Tuesday, March 31, 2009

When God Doesn't Seem to Make Sense

Years and years ago Dr. James Dobson wrote a book entitled "When God Doesn't Make Sense." Later, I heard him say on his program that he wished he would have entitled it "When God Doesn't Seem to Make Sense." The obvious reason is because God always does make sense in all of life's circumstances, even if we can't understand it.

Last week my friend Barb died. In recent years she had suffered a number of unexplainable hardships - the death of a foster son she was adopting, several miscarriages, a stillbirth, and then, in late 2007, a cancer diagnosis. We all prayed and supported Barb through her treatments and surgery and rejoiced when she was eventually declared "cancer-free." But then, just last month, her cancer returned with a vengeance and within six weeks, Barb died, leaving behind a husband, 2 grown daughters, 2 school aged sons, and an adopted, special needs preschooler. I'm sure Barb didn't have an answer as to why God asked her to go through all these trials. I'm quite sure her family doesn't have a reason today why she isn't there with them. I don't have a reason why I lost my friend.

The older I get the more circumstances I find myself running into that just don't make sense from my standpoint. I see the sufferings of people I know, I just experienced Barb's death, and I have had unexplainable circumstances occur in my own life. For years I wrestled with wondering why God allowed my son's birth accident to occur. When He could have prevented it, why didn't He? And there's other things that have happened, too, that have made me wonder what on earth God was thinking by allowing them. This past week I have been pondering on what possible good can there be be in widowing a young husband and leaving their children motherless?

I hope I don't sound bitter, because I am far from it. In fact, I actually have some answers. I know that I am certainly not the first person to question God's thinking. One of the oldest books in the Bible is the book of Job and the entire book deals with this question: if God is good, then why does He allow bad things to happen to His people? In the space of one day, Job lost his wealth, his children, and his good health. He spends the next 42 chapters wrestling with God over this extreme misfortune. But finally, in chapter 42, Job concludes that while he does know know God's reasoning, He can trust Him because of God's greatness, sovereignty, and independence. In chapter 38, God asks Job, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; When I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band; When I fixed My limit for it and set bars and doors, when I said, 'This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!' Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?..." And so on. Read the chapter sometime. It is a magnificent account of just how powerful God truly is and how He, alone, is sovereign.

In our puny, human understanding we want answers. But God doesn't always provide those. We are owed no explanations from God. Sometimes, He does allow us to see things down the road that help us understand why certain things in the past happened. But a lot of things we just simply are not going to have answers for in this lifetime.

I have long thought that death and suffering are particularly hard for those of us living in Western cultures to accept. The reason is because we are so used to things going well almost all the time, unlike those living in 3rd world or more oppressed societies. To us, death and suffering is viewed as an affront, rather than a normal part of of life.

It is a guarantee that suffering will be coming in our way, in one form or another. What then, are we to do, when those times come? Here's a few thoughts:

1) Recognize that God is working this very circumstance for our good no matter how impossible that seems. It has been said that God never wastes a hurt. Boy, isn't that the truth! Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

2) Rejoice! Really? Philippians 4:4; Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice!"Yes, really. That's not to say that our first response when trials come is going to naturally be to jump up and down and exclaim, "yes!" But when we view all of life's circumstances as coming directly from the Father to us we can count it joy when these things happen, knowing that they are for our refinement and spiritual growth.

3) Draw near to God. During a very painful period in my life (our miscarriage, actually) I stumbled across these verses. They became precious to me then and I still turn to them often. Psalm 34:17-19: "The righteous cry out and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all." During the loss of our baby I found myself envisioning myself crawling up into God's lap and just burying my head in his chest, crying out my tears of loss and disappointment. God longs to comfort us. Let Him!

4) Keep an eternal perspective. This world is not where it is at. It's all we know and it's easy to forget that something much better awaits us. This life is not meant to be easy, but in Heaven, it will be! Revelation 21:4 promises us, "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain..." One of my favorite visions in this past week has been to imagine Barb sitting in Heaven, cuddling her babies on her lap. What a joyous reunion that must have been for her! And I wanted her to stay here?!

God always, always, always knows what He is doing. Nothing takes Him by surprise! There's great comfort in that. There is a song that came out about 20 years ago that had the refrain, "When you can't see his plan, when you can't trace His hand, when you don't understand, Trust His heart." I love that! God is always wise, always good, and always loving. As we grow, we can learn to say along with Job (ch. 13, vs 15) "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."

I hope these words have been encouragement to you. I know I found myself lifted up as I began to jot down truths I knew in preparation for this post. As I finish this, I want to leave you with the words that Barb had in every single one of her emails, below her signature, "God is good, ALL the time." Yes, He is, Barb. Yes, He is.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ben's Diagnosis

Today was Ben's appointment with the head psychiatrist at Kavalier and Associates (Dr. Kavalier). All these years, while never having him formally diagnosed, we have always believed Ben to have autism. But today Dr. K dispelled that. He believes Ben to have a disorder called Pervasive Personality Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified, otherwise known as PDD-NOS. I am actually familiar with this disorder. The first year I was homeschooling I met a mom in my homeschooling group who told me about her son who had "PDD-NOS" and when she described some of the things going on with him I remember thinking, "Boy, that sounds a lot like Ben!" I've also read a little bit about it here and there over the years.

I think PDD-NOS is probably a "catch-all" definition. Dr. K said that the true autistic will be mentally impaired and he doesn't see that in Ben. We have wondered about that. Ben seems very alert and has always had good eye contact and is affectionate - things not generally associated with mental retardation. But yet, he is functioning about 4 grade levels below his age and we have never understood how it is he is so inattentive to everything. Dr. K explained that there is a "line" - or a "spectrum", if you will - consisting of a broad range of mental symptoms. On one end you have the child with Aspergers. Aspergers kids might be able to do quantum physics, but have to wear shoes with velcro closures because they are incapable of tying shoestrings. More than likely, Albert Einstein was an Aspie. Quite often Aspergers kids can grow up to lead pretty normal lives. On the other end is your true autistic, which is an individual with mental and social handicaps. And in the middle are those with PDD-NOS - the rest of them!

We turned in these parental evaluation sheets that we were given last time. I can't remember what they were called, but it was us evaluating Ben in a number of areas. Dr. K said an average score is about 90. The highest he has ever seen is a 155. My score for Ben was 142 and Paul's was 128! So he definitely has issues. But we knew that. Dr. K said that at the rate Ben is going, he will end up in assisted living, like a group home, at some point. And we knew that too. And honestly, I'm ok with that. There's still twinges of grief here and there over the grandchildren or daughter in law I won't have through him. I pretty much made peace a long time ago with God's decision to send us a child like Ben. It would never have been my first choice but having Ben has changed me and I think it's for the better and maybe that was God's whole point in sending him.

Dr. K then talked to us about a "wonder" drug called Namenda. I first heard about this drug last month. Our pastor connected us with a family from Saylorville Baptist who has a child on the spectrum. They have seen great progress with the use of this drug, as has another family in their church. So, I was curious and that's how I came to make the appointment with Dr. Kavalier. Namenda is a drug used to treat Alzheimer's patients. But in recent years they have discovered that autistic children benefit greatly from it. Some are even being cured. I'm afraid to be too hopeful because we have tried so many things over the years with Ben and nothing has had any lasting and long term effects. But Dr. K is now using this drug on over 500 of his patients and there's only about 50 who have not responded to it. He has patients flying in to Des Moines from around the country. Word is starting to get out about his success with this drug. He said that once this gets FDA approval he'll be called to be on the Today show and Oprah. I guess we'll see! I know I said I'm afraid to hope, but I am. What if all that has happened with us and with Ben has been leading us to this point?

I am not big on drugs. Most of you who know me, know that. I'll take them myself (you ought to see my purse during allergy season - it's a pharmacy in and of itself!), but I'm hesitant to give them to the kids. Well, usually, anyway. All 3 older boys have discovered the joys of Advil and I find them popping those pretty frequently these days. But I know that anything you put into your body, you will pay the price for at some point. It may be hardly noticeable or it could mean cancer at some point. It's a trade-off: will the results of today be worth possible repercussions later in life? I'm willing to take that chance right now with Ben. If he can have a better future because of this drug, then it will be worth it, even if it ends up being a shorter future. My resistance to drugging him in the past was because I abhor the use of Ritalin and other psychotropic drugs on little boys. Boys are boys and while it would be nice to calm them down artificially at some times, it's not the right thing to do, in most cases. I didn't want a drugged up version of Ben. I still wanted him, even if he was driving me insane at times! My understanding of this drug is that is helps to calm down and even heal the receptors in Ben's brain. He has the inability to sort through the different input that comes in that the average person can do, without even thinking about it.

So, I will keep you posted on how it goes with Ben. Maybe this is just one more experiment that we are putting him through that will ultimately fail. But maybe it's the answer we are looking for. If it does offer some improvement, then we can begin to address some of his other issues. I have developed a sense of urgency about his future, wanting to get a plan in place as much as is possible. He'll be an adult before we know it and I don't want to just stumble into it, not knowing what to do and just handing him over to the system without any forethought. So, we'll see!

Can you see that this child has my heart? I love all my boys with a fierce, tiger-like, mother-love that's pretty universal. But Ben was my broken baby. The first time I saw him was in a grainy Polaroid photo that Paul brought me while I was in one hospital and Ben was in the other, after his birth. I was a little disconnected still at that point. But when he was 5 days old I saw him in person for the first time. He was naked, in an isolette, and tubes snaked and crisscrossed all over his little body. I had to wear a gown and gloves and the only contact I was allowed with him was through two little "portholes" in his isolette that I could stick my hands through and stroke him. But the first day I saw him an awareness and deep love overcame me and I knew I would do anything and everything it took to help him and love him through life, no matter how he turned out, no matter what he could or could not do. He was my son. Twelve plus years down the road, I still feel that way.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dealing with these Blasted Bodies

There's Ben, looking kind of pathetic! I just put a picture of him in here because I am going to talk about him. Actually, I think he was feeling pretty good here - he was luxuriating in our new couch. Also, notice he is wearing my pink socks. I asked him why he had snatched those out of my laundry basket and he replied, "Because they feel so good, Mom!" They're very soft and made out of this nubby fabric - some of my favorites. But they're mine!

Well, it seems like lately we have been dealing with a number of medical issues at our house - nothing horribly serious, but things that have to be addressed. Ben has had a bucket load lately. He's had lots of things going on since birth, of course. You all know how we are in the process of getting his autism diagnosed and we're looking into a certain medication with that. He had some behavioral things going on last fall, so we have been seeking counsel on that, as well. Thankfully, those have gotten much better. One of Ben's big issues is allergies. Ever since he had pneumonia 3 times his kindergarten year he has been a mess, respiratory-wise. Ben had severe, severe eczema as an infant and preschooler - some of you know the nightmare we went through with that. As predicted, he did eventually outgrow the eczema (although his skin still feels like sandpaper) and traded it for hay fever. Only, he drips year round, not just during hay fever season. It's definitely worse then, though. I don't think he knows what it is to feel perfectly well and non-congested. We have done a number of things over the years, attempting to treat these allergies, and nothing has even worked. We even had him get an adnoidectomy a couple of years ago, hoping that would fix it - didn't do a thing and now the poor kid has no adnoids. My hopes had been raised when we found this great chiropractor/naturopath in Ankeny, but then when I found out he didn't deal with our insurance, I was discouraged. So I ended up taking him to our family doctor, who is new to us, and asking him what he thought.

So, last week, on my birthday, of all days, we ended up having Ben allergy tested at the Allergy Institute in W. Des Moines. Boy, was that traumatic! First, they did the back testing, which is no big deal. Except, Ben tends to be in constant motion and it was extremely difficult to get him to lie still for the 15 min it took to see how the allergens would react on his back. We got through that. Then, the dr. decided he needed to inject 11 more allergens underneath Ben's arm skin - way underneath. Ben was not pleased at all with this. He jerked, screamed, and writhed so much that the nurse went to get help. She brought in the receptionist. This woman was a study in contrasts. She wore scrubs, had a broad, plain face, and tightly permed brown curls. But she had a professional manicure with fake, orangy nails! Anyway, she walked in, saw me holding Ben and asked if I knew "the position." The "position"? There's a certain position for holding your adolescent down so he can be injected 11 times? She ended up wrapping her legs around him and I held his hands and helped him count down the needle pokes. After we were done, she explained that she used to work in daycare (funny, I would have guessed she was a former prison guard!) and that was the position you used to constrain out of control kids. So glad I never used daycare for my boys! Emotionally, though, that was a really difficult experience for me. I remember having to hold Ben down as a baby when drs wanted to examine him, but it was never in order for them to do things that would be painful for him.

But anyway, the short story is that Ben is allergic to about everything in the world. So, he's going to be getting 3 allergy shots a week. Fortunately, those will be given at Dr. Steinmann's office and since they are located across the street from Blank, I can just run over there after Ben's occupational therapy on Weds.

Then there is my blasted body. It hasn't worked right since my stroke. And lately I have been dealing with overwhelming fatigue, which I chalked up to my unrelenting schedule. Plus, I have had a yeast infection all month long so I assumed that was draining me. This past Wed. was my regular gyno appt and to my immense surprise, I tested as "severely" (they said) anemic. So now I'm on iron and I am hopeful that will result in increased energy. And then I went to the chiropractor Friday. It just occurred to me in the past couple of weeks that even though I couldn't go to that one chiro. in Ankeny I had visited in Jan (because of insurance) there is another one, also in Ankeny, that I have seen a number of times, who does a great job. I hadn't been in since I was pregnant. But we had a great visit on Friday and he explained that all my neck and back pain (not horrible, but unrelenting, nontheless) is a result of my body having to compensate so long for the rest of my body when it was weakened by the stroke. So, I'm going to invest some time in now and see him frequently and then gradually stretch out the visits. And he takes my insurance!

We spent Thursday morning up in Ames dealing with Paul's issues. He's been participating in an epilepsy drug study for the past year. But since Dec. he has had extraordinary problems with fatigue and lately he's been having some concerning side effects, so we're withdrawing from the study. We'd both rather deal with his occasional nighttime seizures than some of these side effects.

Now the rest of the kids: nothing too serious. Will sprained his foot a few weeks ago. I think that's all healed up, though. Sam has had a bad cold all week, but he's on the mend. This morning David cut his finger pretty deeply, using a table knife. He wasn't carrying on when he told me what he had done, so I didn't think it was a big deal. I told him he's probably be fine. But then Paul got out of bed and looked at it and said, "Uh - this might need to be seen." Sure enough, it was a gaping slice. So I drove David to the ER and he ended up with 2 stitches. I think he was really upset, though, that it was a "good", as he calls it, knife that cut him. After all, he wasn't using an "owie" (steak) knife! Poor kid! David is our little drama major and at one point, while the dr. was stitching him up, the dr. asked me, "Has David had to have a lot of medical intervention and treatments?" Guess he thought there had to be a reason behind David's performance!

Blasted bodies indeed! We deal with what we can while here on earth, since they are all we have, but sometimes I sure long for those heavenly bodies that are waiting for us! Things like I have related here are annoying and can make life difficult and the days a little long. But they aren't true suffering. In my next post, I do plan to address the issue of suffering and why God allows it and what our response should be when those times come.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bonus Day

These are tulips from Paul that I came home to yesterday. I got them because Paul was in a very good mood! I was shopping when Paul called me in the morning and asked if I was sitting down. My heart stopped because I knew he was about to tell me had just been laid off! Instead, he told me that he had been called into the office of one of the owners and handed a bonus check - a check we had no idea was coming! Apparently, it's part of the pay package at Loziers. Once you have been there an entire year you are eligible for the bonus which is based on the company's performance the previous year, how much money the employee generated for the company that year, and the employee's overall attitude. $500 of it was directly deposited into our 401K and the rest we got in cash.

Of course, now this means we actually have a 401k! Paul was eligible to start contributing last spring, but I never got around to setting it up. I had just taken over our finances in March and wanted some time to see just what we had to work with and could contribute. I have mixed feelings about the whole retirement $ thing. I really think the rapture is going to occur before we get to retirement age. And, even if it doesn't, I don't know how safe those funds are going to be from the govt. Very scary things are happening with the American government right now and I don't know if there is such a thing as "untouchable" money. But at the same time I know Proverbs admonishes us over and over to be wise and prepare and saving for retirement would fall into that category. Even if the rapture happens the day before our retirement party I'd sure hate to get to Heaven and have God be displeased with us because we had acted more like grasshoppers instead of ants! So, anyway, now we have a 401K, in addition to Paul's small pension from his workplace in Omaha. I'm quite sure we will not be retiring wealthy, though! Actually, getting this thing set up was one of the things Paul's boss talked with him about yesterday. He strongly encouraged Paul to get that going and now Paul is really enthusiastic about it. I plan to call the lady at Loziers that handles these things and find out what we need to do to start contributing regularly.

But anyway, Paul is just thrilled with this. You know, I don't think he has ever worked for a better company than Loziers. They take such good care of their employees. When Paul started in this line of work and we moved out here we were burned really badly by his first employers. They were Christians but treated us very poorly. It was a learning experience, though, but it kind of soured us for awhile on the whole career path Paul was starting and made us doubt if we were even in God's will. But I can see it now, and the subsequent job that came afterwards (a good employer, but a small business, so they couldn't offer much to employees) that God was preparing us. When we needed it the most - I was newly unemployed, pregnant, and without maternity coverage - this offer from Loziers came. And God was totally behind it all! And we are thankful!

And we'll be more thankful when hours pick up! This is a typically slow time of year for heating and air and this year is no exception. His last check was nearly only 1/3 of a normal paycheck! Kind of tight there! But it will warm up and soon Paul will be working 12 hour days getting air conditioners tuned up and fixed and working properly. And in the meantime, we aren't anywhere near starvation.

So, Paul ended up meeting me for lunch yesterday and had to bring his check to show me, along with the accompanying letter. I have never seen him like this - he's like a little kid that got the best Christmas present ever! He told me he even tried to call his mom to tell her, but she wasn't home. I don't think it is so much the money that he is excited about, as it is the appreciation from his employer. His job is a big part of his identity and to have that validated in a monetary and personal form is really gratifying for him. I don't know - if you were to ask him, he'd probably say it was all about the money!

And that's the story of how I got tulips on a rainy Monday!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Birthday Week - It's All About Me

This past week had my favorite day of the whole year in it - my birthday! It was Wednesday, the 18th. It actually was a pretty busy week and I think I'll blog later on some other parts of it. This will be just about my birthday.

Monday, Sara and her girls came down for the day. I wrote earlier about that visit, I think. This is a picture of Melissa and me with the amazing birthday cake she made. This girl is so creative! Can you believe she is only 10?! I told Melissa how my cakes don't come out of the pan. When I make a cake for Paul or the boys, I leave it in a cake pan, frost it and sprinkle some sprinkly thingies on it, stick some candles it it, and wish them happy birthday. Well, that's not quite true. Sometimes I get really creative and make cupcakes, frost them, and decorate with sprinkly things. At any rate, I'll never attempt something like the above!

Wednesday Paul had them announce my birthday on WHO during Van and Bonnie's show. I've always been perfectly fine with turning another year older. The thrill of it kind of started to diminish a few years ago, but I don't mind turning another age - beats the alternative, as they say! But when they said, "and today is Sarah Heywood's birthday. She's a homemaker and turning 38.", I realized that sounded old and the "homemaker" part sounded a bit frumpy, like I'm an old housewife! I suppose it's better than announcing that "Sarah is turning 38 and still can't figure out how to keep it all together. As we speak, she is slowly losing her mind." I am, but I don't need that announced anyway.

So my birthday was a busy day. I did get some school done with the boys before heading to the dr. with Ben. I got quite a few nice cards in the mail and a couple of phone calls - always appreciated! The drs. visit was traumatic. I got home and just felt so discouraged about my messy house, as always. But then we went out to eat at Culver's and then to church. During prayer request time, my cell phone went off! Argh! Nobody ever calls me so I never think to shut that thing off. It was my brother, Matt. So, while everybody prayed, we chatted out in the entryway, which was nice. Afterwards, we went home and Paul had gotten a Dairy Queen cake for me. Oh, it was so cute. He got one that had 3 or 4 Disney princesses on it and said, "Pretty as a Princess." He picked it because my name means "princess" and that's what he calls me when he is in a romantic or generous mood. I asked him if he told them it was for his wife and he said he did!

Thursday Paul's folks drove up from Council Bluffs. We went bowling and I am still hurting from that experience! Then we went to the Machine Shed for supper. When the boys found out we were going out to eat yet again, Will exclaimed, "Wow - restaurants 2 nights in a row!" The poor, deprived kid! That was a good meal, though. I love the Machine Shed! Dorothy brought me my favorite Danish layer cake she makes me every year. Paul finished up the last of that last night.

Friday night was scrapbooking. And Luanne, one of my scrapping girls, brought me a cake! So that's 4 cakes in 5 days. I think I am loved. I have been feeling so overwhelmed and so tired that I ended up leaving scrapping early - hated to do that, but I needed to sleep.

Then yesterday Paul and I had an appointment with Pastor and Marcia - our on-going counseling concerning Ben and his needs as well as just encouragement in our parenting. Afterwards, Kirsti took me out for lunch and we even had hot fudge sundaes for dessert! That was a good visit.

And now I am home today on Sunday. Sam is barking and I can hear wheezing down in his chest. I really don't want to have to take him to the dr. I had planned to stay home anyway this morning, though. I'm just tired. Mentally, I feel like I am kind of "losing" it and I needed some time to re-group - and clean my house! Physically, I am tired. I do see my gyno. this week - not sure if she can do anything for me or not. More on that later...

But anyway, I had a great birthday week. It's always so nice to feel loved and appreciated by those who know you. I was actually kind of feeling sad this morning that now I have to wait a whole year for another birthday! Silly me! I had better enjoy my thirties as long as I can because 40 is looming on the horizon!Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Homeschooling and Living the Life of Ease

David just informed me that as a homeschool mom, I really have it "easy." He explained that if I sent my kids to school then I'd have to do all the housework myself. But since I homeschool and they're home all day, I have them to do all my work! Guess I'll have to remember that the next time I start feeling panicky over the never subsiding mountain of laundry, dirty floors, and grimy bathtub, as well as my fears that I may be graduating 8th year seniors someday. That's me - totally living the life of ease!

St. Patty's Day

Busy, busy day! Actually, busy, busy last two days.

Yesterday Sara and her girls came down. That was nice! Melissa (age 10) had sent me a questionnaire last week on my likes (favorite flavors, colors, animals, flowers, etc) and she made me a beautiful doll cake! I'll have to post a picture. She made it half peppermint, half strawberry, with frosting tulips. The doll's skirt is made out of that fancy fondant (is that a word - not sure what I am looking for here - that really smooth frosting that comes up in sheets) - all in red, my favorite color! We watched "Fireproof" and then went out to Jordan Creek.

Actually, on "Fireproof" what really bothered me was this: Melissa wanted to watch it with the caption on in case either of the toddlers started making noise. This was my 3rd time to see the movie, but reading the words made me realize just how much I had missed hearing when I viewed it the first two times. I really ought to go have my ears checked out. I just know it's going to mean either a hearing aid or surgery and neither option excites me too much. But I should get it done before socialized medicine becomes a reality.

So, we went to the mall and walked around. I have had my eye on a purse for summer for awhile now. But it's a $70 purse and I just can't spend that. I told myself it had to be marked down at least 25% before I would even consider it. Well, I checked and it was. But still - that's a chunk of money, even with the discount. I had decided that for practicality's sake, I needed to go with the dark denim one, even though the pink and melon one was so much more cheerful! But I know where my purses end up - on the kitchen floor, on the van floor, stuffed in the bottom of the stroller - pink wouldn't be pretty for very long. I was debating and debating and then I saw, stuffed under a display shelf, one of the denim bags. It was missing it's paper stuffing, but it was the size I wanted. Inside was a handwritten note that said it was marked down an additional 25% because, for some reason, the little change purse that came with each purse was missing out of it. Well, I didn't hesitate! I figured this was a sign from God and I bought my purse!

Today I took Ben and David to Speech. Their teacher said she really thinks she only needs to see David one more time and he'll be released from his IEP. This is Ben's last year of Speech, too.

I got home and I had a phone call from Advanced Therapy Solutions. This is the organization that was recommended to us last week by the psych. as a possible resource for some social skill training for Ben. We have a meeting next Wed. with somebody there. It sounds promising and I have my hopes up. Ben definitely needs social skill training and I suppose not being in school is a drawback for him in that area. Of course, I think the benefits of homeschooling him still outweigh any possible social benefits, though! But, I intend for him to be able to be gainfully employed as an adult and, unless he's doing paperwork in a closed office somewhere, he has got to develop some better social interaction skills! This place is up on Ingersoll in Des Moines - a good 35 - 40 min drive. I don't like that part. I feel like I live in my van and I have been so frustrated lately at the amount of schoolwork and housework that I am not getting done. This will only add to that burden. But - you do what you have to.

I took the boys to the St. Patrick's parade in downtown Des Moines today. I would be fine with missing this thing, but they look forward to it. We have gone every March 17th since we moved here. So we all wore green, loaded up the stroller, brought our lunch, and staked a spot on Locust St. The weather was absolutely gorgeous today, which brought out tons and tons of parade-goers. I was kind of irritated, though. All these people, kids and adults, crowded past those of us on the edge of the sidewalk and viewed the parade, standing in the street, clear out to the yellow line! That's just plain rude, not to mention dangerous. The parade entrants didn't throw much candy, which was fine by both me and the boys' dentist. Will caught a string of beads, which he immediately put around his neck. A little later I saw him go up to David, slip it off his head, and put it over David's. He told me that he had observed the look on David's face after Ben had caught a string of beads and he didn't want him to feel bad, so he gave him his beads. Later, Will caught another string and he gave them to Sam, who was entranced and kept taking them off and then putting them back on. Will never did get his own string. I am raising a really great kid, though.

I ran a couple of errands and now I am home, trying to get the laundry caught up and the house cleaned. Oh yes, I also had to make several calls regarding the kids' insurance - what a pain. We're going to grill out on this last fine evening. Hopefully, Paul will be home early enough to take care of that. Ever since I almost blew up our last house with the grill, I'm reluctant to turn that thing on myself. Then, we have an appointment to get our taxes done in Indianola at 8 pm.

And tomorrow - tomorrow is my birthday! Not a milestone year and in the middle of a busy week, but it should be a nice day, regardless. It's not every day you turn 38!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I'm taking a break from peeling apples. I thought I'd surprise Paul and make his favorite dessert. Now I remember why I don't make this very often - very time consuming! I know they make apple pie filling in cans, but I'm quite sure it would not go over very well with him!

My friend Gina is coming over tomorrow for most of the day so I'm trying to get some things ready for that - not a whole lot, but mainly some cooking. So - no school today. There hasn't been a whole lot of school happening this week, actually!

Yesterday was Ben's psychiatric appt. It just seems weird to even say that. It makes me think of strait jackets and rubber rooms. It went well, though. He sees the head guy of this group on March 30. I'm assuming his autism will be formally dx at that time. We talked about medication and we're considering it. We got a referral to an agency that provides social skill training for kids like Ben. I emailed them and got a call back this morning. So that's moving along. There's just a lot to consider from all different directions. Apparently the way this group works is that you see an associate doctor for your first visit and then if he decides you/your child is bad enough off, he makes a referral to the guy whose name is in brass letters on the outside of the building. Well, when we got there, Ben immediately curled up on the floor, wrapping himself around the floor heater. Kind of obvious right there he has some social issues!

I have an appt. next Wed. to take Ben to an allergy institute here in Des Moines. We need to get these constant allergies of his taken care of. I'm guessing it's going to mean allergy shots weekly. Not too crazy about committing to that!

I got two phone calls yesterday - two dear friends are expecting babies this fall! It's very exciting. I love babies! I'm still not over my own desire for more. Well, ok, most days I am, but I'd still go for one more if I could. But I do value my sanity, such as it is. Still - 4 kids seems like such a small family!

My "happy mom" tee arrived this week. It fits - barely. I had better never accidentally dryer dry it, though.

Let's see - anything else to report on? Oh, I have trim in my bedroom now. It only took 4 years to get it up! I was going to paint it to match the walls, but decided I like the look of the white outline against the tan and hunter walls in there. So I'll leave it. Less work, anyway! Yesterday Paul took down rest of the ceiling tiles in the kitchen. He accidentally broke one of my fiesta ware salad plates. I could have cried. I have had that set for 5 1/2 years now and never broken a single piece - through 4 boys and a move across the state! He said he was sorry and I'm going to try to glue it because it broke in big chunks. But it will never be the same...sigh...

I had a bunch of phone calls to make this morning, but I got them done in one shot. I paid Discover, ordered Angel food, talked to the billing office at Blank who keeps billing me for Ben's therapy last October when insurance is supposed to completely cover it. I found out why I haven't received my rolling cart I ordered in January from Lakeside and ended up re-ordering it. And I scheduled an appt. to get our taxes done next Tues. night. I was planning to do them myself this year, but chickened out because of how our stimulus refund check got screwed up last year. We're supposed to be able to claim that on our taxes and I want someone a little more experienced to do that for us.

Sam has been funny this week. He's insisting on wearing shoes at all times, which is fine. The floors are probably kind of cold. He's just so cute. He'll bring me his tennis shoe, hold it out, and say "shoe!" It's the same word he uses for sock, too - sounds like "sha" He's taken a great interest in his tricycle of late. But he gets frustrated because he can't figure out pedaling yet - his legs are still a little short for that! He's had diarrhea since Sunday but it hasn't slowed him down. So I have left him home all week. Will has had to change a couple of those nasty diapers and has let me know repeatedly just how put upon he has been to do so!

My brother Matt and Kirsti got a house this week! After praying for a year, they finally have a renter for their Arizona house. They immediately put in an offer on a house they wanted from another couple in their church and got it. So they'll be moving into their new house in about 6 weeks, almost a year to the day from when they first moved to Iowa. They're pretty happy and I'm thrilled for them, too! We may be moving too, this year, or so Paul says. We'll see! He drew up his plans for our new bathroom and laundry room and I'd kind of like to get those first! Actually, it's just the thought of moving that fills me with dread...I've done that way too many times!

Oh, and it looks like we are going to Lake Okaboji this Sept. We've taken our last two vacations, using freebies we got from resort companies. We attend their time share presentations and in return they have given us discounted hotel rooms and/or water park passes. This will just be a 3 day weekend thing but it's at a resort there and it sounds all inclusive. And it will be totally free for us, which is definitely affordable!

All right - this is all I know. I need to get back to that pie before my apples turn brown. Look for another update from the Heywood House in another week or so!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Gray and Great Days

All right. This is the post I have been promising for the past couple of weeks. I kept waiting for the "right" moment to do it. It's not going to happen! As I write, I am surrounded by chaos. This computer desk has papers all over it, some of my jewelry (I hate typing with bracelets on), an open, now stale, bag of pretzels, the checkbook, receipts, and etcetera. To my left is the laundry, which my housekeeper steadfastly refuses to touch (joking - I am the housekeeper). I also have several tubs of clothing in here brought up from the fruit celler because I am trying on clothes for summertime on the boys, trying to see what I'll need to buy for them. Ben is loudly playing his speaker game two feet away from me. Delilah is sending her sappy (right now kind of loud) love songs out over the airwaves. The kitchen smells like supper. It's a mess, too. Paul and the other boys are sitting in the living room watching actors pretend to beat the living daylights out of each other while trying to convince their audience that is all the real thing - WWE Wrestling, the stupidest tv ever conjured up in any producer's mind. I know I am only moments away from having Sam run out here and start tugging and hanging on my arm or messing with the mouse and keyboard. He has a radar that instantly alerts him any time I sit down at the computer! So, I'm not going to have the perfect moment to write this.

I'm also not going to have a picture, as I like to for a lot of my posts, especially my more "essay" type ones. That's because I would need to use a picture of Barak Obama and I don't want his picture anywhere on my blog!

I don't like the man. I really, really, really do not like him. My husband calls him "O-bomination" which was only cute the first time he said it. Now it's annoying. But don't tell him I said that. He's just as frustrated, concerned, and scared for our country as I am. I worry, Paul gets angry. On a personal level, I don't like Barak Obama. I think he's a weasel and I do not believe he has our country's best interests at heart. Neither do I have confidence that he understands the dire threat that radical Islam presents to the United States and I believe we are less safe because of that. He intends to ruin just about everything our forefathers put in place - our rights, our freedoms, and especially the people. Can one person really have that great of power? I don't know. Look at Hitler...No, I am not equating him with Adolph Hitler - two totally different people. I don't consider Obama to be pure evil as Hitler was. But I do find it interesting and not a little bit scary to see how people flock to Obama's promise of "hope", when that was how Hitler enticed the Germans into following him. I know I'm going to get into trouble for even putting the two of them in the same paragraph. I do NOT consider Obama to be a modern day Hitler, except maybe in regards to the innocent babies that will continue to be slaughtered under his term of leadership. So no angry comments, please!

Unfortunately, Obama is the embodiment of everything socialistic, humanistic, and liberal in our country, the three pronged disease that has slowly, but yet quickly, begun to consume America. This disease will eventually kill us and it is going to happen sooner than any of us can imagine. Make no mistake - all our lives will be radically changed by this administration, in one way or the other - and this change will not be for the good. But, Barak Obama did not get himself appointed to office. He's a product of our modern day culture. Many Americans also agree with everything he stands for. And that's what is truly frightening.

So to say I have been upset since the election would be a fair assessment. The first few days afterwards I was truly stunned. I honestly believed that, in the end, Americans would see through the empty promises and bright smile. But enough didn't. I haven't really been depressed, though, and life has pretty much gone on as it did before Nov. 4th. But change is in the air and I do find it frightening. Every day the news brings us reports of more businesses downsizing or even closing for good. I'm really pretty vague in the head as to what goes on with the stock market, but from what I hear, it doesn't sound like anything good is happening there. Every medical professional I talk to seems pretty certain that socialized medicine is just around the corner. Our parental rights are hanging in the balance as this UN bill on the rights of the child is under consideration. I'm a "color" person and the best way to describe this time period right now is by referring to it as Gray. It's not a dark, stormy gray color, but neither is it a pale, silvery gray. It's just gray - like gravel. And try as I might to lessen this, it does affect my mood at times.

Now, If I end here, I'm going to leave you all feeling down. You'll never visit my blog again. If you see me in person, you might be tempted to stay far, far away so my depression doesn't cover you, too! I write all this because I know I'm not alone. Your feelings on the new president may not be as negative as mine (or you may think he's the greatest thing since Pepsi, I don't know!) but I know that a lot of people have the same concerns I do. And if the new administration doesn't cause any concern for you, it's for sure the economy does. So what hope do we have?

Well, the truth is, as Christians, we have all the hope we need. The Bible is filled with passages and verses offering us comfort for troubled times. Just a couple of weeks ago our pastor drew our attention to some verses in Psalms. I'm not sure if he was actually in chapter 46, but my eyes fell on it anyway, and the words were like a balm to my troubled soul. Listen!

Verses 1-3

God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore, we will not fear,

even though the earth be removed,

And though the mountains be carried

into the midst of the sea;

though the waters roar and be troubled,

though the mountains shake with its swelling


Verses 10-11

The Lord of hosts is with us,

the God of Jacob is our refuge

And then I skimmed ahead a couple of chapters and I found this in chapter 49, verse 5:

Why should I fear in the days of evil,

when the iniquity at my heels surrounds me?

The Psalms are chock full of verses of comfort and hope like these I've written. I am planning to begin incorporating the reading of the Psalms into my devotions. I need it. I need it for the comfort during these "gray" days. I need the encouragement. I need to be reminded of how great and powerful our God is and how puny and little one American president - and I - truly are.

And there's something else I need to do, something I have not been able to do yet. A few weeks ago my sister in law, Kirsti, and I got out (we both live in all male households and regularly escape for "girl" time!) and we got to talking about current events. Kirsti really encouraged me to begin praying for President Obama. I didn't want to hear that because it's a whole lot easier just to be mad at and disgusted with him. But she's right. Prayer is so powerful and if we aren't pounding Heaven's gates with prayers about and for this man, there's no telling what may happen. But that shouldn't be my only reason to pray, as a safeguard against really terrible things he might decide to do. I need to pray for wisdom for him and even safety. The praying will benefit me, as well. I think that in doing so, I may lose some of my bitterness against this man. Will it change my opinion of him? No. I'm never going to like him and I will continue to hate all he stands for and the awful legislation he continues to enact. But praying for him is going to change me and that's always a good thing.

One final thought to leave you with: I ran across this quote by Sir Winston Churchill just this week. It was a different time, a different people, and a different war. But we can still gain wisdom from things of the past. Sir Winston said, "Do not let us speak of darker days. Let us speak, rather, of sterner days. These days are not dark days, these are great days." Perhaps the greatness we will see will not necessarily be the changes that occur in our country, but rather, the greatness will be the change in our spirits as we become fully dependent on the One who truly is great.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Junior Mom

I meant to add this in my last post, but since my thoughts come and go in quick spurts, I'm not surprised that I forgot it. That shirt I ordered came only in JUNIOR sizes. Is this wrong or what? A shirt designed for mothers that doesn't come in mother sizes? As it was, I ordered an X-large, the largest size they had. But if it doesn't cover up all my post-baby/chocolate/no exercise flab, it's being sent back. Nothing is worth wearing, no matter how cute, if I have to suck in my stomach (which is increasingly becoming impervious to my sucking efforts, anyway) to wear it. So we'll see.


This morning I ordered a shirt from Cafe Press that has a smiley face on it, with the caption, "Happy Mom" underneath it. Will was hovering over my shoulder, wanting to use the computer, saw that and said, "Well, you're not a 'happy mom'!" Excuse me? I am a very happy mom and I pointed that out to Will. He replied, "Nope - you're usually a grouchy mom." I said, "I am NOT grouchy all the time!" Although, at this moment I was definitely beginning to feel more grouchy than happy. Will replied, "Well, you're not happy all the time." Am I supposed to be? Do you suppose maybe having children has something to do with that?! But still - o-w-w-wch! Is this how my kids really see me? This wouldn't be so worrisome except Will made a similar comment about a year and half ago. I know that since he has become a teenager he's more sensitive to my moods (probably the way God prepares young men to become eventual husbands, otherwise no woman would ever take them), but I'm really starting to wonder here if all the boys see me as Grouch Extraordinaire. I don't beat them, I don't yell that much - what more do they want?

I discovered that non of my emails have been sent out since Tues. night. I have a whole outbox full of them. I have tried everything I can to get them sent and they won't go! So I have tried calling my internet guy all morning and afternoon long and he's not answering. He's probably out filing a restraining order on me. But still, I'm paying this guy $15 a month. Shouldn't he be at my constant beck and call for that much money? I haven't needed him in months so it's like he made the last $45 or so for doing absolutely nothing. Grrr....

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Yet Another Thursday Post

Can't believe it's been a week since I was on here last. Yes, actually I can - too busy of a week. And I was thinking today that next week should be even busier. Monday I grocery shop and do my Walmarting, a day long event. Tuesday, I cook all day and take the boys to speech. Wednesday Ben has 3 appointments - the psychiatrist, his therapy, and then Dr. Steinmann to see if his allergies are doing any better (they aren't). Thursday the director of respite care out at ChildServe is coming out to renew Ben's paperwork for this next year. Then, I have to clean all day, because the next day my friend Gina and her boys are coming out for the day. Then, that evening I have to run Will to a birthday party and get myself to Ladies Nite at church. The next morning, Sat, I have to be up, bright and early, to get to our home school meeting because I am supposed to be the greeter this month. I haven't made a single meeting since August. They always seem to fall on Saturdays that I already have things going on. Then I will need to run over to Indianola and pick Will up. But in the meantime I am planning to enjoy today, which won't be so busy at all and this Saturday, which also should be an easy day. Tomorrow might not be so bad, either, but I am considering running out to Valley West to do some clothes shopping.

This is why I have to go shopping now and I am both irritated and disappointed: I ordered my Easter dress and picked it up yesterday. I realize that statement sounds kind of little girl-ish. I don't get an "Easter dress" every year. But some years if I need something dressy for church for the summer months, I will make sure and get it by Easter Sunday. That's all. I am down to one dressy summer outfit right now so I do need something. So anyway, I went ahead and bought shoes for this outfit, got it home, tried it on, and discovered, to my disappointment, that it really made me look chubby. I guess it's because the top flares out over the skirt which adds width to the hips and then there is tie that wraps around the waist, which visually cuts me in half. So - it's going back and now I'm back to looking for a dress. Count myself lucky that this is the worst of my problems, right?!

Will hurt his foot last night at youth group, playing some game that involved lots of people and balls. He's still limping around this morning, moaning, and I'm beginning to wonder if I need to take him in to Urgent Care. But this seems to happen a lot. He gets hurt, assures me he is dying, I take him in, and they tell me, oh, he's fine. Then it's a total waste of time and I look like a helicopter mom (hovering). Plus, our insurance company gets charged. However, the one time I don't take him in is probably when he'll have something actually wrong with him. And, our insurance company screwed up this week on both his and David's policies. They cancelled them and I ended up having to cancel David's root canal which has been scheduled since December! I called the insurance company, they said "mea culpa" and said the boys are still covered, but I don't have proof until they mail us the new cards. So I'm a little reluctant to do anything until I have that. I guess I could call them and get verbal confirmation Will's visit would be covered. I don't know!

Speaking of insurance, our rates our going up again - $50 every two weeks (pay period). It was supposed to go up $80, but the bosses are going to cover the other $30. This is crazy! This is why we ended up dropping my coverage through Paul's Omaha employer. Although, I do have to say that the coverage we have now through Blue Cross is so good. We haven't had this good of coverage since Paul's Fastenal days back in the mid 90s. I really need to be grateful. I know what's it like to not have good coverage and to be worried about how I will afford to go to the dr. That's really hard.

Well, I need to go hop in the shower, do my devos, and get my day started. Hopefully, the day won't include taking Will in to the dr! This evening I do have a city council meeting. I need to get my notes typed up from that Emergency Management meeting our mayor had me attend for him last Friday. I had thought about doing that right away while it was all still fresh in my mind, but you know me - why do today what I can put off until the last minute? Then I think we are going to go to the Checkerboard for our monthly date. I love that place!

I am also really hopeful that I can get to that post I have been mentally formulating for several weeks now. I know what I want to write, it's just finding the time to do it. I need to be in the right frame of mind, too, because it has to do, partially, with our new president and that subject tends to get my blood pressure rising! I'm better than Paul is, though. I keep telling him he sounds downright bitter. Almost every day he is on the phone to our state reps. asking them not to vote on one bill or the other. Which, that's what you're supposed to do. He has both Harkin and Grassley on his speed dial! I just complain. He actually does something about it. Ok, gotta run right now...