Friday, October 31, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

Sarah at Strandfam tagged me! Here goes...

1. I have short, stubby thumbs. What does this mean for me? I find it difficult to shuffle cards, play video games and I will never win a thumb war.

2. I cannot whistle. Hard as I try, it is just not going to happen for me. My husband is convinced that I should be able to whistle since I am a speech therapist. Hmmm, does this call my professional competence into question? Good thing I don't need to teach kids how to whistle!

3. I am a mirror talker like Amber. I have practice conversations in the mirror that I never have with anyone in real life because I'm too chicken.

4. I must straighten the covers on my bed before I can get in and go to sleep. They have to be perfectly even. Unless I'm too tired to care and then I don't even bother.

5. I can't count the number of times I have seen The Sound of Music. I love that movie and I can sing a rousing rendition of "My Favorite Things" (very loud and I suspect off-key on the chorus).

**Okay, now I have to come up with two new ones since the last 5 were copied from my last tag post (with a few minor revisions)!

I just realized that the last time I was tagged it was by a Sarah! You crazy girls!

6. I am a food separatist. I have rules. Certain foods cannot touch other foods on my plate but other foods can. Don't ask me to explain it, I just know.

7. I like the smell of books. As a kid I would open my new text books and smell them first. Is that as creepy as the kid in class who eats paste? There was always one of those kids.

So the big question is, am I quirky or just weird? Quirky sounds cuter. Please say quirky.

Here are all the lucky folks that I'm going to tag next...

Jaime

Tonni

Nikki

Suzi

MeDenne

Missy

Kristen

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pep Talk

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

I subscribe to a daily devotional online from Proverbs 31 Ministries. Today's message greatly encouraged me and I thought I would pass it along. To read the entire devotion click here.

"When we take our eyes off our fears, our doubts, our struggles and focus on someone else's needs, we somehow forget our own, for a little while. In believing the power of God’s promises for others, our confidence in His promises for us seems to grow as well. And that my friend is the power of encouraging words! "

"Lord, Thank you for the power of Your Words that give me courage to become who You’ve created me to be – to go to places You’re calling me to go and climb spiritual heights that are out of my reach without Your help. Give me Your encouragement today, and help me encourage someone, too. In Jesus Name, Amen" -By Renee Swope-

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wanna Dance?

If you grew up in the 80's and have a thing for vocoders and electronic dance mixes then you're gonna be all over this. This song makes me want to get off my butt and onto the elliptical machine. Or tackle that giant pile of laundry that needs folding. It's definitely going on my ipod! Remember to pause my playlist at the bottom of the page before you listen. Enjoy!

Oh, you've got to check out the hair in this picture. Reminiscent of Flock of Seagulls? The 80's are baaaaaack. Scary.


video

Friday, October 24, 2008

Entertaining Success!

I began the journey out of my entertaining-phobia tonight! W00Hoo!

We hosted our new bible study group tonight with people we have only met one time before and I did not, I repeat, did NOT freak out! Not only did we have bible study but my in-laws were planning to come into town right around dinner time. Normally this would be the cause of much panic and "weeping and gnashing of teeth", to put it biblically, as I frantically dialed for pizza delivery. Not so today! Thanks to 4 Reluctant Entertainers I had a plan. A scrumptious and utterly simple plan: crock pot vegetable soup, store bought crusty Italian bread with garlic butter, and No Peel Apple Cake.

It was a good day, I gave it to God and he blessed me with peace. For the first time I cooked and cleaned for company with the intention of creating a warm, relaxed and comfortable space rather than worrying about people judging me because my baseboards weren't clean or my cooking was bad. Not that they were actually judging me, I just feared that they were. Instead of focusing on myself and my fears I chose to remain outward focused and you know what, I enjoyed myself! Instead of feeling exhausted and drained afterward, I was energized. Imagine that!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An Ordinary Life

"We do not need the grace of God to withstand crises—human nature and pride are sufficient for us to face the stress and strain magnificently. But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint, going through drudgery, and living an ordinary, unnoticed, and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God—but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people—" (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest).
I came across this quote on Walk Slowly Live Wildly tonight and it really spoke to me. Many times I internally bemoan the fact that God made me so terribly ordinary. Why wasn't I given a special talent of some kind? Why do I feel so invisible most of the time? What a blessed reminder that God does not need me to be an Uber-saint. He just wants me to live the life that he has so lovingly bestowed upon me. To show others the extraordinary God I serve and not get in the way.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Brighton's Village Fundraiser

I have the privilege of knowing an awesome christian woman, Kelly, through an adoption yahoo group. She and her husband are in the process of adopting their fourth child from China, Brighton. Brighton has Spina Bifida and is deaf. They have created a website to help raise money for her adoption. Right now if you donate to Brighton's Village you can be entered into a drawing for some beautiful Vera Bradley purses. It would be great if you could check out their site and pray for Brighton and her family to be united soon!

Thanks!

Jen

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Scoop on the Poop

**Update** The poo is clear, no E. coli here! Hooray!

I never thought this would be a title for a post on my blog!

We don't have official lab test results yet but Z has not had any further symptoms and N has never shown any at all. Their pediatrician did not think that they had E. coli but wanted us to go ahead and get them tested just to be sure. Unfortunately, Joel's poop collecting methods were not ideal the first time around so I had the enjoyable task of scooping the poop with an official collection kit on Saturday. So pleasant! I can't complain though, it was definitely my turn to do it. Hopefully we will get the results tomorrow.

I'll keep you posted on the poo chronicles!


Jen

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yuck

There has been an outbreak of E. coli at our kids' daycare recently. I don't believe that it originated there but one of the children had E. coli and then it spread to at least 5 other kids. So today when my son was at preschool he had blowout diarrhea and his teacher recommended that we get him tested for E. coli. My husband, wonderful man that he is, collected stool samples from both our kids and tomorrow we will go to our pediatrician to check out the poop! I was/am still pretty freaked out about the whole thing and of course googling E. coli has not helped to alleviate my fears. It is scary stuff. Could you pray for my kiddos? And for quick test results? We have basically canceled all plans until further notice (play dates, bible study, church, school, etc.).

Thanks.

Jen

Growing Up Too Fast!


When did my baby girl get so big? She told her daddy today:

N: "Dad, I think I'm falling in looooove with Zach at school. I think we should just go ahead and get married."
J: "Does he know about this?"
N: Yeah.
J: "Well, did you talk to him about it?"
N: "No dad, he just knows!"
J: "And you're sure he wants to marry you?"
N: "Of course, dad." (exasperated sigh)

Oh dear, she's five going on 18.
Btw, click here for the latest medical updates for our girl.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From the Garden to the Pantry




I have to say that my husband ROCKS! He works so hard and is so passionate about growing and preserving our bountiful harvest!

Life Half-Lived

A few months ago I read a post by Big Mama about letting go of the fear in her life and truly giving it to God. I wrote this poem in response:

The Fear of Letting Go

The fear of letting go grips my heart.
I long to run, I yearn to fly, I need to create.
My heart turns cold.

I fear being nothing.
I fear losing everything.
I don't want to waste my life.

I'm tired of trying to please everyone.
I'm tired of falling short.
I'm falling apart at the seams.

I long to feel the warmth of the sun.
To stand on a hill with the wind in my face.
Holding nothing back.

I am released from this half-life of fear.
I will let myself be shattered.
Free me and make me whole again.
3/1/08
I am generally a very private person but in my quest to become more of the person God made me to be, I have chosen to process my thoughts and feelings out loud. Perhaps to give myself some sort of accountability or just to be more open and known to others? Maybe some of these ramblings will help someone else? Maybe this is some form of therapy for me? Whatever it is, bear with me!
I have been told before that I am too serious and that I think about things too much but as I expressed in my poem, I'm so tired of trying to please others and not be myself. I don't want to worry about being too much for some and not being enough for others. I am who I am and it's time for me to accept this and stop hiding the real me. I grew up hiding my true thoughts and feelings and I have found that the habit has stuck. It's time for me to realize that God loves me and accepts me "just as I am" as the old hymn goes. That is enough for me. I don't have to hide anymore.
The song Unbreakable by Fireflight perfectly expresses what I am trying to say, "God I want to dream again, take me where I've never been. I want to go there, this time I'm not scared!".

video

Jen

Monday, October 13, 2008

Loving This Song

video

Give Me Your Eyes-- Brandon Heath

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OihvG607W-c

Update from N's Doctor

In case you missed it...
We have heard from N's cardiologist. Read about it here if you like!

Jen

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Reads

I've made some great new discoveries in the blogosphere this weekend!

My favorite is 4 Reluctant Entertainers, a blog written to help those who break into a cold sweat at the mere thought of having people over for dinner, a.k.a., ME. My entertaining fears do not discriminate either, I'll have you know! It doesn't matter if I have known you for 10 years or 10 minutes, I FEAR entertaining! I fear cooking lousy food, I fear you finding the 1/2" layer of dust on the one piece of furniture I forgot to wipe down, I fear that you will find me BORING and that I will not be able to think of anything to say to you! It's ugly but true and I hate being this way! Cause guess what? When I'm so busy being afraid of opening my home, my life, and myself to others I leave no room in my heart to love others and make an impact on their lives. Then I sit here and wonder why I do not have intimate, lasting relationships with friends or family? Why am I so lonely? Hmmm...could it be...me??? Gasp! Surely not!

The Reluctant Entertainers blog is one the many ways that God has recently been speaking to me about being open to new relationships and looking for ways to bless others instead of keeping my heart locked up in this dungeon of fear. He has also been teaching me that when I am feeling lonely and when I feel like no one "gets me" that I should turn to Him instead of wallowing in self pity. He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother. He is the one who made me and therefore knows me intimately. He IS love when I need love. I have found immense comfort in this revelation. It's kinda like Sally Field's acceptance speech at the Oscars years ago, "You like me! You really, really like me!".

Anyway.... back to the ranch.

Here are some other great blogs and websites that I have been enjoying:

Stop the Ride--"Living a simple and frugal life in a world that isn't".

Growing Power-- This guy is my new hero! He has this incredible farm in the middle of Milwaukee on a 2 acre lot. His mission is "supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities".

Enjoy!

Jen

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wrapping Up the Harvest


After a hard freeze this week we lost most of the tomatoes that were still on the vine however we had plenty of pumpkins and squash left to pick. It was cold and blustery today but we still enjoyed our family harvest day!


Friday, October 10, 2008

Spiritual Gifts Inventory

Here I go again trying to figure myself out. It seems to be one of my favorite pastimes! I stumbled across an interesting spiritual gifts survey that really nailed it for me. A few months ago I took a similar survey on another site and ended up feeling useless and discouraged. It made me feel that if I wasn't a "teacher" or "evangelist" type of person then I didn't amount to much in the church body. I feel that way often enough on my own, I didn't need someone else telling me that too! I often struggle with feeling connected in the church, knowing where I fit, knowing what in the heck am I good for anyway? I'm sure this is partially due to self-esteem issues from my past but I think it is also due to not having an obviously useful gift. Everyone recognizes those who have great pearls of wisdom to bestow on all they meet or those who are super-organized and practical, and those with a passion to teach and share the gospel. I am not a great giver of advice, I fear public speaking and confrontation, I don't teach well, and I worry too much about offending others and what people think of me.
Instead of causing me to beat myself up further about all the things I am not good at, this survey actually caused me to recognize and value the characteristics I do have. No small feat, I assure you...
I particularly like the parts that explain what pitfalls to watch out for and the practical ways in which I could use my gift.

The results:

The results of your Spiritual Gifts Inventory indicate that your number one dominant gift is MERCY SHOWING! The Greek word "ellco" means to feel sympathy with or for others. As a mercy-shower you have the Spirit-given capacity and desire to serve God by identifying with and comforting those who are in distress. You understand and comfort your fellow Christian. You enter into the grief or happiness of others and have the ability to show empathy which is to feel WITH others, not just for others.
As a mercy-shower you are willing to deal with and minister to people who have needs that most people feel very uncomfortable working with. You seem to say the right thing at the right time. Your personality is likely one of soft-spoken love. It hurts you to scold someone; you are very non-condemning. People love you because of all the love you give them. You find it easy to express yourself and are outgoing with a low-key, inoffensive personality. You are easy to talk to, responsive to people, a good listener, peaceable, and agreeable. You tend to make decisions based on feelings more than fact and like to think about things for a while before making a decision.
In your burden to comfort others, your heart goes out to the poor, the aged, the ill, the underprivileged, and so on. You tend to attract people who are hurting or rejoicing because you identify with them. Be careful not to let others use you. Try not to resent others who are not as understanding as you. Refrain from becoming a gossiper when you are around other mercy-showers. Do not let your circumstances control you. Because of your supernatural ability to show mercy, others accuse you of taking up for people, being a softy and a compromiser. They may think you are too emotional.
Mercy-showers make excellent counselors. However, left untrained, you may destroy yourself by your tendency to take people's problems home with you. Your empathy can become detrimental without personal training on how to deal with it.
Beware of Satan's attack on your gift. He can cause pride because of your ability to relate to others.
He may influence you to disregard rules and authority. You may experience a lack of discipline because of strong feeling for those who hurt due to disobedience and sin. Don't fall into Satan's trap of complaining and griping.


HOW CAN YOU USE YOUR GIFT?
Your gift is used best in times of sorrow and in times of great joy. It fits well with another gift of service such as deacon, youth worker or hospital visitation. With a counseling course, you could become a good counselor. You may serve as a hospital, nursing home, or shut-in worker; a funeral coordinator and provider of sympathy and support; or a poverty center worker. You would do well as an usher or greeter and welcome center worker or hospitality person. You may want to work in a telephone ministry. You would make people feel welcome on a newcomer visitation team. Other appropriate ministry areas include missions, committee member, furlough assistance, and correspondence helper. You would work well with the elderly and with people who have mental and physical disabilities, in nursing, and with special ministries to migrants, released offenders or abused children and women.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Finally Some Answers

I came home to this email from N's doctor tonight:

I finally have some news for you all: We may do some additional imaging but the rec's have been to address her aortic arch only for now, via an entry into the chest from the side, not using the cardiopulmonary bypass and not operating on the heart itself for now. This will mean a quicker recovery, and I hope, at least delay significantly if not fend off more work with the heart itself that, yes, she may well still need someday! This is what I had felt best, and after an VERY long time getting many opinions, we are finally all in agreement.

We can talk more about this if we meet for more imaging, or if we don't need to do that, as a separate meeting. I think Dr. S will do the case here in B. and that is what I want.

Thanks for your unbelievable patience!


And then a more detailed message later on:

We need to review, in the week or 2, the MRI images and decide if they are adequate. I actually feel they are and that we are ready to go. Dr. S will need to feel the same. We can do transesophageal echo during surgery when she is anesthetized to see the outflow portion of the left ventricle, where she had surgery before.

Your next meeting may just be a pre-op session with Dr. S ; otherwise we may work with the coordinator at hospital, who's getting a copy of this, to set up a date (usually a Tuesday) when this can be done. She should be in the hospital no more, and likely less time than before.
She's older now, and this will be harder for her to understand and forget-- but we can deal with that, to help her. She's got the right stuff!

I say again that her adoption by you all was frankly lifesaving, and in that bigger picture, the week of discomfort she has for this (and frankly, there may well be more surgery down the line!) is still so very, very worth it. I know you know all this, but I just felt like saying it again. Few cases have been so overall satisfying as hers. More details soon.


Joel and I feel that this is very good news considering that we were preparing for the possibility of open heart surgery again. As always we would greatly appreciate your prayers for our girl's health, both physical and emotional. She does struggle even with minor changes in her life so anything major like this causes some emotional and behavioral regression. With help from her therapist, patience and nurturing on our part and God's tender care, she makes it through!

Jen

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