Tutor Gifts!

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Even though we are a homeschool family, we are a part of a wonderful program called Classical Conversations. On the elementary level we meet once a week for 24 weeks. It  a formal program (as opposed to a relaxed co-op) and the students are split into classes by age. We have been CCers for 6 years now. And we have about 15 years to go.

At the end of the year I love to give out tutor gifts. (The class leaders are called tutors, not teachers. CC believes the parents are the teachers and have the final say.) The gifts are not always extremely expensive, but we want to show our gratitude for those tutors who have invested their time to be with our kids. I also hand out student gifts to the students I have had the privilege to tutor.

This year the girls picked out what they wanted to give their tutors. Even Courtney, although she was only there 2 times because she was not officially enrolled. (She will be next year!) Lydia has 2 tutors: one for Foundations and one for Essentials. Emma is only in Foundations.

Emma chose a teal plastic basket, beach theme beach towel, teal cup with a straw, some rice krispy treats, granola bars, and juice mix ins for water. Her tag said “Thanks for helping me shine!” She was pretty proud of herself for picking all that out. Lydia gave her Essentials tutor a basket of tortilla chips, salsa, queso, and bean dip. Her tag read “you are NACHO average tutor.” I’m still working on her Foundations tutor gift. I’m thinking a gift card for $100 or some new LulaRoe pieces, but daddy is not on board yet. (For those of you who don’t know, I am Lydia’s tutor.) Courtney gave her tutor some chocolate chip cookies with a tag that said “Thanks for making me one smart cookie.” We also presented our campus director with a platter of 3 dozen cookies. Her tag said “you are sweeter than chocolate chip cookies.” (and I forgot a picture for that one.)

Finally, my students received a personalized bookmark, an educational book, and a bag of “bookworms” to eat as they read. I have had the privilege of tutoring in CC for 6 years. Every year the Lord has taught me something through each of my students.

For those of you on the homeschool journey, CC or not, keep going. It is worth the good days, bad days, the steam coming out your ears days. It is not easy, but nothing worth having ever is.

 

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Don’t Be That Wife: Part Dos

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One of my last posts was Don’t Be That Wife. This is the second installment. Sometimes we need to be reminded of some basics. First, the Bible doesn’t want us to be hateful, angry individuals. Anger is equated to foolishness (Proverbs 14:17, 29; Ecclesiastes 7:9). Our first priority is to be a godly woman. Married or single. Children or no children. God’s Word clearly outlines how we are to conduct ourselves. Secondly, if you are married, you are to be a godly wife. You are to mirror Christ through your marriage. Lastly, you are to be a godly mom. Our attitudes will greatly influence our families, both our spouses and our children.

In Titus 2, we read that the aged women are to teach the younger women. I have all girls. They have some wonderful examples to look to at our church. Godly women. Faithful women. Discerning women. But this verse also applies to me as a mother. I can pretend to be all that and a bag of chips at church and I can post all the right things on Facebook but do you know who really sees whether I am sober, discreet, chaste, and a keeper at home? My children. It is my responsibility to teach my daughters these principles. I can give lip service all I want, but my actions and my attitude will speak volumes. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “More is caught than is taught.”

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This man is amazing!

If I am constantly hateful to my husband, it shows my girls that I don’t truly love him (Titus 2:4), it shows them my disobedience (Titus 2:5), and it blasphemes the Word of God (Titus 2:5). My attitude toward my husband will greatly influence my children. My girls will more than likely pick up my habits and be hateful to their spouse, if they get married. They can overcome it and break the cycle, but it is a difficult journey. It can affect sons as well. They may be more likely to marry someone who will verbally abuse them, thinking that is normal.  Not only that, but my children will quite possibly treat their friends with the same disdain they observe day in and day out. Eventually, they will complain they don’t have many friends. Is it any wonder with attitudes such as theirs? I don’t think we realize how much our stinky attitudes are soaked up by our children. Even if you are pleasant as punch to your children, having an antagonistic relationship with their dad makes them more likely to resent you as they grow older, if they don’t grow up just like you. Even if they don’t grow up to resent you, biblically, your attitude is wrong. Just remember: What you do, your children will do in excess.

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Denver/Seattle Game

If my husband and I do have intense fellowship, which is not very often, apologies are not only made to each other, but to our children as well. My children need to see forgiveness, not harboring a grudge. My husband and I were raised 2 different ways. My parents fought to the death so to speak, and I don’t remember apologies ever being made. It eventually blew over. Guess what I brought into our marriage? An antagonistic spirit when things didn’t go my way. And I expected my husband to argue with me. My husband’s parents never argued in front of the children. The problem with that is my husband never saw conflict and resolution. So guess what he brought into our marriage? If you love one another, you NEVER argue. That’s not healthy either. We’ve had to work extremely hard to find the right balance. (We have, by the way.) I never want my children to live in fear of “Is today the day one of my parents leave?” and I never want to hear my child plead with me: “Please don’t fight with daddy anymore.” Your relationship with your husband will affect your children. (Anyone remember Jon and Kate Gosselin?  Were you really surprised when they split up? Did you ever watch some of the earlier episodes?)

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Bedlam, Baby!!

I’m going to be transparent here. You also need a healthy intimate relationship with your husband. Of the couples I know that have a nonexistent intimate relationship, there are issues. Do you know how it feels to go through weight ups and downs, fertility issues, weight ups and downs, miscarriage, traumatic birth, cancer, more weight ups and downs, and your husband still find you attractive?! Oh. My. Word. It’s amazing. You have to question his sanity sometimes, but man, is that true love or what? Hold hands, hug, let your husband kiss you. Kiss your husband. There is security in that for your children. (And it’s so much fun to gross our kids out when we kiss.) Our children will be bombarded with the world’s view of intimacy and marriage. Teach them what is right and godly by modeling it for them.

Ladies, your relationship with your husband is vital to the development of your children. (I’m not talking about an abusive situation here. That’s a different story.) Please, please, please understand what an effect you have. If you are a ministry family, your home life, church life, and social media life must be consistent, or your children will see the hypocrisy and want nothing to do with it. If you are a Christian family, your home life, church life, and social media life must be consistent, or your children will see the hypocrisy and want nothing to do with it. Do your best to model a godly marriage.

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Isn’t he handsome?!?!

Don’t be that wife.

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Have you ever considered how much power a wife and a mother wields? If she has a bad day, the whole house suffers. If momma is having a bad day, everyone knows it. We laugh at the signs at craft shows that say, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” but there is so much truth to this statement. Our attitudes set the tone of our homes, and the Bible speaks to this numerous times. God has given us clear instruction how to conduct ourselves as women, wives, and mothers. (I put them in that order on purpose.)In order to have a happy and successful marriage, we would be wise to read God’s Word and heed it.

Proverbs 14:1 reads, “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” I picture this verse as a game of Jenga. You know, the game that starts out with all the wooden blocks stacked like a tower and one by one each player removes a block. As the game continues, the structure becomes unstable and eventually crashes to the table. At the end of the game, the pieces are put back together like nothing happened and the game starts all over again. My house is that Jenga tower. As I destroy my husband with my words, my “structure” becomes more unstable. But my family, my house, is not a game. It is real life, and I can’t place the blocks back like nothing happened. The words that are said can never be shoved back into my mouth. The words spoken and the tone with which I speak has already done the damage.

Twice the Bible tells us “It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.” (Proverbs 21:9, 25:24) Can you imagine? It is better for my husband to sit on our roof than to hang out with me while I’m having a moment? And notice it says in a “wide house.”  I believe it means no matter how big the house, there is no place to hide. Proverbs 21:19 states, “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” Of course, this was written before modern camping conveniences. It is sad to me that any man would choose isolation in the rugged wilderness over the comforts of home because of a contentious woman. Also, don’t be a nag. Proverbs 27:15 tells us “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” Now, I like a rainy day every now and then. But think about a continual dropping of water. That sound. Over and over. No relief in sight. No other sounds to listen to but drip. drip. drip. drip. blah. blah. blah. blah. nag. nag. nag. pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep, cheep, cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more…

These verses don’t specify a wife. They say “woman.” If you are single, these words still apply to you. First and foremost, we must desire to be a godly woman. We must desire to please the Lord in our actions and our demeanor. The Lord often links anger with foolishness. Proverbs 17:28a states, “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise:” In other words, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” (Lincoln, Twain, no one really knows.) Later in Proverbs you find, “A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both.” (Proverbs 27:3) Picture being stuck in quicksand and someone comes and hands you a curling stone. A fool’s wrath is heavier than that.

The book of Genesis explains to us that Eve was made a help meet for Adam. The article adjective “a” indicates a noun. According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, help is defined as “Aid, assistance, strength or means furnished towards promoting an object, or deliverance from difficulty or distress.” Also, as a verb help means “to assist; to succor; to lend means of deliverance.” Lastly, “to remedy; to change for the better.” My job as a wife is to help my husband. To assist him, to lend strength towards effecting a purpose. (In a Christian marriage, our purpose should be to glorify God in all we say or do.) The word meet here is an adjective. It means “fit; suitable; proper; qualified.” I should assist him in a proper way. I should desire to assist my husband and lend a means of deliverance from a hectic day or antagonistic workday. I want to create an environment where my husband WANTS to come home. Do you realize there are men around the world who cringe at the thought of going home to their wives on a daily basis? I don’t want to be known as the “old ball and chain.” “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:4) “For three things the earth is disquieted, (made uneasy, restless, or disturbed) For an odious (hateful) woman when she is married;”. (Proverbs 30:21a, 23a-parenthesis mine)

I would like to encourage you, Don’t Be That Wife. Don’t be odious or hateful. Don’t be a nag. (Ever notice you can’t nag without getting hateful?) Don’t be constantly argumentative. That being said, I’m not advocating you to be a personal door mat. If you know me even just a smidgen, you know that I am a little outspoken. Okay, a lot outspoken. But, I try to defer to my husband when needed. I have respect for my husband, and he has respect for me. I want nothing more than for my husband to say that his heart, “doth safely trust” in me. (Proverbs 31:11)

 

 

 

Who cares about the nursery?

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I believe a church has one main purpose: to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If a church loses sight of that purpose, it ceases to be effective. I also believe that any ministry a church has should support that purpose. In my mind, one of the most important ministries a church can have is a nursery. I am a firm believer in the church nursery for a multitude of reasons.

First, we should always remember the pastor has a responsibility. He is called by God to preach the Gospel and minister to the saints. In that same vein, we have a responsibility to help him. How do we do that? By being attentive to the Word and engaged in the service. We have a nursery to allow our pastor the freedom to preach whatever the Holy Spirit has laid on his heart. It is much easier to do that when the service is free of distractions. You might not see the little kid 3 rows behind you that is waving his hands in the air (waving like he just don’t care) and twirling around, but the pastor sees it. We should determine to do our part to keep the services free of distractions. We should also remember that services are not just for the saved. Hopefully, there are lost people in your service. (A wise pastor once said, “If everyone in your church service looks just like you, you’re not doing something right. You should want those that look different to walk through the doors.”) Satan wants nothing more than to distract them from hearing the most important message they need to hear.

Secondly, kids make noise. God designed them that way. They coo, they giggle, they talk, they belch and pass gas. The nursery is designed to allow those children who do not have the capacity to be still to be a kid.  The nursery is designed for kids to be kids and to allow adults to listen in the service without distraction. I recently read an article on this where the author was adamant: Babies are NOT a distraction. I respectfully disagree. Babies can be a distraction. They are cute. They smell good. They smell bad. They smile. They giggle. They spit up. Babies are wonderful creations, but they CAN be a distraction. Again, we should do everything within our power to keep the services free from distraction.

Not only that, sometimes it’s not the child who is a distraction. Sometimes the adults accompanying them are the distraction. The baby smiles and the adults start elbowing one another to look at baby Joey. Now those adults are distracted, the pastor might be distracted, and the adults around them may be distracted. Once a child becomes mobile, they want to move. Trying to keep them penned up on your lap is a difficult job. Very, very few children under the age of 1 will sit quietly without squirming. When the child starts to squirm, the adult feels like they have to entertain them. Yes, this can be done without noise, but it can’t be done without distraction. I’ve watched plenty of parents play peek a boo or make faces at a child to keep them entertained, but to do that, the adult becomes a distraction. Also, many times they lose track of the message.

I once had someone tell me they were taking their child out of the nursery because they were starting preschool (3 years of age) and needed to learn to sit still.  Honestly, that would have been fine, had they made their child sit still. But unfortunately, that was not the case. This child didn’t even have to sit down. Sadly, one Sunday, guests sat behind them. After services the guests told me they would NEVER sit behind that family again. What a sad testimony! Our actions don’t affect only us, they also affect all those around us. This couple had a hard time paying attention to the service because the mom either let the child do what he/she wanted or she was disciplining the child right in the middle of the service.

Let me add right here that training your child to sit in services does not start at church. It starts at home. Waiting until they are in the middle of a church service to sit perfectly still and quiet is unreasonable. If you teach them little by little at home, they will be much more successful at church.

Also, a nursery frees you up to be involved in the ministry yourself. I play the piano for a majority of the services. It would not work for me to sit out of that ministry or try to juggle ministry and sitting with my child. I have friends who teach Sunday School, and one just recently told me she needed to put her baby in the nursery because the teens (whom her husband teaches) would be easily distracted by such a beautiful baby. (She didn’t say beautiful, but trust me, this little girl is a cutie!!) One teen has special needs and he would love to look and coo at this sweet thing, but taking her to nursery helps keep him engaged in the class.

Nursery workers should realize what a wonderful opportunity they have. They have a direct part in the service even though they are not in there.  I firmly believe when someone gets saved, the nursery workers play a part in that. They are lovingly caring for the children so the pastor and the adults can pay attention. Nursery workers may also be the first members a guest comes in contact with. Their attitude has a profound impact on whether or not the guest feels comfortable.  When we travel and are at other churches, the nursery is a key factor. While on vacation recently, we attended a church where the nursery was well staffed, and more importantly, very friendly. When we dropped them off, we had the feeling the workers took their ministry seriously and deemed it important. The workers were very welcoming and were happy to explain where they would be and where we would pick them up. When we went by after services, our children were called by name, we were told how they behaved, and all of this was done with a sweet attitude.

I encourage you, if you don’t already, utilize your church nursery. Give the message your undivided attention. At our church, our nursery is not an after thought. I want it to be an important ministry. I don’t want the nursery workers to be on time, I want them to be early. We never know when a guest will walk through the door and if no one is in the nursery to greet them, they assume the church doesn’t place a high priority on taking care of their children.

How to honor a Mother that is dishonorable

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I know. That sounds odd. But let’s face it, not all mothers are Donna Reed, Claire Huxtable, or June Cleaver. Some could only dream about being as good as Roseanne. It’s a sad state we are in. While many mothers are working hard to raise their children to be respected citizens of society, there are many that have shirked their duties and have opted to break that mother/child bond. When it comes to Mother’s Day, how do you reconcile honoring a mother that has done nothing to merit that honor? I’m not talking about a mother who didn’t let you have soda for dinner, or made you eat your brussels sprouts, or made you take a bath. I’m talking about those mothers who are narcissistic or hateful or abusive. How do you honor them?

This really is a hard subject. Mother’s Day is hard for many. Some aren’t a mother, I’ve been there. Some don’t have good relationships with their mothers, and I’ve been there, too. So not everyone enjoys a Hallmark moment on Mother’s Day. Today we’ll deal with the strained mother relationship. The Bible clearly commands, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” (Exodus 20: 12) It’s one of the 10 commandments. How do you get around that? “But, God, you know my mother. Surely you will exempt me from this commandment!” The answer is “no.” We won’t be exempt.

My husband once told me (Forget that. He’s told me this many, many, MANY times), “You cannot control how others act toward you, but you can control how you respond.”  I have enough to answer for without having to answer for everyone else. (Whew! Thank goodness!) I tell my girls, “You don’t have to answer for how your sister treats you, you DO have to answer for how you treat your sister.” So the best thing (and biblical thing) to do is to apply the same principle.

The Bible says in Romans 12:18, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” God wants us to do our part in keeping relationships. Even if you don’t agree with them. Even if they hurt you. Even if they take your parking space up front when it is raining. We are responsible for our actions. Ephesians says “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32) This goes for all our relationships. So no matter what my mother does or says to me, I need the right attitude.

Maybe you are in a situation where the relationship is so strained you don’t speak. Or she wouldn’t speak to you if you tried. This is where, I believe, it is all about my attitude. Put away bitterness, wrath, anger, evil speaking and be forgiving in your heart. If you can forgive her, there may be a time of restoration, and you’ll be ready for it. Maybe there won’t be restoration. If not, then you can meet your Saviour with a clear conscience that you did your part. He will only hold you accountable for your actions and thoughts. It’s not enough to not talk about it. The psalmist said in Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” God knows our thoughts. If you harbor bitterness, He’ll know. Besides “what’s in the well always comes up in the bucket.” If you have bitterness and anger on the inside, it will eventually manifest itself. Psalm 37:8 states, “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.” We often want to get the upper hand. God says don’t. If we cease anger and forsake wrath, we won’t desire to do evil. “Do not be overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) My favorite verse in the last couple years has been Exodus 14:14. “The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Yay! God, the creator of the world, the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the God of angel armies, will fight for me. And He’ll do much better than I.

In Matthew 5, in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ is telling his disciples it’s not hard to love thy neighbor and hate thy enemy. Anyone can do that. Even the natural man. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44) The best thing you can do for your situation is pray. Do you know how hard it is to stay angry at someone for whom you are diligently praying? Praying blessings over them. I also think we should be thankful for the good memories. Satan wants you to dwell on the bad. That’s how he keeps the vicious cycle of bitterness and anger going. You dwell on the bad, nurse those hurts, and replay the moments over and over again in your mind. Philippians 4:8 states, “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are  lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

You also don’t have to repeat the type of upbringing you had. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” Yes!! As a believer in Christ I can be different. In fact, I SHOULD be different. God knows that a mother’s gentle love is not automatic. In Titus 2 the older woman are instructed to teach the younger women to love their children. Some of us can’t imagine NOT loving our children. But God knew it would not always be the natural response. He made provisions for those sweet older ladies to instruct the younger woman. Teach them what is important and what isn’t. Remind them the days are long, but the years are short. Encourage them to let their little princesses walk out of the house in mismatched clothing because they picked it out themselves and are proud of that feat. Instill Godly character in their children.  Teach them to set the dishes aside and play Candyland, or legos, or superheroes. Put the laundry down and have a tea party. Love them. Unconditionally.

So remember, God will not hold you accountable for how your mother treats you. Your mother will have to answer for that. But you will give an account for your actions, your words, and your thoughts. Choose to live in joy. Choose to live with a forgiving spirit. Be an example and an encouragement to others. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works (or attitude), and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (parenthesis mine).

Happy Pastor’s Wife Appreciation Month

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I never know how to really write that title. Is it Pastor’s Wife – singular? Is it Pastor’s Wives –  indicating a pastor has more than one wife? Is it Pastors’ Wives? Oh, well, I think you understand anyway. Somewhere, someone  has deemed March as the month to honor your Pastor’s wife. I want to be careful in writing this because I am the wife of the pastor. I am in no way writing this to rebuke the ladies at our church. Quite the contrary. I’d like to use their example to encourage you to do the same.

First, a few things about pastors’ wives. She is a church member, just like you. She was not born with superhero powers. Her parents did not send her to earth in an egg shaped capsule. She cannot read your mind. (Whew!) She probably did not major in Pastor Wife in college. While my husband was still in Bible college, we served in a church in Springfield, Missouri. A young woman often asked Mrs. Cobb, who was the pastor’s wife, if she would teach a class at the church on how to be a pastor’s wife. After turning down this request numerous times, Mrs. Cobb held up a toilet brush and said, “Do you know what this is? Do you know how to use one? Good. You, too, can be a pastor’s wife.” A pastor’s wife is a woman who is serving the Lord, same as you. The only difference is, she is married to the Pastor.

Depending on the size of your church, your pastor’s wife may wear many hats. In smaller churches I’ve found she wears quite a few. I’ve been pianist, nursery worker, nursery coordinator, fellowship planner, Sunday School teacher, jr church worker, custodian and so on. I’m not complaining. Most of the time I enjoy it. (Let’s face it, every one gets tired now and then.) But remember, your pastor’s wife may have children of her own, she may work outside the home, she may home school. She has all the responsibilities you have at home, and she still finds time to serve. Most importantly, she does it to serve the Lord. Her goal is to please Him in all she says and does. I Corinthians 10:31 states “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do ALL to the glory of God.” (emphasis mine) This should be every Christian woman’s desire. Secondly, she does it to be a helper to her husband. Proverbs 31 tells us that the woman in this chapter behaved herself in such a way that “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her,” (Proverbs 31:11a) I want my husband to trust me. I don’t want to be known as what the Bible calls Silly Women. I want to help and not hinder the ministry. Finally, she does it to be an example to her children. I want my children to know serving the Lord is required of the Lord. I Corinthians 4:2 tells us, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” Notice the word required. Faithfulness is not suggested, it is required. I want to model that for my children. Oh, I’ll fail, but I have to keep trying. And I want them to ENJOY it. Ministry is an exciting thing. We have a good time. There is an old song that says, “There is joy in serving Jesus.” You can have that joy, too. It’s not just for staff.

So now to the ladies I serve with. Last year, some ladies saw that March was Pastor’s Wife Appreciation month, so they decided to join in. They’ve always recognized my birthday, which is also in March, but now they add to it. I’ve received certificates for manicures and pedicures, certificates to have my hair done, and a massage. They have given me money for hats (Kentucky Derby style to wear on Sunday mornings) and purses. This year has been my favorite so far. The ladies all took a different day in the month of March to bring me and my family dinner. So for over half of the month I have dinner taken care of. These dates are spread out so we can enjoy leftovers. This is my favorite because each lady is giving of herself in some way. It may be a home cooked meal. It may be a certificate to my favorite restaurant. I’m only a couple of meals into this and we have enjoyed it so much. Even this past Sunday morning, one lady brought me a chocolate pie. It was still warm. yummmmmmmm… Only problem is I had to wait until after church to eat it. (Next time I won’t. I think I’ll start carrying a fork in my purse for occasions such as these.) I serve alongside some wonderful ladies, and not just because they bring me pie. They are a blessing to my heart and I count it a privilege to work with them.

I’d like to encourage you, if you appreciate your pastor’s wife (and you should), take a minute this month to let her know. It doesn’t have to be dinner. It could be a sweet note mailed to her home, it could be a drink at her favorite coffee shop, it could be a gift certificate to her favorite store, or it could just be a big hug while you tell her how much you love her. My next post will be how to honor your pastor’s wife all year (and it won’t cost a dime!)

 

It’s Prematurity Awareness Day!!

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I have blogged about Emma’s journey before, so I don’t really want to retell the whole story. We will never know just why Emma was born prematurely. The nurse at her birth thought it might have been an infection, but where that came from she didn’t know. My doctor said that is the blanket answer. Often it’s contributed to an infection, but the cause is really unknown. I do know this, God allowed it. For whatever reason, God chose us to go down this path.

Little Emma a day or two after she was born.

Little Emma a day or two after she was born. The pink cloth on the right side of the picture was her scent cloth. We slept with it and put it in her bed so she could get accustomed to us.

Any baby born before 37 weeks is considered premature. According to the March of Dimes, 1 out of 9 births is a premature birth. Micro preemies are babies born before week 32 (some stats say week 30). Chances of survival for a baby born at Emma’s gestation is 55%-70%. Just 10-15 years ago the chances of survival were much, much lower. Of babies born this early, only 30%-40% will develop normally without any major health issues or concerns. These babies are born purple. Their skin is transparent so you see the blood vessels underneath. Emma has a very high pain tolerance. I’m convinced it is because of all the poking and prodding she endured those first 89 days of life. I assumed all preemies were visited by their parents. Sadly, I learned that some preemies are already in state custody and NICU nurses are the only contact some of them have.

Eyes wide open

Eyes wide open

love those baby feet and teeny toes

love those baby feet and teeny toes

It is a scary thing to have a baby at 26 weeks and not know how things are going to go.  I remember one of the nurses warning us we would have a couple of good days and then a bad day. She was right. The first couple of days looked promising and then “Wham!” here came our bad day. That pattern continued for weeks. I’ll never forget the day the Nurse Practitioner, Gina, came in with the worse case scenarios. Possibilities included vision loss, hearing loss, developmental delays, neurological disorders, cerebral palsy, and the list went on. If I had no God in which to put my trust, that conversation would have been very bleak. I realized after that she was just doing her job. Unfortunately, they have to do that. But I appreciated the way she talked to us and explained things and let us ask questions. Gina became a sweet friend during our NICU stay. This is great considering how we first met. The day after I was released I went to Emma’s room. When I asked if I could just go on in she said yes and asked if I was Emma’s grandma. (If I had a dollar for every time I was asked that!!)  I remember one day she came in, sat down, and we just talked. Some of it was about Emma, some about our journey through infertility, part of the conversation was about her and her health journey, but always about how God is good. She always made time for us even after we graduated from the NICU.

Believe it or not, Emma was was almost 5 months old in this picture. She still probably only weighed around 8 lbs.

Believe it or not, Emma was was almost 5 months old in this picture. She still probably only weighed around 8 lbs. Photo by Krystal Inman Photography

I love our NICU nurses. They are fabulous. It still amazes me how these people can work 12 hour shifts on what I would consider a high stress level job. I never heard anyone complain. I never heard any of them gripe about another nurse. They answered our questions and were patient. We were there a lot so we had a lot of questions. They were very professional, but they were so personable. We had 24 access to our nurses. We could live in her room if we wanted. We could call any hour of the day or night and check on Emma. They always answered and were always happy to tell us how our baby was doing. Though we did have excellent doctors, Dr. Siddiqui being one of my favorites, it was the nurses who watched over Emma every day. They got to know her. Once she was able to cry, they learned she only cried when she was dirty. One of her nurses made Emma her first hair bow. They made a nameplate for her bed. They called her by name.

One of Emma's first bows. Thanks, Nurse Tiffany!

One of Emma’s first bows. Thanks, Nurse Tiffany!

Emma in her glass bed, just like Sleeping Beauty.

Emma in her glass bed, just like Sleeping Beauty.

Those nurses are my heroes. If I started to list them by name, I know I’d forget someone. But every single nurse that took care of our precious baby has a hand in the beauty she is today. Many of these nurses still keep in touch with us, and I always want Emma to know how these angels were used by God to accomplish a purpose.

Emma being silly playing in the dog's crate.

Emma being silly playing in the dog’s crate.

Our vivacious Emma will be 3 in January. It is often hard to believe that she went through all she went through. We have had the privilege of having awesome speech and physical therapists working with her to help her along.  We are almost caught up on every level, and I’m praying by the time we start kindergarten, she’ll be right on grade level. We have purchased a preemie baby doll to give Emma a point of reference when she gets older. (www.weebundles.com)  I want her to see just how tiny she was and what a miracle she has been.

This doll was made to be the exact length and weight as Emma when she was born.

This doll was made to be the exact length and weight as Emma when she was born.

If you know of a family that has a preemie, go visit them, even if you don’t get to see their precious blessing. The parents need a short break, a diversion. Take them a meal (we found out the hard way we weren’t supposed to eat in our room. Oops!) or get them a gift card to a restaurant close by. Take them a Starbucks card. We had one right across the street. Send them a fuel card. They will spend lots of time traveling to the hospital, even if they live in the same town. Above all, pray for them. Pray for the baby, the parents, the siblings if there are any, and especially the doctors and nurses. No matter what the medical community will tell them, God is sovereign. I am so thankful that through it all, God is in control, and especially grateful that God saw fit to bring Emma through.

Physical therapy time!

Physical therapy time!

Giving us last minute instructions before we graduate.

Giving us last minute instructions before we graduate.

Even the nurse manager kept tabs on little Emma.

Even the nurse manager kept tabs on little Emma.

We loved the entire medical staff.

We loved the entire medical staff.

One of the fabulous nurses at St. John Tulsa

One of the fabulous nurses at St. John Tulsa