Category Archives: Family life

Recent Life In Our House

Well, it’s 2 am and I am watching Fellowship of the Ring with Hannah, Rachel & Caroline, and listening to Lindsay cough uncontrollably in her bedroom.  In the last 24 hours the girls have had about 6 breathing treatments for their asthma, we have done several steam treatments tonight, countless doses of medicine, and hot tea by the gallon.  Sarah, the child that though she has special needs is rarely sick, even has an upper respiratory infection.  Gene seems to be getting over his URI, and I hope it stays away for a while.  Me, well, I’m not sick, I’ve just been running like crazy trying to keep up with everything that needs to be done (and quite honestly, I’m not succeeding).  I have started about 5 blog posts, which are currently waiting to be finished.

The opening to this post isn’t very cheery, but in all honesty, it’s not as depressing as it all may sound.  The Lord is teaching us all a great deal through this trial, and for that, I am very thankful.  Our holidays, while not full of activities, parties, and excitement, were full of meaningful times and expressions of love for one another.   For Christmas it is our common practice to have the girls draw another sister’s name, and they are given a certain amount of money to buy that sister a gift, or gifts.  They look forward to this with great anticipation, not looking forward to what they will get, but toward what they will give.  They spend countless hours in thought and preparation of their gift.  This year something spontaneous happened that surprised me.  The girls individually began spending their own allowances to buy small things to make for the sisters whose names they didn’t draw.  I know of many people who eschew gift giving at Christmas because of the belief that it causes greediness and the desire to get more and more.  In our family I have found the opposite to be true. The girls are appreciative of the gifts they receive, but generally have trouble even telling you what they want as gifts.  We have tried to nuture in them a desire to be cheerful givers whenever the opportunity arises, and we have seen good fruit from this thus far.

December 31st, was our 25th wedding anniversary and Gene planned a big surprise for me.  On Wednesday evening, December 17th, Gene told me that first thing Thursday morning we would be heading out for a trip to San Antonio.  I have wanted to go for years, and love history, so this was the perfect surprise for me.  I was so excited to get to go to the Alamo after hearing about it for so many years. This may sound strange, but it was all I could do to not start crying as I entered the building for the first time. The realization of what had taken place there was heavy upon my heart.  The grounds of the Alamo are beautiful; it is hard to believe that they are right in the center of the city.

After the Alamo we went and checked into our Bed & Breakfast before going to the Riverwalk. It was a beautiful little B&B right on the river.  It was so peaceful and beautiful. It was quite overcast the two days we were there, which gave the city an unusual feel.  The river was beautiful, as was the boat ride down it.  As I was riding on the river, in the fog, under all of the bridges, it felt as if I was in London.  Once the sun went down and all of the Christmas lights came on, it was even more beautiful on the river.  I felt as if I was a child in a wonderland of lights.  After walking along the river for a while, we then at dinner at Boudro’s.  The food was amazing, and the bread pudding was a great end to the meal.  It was nice to eat on the riverwalk, watching the people as they walked by.  After we walked a while longer we went back to the van.  Gene knows how I love to take pictures, so he took me by the Alamo, so that I could get pictures at night.  It was an amazing site to see it with the lights illuminating it’s historic walls.  The next morning we ate breakfast at the B & B and then drove through a historic district nearby.  After a quick stop at the Buckhorn Museum downtown, we headed home.  The trip was wonderful for me, as it gave me a much needed break from the holiday rush.  It was nice to spend a day not thinking about all that I had to do to finish preparing for the holidays.  I don’t know that I have ever been so completely able to lay my thinking and planning aside.

San Antonio Album 1

San Antonio Album 2

San Antonio Album 3

Lindsay went to Little Rock the afternoon we returned from San Antonio for the wedding of some friends.  While there she was able to stay with Gene’s sister and to see her cousin’s new baby.  She had a wonderful trip, but picked up a bug on the return plane ride.

We had a very subdued but nice Christmas enjoying a lot of time together, with us all playing the new Wii together when the girls were up to it. Gene surprised me, and the girls, with a very nice present for Christmas. He had taken the girls shopping, and they picked out several nice things for me, not knowing about the secret gift.  He surprised us all with a top of the line Kitchen Aid Professional mixer.  The girls were as excited as I was to receive it.  We didn’t wait long to try it out either!

Since we had already celebrated our anniversary on our trip, on the 31st we just went to our favorite pizza place, New York Pizzeria and the mall.  Gene didn’t make it until midnight (I think he was beginning to get sick at that point) but the girls and I did.  We went outside at midnight to watch the fireworks, which lasted quite a while.  The next day Gene’s brother, Guy, came for a visit. We had a really nice visit while he was here, though the girls weren’t feeling quite up to snuff.

I haven’t been taking a lot of pictures as of late, but I did get a chance to Friday at Gene’s office.  Lindsay was taking pictures inside for a brochure and the website, so I went outside to take pictures.  Gene’s new office is located on an acre of land in old Katy, in the middle of a neighborhood, which provided a few flowers and such to take pictures of around the office.  These are a few of my favorites.

It was fun to watch this little fellow flit from flower to flower. He almost looks as if he could fall in on his head and get stuck!

One of the things I have come to appreciate about nature photography, is the details that pop out at you that you didn’t even notice while taking the pictures.

I have also come to see many things I would have overlooked before, such as this flower.

These little fellows were none too happy that I kicked their mound to see if they were home. Yes, they are fire ants, but none of them got me…. mwahahaha.

This tiny fellow was almost invisible, until I got down really close to take this picture. Isn’t his little red self cute?

Well, it’s after 4 am now.  Fellowship has finished, they have taken another round of breathing treatments, and they have started Two Towers.  I hope they are feeling better before it ends, but we’ll have to wait and see how that goes.  You are pretty much caught up with everything going on here.  I hope to begin posting more often, but only time will tell.

It’s A Wonderful Life

One of our family Christmas traditions is to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” together.  This year as we watched it together many thoughts came to me.  Maybe it is because of the economic climate and the realization that many are having a very hard time this year, or maybe it’s just because I’m getting older that I saw the movie through a different light.  I see so many parallels in this movie to our Christian walk, and it was a much needed reminder that my life, no matter how humble, is really quite wonderful.

George Bailey always had a plan for how he wanted to live his life, which included travel, adventure and excitement.  He saw Bedford Falls as a sleepy, boring town that constrained him. He wanted to do something important. Don’t we want this?  I know that I do.   I often see others’ lives as important or exciting and see the life they lead as somehow better or more important than mine.  In reality, I have been placed in this life, to serve the purpose that God has for me.  When all the girls are having asthma trouble, the nights get long, and my work seems never ending, I can feel overwhelmed.  I see my life as mundane and unimportant.  As I begin to pray for encouragement, the Lord reminds me that He has placed me here. He has me going through this circumstance to help me to grow to be more Christ-like.  The role He has given each of us is important.  We only need to serve Him faithfully and work to bring about His purposes.

One of George’s greatest character traits was his unselfishness. When there was a run on the bank, in order to keep the Savings & Loan afloat he used his own money to help others out. I know that selfishness is a battle we must all fight.  One of the greatest things I have learned through being a mother of many, and one with special needs, is to set my own wishes aside.  Like George, I often don’t set out to do this and may even resent doing it.  With time I am learning to set aside my desires, and the way I am able to do this without having resentment is by realizing I am doing the task in service to the Lord. When I try to do things with other motives, it always seems to bring about frustration and resentment.  When I see every task as a service to Him, it seems that the frustration and resentment melt away.

Mary Bailey was great at making lemonade out of lemons.  When the money for her honeymoon was gone and George had spent the day saving the Savings & Loan, Mary could have built up resentment toward George and their circumstances.  Instead, she made the best out of a bad situation.  She put her own desires aside and looked for creative ways to serve George and to make their honeymoon special.  We often put pressure upon ourselves to have everything “just right.” We especially heap these expectations upon ourselves during the holidays.  On Christmas Eve as I was cooking our holiday meal and things began to go wrong, I started to feel that pressure. The three younger girls had been down with asthma & colds, and Lindsay was the only one who was able to help me prepare the meal. Then mid-afternoon, she realized she had the flu.  I sent her to bed and continued cooking.  For a while I let the pressure of trying to have everything “just so” get to me.  As the feelings of frustration and defeat began to take hold, I began praying.  I realized that I was taking the burden of the holiday being special on my shoulders, and I felt it’s success or failure rested wholly on me.  It was only when I began to realize what made the holiday special was our time together and enjoying one another, was I able to relax and enjoy the day.  I still had a good deal of work to do, but when I saw it as serving my Lord and my family, it became a joyful task instead of a burden.

As George’s life went on, he became more and more dissatisfied with his circumstances. He seemed to always be wishing for something other than what he had.  Discontentment is a joy robber.  When we are discontent, we are truly being ungrateful. We are saying to God, “I know that these are the circumstances that you have given me, but I would really like to be somewhere else. ”  Think on that for a moment.  We are telling the God of the universe that we have a better plan.  I cannot count the number of times I have done this very thing, and not even subtly.  I have flat out said that I had a better plan.  It makes me cringe to think of it.  How often do we ask God to deliver us from our current circumstances, when we should be looking to see what He is trying to show us.  Through many trials the Lord has shown me so many truths. I look back on my life and see the various trials I have gone through, not with regret or remorse, but with a thankful heart.  I feel blessed that the Lord has seen fit to show me His mercies and truths.

Times of despair will come to all of our lives, just as they did to George’s.  Often they are not of our own doing, just as George’s desperation wasn’t through any fault of his own.  Where do we turn when those times of despair come?  Who or what do we lean on? When we first found out that Sarah had medical problems, all we were told was that her head wasn’t growing.  Because we had no health insurance we had to wait for three months to see a neurologist.  I knew enough to know that if her head wasn’t growing, but her brain was, there were serious issues. All of this sent me into the pit of despair.  I had nowhere to turn, no one with any answers, except God.  I did a lot of praying during those three months.  When we finally did see the neurologist, the news was not good.  We were told to institutionalize Sarah, because she would never walk or talk and would basically be vegetative.  At those words the bottom fell out of my pit.  It felt as if the world were crushing in around me.  The only thing that got me through it all was the knowledge that God was in control.  I knew that He had me in His hand, and that nothing would happen that He wouldn’t help me to handle.  That doesn’t mean it was easy. Each day had a great many struggles, but I made it through each day.  He gave me the grace and mercy to make it through each hour, but He only gave me the grace I needed for that moment.  I learned a great deal about faith , and with each step I learned to have faith that He would be there to hold me up for the next step.

At the end of the movie Harry makes a toast to George saying, “To my big brother George, the richest man in town!”  Harry was right, George was rich . . . in everything that mattered. This is such a wonderful picture. Mr. Potter, who had all the worldly riches a man could desire, had none of the riches that really mattered. He may have lived in comfort, but he was bitter and lonely.  George, while poor in the things of this world, had love, family, and friends.

The jewel of life that matters most can’t be purchased for any amount of gold.  That jewel is what Christmas is all about.  It is the redemption that was bought for us through the birth, death and resurrection of Christ.  As the decorations and lights come down, please think about the meaning behind your life and who you have served through it.  Though you may be rich or poor in the things of this world, at the end of time only one jewel will matter, that is the jewel of Christ Jesus.  If you would like to understand this better, please read this article.

Love and Ministering to Friends

These last few weeks have been long on one hand and speeding by on the other.  All of the girls, except for Sarah, have been battling severe asthma/allergy issues, and this last week, Gene, Lindsay and Hannah have all been battling extreme sinus infections as well.  This has caused many late nights, and little sleep for me.  The girls and I all sleep late, to make up, somewhat, for the late nights.  Starting the day late causes me to feel hurried and rushed, not being able to complete the unending list of must-dos, which in turn can cause defeatism to set in.

We have been battling these issues for several years now, and when this time of year hits, it can become very disheartening for me on many levels.  It’s disheartening to be discouraged by friends instead of encouraged, not being able to make the girls well, and seeing them discouraged also.  I have friends who tell me, that the real issue is that the girls have their days and nights mixed up… like an infant.  We’ve been told it’s all in our diet, in our heads and that we should just put ourselves on a “regular” schedule and it will all work out.  At times these types of comments anger me, though I don’t say what I’m thinking, mostly, they just discourage me.  People tend to think, “Oh, it’s just allergies, and asthma can be controlled…. it’s really no big thing.”  They obviously have never watched their child struggling to breathe.  They don’t know what it is like to have their child exhausted and wanting to sleep, but can’t because when they lie down their breathing only gets worse.  Over the last few years we have tried many treatments, medical and natural, though none of them alleviate the symptoms for any period of time, and some even seem to exacerbate them.

Due to the girls’ illnesses I have been unable to attend church for nearly 6 months.  We were going to church an hour away, but now see that it will be impossible because of the girls condition.  Last Sunday we hoped to begin attending a church about 10 minutes away, but we were unable to attend because that is when Gene became sick. Being at a church that is close will allow me to attend church even if the girls are down. Gene and Lindsay are beginning to show improvement, though the high dose antibiotics are making them feel run down.

My hope in sharing this is not to garner sympathy, but to express that we all need to be sensitive to the needs and trials of others. It’s easy to judge from the outside and feel that people are just not really trying to get to church, or other functions.  The girls and I have had to miss out on many fun things over the last few years due to their illnesses.  It has caused us to have to re-structure much that we do.  To those on the outside it may seem that we are just being unsociable, which is not the case.  We have to choose our functions based on a different criteria than most people do. If it’s an outside event during the height of ragweed season, we most likely won’t attend.  Knowing that if we do, many of the girls will be sick for a couple of weeks afterward.  Just a couple of weeks ago, Gene, Rachel and Sarah traveled to Shreveport for his mother’s 70th birthday party.  We all would have loved to be able to attend, but due to health concerns I stayed home with three of the girls.

If you have friends that are suffering through chronic illnesses there are things that you can do to help and encourage them.  If they are friends of your children; have your child e-mail the sick child to see how they are doing, or just to talk about everyday stuff.  Send a card or note through the mail, handmade is better.  It’s a great project for your kids to handmake a card for a sick friend. Recently the daughter of a friend of ours in Arkansas had a ruptured appendix and had to spend several days in the hospital.  Because the girls knew what it was like to be unable to do much, and the boredom and doldrums that it can cause they wanted to do something to cheer their friend.  I took a couple of the girls to Dollar tree and we created a gift basket for our friend.  We got word find books, Sudoku books, cards, puzzles and many other little items to pass the time and even some comfort items such as cozy socks.  We boxed it up with handmade cards and sent it on its way. I spent maybe $20 on the items, but that was a small price to pay to bring joy to someone else and to teach my children to think of others and to show compassion.

Don’t forget to think of the mom, she is probably having long days caring for sick ones.  I remember when we lived in Alabama, and had only been there a couple of months when I had a very hard time.  Hannah got chicken pox, and I was home with her for a week and a half. As soon as hers cleared up, Rachel got them and I was home with her for another week and a half. After she was better, Gene’s grandmother died and we had to travel for the funeral.  The day after we returned home, Caroline broke out with the chicken pox.  At  this point thier ages were 5, 3, 2, and the days at home were very long ones, and my discouragement level was high. One day a card arrived in the mail from a friend who lived in Prattville, not 2 miles from me. That card meant a great deal to me, and encouraged me to no end.  In this day of technical communication, we have forgotten the gift of the written word.  A card or note can be read again and again during a discouraging time and can be a great source of encouragement. I still have that card and the many I received when Sarah was young and we were just finding out about her disabilities.  To this day I will occasionally look at them, remembering how the Lord lifted me up through the words of a friend.

Scripture tells us that their is no greater love than to lay down our life for a friend.  Does that necessarily mean to die for the friend, or can we lay down our life by putting aside our wants and desires to minister to someone else?  Are we willing to drop what we want to help someone out?  Are our days truly ours, or do they belong to the Lord?  We should be willing to meet the needs of others in real ways.  We also need to make sure that the way we are meeting their needs, is truly something that will bring comfort to that person, and not just ourselves.  One of my daughters loves to hug, not some little soft hug, but to hug the stuffing out of you.  If you are having trouble breathing, you really don’t feel like having your lungs compressed paper thin, so we were having some issues about this.  We had a talk about how if we are truly trying to show love and compassion to someone we need to meet their needs, not their perceived needs. This daughter thought she was showing her sisters she loved them, but her sisters didn’t feel love, they felt pain.  We often do the same things when trying to minister to people.  Your church may have a meal ministry and whenever someone is in need, they take them meals. This is a great ministry, and I have participated on both ends of this ministry.  But there are times, when the real need isn’t a meal. For a mom home-bound with sick children, a call or a card for her or the children might meet their needs more effectively.  An encouraging word is great medicine.  Don’t be afraid to ask someone how you can minister to them, and if asked, be honest and tell the truth.  If you’re the mom, don’t be afraid to say, my child really needs an encouraging word from a friend, hopefully the person asking will truly wish to show love and compassion in a way that will minister to you and your family.

If you have any ways that you have ministered to others that are creative, please share.  Not in an effort to toot our own horns, but to show real ideas of how we can minister to one another.  I know that I am always looking for a new creative way to do so. Also share if someone blessed you in a special way that meant a great deal to you.

Menu Plan Monday 9-13-08 — Disaster Mode

We are home from the hurricane and are so thankful to have a home! We have power, but no water. Hopefully we will have water in one or two days. My menu plan is at best sketchy, as it is difficult to cook without running water. Now when I say we don’t have running water, I don’t mean we don’t have any water. Before we evacuated I put 15 gallons in igloo type jugs and filled both of the tubs. The water in the tubs we use for toilets and washing, and the igloo water is for cooking, & drinking. We have no regular milk, but I keep a store of powdered milk on hand for emergencies. We do have the ability to refill our containers at Gene’s office if we run out. I also have a couple of cases of bottled water as well.

We are using paper products & plastic utensils to cut down on washing, but I’m having to use pots and pans to cook. For my roast I will use a disposable roasting pan. The stores here are running very short on food; tonight when we went to Wal-Mart there was no produce, meat, frozen food, or any other food that required refrigeration. All of their cold items were ruined when they lost power, as was their produce. The shelves at the store were empty, which made shopping easier… since there was nothing to choose from. Lindsay took pictures of all of the empty shelves on our trip tonight. It is amazing that this is the reality living in the 4th largest city in America right now. We are actually quite blessed, as many in other parts of the city have no stores that are open.

Sunday night:  Tuna Helper

Monday night: Baked Sweet potatoes

Tuesday night: Pot roast, roasted veggies, homemade bread

Wednesday night: Hamburger helper

Thursday night: leftovers

Friday night: Quesadillas

Make sure you visit Laura to get great menu ideas from all the ladies who share.

Hurricane’s A Comin’!

Here we are again, three years later, evacuating once again. Hurricane force winds and a mobile homes just don’t mix that well. As of this writing (12:30pm 9/11/08) the eye of the hurricane is predicted to come directly over Katy. The good news is, at least we won’t be on the dirty side of the eye, the bad news is, it’s going to be a hard hit if it stays on this track. Our hope and prayer is to come home Sunday. We may come home to no power or water, but come home we will. I will be updating here as I can, and will update my Facebook and Twitter via the phone. Pray for those who are in the path of Ike, but also continue to remember those who were affected by Gustav. Many lost their homes and some are still without water and power. When stories are no longer before us on the news, we tend to think the problem is resolved and forget that it is still having a very real impact on people in their lives.

Pray for us all as we learn to hold onto our possessions loosely. We are leaving knowing that nothing may be here when we return. This is hard to do and to think about, but none the less, it is an ever-present reality for many today. There are many who will stay, and our prayer is that as few as possible are injured.