30 July 2011

Which one? Thoughts about Americanism and Christianity

Old Glory and the POW-MIA flag flying high at Punchbowl, Hawaii

The Old Rugged Cross at Glorietta, New Mexico
I must admit that I have been rather convicted lately. It's not the first time this I've been convicted in this particular area, although now it is much stronger.

Which one am I first: a Christian, or an American?

To go back briefly, American values and patriotism have been in my background and foreground since I was born. I was born in a Marine Corps Hospital on a Marine Corps base and spent all my childhood and most of my teenage years surrounded the Marine Corps. The Marines are extremely proud of their country and their patriotism rubs off, at least it did on me. Growing up on or near Marine bases instilled early in my life that being an American was something to be very proud of. Being raised by a Marine Corps officer and a very patriotic mother, I watched patriotism and sacrifice in action my whole life. I grew up knowing that Patrick Henry was my fifth great grandfather, direct descendant, and that was something to be proud of. That the whole family on my Dad's side was descended from those very great men who were not afraid to stand up and proclaim that liberty was something to sacrifice for, even their very lives. Liberty was not something to be taken lightly and never to be taken for granted. That liberty was for all in this country, not just the elite and privileged in class.

I think I understood at a very early age that being an American and possessing and be able to exercise all the freedoms that we have came at a very high price. The price of blood, in the millions. Since our country was conceived, before it was even birthed, men and women sacrificed their lives and the livelihoods so that the American dream might live for their children and their grandchildren. They considered it a duty and that duty was not taken lightly.

What was that American dream? Nice homes that you owned and a steady job? The white picket fence and four children? No! It was freedom. Freedom to worship as you pleased. Freedom to be able to say your opinion of the government and those who governed you without fear of reprisal. Freedom to elect those very people that you wanted to govern into authority. Freedom from tyranny. Freedom from the imposed will of the authorities on your life and livelihood. Freedom of press. The list goes on - our freedoms are great and something that millions of people have coveted, even today. Why else do so many people flock to our country and will do anything to get in? We have something that they don't - the freedom to live as you please without fear of persecution.

These things I understood from a young age. My heart has always had a swell of pride when I saw the American Flag flying high. Living on an Air Force base, I do not consider it an inconvenience to stop and face the colors at 1700 when Retreat and the Star Spangled Banner are played; nay, I consider it a privilege to pay honor to those who serve by stopping what I am doing and facing the music, with my right hand held over my heart. (Personally, I think they should play Revelry, Retreat and Taps every day in every city and town across the country so that all may remember why they are being played and as a reminder to the freedom that they possess.)

I also grew up in a Christian home. We went to church every Sunday and Wednesday night. I grew up memorizing Scripture and being in AWANAs and knowing that Jesus died for my sins. Sadly I turned away from all that when I was a teenager.

I became Saved when I was 23 years old and since then the Lord has been ever working in my life. (He has a lot of work to do . . .).

I remember the first time I heard a friend say that we should be Christians first and Americans second. That we should be witnessing to people of all nations and our pledge of allegiance should first and foremost be to Christ, not to America. That doesn't mean we can't be both, it does mean that there is a priority of hierarchy. I was absolutely struck by that. Ironically my friend who said is now an atheist and has heartbreakingly (for me and our friends) turned away from the Lord. But what he said still rings true in my mind. I was so struck by it because it had never occurred to me that giving all for Christ could possibly mean denying your nationality, if it were to come that. By God, I am an American! America is a great nation! A Christian nation, founded by Christians, rooted in the Word of God and founded on Biblical principles. "All men are created equal" is straight from the sanctity of life that the Bible talks about. No man, neither Greek nor Jew, neither slave nor free, neither man nor women, for we are all one in Christ. We are all equal in the eyes of the Lord.

And now our country is in great turmoil. The whole national debt ceiling and possibility defaulting on our debt by Aug 2 (that's this Tuesday) is in the forefront of probably every American mind. And not just what's going to happen, but the consequences for our nation, for our children, for our grandchildren. As a mother of two, soon to be three, young children, I worry about their future. My thinking towards all of this has been to be an American and get involved to try to reclaim the nation and keep it from further declining. This means, to me, emailing my senator and representative, signing petitions, speaking out where I can, trying to get my voice heard. Why? Because I believe America can be restored to the great nation that it was.

However, I fear that if the agenda of the Liberals, including that of feminism, the gay/lesbian agenda, Planned Parenthood and the like, and the attitude of multiculturism is continued to be proclaimed louder, drowning out the voice of the majority, then our country will cease to exist. (Not to put the blame wholly on them, there are other reasons including the whole debt problem, but now I speak of the moral decay and decline of our society to which these groups/philosophies directly contribute.) Several prominent figures from many of these groups have stated that one of their goals is to destroy the family unit in this nation. The family unit is God's design for society. One man, one woman, united in Holy Matrimony, bound together in a covenant (not a contract) before God and family, who procreate and raise their children in one home is a Biblical principle, accepted by every society for thousands of years. Society is built on the family. A society with no structure will not last long. My underlying fear is that this nation will cease to exist as the United States of America. And not before too long.

The thought of that is not only scary, it is very sad to me because I love my country. I support my country. My husband serves in the Air Force. My father, brother, step brother, two aunts, an uncle (by marriage), my father-in-law and many friends all served or are currently serving in the military. Though I did not serve, I support(ed) them from the home-front. The thought that all they have fought and served, for all the millions of men and women who served, fought and shed their blood, sacrificing their very lives, is all for naught is just so heart breaking.

There is another who did all those things as well, in the name of freedom. And that was Jesus Christ. He died on the cross, taking on the sin of the whole world, not any particular nation but all of them and all their inhabitants, so that we might live and have freedom in Him. That freedom should be more desired than any other freedom in this world. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and I strive to live for Him. I am commanded to love God and to love my neighbors. Including neighbors that aren't Americans.

This lately has been very hard for me to swallow. That means I should love illegal immigrants, even though politically I do not support their being here. That means I should love homosexuals, even though I don't agree with the way they live their lives and view the gay/lesbian agenda as a threat to the family and the nation.

And ultimately, this means, that my allegiance should first and foremost be to Jesus Christ, not to the United States of America. It doesn't mean I can serve both, but as I wrote before, their is a priority of hierarchy.

In a recent blog post I read, over at A Beautiful Mess, in reading Carol M. Swain's Be the People, in reading Susan Hunt's By Design and then in a conversation with my Dad this morning, I was further convicted. Both (my friend Heather and my Dad) accept the changes in this country because these changes are an opportunity to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which I am also commanded to do. Yes it is convicting. And it by far the hardest to swallow. Accept that this country may cease to exist, in my lifetime? Accept that my nationality, all that I have known and supported may go away? And do so with joy because it means furthering the Gospel and having more doors of opportunity to share God and His love for all people opened? I fear that at times my loyalty to this country may be stronger than my loyalty to the Lord. A very scary thought indeed. I accept that I may be called to lay down my life for the Lord, but I always assumed that that would kind of go hand in hand with being called to lay down my life for this nation. The thought that it may not be hand in hand is daunting. Willingly have to choose between Christ and the U.S.? It seems so weird, so juxtaposed. To me, being an American and being a Christian have always gone hand in hand. Trends in our society and culture indicate otherwise.

I know I must pray about this and fix my heart in the eyes of the Lord to serve Him first and foremost. I pray that the Lord will have mercy on this nation and restore this nation as a Godly nation who listens to the Word and obeys. And I fear for this nation if the people do not repent and turn back to the Lord. I fear it may be too late, but I pray it is not.

28 July 2011

Date Afternoon with Mike & Capt. America

This week I suddenly had a craving to go on a date with my husbandwy. And then I remember that I had a gift card to Outback Steakhouse and two gift cards to Cinemark movie theaters in my wallet. Ding! Ding! Ding!

I figured now would be a good time to get in a date with him since we haven't been on a date in about two months or more, which he pointed out, and soon we'll have a new addition, and so there won't be too many dates alone in the coming months. And since Sophie and Edward were at daycare today, why not this afternoon?

So after my OB appointment this morning, we went to Outback Steakhouse, but first we made a little detour stop at Borders. Borders, as you may or may not be aware, is going out of business. :(( So, as you can imagine, they are having a liquidation sale. I went there this past weekend with Sierra, but things were only on sale for 10% off and the line was ginormous and I really did not want to stand in line for that long, so we opted to pass and bide our time. Since the newly created Kirtland AFB Book Club officially chose its' book, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, I needed to purchase it so I could start reading it. (Who knew there was an abridged version that was over 500 pages?? Not me . . . at least not until after I bought the book.) So anyway, Mike and I stopped in and sure enough, there sale percentages had increased and prices had dropped. So I was able to the above said book for about $6. Nice!

Onward to the steak! Well, I had a fillet sandwich of sorts, which was really good! It came with au jus on the side and yummy! I haven't been to Outback in a really long time, so I had forgotten how good their bread was! I think I ate at least one loaf all by myself . . . Mike, of course, got a steak. I don't recall seeing him eat a steak that fast before. He said he was hungry, but I swear three bites into my sandwich and there wasn't a trace of steak on his plate! And I was the pregnant, hungry woman!

Then we went and saw Captain American: The First of the Avengers (for free!). I even have $7 left over on one of the gift cards! We really enjoyed the movie a lot.

Now unlike my brother, I have not read most of the Mavel Comics. My Dad collected comics and by the time Thomas was maybe ten or so, he was an avid comic book reader. I believe that he has read all of the Marvel comics, as well as all of the DC comics. So Thomas knows exactly what is going on with Captain America and how true it is to the story line and so on. And this is true for Superman, X-Men, Spiderman, the Hulk, etc etc.

Me, I have no idea what the story line is, although I am at least familiar enough to know who Captain America was prior to going into the theater. So it was a whole new story to me.

I really loved the patriotism in the movie. I loved Evans' line where he says to his friend something along the lines of "There are men out there laying down their lives for our freedom, I don't have a right not to join them." There was a lot of the wingman mentality in the movie as well - no man left behind. And of course the evilness of the Nazi regime was an undercurrent throughout the antagonists' part of the plot.

Hugo Weaving of course did a phenomenal job in part of Red Skull. He truly is an exceptional actor. I found it very refreshing for Chris Evans to not play a super cocky superhero, like he did in Fantastic Four. Even though Evans was super buffed up (I preferred his physique in Fantastic Four), he still reminds me of my brother. Hayley Atwell was a new actress I was not familiar with, but I'm sure she'll be appearing in many more films in the future. I thought she was very talented and really brought a lot of emotion to the movie that Evans lacked at times.

Having a background in clinical research and being familiar with the research atrocities that were conducted by the Nazis during WWII, which led to the Nuremberg Code after the Nuremberg Trials in 1946, the medical/scientific research, on both sides of the plot, really caught my attention. There is a real lesson there when research is done without ethics and ethical supervision and for the gain of power, prestige or money, as in the case of the bad guys; but also the importance of informed consent, as in the case of the good guys. I found the lack of informed consent for Capt. America's character a bit appalling. Although, at the time this story takes place (the '40s), informed consent wasn't exactly standard, especially not for those in the military. I could go on about the history of clinical research and how a lot of the standards of practice that are in place got their start during World War II because of the way the Nazi's were carrying out experiments "in the name of science" on prisoners and other groups during the war. But I won't. Unless you want me to. In which case, you'll have to ask.

Ultimately though the movie, being set in 1942-43 during World War II, reminded me of a time when America was a united country in mind. Currently we are dealing with a polarized country politically with the clock ticking down on needing to raise the debt ceiling (past $14 trillion) so that we won't default on our debt. Not to mention the three wars we're fighting. Personally I find it to be a very frustrating time politically, as I'm sure many Americans do. Being able to go back in time for two hours to a time and place when the country wasn't divided, when they were of one mind to complete a certain goal (defeating Hitler and the Axis Powers) and everyone did their part was really nice. And I loved that even though there was a romantic current in the movie, there were no sex scenes. Not even close. Go movie producers! That was very refreshing. I can't remember if there was cursing in it (obviously not excessively or I would have remembered), so that was refreshing as well. It goes to show you that you can have a really good movie without needing to put in a sex scene or smatter the movie with curse words.

I do think there were some political undertones in the movie, but I didn't mind them so much. The poster of Uncle Sam pointing to his audience and saying "We Want You! for the US Army" were very prevalent in the first part of the movie. In that sense, it almost gave the movie a recruiting feeling to it. However, being of the military community, that wasn't something that I minded. I love being apart of the military.

And I loved the WWII era military art work throughout the movie and especially during the end credits.

I do have to warn you though - if you go to see the movie, you have to sit all the way through the credits (which are fairly long) to see what happens next. And it's not just a 20 second clip either.

I would not recommend this movie for an audience younger than teenage. The Red Skull character could be pretty darn frightening for a child.

Baby Update

I will be 38 weeks tomorrow! Yay!

I had my appointment with my midwife today and nothing has changed as far as my cervix goes. :( I was really hoping that I might be more effaced or more dilated, but alas, I'm not. She did sweep my membranes, so hopefully that will help a bit. And after my appointment, I went and bought some Raspberry leaf tea, so hopefully that will help things too.

The dizziness I've been experiencing daily is related to low blood pressure (go figure). So when I feel like I'm going to pass out, I just have to go lie down somewhere or put my feet up above my heart, especially since this happens even when I'm already sitting down.

We have a "new" plan of action. Because I am measuring so big, and my amniotic fluid level is going up, my midwife scheduled for me to have another fetal growth assessment ultrasound next Tuesday. So we'll see how big Daphne is and what's going on with my fluid levels and go from there. The Perinatologist will make his/her recommendation to my midwife and hence we go from there. My midwife's biggest concern is shoulder distocia, which would be really bad.

If you are not aware of what shoulder distocia is, it is where the baby's head has already come through the birth canal, but the shoulders are too big to come through the pelvic bones. It is considered an emergency situation. You can't do a C-section because the baby's head has already come through the birth canal. This would be a situation where an episiotomy is warranted for medical reasons, and they do some maneuvering of the baby to get the baby to turn so the baby will fit through the pelvic bones and go down into the birth canal. If the baby's shoulders are still too large, then they usually break the baby's clavicle to get them out. Definitely don't want to get into that situation.

So we'll see what happens with how big Daphne is and what the plan will be, that is, if I haven't delivered her by next Tuesday. Honestly, my gut feeling is that I won't. Hopefully I'm wrong though!

If she is measuring over 9 pounds, I do have the option to elect to have a C-section because of her size. I would really rather not go straight for a C-section. However, if I reach my due date (August 12th), I am willing to reconsider. If she continues to grow like she has been, she could be upwards of 10 pounds or more by my due date (she was measuring 7.5 pounds at 35 weeks). You may or may not have seen a picture of me, but I'm not a very big person. Edward was 8 pounds and he was really hard to push out; although I did have an epidural (that makes pushing harder) and his anterior arm was up by his face as he came down, which could also have played a factor in pushing him out.

At this point, my midwife does not want to induce me because induction increases the risk of shoulder distocia, my guess being because the baby wasn't ready to born and therefore usually isn't in the right position, but that is pure speculation (the latter part of the sentence that is, not that it increases the risk - that part is not speculation.)

So basically I feel like these last few weeks are a giant puzzle and we're trying to rearrange the pieces and figure out where everything goes and how it will play out. There are a lot of factors: the polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid), Daphne's macrosomia (she's really big) and so on. With the polyhydramnios there is risk of cord prolapse if my water breaks and her head is not down in my pelvis (which right now, it's not - she's just floating around head down). Just so many factors to think about. What is the right decision? What is the best decision? Are those two decisions the same? They should be . . . I feel like this isn't a case of just waiting like in a normal pregnancy where everything will work itself out; there are serious, potentially life-threatening (for Daphne) concerns. I asked my midwife what she would do if it were her, and she didn't really know. Maybe there isn't a right answer and we just have to continue praying that the Lord will continue to have mercy on Daphne and this pregnancy. Not worrying is so hard to do. It's a little weird that I wasn't as worried when I was going through all the pre-term labor stuff than I am now. I know I need to just trust in the Lord and continue to wait on Him. I know that His timing is perfect. It would be nice to know what His timing was - but then where would faith come in if I did?

26 July 2011

Facebook and the Online Community

I was pondering today about Facebook and how involved I am in Facebook and how my involvement in an online community has evolved from the first time I joined an online community back in 2006 (MySpace).

My purpose for joining MySpace was first curiosity. Then I discovered all these long lost friends on MySpace. I pretty just used MySpace for friend stalking (yes, I admit it!). It was something that wasted time basically and not something that grounded me too much (it did some) with the people in my immediate reality.

At first I was very reluctant to join Facebook - oh boy, another internet website that I have to check and remember a password for. After joining MySpace, I remained pretty strictly loyal to them; on a side note - I often have fickle loyalties to various products/enterprises/etc. MySpace was one of those.

My friend Marilyn finally convinced me to join Facebook after showing me how much easier it was than MySpace to keep connected and check regularly. So there and then, at her house, I signed up for Facebook.

I discovered that Facebook was a lot easier than MySpace. I liked that I didn't have to worry about decorating my page and wasting a lot of minutes waiting for friend's pages to upload because, unless like MySpace, they weren't overloaded with videos, glittering graphics and tons of quiz results. And there were the games . . . ah, the games. I got into Farmville almost right away, but then realized after a few weeks I was reaching obsessive mode - I was ordering my day around when my "digitally imagined and planted" crops were going to be ready to harvest. That was it for the games for me - I had a newborn to take care of!

Now I check my Facebook every day. I have family and friends literally all over the world whom I keep in touch with over Facebook. If it wasn't for Facebook, I might never have reconnected with a lot of them. Through Facebook I can keep up to date with prayer requests for friends, friend's children who are growing up so fast and I can offer encouragement to those who need it, say hi to someone I haven't connected with for a long time and just "hang out".

Recently though, as in the past few months, Facebook has stepped up to a whole new level for me. And I'm not talking about the amount of time I spend on Facebook. I'm talking about the way online community has changed for me. Online community has gone from catching up with and staying abreast of all the latest in family and friends lives to actually connecting with my local community in the real world.

What am I talking about? Well, I would have to say it probably started with PWOC's KAFB Facebook page keeping PWOC members apprised of upcoming events and posting pictures of previous events. This was great for reminding me about that potluck I almost forgot to bring food to, among many other things.

Then came the Veggie Garden 2011 group that my best friend Nikki helped create for those who were starting a garden, whether beginners or veterans. We could all encourage one another about our gardens, post different ideas and tips and basically learn from each other. 

And then came the Kirtland Swap Group. It's a group that is basically similar to Craig's List, but for people who live on or new Kirtland AFB. People can post stuff they are selling or looking for - it's great! And I got a whole bunch of cloth diapers for less than $6 a diaper - that's more than 60% off original price. I love that this group is AF wives (mostly) connecting with other wives to help sell things before a PCS or help out a neighbor.

After that came Kirtland AFB Book Club, which is just starting up. I love to read and I have always wanted to join a book club, but just haven't, for numerous reasons. We're in the process of picking the first book to read (it looks like it's going to be The Count of Monte Cristo (which, incidentally) is on my to-read list)) and picking a time to meet. I'm excited to get things underway!

Shortly after that came an online Bible study through LifeChurch that my best friend Nikki told me about. It's called BibleX and it is basically a year long survey of the Bible. The study meets strictly online on Facebook and discusses the study questions in a chat forum. I'm really excited to start this study (on Saturday night) because the study is strictly over the Scriptures and all the questions are generated from what the Scriptures are talking about. I love studies like Beth Moore and such, but I feel that it is important to also study the Bible exegetically. This study will cover the entire Bible in one year.You can check out this study here. If you would like to join this group, email me at tegansmusingsblog@yahoo.com and I'll ask that the coordinator add you to the FB group. :)

Somewhere in there came Kirtland Couponers, which is a group on Facebook that meets regularly (about once a month) on base to learn how to coupon, as in like the "experts" do. In between meetings, people post about great deals they've found, hot coupons that just came out and so on.

All of these things are part of what communities do. They support each other, they help each other out, they learn together. Ultimately people are coming together and meeting in person or online to enrich their lives as well as enriching their local community. It's great! I'm sure people have been doing this for thousands of years in person, but I've never been very good at being apart of a larger community. I've been apart of the faith community for years, but sometimes I feel like I'm in a bubble there, which isn't always a bad thing, but can be. Being part of the larger community can help me get to know more people out there (and their needs) and how I can be of a support in the community. It is also an example to let my light shine before men so that they might see the Father's good deeds.

So are you part of an online community? What does community mean to you? How have you bridged the gap between an online community and the community in reality?

Women of Faith welcomes Karen Kingsbury

Yes, Karen Kingsbury, the best selling Christian author, is going to be at two Women of Faith events! If you haven't had a chance to read any of her novels, I highly recommend picking one up and diving in. They are the kind of novel that sucks you in and won't let you go until you're turned the last page. Check out my "Reviews" tab for links to book reviews for two of her novels.

I received an email from Women of Faith's blog, you can sign up for those at their website, and it contained an interview with Karen Kingsbury.

In the conversation with Women of Faith, Karen gives insight into how she gets ideas for her novels, her family life with six children (three adopted), her song writing hobby (who knew?!), and how much she is looking forward to making new friends through Women of Faith. Click on the link above to check out the blog!

See Karen Kingsburg at Imagine in Charlotte, NC, 23-24 September or at Over the Top in Denver, CO, 30 Sep -1 Oct. :D

25 July 2011

Hearth & Soul Blog Hop - Ginger Cookies

It's time for Hearth and Soul Blog hop co-hosted by Premeditated Leftovers! If you want to join in and share a favorite recipe, head on over!

This week, I want to share one of my Mom's recipes. I don't have very many of her recipes, so the ones that I do have are precious to me, as they contain the ingredients to unlock many precious memories from my childhood through great smells and tastes.  (Oh the secrets the brain contains that can sometimes only be unlocked through smell or taste!)

My Mom was not a huge cookie baker, so when she did make cookies, it almost always to celebrate a festive time. One such time was Christmas. Oh the smells of Christmas baking and the memories that those smells evoke! My Mom would make these delicious Ginger Cookies at Christmas time and the smell would fill the house, decorated for the season with a Christmas tree and candles in the windows and a nativity scene in the bay window. I don't know where she got the recipe from, so I consider it my Mom's recipe.

Seeing as how we are exactly five months from Christmas Day, I don't think it's too early to start thinking about Christmas baking. :) Enjoy!

Here is my Mom's Ginger Cookie Recipe:

2 sticks butter                                                  4 cups unbleached, sifted flour
1 ½ cups sugar                                                 2 ½ tsp ginger
½ tsp salt                                                         1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ cup Grandmom’s unsulp molasses                1 ½ tsp cinnamon
2 eggs                                                              1 ½ tsp cloves

1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Pulse/blend butter, sugar and salt until smooth.
3.Add molasses and eggs. Very important to use UNSULP molasses
4. Add flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix well.
5.Roll into golf ball size balls and place on un-greased baking sheet.
6.Bake 12-14 minutes; better when cooked on shorter time. Dip in sugar.

Be the People by Carol M. Swain, PhD

Personally, I have often felt frustrated and even helpless about the political situation and its' direction in our country today. I vote, however I often feel that that is not enough to make my voice and my opinion heard. I occasionally write to my Senator or Representative, but I have never felt that my opinion really counted and I didn't know what to do about that.

Reading Carol M. Swain, PhD's book Be the People: A Call to Reclaim America's Faith and Promise was truly an eye opening and inspirational book for me. The book covered various political topics including the founding of the nation based on a Christian Covenant with the Lord and America's religious roots, abortion, the family unit and its' disintegration, immigration, national sovereignty, race and racism, President Obama and reclaiming America's traditional values. Swain compares the United States to ancient Israel in that we are a nation where the majority of the population professes to be Judeo-Christian and our nation was based on that faith. Just as the ancient Israelites turned away from the Lord, were judged and their nation was turned over to their enemies, Swain warns that the U.S. could be on the same track if we do not repent and turn back to the Lord and to the original faith and thinking that the founders of this nation held to be true. Swain also writes about our nation being systematically torn down by policies and practices that support abortion and groups that oppose heterosexual marriage and the nuclear family unit, which is the basis of society (groups including the gay-lesbian agenda and feminist groups). What really opened my eyes was the reasoning behind her stance against amnesty for illegal immigrants and support for deportation of illegal immigrants (besides the fact that they are breaking the law in being here). Swain wrote that the unemployment rate, especially that of poor African-Americans, whites and legal Latinos, was being driven up by the illegal immigrant population who are holding those jobs that should rightfully go to the citizens of this country. She further writes that those [in political positions of power] who profess to champion the well being of the poor (regardless of race) in this country are in fact only exploiting them while at the same time trying to legalize millions of immigrants simply so they can get more votes. Swain also talks about race and the racism issues in this country and sites many examples of President Obama's actions that have actually created more division among the numerous races of people in this country while at the same time spouting ideas about hope and over-coming racism. Swain concludes with a chapter of what every American should do, regardless of political position: including first professing Christ as Lord and having a personal relationship with Him, strengthening our families and churches; informing, educating and enlightening the minds of fellow believers to the truths of the Bible. She also lists out steps toward reclaiming America: knowing the Ten Commandments, reading the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution, getting registered to vote and then voting (it's a privilege, not a right), holding the elected politicians accountable for their actions, regardless of political affiliation, keep numbers for the House Office Switchboard and Senate Switchboard handy so you can register your opinion on key issues, among others. And ultimately, she says that we should pray for all of those in positions of authority in our nation, as the Bible commands, whether we support them or not.

Throughout the book Swain gave several avenues of direction of how the people of the United States, such as me, can get involved and make their voice heard. After each chapter, she lists several ways of getting involved, including ideas for how to get involved and support your local community, websites to read current legislation and sign petitions, further reading to become an even more informed citizen, how to get on mailing lists that will keep you informed of up to date legislative information and other ways you can step up and make your voice heard.

I would recommend this book for every American citizen starting at a young teen age, regardless of political affiliation. She quotes hundreds of sources and gives references for them so that the reader can further research something that interests and/or alarms them. I found a lot of her information to be quite alarming and it has inspired me to action. An appendix is found at the end of the book, containing the Ten Commandments, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

21 July 2011

Baby Update

I will full term tomorrow! Praise the Lord! :D

I had my weekly OB appointment today (I realized as I was driving to my appointment that I have three appointments every single week . . . ). Things are looking pretty good. I've gained 25 pounds so far, so I'm right where I'm supposed to be with that.

I had my Group B strep test today. And my midwife checked me and I am still dilated to 1 cm, but I am 50% effaced! Yay! I'm trying not to celebrate too early, because I know you can be effaced for a week or two before giving birth, but I'm on my way. The contractions are finally doing something.

And my midwife gave me a referral for a Prenatal Cradle, which is a huge relief! I have a lot of really horrendous round ligament and pelvic pain (like can't stand up straight, have to lay down and can't move for an hour or two type pain), so the Prenatal Cradle provides a lot of pelvic support. I can already tell a difference! And my insurance covered it! Yay!

I am definitely in nesting mode now too, and I can do something about it, which is so nice. And yesterday I had a nice burst of energy that lasted most of the morning - I have to say I really enjoyed that. I have all of Daphne's clothes washed and 1/3 of them put away. Hopefully tonight I can get the Co-Sleeper set up. Then we'll be pretty much all set to go. I think. The bag is packed. Well, I have to add some pants to it. Clothes are washed. I have newborn diapers now. I think I'm all set. I sort of discombobulated because normally I'm so organized and I haven't been able to be as organized as I would like . . .I know it will all work out though. :)

So it won't be long now . . . hopefully . . . if I don't post anything for a few days in a row, the reason is mostly likely that I had Daphne. :)

20 July 2011

Garden Update

Mike took these pictures some time during June when I was still on bed rest. As you can see, he has been taking wonderful care of the garden in my absence. :)

 The first tomato out of the garden (first pic above)! Mike picked it and brought it up to me, since at the time I was on bed rest. It was delicious! And we have gotten a lot more!

 Mike's work in the garden. He has been doing a wonderful job taking care of my garden for me while I have been on bed rest. Mike has apparently found that he has a love of gardening! Awesome! I really looking forward to doing a garden with him next spring! If you look closely, you can see some experiments that he had going on - he's a natural!
 Another view of some of our plants. Mike kept very busy in the gardening transplanting when plants outgrew their pots and keeping everything well watered.
 Here are some of my flowers that I had planted.
 There are some flowers that Mike transplanted into the ground. They have done really well. :)
 I love the yellow! It's so good to have color in the desert! At least where we live . .
 One of my tomato bushes that was just starting to produce.
 My other tomato bush that was just starting to produce. We have yet to be able to eat a tomato from this bush because our handy helper in the garden, Edward, gets overzealous for harvesting and picks them before they ripen. So we have a few sitting in the pantry that we are hoping we'll get to eat soon.
 Lots of tomatoes! Sophie and Edward really love to help pick the tomatoes. The challenge is getting them to pick just the red ones. For a little one who hasn't learned exactly what "red" means, that can be kind of tricky. He's only 16 months though. so we'll give him a break. :)
Some of my other flowers that have really grown under Mike's careful and tender care.

I do have some gardening questions for any fellow bloggers who garden. Our cucumber plants and remaining zucchini plant (the other two didn't make it) aren't producing. Could it be that it is too hot at this time? Usually the temp is high 90's/low 100's. And it's very dry here. We try to water every day, but there is little rain to supplement. Or could it be that they are in containers and need to be moved to a bigger container? Thanks so much for any help and input! :)

Pregnancy and life

If you have ever been pregnant before, you know that sometimes pregnant life is just a little, ok well a lot, different than normal life. I think it's kind of weird how you forget what your body normally feels like . . .

And for someone who is rather on the short side, like myself, pregnancy can present some problems, which are sometimes funny to onlookers . . .

Exhibit A:
The other morning we were sitting down as a family eating breakfast (cereal). Sophie finished her bowl of cereal and asked for more. So I got up and headed over to the fridge, where we keep the cereal (on top of the fridge that is). I go for a straight on approach to the side of the fridge and reach up for the Rice Crispies cereal box, which, incidentally is the closest one. My fingers just barely brush the box. Stand on tip-toes. No luck. Okay, I'll try a different approach.

So I move over to the front of the fridge and try a direct on approach. Again, my fingers just barely brush the box. Tip-toes? Nope. This is not looking good: fridge two, pregnant lady zero. Now I have to outwit the fridge and factor in my giant belly into the equation.

So I decide to go for the side approach. I sidle up to the side of the fridge and standing on my very tippy toes, I can just barely reach the box but reach it I can and success is achieved at last! Box of cereal obtained and in hand. Victory!

I turned around and Mike is just grinning at me as he watches me try to do something seemingly so simple. I laughed and asked if he enjoyed the show - he did.

Exhibit B:
When you are walking through the store or a parking lot or a doctor's office, and the women in front of you, who happens to be waddling, and is walking v-e-r-y slowly, please don't look so shocked when she turns and Whammo! she's got a giant pregnant belly. I can't tell you how many surprised (sometimes in a delighted way, sometimes in an aghast kind of way) and shocked looks I have gotten. Okay, so I don't look pregnant from the back. Yes, I am all belly. Yes, it looks like I stuffed a basketball under my shirt. I can assure you - I do not have a basketball in there! And no, I really can't walk any faster than a snail's pace. Not even if there was good food at the destination.

Exhibit C:
You drop something on the floor. Now, normally this is no big deal. You bend down and pick it up. It all happens so fast - in a matter of seconds perhaps.

Now when you are nine months pregnant, it doesn't quite happen like that. You drop something on the floor. First: you stare at it. Is it worth picking it back up or can it stay there until someone happens to come by and pick it up, even if that isn't until tomorrow? Second: you have decided that it is worth picking up. After all, you want to eat that yummy piece of chocolate. So then you have to contemplate how you are going to get it up off the floor and then return to your former standing position. Third: Bending down is over ruled. You probably won't be able to reach down to the floor anyway because there's a giant belly that keeps you from being able to bend down all the way. Fourth: The squatting down method. Now, you have to be very careful with this method because you don't want to pop something - like your bag of water. Next step - is there anything in reach that you can use to support yourself? Yes - baby gate. Check. Grab hold of baby gate and carefully and slowly lower yourself until you can reach the object destination. Fifth: grab object as quickly as you can before you get stuck like that (which I did today and thank God Mike was there to help me back up!). Sixth: slowly, with much groaning, grunting, etc (especially if people are nearby), pull yourself back up to standing position, holding your belly just above the pubic bone to make sure that gravity can't get in the way and drag you back down. And voila! You have picked up something up off the floor that you dropped. And it only took three-five minutes. There you have it - six easy steps to picking something up off the floor! Now you can sit down, rest and enjoy your chocolate!

And unfortunately, pregnancy loosens ligaments, so you tend to drop things even more often. Retribution of some kind? A good joke maybe? A lesson to make you more grateful for the body that you have after the baby is born? The one where you can pick something up off the floor without a second thought?

Exhibit D:
The belly knock down! Or button pusher if you prefer. For some women, their belly grows slowly over time and their brains are able to adjust for the added mass. For other women, such as myself, one day you're kind of slightly showing and the next day - poof! Full belly! This means that your brain has not had time to adjust for the added mass.

For me, this means turning on or off the burner on the stove with my belly when I try to reach into the cupboard. Not good if my hair happens to be down . . . Good thing it makes a clicking noise when the nob turns! Or pushing the mouse button my laptop when I didn't want to. Oops! Wasn't finished with that FaceBook comment yet! Hitting the corner of the counter as you walk by - this one really doesn't feel good. Inadvertently knocking things over with your belly - picture Laurel and Hardy style - you don't even know what you did until you look at the trail of destruction along the kitchen counter. Or bathtub ledge where the bottles of soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream and facial wash sit. Unfortunately when the latter one occurs, you have to revert to Exhibit C and pick them all up - with the added fun of water and possibly soap on the floor!Oh the joy! :)

Exhibit E:
Your poor children who just want to sit on your lap for a hug or a cuddle as you sit on the floor are finding themselves ousted by their sibling who has yet to make an appearance. I can't pick up my kids because of restrictions, so when they want me to hold them, I sit down crossed legged on the floor so they can sit on my lap. They have recently found though that when they sit down, they slide right off. It isn't a far slide, maybe an inch or two, but I get a lot of puzzled looks. "It didn't use to do that, did it?"

And there was the one time where Daphne just outright kicked Sophie off of my lap. I don't think Sophie knew what hit her! Poor Sophie bug . . . she got up and shrugged it off and went on her merry way to play with something else. Mommy's lap wasn't friendly that day.

Exhibit F:
You're at the Perinatal Assessment Center and you've been sitting on the baby monitor for 20 minutes or more in their super comfy could-stay-there-all-day chairs (seriously) and it's time to get up. You lean forward to get up . . . except . . . nothing happens. You no longer have the power to remove yourself from the chair without help. The comfy-ness is just calling to you . .. .subliminally that is . . . Fortunately, there are wonderful nurses there who apparently deal with this kind of subliminal messaging resistance from the chair every day, and they help you up. Until next time oh wonderful chair . . .

And just for posterity, I had Mike take a few pregnancy pictures of me (nothing fancy like Pfann Photography with Marilyn mind you), just a few "last pregnancy pictures" shots. I'll start with the picture of my hair and we'll go from there. :) I do have to warn you though, I was really tired and in quite a bit of pain from round ligament pain and contractions. I'm 36 weeks in these pics.

I swear, it feels bigger than it looks! Must be the shirt . . .
So that is the latest in pregnancy life for me. I hope you enjoyed and got a few laughs from this post. :)

Women of Faith conference coming up!

"God loves us more than we know. He gives us more than we can ask or dream. He's unrestrained... excessive... outrageous... Over the Top." - Women of Faith 2011

I have been privileged to attend two Women of Faith events before in the past and they were such an amazing time of fellowship and learning. I am so excited that I am going to be able to go to another Women of Faith event, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in November! And most likely also in Denver, Colorado in September! Yay!

I have been chosen by BookSneeze as a blogger for a Women of Faith event this fall, so you will be hearing more from me regarding Women of the Faith in the coming months. I am so excited for what the Lord is doing through Women of Faith in this nation and I hope you will be joining me in praying for the men and women leading these events as they take place around the country.

Reading over Women of Faith's saying for the "Over the Top" conferences, I feel that I can certainly relate - my life verse of God's promise to me is Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things which you do not know."(NIV). Since I read that verse as a baby Christian, the Lord has fulfilled that promise in my life over and over again.  He has revealed to me through restorative healing how much He really does love me - the image of Jesus Christ holding me as a young girl, abandoned, alone, crying, and then He turned backwards slightly and with a sweeping gesture of his arm revealed the empty cross behind Him where He died for my sins, that He loved me so much that He would do that, unworthy as I am, and showed me that by His grace I am Saved - that image is engraved upon my mind for the remainder of my days.

His promise to me to give me more than I can even dream has been fulfilled in the amazing, Godly husband that He gave to me; in the wondrous children that He has given to my Mike and me. In the life changing friendships that He has bestowed upon me. I can only pray that He will continue to teach me and mold me until I reflect Him more and more and myself less and less.

The Lord is absolutely unrestrained, excessive, outrageous and over the top! His mercy endures forever and His love never fails! You know how sometimes when you read something, it just hits you, and you have to stop and think about it for a while, to just fathom the words and the depth of meaning that they bring? I remember the first time I read the following words and I just had to stop and ponder them and I just thought to myself "Wow!". What else is there to say to love such as this, as the apostle Paul writes: "I pray that out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV, italics mine). Love that surpasses knowledge - that is love that you can think and think about, and still not understand completely. Love that just bursts forth out of you in joy in all that you do. Love that covers more sins than you can count. Love that turns the other cheek when a wrong has been committed against you. Love that Saves you from death. Wow . . .

I am so excited to hear the teaching that Patsy Clairmont, Marilyn Meberg, Lisa Whelchel and Sandi Patty have in store for the ladies this fall! I have learned much from them in the past. They are God-fearing, Bible-teaching ladies who have been gifted to reach out to so many women. And have you ever heard Sandi Patty sing?? I don't know if she will be singing also, but wow what an amazing gift of song the Lord has given her!

The musical guests in Oklahoma City are Mandisa and Amy Grant. I have always wanted to hear Amy Grant live and I am just so excited that I will get the opportunity to do that! I was able to hear Mandisa's testimony after being on American Idol at a previous Women of Faith event, and what an incredible testimony of forgiveness to Simon Cowl she has! It is amazing to see how the Lord is moving and working in the midst of television and music media in our culture through people like Mandisa. She is not the first, nor the last, Christian to appear on American Idol and proclaim their faith to Jesus Christ.

Deborah Joy will be providing the drama at Women of Faith in OKC. I have not heard of her before, so I wil be excited to see how the Lord will use her to speak to the women at the event.

The special guest is Andy Andrews, and again I am not very familiar with his work - so again, I am looking forward to hearing him speak.

I do hope that you will be able to attend a Women of Faith event in a city near you. You can go to Women of Faith's website and find out more about an event in your area and the dates and the speakers that they will have.

If you are interested in finding out more about BookSneeze, which is an awesome program provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers, head on over to the website and get signed up! I have been reviewing books for BookSneeze for approximately ten months and I absolutely love being apart of the program. :D If you would like to read my book reviews, you can check out my "Reviews" tab and click on the various links. :)

18 July 2011

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

It's Monday! That means it is time for the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop co-hosted by Premeditated Leftovers! Yay! I have to say that I really love hooking up with this blog hop - such wonderful recipes shared all around. My kitchen horizons are expanding! :) Head on over if you want to link up!

Hmm, what to share this week . . . I think I will share my queso recipe. As usual, this was someone else's recipe, and I took it and made it my own. :) It's just so fun doing that! This recipe is very versatile, and you can make it as hot or as mild as you want. I also find this queso hardy enough to be a meal, especially if you put some in a tortilla and wrap it up. I don't make it very often because I have literally come home from work and stood at the crock pot eating chips and queso for 20 minutes without even putting my purse down!

Queso is fun at any time of year, especially for parties,and some of my best memories of eating this queso is with friends at a get together, BBQ or pot luck. Fellowship with friends is so vital to the healthy well being of a person and not much else brings people together like good food!

This queso could also be made using fresh ingredients from your garden instead of the cans of Rotel (and kidney beans!) - using tomatoes, peppers, onions and cilantro. I haven't tried that, so if you make this recipe doing that, please let me know how you did it and how it turned out. I would love to hear from you! :) Next time I make this recipe, I'll get fresh ingredients and let you know how it turns out. :)

I know that using Velveeta varies from the mission of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop a bit, so I hope that won't be a problem. I have yet to experiment making queso with real cheese, I'll have to do some research. Again though, if you use my recipe using real cheese - please let me know how it turned out and what you did. :)

1 pound hamburger
Worchestershire sauce
Cayenne pepper
1 pound Velveeta cheese - cut into 1 inch cubes
1 can hot Rotel tomatoes and chilis, drained
1 can mild Rotel tomatoes and chilis, drained
1 can Wolf's hotdog sauce without beans
1-2 cans Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed. Or you can use a can of black beans, or light red kidney beans or mix and match.

1.Brown the hamburger in a skillet on the stove, seasoning with about 1/2 tbsp of garlic, 1-2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce, 1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp paprika. If you like a hotter queso, increase cayenne pepper. Measurements are estimates, so feel free to experiment until you find what is right for you. :)
2. Place cubed Velveeta into crock pot. Add browned hamburger and then remaining ingredients. Turn crock pot on high.
3.Stir about every 5 minutes. Once cheese starts to melt, add milk 1-2 tbsp at a time until the right consistency is reached. You should not need more than 1/2 a cup of milk. It takes about an hour for the queso to cook thoroughly enough to eat. Once the queso is finished, turn the crock pot down to warm.

Serve with tortilla chips and/or tortillas. Or you can even put some on a burger! :)

**If reheating leftovers, you may want to add 1/2 tbsp or more of milk as you stir.

Sorry I don't have any pictures! I'm going to have to start taking pictures of what I make in the kitchen! :)

Thank you Alea once again for hosting! :)

17 July 2011

Motherhood Is a Calling (And Where Your Children Rank)

Motherhood Is a Calling (And Where Your Children Rank)

A friend of mine on FB posted a link to this blog and tagged me in, and I am so glad that she did.

I often, ok, just about every time I go to the commissary with my children, here "Wow, you've got your hands full!" or some variation of that. Sometimes people are well meaning and I can see in their face that they think children are a joy. Most of the time though, not really so much. I have gotten quite a few "looks" from people. My usual response, because I am never prepared to answer that even though I hear it so many times is, "yes, but they are really great children!" or "The Lord knew what I could handle!" (while smiling).

Having children close together (Sophie and Edward are 11 months apart) is hard. It is a busy season. So yes, in that sense, I do have my hands full. But I don't resent them. Mike and I wanted to have our children close together (we just didn't know how close together). I knew that when I got pregnant with Edward so soon after I had Sophie, that the Lord knew what I could handle.

When I got pregnant with Sophie, I had to drop out of nursing school, which had been my dream (to be a nurse, that is). I worried that I would resent Sophie, but I haven't. Why? Because I consciously made a decision not to. I knew when I dropped out of nursing school, that I was choosing to sacrifice my dream of being a nurse. No matter how much I wanted it, I knew that I couldn't have both. Something would be sacrificed, and I didn't want my child to be the one who had to be the sacrifice. That wasn't fair to her. She needed her mother and I wanted to be there for her. I truly believe that the Lord called me to be the mother of Sophie, Edward and now Daphne. A calling is not something that I take lightly. I take motherhood very seriously. It is a responsibility that comes with commands from the Lord. We should take joy in our callings though, and I do take joy in the calling to be a mother.

Mike and I were very blessed that I did not have to work in order to make ends meet. I know that there are a lot of women who would love to be home with their children, but they can't be for financial reasons. When I was friends with Mike and when we started courting, I had a fantastic job (in addition to going to school) and my salary was twice as high as Mike's. It would have been so easy for us to off of my salary and get a nice house and lots of things because I was making good money. We decided, before we were married, that we would never use my income, no matter what it may be, to live off of. That included to pay mortgage or rent, to buy a vehicle, etc. We knew that one day down the road, we wanted to have children and that I wanted to stay home with our children (we just didn't know how soon the Lord would give us those children). So that's what we did. And because we planned that way, I was able to stay at home when Sophie was born.

I truly do love being a stay at home Mom. I find it to be incredibly fulfilling. Yes, there have been times where it has been very trying. To say that isn't so would be to lie. But taking care of children and training children up is not a glamorous thing. It is a joyous thing. Have you ever heard children laugh just for the sake of laughing? It's the most wonderful sound in the world. And no, I do not think that crying children is the worst sound in the world, or the most annoying.

As the article points out, our culture has placed such a low value on children. Our culture has forgotten that they were once children themselves. They take for granted that their parents did not think that children were something to be sacrificed for a selfish reason. They take for granted that their parents chose life, even if that meant tremendous sacrifices for themselves. And I am just as guilty as anyone else of this. In my teen years and my early 20's, before I was Saved by Christ, I swore I would never have children and that if I ever got pregnant, I would have an abortion. My feelings were that strong against children. I had ambition for my life. I wanted to get degrees. Lots of them. I wanted to have all kinds of letters after my name, such as RN, BSN, MS, PhD, CCRP . . . the list goes on. I didn't want anything to get in my way - education was important after all! I wanted to do my own thing. I liked sleep. I liked to play the Sims as much as I wanted. I was married to a guy who was a jerk - I certainly didn't want to bring a child into the world in that kind of relationship. I also understood that having a child was a huge responsibility and frankly, I didn't want that kind of responsibility. It was too much for me because I knew it would require sacrifice on my part, a lot of sacrifice. The bottom line is that I was selfish. It was all about me.

I am so thankful that Jesus Saved me and transformed my life. He is still working on me and molding me into His reflection and I know I still have such a long way to go. In that time though, He has seen fit to give me a Godly spouse and then to give us (rather quickly), beautiful children, as a gift to us. He entrusted us with Sophie, Edward and Daphne. They belong to Him, but we are responsible for them. We have the duty, the command, to raise our children up in Him. And that means that we have to choose to be selfless. For me, that meant choosing not to continue my education. For me, that meant changing my whole way of thinking - thinking about the children and preparing for a day with them, everything from thinking ahead to what I'll feed them during the next meal, to deciding whether I'm going to attend this event or function or not if it is too taxing on my children. For me, that meant no longer being a size 0 pants and losing my shape. A fruit bearing tree can't look like a sapling tree after it has started bearing fruit. It's full, giving life and nurturing. Full grown. And I know that the sacrifice is not temporary. It is a lifetime of change, of growing as the Lord leads me and guides me and teaches me in leading, guiding and teaching my children.

For my readers out there who have children - take joy in your children, they are a gift from above and they won't belong to you forever. Time is fleeting and once they are grown and gone, they are gone. Take hope though, if you have trained them up in the Lord, that they will not depart from your teachings.

Officially off bed rest

I am officially off of bed rest! Yay!

In my last "Bed Rest Chronicles", I wrote about all these plans that I have for things to do when I get off bed rest. Yeah, about those plans . . . apparently laying around in bed for five weeks makes you pretty weak. Which means that doing anything remotely normal makes you feel rather exhausted.

Take yesterday for example. I got up with the kids and helped get breakfast ready and helped get them ready to go. Then we all loaded up and went to Target since Edward has ginormous feet and needed to get new shoes (he is now in a shoe sizer bigger than Sophie!). I remember thinking as we pulled out of the driveway, "Wow, it's only 0930 and I am so done already!" So we went to Target and picked out some shoes for Edward. We did have to try a few pairs on because he has pretty "stocky" feet and apparently the shoe just being the right size does not necessarily guarantee it will fit him properly.

Then we went to the grocery store for milk, fruit, cereal, cheese and a few other other things. Really, not that many things. And I about passed out in the check out line. I didn't, thankfully, and we made it back out to the van (more on the van later). We got home, Mike brought all the groceries in and got the kids in and made them lunch. I checked my email because I was looking for a certain email and I was going to piddle around on the internet, but I was literally too tired to type anything. Yes, I was that worn out from a small shopping trip. So I went up to bed and slept for 3 or 4 hours and that helped.

I just couldn't believe how physically worn out my body was just from getting up and doing normal things. And Mike did all the heavy work. I just walked around and carried my purse. Hopefully I'll be able to get enough strength up before I go into labor that I'll be able to successfully make it through labor and have enough strength to push Daphne out. That is a new prayer request for me. Although my friend Erin reminded me today that with the Lord's strength, I can get through this. And she is absolutely right - thank you Erin! :)

15 July 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

 It's Friday! That's means it's time for the MilSpouse Friday Fill-in hosted by WifeOfASailor. Head on over if you would like to link up! :)

1. If you could have a private concert with any singer, who would it be?  submitted by An Air Force Wife’s Blog
Hmm, any singer? Does it have to be a singer? How about a concert pianist - like Beethoven. I say Beethoven because he is the first that comes to mind, but any concert pianist/composer from around that time would be awesome!

2. Is there anything you do to supplement your family’s income? submitted by Our Life, One Adventure at a Time
 Why, yes! I stay at home and take care of the kids, I cook, clean, do laundry, handle the finances and run errands. I would venture to say that if I wasn't here, my husband would be spending quite a bit! If anything, the childcare would take a huge chunk of his income. Here's a link to an awesome article about it! According to the article, which is based on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, I'm worth $125,900 a year. Nice!

3. During your pregnancy (whether past, present, or future), what did you nickname your unborn baby before you knew the sex? submitted by Explosions of Love
 You know, I didn't a nickname for my babies before I knew the gender, besides Little One or Baby. I know, not very creative.

4. Have you ever won a blog giveaway?  If so what did you win? submitted by Mrs. O’s Life

 I have not won a blog giveaway. But I've only entered one or two, so I'm sure that has something to do with it . . .

5.  If I looked into your refrigerator right now, what would I find? submitted by Married to the Army
   Hmm, bread, milk, cheese, eggs, salad, condiments - that stuff I know for sure.  But since I haven't really been in the kitchen for over a month because of the whole bed rest thing, I'm not sure about the rest . . . It's a really weird feeling!

Baby Update and Thankfulness

I had my biophysical profile again today (I have them twice a week). Today was a bit different though because Dr. Joffe (I thought it was spelled Joffey, but it's not) wanted to check out Daphne's heart again.

So after the usual stuff (Daphne got all her points! And my amniotic fluid level is back down to 25cm - the upper limit of normal, but still normal!), Dr. Joffe came in to take a look at her heart. He explained that when he was reviewing the pictures from the ultrasound that he did on Tuesday, he couldn't see her right lung and he was worried that it was either really small (or not there) or that there was a hole in her right diaphragm that was causing bowel to come up and push into the lung space, which also cause her heart to be pushed to one side like it is. This would basically be a hernia. That was really worrisome!

So he did the ultrasound and both of her lungs were seen and he said they looked perfect. He took a really good look at her right and left hemidiaphragm and there are no holes in her diaphragm, and he didn't see any hernias. That was a huge praise! AND her cardiac axis angle had gone down more towards normal - total answered prayer! It is still above normal, but it has gone down. All I could think was that the Lord was answering the many, many prayers that have gone up to Him on Daphne's behalf.

I feel so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that things are looking better. I know that there is a direct effect by all the prayers that have been prayed for Daphne by so many people and how things are looking. I absolutely cannot describe how grateful I am to all those who have been praying for Daphne and for myself. I am completely humbled that you have taken the time to pray for this precious child that I carry within my womb. The Lord has indeed heard those prayers and He is answering them. What an awesome God that we serve! Thank you thank you thank you so much - to all who have said a prayer for Daphne. I wish that I could just give you a giant hug!

"Thank you so much Lord for your continued mercy and your steadfast love. Thank you for inclining your ear to those who have opened their hearts and mouths on behalf of Daphne and myself. Thank you that you are an awesome God, the Great Physician, who heals. Thank you that You are always there, always with us. Thank you for your saving grace, both physically and spiritually. Thank you for giving Daphne to Mike and I to raise and train and nurture and love. Thank you Lord so much for everything that you have done - for taking my sin upon the cross so that my sins may be blotted out and wiped away; thank you that you are the Resurrection and the Life; thank you that You listen; thank you for your unfailing grace to us; thank you for the life that You have given to me - for my amazing husband and the precious gifts of Sophie and Edward and Daphne. Thank you Lord so much for all that You are and all that You have given. In Jesus name, Amen."

14 July 2011

Bed Rest Chronicles #7

This is my last official post of the "Bed Rest Chronicles"! Yay! Tomorrow I am officially "free to move about the cabin" as Dr. Joffey said at my appointment on Tuesday. I still have to take it easy, I just don't have to stay in bed!

So of course, being the over-achiever that I am, I already have several shopping trips planned: I have to go to Babies R Us to get diapers and a few other things; going to the commissary at some point this weekend with the rest of the family; hopefully going to church on Sunday and maybe to the PWOC Pool Party on Sunday night (that is, if my maternity swim suit fits).

Okay, I may have to rethink this. I'm getting exhausted just writing all that stuff . . .

I will admit, it's pretty hard just going downstairs to hang out for a few hours. My body is in some kind of weird state - I have an enormous belly, but very thin and rather weak arms and legs. My back isn't really liking all this very much. And of course, I'm contracting at least every 10 minutes, so that doesn't help either.

All right - I've rethought this during the write of the last paragraph: I'll go to Babies R Us tomorrow, because we need diapers and I'm on the one with the BRU credit card and therefore I'm the only one who can use the $20+ rewards dollars. Save $20 on diapers, oh yes! Plus I want to pick out a coming home from the hospital outfit for Daphne. And I realized when I was packing for the hospital that I don't have any breast feeding pads or Newborn diapers. (This is totally not like be - being a super planner and all that, but as my friend Sierra pointed out, I've pretty much been in bed during the whole "planning and buying" stage of pregnancy.) That does make feel me better! As for all the other stuff, we'll play it by ear and see how I'm feeling.

I didn't get through my whole "Bed Rest To Do List", but some of the stuff I wrote down was pretty detailed and time consuming. I did get about 2/3s of the list done though, so that is really good. And I got a lot of other lists written up for after Daphne is born. Have I ever mentioned how much I like to write lists and cross things off of them?

I do have another biophysical profile ultrasound tomorrow, and the Perinatologists' office called me yesterday and said that after Dr. Joffey had reviewed my chart some more, he wanted to do another fetal echocardiogram on Daphne, so I'll have that done tomorrow too. I'm not really sure what to think about that - is that a good thing or a bad thing? I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

I think that Mike is really looking forward to me coming off of bed rest. I'm not sure how much of a help I'll be able to be for him, but hopefully some. I will be stopping my Nifedipine tomorrow, so at least my blood pressure will go back up and I'll be able to stand for more than 5 minutes without having to sit down because I feel lightheaded. So that's a plus.

I'm not really sure what else to write. It feels a bit weird to be going off of bed rest. I'm glad I'll be able to be around the kids a lot more and get out of "limbo". It's been a long five weeks, and yet it has flown by in some ways. I did get a lot of reading done. I also feel like the Lord has really used this time to draw me closer to Him and I feel that our relationship has been renewed and grown more steadfast. I am grateful for that.

I do hope that I can get a little bit of my physical strength up before I go into labor so that my labor won't be as hard.

Well, fare thee well Bed Rest Chronicles!

The Lord knows us in the womb first

This is a research paper that I wrote back in the fall of 2008 when I was pregnant with Sophie, my firstborn child. This passage was not assigned, we could pick whatever we wanted. Being pregnant, I chose verses about a babe being in the mother's womb.
Now that I am having a lot of complications with Daphne (more than I had with Sophie), I re-read this paper and wanted to share it. Like I wrote in an earlier post this week, the Lord knew what He was doing when He created Daphne and He has a plan for her. It may not be the same plan that I have, but His plans are infinitely wiser than any of my plans. I trust Him and I know that He loves Daphne more than I ever could, more than I can fathom.

Exegetical Exposition on Psalm 139:13-16
“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.”

*All verses come from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

            This passage of Scripture comes from the book of Psalms, and is a psalm of David for the director of music. The entire psalm, verses one through twenty-four, are concerning the Lord’s omnipotence and how He knows us [human beings], from our thoughts to our ways and ends with a plea for God to search David’s heart and to know his ways.  Having chosen only a few verses from the center of the psalm (vs. 13 – 16), I was concerned with how the Lord knows us before we are even born, while we are still in our mother’s womb (vs. 13). It goes on how we praise the Lord because we are made so wonderfully made and all of our days are written in His book.
            13. According to Rhodes, this psalm is one of the most “profound statements of personal religion” among all of the psalms (1976, p. 181).  David goes into this verse stating that the Lord created him from his innermost being. The Hebrew for “innermost being” literally means “the kidney”.  Similarly to various organs in the English language used metaphorically to describe personality, emotion or thought process, the Hebrew language uses various organs to describe these as well. In this verse, a Hebrew idiom that is used refers to an individual’s most intimate center of moral sensitivity and emotions, which God uses to test and examine the person as He searches them (NIV Archaeological Study Bible, 2005, p. 945). God knows David in the most intimate of ways, from the very moment when he was created into existence, and even before then. The words of J.F. Walvoord and R.B. Zuck put it most eloquently when describing the figurative language used in the second part of the verse (covered me, or knit me, in my mother’s womb). It is used to describe God’s sovereign superintendence over the natural process of reproduction (1985, p. 892). Job also uses similar words in one of his prayerful pleas to the Lord: “Your hands have made me and fashioned, An intricate unity; . . . Clothe me with skin and flesh, And knit together with bones and sinews? You have granted me life and favor, And Your care has preserved my spirit.” Job 10:8,11-12.
            14. David goes on with praise to the Lord because He has made him so marvelously. The words wonderfully and fearfully bring very distinct meanings. David praises Him, not with the majesty and awesomeness of His creation of the Earth, but by focusing on the making of himself, a human being (Rhodes, 1976, p. 182). It is unlikely that David had the depth of knowledge regarding the intricateness of the human body, how every single microscopic cell has a function that helps the entire body to be alive, that we have with the technology of today. However, David praised Him nonetheless. “Wonderfully made” is a tribute to how awesome the human body is, how every part is needed for the whole to function. Fearfully made could be lending to how even the slightest accident can wound or destroy some of the most necessary parts to live, all in a matter of seconds or less. Therefore: we are fearfully made (Clarke, 1977, p. 665). The latter part of the verse, how David’s very soul knows this very well, in my personal opinion, reflects back to how the soul knows its’ Creator instinctively.  Paul, one of the apostles of Christ, states this in Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” David also writes in Psalm 19:1-2 “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and Night unto night reveals knowledge.”
            15. David starts to enter into a new direction while still talking about being woven together in the womb: that he was not, and is not, and cannot be, hidden from the Lord. Every frame (skeleton, muscled covering, soul) is not hidden from God. “Every part of the creation is under God’s intuition and influence” (Henry, 1991, p. 620). David stresses certain aspects of God’s control over him; God saw every detail. David’s frame means his skeleton and his unformed body in his embryo. In the womb, he was knit together (see vs. 13) (Walvoord and Zuck, 1985, p. 892). The secret place that David is made refers to the womb. “Depths of the earth” is a metaphor for the hiddenness of the womb (Kidner, 1975, p. 466). The womb is like the depths of the earth in that it is damp, dark and separated from the visible realm of life (NIV Archaeological Study Bible, 2005, p. 945). The King James Version of the Bible uses the words “curiously wrought” instead of skillfully wrought. To be curiously wrought in the Hebrew, rukkamti, is to embroidered, or made of needlework. According to Clarke, when one views how marvelously humans are made, we will not understand the whole of it unless we also consider that the Hebrews dedicated the most artful embroidery with the needle to the service of the temple of God (1977, p. 665). My first impression of this commentary was to find it to be a sort of foreshadowing to the New Covenant after Christ came when the Christians themselves became the holy temple of the Lord, after receiving the Holy Spirit. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” and “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” I Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19.
            16. Even more than all of these wondrous and marvelous things are that the Lord prerecorded all of David’s days, and indeed our own days, before he was even born; the Lord planned out his entire life. Though some may take this verse to mean that the Lord knows when they are going to die, the first is more likely the meaning, and is referring to the everyday details of life (Walvoord and Zuck, 1985, p. 892). In the words of Rhodes, David is asserting the Lord’s foreknowledge and foreordination . . . that the Lord carries out in his purpose in a human life (1976, p. 182). This comes from the very mouth of the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you . . . “ Jeremiah 1:4a, and again in the words of the apostle Paul, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29. This is a powerful reminder of the value that the Lord sets on us, even before we are born, and of His planning our entire lives, from conception to death (Kidner, 1975, p. 466).
            In conclusion, we have so many reasons to praise our Creator and Maker, as David pointed out, not only for how He made us, but also for the plan that He has for us. Indeed He has had plans for us from the very beginning and will see that plan to the very end. From the very mouth of the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah: ““For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”” 29:11 (NIV).

Works Cited
Clarke, A. (1977). The Holy Bible with A Commentary and Critical Notes (vol. 3, Job to Song of Solomon). Nashville: Abingdon.
Henry, M. (1991). Matthew Henry’s Commentary On the Whole Bible (vol. 3, Job to Song of        Solomon). Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers.
Kidner, D. (1975). Psalms 73-150, A Commentary on Books III-V of the Psalms. Leicester: Inter- Varsity Press.
Rhodes, A.B. (1976). The Layman’s Bible Commentary (vol. 9, The Book of Psalms). Atlanta:     John Knox Press.
Text: Authorized King James Version Bible. (1989). USA: World Bible Publishers.
Text: New International Version Archaeological Study Bible. (2005). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Text: New King James Version Bible. (1982). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Walvoord, J.F. & Zuck, R.B. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament. Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing.