Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back Update

I just got back from the doctor, and I wanted to post a quick update. I'm encouraged although there isn't really much news. She said that with someone as young as me, they don't jump right into assuming it's a disc problem. She said muscle injuries can take up to 8 weeks to resolve, especially in an area that gets used all the time like the back. And she said my symptoms could be completely in line with a minor injury, because even though I didn't have one moment where it started to hurt, the main cause of my current pain could just be because of inflammation and muscle spasms around the site. So, she prescribed me some muscle relaxers and stronger painkillers to take at night when I go to bed, and I should be waking up feeling better. She said I was already doing the right thing by taking the ibuprofen at night BEFORE I have pain and inflammation - head it off before it starts. So we'll give it another month and then if it's not better at all, I can go back for x-rays or imaging. But I'm encouraged at her comments, and I'm expecting that this will help me a lot. So good news! Thank you for your continued prayers!!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Grace is Sufficient

I want to thank you all for your kind and understanding comments, messages, and emails. I am blessed beyond measure to have a nationwide community of friends who lift me up and encourage me! It helps me a lot to know that you understand where I'm coming from and what I'm going through, and especially to know that you're praying for me!

Yesterday, we had a guest preacher at our church since our pastor is on a mission trip, and it was as if the Lord specifically chose this preacher to preach this message just for me. (Well, He in fact probably did.) I'm not saying it gave me all the answers or that I'm magically all better. But I have more to think about, and I'm encouraged to keep running the race and believing in God's sovereignty and goodness.

The text from the sermon was 2 Corinthians 4:1-10. I'll only copy verses 7-10 here:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
Some other Scriptures referenced were 2 Corinthians 11:24-28:
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
And 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I'm not going to go into a long exegesis about the life of Paul or my great revelations from these Scriptures. I'm still meditating on them myself and seeking to find the depths that God has for me in them. However, the basic thing I took away from the message yesterday is that Paul's life sucked. Paul, who is held up as one of THE greatest standards of the Christian faith, who poured out his life as a drink offering in service for Christ, who is known as THE Apostle, who carried the Good News of the Gospel all over the world, and whose work is still being carried on today. His life was so bad that he said in 1 Corinthians 15:19:
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
None of the above Scriptures are new to me, but I guess I've never considered them all at once or considered what they really indicate that Paul's life was. It was miserable. Not only did he suffer physical hardship, but the vast majority of his missionary work was unsuccessful in his lifetime, and he was rejected, beaten, stoned, and chased out of town most of the places that he went. So my first reaction to this is that I really don't have much to complain about.

But my second and deeper thought is related to the above Scriptures. I guess I'd always thought that they meant that God is glorified in our weaknesses by delivering us from them in a victoriously overcoming manner. We walk in victory, acknowledging what God has delivered us from, and that is what brings Him glory. However, the preacher yesterday and the Scriptures above don't actually say that. They say that God is glorified in the weakness and failure itself, not in our deliverance from them. That doesn't make sense, and it's counter intuitive to our modern culture. But maybe that's the challenge of faith here. I don't yet know exactly what that means, but I thought I'd share the journey. Any thoughts would be welcome.

Friday, July 24, 2009

14 Months!

I'm a few days late with our 14 month update, but it turns out to be fitting to post a developmental update today because
He's been cruising confidently for a while now, but I didn't think he was even close to walking unassisted. But when Justin got him out of his crib in the afternoon, he said that he stood up on the far side and then walked across to Justin all by himself! I was so sad that I missed it! So I stood him up at the couch, then I knelt down a couple feet away and said "Walk to Mama!" and he did! Just turned right around and took 2 or 3 steps to me! It's not like he's walking yet, it's more like flinging himself forward and managing to get a foot under him once or twice before he falls... But it's exciting and I'm so proud of my boy!

He's growing up so fast, and we continue to be so proud of him! He is such a sunny, happy boy - it never fails that we get at least 5 comments from admiring strangers every time we leave the house! I just burst with love and pride over how wonderful he is - sometimes it brings tears to my eyes how much I love this child. I never imagined how strongly motherhood would make me feel toward that little person.

He's making so many developments, turning into a little boy! I already did a post about his talking here; it seems like every day he learns a new word or can answer a new question!

Peek-a-boo is his FAVORITE thing to do! He's gotten to where he'll initiate it and do it himself - hiding behind the couch or a pillow, or even just covering his eyes with his hands. He thinks it's a hilarious game and can play forever! In the past few days, he's also starting playing when Justin or I are sitting on the floor with him. He'll crawl around behind us, pull up so he's standing directly behind us and then start giggling. That means he wants us to ask "Where's Elias?" and then he'll walk around until we can see him and start to laugh. So cute! This is a picture of him playing Peek-a-boo with me behind the kitchen counter while I'm making dinner!
He's still SO big and tall! He can reach doorknobs now, so it's only a matter of time before he can't be contained. I'm really not sure I'm excited about that day coming - I think I'm in BIIIIIG trouble.He's definitely getting a mind of his own, so we've entered into the world of discipline this month, which is a challenge. He definitely pushes boundaries and tests us, so we're trying our best to be consistent, praying for wisdom in teaching him right!But he is such a joy, he fills our home with laughter! We are so thankful for this sweet, sweet child.

Is All Suffering for the Lord?

It's been a rough season for me. I've been suffering various physical challenges for the past 6 weeks that are really wearing on me emotionally and spiritually. I am weary and worn, feel like I'm stuck in the spin cycle and every time it looks like it might be ending, somebody turns the machine back on for another round. I've realized about myself something that has been true for a long time, but I've never been able to put into words before: Whenever I'm facing long bouts of adversity, my tendency is to just shut down, stop doing anything. It's a challenge for me to get out of bed every day and fulfill my very basic responsibilities, much less do anything that isn't absolutely necessary. So then I start feeling useless and guilty, just adding to the ridiculous emotional roller coaster.

There is no way for me to end the challenges myself, but something has to give here. My old idols that God has been working to free me from (vaguely referenced here a few months ago) are beckoning loudly telling me to come to them for comfort. And I've worn a permanent groove in the couch where I lay there for most of the day whenever Elias is napping. I'm a disappointment to myself and to those who care about me and depend on me, and it has to stop.

But I don't know how. I just don't have the ability to pull myself up by my bootstraps - I feel like somebody has just ripped off my bootstraps so there's nothing to even try to pull up on. My only hope is to throw myself at God's mercy and believe that He'll catch me there. But I've realized over the past couple days that I'm MAD at Him. For allowing all this crap into my life one thing after another, for making me so weak and foolish to not be able to bear these burdens that when I look at them rationally are SO LIGHT compared to anything else that anybody else suffers. Why can I not handle this?

So then this week in Bible study (Beth Moore's Daniel), she talked about selflessly enduring suffering for God's glory. The Lord used that to speak to my heart that I haven't even considered that He might be wanting to use this particular suffering for His glory. I just don't see how He could or would. I mean, if He asked me to move my family overseas and live a cross-cultural life for His glory, that would be hard, but I'd gladly go because I can obviously see how His glory could shine by my faithfully enduring that challenge. However, when He asks me to endure chronic back pain for His glory, that doesn't make sense to me. How can He be glorified by that? It, in fact, prevents me from being able to do things that according to my reason would much better glorify Him. The word He spoke to me on that regard is pretty much that He isn't asking me to apply my reason here - what He wants is my faith.

In my thinking about this, of course the Scriptures that God has brought to my mind are from Job. All that he endured didn't make a lick of sense, but God was glorified in his response.
So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. ~ Job 2:7-10

"Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him." ~ Job 13:15
That definitely doesn't make any sense, but it's the kind of response that God is pleased with and so I need to take a lesson from it.

So I guess I'm posting all this to ask for your prayers - not necessarily that God will bring me physical healing or even understanding about my challenges, but more that I'll find spiritual healing and renewed communion with the Lord. Instead of drowning in self-pity and my own skewed sense of personal injustice, I need greater faith in His sovereignty over my physical state and greater trust in His goodness that all suffering is given for a reason, even if I don't get it.

And I would love to hear any thoughts or comments, especially from any of you that may have walked this road before and can share personal experiences. I want to pass this test of my faith, and I want God to be glorified through it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What Did You Say?

Elias is really starting to get vocal! He's saying words and he clearly knows what they mean. This is AWESOME for us, since we're starting the adventure of communicating with him. Here are a couple videos we took this week of him talking:

He just jabbers away when he's in his high chair, and I first started taking this video because he was saying "Nana," which we hadn't caught on video yet for his Nana to hear. However, he just kept talking, and so I kept filming!

We got a pretty good display of the animal sounds he can make, although I forgot to ask him what a lion says. That one's cute, so hopefully we'll catch it soon. For the fish, we pucker our lips and make a fishy face. He thinks it's hilarious and he usually opens and closes his mouth even though he hasn't figured out how to pucker yet.

Every night before bed, Elias drinks a bottle or sippy of milk and we sit in his rocking chair and look at pictures of family. He's starting to recognize them and say their names!

He first said Nana a couple weeks ago, and he's said Jessica once before, but this is the first time he's attempted to say GrandDad ("Ya-Da" here). I'm hoping he'll say something like Grandma and Grandpa before we go visit them in two weeks! As funny as it is that he kept saying Dada when I wanted him to say Mama, it got worse later. We were looking at a different picture, and I said "Do you see Mama?" and he started panting and barked like a dog!! What the heck? Moms don't get no respect.

Friday, July 17, 2009

One is the Loneliest Number

Here is my first edible zucchini harvested from my container zucchini plant!Unfortunately, I discovered tonight that it will also be my ONLY zucchini harvested from my zucchini plant. This is because it was completely eaten by squash vine borer, the scourge of squash farmers everywhere. I had read about this nasty little white grub, but I didn't know how to recognize the symptoms of an infestation. I had seen the leaves wilting, and I just thought they needed better nutrients, so I was fertilizing. But tonight I discovered the borers - there were a million of them in there! So I was trying to get them out, when the whole stem actually completely broke because it was so weak after being eaten through! I'm so mad! So unless it can magically grow an entire new plant from the broken stump, it looks like this will be my only squash this year. :(

And I got 18 mosquito bites while I was out messing with it this evening. :( Some master gardener I'm turning out to be!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hitting the Skies

Justin is going on a business/mission trip to Turkey in a few weeks, and I had planned on staying home with Elias while he was gone. However, my parents generously offered to buy us a plane ticket to come spend the week with them while he's gone! So I booked it this week and we're going! I am SOOOO excited about this sudden opportunity to spend time with my family - I can't wait for them to see how much Elias has grown and developed since they saw him last a couple months ago.

However, this means that I will be taking Elias on his first flights... Alone. I'm not terrified at the prospect because Elias is a good boy and generally easy to manage, but I am a little nervous just because I don't know what to expect. So I'm pleading for help from anyone who has any experience flying with toddlers! (Elias will be 14 months when we go.) I want to be as prepared as possible. I've thought up some specific questions, but if you have any advice that I didn't think of asking about, ANY of it would be greatly appreciated!

1. Air pressure - I know you're supposed to take a bottle or sippy for them to suck on when the plane is taking off and landing to help their ears adjust. When exactly do I give it to him? I'm just imagining giving him the sippy too early, and by the time he needs it for his ears, he's already drunk as much as he wants and he won't drink anymore... Would a pacifier work the same way?

2. DIRT! - I'm expecting I may just have to get over this, but I'm sure there is no way I can expect Elias to consent to being held or sitting in his stroller for the entire trip. So I'm going to have to let him crawl around and explore at some point. (He's not walking yet.) But on the floor in airplanes and airports? NASTY! I'm envisioning that I'll just have to find a corner in the airport and let him crawl around, then clean him up with Sani-Kids wipes, but I wondered if anybody else had any thoughts about this.

3. Stroller - I was very relieved to discover that the airline will let me bring a stroller on the flight at no extra charge. There's no way I could've handled him for 1-2 hours in an airport for a layover without having something safe to put him in. However, I'm trying to ponder which stroller to bring. The obvious choice would be the tiny umbrella stroller for compactness and ease of travel. However, I think it would be a lot more comfortable for Elias if we could bring his larger collapsible stroller. (See photo at right. We obviously wouldn't be bringing along the infant carrier.) I think he'd be more willing to spend more time in it at the airport, and it's a possibility he might even nap in it - we'll be in the Chicago airport during his afternoon naptime. (There is zero chance he'll sleep on the flight, and also zero chance he would sleep in his umbrella stroller.) Plus, it has convenient features like a reclining back, a pocket underneath for the diaper bag, and a detachable tray that he could eat on. But I'm worried that the larger stroller might be too big for them to allow me to bring it... Has anybody traveled with a larger stroller, and did you have any problems getting it on the plane?

4. Noisy Toys - I'm wondering about what kind of toys to bring on the flights with us. Elias' favorites that keep him occupied the longest are ones that have buttons he can push and make noise. I'm worried about bringing those just because I don't want to disturb everybody on the flight with the noise. I mean, I think they would certainly prefer music and sound effects over him screaming his head off, but I don't think it would be impossible to keep him entertained with quiet toys too. Any thoughts on that?

Um, that's all I can think of at the moment. I'll post more questions if I think of them, and feel free to give me ANY advice if you have it! THANKS!!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Messy Face

Price of ingredients for bean recipe: $2 or $3
Time to make beans: 20 minutes
Other costs: Stains on bib and washcloth, time to clean face and tray
This picture: PRICELESS!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


I just wanted to post a quick garden update. All of my plants are growing things that look like they may be edible in the near future! I have two baby zucchini, two baby tomatoes, and more baby peppers than I can count. Yay for container gardening!

I waited a bit too long to start fertilizing, so my zucchini's leaves started to turn yellow. But they seem to be doing fine once I started feeding them. I'm thankful for the internet that tells me what to do!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Independence Day

I hadn't planned on doing an Independence Day post, although I am very thankful that God saw fit to make me an American, which gives me so much freedom to know and serve Him. But then when reading blogs this morning, I found that somebody had posted this video and I just HAD to pass it on. So without further ado, enjoy the Muppets celebrating our independence. (I laughed til I cried.) You need to watch it several times to fully appreciate all it contains: Beaker's rendering of the piccolo part, the Swedish chef, the chickens, the bass-singing bear, the penguin in the powdered wig, the slow-mo background video. Love it!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Crib Update (a.k.a. Much Calmer Now)

I talked to the manager at WalMart, who told me they would be happy to take our crib back and give us a refund. However, that's not as easy as it sounds. Our crib came in a Nursery-in-a-Box set, which means that in order to take back the crib, we'd also have to take back the changing table and dresser. So not only does that mean losing Elias' whole room, but there's NOTHING out there we could get for the same price (which is why we got this set in the first place). Sooooo, we decided to just keep the crib and try to reinforce it ourselves. We never use the drop side, so we'll rig it somehow so we know it can't fall off. This crib is actually convertible, so it will convert into a toddler bed (by removing the drop side in question), and Elias should be ready for that in 6-9 months. So now that we've had some time to think rationally about this, that makes the most sense. However, I'm very thankful to have gotten the recall notice, so now we can take action to prevent any mishaps that might have happened.

Crib Recalled (a.k.a. Freaking Out!)

I wrote a post several months ago about how I subscribe to the Consumer Product Safety Commission emails letting me know when products have been recalled. If my post then didn't convince you to check them out, then maybe this will. In today's email, I learned that Elias' crib has been recalled! Ack! Apparently the bottom of the drop side can detach and the baby can get trapped in it. Like this:(The pictures are from the CPSC notice.) I am totally freaking out about this. Elias is asleep in it right now! I keep checking on him... As if right now he's any less safe than he was before I knew about the recall. *rolling eyes* But he spends a lot of time in his crib, both asleep and awake, and he grabs that drop side and shakes the heck out of it. I am so thankful nothing has happened to him!

What makes me really mad about this is that this exact product was recalled in 2007 for the exact same reason. So when we were buying it in 2008, I felt safe because it had been redesigned and supposedly was now safe. Ummmm, not?! So I'm making phone calls to try to find out what to do - I'll let you know what happens.

But in the meantime, please PLEASE keep yourself informed of product recalls - especially if you have children in your home. These email updates are an easy way to do it.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


There are a few new developments in Elias' world that I thought I'd share all in one post.

Elias isn't talking yet, but he's starting to become a little more intelligible in his babbling. He'll say "bye bye" and "dada." (Of course he says dada first! He'll say the syllables mama, but he doesn't know it's me yet, I don't think.) He even says "Bye bye, Dada!" He'll say "Ah da," which means all done. He'll say his version of his name, which is "Issssss." (CUTE!) He'll say ball ("ba"). And he says "ba ba" which means about a zillion different things, but usually it means "big boy."

Edited to add: I knew there was no way I was remembering all the things Elias says, so with Justin's help I've come up with a few more. Some other things he consistently says "ba ba" for are Bible and bottle. I was actually very impressed this morning when Elias finished his breakfast, and Justin took him over to play. Justin asked him if he wanted to read a story, and Elias said "ba ba!" He knew they usually read his Bible then! He also loves to mimic the "sh" sound, so he'll repeat any word that ends in "ish" like fish, dish, or wish. He loves to draw out the shhhhhhhh. And lastly, he can do several animal sounds when asked what that animal says - "woof," "baa," "raa" (lion), "moo," and he even said something resembling "quack" the other day!

He's still taking two naps a day, and it will still be several months before he's down to one in the afternoon. However, I'm concerned about this transition because right now his strong nap is in the morning, and his afternoon nap is hit-and-miss. So I'm trying to be proactive in planning for this by limiting his morning nap so that he's tired in time for the afternoon. It's working pretty well so far! In the morning, I try to wake him up after he's been asleep about an hour. (If I let him be, he'd sleep 2 or 2.5.) So then by the time his afternoon nap rolls around, he's tired again and ready to nap, and we get another 2 or 2.5 out of him. Sweet! I'm so thankful for such a good sleeper. (Thank you again and again, Babywise!)

He FINALLY has his sixth tooth (top left)! And his seventh, eighth, and ninth, are all making bumps in there! For a kid who's doing so much teething, it doesn't seem to bother him at all, for which I am truly thankful. It seems like his top left molar is on its way in, so we'll see how that goes.

So those are the big developments for us these days. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Swagbucks Now Offering CASH Prizes!

I've been contemplating writing a post about Swagbucks for a long time, and now I have an awesome reason to do it! Let me start by saying that Swagbucks is many things, but the basic service is a search engine. It's powered by Google, so you get basically the same results you would with a Google search. The exciting part, though, is that when you search, Swagbucks will occasionally give you points called "Swagbucks" (Bet ya didn't see that one coming!) that you can accumulate to earn prizes. They have all sorts of prizes that you can save up for, but my favorite is the $5 Amazon gift card that costs 45 Swagbucks. I've been using Swagbucks for about 6 months, and in that time, I've gotten $25 in Amazon gift cards ABSOLUTELY FREE! Just for searching the internet - something I do all the time anyway! Can't beat that!

Search & Win

But today Swagbucks announced something new that makes it even sweeter! You are now able to redeem your Swagbucks for CASH! Cold. Hard. Cash. You can buy $5 via PayPal for only 80 Swagbucks!

So, with this news, Swagbucks is also offering a code to new members (ONLY). If you are interested in signing up with Swagbucks and want to start with 5 Swagbucks for yourself, follow these steps:

1. Go here to sign up for Swagbucks. You receive 3 Swagbucks immediately for signing up.

2. Now, to get another 2 Swagbucks, enter the code CASHISKING. This code is case sensitive. You can enter this Swagcode immediately upon registration in the box that says “Enter Your Swagcode” and them press “GIMME.”

That’s it! You have 5 Swagbucks to start off! This code is valid until 12 PM (PST) on July 6. You could even register here and then send your unique referral link to all of your friends and get them to sign up under your referral link. (Yes, all the links in this blog are to my personal referral link - if you sign up through me, I get rewarded for referring you, which means that I get matching Swagbucks for every Swagbuck you earn up to 100! We both win!)

Search & Win

Please feel free to comment here or send me an email if you have any questions. Happy Swagging! :)