Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Little Different Swing on that Virtuous Woman

Disclaimer:I know I'm going to "catch-it" from at least one person for my illustration of this subject, but I'm betting that there is ONLY one person out there who would disagree. Thus, with a hypothetical vote of everybody to 1...the "everybodys" have it! :-) (I love you- 1!) I can't help but have this image in my mind for almost all of this passage!

I had a Bible Study on Proverbs 31 recently and we discussed ideas of how to make each verse more meaningful to us in our lives now. So I got this idea to write up a modern day application of the passage and what it means to me- and use the acrostic idea that is present in the Hebrew that you can’t appreciate in English.

10. Are there any women out there who are capable, unflappable, strong and kind? If so, she must be so amazing as to be unbelievable! Let me tell you what I think she is really like:
11. Being her husband does not bring any worry or anxiety. He trusts her completely and is confident in her decision making and knows she will be wise.
12. Continually she is kind and pleasant to him and avoids anything that is not in his best interest or would hurt him.
13. Diligently she takes pleasure in her hard work and delights in new ways to be resourceful.
14. Everything she feeds her family is selected with care to find the healthiest, most frugal, and freshest ingredients knowing that the extra time spent in getting the best will be worth it.
15. Family needs come first and she is motivated and energetic about meeting them. She is a self-starter and unselfish.
16. Gradually she makes wise long term investments knowing that her extra work now will benefit her family for years to come.
17. Her body is kept strong and in good shape. She considers it a priority to be in a healthy state so that she can keep up with the demands of her job.
18. In the night she is always available for her children’s needs- be they practical or spiritual. She’s also willing to put forth extra effort to make good quality products.
19. Just as quickly as she can, she increases her knowledge to benefit her family with her new skills. She’s willing to do repetitive work and can be depended on to take care of mundane tasks.
20. Kindness flows from her to everyone she meets. She ministers to others in need, shows hospitality and is generous.
21. Living prepared, the unexpected is not feared. She plans for emergencies, prepares for the seasons ahead of time, and maintains her household calmly rather than jumping from one disaster to another.
22. Most days she keeps her own appearance and clothing a priority as well, knowing that it is a positive influence and reflection on her family for her to appear “put together”. But she is frugal about it and can be creative with what she has in her wardrobe already.
23. Now her husband is a leader and is well respected, so she encourages him in his role and does not complain that he is gone extra hours of the day.
24. Often she is found creatively subsidizing the family income. She is organized, managerial, and can run a business with confidence and leadership.
25. Physical strength as well as emotional stability are immediately obvious in her. She stays mentally ready and spiritually in tune to things around her. Stability and cheerfulness will pay off for her in the long run.
26. Quietly she considers those she listens to and when she speaks from her vast wisdom, experience, and insight, it is without judgment and contains the utmost gentleness.
27. Reliability is her trademark and she is forever keeping watch for what to work on next. There is no place in her life for procrastination for she loves her work and has plenty of it.
28. Such an energy giver she is that her children and husband rave about her to others.
29. There are many women who have become great, but this woman is better than all the others.
30. Understand that greatness and beauty will fade with time, but a woman who loves God and shows that love unconditionally to others will be valued all her life.
31. Virtually everything she does and everyone who comes in contact with her will speak for her so clearly that she will never need to defend herself.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Light at the end of the Hallway

(My faithful bed rest partener and her "gibit")
We’re on to week “I’ve-lost-count” of bed rest. I’ve been in my bedroom, on my bed for two full weeks now. I was on the couch before that for at least 3 weeks. Before that, everything is a little fuzzy in my brain. Of course when you are horizontal for that length of time I think it makes everything in life a little fuzzy, not to mention sideways.

Remarkably, I think things have gone fairly well. I’ve had plenty of support from wonderful friends, my fabulous husband has kept me fed and my needs met, the children have been supportive and understanding, and I’ve had many phone calls, visits, and cards from friends. Overall, I couldn’t ask for a better situation considering the needs.

Some of the things that have made bed rest tolerable have been the unexpected items: doing some sort of school each day with the children, preparing and leading a Women’s Bible Study on Wednesday nights in my bedroom, and taking time to write thank-you notes. These things have kept me thinking of all the love people have poured out and help me avoid selfishly complaining. I have very few moments to think about myself and feel pitiful. I did not expect encouragement to come this way, but it has been my lifeline.

Brandon has faithfully awakened me each morning at 8am with breakfast in bed. He doesn’t have high expectations of what I will do after that, but he expects me to start my day. That’s been surprisingly helpful as well. It’s hard enough to keep my days and nights straight when I’m in the bed every day, but if I have a set time to be up and start- even if I nap later- it keeps me from getting completely switched around and greatly helps with emotional stability.

Then there is the wonderful change that has taken place over the last week. If I can be bold, I will say that I’m confident the change happened this past Sunday. You see, last Monday I went into the hospital with regular contractions, three minutes apart. Hospital experiences are always a story in themselves, but I’ll cut it short and say that they managed to drug me enough to cause the contractions and sent me home with the minor wounds of four attempts at starting an IV. Wednesday night I had regular contractions again and took my medicine with successful results. We repeated the scenario Thursday night and then again Saturday night, only each time it took longer to work. By Sunday morning I was tired of being up in the night wondering if I was going to have to head to the hospital and as things seemed to keep progressing in a less than desirable way, I call my family for prayer. I know that MANY people were praying for me on Sunday- for things to change, for the baby to stay put, for a miracle to happen! And I am confident that God heard and answered that prayer!

Monday morning, I felt like things were different. I can’t really explain it. It was a gradual feeling and not really something I can put my finger on, except that the more I thought about it this week, the more I was sure that God had done something to settle things down that Sunday. Just to really test things out, I started sitting up in bed more to see if things would be ok. Tuesday I sat on the bed for most of the day instead of lying down. I actually decorated Joseph’s birthday cake that day- on the bed, but enjoyed sitting up to do a number of other things as well. I had no negative repercussions.

Wednesday, I continued with the same thing. While I didn’t decorate a cake that day, I did sit up most of the day and also did a couple of things that required puttering around my room for a few minutes. Thursday I had my hair cut by a wonderful friend and even walked to the top of the stairs and sat there during lunch. Again I had a little more activity and no contractions or spotting. Friday has been similar. I moved to the couch in my room for a while today while someone changed the sheets on the bed and enjoyed having my lunch in a completely upright position. I also rearranged some flowers, watered a couple of plants, and put away a few things that belonged other places upstairs. Then when I felt like I was pushing the limits too much I would come back and recline on the bed for a while. I’d say I’m at about 1/8 capacity for full activity right now. That may not seem like much, but it was virtually at zero! And things continue to stay stable.
I also had a good conversation with my midwife earlier this week, giving me much more information, and clearing up some questions we had about the seriousness of my condition. For one, she is 99% sure I don’t have a placental abruption! Thanks to some other things being clarified, both Brandon and I are fairly confident that this baby is going to hang on at least until 37 weeks and we can also deliver at home. The risks are fewer every day for premature labor and we are encouraged that we can perhaps go back to our original plan, which for our family is much more sensible for a number of reasons.
All in all, I see God’s hand in it- thoroughly. He’s kept me upbeat for most of the time, he’s answer prayer for my physical needs to be met, He’s sent people and the perfect time and met practical needs in perfect ways. We’ve been blessed so much by the generosity of others! He has proved himself faithful. I am encouraged that He is on the job in our home and with our family.

In a less spiritual, more everyday amusement sort of way, here are some things going on:
- Jonathon and Jeff are learning to style their hair- with actual hair products. Jeff has been in the bathroom to fix his hair at least 6 times today. They are perfecting the looks of “messy” and “spike” respectively. I never thought I would have a seven year old that WANTED to style his hair! Look out teenage years!

- Jeff came in with an amusing comment today. He declared that his thumb wasn’t working because every time he pushed it down on the table it went like this:

A very terrible problem, as you can see.

-The popular tune heard around our house lately, thanks to our decision to name the baby, “Justin Alexander” is “Just-in Obey. For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to Just-in obey.” I’m sure he’s going to hate that song his whole life at this rate! Joseph is the one that sings the tune most faithfully.

- I finally finished a project I began last April. I made Rachel some coat hangers for her doll clothes. A certain expensive company sells doll clothes hangers for a whopping 3 for $10. Since I can’t choke up enough nerve to even think about spending $50 for hangers, I had Brandon pick up some heavy duty wire at the hardware store last year and with a good set of needle nose pliers, I’ve just bent some into shape. They are nearly as cute or uniform, but they do the trick and Rachel was quick to put them to good use!

All this brings me to today- Tuesday. I’m officially 36 weeks along today and I can begin getting up. It will have to be gradual as the earliest the baby can come here at home is Sunday. So, we don’t want to get things going too quickly. Today’s extra event will be sitting on the couch this afternoon to supervise the children while Jeff goes to the orthodontist. That will be enough activity I think- mostly due to the fact that I have to go up and down the stairs to get there.

Jeff’s appointment at the orthodontist is to discuss widening his upper jaw to eliminate his massive cross bite problem. This is a symptom that comes with the ear problem he’s had since birth, but we are hoping to correct the mouth issue while we can- which is apparently sometime between now and the time he turns 10-12. We took him in last year, but he didn’t have his six-year molars, which are apparently necessary anchor points for the contraptions he will have to wear in his mouth. I’m pretty sure they are present now, so we’ll see.

Ok…I suppose I have to stop talking here or this will never get published to my blog. And the longer I type the less likely people are to sit down and read it… Happy Tuesday.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

The Nitty Gritty

Ok, so after attempting several posts, writing, adding to, undoing, writing again, I’m finally committed to putting an update together. Here’s what’s going on- for all of you who are interested.
Ever since the 20th of January I have been on bed rest. Or couch rest to be more precise. In the morning I get up, get dressed (sort of) and meander down to the couch where I spend the majority of my day sitting or lying on my side and telling other people what to do.
I have a plethora of entertainment possibilities while I sit. I have a Bible Study I’m leading each Wednesday for the Bible School Women. So I get plenty of time to prepare. I have my daily Bible reading, some videos to watch, and some craft things I’m working on to keep my fingers busy.

There’s always the laptop to keep me distracted with things like blog posts or Facebook and most of my time is taken up with telling the children what to do. We have done some school almost every day and I am grateful for the forced focus that required down time lends to school.
Thanks to a special someone, I have money with which to bribe pay my kids and others to do extra chores. I’m not paying them to get dressed and clean their room. Nor am I paying for the regular work they are supposed to help with- cleaning up toys, emptying the dishwasher, and wiping the bathroom. But I have been paying for the times when I need one child to do an extra job or something. Jonathon has been taking advantage of this new business opportunity and has earned several dollars making dinner, cleaning up from meals, and doing the younger kids jobs when they are outside playing. James has gotten in on the action as well and Rachel just a tiny bit. It’s been nice to be able to give them some reward for the extra effort they are putting out. They really have been cheerful workers overall and I have been blessed by their diligence and initiative numerous times. One thing we have going is a deal to pay half of what they earn to them to spend and the other half to put into a jar we keep on top of the fridge for some family fun. Right now we are saving up to build some sort of tree house in the spring or summer and hope to have a little left over for something else fun like a day trip to the ocean or out for ice cream. Since it’s such a family effort to keep things going around here, I thought that everyone should benefit in some way of the team work they are exhibiting. Overall they seem to like this arrangement, especially since I have been fairly generous in the payment for certain jobs. This plan is working and I’m thrilled. So, a big thank you to my “fairy godmother” for meeting a need in a creative way!

Now for what’s actually going on. (PHYSICAL DETAILS- BEWARE) For the last four weeks I’ve been spotting- just barely bleeding. Some days it’s so barely there that I have to be in good light to see it. Other days it’s been obvious, but never bright red- just a little pink. There are a lot of things that can cause this to happen in later pregnancy, but unfortunately we’ve managed to rule out all the normal excuses. I have no detectable infections, no sores or abrasions, no kidney problems or other problems relating to elimination. Through a number of observations and testing we’ve managed to rule out all the easy answers that would make it possible to just ignore it and move on. This leaves me with the risk of placental abruption. For those of you not up on your pregnancy risk vocabulary, this is when there is a slight to large detachment of the placenta from the uterine wall, causing bleeding between the placenta and the uterine lining. With a small abruption a woman can easily go through pregnancy and labor and everything be fine, however if the abruption increases and the placenta decides it’s time to separate completely or becomes more fully separated then the baby looses oxygen and it can mean a premature delivery. We don’t know for sure if this is the problem or not, but it’s the next thing to suspect and with the minimal bleeding it seems that it is probably on the minimal side of abruption. If I make it to 37 weeks, the delivery would not be premature at that point but the risk will still exist for the baby’s stability during labor to be compromised. Bed rest helps keep things from moving around and becoming dislodged further- if that is in fact the problem. So, here I am- at least until Feb 21st, when I’m close enough to my due date that I can safely go into labor. I might end up on bed rest until March 10th however, just because that’s when our help (Jane the Wonderful) arrives. If at all possible we want to avoid having the baby and trying to supervise all the kids at the same time. So, we’ll do what we can to help things out that way and be trusting God to meet our needs both the practical ones and the timing of things.
We are also considering having this child at the hospital. It sounds crazy to most of you probably, but I’m a little nervous. I know the risk factors would be greatly reduced if we had this baby at the hospital, but I haven’t had a child outside of my own bedroom for 10 years! Jonathon has been the only hospital birth and since then we’ve been blessed to be able to have all the others naturally and at home with the help of a wonderful midwife. I’ve come to love the peacefulness of being at home, the comfort of laboring in my own house around my family, with all my own comforts. And when the baby is here, I lay down in my own bed and there are no monitors to be hooked to, no noises from a nurse’s station, no two hour checks for 24 hours after the baby is born. No one tells me I can’t let the baby sleep on my chest, no one takes him out for tests and such without my consent, noone gets paranoid and feeds him formula without asking me first. It’s just me and him and my wonderful family all around. AND I can have all the company I want as soon as I want it- which is one of the biggest things I’ll miss about a hospital delivery. After the baby is born and things are cleaned up, I’m usually ready to have everyone in the nearby vicinity come and ogle over the baby. Don’t believe me? Some of you know. Some of you have been here an hour after the birth. I eat it up- it’s one of the best things about the whole process! How many people can I get to come and see me and the baby as soon as possible? Hold him! Rejoice with me! It’s a new life! Let’s celebrate! And I don’t want to do it alone. The hospital is almost two hours away- the good one, that is. And regardless of efforts made, it just won’t be the same. I’ll miss having the entire Bible School in my room two hours after the delivery.
The safety and help from the doctors and being in a place where we will have help is worth it. I know that. I’ll trade all of the people time for the knowledge that if something goes wrong I’m in the best place I could be.
So, that’s where I am, what I’m doing and why. I’ve been tremendously blessed by supportive family and friends. I’ve got wonderful people helping keep up with laundry and child care and have loads of freezer meals- some people have brought and some I made with a friend just before I went on bed rest. Others have brought over hot meals- which are a welcome change up. I have gotten cards, videos, a Netflix subscription, money to pay the kids and others, and visitors (one of my favorites!) have come to chat and let me know they care. While, I’m still occasionally an emotional wreck, all the support has left me confident that others love me and my family and are there for us. When both my parents and Brandon’s parents live so far away, that is a treasure I don’t take for granted.
If you find yourself praying for our family, I’d appreciate all the help I can get for emotional stability and clear communication with Brandon. You can pray for the physical needs too, but also for my self control to stay put and eat correctly. I have to be even more cautious about my diet while I’m sitting around doing nothing.
God is good- all the time. He is meeting our needs and leading us each and every day. I find myself asking him for help sometimes in the silliest ways it seems, and yet I continue to find him faithful in answering my childish cries for attention and help. He hears my, “Daddy, I can’t do this” and seems to smile and say, “Yes, you can but I will help you anyway.” I’m so thankful for his mercy.