30 March 2011

Restoration Ministries

Two weeks ago, Mike and I went to up to Cozad, Nebraska to take part in counseling through Restoration Ministries.

Mike's parents heard about Restoration Ministries through a seminar held at their church last fall in SD. They had signed up to come down to NE and see Roger Daum, the pastor who leads the counseling last fall after the seminar. In January or so, Ruth emailed me and said that they had prayed about it and they felt that they should give their counseling spot to us and that they would come to NM and watch Sophie and Edward for us the entire nine days (5 days there and 4 days of traveling there and back) that we would be gone. I was completely blown away by their kindness, love and generosity.

They arrived in Albuquerque on Friday, March 11th and Mike and I headed to OKC on the 12th. We stayed with my brother that night and had a great dinner catching up with good friends at the Korean House in MWC. It was really great to be back in Oklahoma and to see good friends again. (Thank you to everyone who was able to come out and see us!) We had breakfast and great conversation on Sunday with some more good friends (I finally got to meet Baby Ben!! and he is so adorable), and then we headed up to Cozad. We arrived there about 2100, in the snow. I had checked out the forecast, which called for spring like weather all week, so when it started snowing when we were still heading north (not even to I-80 yet), I was quite surprised. I was really glad that Mike had suggested that we bring our winter coats. I was still in my depression, so my mind was really not working too well still.

The week was very intense emotionally. I'm not going to write about all the went on in this particular post (because there is so so much to say), so that will be in other posts. Basically it was just Mike and I meeting with Roger for counseling every day. Three days were half days and two days were full days. And then we had assignments to do afterwards in the evening (one was a survey, some were just spending time holding each other, some were watching videos).

Mike learning about the dark glasses of perception and the headphones of listening.

Me learning about the dark glasses of perception.

Now Cozad, in case you haven't heard of it (I never had) is a very small town. A literal one stop-light town right off of I-80. It's surrounded by lots of beautiful Nebraska farmland. There was a really good little cafe that we ate a few times called the Green Apple. The food was pretty good, although mostly of the fried variety. It looked like they had a lot of good pies for dessert, but we were always too full to order any dessert. There was also an Italian restaurant owned by Rudi Guiliani's (you know, the former mayor of NYC) former personal chef. We ate their once for dinner and the food was really amazing. It was a nice romantic dinner for us toward the end of our week.

Inside Bella Italia Restaurant in Cozad.

As I wrote, we arrived in the snow. About three or so inches of it. By the time we got out of counseling the next day though, at 1400, there was no trace of snow, the sun was shining and it had warmed up at least 50 degrees. We definitely didn't need our winter coats after that!

We stayed at a place called the House of Hope. The House of Hope is owned by a couple who had gone through the counseling previously and after a few years through life circumstances, they ended up with an empty house on their land. They lived in the other house on their land. So they opened up their [second] home this year to couples and families who were coming to Restoration Ministries as a place to stay, free of charge. It was really wonderful. They had a kitchen fully stocked with cooking things, plates, mugs, coffee, tea and everything you need to cook or bake with. The bathroom was stocked with fragrant lotions and soft towels and each of the four bedrooms had a comfy bed (not that we tried them all). There was a TV and DVD/VCR in the living room and even a small selection of movies. (By the way, if you haven't seen "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", you have got to watch it! It is hilarious! Mike and I were laughing for days!) It was a very cozy, warm place to stay for the week. We went to the grocery store and bought our food for the week and fixed our own meals.

The House of Hope the first morning.

Mike and I really enjoyed our stay at the House of Hope. The owners had chickens on their property, as well as a goat and a Palomino mare. We enjoyed watching the chickens run around (I had no idea that chickens actually mated before this visit), and petting the horse and goat. There were also some rope swings on the trees (Mike fixed one of them) and we had a great time just swinging in the warm spring sunshine and listening to all the birds sing. Speaking of birds, there were so many birds! I have missed listening to the sound of birds chirping and singing and calling to each other. (We don't get a whole lot of that out here in the desert. Some, but not much.) There were lots and lots of robins everywhere and there were some very friendly cottontail rabbits running around. I loved being out in nature in the middle of gorgeous farmland with grass. Did I mention the grass? There was grass!! And it was starting to turn green! (It was already green in Oklahoma and trees were blossoming too!)

One of the rope swings we loved swinging on at the House of Hope.

One of the many robins in Nebraska.

On the way back, we drove down to OKC again and stayed with my brother again. We got to see more friends again! yay! We had a quiet breakfast by ourselves at one of our favorite OK restaurants: Jimmy's Egg (the same one we ate at the week before),and then we got on the road. I really loved seeing how green Oklahoma was and how all the trees were blossoming. Mike and I really realized how much we miss Oklahoma when we went through to visit. We felt like we were coming home when we arrived in OK each time we came through.

A green tree outside of Jimmy's Egg in Midwest City, OK

The whole week was just life changing for both of us and just incredibly healing. I know, from reading this post, you're probably thinking, how so? But I will get to that in future posts. :) I'm surprised the kids haven't woken up from their naps yet, so they will probably wake up at any time, so I may not get to the posts today. There is so much to write about! 'Till then! :)

Missy update

A few weeks ago, I wrote that Missy had cancer.

On Thursday, 3 March, Missy went to be with the Lord. It was a really hard decision to make to put her to sleep, but since then I have looked back at pictures of her from the past few years and I realized she was really going downhill and was very sick.

It's still hard to go up to the bedroom where she spent a lot of her time, either sleeping on the bed or sunbathing in the window. She is especially missed at night, when she would curl up next to my belly and when I would wake up during the night, I would spend some time petting her and loving on her.

Missy was a very sweet and loving kitty who is very much missed. We love you Missy!

Missy "studying" to be a nurse. One of my favorite pictures of her.

Baby Update

It's been a while since I blogged, but there are a lot of reasons for not writing. I'll get to them in the next few posts.

First, baby update! We're having a girl!

I had my ultrasound last week at the Perinatologists and everything with the baby is absolutely perfect. My placenta looks perfect too, so they are releasing me from high risk care and I just have to see my Midwife now. Yay!

Mike wasn't able to get off of work to go to the ultrasound appointment because his office had an induction ceremony for something and he was in charge of it, so he had to be there. Mike's parents were still in town for their visit though, so Ruth was able to go with me to the ultrasound. I thought that was really special that she was able to be there. She had never seen an ultrasound before, so I'm really glad she got to see one with one of Mike's children. :) Ruth is really such a wonderful, special lady that I feel so blessed to have in my life. :)

The baby was 11 ounces and 9inches long; they said she was in the 51st percentile for growth, which is exactly where she needs to be. In utero, they like to see babies as close to the 50th percentile as possible, so she's perfect where she is!

She was already trying to suck her thumb and she had her hands up by her face a lot. She was definitely really active during the ultrasound - they had to chase her all over the place with the transducer.

My placenta is anterior, so that explains why I don't feel her kick as much. I mostly feel her kick down low or to the side. If my placenta were posterior, I would be feeling her kick the middle part of my belly too, but she has a really nice cushion to kick, I can't feel it. At least not yet. I'll let you know if that changes. :) Mike hasn't felt her kick yet, although she has definitely kicked at his hand when he had it on my belly. :)

I have gained 4 pounds so yay! That's a good thing!

The whole passing out thing (that's happened a few times - well, almost passing out. I get really dizzy and start to black out, so I sit down, or sometimes lay down, right where I am until it passes) is related to my blood pressure, which has been really low. Usually when I'm pregnant, my blood pressure goes up slightly (as it should with all the increased blood volume and water volume that you gain when you're pregnant), but this pregnancy it has stayed the same or actually gone down. So there's not much I can do about that except try to drink lots of water. They aren't worried about it though.

I am 20 weeks along this week, so I am officially half way there. And I'm actually excited about the baby! (More on that story in another post).  I had to move to maternity shirts this week, especially since I "popped out" 2 weeks ago. I'm still in regular pants, but that will probably change by the end of the week.

So things are looking good with our baby girl! We do have a name picked out: Daphne Elise. So we'll have Sophie, Edward and Daphne. Daphne is Greek for laurel tree and Elise is Greek for satisfaction of God. In Hebrew Daphne means Victory and the Hebrew meaning of Elise is the same as the Greek. If you think about, the connection between laurel tree and victory makes sense, since in ancient Greek games, the winner of races was given a laurel wreath to wear as a sign of victory. :) See, I did my research.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

I had never read any of Kristin Hannah’s books before, and a friend gave this book to me as a going away gift when she moved. I found Winter Garden, overall, to be a very compelling story. Winter Garden is the story of three women and their relationship to each other in the modern day. Anya, the mother, made a promise to her dying husband that she would finish the fairy tale she began many years ago for her daughters. As she tells the story, her life and the lives of her daughters are changed forever. I found myself trying to hurry through the main parts of the “current day” drama of the outer story to get back to the “past” drama of the inner story, it was so enthralling and fascinating.

The first third or so of the book was a bit hard to get through; the story just didn’t hold my attention the way I like a novel to. I pressed on instead of setting aside the book and I was rewarded with a very rich middle and even richer ending indeed. I smiled, I cried, I tried to imagine myself in the characters’ place and wondering if I would have made the same decisions or done the same things if I were in that situation. I found the ending to be a bit unbelievable, but I feel that the author was striving for a happy ending to the story, which has some very tragic elements and themes.  After I finished the book, I was inspired to do my own research into the time period that the story was written in. I love books that inspire me to go beyond and learn more. If you can make it through the first third of the book, you are in for a real treat by a solid author who can really weave a story together using imagination mixed with historical facts.

I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 15 or 16. I think some of the elements of the story might be a bit much for a younger reader, although the younger reader certainly isn’t the intended audience. The book will make you cry, so if you’re not up for a good tear-jerker, you might want to wait a bit. It is definitely a very good book. As an added bonus, the author included recipes that are included in the stories.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html

23 March 2011

Sabbath by Dan B. Allender

We have all read in the Bible that we are to keep the Sabbath holy. However, in today’s busy and often consumer driven world, it is hard to practice that commandment. At least for me it is. What is acceptable to do on the Sabbath (can we buy gas or eat at a restaurant?), what is not acceptable? I decided to pick up Dan B. Allender’s Sabbath in The Ancient Practices Series to learn a little bit more.

Sabbath took a very spiritually philosophic view of the practice of the Sabbath. Allender didn’t say what specifically we should or shouldn’t do, as long as we were celebrating the holiness of the day that the Lord gave us to celebrate in Him. Allender talks about the Sabbath as being a day the Lord gave us to marvel in His gift of Creation to us, to play, to glory in Him, and that it is a holy time. Allender suggested that going to church shouldn’t be our only celebration of worship on the Sabbath, but that we should use the Sabbath to fellowship, to learn, to be creative, to play with the Lord. His expansion of all of these points and more was very philosophical, although he did give practical examples: such as holding a feast or a exquisitely prepared meal that is much higher in quality (and perhaps price to the point of sacrifice) from what you might normally serve during the week.

I did enjoy the book, although I often felt as if I was reading philosophy rooted in Christian spirituality than anything else. The author did make me think about how I celebrate the Sabbath, which usually entails a lack of housework and not much else, and how I would like to celebrate the Holy Day that the Lord gave us. The idea of rest in my mind was broadened to mean more than just the literal sense of the word – that rest can be taken in doing something that we enjoy, that gives rest to our mind or soothes our soul. I would recommend this book for someone who wants to think outside the box about what the Sabbath means and how we can enjoy and celebrate the Sabbath.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”