Friday, November 21, 2014

Book update

I haven't talked about my books lately, because I am usually too busy to write my books or my blog. (winks) But, I am feeling confident that I need to move forward with my Christian non-fiction book. I gave it to my dad to edit for me. And, my mother will pre-read it too. Then, I will pray about what step to take next. Paul and I think we have a clear understanding of what to do with the book next, but we want to be completely at peace about this decision.

My fiction novel/series has been untouched for quite some time. I love the deep truths that I slid into the pages. But, sometimes I think the plot is just too cheesy. I need someone else to read it... but I don't want to be laughed at, so I keep sitting on it. It is hard to balance a book that will be enjoyable and get your mind off your own problems (that's what entertainment is, right?) yet it seems realistic. Add to that my boatloads of doctrine tied into the dialogue and you have a rather peculiar book. I think I will keep praying about where to go with this series. My kids love it (it is written for young adult-adult), maybe when I get bored I can write it just for them. They listen to my books a heap better than my lectures! 

I would appreciate your prayers as I try to figure out what steps to take next.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Recent thyroid scores and health update

I received great news today about my thyroid health! My test scores were all the best they have been in a long long time! We may need to increase my current dosage just a tiny bit, but everything looks great. The blood test scores revealed that I am utilizing my medicine well. Perhaps that is why I feel so good!

It is mid-late November now and I can still function! Compared to past years (and especially last year) I am doing very well! I can walk. I can dress myself and bathe myself. I can cook sometimes. I can wash dishes. I can do laundry. I get up at a decent time every morning. And, best of all, my joints don't hurt!

This is a miracle! Thank you, Lord!

My current daily regimen is:

Levothyroxine 112mcg
Moringa (Zija brand still works the best for me... I am not trying to make money with it. I use it because I can't function without it.)
5,000 IU vitamin D
Selenium 200 mcg
Zinc (Chelate) 30 mg
GarliX, by Xymogen (4- 6/day - because I am still fighting the candida in my body from years of living in moldy houses!)
Iron (as needed during the month)
Women's Phase 1, by Vitanica (2/day)
Magnesium Citrate 200mg
Probiotic 50 Billion (or more if needed)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stuck on the hamster wheel - Part three in a series from my journal

Slaaende Lighed -Public Domain-wikicommons
Read Part One and Part Two first to get the whole story.


We left off with a second pregnancy, just after life with my first was calming down a bit. How will I react? (The birth of my second child was in 2003. But, I recorded these thoughts much more recently than that.)




We moved to North Carolina for seminary [when my first child \was 16 months old and I was pregnant with Baby #2]. Nelson was born. My expectations for Baby Two's pregnancy and birth were far more reasonable. But, I still required a perfectly well-ordered, clean house. So, I continued to push my body beyond healthy bounds. This tale of misery (that is, unrealistic expectations) and downward spiral continues through six babies. Many moves. Many churches. I tried to retain control. I kept cooking and cleaning to please me... because it seemed to be the only thing that I could control. 
Wrong. Enter food sensitivities, I can't even feed my own kids. I don't even know how to feed my family any more. I have known for years that grains were our enemy. (They produce such bad behavior, tummy issues, etc). But, now I am having to choose to feed my kids food that makes them sick - OR - kill myself learning a new food regimen. I hate food now. There is no pleasure in food anymore. I generally choose the easy meal that I can prepare without murdering a child during preparation... Once again, I am a failure. 
OK, so I know that GOD doesn't hate me. Just like with the breast-feeding, He knows all that I don't know. So, why do I feel like God sees me as a failure? The Enemy whispers - God wants women to be home-makers... and I am a failure. I can't keep my house clean enough. I can't cook special foods. I hate my failures. (Yes, of course I can see the truth twisting in those sentences. I know that God does not require a clean house.) 
[My husband] is always saying that it is my own self that I want to please. I see his point. Yet, I can't let go. If it is for me, then apparently my opinion matters more than God's. Kingdom of Self must be the Ruler. I don't know. I hate this unrest in my soul. I hate the misery and unhappiness. I have little joy. I have few pleasures... only the foods that I am not supposed to eat. (Note added for blog readers: This is a bit overstated. I was having an especially dreary day when I wrote that. I have joy... and I have struggles!) 
I have no control. Yet... I keep aiming for control. Constant misery. I can never clean well enough. I can never cook well enough. But, I don't know how to stop trying! Constant misery! Sheer torture. Where is the off switch? Where is the "I give up" button? Please, God, show me how to end this kingdom of self and take me off this treadmill of misery and failure. 

(In the following poem/song I actually see myself as a hamster in a wheel, but treadmill fits a little better.)

The Treadmill
By Bethany Woods


Every morning I step on
Each day starts the very same way
Look around, take note, make a plan

Then I try to have my way
I try to make some sense of it all
I need order, I need rhythm, I need sense

But, I'm caught on treadmill 
of my own design
I'm caught on a treadmill
I'm standing here, marking time
Never moving forward
Never in advance
I'm always here, always stuck, there's no sense
On the treadmill

Got my plans, Got my way
I need to keep control of this
But my mind is surging, boiling, miserable

Every plan is thwarted
Every road is blocked
The road map in my mind is undone

And I'm caught on a treadmill
of my own design
I'm caught on a treadmill
Just standing here marking time
Never moving forward
Never in advance
Always here, always stuck, there's no sense
on the treadmill.

I need to relinquish
all my plans my own way
There must be a plan that makes sense

I will try to watch for His way
Do His will, Do His way
Trusting that this will all work for my good.

Just get me off this treadmill
of my own design
I hate just standing here
I'm finished just marking time
Goind forward, need to advance
Praying Your Kingdom will be done
in my life.

Keep me off the treadmill.

I am going to end this series here. You can see that my mind can still be conflicted at times. But, at least now I see that I am subject to my own need to meet what I acknowledge to be my own expectations. This is a step. I have a long way to go. I have shared my struggles so that, if you can relate, maybe you will be catapulted along in your own advancement towards getting off the hamster wheel! I think a lot of mamas feel this way... especially homeschool mamas. Few open up about it publicly, but it is spoken of between true friends.
Comments are off again, because these thoughts are from my tender, private journal. I let you all read it, but I do not seek responses right now. I am not looking for answers. I usually know the right answers in my head. I just need to learn how to live the Truth in my heart!
I am making it my point every day to try to see myself through God's eyes. His love changes everything! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

PostPartum Depression - Part two in a series from my journal

Find Part One here.
Wikicommons - public domain;
Charles W. Bartlett

We left of with my firstborn, Rebecca, overthrowing my plans.Will things improve? Let's read on. I add a bit more commentary to this one. Where there are parentheses and the word "Note," that is additional commentary.

From day one with Rebecca I tried to be in control of my dreams, hopes, plans, and expectations. I kept the house as clean as I could. I kept myself showered. I finished college. But, I lost sleep to do it. I hurt my body to be and do all that I expected of myself. With Rebecca, I was totally unprepared for real life with a baby. And where my expectations collided with reality there was terrible repercussions... in the form of postpartum depression. 
My body was beyond weary. My body could not heal after birth, because I pushed myself far beyond the limits of my postpartum ability. I bled heavily for months. At least three, probably more. Again... I didn't know at that time that bleeding is the body's way of saying "STOP!" I just didn't put it all together, until a doctor told me with Baby #2 that such bleeding is abnormal and unhealthy. (Note: I had anemia before birth! Afterwards my iron positively plummeted. If only I could go back in time armed with what I know now! But, it is what it is, and I cannot change it.) 
My SuperMom complex started before Becca was born. Because I thought I could finish my degree and give birth. In the end, I didn't do school or motherhood very well.
On the day before graduation, they announced the honor students, I cried when my name was not called out with any form of cum laude. I felt like a failure again. Oh - the pain of working for years towards a goal and then one pregnancy... one baby... ruined it all. And, my body was ruined. Walking to get my diploma in May, still bleeding from the Baby born in March. Company came. All had to be perfect. I pushed too hard. More misery. To this day, I still struggle with the feeling that I have failed at everything from the fall of 1999 onward. (Note: I began Bible college in fall 1999. It is quite likely that my unrealistic expectations were raised while I was at this institution. Either that, or getting married began the cycle of not getting my own way - which was heretofore not threatened. Probably both. Also, it might sound like I regret having Rebecca or that I resent her. That is not at all true. I was begging God for a baby! I cried because I wanted a baby so badly!  I just did not know what real life with children looked like! I love my children. God means these experiences and these children to grow me and shape me!)
How did I deal with this stress? (That is, the stress of being a failure.) I cleaned and tried to stay in control. Only, now there was a baby! Babies make messes! Babies have their own time-table. I controlled as well as I could... but my body suffered tremendously. And, I was way too tired to enjoy being a mother. Finally, our precious child began to learn my systems. All was improving... Then, God sent another baby my way. Another pukey pregnancy. Another mess maker. Another person to destroy my plans. 
But... it's God's plan.
Yes, it's all God's plan. So, why was I perpetually miserable? 
I have turned off comments because this subject is so tender to me. (If you have a question or thought you want to share through email, contact me at flutefelicity@aol.com) This post was harder to write/publish than I expected. I am really struggling with letting all this garbage in my past (nearly 13 years ago) be known. BUT, I am doing it because I really think that God wants women to share some of the real hardships. Perhaps, if someone had been real with me, my expectations would not have been so skewed! I do not think I am the only mom who has struggled with selfishness and upset in kingdom of self...maybe just one of the few determined to share my struggles to help others.

Will I ever put aside these unrealistic expectations? Tune in soon for part three! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Expectations VS. Reality - Part One of a series from my journal

Public Domain - wikicommons



These are some snippets from my private journal, I will post a new section each day until I share as mush as I think I should. I think some of my observations about myself may enlighten someone other mama (or papa) out there. My desire with this series is to help families (especially mamas) grow in wisdom and strength. So, I share my private thoughts. This is very candid. Very honest. If you have not yet had children, and you are in that place of begging and pleading for a spouse or children - please do not judge me. I love my husband and my children. I am just exploring the roots of unhappiness that turn up in every marriage - unrealistic expectations.

I have always wanted to be in control. I think, deep down, we all want to be in control. We are - after all - made in God's image. BUT, we are sinful creatures who have distorted His design. So, my chief end in wanting to be in control is probably trying to be God. No... I would never say it like that out loud, but when you peel back all the layers that appears to be the root.
There are two things I have long sought to control as my own "coping" mechanism for stress. I first started seeing this pattern in high school, but especially in early college. 1 - My dietary intake. 2 - order and cleanliness."
(Here I skip some personal info that I do not think would be profitable to this blog.)
"[In high school] I chose to eat at Hardees' most every night. I liked it. I liked my co-workers. I liked the food. I liked our conversation. I chose my diet.
As a young single woman it was very easy to control both my diet and the order and cleanliness of my surroundings. My parents were clean people. There were no children.  There was no threat to my order."
(Now I will skip to when I get married.)
"My expectation was that (as a woman) I would cook. Oops. I never learned how to cook. Major trauma to my immature heart as I watched Paul cook. Words still cannot express this first bursting of my idyllic bubble of expectation. From there on, it would be one crushed expectation after another. BUT, in marriage, an adult may be pliable enough to change. Paul did. I never let go of my plans. Paul began laying down his life daily about fifteen years ago. 
So, for the first two years of marriage life was still somewhat controllable. But, those things beyond my control would make me unhappy. I was very much living for myself, with very little threat to that. Yes, I chose to go to a Christian school. Yes, I chose to marry a preacher. In a way... that made me happy. I had no idea how little personal pleasure and gain there was in being a preacher's wife (or I never would have done it). God allowed me to be blinded. I deceived myself with massive unrealistic expectations for our future ministry together. 
We did enjoy a couple of years of serving side by side before the event which most over-turned my well-laid plans. A baby was born. My first. It is my belief that marriage and child-rearing are the two areas where we have more unrealistic expectations than anywhere else. (Occupation/employment may be a far third.) 
From the first, this new creature, which was meant by God to be a blessing, tortured me in every way. She upset my kingdom of self! First, I was sick. Pregnancy was "supposed" to be nice. Nope. I was sick. Very sick. Then, when she was born.... wow, I was totally unprepared for REAL life as a mom. She cried. Constantly. She didn't nurse well... and putting her on formula was my first-ever "failure" as a mom. I am far enough removed (now) to see that nursing was my expectation, society's expectation, and my friends' and family's expectations; but, though God designed me to breast feed my baby, HE was not calling me a failure. He knew that unbearable, excruciating pain was a yeast infection. I didn't know that. God was not mad at me. I know that now. But, at the time, I believed that I failed God, myself, society, all my friends, and family. Lovely. The misery began compounding from that day forth. Never had I felt such misery. Never before had I been this much of a failure. 
I have turned off comments, because this subject is too tender to me. But, if you need to speak to me you can email me at flutefelicity@aol.com Sharing these thoughts and publishing them was harder than I thought it would be!  Will I conquer my expectations and find peace? Tune in soon for part two! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Summer Wrap-Up

I didn't make much time to write this past summer, because I was too busy living. Rather, I was just busy enjoying being able to use my body to run, play, and even sleep!

I will try to get back on track with my blogging projects... because Autumn and Winter is a good time for that. 

I have not sent either of my completed books to a publisher or an editor. The truth is, I love my books! But, I know that not everyone else will... and I am a chicken. I don't handle criticism well. It is a big hurdle that I need to get over.

School is in full swing. And, that seems to be going well. I want to do better, but what homeschool mom doesn't?

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that we are still alive and in mid-MO. We are just busy. Always busy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chronically Sick Homeschool Mama: Makes Breakfast

source - wikicommons; Public Domain

I want to write useful information on this blog… both spiritually and practically useful. So, I am going to write some specific posts about what it looks like to be a homeschool mama when you are sick… and I mean really sick. (Though, these lessons could be applied to times of morning sickness as well as the chronic illness that I have suffered from.) Beginning with - HOW to make/manage breakfast when you are a sick homeschool mama.

(The following post was originally written in November 2013. I was sick then, but I became far more disabled before my remission in Spring 2014).

Right now, I am in a season of watching my big girl (age 11) make breakfast for our tribe. But, for years I suffered the horrible daily task of facing a hungry mob of kids age 4 and under who really could not do much for themselves. And, my list excludes store bought cereal because my kids respond so violently to refined sugar and grains. But, if cereal works for your family – by all means, utilize every short cut you can!

(Regarding food sensitivities and childrens’ behavior. It certainly appears, from scholarly research and my own life experience, that some food sensitivities cause behavioral issues with some children. I encourage you to keep a food journal and write down the food you and the kiddoes eat and your reactions to them. In my home, we found that certain grains make one of my boys present with all the appearances of ADHD. Being a sick mama with sick kiddoes is a whole ‘nother blog post… But, suffice it to say, do what you can within reason to keep your kiddoes well as much as is in your power.)

-         Pray and ask the Lord to show you what to make your kids for breakfast. Seriously. God wants you to involve Him in your life. He will answer you if you take time to ask and listen.
-         Plain yogurt with drizzle of honey or healthy jelly. Add fresh fruit on the side.
-         Oatmeal is your best friend. You (or your husband) can pre-make it the night before in a baked oatmeal recipe. You can throw together oatmeal “slop” even on your worst morning. (By slop, I mean plain old boring oatmeal. Use two cups of water to every one cup of rolled oats. Add a pinch of salt to the mix and cook on low.) For mama and six kids I make 4 cups of oatmeal with 8 cups water. When there were only a few kiddoes and they were smaller, I got by with two cups of oats. Add raisins, nuts, seeds, real maple syrup, or all kinds of goodies to spruce it up.
-         Eggs are a good go-to breakfast as well. You can scramble them fairly easily. And, really, cooking up a quiche is not all that more intensive than scrambling eggs. In fact, I think I prefer the quiche. Whisk the eggs, dump ‘em in the pie plate and cook ‘em. I cannot always add veggies, because most days these past few years I cannot cut vegetables, because my hand/forearm muscles do not function well. Buy pre-shredded cheese and add 1-2 cups in with the eggs. Or, if you feel like you have the strength to clean up the mess, have your kids shred the cheese… but I do not exactly “recommend” this.
-         Smoothies. Buy bananas on sale and freeze them with the peels off in a freezer bag. Buy frozen fruit. You can use store bought yogurt, store bought kefir, or pure fruit juices to mix in with the frozen fruit to make a smoothie. (If you are a truly sick mama, this is not the season of your life to try to make your own yogurt or kefir. Sure it might be “easy.” But, do you really need one more iron in the fire right now? Will the benefits or making your own truly outweigh the cost to your body and mind to make yourself feel like you need to make your own?)
-         If you have a condition that goes into “remission,” or you have some good months, consider freezer cooking during your good months. Just don’t overdo it, Mama! I know the temptation… you have one good day and you overdo it so much that you are laid up for the next three days… don’t do it, Friend, unless you have several consecutive MONTHS of health and wellness. Muffins, breads, and waffles have been a great freezer breakfast for my family.
-         During times when I felt less sick, I would make “hash” with sausage, store bought “southern style” potatoes, and scrambled eggs. 
-     Take a walk through the freezer section at your local grocery store. Those pre-made sandwiches look scrumptious! I never bought any, because it was cost prohibitive. But, it might work for some incomes.
-         Who says breakfast has to be “breakfast” foods?! Give the kids (preservative free) lunch meat and cheese roll-ups with a can of fruit. Heat up rice and beans (or any leftovers!) from last night’s dinner.
-         Jesus ate fish for breakfast (at least on one occasion). Cook up some salmon in the skillet. (This is one of our regular breakfasts nowadays).
-         If you have the money, consider buying healthy granola bars. Or, if you know you feel better in the afternoon than in the morning, make your own bars to eat tomorrow morning.
-         Natural peanut butter or almond butter and healthy jelly on healthy bread/toast. There were months on end that I can remember giving the kids peanut butter on Nature’s Own whole wheat bagels. The children started making this for themselves as early as age 4. Add a banana or an apple and it seems like a well-balanced meal to me! There were a few years the children and I nearly lived on frozen waffles and peanut butter for breakfast. It wasn’t ideal… but I had to do what I had to do.

I think one of the most important starting points is get the preconceived notions about “what a good mom gives her kids for breakfast” out of your head! You know your limits. No one else knows how you feel. You need to feed your children as well as you can with the resources you have (both financial and physical!). Ask the Lord to show you what you can and cannot do in terms of physical strength. Trust me, I speak from experience, the Lord would rather you feed the kids store bought cereal every day than wear yourself out by making an elaborate feast that will leave you depleted and open to the temptation to yell, curse, criticize, make mountains out of molehills, or whatever your vice is.

Don’t let yourself be bullied into making meals beyond your ability because you feel like it is what you are “supposed to” do! Too many moms are trying to live up to these expectations – most of which are unrealistic lies from the Enemy sent to destroy us.

What does the Lord say?


Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it
Than a house full of feasting with strife. Prov 17:1 (NASB77)


If you are hearing thoughts of condemnation because you did not make a “complete, balanced” breakfast that compares to a magazine cover, that is NOT the voice/thoughts of God!


There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (NASB77)


God’s primary concern is not what specific foods you give your children for breakfast, but rather your attitude while you serve them. Do you love your children? There are some mamas who put themselves under great strain trying to create the perfect diet for their kids, but in reality, doughnuts served with love and a smile would be healthier for your kids than eggs and turkey sausage served with a grimace and a side of discontentment and grumbling.

I hope you hear my heart on this. I can see times in the last ten years where I did very well. And, I see times where I was feasting with strife. I just want to caution and encourage other sick mamas from the trenches. I’ve been there. I am there now. But, fortunately, we made it through the days of having 4 kids age 5 and under. And, they all lived to tell about it. None of my kids lose sleep at night having nightmares about the days they used to eat frozen store bought waffles every morning for breakfast. Seriously. BUT, there have been seasons where my SuperMom gene was going strong and I tried to make elaborate whole food feasts that ended with kids and mama all screaming and/or crying. We do remember those days. Thank God that even those memories, when viewed through the proper lenses, do not bring condemnation. (Or, if they do, it is not from the Lord, and we can tell Condemnation to “take a hike.”) Your kids will remember that you served them as well as you can in your sickness. That is enough.

One last thought – your children are following your example, whether you want them to or not. Do you want your children to serve breakfast to their future families in the same manner that you do? There is time to change. Start today. Ask the Lord for wisdom and knowledge. He will hear you. He will answer you.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:2-5 (NASB77)



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Nelson's Photos - This time it's BIRDS

More photos by ten year old Nelson.
Click any photo to enlarge it.
First four photos are Robins.



Below - Blue Jay
Below - Brown Thrasher

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Nelson's Photos - Featuring People

 Below - His first picture (with his new camera) using a tripod and timer... and another one.
 And, lastly, a shot with all the kiddoes.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Nelson's Photos -- Nature Edition

Here are Nelson's favorite nature photos. 

Below - Pelicans at a conservation area



Below - Blood Moon



Below- Gasconade County, US 63, southeast of Jefferson City

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Photos by Nelson - History and such

Ten year old Nelson has asked me to share some of his best photos. I hope you enjoy them (and encourage him!). Nelson loved the Civil War Exhibit we visited in March at our local library. Most of the participants were Confederate, but some representatives were Union (After all, Callaway County, MO is called "Little Dixie"). And, there were even a few vivandieres. In these photos today, and in ALL of the ones he has chosen to share, you will see what makes Nelson "tick." He loves history, geography, nature, and his family better than anything else in the world. Click any photo to enlarge it.
 
(Becca took this one)


 Below is one picture from our local county historical society.

 These last two photos are his favorites that he took the last time we drove past the capital at Jefferson City. Top - Capital rotunda. Below - Waterfall landscaping across the street from the capital. Nelson asked me to tell you that the waterfall sounded much better than it looks in the photo.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New Doors of Opportunity

Paul has encouraged me to begin a new project. I started a new blog... one with a very specific purpose.

First, let me explain, a lot has happened in the past two months six months, and I do not feel adequate for explaining all the changes in this post. (But, if you peek around on the other blog you will find some information over there.)

Anyway, Paul wants me to work towards launching my professional writing career. He has laid out a plan for how to make that happen -- I guess that makes him my manager! (winks) Paul wants me to start a new blog exclusively of my analogies, short stories, and devotions to generate interest in my writing and to familiarize people with my name. In time, I will use that site (and this one) to launch my first fiction novel, which will most likely be an e-book. You all know me, so I am hoping that after I write a few more posts on the new blog you can give a shout out to your friends or link something onto Facebook. You know, give me some publicity. (smiles)

It has been a hard, hard winter. There were days I could not hardly get off of my bed. Unless you have been disabled (or married to a person who is) you probably cannot really imagine how horrible that can be. Yet, even on the worst of days I could read, pray, study, and type. I cannot often hand-write anything anymore. Half of the year my hands hurt too bad for that. The other half the year my writing is sloppy from being out of practice! But, thank God, I can type!

We are hoping that not only will God use this new blog to launch my career as a writer, but I will be able to teach people (in a subtle way) how to hang on to hope during the hard times of life.

So, without further ado, I invite you to visit my new blog (drum roll, please)...



 

Friday, February 28, 2014

By Paul - a big change

NOTE: We did not published this previously. Paul was between a rock and a hard place when he left UPS. I was very sick with my hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia. Paul might not like his current job as much as he enjoyed UPS, but he usually only works 8 hours a day! We never saw him this much when he delivered packages!

Written by Paul (February 2014)-

This week I had to make a major life changing decision. I resigned my position at UPS. Many will think we have lost our minds and all common sense. After all, I invested nearly five years into this career, and UPS drivers make such good money and have excellent benefits. Honestly, I really had no intention of leaving this career for some time, though I was becoming more disenfranchised with the career. Yet, I had no other option, the Lord spoke clearly and abruptly through the circumstances our family is facing. While it may seem that facing a future without a job right now is scary, and it is, the other option of continuing with UPS is far worse. As scary as it may seem to be unemployed at this time, I have great peace about the decision and know that this is God's doing. We are trusting the Lord to direct our next step.  Providentially, we just happen to have all our bills paid in full through the end of March. We also have some other resources that will be available by April to cover most of that month's expenses. We did not plan it this way, it just worked this way. Please pray for the Woods family.

Sincerely, Paul

Monday, February 3, 2014

Health Update - Good news!

I went back to the doctor last Friday to recheck all of the health issues that I was dealing with in the past 4-6 months. To summarize - at that time I was off-the-charts hypothyroid and there appeared to be something wrong with my brain's pituitary gland. We ruled out a tumor, but could not find the cause.

Back in November, I restarted taking Synthroid for my thyroid and my doctors advised a complete gluten elimination to help my brain. (I was not being very disciplined about gluten free diet until this past month.)

Well - I just got the results from Friday's blood work...
My thyroid is at the low end of NORMAL! 
And, my prolactin score is NORMAL! 

I am still very tired. I know I have issues to be worked through, and I am slugging away one day at a time. BUT, I see huge improvements!

- I felt good enough to be creative and finish my book (and start another book project) this past month
- My body temperature is up ONE WHOLE DEGREE!



Let's thank God for this progress and ask His mercy to continue to rain restoration and healing upon my body.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

God in the Dessert - A look back at 2013



We all daydream of mountain top experiences in our lives. Few of us like the moments in the valley or the dessert. But, I have been meditating on life in the wilderness for quite a while now.

For our family, 2013 was a year spent wandering in the wilderness. God ALWAYS provided for the things that we truly needed. Sometimes we had to wait until the eleventh hour. Sometimes God would not give us what we wanted, because He knew that we did not NEED it. But, God never left us.

When the Israelites were wandering in the dessert God provided their daily bread one day at a time. I have come to believe that this may be the single greatest sign that a person is truly in a spiritual dessert… because they literally have to pray “give us this day our daily bread.” (Daily bread could be literal food, physical strength, emotional stability, etc.) We humans don’t do well with one-day-at-a-time philosophies. I want to know that my financial future is secure. We want retirement plans, life insurance, secure jobs, etc. And, there is nothing wrong with good planning! God gave us our brains to plan for our future.

But, some times we experience situations completely outside of our control. In our case it was Paul’s herniated discs from January to March. Then, a few months of work. Then, another type of hernia from May to July. Back to work for a few weeks in August. Then, WHAM!, someone ran into Paul’s UPS truck and Paul was fired for being in a wreck that wasn’t his fault. Back to work in October and running strong till the end of the year resulted in a total of 32 weeks working and 20 weeks without work and without pay.

Talk about a dessert.

I hated it. I kicked against it. I refused to learn from it. I continually prayed against it. I wanted it over. I don’t ever want to go back.

But, yet…

In the dessert is where our faith is truly tested and refined. God loves our family so much that He wants us to be closer to Him. And, as I read the Old Testament (in particular) I see God saying to the Israelites that they will draw near to Him in the wilderness. They will cling to Him in the dessert. They will run to Him when under attack from the enemy. But, when they have plenty of food and money… then, they seem to allow distance to come between them and their Creator. (See Deut. 6)

We all do it.

I was crying the other day. Paul was with me while I was emoting… and he had some wise responses. He said, “What’s so great about the mountain? We learn in the dessert. We don’t learn on the mountain. On the mountain we say ‘Lord, should I build you three tents?’” (See Luke 9, especially verse 33) I see his point. Paul is right.

God loves to give us blessings. But, His blessings are not always in the form of more money and better health. There are times that He sees that we will grow from a period of sifting. Satan asks the Lord for permission to sift His people. He asked for permission to bring trouble to Job. These troubles are allowed by the Lord because blessings come in many forms.

Our family prays nightly that we will be the family God has meant us to be. It is quite possible that we need to go through some rough times to refine us and purify us. I cry out daily, “I want what You want for me life.” If you are going to pray that prayer…well, you need to be prepared for God to answer. And, it may not look like what you expect. Maybe God does want to give you riches and health. But, maybe He wants you to taste a bit of pain to be better acquainted with the sufferings of Jesus Christ. (see Phil 3:7-10)

Some of my dearest friends would view this line of thinking as heresy. But, Jesus tells us that in this world we will have troubles. He does not promise that we will be free from trouble! (see John 16:25-33) He promises that He will be with us when the trouble comes.

So, I write this on the edge of the dessert gazing towards the fertile crescent. It’s so close that I can smell the water and green grass. I acknowledge that I would rather be in the refreshing green pastures than in this arid climate, but I want to recollect (in case I lose sight of the Lord when we enter a time of abundance and plenty) that the time in the dessert was/is well-spent.

I don’t ask the Lord to take me back to the wilderness. But, if He sees that it is necessary for our family to spend more time there – I will try to praise Him in the midst of that situation, because God is still God. He is the One who gives us the daily manna in the dessert. He will never leave us or forsake us. And, I trust that the Lord will do what is necessary to fulfill His purposes for my life. (Psalm 57:2)

NOTE: I wrote this thinking that our time in the dessert was nearing an end. Paul was working full time at UPS (finally) and all would be well. So I thought. But, my fibromyalgia reached an all time low. In Feb-April of 2014, I could not take care of my own basic needs. Paul left his job at UPS to care for me and teach the children. At the time, it seemed like the only solution. The months that followed were far worse than the agonies we had experienced in 2013. So, perhaps, we needed more time in the wilderness to draw near to God. By American standards, we have not yet had a time of "abundance and plenty," but our table has food on it and we have vehicles that work. I am grateful!  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

BIG news- Paul's job

Note: Re-published in Sept 2015. I took this post down for a while, because it hurt so much to look at it. But, God's Way is best. Paul has not been at UPS since Feb 2014. 


I have some more BIG news for y'all!
PAUL HAS BEEN HIRED AS A FULL TIME DRIVER AT UPS!!!

After all the waiting... all the years... all the drama...

Paul has been feeling well and we hope that he will be able to continue for a long time. But, if something better were to come up, Paul would happily leave UPS for equal wages and benefits (not likely that any such job will present itself, but you never know.)

I imagine that quite a few small and big life changes will follow this BIG change. Time will tell... but, I will give you a clue, I am pretty certain our housing situation will change first. More on that another day.

As for my book - I am editing it again, because it seems that every third sentence (at least) ends in a preposition. Since the dialogue sounds like real-life talking, I don't think I will change it very much. But, I can surely stretch my brain enough to re-arrange some sentences in the narrative.

I am reading the book to the children - they LOVE it! They laugh at the right places... so, that's a good sign. They are too young to cry at the heart-wrenching stuff, but they look at me (as if on cue) to get a look at my face. And, yes, my own book does make me cry. It gives me goosebumps too. I like to read it... which is good... because every stinkin' time I re-read it I find more grammatical or thematic errors. I am still praying about when/where/how to publish. There are a lot of options, but not much money to work with.

That's all for now. I'll try to update you again soon. I go back to the doctor this Friday. Maybe we will get some more clarity on the ups and downs of my health. Oh - by the way - I am off gluten again. Maybe this time it will stick. Adios!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Long awaited book update

I am so happy that I could burst!

I finished reworking my fiction novel (the first of a series) and I wrote the epilogue tonight! I know this does not mean the book is "done." But, I am certainly going in the right direction!

Please pray that the Lord would lead me in my decisions about an editor and how to publish. There are far more options to consider than you can imagine... and I feel a bit overwhelmed. The book is an easy read, but not as easy as most modern Christian fiction. The book has a mix of humor as well as serious discussions about dealing with tragedy and trauma. I am pleased with how it has turned out and I do not want to cut out the parts of theological discussion that make the book what it is. Nor do I want some inane cover than would completely misrepresent the nature of the work!

Thank you for your prayers on this venture! I had not written anything in the book since the end of May 2013 for one reason or another... time restraints and then health issues. But, yesterday I felt the Lord leading me to start reworking/editing what I had already written. And, to my great surprise it went much quicker than I would have thought. I like the place where I decided to end the book last May, and just needed to add an epilogue to tie up strings and set up for the next book in the series. And, the first part of the next book was written back in May as well... so, I am quite happy!

I will keep you posted as I can about the progress of my book.

To God be the Glory!