28 January 2010

Typical


So this is a typical forecast scene for Oklahoma . . . ice. Yes, ice. And yes, we are right in the middle of that big purple swatch of ice danger sweeping across the Southern Plains. We are under a Winter Weather Warning and ice has started falling from the thick, gray, winter clouds already, hours earlier than the prediction of last nights' weather report . . .
Lord willing we won't lose power here on the base. We have tons of food and lots of blankets, so we are prepared. I think. And we also have a lot of formula, diapers, wipers and nursery water (yes, I use nursery water because of the possibility of lead in the pipes contaminating the water supply and the detrimental health effects to Sophie . . .). Anyway, we shall see how the day goes . . . so far it's pretty quiet. Sophie is napping unexpectedly early and Mike was released early from work and is upstairs doing something . . . so here I am, finally getting to blog! :)

23 January 2010

Sophie's Dedication Pics

Sophie and I at Captial Hill Baptist Church, for her baby dedication. Mike couldn't make it because he was so sick. My friend Malinda, a professioanl seamstress, made Sophie's dress and bonnet from scratch. It is so beautiful, the pictures really do not do it justice. I need to take more pictures of Sophie up close with the dress on. There are so few pictures because I forgot to charge my camera battery, so I could only get a few . . . Sophie also doesn't look at happy as normal because she was just getting over being sick and was still pretty clingy . . .


Sophie recived a memory album and a small Bible with her name inscribed on the outside. I love that our church family does things like this!

17 January 2010

Talk About Encouragement!

I came across this modesty survey at: http://www.therebulution.com/modestysurvey/

It is a survey of guys who have signed this petition about modesty in women.

You can also view all of the survey questions and the responses that guys gave to the questions. I was actually surprised by some of the answers, but as I go through it, I am finding it helpful in planning my after-pregnancy wardrobe and which clothes I'll buy and wear in the future.

Check it out!

Words to live by

This spring, PWOC is reading/studying the book "A Woman After God's Own Heart" by Elizabeth George. I read the first chapter last Thursday when Sophie was sick, sleeping in my arms on the couch.

In the first chapter, George mentions the prayer of Betty Scott Stam, of the China Inland Mission. I did some research to verify (of course) the prayer and her testimony and this is what I found:

Her prayer:
"Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my time, my all, utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life, at any cost, now and forever."

She lived, and died, by those words. A missionary to China in the city of Tsingseh, now called Jingdezehn, she and her husband were martyred for their faith.

During the night they spent in captivity at the hands of Communist bandits, her husband John, wrote a letter to the China Inland Mission (CIM), in which he referenced Philippians 1:20 "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death."

Also during the night, Betty managed to hide some money for food and the letter in the bed clothes of their three month old daughter Helen.

After a 12 mile march, John and Betty were decapitated for their faith in Jesus Christ. Their daughter survived, miracuously, and was rescued by a pastor and cared for until she was returned to her grandparents.

On her tombstone in Wuhu, China, is the verse: Philippians 1:21 "For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain."

When I read of their story in George's book, I cried. I simply could not imagine the kind of faith it took for her to know she was going to die and her child was being left behind. Even re-reading their testimonies from various sources made me cry.

I say I want that kind of faith, but I simply cannot imagine having that kind of faith. Not at this point in my life. I have started praying to have faith like that, faith to live, and die, by.

The Bible is full of God's promises and commands to us. Some are not hard to live by, some are. Like the verses that the Stam's lived by.

"Lord, give me the faith, the courage, the endurance and perserverance, the patience and the fortitude to live by all of your Words, not just to pick and choose. I want to serve you in everything, not just in some areas of my life. I pray Lord that the situation would not present itself, but if it does, give me the faith and courage to live and, if you Will it, to die for you. In Jesus name, Amen."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
References:
"A Woman After God's Own Heart" by Elizabeth George. Harvest House Publishers 1997. p 25
'The Martyrdom of John and Betty Stam" from http://www.omf.org/omf/us/resources_1/omf_archives/china_inland_mission_stories/the_martyrdom_of_john_and_betty_stam
"Murder of John and Betty stam" from http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/murder_of_john_and_betty_stam

The Lord is Faithful!!


My prayer this morning as I was driving to church was that I would make it through the service, and the Baby Dedication, without passing out. My reason for this was because we have all had a stomach virus in the past few days, starting with Sophie. I got it Friday night and wasn't able to keep any food down all day yesterday and was at the OB urgent care until after midnight getting 3 liters of fluids because I was so dehydrated. And then when Mike and I got home after picking up Sophie from Michelle's, Mike woke up at 4am with the same bug.

So, I was still really weak from lack of food and I had a lot of problems standing long enough to make Sophie a bottle (well, I couldn't stand that long) yesterday, so one might see where I had a real fear of passing out in front of the church while on the stage for the baby dedication this morning.

I had hoped that Thomas would show up as he had said that he would and would be able to help me (carry Sophie, etc), but he didn't. So I was driving to church, on my own (Mike was way to sick to go anywhere with vomiting and diarrhea), feeling very weak, wondering if I would be able to keep my breakfast down.
And the Lord answered my prayers! I didn't get light headed or dizzy or anything the entire time I was standing! Yay!!

The Baby Dedication was wonderful. Beth's mom, Malinda, made Sophie the most beautiful dedication dress I have ever seen - the pictures really don't do it justice at all. (There were lots of ooh and aahs) and it had a matching bonnet,which Sophie orginally didn't like to wear, but got used to.

The hardest part, for me, was walking up onto the stage to dedicate Sophie to the Lord in front of the church body without my husband by my side. When I started walking down the aisle from my seat, up to the stage, I thought I was going to cry because I felt so utterly alone. Mike is the spiritual leader of our family, the head, the leader, the strong one. And he was at home in bed very sick. There is no way that he could have made it. But I just smiled and walked up on stage with Sophie and stood by the other families. The Lord gave me the strength to do what I needed to do. And I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit was with me the entire time.
Cheryl, the Children's Ministry Director at Capital Hill, also made a beautiful book with pictures and a place to write Sophie a letter and her life verse (Prov 3:5-6). Sophie also received a tiny New Testament NIV. It was very thoughtful and a very wonderful gift. :)

I am also so incredibly grateful that Nikki and Eric, Sarah and James, Christine, and Ben and Emily came to support us. It really meant to so much to me. I know a lot of other friends and family wanted to be there, but there were circumstances keeping them from coming: miles in distance, sickness, church commitments in service at their own church, etc.

Afterwards we went to Alfredo's for lunch, and I was blessed again to be able to hold down a little bit of normal food! I am supposed to still be on the brat diet, but I did have a quarter of a quesadilla and some agave limeade. So far I haven't gotten sick! Praise the Lord!

02 January 2010

Draining Night

The only reason it's been a draining night really is because I got tired of trying to get Sophie to go to sleep, so I laid her down in her crib to let her soothe herself to sleep. I had resolved to myself previously not to do this because it doesn't work with Sophie and I don't agree with the Ferber method, but I was feeling very out of breath from holding Sophie and being so pregnant and she really just wasn't having anything to do with sleep. I didn't want to break our routine and take her downstairs to play either, because it's sleeping time, not playing time, and I knew she was tired.

That was a BIG mistake. Huge, colassal.

I know that a lot of my friends advocate and practice letting their child cry themselves to sleep or soothe themselves to sleep or whatever you want to call it.

I do not agree with that school of thought and tonight is the classic example of why. (Keep in mind I respect my friends ways of parenting and this blog is not to get them to change, I'm just venting and stating my opinion - so no one take this personally please.)

While I was trying to get Sophie to go to sleep, she was fidgety, but not fussy. She wasn't crying, she wasn't upset - she just didn't want to settle down and go to sleep. Our routine is we get our pajamas on after a diaper change, we go upstairs and lounge on Mommy's bed with the lights out and she gets her nighttime bottle, which most nights puts her to sleep. During this time I usually hum, ssshhh or sing to Sophie, which helps her settle down.

Tonight I did all this, but I had other things on my mind - like the dishes downstairs and installing a program on my new laptop, not getting Sophie to sleep. And she just wasn't having this sleep thing, even though she was tired.

After a while, I don't know, maybe half an hour?? I got a bit frustrated, really is it more tired of rocking Sophie and singing out of breath than frustrated, so I put Sophie down in her crib. And she started to cry.

So I went into the computer room next door and played on the piano for a few minutes. And, as I knew she would but was trying to think she wouldn't, she got louder and louder and more and more desperate. So after maybe 4 or 5 minutes, I went back into her room and picked her up. Only the screaming (and I mean screaming at the top of her lungs) continued, even as I held her in my arms and sang to her and tried to calm her down. (I wouldn't have had to calm her down at all if I hadn't done that.)

If possible, the screaming got even louder and I realized I had made a huge mistake by putting Sophie in her crib to soothe herself to sleep. It has NEVER worked in the past, why would it work now? And for some reason, I just couldn't handle it. I had to put back down and I went into our bathroom and cried and cried, feeling like a miserable failure as a parent. After a few minutes of me crying and Sophie still screaming, Mike got up from the computer and went to get Sophie to comfort her and I followed.

When he picked her up, she calmed down, but was still crying. I had followed him in, so his wife and daughter were taking turns sniffing and doing the calming-down-from-a-hard-cry breathing thing. (Poor Mike.)

After Mike holding Sophie and rocking her while I sang many songs trying to get Sophie to go back to sleep, she eventually started to drift off. When Mike put her down though, she started crying again, so I picked her right back up. She was immediately calm, snuggled into my breast and went right to sleep, as though to say "Mommy, it was just you that I needed all along."

During this time, she had also had teething drops, gas drops, tylenol for her foot which has a sore on it, more milk and teething gel, as well as a clean diaper. None of this helped with the crying . ..

And I didn't get the dishes or anything else done . . . (translation: was it worth it - NO.)

After she was asleep, I got my Dr Sears book and started reading about nighttime parenting. This is what he and his wife, an RN, had to say:

" . . . at least in the first six months, this method [harden your heart/Ferber method/allowing baby to soothe themselves to sleep] is unwise; you run the risk of losing your baby's trust, you may become insensitive to your baby's cries, and, in the cases of infants with persistant personalities, it usually doesn't work" ("The Baby Book", p 319). Sophie has a persistant personality.

They ask "How can the hands-off approach do anything but weaken your bond?" (p 319)

"On the surface this [baby self soothing] sounds so convenient and liberating . . . This school of thought ignores a basic principle of infant development: A need that is filled in early infancy goes away; a need that is not filled never completely goes away but recurs later in "diseases of detachment" - aggression, anger, distancing or withdrawal, and discipline problems. . . During the first year, an infants wants and needs are usually one and the same." (p 335). I can certainly see that in today's society where Oppositional Defiance Disorder is becoming more and more common, even in girls. It makes perfect sense that in a society where children sleeping away from parents and being forced into independence early that we have a lot of kids and teenagers who are undisciplined and have some serious aggression and anger problems. (Just a side thought.)

They also talk about seperation anxiety, which I should have realized, is what Sophie has been going through the past fews days. It's developmental, she's the age for it, and according to Dr Sears, "baby's body now tells him he has the capability to move away from mother and father, but his mind says "You need to stay close". The normal daytime clinginess carries over into nighttime closeness . . ." Sophie has definitely been clingly the past few days . . . .that is for sure.

The thing is, I instinctively knew these things. Everything in my motherly being says "NO!!!" about putting Sophie down in her crib and letting her cry. Even at 9 months old. If I had listened to my instincts in the first place, she probably wouldn't have gotten upset, as least not as upset, and I wouldn't have gotten upset, and we both wouldn't have spent time having a good cry tonight.

Mike used to not agree with me on this topic, but after reading some peer-reviewed articles that I showed him, he changed his mind. He even changed his mind about co-sleeping. That is another topic for another day, or night.

I would like to do some further peer-reviewed research on this topic to find out what others are saying.

And if you're thinking Dr Sears can say what he wants, maybe he never went through it - he and his wife have 8 children.

Learning to Play the Piano - Again

When I was little, I took piano/keyboard lessons for three years. However, much to my regret for many years now, I didn't really ever practice - at least not nearly enough, so I have forgotten almost all of what I had learned.

Mike played the piano for many years as a child and stopped playing as a late teenager. He had verbalized to me many times in the years that I have known him, that he wished he hadn't quite and would like to one day own a keyboard.

Well, for Christmas, Mike got his wish. The keyboard is his (and I got it for 60% off with free shipping from Amazon.com!), although I'm sure the whole family will enjoy it over the years.

Since Mike set the keyboard up, he has practiced every night. Even though it has been about 10 years since he has played, he's been able to pick back up (at least it seems that way to me) with no problem whatsoever.

Tonight, I finally sat down at the keyboard after I took a shower and Mike was downstairs with Sophie. Ruth brought down some primer books and beginner-piano books for me, so I could learn how to play, again. Well, I opened up the primer book, which ironically is the EXACT same primer book that I used many years ago and started my journey of re-learning how to play the piano.

I wouldn't say it went well. I made a lot of mistakes and I had a hard time counting out the rhythm. Yes, it is hard for me to count 1-2-3-4 over and over again at the same pace. 1-2-3 is easier though. :) Mike came up once to see what I was up to, and I have to say it was a bit embarrassing to catch me playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and absolutey slaughtering the song. Thus, I shooed him away quite quickly.

As was when I was younger, I really struggle with my left hand and have this nagging, annoying tendancy to play the keys backwards. I drew an outline of my hands and wrote the finger numbers on the appropriate fingers and taped it up on the wall at eye level to help me out. That was much easier than flipping back to page 1 repeatedly . . . I also have a hard time counting and playing at the same time . . . especially on dotted half notes and whole notes. And per the instructions, you are supposed to sing out the words to the song after playing and saying the notes and then playing and counting. That is even harder . . . And we're talking about playing C-D-E over and over here . . . I'm not even on the clefs yet . . . Aww, patience, where art thou??

When I came downstairs, Mike tried to encourage me and it went something like this:

"You sounded really good up there."

To which I replied dryly, "You obviously weren't listening very closely then; I made a lot of mistakes."

"I make a lot of mistakes too when I play"

"Yes, but you're playing an extremely hard song, like 'Maple Leaf Rag' and I"m playing 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' and I'm struggling."

Mike was trying to encourage me and I appreciate it. I do see the humor in the situation, which is why I am blogging about it.

I do find it extremely ironic that I'm already encountering the same reason why I didn't practice when I was younger - I want to be able to really play already. I know, it doesn't make sense. When I was little, I was bored with "The Balloon Man" and other such songs that are quite simple. I wanted to be able to play anything difficult. I was impatient. Unfortunately, I failed to see the ends to the means . . . and as a result after three years, I was hardly better than when I started and I quickly forgot all I learned.

Now, I am wanting to be able to just pull out the hymnal and play a hymn, but I am in the beginning pages of the primer . . . I can see this is going to be a real lesson in patience and endurance for me . . . I'm going to need a lot of prayer. I really, really want to learn to play though, so Lord-willing, I will get there. In time. I just need to remember it takes time. Like growing a baby in your womb or growing a garden . . . Cursed the societal push for instant gratification!!