Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Singing in Spain!

I was so disappointed that not only my pregnancy due date of late April, but then my unforeseen illness prevented me from ever even thinking about chaperoning my daughter's choir tour to Spain in June, but I was a bit broken-hearted thinking I would never even get to hear her sing sacred music in those ancient, beautiful basilicas and cathedrals all over the country, some as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

So... while not sleeping last night, I stumbled across an old FB post of my husband's linking to a YouTube video of one of their Spain performances.  WHAT?  I did not know these existed. He said he played them for me when I was in the hospital. But those were the ICU days. I have absolutely no memory.

But, if you would like to hear a VERY  talented group of children with an AMAZING director, singing in these beautiful, holy, and ancient places.... Here I am sharing her tour.  Mostly for you, Mom.  And Aunt Sue.  Nobody else will probably listen much. But it is beautiful--at least pick one!  Breton is usually in the back row on the far left (glasses!)

But I'm so grateful that she was able to go and people stepped up the help while I was in the hospital. What a treasure of an experience for her!  She worked very hard to earn a major portion of the money for her trip, but thank you so much, too, to those of you who sponsored her and helped her pay for it!

1. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform Deep River in the Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pi, the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, Spain.

2. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform Allunde Alluya in the Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pi, the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, Spain.

3. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform Music Down in My Soul in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

4. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform Let Me Fly in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

5. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform View Me, Lord, A Work of Thine in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

6. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform A New Year Carol in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

7. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform Ave Maria in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

8. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform This Little Light of Mine in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

9.The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform How Can I Stop from Singing in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

10. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform Psalm 150 in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

11. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform Loving Shepard in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

12. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform Psalm 23 The Lord is My Shepard in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

13. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform I Lift My Eyes in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

14. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform Lux Aeterna in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

15. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform Sanctus in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

16. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform Laudamus te in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

17. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform Kyrie in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

18.The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform Ma Navu in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

19. The Columbus Children's Choir, New World Singers perform Allunde Alluya in the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Expectaciones, Órgiva, Spain as part of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

Monday, October 27, 2014

And... Westley Wins!

My Dr. consult today resulted in the decision that I DO NOT need surgery any time soon, or if ever, possibly.  Now that is miraculous to me, and the best words I could have heard. Thank you, Lord. Thank you EVERYONE, for your continued prayers! And again and again, Thank you, Lord.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"I killed you too quickly last time... "

Do you know this quote?  It's from one of my all-time favorite movies, The Princess Bride.  Prince Humperdinck says to Westley, The Man In Black, "I killed you too quickly last time; a mistake I do not mean to duplicate."

That quote is running through my head constantly as I have learned I must endure one more surgery soon to repair the "too quickly" sewing up job they had to do of my last surgery due to my respiratory failure.

Why the movie... because this AWESOME book was just released about the behind-the-scenes making of the film, and I got a hard copy of it for my birthday.  It was the most delightful and cheering thing I've read in so long. Well-written, endearing, and full of fabulous tales and secrets and surprises about the making of the movie.

If you order this through Amazon, please go through Sarah's blog as a favor to me. Because of her, I had so much prayer support this past summer (and still do), you could just feel the energy in  the hospital room.

So.... I have the surgery consult tomorrow. My spirit is wounded and my flesh is weak. I am still greedy  for your prayers. Selfish in  just wanting to get back to being a mama who can be just a simple, homemaking mama. Trying to avoid being terrified, and anxious, and gripey about this STILL not being all behind me... And still trying to come to terms with LIFETIME infusions every four weeks as well as serious GI issues. But I have been doing my research and I am far better off than  many with my issues.  Your prayers are working and have worked.

So... let's get upbeat again. I drove again for the first time today and husband said I did fine.

I lost my hair.  Sound upbeat? It's not, really. I had just grown it out for FOUR years (since I lost it last time due to chemo), and was two inches from my goal length. So vain. Such vanity and emptiness.  It was not too difficult to come to terms with the fact it was all coming out. But... my husband bought me, after much consideration on what we were going to do, a "new do" for my birthday--'cause we still don't know yet if it's going to ever grow back.  It's the same length and color as what I had before, but with more layers and lighter highlights on top.  Whatcha think?

Yes, I have an iPad now that a friend gave me as a gift while I was in the hospital, but NO, I still don't have the energy to learn how to take reverse image selfies.  This is like my second attempt ever at a selfie, the last being  my pregnant one a coupla posts ago. Do you  know how hard this is to do in  a mirror with a regular camera?  Sheesh! 

Still upbeat:  Thank you all for the continued prayers. They are needed much and immensely.  My husband still does not have a new permanent job (he was supposed to start a new job in FL the day after I fell ill). Praying for an offer soon!

I'll post an update after surgery. Pray for peace and patience, and strength of spirit. I'm so impatient to get my "littles" (as well as my bigger ones) back on track and get our  whole family  back into a season of peace and rest and routine. 

More happy:  Here's my curly-top, swirly-top, Millie Jewel. She is now six months old and pretty darn good at sitting, and trying  her darnedest to crawl.  I need to call her "Millie Drool."  I never used bibs at all with my previous six children, but this girl soaks up to 8 a day. I ordered her a "genuine Baltic Amber" necklace that is supposed to help.  Well, the internet reviews go like this: 85% of the people rave and swear by it, and 15% of the people say it's absolute baloney. No in-betweens. Funny thing is, this percentage of reviews didn't change much whether there were reviews on the product proving it was "fake" (meltable plastic beads instead of real amber) or real, or a mixture of both (amber and plastic together).  Go figure.  Worth  a shot though, but made sure I ordered the real deal. Any opinions on this?

Look at that adorable curl on the top of her  head! I just LOVE it!

Umai Authentic LEMON Baltic Amber Teething Necklace
Here's her new Umai Authentic Baltic Amber teething necklace.  Again, if you want to buy one after reading the reviews and intend to buy on  Amazon, please go to Amazon through  Sarah's Blog.
I'll let you know if it works.

More happy:  I joined The Honest Company.  They have a bundle and autoship program for the CUTEST diapers on the planet (with  terrific wipes) made with eco-friendly, super baby-safe, non-harmful, and biodegradable materials.  Less than $20 a week. Every bit as good as Pampers. Arrive at my doorstep exactly  when I command them to through  a very easy-to-use website, and I can change my shipment date at any time. I haven't had one leak and the prints make me SOOOO happy.  So glad this company came around in time for my last little one.

Aren't these the cutest darn things? I was so tired, after 20 years, of seeing  Big Bird, Barney, Elmo, Blues Clues, and/or monkeys on my baby's nether-end.  And they have boy patterns, too. And many more than this... and they keep adding new designs all the time.

If you're interested in  joining, use this link, because I'll get a $20 friend credit. Did I mention, you can get  a sample pack for "free" ($5.95 shipping) to  try for yourself? That's how I was double-convinced.  You can get lots of different sample packs. They carry all sorts of  eco-friendly  products.

In the meantime... I'm returning all your prayers for me. But keep 'em coming, PUHLEEZ!  I'm desperate.  Ingesting the Word as much as possible right now to strengthen my spirit and praying for God's complete healing.

May God's blessing  be upon  you all, and if you have requested any specific prayers from me, you are getting them!  The rest of you readers, get them anyway. Thank you for all the  encouragement and prayer support, and even other support (gifts in the mail and donations on the website). I'm eternally grateful to you all.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Faith or Faithfulness: You need both.

During my past four-plus years of major trials through illness, I've learned a thing or two about faith. It only makes sense that I did: our faith is refined through trials. Only. Our salvation and assurance of eternal life is achieve through faith, ONLY.

[You who believe] are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last  time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now  for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations. That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. Whom having not seen, ye love: in whom, though now ye see him not,  yet believing, ye rejoice with  joy unspeakable  and full of glory. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you. 

I learned pretty quickly that I had faithfulness, but not faith.  My first year of trial and illness (10 months fighting an autoimmune disorder called chronic ITP until we got it into remission), you may recall I shared I was able to sit calmly and at peace in a chemotherapy chair, getting my infusion with grace and sharing encouraging words with other sick people nearby.   It was my faithfulness, and half of the definition of faith. Let me clarify.

I was faithful. I had faithfulness. I studied continually. Went to church and or listened to sermons at church and on TV and  on CDs and on DVDs. I sang, prayed, worshipped, read my Bible, went to Bible studies,  did my own Bible studies, and did my best to obey God and learn more how to please Him.  That is faithfulness.  But... that is not faith. Through my faithfulness I had collected a mass of phrases and beliefs and thoughts about God that enabled me to be "strong" through my trial and even exhort others, but something was missing. I was to find that out in  my next trial, when death came knocking a little louder at the door.

The Bible gives us the clear definition of faith.

Now faith is the substance (realization) of things hoped for, the evidence (conviction) of things not seen. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.  Hebrews 11:1,3 (in other words, the scientific rule that says you can never make something out of nothing--which is why when it comes down to it, you need faith, either to believe God made everything, or to believe stuff made itself somehow). 

The part of of this definition of faith I did have was hope. I hoped that everything I had  been believing in  was true:  that God was good,  and Jesus died for my sins, and I was going to live eternally in peace and pefection with Him in Heaven for all eternity after I died. I had images of the pearly gates, and  had heard stories retold by pastors and preachers of the end times and their take on the book of Revelation and how we would all live happily ever after.  But this was just hope that these things were true.

I didn't have a sure realization that they were true. How could I have that? I've never met God. I've never been to Heaven. I have no idea what it will actually be like after death. Neither does anyone living on this earth. The Bible even tells us so:

For since the beginning of the world, men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he (Jesus) hath prepareth for him that waiteth for him. Isaiah 64:4.

The night came almost  exactly  two years ago during year-long fight with spinal meningitis that I thought I wasn't going to make it. I felt I had to call my family in and let them know. And I panicked. Who was this God? What was it really  going to be like to meet Him?  I really had no idea, and suddenly realized I knew nobody who had any idea. Was I ready? What was right? I was just downright terrified.  That's just not right for a faithful "Christian" like  me.  What was wrong? Where was my faith?  

So, I begged God, "Please! I'm not ready! I don't understand!"  I was terrified. My  sweet husband tried to assure me there was nothing to worry about, to just  trust  God. But my heart  was in agony. Something was missing. I couldn't find peace about it that sure faith in God is supposed to bring.

So, I moved on from the meningitis, and thought my trials were behind me. Ha. I had asked God for help, and to help me understand.  And the help was that I needed faith. And faith comes how? Through trials. Sigh.

This summer I spent 76 days in the hospital, most of that in ICU. I nearly died. Most of you know the story. Many of you followed it all on Facebook and read my last blog post.  But, it finally dawned on me that faith is the gift of God.  I can't get it by myself.  I need God to give it to me. 

For by grace ye are saved through faith; and that (faith is) not of yourselves: It is the gift of God, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8

It was a gift. And I needed it from God, and I didn't have enough of it yet... nope, not even as much  as a grain of mustard seed.  I was still afraid of what was "unseen" and unsure about what I was "hoping for."  And I also found out that the disciples themselves asked God for faith, because they understood this:

And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith, and the  Lord said, If  ye  had faith  as a mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be  thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. Luke 17:5-6

And Jesus answering saith unto them, have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart; but shall believe those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall  have whatever he saith.

And, haven't you ever wondered why you haven't seen more "mountains being  removed?" Faith is what is needed for this.  Sounds like the disciples as well as anyone else should be asking for their faith to be increased!

So this time, in this hospital, 76 days of tears and crying to God, "Help!"  I finally realized, I need Him to give me faith as a GIFT. It is the gift of God.  And He helped me.  Like I shared in the last post, God suddenly spoke to my heart, surprising me, but He knew it was time.  He asked me, like He  did with  King  Solomon, "If you could ask me for just  one thing, what would  it be."   And I was taken aback at  first because it was unexpected and  ridiculously asked  God if "I could get back to  Him on  that one."   Why didn't I just ask for healing of this body?  Four years of illness and seven children to raise... Surely I've had enough.  But there was that little nudge that told me to think, and then it all came together... all these scriptures, learned through my faithfulness, connecting, and revealing to me where I needed refining.

I asked for faith.

I ask for  it  every time I pray now.  I will ask for it  every time  until the day I die, to believe fully in things  unseen by any man who is alive here to tell me.  The faith to believe that God is who He says He is, and nothing else.  I can only get this faith from Him, by the grace of God. It's a gift.

Remember this parable in  Luke 16:19-31 about  the   rich man and Lazarus?

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

This parable shows us we cannot fully receive faith not just from the writings of Moses and the prophets  (teachings from  the Bible and  its teachers), but even if someone came back from the dead to tell us.

Faith is the gift of God.  And it is not the same as your faithfulness.  Just do a self-check, and ask for some faith.  The greatest gift of God, given by His grace.  And the only way to please Him, when all is said and done, and your life is over with, is through faith.

But without faith, it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh  to God must believe that he is, and that he is a  rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

I am at peace with  dying now. I know how to get faith and where to get it from, and what it really is, and not confuse it with faithfulness.  It's truly  a feeling of peace like a river  in my soul.

A blog friend of mine recently commented on the above verse: In a way,  faith is so much easier than believing that stuff just popped out of nowhere. Besides, how can someone look into the face of a baby and not know without any doubt that God is for REAL."

You know, for a long time in my life I had faithfulness in believing that there was wonder and amazement in God's creation. I was told that all the time. But I never personally saw it until the past few years, these harder years of trial.  That is where our free will comes into play. We choose to believe that stuff created itself out of absolute nothingness, or we choose that there is a Creator that made all this amazing stuff that is mind boggling--everywhere you look . I see it now, with absolute wonder and amazement, especially with  every science lesson I teach my boys. I made my choice. I asked for faith, and with faith comes "sight." I chose to believe in God the Creator, and all my hope lies in Him.  To me, the choice came down to God, or nothingness. Because I just can't fathom how something can make itself out of nothing. And the choice is made solely by faith.

Some come by it more naturally than others. God gives the measure of faith in different amounts to different people at different times for His reasons. I've had to learn and I've had to ask for it. For His reasons. And I have faith in whatever those reasons are.

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think (because of your faithfulness), but to think according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.  Romans 12:3

So, all along maybe I had a measure of faith the size of one speck of a ground mustard seed.  Through my faithfulness that grew to a few more specks, and now maybe it's nearly half of a whole mustard seed! I'm just going to keep on asking for it! Deal unto me, Lord, the measure of faith that is mine according to Your perfect will.  I was blind, but now I see... and have the joy and peace that comes with that type of healing to the soul!

Blessings  and  prayers for you all, dear  readers.

And  P.S.  Thank you for your continued prayers and support of our family. I am truly grateful.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My 76 Days of Summer: A Summary and Update

Summer.  I missed it.  Completely--after waiting through the longest, coldest winter I can remember. But here is a summary and update to thank you all for praying and helping me through this. I feel so blessed.

May 31 was a beautiful day. I wasn't feeling well, but rested extra so I could take my 6-week newborn on a shopping trip with my 15yo daughter and her best friend, and her friend's mother. We went to one of those lovely outdoorsy malls with all the trendy shops the teeny-bops love. The girls wanted pretty dresses, skirts, and accessories for their long-awaited choir tour of Spain in June.

By the end of the shopping trip, I was lying down on a sofa outside Barnes & Noble, realizing I couldn't drive home. The friend's father took me and the baby home, brought my husband and ALL the kids back up to the mall (left the girls to shop more, much to their delight), and before my husband could get back, I had to have my oldest son take me to the ER.

So it started.  They thought I had a bowel blockage, but couldn't find one in the CT Scan. Tests were run. Everything became a blur. I was transferred after a few days to the big hospital in Columbus. Still, doctors were puzzled.  This ended up in a risky surgery that opened up my entire abdomen to inspect all my intestines.  They found nothing. But during surgery, I went into respiratory distress. The doctors told my husband they had done everything they could, but now all they could do was wait, but they suggested he call the family in to say goodbyes. This was at 2:00 a.m.  Many of you got phone calls and texts for prayers--some from my oldest two children, Gabe (20), and Breton (15). Just knowing they had to go through this broke my heart when I found out.

During this time (I can only assume it was then), I faced what seemed to me a choice between this world and the next. I was following along a peaceful, warm, safe, pleasant path, then all of a sudden I realized that to go forward meant to go on to the next world, but to go back meant to return to this one. I know the decision was not mine, because God is Sovereign and Providential, but I remember praying at this point, "God, I promised to run my race and finish my fight. I've got kids to raise for You, that You gave me, and a husband to love that You gave me. Please, let me go back."

Obviously, He let me.

I was in ICU for countless days, on ventilator, then trach, and all other forms of life support.  All my nutrition was IV.  Over those 76 days, with your hundreds of prayers, and doctors scratching their heads, I weaned of everything and started healing. One of the doctors said he didn't know if I could ever come of the the trach. My husband prayed in a fury that that mountain would be removed.  It was.

The final diagnosis was two things.  One is called Common Variable Immune Deficiency, a.k.a. CVID, a.k.a. hypogammaglobulinemia (or something like that), a.k.a. "Bubble Boy Syndrome." (similar).  This is now being treated with 4-hour immunoglobulin transfusions every four weeks that give me a borrowed immune system.  And, I really have to learn how to live more germ-free.  As in never eat something without washing your hands first--especially if you've been out shopping, etc. We also are going to have a quarantine room for me if the family is sick, or for the person who is sick.  But... it was SOOOO nice that the hospital stay got my year-long case of pneumonia cleared up (this disorder is why I couldn't shake it!). I still take deep breaths all the time just to enjoy how good it feels!

The second diagnosis is not really a diagnosis.  I simply have a stomach and intestines and colon that don't like to work well or all the time.  They attribute some of this to some nerve damage I received on my stomach during a splenectomy four years ago.  Some of it could be called an "ilias" (don't know how that is spelled), which is a place in the small intestine where things don't move through.  All I know is, the muscles just don't always work to push things through, and when things get stuck, there could be trouble. Big trouble--like the trouble I got in (by they time they did surgery, my stomach was so bloated by the blockage I looked like I was pregnant with triplets and even my maternity clothes did not fit). This is all usually controllable by diet and maintenance medications.  I just have to learn, a little at a time the things I can eat and how, and manage my symptoms and pay attention.  It's still a bit scary, but I've said it a hundred times, "I'll drink nothing but chicken broth the rest of my life if that's what it takes for me to be with my family."

Now I am home.  I am overwhelmed a bit. I am discouraged because I am still weak. We are going to be moving cross country soon, and that thought right now makes me want to crawl under a blanket, curl up and hide. But I understand it will take a lot of time to gain my strength,  and  things will be get better.

But mainly, I want to say thanks. A million times over. For your prayers, your donations (my husband lost his job due to my sickness), meals, the people who came to sit by my side, the ones who went to help Erik at Breton at home, the encouraging cards and messages, and again, the prayers.  I felt God's grace every second, and I felt your prayers.

I SAW God's grace in action through Erik. He spent every night with me, barely getting any sleep in a lousy vinyl recliner, constantly checking my monitors, double checking the nurses as they worked, assessing my needs before I even asked, and looking at me with a smile on his face and words of encouragement the entire time. All 76 days.  He would stay until about 3 or so in the afternoon, after he heard all the doctor's and test reports, then make the 1.5 hour or so drive home to get a shower, a smidge of rest, eat dinner with the family, and play a game with the boys and tuck them in bed. Then the long drive back to spend the night with me and start the routine all over again. I wouldn't have made it without him by my side, and he wouldn't have made it without your prayers. This I know, because I know Erik!

Now, I continue to move forward in faith.  In this midst of all this, of course I did a lot of praying (mostly just crying "help!"). But at one point God surprised me and spoke to my heart and asked me, "If you would ask ME for one thing, what would it be?"  I was shocked. I said, "Um, could I get back to you on that one?"  After some thought, I asked for two things, but the two things are one.  I said, "God, the one thing I ask of You is for faith, and one more thing, that I learn to live every moment pleasing to you."  Doesn't that sound like two things?  But it's not. Because without faith it is impossible to please God.

So... I'm probably in for it.  Because faith only comes through trials for me, it seems.

The fall leaves still confuse me--how could it be time?  And, on a more humorous note, my boys are fascinated that I no longer have a belly button.  They cut through it then stitched right over it. But they also fixed my umbilical hernia. So nice to have that pain gone!  And, I'm losing my hair. But I told God He could have it if He wants it, so no biggie.

I haven't been able to do a lot of reading, but the only book that I ended up with at this time at God's leading was "The Diary of St. Faustina."  It sometimes reads like the very core of my heart and soul, even though the circumstances are completely different.  Quite a book!  But I sure loved learning more about the depths of God's infinite Mercy during this time. And I'm not very far into it, and have found many bits of wisdom to pass on to the kiddos to exhort them to wisdom and holy living.

Thank you all for your prayers.  I could still really use them. I am discouraged and depressed and weak, and things feel difficult all around. I feel weepy, and helpless, and useless.  It's been rough. But I know God will see us through.  Will you keep praying for us? Please?

But this blog post is really just hugs and thanks all around for your prayers that got me through and kept me here. I really felt them, I felt the grace and saw it, and knew I was being prayed for, and I thank you all for everything you did to help our family. God has provided all of our needs through you. Thank you to all who donated through the website or directly to us, too.  Every time I watch my husband pay bills, I just start crying tears of thankfulness for the provision.

And in closing.... I guess, how about this?  These pics were from about two weeks ago and show that the "littles" certainly were thriving while mom was out of commission! Praise be to God, always and forever, Amen.

Millie Jewel, age 5 months

Aram, Age 9

Oli, Age 5 (pronounced with a long O sound)

Elon, Age 6

This one shows the missing piece, Mikko (pronounced mee-koh), age 3 in two weeks.