Welcome! This is where it all began. I no longer post on this website and some of the content reflects former convictions and understandings. Some of these posts are hard core on issues that I am softer on these days. I deleted many posts that I feared would lead people into legalism, so if you find a missing hyperlink that may be why. These days I write at Covered By His Hand.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A trip to Saint Louis

Yesterday we had to go to St. Louis for Lydia to see an Immunologist. We had a morning appointment with Dr. Knutsen at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital. I started getting concerned the night before that the Dr might lecture us on account of our vaccination stance (we no longer vax our kids), but he barely even blinked. He tested Lydia for 48 allergies and she has none that are serious. They drew 8 viles of blood (about the maximum from someone in her weight class), and we will get results for those things in about three weeks. We know nothing else right now. Good news, she has moved up to the 25th percentile in weight!!! Halelujah!

The kids all did amazingly well at the Dr office. My parents followed us to St. Louis to go to the zoo with us and watch the kids at the appointment. BUT, they got lost in the city and never made it to the hospital. Fortunately, the rooms were large enough to accommodate our family. The kids were relatively quiet and patient. Lydia had to lay completely still for 15+ minutes while blotches of allergy testing agent sat on her back. Despite the itching that must have been a result of the histamine that turned her red, she laid VERY still! I am proud of all my kids!

As for the zoo... it was the busiest we have ever seen it. We were all exhausted... but we had a good time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Am I the only one?

I am wandering today if I am the only woman who has four kids and a doting husband, yet feels terribly lonely. I walk around all day aching with loneliness.

Paul is the pastor of a small, country church. Aside from our youthful family of 6, there are about 15 regular attenders, and all have white hair. I am NOT complaining about "old people." I love the elderly in my church - they are precious! What I am saying is that these older people do not fill the void I feel.

I have a void that aches for a like-minded woman. All my "real life" peers/friends are hours away (or days away). So, I am left to internet companions. Daily I attempt to fill the lonely void by reading the blogs of Reformed Christians (see the side bar). This activity helps only as long as I am reading their site, then reality hits -I have no friends. I have no one here (besides Paul) to listen to my pondering, encourage me when I am down, or reach over and hug me.

I have family within an hour's drive, but that doesn't fill the void. I often get e-mails from real-life friends, but that doesn't help. We go for long drives in the country to try to satisfy this hunger, but that doesn't help. I feel doomed to loneliness. Am I the only one?! Do other moms with 4+ kids feel lonely? Having more babies is not a cure for loneliness! (Though it may go a long way towards treating laziness and selfishness!)

What's a lonely Mama to do?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New Vitamins

I just ordered SuperMom Vitamins, upon recommendation of Kim C. over at InAShoe.com. I hope they are as good as the reviews made them sound. I will let you know in a couple weeks how I am feeling.

Lydia is a new person!

I promised to keep everyone posted on Lydia's condition, so this is an update to follow this post from May 3rd.

It has been two weeks since I said that Lydia seems to have experienced some healing. Since that time, she has continued to improve!!! She is sleeping an appropriate amount, she is eating a little more, she is running, jumping, singing, and playing. She is even throwing an occasional temper tantrum. It is so good to see her up and moving! When I hear her singing I cry, because just 2 weeks ago she was not even talking!!!

I do appreciate all your prayers! Lydia is a new person!

It's not Rheumatoid!!!

I got a few of my test results back this morning. I DO NOT have rheumatoid arthritis! That's good news! (But, I still have painful, swollen joints).

My scores showed that I was low on B12, but they are NOT going to give me the shots. They want me to take vitamins for a month and then recheck.

Also, I am anemic (again/still). I will be taking Iron twice a day and will recheck that in a month as well.

Anyone have any vitamins that they really recommend? Right now we take the cheap ones we buy at Sam's Club. Paul is willing to pay more if we know something is worth his money! (Especially if it means I can be a "normal" mom.)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

And the testing continues...

My blood testing was put off till tomorrow, so I will have to fast overnight again. After seeing my family Dr today, I have more tests added to be done. Tomorrow I will be tested for: Adrenal problems/cortisol, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Pernicious Anemia/B12 deficiency, and more that I cannot remember...

My thyroid medicine dose was raised about 6 weeks ago and in that time I have been slowly improving (especially the joint pain.) So, I naturally thought that the dose change was the reason... UNTIL yesterday. Paul was gone all day and I had SO many things on my to-do list (I am still doing laundry from his family's weekend visit!). Anyway, at the end of the night I could not walk because the pain in my knees and ankles was so severe! And, it wasn't even noon before I couldn't use my hands and my finger joints were swollen to the size of quarters. Here is my conclusion - Paul pampers me, and as a result I can function. BUT, when he is gone and my individual work load increases, I get very sore! I am very disappointed to discover this, because Paul is talking about getting another secular job very soon. How will I function? I honestly don't know.

Please pray for my testing that the results will be accurate and useful. Please pray for me as I try to get my work done without overdoing. Pray for Paul as he picks up so much of my slack!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Went to the Endocrinologist

Yesterday I went to the endocrinologist. She is doing a lot of testing on me, which shows me that she takes me seriously. She seems to think that my adrenal function is low. So, on Thursday morning I take a fasting test to check for cortisol. My thyroid condition is auto-immune. And, the nature of auto-immunological disorders is that they seem to attract other autoimmune disorders. She mentioned that I need to be checked for Rheumatoid Arthritis, because of my joint pains. And, she wants to get me checked for pernicious anemia (I may have spelt that wrong, and I am too tired tonight to link it to wikipedia - sorry.) She also wants to get an ultrasound (of my thyroid) and make sure there isn't any cancer. I am happy with this course of action, I am happy with her aggressive testing. If nothing turns up, and if I still feel this horrible in 6 months, then I will again try to find a Dr that will do Armour natural thyroid with me. But, in the mean-time I am going to try to be content with what I have.

On a side note - she told me "protect" myself against conceiving children right now. She says that I am not in good enough health to support a baby. If you have read much of my blogs, you know that my husband and I feel strongly that we need to leave our child-bearing up to God. So, what do we do when the Dr says "no?" Well, long story short - we still leave it up to God. We are trying to look at this through eyes that are not blinded by all the conventions of the modern world. In our day we have literally hundreds of devices to prevent child birth, but before the 20th century there is no documented evidence of evangelicals using birth control. You can do research and show that there was some forms of birth control even dating back to the Old Testament. (Remember Onan spilling his seed?) Anyway, one has to, at the very least, ask why for thousands of years Christians frowned upon birth control. What we see in Scripture is that:
1) God gives children as a blessing. 2) It is the Lord who opens and closes the womb. 3) In Scripture, we see women begging for children, they desire to have as many as they can - even if it kills them!

So, we will hold to our convictions regarding birth control and we choose to let God decide when to bless us with children... that is not for my doctor to decide. I know this is a touchy issue, so feel free to leave comments. I will allow comments in disagreement, but I may not allow something unkind.

Another Mother's Day Picture

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day Pictures

Paul's family came in this weekend. I do not have time to write now, so these pics will have to suffice.

These are the four cousins of similar ages. They had a blast this weekend.

This is the whole clan.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lessons learned at the Dentist

If you have less than 3 kids than you may not know that with each child you have your teeth get a little weaker. I have been anemic with each pregnancy, and as a result, my teeth have grown weak. Some have broken/crumbled in the past 2 years. (I now take vitamins and supplements, but I never knew before what a difference they made!).

Anyway, I had to get 2 crowns this past week. I sat in the chair for 2 and a half hours, and all I left with was temporaries that look far worse than the original condition of my teeth! But, this story is going somewhere - stay with me... (Stay on task, Beth, stay on task...)

First I need to explain that I am nervous each and every time I go to the dentist! (Because one time 7 years ago I had a panic attack as a reaction to the anesthetic, it wasn't pretty). The minute I sit in the chair I start entreating God for help. I mentally sing every song, hymn, Psalter I can that is God honoring and God-focused. This practice calms me. Well, the dentist kept telling me, "You are so patient!" And, "I wish I was as patient as you are." I kept thinking to myself, if she only knew!... only knew that I am terrified I may go nuts at any moment, only knew that I cried on the drive down, only knew that I got terribly upset when someone spilled a cup at breakfast. And, then I thought to myself, "This is how I should be at home! I should pray and sing to myself and beg God for help every moment of the day!"

If God answers my prayer begging for peace in a dentists' chair, how much more will he grant me peace with my kids!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Magnets to mens' eyes

Last night Paul and I listened to a fantastic sermon on the issue of modesty. It was delivered in a Sunday School forum at a church where the elders saw a rising problem in dress among the ladies. I highly recommend that you download this 59 minute sermon and listen to it over and over. But, for those of you who do not have an hour to listen, I will lay out some helpful information from the sermon (after my lenghty disclaimer).

Before I continue:
When I was a young teen, my mother tried to tell me about modesty. She sat me down and read me 1 Timothy 2:9. At first I hated the idea of modesty, it was a foreign concept to me. Then, later I rebelled against modesty and propriety of dress. I am utterly ashamed of how I used to carry myself: wearing shirts that showed every curve, wearing shorts cut too short, wearing a bathing suit to mow the yard ("to get a good tan"). Most of these practices ceased immediately when I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye at age 18. I never understood that my Christian brothers were stumbling at my dress! I never knew I would be accountable for causing any man to stumble. I somehow thought that guys who were saved were immune to the lusts that non-Christians had, how terribly mistaken I was!

I wish that I could say that every day for the last 11 years I have been properly clad - carefully considering what I am suffering my brothers to see. But, unfortunately, I have tried to step right up to the line of what is modest and put a toe over it. This past few months I have been convicted of my dress again, but more so convicted of my attitude. As I have said before, you can be covered head to toe and still have an immodest heart! This was the point I have been in... until last night. Hearing the above sermon has renewed my desire to take more care in my dress (and give a heap of clothes in the "gray area" to GCF/Goodwill.)

I write this lengthy disclaimer because I want you to see my heart on this. I am not a Pharisee (though I would be honored if you call me a Puritan). Pharisees "bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." (Matt 23:4 KJV) I do not want to burden you with lists and rules, I cannot. For I know that, "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matt 7:2 KJV) The way you and I act is to be determined by the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit's conviction. The apostle Paul talks frequently about a Christian's liberty to choose for himself on some issues. Far be it from me to bind someone's conscious... I cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit (nor would I seek to).

That said, here is a very helpful list that the elder preaching the above sermon compiled. This is given by me as helpful information only. I am not prescribing any dress code. And, since different cultures vary widely (and I have not been out of the States much) I will say this is geared towards Americans and Western-Minded Europeans. If you want to leave a comment about dress in a country you have been in, I would love to hear it.

These are 10 things that are magnets that draw a man's eye.
1. Dresses or skirts w/slits to the knee or above.
2. Dresses, skirts, jeans that hug the buttocks
3. Upper garments that hug the breast
4. Unbuttoned blouses that have one button left covering the breasts, and loose tops that if you lean over your breasts are exposed. (Us ladies are always putting a baby down or picking a rattle up).
5. Sleeveless blouses or large arm holes that men sitting behind you can look and see in your undergarments.
6. Low rise skirts and pants that barely cover the buttocks (and usually show a crack.)
7. See through clothing
8. Skirts & dresses that are so short that if you move around shows your undergarments.
9. Pants, slacks, jeans that hug the buttocks, hips and crotch.
10. Bared midriff.

Again, I can't say it enough... these are not rules. I do not mean to burden you. I DO mean to make you ask yourself if you are unnecessarily causing a brother to stumble.

Also, remember how I said that I was a teen when my mom talked to me about modesty? She did well to mention it - however, it should have been a lifestyle set in my heart from infancy. (No, mom, I am not faulting you. I love you, and I am not saying I am better than you. Please know that I never intend to dishonor you, but I thought this story from my life may help others.)

Enjoy the sermon. Hope this post helps you as much as it has helped me to re-establish it in my own mind!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Has Lydia experienced complete healing?

As you know, Lydia has been weak and frail for a long time. She typically has no appetite and she sleeps about 18 hours a day. This morning she got up and ate a large breakfast (almost as many eggs as Paul). She ran around all morning playing. She left her blanket in her bed. And, she said "I'm hungry" before lunch. As far as memory serves me, I have never heard her allude to hunger before! I cried happy tears. Our God is a healing God. Is it possible that He has completely healed Lydia - thus showing all tests negative? Only time will tell.

Nature Walk

I mentioned the other day that I live in a homeschool paradise (that is, my country yard). Today we went on a nature expedition to identify a flowering oak tree. In that pin oak tree we saw an Apple Gall Wasp's gall (think circular cocoon) in a tree. You have to go read about this fascinating insect! How can anyone with eyes believe in evolution? But, I guess it is all about the condition of your spiritual eyes.

"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
2 Cor 4:3-4 (KJV)

Friday, May 2, 2008

'Tis a point I long to know

Here's a great poem that I stumbled upon. Paul found it in a tract called The Christian Warfare, printed by The Inheritance Publishers.

'Tis a Point I Long to Know
by John Newton

'Tis a point I long to know, Oft it causes anxious thought;
Do I love the Lord, or no? Am I his, or am I not?

If I love, why am I thus? Why this dull and lifeless frame?
Hardly, sure, can they be worse, Who have never heard his name!

Could my heart so hard remain, Prayer a task and burden prove;
Every trifle give me pain, If I knew a Saviour's love?

When I turn my eyes within, All is dark, and vain, and wild;
Filled with unbelief and sin, Can I deem myself a child?

If I pray, or hear, or read, Sin is mixed with all I do;
You that love the Lord indeed, Tell me, Is it thus with you?

Yet I mourn my stubborn will, Find my sin, a grief, and thrall;
Should I grieve for what I feel, If I did not love at all?

Could I joy his saints to meet, Choose the ways I once abhorred,
Find, at times, the promise sweet, If I did not love the Lord?

Lord decide the doubtful case! Thou who art thy people's sun;
Shine upon thy work of grace, If it be indeed begun.

Let me love thee more and more, If I love at all, I pray;
If I have not loved before, Help me to begin today.

More great news... I think

We just got the call that Lydia does NOT have Cystic Fibrosis. This is good news! However, she is still weak, frail, tiny, and her hair falls out...

I already posted about being cancer free here.

Now, are you wondering how I "held up?" I did ok... I only had two fighting-back-tears moments. The first was when they classified Lydia as "failure to thrive." The second was when we first arrived at the oncologist and they gave us a business card saying, "You need this for our after hours number." I didn't want to think of after hour cancer emergencies. But, I kept my composure - UNTIL I went to the grocery store on the way home from the hospital. I went to pick up an enormous order of meat from the meat counter, only my order wasn't ready yet. (There was a HUGE meat sale and we stocked up. Praise God for meat sales and my vacuum sealer!) I sat waiting for many minutes fighting tears. Isn't that silly?! It was as if the stress that I had been pushing aside caught hold of me. I am just SO physically and emotionally drained! (That is no excuse for any sin... I am just explaining.)

Where do we go from here? I don't really know. Lydia will see an immunologist in St. Louis at the end of May, and a GI in July (same place).

Thank you for all your prayers!

Friday's appointments

The good news:
The oncologist says Lydia's lymph nodes are fine. He admits she is frail, tiny, weak... but she does NOT appear to have cancer. He does not want to see her again or to run any tests. The doctor was very kind and a great listener. He made a few comments regarding her general health.
1- He couldn't get over the fact that she has a "preemie-shaped head." He couldn't believe that she was born on time and had a big birth weight (8# 14oz).
2- Her nodes seem large because she is so very skinny.
3- He commented on her speech delay and said we should have her hearing tested.

He was very kind and his concern and compassion were obvious. He kept eye contact the whole time and even made some small talk about our children and the fact that he has 6 children. The weirdest thing about the appointment was that as he felt the lymph nodes around the base of her neck and under her arms she blacked out (though not from pain). This did not phase the Dr at all, so I guess it is normal. But, Paul and I sure were surprised when her eyes closed and she fell back onto Paul's chest.

About the CF test: We have not gotten results yet. If we do not get them today we may have to wait several days for them to come through "snail mail." I will keep you all posted.

Thank you all for your prayers!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Just for fun

Do you see anything peculiar about this tree trunk?

Now do you see it? Living in the country is a homeschool mom's dream! Today we saw this little friend. Last week while mowing I scared up a snake. And, this past winter we found a snake skin in our basement. Add to that all our birds and deciduous trees and you have homeschooling paradise!

This one is just for fun. By the way, this is the dress that I sewed for Rebecca's birthday in March.