organized.  The babies had their own little cubbies with their names on it.  At any rate, we had a delightful evening, and I woke up this morning chuckling as I thought about the way our minds work creatively even while we sleep.

Enjoy your Sabbath rest. 

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Good Eating Day

Kathryn and Qavah have days that food just doesn't taste good to them.  They have days that their appetite is next to nothing, and I have learned not to force food on them.  Usually that phase passes and they are ravenously hungry for a couple of days after that.  Today was one of those days.  They had hot oatmeal and homemade applesauce for breakfast, hummus wraps for lunch, and roast beef with gravy over mashed potatoes and greens for dinner.  Kathryn is now taking pancreatic enzymes with meals and it seems to be helping her digest her food.  Today was a good day, with good food, good music, and an afternoon Christmas movie.  At the end of the day, a box was delivered and it was filled with beautiful Michigan apples from Aunt Marcia and Uncle Les!  We had one more snack of delicious sliced apples before turning out the kitchen light.  We are grateful for good days like this one.  The blessing of good food fills the soul as well as the tummy.




The Clean Plater















Some singers sing of ladies' eyes,
And some of ladies lips,
Refined ones praise their ladylike ways,
And coarse ones hymn their hips.
The Oxford Book of English Verse
Is lush with lyrics tender;
A poet, I guess, is more or less
Preoccupied with gender.
Yet I, though custom call me crude,
Prefer to sing in praise of food.
Yes, food,
Just any old kind of food. Ogden Nash

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Things That Bless

We had a picture perfect day.  After church and a family lunch, Paul and I took the girls to the little town of Paint Bank.  It is a picturesque town in the middle of nowhere about an hour from our home.  The drive there was steep and winding, but it was worth the effort (and the little bit of nausea).  The leaves were still pretty and we stopped along the way for some photos.  The girls both felt good, and they were able to take in the sights in the town because everything was situated on four corners and there wasn't too much walking.  From the little white church to the working water wheel, we snapped pictures continuously.  The Swinging Bridge Restaurant served up buffalo steaks and burgers.  We had already had a big lunch so we decided to buy fresh baked apple scones and coffee for the trip home.  We continued to take pictures as we left Paint Bank just before sunset. The fields where the buffalo roamed were lush and green, so naturally that put me in mind of a song I get into my head when I see buffalo, and I sang it most of the way home. 

The thing that blesses me is the way the girls respond with joy and gratitude to the world around them.  A woman spinning wool made them a little bracelet and they loved that.  Then they were given a treat by the woman at the General Store, and they were so happy with that as well.  It was a lovely day in every way.  Paul and I came home refreshed and ready for the week ahead.  Enjoy the pictures.

Click on the play button to begin the slideshow:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Colors

The Blue Ridge Mountains are are so pretty in the Fall.  This weekend we plan to get out and enjoy the colors of the Autumn leaves.  We have some projects planned for the weekend, but we will be sure to take a break and enjoy the beauty around us.  The girls are both doing well.  I'll try to post some pictures as we take them during the weekend.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sermon on the Amount

Paul and I once attended a Christian seminar that was actually free, but in order for couples to attend future weekend seminars, the money had to come from donations.  When the time came to discuss this with the couples on our weekend, the minister leading the weekend said, "It is time for the sermon on the amount."  We are used to hearing the phrase, "Sermon on the mount," and they thought it was a good way to get our attention.

Recently someone asked how in the world we were managing the girls' health care with the rising cost of hospital bills and labs. This is the "sermon on the amount" for those who have been curious. There will be some readers who will not understand my answer because it will seem more a matter of luck or coincidence.

More than ten years ago, before we knew what the future would hold for us, Paul started designing a small rock drill.  Between his consulting business, working evenings and weekends, he designed his own product and worked very hard to bring it to the market place.  It took a very long time, a lot of investment, and a lot of faith.  This year, we have seen a miraculous change take place in Paul's drill sales.  Little by little they have sold until they are now in many different countries and what seems like "luck" to some folks is nothing short of a miraculous gift from God to us.  

The extraordinary part of this story is how far God has gone to supply the needs of two girls who started out life with several strikes against them.  Kathryn was abandoned at a train station in northern India.  Qavah spent the first seven months of her life in a hospital without the love of family to uplift her.  Now all these years later, God has given us the ability to meet their needs and we are blessed beyond measure when we think back to how He began by giving Paul a dream.  That dream became a prayer, then a project, long before it became the means to pay the medical bills that insurance does not cover.  We would appreciate your prayers for more drill sales this year, and we gratefully acknowledge the people who have been praying for the success of these drills for the past several years.  Our small group at church, our parents, and our friends, are all able to witness the provision that God has made for our girls, and we are so grateful for the way they stood by us and prayed for a return on our investment.

The sermon on the amount is this, give all that you have, and watch what God will do to bless the faith you have placed in His capable hands.   Don't worry about "how" you will manage in your own strength, think about how powerful God is to meet every need you bring to Him.  Then the Sermon On The Mount will come to life and His words will take flight in your spirit as it has in ours.


The Beatitudes (Matthew 5)

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying:
 "Blessed are the poor in spirit,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
      for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
      for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
      for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
      for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
      for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
      for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I Love Weekends

Last week the girls had appointments to check out some health matters.  I also babysat, ran errands, and got caught up on the banking and paperwork that had accumulated during Kathryn's hospital stay.  I finished painting some trim in the front hall and put my last coat of varnish on a table I had been restoring.  Hooray, the weekend is here!  After attending a lovely bridal shower this afternoon, Kathryn and I came home looking forward to sunset.  The guys were finishing a project in the barn and we all gathered for dinner and the lighting of our Shabbat candles.  We are tucked in for the night and feeling the blessing of home, family, and rest.  

Paul and I would like to say "thank you" for the many friends and family members who still pray for our family, and particularly the girls.  We are not very strong on our own, but with God's grace, and the prayers of others, we have had what I believe is supernatural strength to meet the demands of our family.  As Christians, I am reminded that we are living out the life God had planned for us.  With His help we are able to accomplish far more than when the going was easy.  While Paul and I have many friends enjoying the quiet life of retirement we recognize that we have been called to something different in our twilight years. 

In reviewing our life together recently, Paul said, "I love having a little kid in the house."  I facetiously wondered if it is because of having a trail of toys in every room at the end of the day, or having to drive around a small bike left in the driveway. Then he said, "I just like seeing the Winnie-the-Pooh stool at the kitchen counter again."  From her step-stool, Qavah is learning how to run a kitchen and a home.  We're starting over, and it's exhausting but fun.  It may be because of our ages, but we truly have begun to love Sabbath rest.  Our hearts are quiet, and we know that tomorrow we will have ears to hear the Word of God with our brothers and sisters in worship.  We will also see Qavah at the front of the church listening to the children's sermon and then she'll wave to us like mad as she follows her friends to children's church.  Paul will probably squeeze my hand and we will both be thinking about the good life we have been given.  It is a gift.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Weekend

Friday night started with a celebration.  I took Annelise and Qavah to see the Princess on Ice show at the civic center.  They were wide-eyed with the lights, music, and costumes.  Qavah met up with her friend Emily who was celebrating a birthday and they hugged before going to see the exhibit of Cinderella together.  The glass slipper, the dazzling princess gowns, and the joy of being a little girl made the experience one that the girls will remember with delight.

I had a weekend guest and, after having the whole family for dinner Saturday night, we got up for church on Sunday, greeted by a beautiful, balmy Fall day.  After spending time with my friend over lunch, we came home to the family and my friend said goodbye.  She had to drive back to Winston-Salem.  Our family spent some time during the evening praying for the upcoming week and then as if waking up from a dream it was Monday morning.

We are back to real life, routine responsibilities, and making sure the household is back up and running smoothly for the week.  Throughout the weekend I had a sense of joy that stayed with me as I cooked and cared for my family.  I had the real sense that God is in control and that there is nothing I need to do but to enjoy the life He gave me.  I'm so thankful for this season of peace for the girls.  

My Princesses:


The girls wouldn't turn around for a picture.  Cinderella had captured their attention:


And then there was the glass slipper:


A Princess admiring a Princess:
 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Qavah's Bravery

I left for Charlottesville Monday morning and took Qavah to a pediatric dentist.  It is a two hour drive.  The dentist had made a plan on our last visit to work on Qavah Monday morning and again on Tuesday morning, so I made plans to stay overnight in the area.  Qavah was numbed first on the right side and had four crowns, sealants, and two extractions.  After that trauma, we went to visit Aunt Jackie and Uncle John!  Qavah had forgotten most of the pain of the dental visit while there, and played with her cousin Laura until bedtime.  She had so much fun that when we went back to the dentist on Tuesday, she hopped right up in the chair for two more tooth extractions on the left side, two crowns, and more sealant on her molars.  It was an amazing amount of work and the dentist worked swiftly while Qavah was distracted by a movie.  I was amazed at Qavah's bravery and strength.  We had talked about the visit ahead of time, and how she might be rewarded for her courage.  We have something very special planned for Friday evening.  I think Qavah will remember in the future that being courageous for the right reasons will yield a worthwhile reward.  Since it is a secret, I'll write more about it on the weekend.

Kathryn is doing very well.  Paul took the afternoon off work and drove Kathryn to her appointment. Her GI doctor saw her yesterday and went over the notes from her hospital stay.  He explained some of his findings and together they worked out a plan to taper her off of the antibiotic she is now taking.  Then they made a plan to introduce food slowly.  Baby food is fine for now and she is holding steady at 84 lbs., but she is starting to crave a real meal.  She has had a good recovery and has been enjoying herself.  She went to the College and Career group at St. John tonight where she is meeting new friends and getting involved in the ministry.  Paul and I are so proud of her, for the way she keeps going, and for the way she chooses to surround herself with spiritually healthy people. 

On the way home from Charlottesville yesterday, I decided to stop in to visit Mom Campbell who was singing with her friends in a ladies' choir.  They rehearse at her church, and since I was driving by, I decided to take Qavah into the church to find her.  We followed the sound of music to a choir room and sat down beside her.  Mom and I haven't sung in a choir together since we lived in New Jersey many years ago. She shared her sheet music with me and we sang some good old hymns together.  The ladies were rehearsing for a singing engagement at a nursing home at the end of the month.  It was so nice to sing alto again with Mom, and after the rehearsal I got to meet the women who have been praying for our girls.  Their faces were so sweet, and they gave me the impression that they had found peace and contentment in this life, but look forward to the future life with joy. They will close their program with this song by the Gaithers:

Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King (3 times)
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! We're going to see the King.

No more crying there, we are going to see the King (3 times)
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! We're going to see the King.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thankfulness

The message this morning at church centered around the theme of thankfulness.  Only one leper out of ten went back to Jesus to thank Him for healing him.  I'm thankful tonight to have a church home where I am taught the truth and reminded to be thankful.  I'm thankful that my husband would take our son away for a weekend to spend time with him and five hundred other men to learn about the grace and forgiveness of God, and how to live the Christian life as leaders in their homes.  I'm thankful that Kathryn is eating bits of food throughout the day and appreciating every morsel including baby food without complaint.  I'm thankful that we met around the table at the close of the Sabbath Day to pray for the people we love and for the week ahead.  This has been a wonderful weekend in many ways and seeds of new beginnings have been planted.

Kathryn and I have read three chapters of her new book this weekend.  I'll close with this quote from the book because it spoke to my heart about remembering things for which I can be thankful,  and it is a reminder to give God the praise that is due Him.  "When nothing seems to be happening in the moment, when loneliness settles over your spirit like a lead apron, when pain and grief and anxiety conspire to push you to the edge of despair, remember God's mighty deeds in your life.  Remember His kindness, His special, tailor-made graces that fell out of the sky like a gentle rain." ~ Joni Eareckson Tada 

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Order in the House

The battle against clutter is never-ending.  When we moved into our house many years ago I promised myself that I would go through all records, papers, and trinkets every seven years.  That was thirteen years ago, and rather than a few bags of trash, I need a dumpster.  Kathryn spent the day sorting through many years of "saved" stuff and asked herself, "Do I need to save this?"  She now has her room put back together and all of the things that are no longer necessary are going to be put out in the trash for Monday pick-up.  She feels free.  She feels powerful!  She feels like posting pictures!  Now, we put our feet up, relax, and enjoy the rest of the weekend.  Kathryn had some more noodles and broth today and it has settled nicely.  Thank you, everyone, for the prayers you have offered up for her.

Click on the picture to make bigger:
 






Friday, October 08, 2010

Quiet

Today Kathryn went to a follow-up doctor appointment.  I took her to the doctor who is studying her problems of inflammation and neuropathy in her hands and feet.  The drive was beautiful because it was a perfect fall day. Kathryn was told that she has two places in her spine where the discs are compressed.  The doctor thinks that when she is having bouts of inflammation, her spinal cord is being squeezed which causes the nerves to send pain signals to her neck and legs.  He recommended a drug for nerve pain, but she wants to talk to her other doctor to consider the side effects first.  From that appointment we went shopping for a couple of small items then drove home.

Our day was quiet and peaceful.  We were busy, but there is a quietness that has covered us, and it has made for a lovely start to the weekend.  Paul and Paul Burton went to a retreat in the mountains and we are home to relax and enjoy the cooler autumn days.  Kathryn has a plan to go through her stored college items and "weed out" unnecessary clutter from her room.  We thought we would be ready to post pictures, but that will come tomorrow, Lord willing.  We are ready to turn in for the night to read from the new book Kathryn received.  It is good to sit in our home and feel the quietness tonight. 

 

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Kathryn is at Home Tonight

Today's lab results showed that Kathryn's white cell count is in a perfect range.  Her lipase level is 2,000 and dropping steadily as it should.  With her electrolytes balanced we brought her home today.  She is sipping soup broth and had a few noodles without pain.  Now that she is stable and able to be up and around, she is traveling through the rooms of the house saying, "I'm so happy to be home!" Although I took pictures of her bedroom make-over to the hospital every day, seeing it for the first time was a real treat for her.  She noticed even the smallest details.  

Kathryn and I are preparing for the weekend when we will be reading the new Joni Eareckson Tada book together.  There will be treasure there that will speak to us.  The name of the book is A lifetime of Wisdom (embracing the way God heals you).  Paul is taking Paul Burton to a retreat weekend near Lexington, Virginia, so while they are learning and spending time together in God's word, we girls will do the same.   This week was one of many challenges, and we are all happy that at the close of the week our plans are for rest and recreation.

I will post some pictures that I took of Kathryn's room tomorrow night.  I just want to thank all of you who prayed and asked your friends and churches to pray for Kathryn this week.  The battle was fierce, but with prayer and faith in God, we have come home to a place of peace and rest. This past week was a lesson in contentment for all of us.  Kathryn especially waited patiently for many things within the confines of her hospital room and we are happy to report that her desire to be at home is a reality tonight.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Another Lipase Drop!

I went to the hospital last night and took Kathryn a bunch of pictures of her bedroom makeover.  The hardwood floors were finished and I wanted her to have an idea of how we could place her furniture.  It was fun for her to dream about being home.  Paul and I put the major big pieces of furniture in place before I left for the hospital; now she will have the delight of finding new and interesting places for her trinkets.

Kathryn and I listened to a sermon and talked about it for a while, then we decided to sleep a few hours.  Her blood was drawn early so that by the time the physician came around, he already had the good news that her lipase level dropped again and that her white cell count dropped to 12, which is also good.  After learning of her lab results, I asked if we could bring Kathryn home.  The GI doctor will be meeting later today with Kathryn to discuss the possibility of coming home.  She is tolerating water and ice chips so hydration will be better.

Caring for her at home has become slightly more complicated by her intestinal infection.  It is known as C-diff, and it can be passed on to family members with a compromised immune system.  Kathryn will have to finish a course of antibiotic to treat it, but we will need to keep Qavah healthy by keeping her downstairs and away from the bathroom that Kathryn uses.  A daily bathroom scrub down with bleach, and continual hand washing, is what the infectious disease doctor recommended.  Until her course of antibiotics for C-diff are finished, we will have to be very careful.  I am going out shopping for bleach and disposable rubber gloves in just a few minutes.

Even though Kathryn does not want to start eating yet, she did enjoy some broth this morning for breakfast.  If her pancreas continues to settle down,  I feel sure she will be eating baby food by the weekend.  She has some favorites, that when warmed up, taste like a fancy soup puree.  Just three days ago I began calling friends to pray.  Together we can say we have seen the goodness of the Lord.  

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

New Lipase Level!

Kathryn's lipase level fell from 3947 to 2730 overnight.  The numbers indicate that things are moving in the right direction.  That is a direct answer to prayer and although there is no medical explanation for it, meaning there was no magic pill given to Kathryn last night, I believe God has heard our cry for help.  The healing is from Him.  Praise Him for His mercy!  While she still can't eat food, she now has permission to lick the salt off of Saltine crackers.  Her white cell count went up today to 16.  Since it could be that her body is still infected with a hard-to-kill bacteria, she has requested to see an infectious disease consultant. 

Helen and I went over to the hospital last night and gave Kathryn a hair wash and shower.  When I finished rubbing some sweet-smelling lotion on her skin and tucked her in bed for the night she said, "Oh Mama, I feel so loved."  What a blessing to hear, especially because she has every right to say, "Mama, I feel so lousy."  God is good.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Our Faith

The sermon yesterday centered around the fact that the disciples went right to Jesus when they were discouraged, afraid, or bewildered.  At one point when they were in despair they went to Him and asked, "Lord, increase our faith."  The minister gave a few examples of how in this life, our faith is tested, and then he asked, "Where will you go then?"  Paul was holding my hand and I knew he and I had the same answer.  We have run to God in prayer for help and He has increased our faith every time. We have no fear, and believe that Kathryn is going to come home from the hospital and walk through the door.  But she is not doing well and we are asking you to pray with us.

Her white cells are in the normal range now.  The infection has been addressed.  However, Kathryn's pancreatic enzymes are now very high.  An early morning MRI revealed no blockage in the ducts.  Her lipase level is now over three thousand.  The doctors do not know why.  Nothing they can see is making sense here.  Since this is the fourth time this has happened we're asking that by His hand, Kathryn will be healed once again.  Medication and the finest minds are not enough.  

A friend called this morning on his way to a Missions to the World board meeting in Philadelphia and told me that they will pray today for God to move in a mighty way.  Our church prayed yesterday and friends all over the country have written to say they are praying.  Part of the miracle I see unfolding is that God has given us a lifetime of friends who know where to run first when trials come.  Many are praying, and it is humbling to think that Kathryn's life has touched so many.  

By faith I am painting the trim in Kathryn's room and am about ready to stencil the decorative boarder.  I am expecting her to be home by the weekend.  She is resting comfortably and the hospital staff has been very attentive.  While I paint, my soul waits for the Lord. 

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Way God Blesses

Paul and I were talking about the things that Kathryn enjoys most and thought about how we might encourage her.  With that in mind, we decided that while she is away we would paint her room and replace the old carpet with hardwood floors.  She has always wanted another electrical outlet in her room as well.  So this morning we made up our minds that although the lawn needs mowing, the house needs cleaning, and Paul has to build four drills to sell, we would focus on just one thing.  We decided to really bless and encourage Kathryn.  Paul Burton joined us and as we approach sundown beginning the Sabbath, Kathryn's room is now painted a soft lavender color called Guardian Angel.

Our tools are put away, and we are going over to the hospital to celebrate the Sabbath with Kathryn.  We have so much joy in our hearts because we know Kathryn is going to love the stories we will tell her about how God blessed our work today.   She has been well cared for today and is beginning to feel better.  Her white cell count is dropping; an indication that the antibiotic is working on the infection and winning.  

God has blessed us in every way this week.  Our hearts are encouraged and we are thankful for the "pause" in our week that we call the Sabbath Day, a time when we can rest in the goodness of God.  His splendor was seen and felt on this beautiful autumn day in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The colors are just beginning to turn on the trees, reminding us that life is ever-changing like the seasons, but His steadfast love is never changing.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Contented Kathryn

By the end of the day yesterday it seemed as though Kathryn wasn't responding to the doses of steroids I was giving her and when I took her blood pressure it was 72/40 with a heart rate of 140.  I called the doctor and we talked about the fact that there is a time when we have to face the fact that we have lost control of a situation.  I called him because I knew we had reached that point.  Kathryn took the news quite well that Paul was going to take her to the hospital and that she needed to be treated there until she felt better.

Her pancreatitis is serious.  Her white cell count was over 2,300 last night.  After a very slow start in the emergency room she was admitted to the hospital and Paul got home this morning at 5am with the good news that IV fluids, solu medrol, and pain medication by IV, had begun to work and that she was resting comfortably.  Her doctors were in to see her first thing this morning and IV Rocephin has been ordered although it is not obvious yet where the infection is within Kathryn's body.  She will have some GI testing today.  She is very tired but not discouraged.  She took her netbook with her and plans to do some surfing on the web.  Our "Comments" have been reactivated so messages can be left for her there.  It is a bit confusing with the new system but when you see the selection of Name/URL, click on that option and type your name.  That will be enough information to satisfy that program.  Your comments will come first to my email address, then I will post them.  In addition, if you have prayer requests please share them in your comment.  Kathryn does some serious praying for others when she is in the hospital.  I'll post again at the end of the day.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Options

Kathryn has been contacted with the results of her liver and pancreas testing. Her amylase and lipase levels are too high causing her to feel very sick and unable to eat.  The doctor called tonight and worked out a plan that we think will keep her out of the hospital.  Having had pancreatitis three times before, she knew before the test results were in that her pancreas was was in trouble again.  Hydration has been the main problem, so she'll begin to receive that at home along with an IV antibiotic.  She'll only be able to take in ice chips and light fluids for awhile until she can handle food again.

The option of being at home is such a blessing for Kathryn.  Her spirit is strong, but in the hospital with all the night time interruptions, she feels worse and starts to wither.  We know that many of you have joined us in praying Kathryn through these time so I will add some specific requests.  Please pray that Kathryn will feel God's comfort physically and emotionally.  Pray that her body weight will be sustained and that the medication she will receive will turn this problem around quickly.  I'm asking these things not for Kathryn's glory, but for the glory and praise she gives Him for any healing she receives.

This evening we watched the Ben Carson Story with the girls.  I had read the book so I knew the story.  We all watched as a young boy named Ben from the ghetto in Detroit cried out to God for help in curbing his temper.  From that time on, he developed a love for classical music and reading and went on to become a brain surgeon known around the world.  When we are faced with difficult circumstances there are always options.  After nearly stabbing a classmate in junior high school, Ben Carson went to God in prayer for help.  There is no greater help than that which comes from Him.
Psalm 121:2
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Steadfast

After calling all of Kathryn's physicians and finding that three of them were on vacation, it looked like the possibility for Kathryn to be treated today was hopeless.  The ER looked like the only option.  We knew that in Kathryn's state, she would be miserable waiting in the ER all day so we prayed. Paul prayed that God would do exceedingly beyond what we could ask or think.  Before noon today the door opened for Kathryn to see one of the partners in the practice where she is usually seen by her PCP.  From the start, the new doctor seemed to know a great deal about HPS.  That eliminated the need to explain everything, which usually takes an hour.  I finally asked him how he knew about HPS and discovered that he had worked with a doctor from Puerto Rico who taught him extensively about the genetic disorder.  While he was learning all of that as a resident I'm sure he did wonder if he would ever see a patient with HPS during his years as a physician.  

After the initial exam, the doctor started IV fluids right in the office.  To address the GI issues, he adjusted her dose of hydro-cortisone, and to investigate the problem further, he ordered labs for liver and pancreas function.  With extra cortisone and a bag of fluids, Kathryn felt so much better.  All of that took just four hours.  In addition, before we left the office, the nurse suggested we speak with the doctor about keeping IV fluids at home given the fact that Paul Burton can start an IV at home.  What started out to be a day where impossibilities seemed big, God went before us and made things possible even for future care to be easier.

I  know that there are some folks reading about our family life on this blog who find it hard to believe that we are in constant prayer and trust God for even the smallest things.  Considering that one prayer from my husband this morning yielded all of this wonderful fruit, I don't know of a better way to live.  To cry out to a loving God Who cares more about the events of our lives than we even know is a great privilege.  To be heard by Him is humbling.  I see how much He has moved on our behalf today and want to thank Him for His great love and mercy toward Kathryn. 

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the mercy You have shown us today. Let this be said of our family as we continue to trust You for the future:  "He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes."  Deuteronomy 10:21

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Under Seige

We started out two weeks ago in Qavah's room wiping out the invasion of stink bugs.  They were under control in her room but moved to each window of the house after that.  Window by window we have waged war on these things.   We sprayed pesticide around every window on the front side of the house this weekend but unbelievably, they are back in Qavah's windows.  These bugs are so smelly and sly that they are extremely hard to conquer.  One thing we can not do is give up on the war.

During this weekend another battle raged.  Kathryn started having severe stomach cramps and bleeding last Thursday night and it continued through the weekend.  Drugs that seemed to work in the past were not helping and we had been in prayer over what to do.  I got up to check on Kathryn in the middle of the night and found her lying on the floor at the foot of her bed.  Her body was in a contorted condition with her muscles spasming.  She was not able to call for help but waited there on the floor praying we would find her.  Paul and I worked with her on the floor because any attempt to pick her up caused her more pain.  We started treating her with potassium and magnesium and within twenty minutes her muscles relaxed.  We got her into bed and packed her sore muscles with warm compresses.  It has been a while since we have seen Kathryn like that, and we feel so thankful that she has had more good days than bad this fall.  By learning to control her electrolytes at home, we no longer feel that we are helpless in the face of these middle-of-the-night surprises.

Whether it is a case of stink bugs, relentless health challenges, or the battle to overcome evil, one thing is sure.  We must never give up.   Being brave in adversity doesn't mean we didn't shed some tears of sheer frustration yesterday. It is possible through the grace of God to keep battling and fighting the good fight with a lump in our throat and joy in our hearts.  Just before bed tonight, Qavah marched into the kitchen wearing her pink princess dress, my old high heels, and a helmet.  She marched in singing a song she had sung in Sunday School today.  "I'm in the Lord's Army, yes sir!"  I had already been thinking about how to finish this post about battling the enemy and Qavah's little song reminded me that while the battle rages, we are in the Lord's army together and as a Christian family, we will prevail.

It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on high places. He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze …" Psalm 18:32

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Projects

This has been a week of projects for us.  New flooring, paint, and paper, have kept me away from the computer.  Paul and I both have a project list but his has more to do with lawn mowers and outdoor problems while mine involves organizing the inside of our home.  Julie sent me a news article on how to rid your home and land of stink bugs.  Our local news reported the problem as "a plague of Biblical proportions."  I think they got that right!  While we paint and spiff up the place, we are battling stink bugs like everyone else.  It puts everything into perspective.  Try as we might to perfect our lives, there is always a stink bug somewhere!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stink Bugs

We came home from church on Sunday to a home invasion of stink bugs.  They were all over our windows and squeezing through the tiniest openings in our screens.  Kathryn doesn't see well enough to spot them and sat in the middle of her room screaming as the drone of the stink bug wings flew past her head.  At first we took a bucket of water with bleach in it and picked up the stink bugs one by one to drop them to their death into the water.  We worked for hours and decided to call an exterminator.

I chose Botetourt Pest Control (phone number 473-BUGS) and with a non-toxic solution of bug spray we woke up to a bug-free home this morning.  The solution used to get rid of the pests is aspirin-based and we were assured it was harmless and odorless.  It was true, and rather than picking up the dead bugs I found a website recommending vacuuming up the bugs.  If they are squeezed and the odor from their body escapes, it is like a beacon to the stink bugs outdoors to "come on in!"  Once they are vacuumed, I would recommend emptying the vacuum cleaner outside immediately.  Some of them survive and getting them out of the vacuum will keep the smell down in the house the next time the vacuum is used.

One never knows when a nasty invasion of bugs, thoughts, attitudes, or negative reactions will strike.  Use Botetourt Pest control for the bugs, and Philippians 4:8 for the harder to kill "pests."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Settling for Less

I read this story recently and turned it over in my mind again as I listened to the sermon in church this morning.  The story is about a man named Jim who had saved a long time to take an Alaskan cruise.  He had dreamed of doing that for as long as he could remember.  At last he was on board with two carefully packed suitcases.  The first evening, when he heard, "dinner is served" over the loudspeaker, he took peanut butter crackers from his suitcase and sat at a table in his small cabin to eat them.  Every day at mealtime he repeated the ritual.  It wasn't that he wouldn't have enjoyed the ship's banquets.  He simply didn't read the fine print on the ticket which stated, "Meals are included in the price of the ticket."  He didn't know he had a right to feast in an extravagant way.

Our sermon this morning was about Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and how far He would go to rescue His lambs.  The pastor used an example from scripture that made my heart feel as though I had feasted.   As Christians, we have a daily invitation to open God's word and feast upon it.  Before church was over I prayed, "Father, when my heart is starving for peace, comfort, or courage, help me to remember to read the fine print on the pages of my Bible where your extravagant words will fill my starving heart.  I don't want to settle for less when I am being offered so much."  My imagination took me to a table where Jesus was waiting there for me.  I could almost see a twinkle in His eye as I imagined Him offering me a seat saying, "Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied." Luke 6:21 

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A New Year

Today marks the beginning of the new year according to the Jewish calendar.  In keeping with the tradition of Rosh HaShana we stood at the bank of our creek with our children and grandchildren at sundown.  Paul Burton sounded the trumpet.  We each had a piece of bread as a reminder of our sin and after confessing it to one another we threw the bread into the water.  Annelise confessed that she did not like to obey when it was time to pick up toys.  Qavah confessed to being mean to Annelise yesterday when she did not help her get a napkin at lunch.  It was Paul Burton who took my breath away when he asked forgiveness for not trusting God when he didn't see evidence of His working. I have often struggled with the same sin.

There is no magic in throwing the bread into the water.  Our sins are not forgiven because we throw a token offering into the water.  Rather, we were reminded as we stood at the creek that we all have sin and fall short of the Glory of God.  Through confession, prayer, and the mercy of God, we were freed from a guilty conscience.  After the confession of sin came the eating of sweet apples and honey.  That tradition represents the hope that the coming year will be filled with sweetness.  It is interesting to me that confessing sin and forgiving one another ends with a sweet taste in the mouth.  While most Christians don't celebrate Jewish holidays, we have found it connects us to the human side of Jesus, Who being born a Jew, celebrated these traditions.  L'Shanah Tovah!  (For a good year!)

Numbers 29:1 On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets.