21 December 2011

Check-up time

This Christmas season has been very busy. We had a few visitors at the house, church has been very busy, and of course the baby thing has taken quite a bit of our time. I can proudly say that I am done with Christmas shopping, it's all in the house and needs to be wrapped. We have a tree, decorated the house, and even made a ginger bread house (today). We finished school and had our last school day on Thursday. We did alot this December....

But there was one more thing that I needed to do before the new year: have my bi-annual check-up at the oncology. This is not something that I am looking forward to, as necessary as it is, and as peace-giving it is once it's over and the good results are in. But then, the uncertainty of those good results makes me dreading the entire event. I never liked the procedure to begin with.

So this morning, I got up and had to deal with a sick child - thank God, because I had to focus on him and not on my anxiety. When I drove over there, I prayed in the car, thanking God for my healing, of the cancer and the aftermath. I praised Him for who He is. And I prayed for a clean bill of health. It's not that I expect something to show up, but you never know.....

The appointment went really well. I had to wait for quite some time, but that was okay - I had brought a book - something that is only possible because I have the grandparents at home watching the children. Praise to God that I was pretty calm already, but when the doctor walked in, I calmed down even more. This time, I knew due to the good news, we would have lots of things to talk about. (Talking usually settles my distress even more.) She knows the doctor from the fertility center personally, so she asked questions of how things are going, how far along we are, and of course congratulated us. It doesn't happen every day (in her life) that the patient has good news about a pregnancy when you were the doctor making that impossible in cutting out the necessary parts. So she is extra happy for us, as are the nurses - actually thinking about it, they might be even more thrilled. I could show of pictures of my two kids and the baby on the ultrasound. It was so nice to see their happy faces, and the joy it brought. What an awesome testimony to God's miracle.

There are three parts to the appointment - finding out if I have any symptoms, so she asks me a ton of questions, which I negated all - this is a good thing! Part 'deux' is the examination of my insides (and that is all I am saying...). She feels for new tumors or cysts - and the good news is that she didn't feel anything. I seem to be completely healed on the inside (long time after the surgery, she could still feel some hardened tissue that was of some concern to her.) And last but not least, she did the swap for the pap test which is slightly uncomfortable. And I have to wait for the results.... the only bad part.

So I am partly relieved, that things went really well today, but there is some anticipation left until I get that phone call from the nurse telling me that the pap was clear..... that should happen in two days, right for Christmas. After that, I will be able to completely enjoy Christmas and celebrate Jesus' birth.

Thank you to all my friends who prayed for me this morning, on a short notice. It gave me so much peace, and I got some very encouraging words right when I was sitting on the table waiting for the doctor. Thank you for that.

Editor's note: It's Thursday, and I got the call I've been waiting for a little earlier today. The nurse gave me the good news over the phone - I could hear the smile in her voice. And when I said "Merry Christmas to me", she laughed and said, that is a merry Christmas indeed. She mentioned again how happy they are for us and our little blessing. They can't wait for me to bring the baby once it's born.... They are such a blessing over there at the oncology. God is so awesome.
Actually, when I talked to the nurse, she told me that ALL the results from yesterday's tests were negative. Isn't that amazing?

18 December 2011

A Big Milestone

Today is a huge milestone - we are 12 weeks pregnant! 
(Yes, I think that deserves an exclamation mark.)

On one hand, time just flew by and I can not believe that one third of the pregnancy is already over. So that means, I only have six more months to get 'ready'.... as much as one can get ready for Number Three.

On the other hand, within three months, a lot has happened. We started this journey with a bunch of time-consuming preparations - lawyers, psychiatrists, financial advisers, and so on. Followed by the more exciting people at the fertility centers - amazing nurses and doctors that made this a very smooth ride for all involved. Our doctor obviously knew what he was doing and he did it well - and at the end, he was excited for us, and I think a little proud of himself.

Then there were alot of adjustments on a more personal level; hormonal, emotional, and practical. It was a time of change for everyone associated with this awesome journey. Schedules had to be matched up for appointments, childcare arranged for multiple children, and less practical things had to be managed between two families. Beth had to adjust to the hormones and the 'novelty' of being pregnant (again). She had to embrace nausea and queasiness, tiredness and fatigue, and some other discomforts. I had to undergo a period of grieving, and every feeling that comes with such a suffering. I want to point out that this was not anticipated YET it was healthy and necessary to receive the blessings that would follow the mourning. (*smile*)

Now, a new stage has begun. The first trimester symptoms are tapering off. No more fertility hormones have to be taken and Beth's body is doing what it is suppose to do. The grieving on my part is complete. Our friendship is stronger than it was ever before. JOY was embedded in both of us. And the excitement can be felt in the air. Yet we have managed to bring back a little bit of 'normal' life in the lives of both families - as normal as life can be in a "shared pregnancy".

I love that Beth is sharing so much with me, involving me in various situations. I appreciate the sacrifice on her side, just as she sees the sacrifice in my position. And believe me, this entire adventure is a blessing to all of us, and so worth it to experience. It is just so beautiful, and my heart jumps every time I think about the full significance of this endeavor.

In those past 12 weeks, we got to see the Baby four times, from being 5 days old to Friday when it was 11 weeks and 5 days. Every time, we were amazed at how much bigger the baby had grown. This last time happened during our first prenatal visit, and we rejoiced when we saw it leaping inside of Beth's uterus. The appointment went very well, the midwives at the local birthing center were supportive to our special situation, and I believe they will be part of making this a wonderful experience for me, too.

If you want to check out the little bump that keeps growing, here is a link to Beth's post that she wrote yesterday. Thank you, Beth, for being the vessel for my baby, and providing it with a warm place to grow, for loving it and for including me on the good days as well on the not-so-fun days, for acknowledging my place in this situation and for making me feel so special.

12 weeks - and counting down to the arrival of our blessing.
In the meantime, I am enjoying the ride on this wonderful adventure that is a true testimony to God's glory.

16 December 2011

Sharing a post from a friend

I just wanted to share a post written by my friend Bethany about the Duggar family and the loss of their child. Here is the link "Michelle Duggar's Miscarriage".

Bethany knows, just like me, how it feels to lose a child that you had hoped to get to know and see grow up. It is never easy to have to give that child up before even meeting it. I remember how desperate I was when I lost my two children - and that was before I had 'live' kids. It was so hard to be left with 'nothing' after the excitement and anticipation of finally having my own. It was a true loss and I had no idea how to deal with my grief and anger - nobody taught me what to do in such a situation. I was a young Christian, so reaching out to God was not always my first thought, not like it is now. I am so glad that the Duggar family are deep in their faith and have that comfort, it does make things a little easier. Their was a purpose for that little baby - look at what impact it already has made. God is a great comforter - He can heal and He has a plan for all of us. He doesn't want to see us sad, but rejoice with Him, because there might be a greater purpose for that child. It's not easy, but so worth it to follow God's plan as it is written in Jeremiah 29:11 "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." Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you are watching over us.

I love the pictures they took from the baby - in my eyes, it makes saying goodbye so much more manageable than what happen in my case, when 'baby' just got lost somewhere in the toilet. I am sorry that I have to write it out so point-blank, but that is something that I had to find healing for. I wish I even thought of taking pictures. So I am glad that they did and share it with us. Those pictures are so beautiful and they make me smile. It's a reminder how precious they are.

It touches me even more today, because we just came back from our first prenatal appointment and I got to see our baby, once again, 'live' on the ultrasound screen. We saw it move it's hands and legs, it turned a few times, and we saw, and heard, that strong heart beating. It was wonderful. And I can't wait to meet this little baby that is growing inside of my best friend's womb. Thank you, Beth, for following God's calling and be a part of growing this miracle. It's such a precious gift to receive and I am so thankful.

Bethany wrote a book that she published recently, it's called "Answers in a Time of Miscarriage". I won a copy of it and have read it, and it is a wonderful tool for someone that has experienced a miscarriage and needs comfort. I wish I had the book when I faced my two miscarriages. The link for it is here: http://www.preciousinfants.com/miscarriage.htm. 

You don't have to go through this alone. There are people out there to help you!

Devotional: Bring It To Jesus

Moment In The Word


Greetings
TODAY'S VERSE TODAY'S VERSE "So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." Hebrew 4:14-16 (NLT)


TODAY'S THOUGHT Sometimes you need a helping hand. You need someone who understands what you are going through and can help you navigate difficult times. Jesus is that intercessor. He is God with all the power and wisdom we need, yet because of His volunteer time spent on earth in human form, He knows exactly what we are going through. He knows all our limitations, frailty, emotions and how to work with them and live a victorious life. He can guide us down the same path of faith, strength, hope and love that He took. So let's do what the author of Hebrews suggests. Let's come boldly to our gracious God and ask Him for the help we need today. We will find Him gracious, compassionate and able to help us when we need it the most.

TODAY'S PRAYER Dear Jesus, I come to You because You know all about me. You know my situation. You know my thoughts, my frustrations and my desires. You know my needs. I come to You because You are endlessly compassionate toward me and I know that You will help me when I need it the most. I give You this day with all of its challenges, struggles and complexities. In Jesus' name. AMEN

TODAY'S AFFIRMATION & MEDITATION -I come boldly to Jesus with all my needs Jesus is near. As you meditate, see Him inviting you to come to Him. As you draw close you can sense that He cares. You know in your heart that He understands you. He accepts you. He loves you. There is an affinity in your soul with Him and you can feel a joy build inside you. See yourself coming boldly to Him, because He asks you to. Affirm, "I come boldly to Jesus with all my needs."

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These are NOT my words. 
It comes from my daily devotional (ron@calvaryop.org   •   http://www.layministry.com) and it just hit home when I read it, and I felt the need to pass it along to all of you. Most of our days, it is hard to comprehend who God is, what He does for us, and how MUCH He loves us. What a comfort to know that He understands us! At least it is to me. How many times have I gotten frustrated because humans failed to understand me, or at least tried. Now I can lean on my Savior with the peace that at least One hears my cries and has the ability to give me happiness. 
Thank you, Lord. Amen.

15 December 2011

What I learned on the journey...

... of being a Mami!

Being a mom changed my life forever, and I will never be the same. I am constantly challenged to keep up with the new 'phases' my children go through. Each one teaches me something new (or reminds me of sometimes we were suppose to learn before), so I guess we are all learning on this journey; kids, parents and grandparents; godparents and friends.

After the post that Beth and I had written about how we treat our books, I realized that I had changed already. I mean, before I had kids, I had those brilliant ideas in my head, about how 'perfect' things would be. Seriously, I was being very unrealistic. Now the reality of every day life with little ones has taught me a lesson (or two) that we can't plan - or rather no matter what we plan, it might not turn out that way.

* So, dear Beth, I have to admit, that there are a few books in our house now, that I don't care about anymore. Either Peanut beat them up, or we got them used; nonetheless, I am not getting mad at the ripped pages. She is getting better in very tiny baby steps - so I hope by the age she graduates from high school, she won't rip paper books anymore. (*grin*)

* Let's talk about toys - I treated our toys like they had to last the next one hundred years! How unrealistic was I? I mean my plan actually worked for Coqui - he is very careful most of the time. But when little Missie Loo came along, things changed around here, alot! She is teaching me that toys are meant for playing. If they break - oh well, that's the end of it. And I am learning to be okay with that. (After all, we should want to make room for all the new toys that are coming into the house every Christmas, Easter and Birthdays!)

* I had the same attitude about clothes. I wanted to get the most use out of them, meaning passing them along to as many children as possible. But really, a kid needs to be a kid, and unfortunately, they do get dirty. Now, I still want them to pay attention how they eat and teach them to treat their stuff with care. But once in a while, it is okay when a shirt doesn't make it to the next sibling. And we DO have spaghetti t-shirts -  Peanut calls it her 'Meatball shirt'.....

* I have learned that it is okay to need a time-out for myself. I am not talking about the occasional girl's night out. I am talking about a daily five to ten minutes when the kids are up, and I just need to sit down and make them wait for whatever 'urgent' need they have. It's okay. And I am doing it. Mostly in the mornings, when I have my much needed java and my time with God (or/and a good book). That is my time. Until Peanut gets up. And Coqui starts school.

* The things our kids teach us are amazing. Not talking about just the bad things or the things we thought we had figured out before they came onto our lives. I am talking about their character and how that can change us as a person. The things they say when we least expect it. So many times, I think I am talking against a wall or into thin air; but they are listening. And then one day, they prove it! It just takes your breath.

* What I did not anticipated were the words "I love you" out of my kids mouths! To hear them say those words without being asked - oh, it just makes me all mush! Those are the most beautiful words that a kid can say to a parent - and I know, I know, there will be a time when those words can turn into something else - well, I am not there yet, so I am enjoying this stage.

Apropos stage, I never realized how many stages kids will go through, and that there are any at all.

14 December 2011

A story of hope

I thought I'd share this story of "sister" - a story of hope, that sounds pretty much like my story.

Please read this article, it's not long, but it reflects alot of my own thoughts, especially the ones on grieving infertility and how it is brushed off by alot of people. But our God is an awesome God, and I was blessed once already by a wonderful woman that gave us the gift of a child that we wanted so desperately. And I am being blessed again by another wonderful woman to have a third child to welcome to our family soon.

Here is the article: "Human-factor-conceiving-after-cancer"

I am thankful that today's technology is so advanced for this being possible. And I am particularly thankful that I live in a country that allows surrogacy and gestational carriers - not like in Europe where it is still prohibited in some countries.

THANK YOU GOD!

13 December 2011

An article worth reading

The title is "Flu Vaccine Worsens Flu-Fighting & Cancer-Fighting Immunity in Children".

http://www.wellnessresources.com/health/articles/flu_vaccine_worsens_flu-fighting_cancer-fighting_immunity_in_children/

You all know my opinion to vaccination - it's used way too often, and parents don't really think about what they shoot into their kids veins. That said, I DO know that some shots are probably necessary like polio or diphtheria or tetanus. But my thoughts on flu vaccination is pretty radical. I never had one for myself, and never gave one to my children. I believe that God designed our bodies to fight a flu on it's own. It's the American thinking of not wanting to be sick or having to use vacation time for sick time.

Read it for yourself, and maybe next time, you think twice before you get it yourself, or give it to your kids.

10 December 2011

Being emotional

Do you know the song "Christmas Shoes" by NewSong? It's a good song, less for the melody, but those words are making me cry every time I hear it. (Here is a link to the youtube video, in case you want to cry, too.)

So I was driving yesterday in the car, and it came on. Usually I would skip the song on our CD, but it's hard on the radio. So I braved it, but to no avail. It made me bawl......blurring my vision while trying to manage traffic in pre-Christmas season. Oh well.

The thing that gets me each and every time is the similarity to our family - or what it could have been, four years ago. When I was diagnosed with cancer, my son was only 13 months old. If I would not have made it, he could be the one in the song. Ugh, it gets me right now.... I am so thankful that God pulled me through and that I am still here to see my children grow - and yes children, and each and every one of them is a miracle in my eyes! God deserves all the glory because He blessed me in so many ways. I am very grateful for His love and mercy.

There were a few more Christmas songs during that drive that drained a few more tears - maybe I am just totally emotional these days!? Merry Christmas to you all. And may God bless you abundantly.

09 December 2011

Homegroup @ the Firestation

I am part of a home group that meets every Friday to go on field trips. We have been to the farm and to the play ground and other places. This morning, we went to a local fire station. Coqui was so excited. There is not much to tell, but I have a few pictures.
Our group with most of the kids, some real young ones are not in here, and Peanut did not want to stay either.
Unfortunately, Coqui did not look in any of these pictures, so I chose the one where Peanut looks straight at me. She was not very happy at the fire station, my little 'scary cat'!
Put your gear on! 
Demonstration of the transformation from a regular guy to a full armed fire fighter. It was suppose to teach the kids not to be afraid if there ever will be a guy knocking on your door looking like this: 
They said, that putting that suit on, adds between 60 to 80 pounds! Wow.
Finally, Coqui in action!

They also got to climb into the back of the truck. All these kids were pretty excited.

07 December 2011

How the past can catch up in a good way

"Anyone who is the least bit interesting has a past."

I read this in a blog post by an awesome woman who is going through chemo right now, after a hysterectomy. She is fighting the fight in such a graceful way.... I wish I could have done so. She described how she used to be and that she has changed. Well, most of us have. We are not who we used to be. Some of us have just simply become better, others have turned their life around. I am more of the latter. 

I have troubles seeing myself as an interesting person - at least my past has shown that I am not the most popular girl. My early childhood was overshadowed by rejections and disappointments from peers at school that taught me to be suspicious of people, fearful of their actions, and unable to form healthy relationships with friends and family. It scarred me for life.
So I became timid and really bad at socializing. The funny thing is, I had to leave the country in order to learn that I can be accepted by others, and even have friends. Wow. So when I had to stand up for myself in a foreign country, I learned to have self-confidence, and it gave me the knowledge that I am worse something. I was 18 at the time, and France was the place where I had the time of my life. And it was so hard to return to my native country, to go back to school there, and to move back live with my parents. But I did. And it went pretty well. Because I had learned to speak up for myself. I knew I didn't have to be a 'clone' of my parents. Finally, I had learned to be my own Self.

Fast forward seven years of finishing school, starting a career, having an awesome woman as a mentor that taught me so much, working in the working world, and then moving once again to another country, this time across the ocean - it made me a whole new person. I entered the US as a more independent person than I ever was in the 25 years before.
It took me another eleven years of growing and maturing to make me the person I am today. I accepted Christ into my life and that was a huge turn-around! Christians around me taught me to be a loving, kind, and selfless person; to be forgiving, nurturing, and generous; to have patience and self-control; to have joy and peace, and to accept blessings into my life (and see that those are blessings); and to be a good giver.

Toady, I can finally say that I like myself.

And now I can appreciate the saying that "anyone who is the least bit interesting has a past". Because I have a sone - I could write you a novel! There is good and bad in it. The bad had to be endured to accept the blessings now, and to appreciate the person I have become. I am still not where I want to be, but I know I am on my way. There is still so much to learn and to accomplish. I give God all the glory for molding me into this new creation that I am today. God is my sustainer - He made me stubborn for a reason, so I am gripping onto every straw that will pull me out of any 'dark hole' and that will teach me to thrive for a better tomorrow.

06 December 2011

Potty training gone wrong?

After the first child, one always has the great intentions to start potty-training MUCH earlier with the next one. That is a great plan. But it might not work....

... and here is why! I started to potty-train Peanut at or around six months. She did a few numbers on the potty and I thought that this might be alot easier than thought. I also thought, doing cloth diapers might help her to feel when she is wet. But it seemed not to bother her to be wet or dirty! Well, almost two years later, no success whatsoever! Which is so frustrating because I had all the good intentions. I guess that is not all you need for a successful potty-training experience.

My daughter is VERY stubborn. No, I am serious! If you don't know her personally, you have no idea of how stubborn she is. So it is to no surprise that she thinks she needs to have an opinion about things that are happening around her. Unfortunately, that includes potty-training. She keeps saying that she doesn't WANT to go to the potty.

And it is NOT because she can't - because she CAN! Oh, yes, she can. One day, I pull her out of the bath tub, dry her and send her to her room, thinking that Daddy will get her immediately to put the diaper on her. Well, I guess he was not as fast as I had hoped, because a minute later, my daughter stands next to me (back in the bathroom) and says she went pee. So you can just imagine my thought process: oh, no, she peed on the carpet! How do I get that out? With little hope, I asked her if she needed to go pottty and she said yes. Okay, been there, done that. On the potty she goes - and usually after about a minute she declares to be done, even though there is nothing in the toilet. Well, this time, sure enough, the moment she hit that seat, a waterfall of pee came out of her.... seriously! We clapped and put that diaper on. Then I checked her room, and there was ONE tiny drop of pee on the carpet, NOT a big deal at all!

So now you tell me, HOW much bladder control she has!!! SHE IS TOTALLY IN CONTROL here and I so don't know what to do about it. I have even tried to bribe her, but there is nothing really that would or could work with her. She doesn't care enough about anything to be bribed!

I thought and thought about it, what can I use to bribe her? What is important enough to her?
Oh, yes, her independence. So I took that away. I told her if she wanted to be a BIG girl, she needs to go potty. If she is not willing to do that, well then Mami is back in charge of dressing her! This actually seems to work - at least for now. So once a day, she is going pee - just so that she can dress herself! (hahaha)

Wish me luck with this....

So I want to add a funny story that involves her brother. I think it was last Friday, that she sat on the toilet for about fifteen minutes. No achievement. Coqui came in announcing that he needed to use the bathroom. He sat and after a minute, Peanut started to clap, saying "good job Coqui". So Coqui gives her that serious look and says: "Don't clap, I have been doing this for years!"

He is too funny!

02 December 2011

Change is good - Wendel is gut - Changement est bon - etc.

I have done a few changes on my blog to make it, hopefully, easier to read for my broad public that is spread all over the world.

First, I have added a field where you can sign up for email subscription. So every time I post something, you should be notified by email.

Second, I have added a widget for translation. So that my non-English-speaking readers don't have to use a third-party website to read the blog. When you click on your native language, the post will be translated for you. Modern technology is amazing!

And last but not least, I want to thank each one of you that keeps coming back and even comments. I appreciate you!

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Ich habe ein paar Veränderungen in meinem Blog vorgenommen, damit es hoffentlich einfacher wird für meine Leser, die auf der ganzen Welt verbreitet sind.

Erstens habe ich ein Feld eingefuegt, wo Sie sich anmelden können für E-Mail-Abonnement. So jedes Mal wenn ich nach etwas veroeffentliche, sollten Sie per E-Mail benachrichtigt werden.

Zweitens habe ich ein Widget für Übersetzung hinzugefügt. So dass meine nicht-englischsprachigen Leser nicht zu einer Website eines Drittanbieters gehen muessen, um den Blog zu lesen. Wenn Sie Ihre Muttersprache anklicken, wird der Artikel für Sie übersetzt werden. Moderne Technik macht es moeglich!

Und zuletzt möchte ich jedem von euch danken, die immer wiederkommen und sogar Kommentare hinterlassen. Ich schätze euch!


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J'ai fait quelques changements sur mon blog pour en faire le lire plus facilement - pour mon large public qui se propage partout dans le monde.

D'abord, j'ai ajouté un champ où vous pouvez vous inscrire pour abonnement par courriel. Donc chaque fois que je poste quelque chose, vous devriez être notifié par email.

Deuxièmement, j'ai ajouté un widget pour la traduction. Alors que ma non-lecteurs anglophones n'ont pas à utiliser un site tiers pour lire le blog. Lorsque vous cliquez sur votre langue maternelle, le poste sera traduit pour vous. La technologie moderne est incroyable!

Et finalement, je veux remercier chacun d'entre vous qui revient, et même laisssez des commentaires. Je vous apprécie!

01 December 2011

Do I tell them the truth?

Last year, we started a new tradition.... and I almost forgot about it this year.
Have you ever heard of the Elf on the Shelf? Well, he/she arrived last year in our house and was named.....

... but I couldn't remember! I had to go back to my post from last year (here) to find out that it got the name 'Olli'. I still like it. I got the calendars ready, but I forgot to pull Olli out last night, so I did this morning, and Coqui still hasn't found it yet. I am waiting for his excited cry out. (If not, I have to point it out to him.)

But with this and so many other traditions, there comes a little bit of a battle, on many levels, emotionally, spiritually, and culturally.

Most kids grow up knowing who Santa is and believe that he really exists. Santa has different names all over the world, but the idea is the same: a good guy in a red suit that gives gifts to the behaved children and spanking or coal or whatever not-so-nice thing to the ones that misbehaved. In Germany, he is called Weihnachtsmann or Saint Nikolaus, in French Pere Noel, in Russian it's Ded Moroz, and in Spain El Nino Jesus. So the elf Olli is suppose to help Santa keep track of those children and if they are behaving, or not.

So what threw me off was the idea of a guy having almost the same power as God. As Christians, we know the reason for this season, and the reason is called Jesus. So it is sad, to me, that we (me included) forget, sometimes. For me it is especially an (extra) effort to make the transition from my childhood memories that were so not God-focused and more traditional and cultural, to a God-driven attitude of celebrating Jesus' birth.
So about two weeks ago, I announced in my support group that I wanted to tell my kids the TRUTH about Santa. That did not go over well! We do live in the bible belt, and (most of) these women are believers, but they did not like me taking away from the magic of Christmas. What magic? Is Santa suppose to be the magic? Why do we need that? I don't think of my childhood memories as magic, they are just special. And shouldn't the birth of Jesus be magic? I mean any birth is a miracle, a miracle of God, of a human being entering this world as a creation of God. That is true magic!

I don't remember when I found out the truth, I really don't. It might have been a gradual process where one hears things at school and wonders for a long time, until the parents finally give in and tell what is really going on at Christmas. I DO remember, though, finding the secret hiding place of my parents - the place where they kept the presents that they had bought for us. Then I remember watching them through the keyhole carrying those presents, wrapped now, from their bedroom to the living room. So maybe this is how I found out. But I do not remember to be sad or anything. There was no breaking of the spell..... the magic (and I wouldn't have called it this way as a child) was not gone! Christmas was still special to me.

Today, as a mom myself, and especially as a Christian mom, I want my kids to know about Jesus first, then about the 'joy of giving', and then about receiving gifts!

So now I want to know from you, how you learned about the truth. Was it a shock? And did it destroy any magic? Or did you never know who Santa is?
And if you are a parent - when are you planning on telling your children the truth? 

Also: I want to send you to my friend's blog post from today: Beth wrote about a neat advent book in order to keep the thought of Jesus close to our hearts. Please check it out, here.

30 November 2011

Adventszeit, schoenste Zeit

Translated that means that the time before Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.
So Christmas is my second favorite holiday, right after my birthday. Okay, all kidding aside, Christmas is a wonderful time and every year, I am enjoying everything about it, the music, the smells, the anticipation. But most of all, I have come to appreciate it as the celebration of the birth of our Savior.

So tomorrow is the first day of December - do you know what that means? My children do! They get to open the first window on their advent calendar. This is a part that I remember so vividly from when I was a child that I don't want my kids to miss out on it.

This year, we are going with the Playmobil one. It's the forest theme - which I thought was great for boy and girl. I only have one, so they have to share it. Each window has a toy that will be added to the scenery that came with the package.
I am a big fan of Playmobil and so is Coqui. Peanut is still a bit too young for most the pieces, but I hope that she will grow accustomed to it fast. At the end, we will have a nice collection of forest animals and their winter food.


Of course, slowly, we are decorating our house for the occasion. I pulled out all the boxes, but I have not have time to put it all up yet. But this weekend, we will buy the tree and decorate it. And I want to finish everything else, so I can do other things, like shopping and making cookies.
Here are a few pictures from the stuff that is out already. Of course, we are playing LOTS of Christmas music, in English, German and Spanish - a very interesting, cultural mix.
Most of all, I want to show off our stockings, because they are FIVE this year! Yeah.
Eventual, the baby will get it's own hanger, but I need to make a trip to a certain store for that. Can you tell that I have an oldest-one that is obsessed with trains? 
 This is Coqui's room. It's the most decorated so far - he is just way too excited! He also has a candy cane on his window, and those lights that look like candles. It's so bright in there at night that I can read his good-night stories without turning on the room light.
 My German 'Pyramide' that Mema had found for me one year. I totally love it.

Merry Christmas.

27 November 2011

Follow-up on Peanut

Do you remember my last post about Peanut's nap habits, or rather the loss of a very good habit?

Well, for the last week, I have purposely NOT letting her take a nap. It was actually quite liberating when I could leave the house any time I wanted... We had a very busy week, every day was something big going on with multiple play dates, and of course Thanksgiving. Now I was very tired from this week.....

At the end of the day, Peanut was very tired, of course, and completely knocked out the moment I layed her down in her bed. The first night, she slept 14 hours straight through the night. All the other nights were pretty much like that, maybe not as many hours.

But today, she actually asked me for a nap because she said she was tired. Already when we left the church, she was yawning. But then we went out to eat and she seemed fine. But when we came home, she asked if I could put her down. So I did. I let her sleep for her usual hour and a half, until way past my cut-off-time - which is around 3 pm. Let's see if I have to pay back for that later.

Maybe she had stopped growing? Because at the same time, she kind of stopped eating. But today, she ate all her lunch and asked for more. Then she asked for a nap.... maybe she is growing again!?! My 95%-child wants to be tallest of her class, I guess....

26 November 2011

Blessed Thanksgiving

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"  (1 John 3:1) 
Father, I pray that my life would be a living testimony of the fact that You have lavished Your love on me by making me Your child. Might everything I think, say and do today be shaped by this glorious fact. In Jesus' name. AMEN
 
So Thanksgiving is over and yet, I want to be thankful. Do I need a special day to be reminding to be thankful? No, I don't. I am thankful every single day.

I have so much to be thankful for, so I thought I mentioned it here:
I am thankful for:
- a God that has a never-ending love for me and that just blows me away
- a loving and carrying husband that walks by my side no matter what trials life has for us
- 5 wonderful children - 2 are already with out heavenly Father, 2 are right here with me now, and 1 is on it's way - they are ALL blessings to me!
- my parents who raised me
- the Hubby's family that took me in like their own daughter
- awesome friends that love us and that we enjoy spending time with
like on Thanksgiving Day:

Still, there is more. I am thankful for:
- Heather, the woman who carried our daughter - she gave up so much to help us make our wish come true, we will be forever thankful for what she did, and we love her and her family very much
- my best friend who replaced a big emptiness in my life - she is the person that I will call when I need advise, support or just simply girl-talk, I can not think of my life without her
- that same best friend that is carrying our last baby now - she followed God's calling and we are so thankful for her and her family
- for healthy children
- to be cancer-free and feeling great
- for all the material things we have like a house and cars and other things - they are not that important but make life easier and enjoyable.

The Lord has been good to us, to Him goes all the glory!
"Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever." (1Chronicles 16:34)

21 November 2011

How much sleep is too much?

Well, we arrived at a stage in my little girl's life where I am not sure how much sleep she needs. For the longest time, she has been taking only one nap a day. Most of the days, it was practically perfect - we do school and a little outdoor activity, then have lunch and take a nap. I prefer to stay home in the afternoon, or at least really close to home, because I really don't want to battle traffic. I am fortunate to have a choice, so I try to run all my errands in the morning.

But lately, it seems like when she does take a nap, she takes forever to fall asleep at night. Saturday night, she finally slept AFTER I fell asleep, and that was past 11 o'clock at night. She was not crying, just happily talking and singing away in her bed. When I went in and told her that she needs her beauty-sleep, she said "okay, Mami" and still didn't go to sleep. How frustrating.

So now I find myself in the odd place of having to make a choice between a nap for her and a later bedtime, or no nap and an early bedtime. I am not sure which one I want. I really like my quiet time with Coqui alone, so he still gets a little one-on-one-time with me.

On the other hand, it would be nice to be able to go out of the house and not having to be back for nap time. We have done so a few times already, and she did great for most of the day. Of course, every toddler gets tired and cranky later in the day.

So my nice quiet time between a busy morning and a more relaxed afternoon might be just plain over..... how will I miss thee!

19 November 2011

Making a Baby in a different way

We have wonderful news to share...

... but before I do that, I want to remember why I even started this blog. I am a cancer survivor and due to a hysterectomy, I can not bear my own children anymore. But the doctor was able to save my ovaries, so we can still have children - just not the normal way.
So about three years ago, we went through the fertility process of harvesting my eggs, the Hubby's sperm and made lab babies. Sounds fun, right? If you want to know the entire medical side of it, you can read about it here. (If not, you skip and let your imagination go wild.)

The important part is that we needed a carrier, or to be more exact a gestational carrier, that 'borrows' us her 'oven' to 'bake' our baby. I highlighted our, because it is ours biologically. No part in this baby comes from the woman who carries the baby. Just to be clear on that!
So a lovely relative had stepped forward and wanted to carry that baby for us. She was such a blessing when we were in need of a true miracle. It was not an easy process but we made it through together and the result was a beautiful creation of God, the maker of us all, our pretty baby girl. And the many blessings that came along the way for both families.

During those difficult months, I got closer to a lady from our church. That lady is my best friend today and I love that I had her then and could share my worries with her. But I love even more that we are friends today and I can not think of life without her....
The day after we came home with Peanut, Beth came over to our house for a play date for the kids, for us adults to see each other, and to tell me something.... something that I was not prepared for and I didn't even expect....
... okay, are you ready? Drum roll please...

... she told me that she wanted to be our next carrier!!!

Can you believe that? I was so.... flabbergasted, I guess. I didn't know what to say. I mean I said thank you and all that, but I seriously wasn't thinking about that at all, not when you are holding that six-week old baby in my arms. We didn't talk about it for a while, but after about a year, I brought it back up and wanted to know if she was still willing to do this for us. And she was! So time went by, life goes on, schedules and such don't make it easy to really sit down and crunch the numbers.... but we finally said, okay, we gonna do this.

So the process was a bit different than last time. For once, I did not have to go through any medical procedures. Still, we had to go see a psychiatrist, go to the local fertility clinic for financial stuff, and had to have the embryo shipped to Texas; until finally Beth could have her first appointment with the doctor. She was in luck because she didn't have to take any hormone shots!
On the morning of the transfer, the embryo had to survive being thawed and then being implanted into Beth. Then we had to wait another ten more days for a blood test to take place, until we got the results that....

...... we will be a family of five soon.

We are almost eight weeks pregnant. I am looking forward to share this pregnancy with my very best friend, whom I love so much, and who has a special place in my heart, forever.

So yeah.... thank you, my dear friend Beth, for giving us this wonderful gift.
And I thank God for His infinitive blessings He is and will pour out over all of us.
If you want to read what she wrote today, here is a link to her blog.

14 November 2011

Susan Komen Race 2011

Yesterday was a special day. The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was in the city and I ran it once again. It was my fourth consecutive year, after I had been diagnosed myself. It's the breast cancer race and I have been walking and/or running it for a dear friend and fellow-survivor. The first year, it gave me so much hope - it had only been three months after my surgery. Now I want to spread the word of hope to others who are newly diagnosed and might be, yet, hopeless. Hope is our biggest weapon.

I got there early to get street parking, and was just walking around to find where the start line and finish line were, when I met my friend from our church. I knew that she would be there, but this race is so big that I was never anticipating to find her. And there she was. So we chat a bit before the race. I was still  waiting for my team members to arrive - who, as it turns out, had trouble finding parking and actually never made it to the start line with me. So I had to run by myself. 

Here is the starting line before the race:

Here is how I looked once done, after three miles. I was able to run it without stopping once. This downtown area is pretty hilly and we ran up and down and up and down quite a few times. But I did it, and I did it in a pretty good time!

Here is my friend and fellow-survivor coming through the finish line. This was her first year running the entire course and I am so proud of her!

And here is an icon of our city.

12 November 2011

Photo-On-Saturday

We were over our friend's house today and Beth read the kids a story:

Amazing how focused they all are. As you can see, it was the story of Cinderella, and even the boys were interested. Only my little Peanut couldn't sit still enough:

11 November 2011

The most dangerous room in the house

As a new parent, years ago, I thought of the kitchen being the most dangerous place or room inside a house or apartment. You know with all the knives and forks, with drink glasses and the plates, pots and the oven, not to speak of all the appliances that are in this room, it seems quite perilous to ever want your child to enter this room..... until he age of 18 (or so!). The smaller the kid, the bigger the hazard.

But then, again, as a new parent, we go out shopping, to child-proof the house, especially the kitchen. They have locks for the cabinets, locks for the dishwasher and locks for the refrigerator. They even have locks to prevent a child from turning on the oven themselves, unless you have an over where you can remove certain parts to avoid that. Please don't forget the plugs for the outlets, and to always unplug appliances that you are not using at a time. Even before kids, I unplugged everything from toaster to coffee machine, griddle or water heater - just being freaked out over the thought to accidentally leaving it on when I exiting the house!

Well, this morning I changed my mind!

This morning, I was under the shower when my boy came in because he needed to talk to me. (And yes, my kids are still allowed to see me naked, I don't want to raise them becoming prude - something I am so NOT - but this will be a future blog post!)
So he talked to me, climbing on the bathtub, falling off and getting hurt. And then it hit me! In this room, everything is dangerous! You fall in the shower or in the bathtub and you can really hit your head in such a way that it could cost you your life. Turning on the facet, the hot water can burn you. There are chemicals all over the place, under the cabinets, that a child should never get into their hands. You can fall and hit the tile floor and knock yourself unconscious! Inside this room, there are medicines that I would not want my child to find! Kids are curious and I would not want to find my kid reaching in the toilet or waste basket. Yuck!


So for me, after today, the bathroom is just the most dirty and dangerous room in the house!

Of course, we do have plugs in almost every outlet in the bathroom, just like in all the rooms of the house. We have locks on the cabinets. We don't have a lock for the toilet, but they are available in stores if you decide to install them. Also we can't really lock the shower door. And there is absolutely no way to keep a child from hopping in the tub and turn on the water. But the heater for the entire house is set on a pretty low temperature, so even the hot water might feel pretty hot to a child, it won't burn them severely. And we talk about not playing with certain things in side the house. Thank God, my kids are not playing in the bathroom, unless one of us parents is in there. I also try to buy green cleaning products for bathroom and kitchen especially, so if ever one of them would get into the chemicals, it's won't be too life-threatening.

Happy Parenting.

08 November 2011

Vaccinate or NOT?!?

I know this might be a soar subject with some of you, but I know what I believe. A friend of mine just shared this link on Facebook and I had to share with you. I watched the entire video - it's very long, but so worth watching it! It is only free until today.

Link: http://www.mercola.com/

When I had my first child, I kind of went ahead and got him vaccinated with almost all of the recommended shots. Our pediatrician in New Jersey was from Europe, so she was willing to accommodate my wishes. Once I came to Texas, the doctor here made me sign three (!) papers for NOT wanting certain vaccines. Unbelievable, because after all, aren't I the mother? Crazy.

With my second child, I listened more to what I (!) truly believe in. She got a few, but after one I actually stopped going to the doctor all together. She is developing the way she is suppose to, she thrives and grows. She is happy and there is nothing wrong with her. My kids are being home-schooled, so they are very seldom sick. A common cold is being cured by me, at home. Fevers to me are just a way of the body saying that it is fighting something - a good sign. I believe the more often one goes to the doctor, the more stuff you can pick up at exactly the place where you are trying to get help.

Now, I am NOT against doctors, at all. One very special one saved my life and my fertility (at least part of that) and I love her for doing so. The nurses at my oncology are the best in the nation (from my perspective!) and I am very happy that these special people take care of me.

In the video, Barbara Loe Fisher, a co-founder of the National Vaccine Center states that in the 1980s, in America, they gave 23 doses of 7 vaccines to the children, in general. Today, within three decades, that number tripled up to 69 doses of 16 vaccines. Wow - these are alot of shots! Too many, if you ask me.
Obviously, this video is about the complications that occur once the shots are given, and I thank God that this never happened to my children.So there is a strong lead in chronic diseases that have also tripled in the same period of time.

I think the video is worth watching. They did a good job in showing not only one side, but took different opinions into consideration. So they showed doctors that are researchers and pro-vaccine. One doc wrote a controversial book about vaccines and their effect, and today is not telling parents if they should vaccinate or not, but tries to educate them as much as he can, and if the parent decides to go ahead, he gives shots in smaller doses, and fewer shots at a time. Which makes sense to me.

I am a cervical cancer survivor. So I had the HPV virus screw up my fertility. Do you think I asked for it?
And soon after my hysterectomy, my doctor told me about the new vaccine, Gardasil, that had just come on the market. At the time, I had no daughter and didn't have to think about it. Now I do. In one of our support group meetings, I was asked if I would have given it to myself, or if I will give it to my daughter, and my answer was: "Hell, no!"  It is not enough researched! There are so many uncertain things about it, so no! And the video totally confirms it. One doctor even says that it should be taken off the market! That tells me that my instincts were right....The video says that Gardasil was fast-tracked and not enough researched. Duh.....

So the reason why I write this post is to point out, that doctors are not always right and just do what they are taught in school. I want to make you think about what you do with your children and what you pump into their little bodies. Have you ever read the ingredient list? Mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, antibiotics, and preservatives! How do you think their little bodies are dealing with that? And this is only in one shot. Now some parents give their kids four shots at a time. Wow. I would call that explosion! Inside their little bodies.

Just thinking about it makes me so mad! People, get informed and then think! Vaccination is not a hundred percent safe! It is also a money-making machine!
If you do get your kids vaccinated, then at least spread it out!!! Give one or two at a time.

06 November 2011

Fighting

You would think I have done enough fighting in my life - starting in early childhood when I was closer to death than to life with a very serious pneumonia that kept me in a hospital for three months. Growing up in East Germany, left some more scars, emotionally. Getting healed from bi-polar depression was awesome, and it was only possible by the glory of God. Being diagnosed with cancer and fighting for my life was just another step that I had to take to grow my faith in our Savior. Through that trial, He gave me so much hope and I could truly feel His love for me.

Today, through all those trials, I feel blessed because I can appreciate all that the Lord has given me so much more. He blessed me with a family that I love so much, children that were born by me and by someone else. They are both miracles and blessings - they are testimonies for God's mercy and love. He is our Creator and Sustainer and I thank Him for that every day.
Recently, I went through alot more stuff that needed faith on my behave and full trust in God that everything would work out. Really, I was on the top of a mountain.

And then four days ago, I woke up and had that weird feeling that something was wrong. I could not put my finger on it. I knew what started my 'bad' thinking process, or rather how the devil got me in his fingers. For hours I prayed that God would pull me out, out of that depression and the heavy heart that I was feeling. I didn't understand why this was happening. I was just on top of the mountain - did I fall down over night without realizing it? What was going on?

On Thursday, I was just depressed. On Friday, I got angry about this. Why was I feeling so terrible? On Saturday morning, I knew I had to fight. It was not over yet, but I felt like I KNOW the right stuff, I know who God is and what He has done, I know that He will pull me through this, I just didn't know when and why not right away. And I will just have to fight for it! I wanted my peace and joy back! Sunday, today, was much better, and tonight I finally figured it out.

It was fear!

Fear that crept in overnight. A fear that I did not expect because I was at such peace with everything in my life. It took me off guard and shook what I thought were concrete believes. I felt nothing, even though I knew and still know that God is in control. He never left my side. But, He also needed me to battle this one with Him, to give Him all the glory. It is said that 'Don't be afraid' is the most mentioned statement in the bible. God knows how we humans handle things, if we handle them ourselves. That's where satan can come in and tries to throw us off our path. I found the following verse tonight that is so true and encouraging.

"Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared." (Proverbs 3:25-26)

Praying and spending time with God was what kept be sane. I still longed for Him and His never-ending love. I am okay now. And what I went through is called spiritual warfare. I had never experienced it. But now, the victory of God is so sweet. God is so marvelous and awesome. Next time, I will be better prepared, and will listen to God before satan can pull me down again. I will put on the armor of God and fight right away before I get carried away in worry and fear. Oh Lord, my Savior, you are so faithful.

And here is what I found after reading and reading and reading:
"Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You will have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
(Psalm 16:9-11)

I thank my Lord for bringing me peace throughout every single day!

31 October 2011

A good school day

Last week, we only had one day of school. Yep.

A while ago, I decided, if we have visitors in the house, it's not worse trying to do school. The kids are way too distracted. And I am too. So last week was an off week.

So today, we went back to school full force, and it went so well. The last two to three weeks had been a bit tough, trying to find a schedule that will work for us, keeping Coqui interested and motivated.

His favorite subject is Science. So we did two experiments today. One of them was the following.


I got a science experiment book in Target once, for 2nd and 3rd grade. So the explanations are not that age appropriated. But that doesn't matter, it's fun anyways.


Using a plastic bottle of water, empty, we had to put four tablespoons of vinegar in it. Then add some baking soda, actually two tablespoons. We did it wrong, as I poured it in the bottle directly - we were suppose to put it inside the balloon and then add it with the balloon into the bottle. Oh well. Then put a balloon over the opening of the bottle and the following will happen.


It's pretty cool. And Coqui was totally impressed by this.

30 October 2011

Field Trip with the HS group

A bit more than a week ago, we went on a Field Trip with one of our homeschooling groups. I was hesitant at first, but the kids really had a blast. The entire farm was decorated for fall and the harvest and it was fun to finally get into the spirit of autumn. (it's so hard when it still hits the 90s in the afternoon)

So we met everybody at the farm there, or actually what we thought was our group. I only met a few of the moms one other time, and usually I am pretty good with faces, but we went with the group we had found. At first. Because as it turns out, for half the time, we went around the farm with the wrong group. But one that had a tour guide and seemed quite organized. So it was good.

So here are a few pictures: 



There was this author who had written a children's book, so she read it to the children. This was not the only story time they had - we heard many pumpkin stories that day!
For me, the hay ride was the highlight of the day. It was fun to be rocked through the farmland, feeling the breeze in my face and laugh with the kids. There was a 'scary path' included in the ride, but I just told them that it was silly stuff, like seeing a ghost in a toilet. I didn't want Peanut to be too freaked out about it.

We walked through a corn maze and then the kids played ball, waiting for another hay ride to pick us up at this picnic area.
It was a fun filled day!

28 October 2011

My son is awesome

It always just blows me away how a child sees God...

The other day, during school hours in our house, I explained the time and the clock to my son. You know that it has only numbers one through twelve, but that there are 24 hours in a day. Then I had to explain what 24/7 means. So I asked Coqui if he can think of anything that is open and working 24 hours a day. And I certainly expected a five year old boy to think of fire fighters and chasing police cars. But no.

His first answer was: God.

Oh, my son, you are so wise!


Then tonight, we went out to eat to a local Asian restaurant. His aunt is visiting and she was going through the entire sheet of the kids menu that has coloring on it, jokes, and funny questions. Questions like "what goes up and never goes down"? Yes, it is your age, dear friends! Or what would you do with a hundred dollars? And so on.

The last question was: "If you could be the president for one day, what would you do?"

And once again, my son just strikes every other answer out. Because he said: "I would tell everybody about God."Really? Because I think we need a president like that. I'll vote for you, my Coqui!

I am so proud of him.

27 October 2011

Mercy and Grace

These last few weeks have been tiring, emotionally and physically. And I was once again reminded of how gracious and merciful our God is. When we struggle, He simply says: "Put your burdens on my shoulders, I will carry them for you." (Psalm 55:22) It is hard to do that. Sometimes that requires us to sacrifice. On many levels. It requires to trust Him fully. That also means giving up control. Because He is in control. It means to have faith, sometimes blind faith. And no matter what we have done or not done in our past, He loves us and wants to see us rejoicing. He is hurting when we are hurting.

"Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you." (I Peter 5:7)

A Christian walk is not easy. But so far, all I can say, no matter what 'battle' I had to fight, at the end, I am amazed at what God can do and how blessed I am.

He forgave me for so many things. ["Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." (Luke 15:7)]
And usually, I don't drag them around with me, just in the last few weeks, I was reminded of God's forgiveness. I can feel His love for me. To feel God's grace and mercy in my life is such a joy, and brings so much peace. A peace, I was told as a child, didn't exist. But today, my heart is filled with joy and peace. "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23)

He also teaches me to do all this to the people around me. I can see how I have changed over the last few months. How I have matured in my walk with Jesus, but also how I care about others. I know I can forgive. I know I can love and love unconditionally. I know I can pray and He answers me. I have a freedom to know that with God I can do anything.

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)

I do feel I fought a battle, but it was with gladness. Part of being so tired is that overwhelming experience of comfort and contentment when the battle is over. Now I know that there will be more, but I will be ready because I have God on my side who will fight for me.

Psalms 5:11-12 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.

24 October 2011

Are you a shopaholic?

Okay, the question is a bit extreme, but I am sure you know what I am talking about:
the thrill of buying something new.
Sometimes it doesn't even have to be something big, a new shirt will do, or for me a new book. If you've read my post about how I treat books and how much I love them, then you know how hard it is for me to pass by a book that I think I would really enjoy. 

Well, I have found an outlet. (Or should I say I am healed?)

It's called the library.

We try to go there every two weeks, sometimes it will be three weeks when it is more chaotic. So every two weeks, I bring back 'new' books. And guess what, you can put as many books in your bag as you want. Now that is a satisfying feeling.

No, seriously, the library is a great place to find great and awesome books for the kids and for me, and especially in our case, for homeschooling. We like going there.

23 October 2011

Gratitude

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever." (Psalm 107:1)

This goes along with one other post that I wrote a while ago: Count Your Blessings. I don't do it regularly, but I am aware of all the things that God has done for me and all that I have. And I do enjoy God's creations fairly often. And even though we don't thank Him for nature's beauty every single day, we can enjoy those all the time, year-round. We all have favorite seasons and favorite holidays, favorite weather or favorite days. Nonetheless, God made them all for us to simply enjoy them.

My devotional today asked me to name three things from God's creation and thank Him for them.

So here I go:
1.) God made the oceans.
I love the ocean, it's beauty, the sound of the waves, and the colors of the water (in nice waters like in the Caribbean). The ocean is one thing that I dearly miss from New Jersey where I could go to the beach any day I wanted to..... and I will never miss a visit without going to see the ocean, even in winter time.

2.) God made the sun.
The sun brings warmness, something you long for after a hard winter full or snow and ice. But sun also brings happiness. I love the sun and I love that there are so many sunny days in Texas. On a rainy day, I just get so depressed and passive and apathetic. When the sun comes out, I can feel the flow of energy returning to my body, I feel a smile on my face and it makes me wanna go to the beach. 

3.) God made the seasons, He made Spring.
My favorite season is Spring. It used to be Summer when I still lived in a region that had four seasons and the summer were really nice. (And my birthday is in summer.) But since living in Texas, I had to change my mind. Also because I think I grew older and wiser, maybe?
Spring brings freshness - I love that everything grows anew, everything is green outside. Spring stands for optimism and a new beginning. I love when the flowers start to spring, the bees and the birds are coming back, and their is a business in the air (after the long winter laziness) that is contagious.

20 October 2011

Too many bags?

I am sure you remember when I blogged about my new purse that my best friend made for me?

Well, just before that, I had ordered a bag that I have been wanting for a very long time - probably a year or so. It's handmade - and that is pretty special. It's made by a friend - and I want to support her business. And it's made from recycled fabrics - being green is something that I am pretty passionate about.

So when my husband wanted a new 'toy' - I told him he was only allowed to get it if I could have the bag, finally. He agreed. (Should I mention that the bag was on sale at the time?)

Picture property of Jola V. Designs
Here is a picture of the lovely bag....

And here is the artist's webpage: Jola V. Designs.

She is also advertising on Facebook here.

And you can see her bags on etsy as well here

I know her personally, yes - we used to be very good friends and have shared a couple of good times together. We lost track for a few years, but now we found each other again - the internet made it possible.

She is passionate about what she does and dreamed about it pretty much her whole life. She is the one person that I know has found her calling. She is a true artist. (She used to be my fashion coach - and probably still would be if we lived closer.)
I love to see all her creations, so it was kind of hard to choose from all of the wonderful things she has made so far. And each season, I am looking forward to more.

 I am a happy customer 
and feel blessed that I can surround myself with homemade things.

18 October 2011

My Prayer Language

My thirst for Jesus has increased so much lately. I want to be filled by God's presence. I have so much to be thankful for. I enjoy my morning prayer time with just me and Him. It helps me to focus on the One and Only who can help me in every circumstance, may it be a personal struggle, a fight with health, disobeying children, or financial troubles. Jesus gives love, Jesus gives hope, faithfully.

I am going to a weekly prayer meeting with a couple of women from our church. It's a great time to spend in the house of God, worshiping Him, praising Him, sharing testimonies and asking for prayers.
Last week, I had felt kind of 'bla' - you know not sad and not happy, more like living next to my body. And there was so much going on to be thankful for at this particular time. So I had asked God to show me why I felt this way, or just take it away. Well, the very next morning, something happened at prayer group: I was asked to do something that I had never done, and pray about it out loud. And it worked, immediately. I felt better, joyful and happy, thankful and blessed. And it hasn't stopped since....

Now YOU that know me, know, that I am not very comfortable to pray out loud. And here is way!

It's my insecurity in my prayer language. As a new Christian, I don't have the vocabulary of a  person that has been brought up as a Christian. If you are one of them, I bet that you have never thought about your prayer language being a language of it's own that needs to be learned. So just trust me: it is. (Also learning it as a second language-er is not making it easier!)

So naturally my prayer language is more that of a two-year-old. And it bothers me. The language that hardcore prayers use is quite intimidating. And according to an article that I read and that encouraged me, it is "formulaic". To hear that from a person that is in ministry was shocking but it spoke to the heart....
He referred this to the prayer of his own two-year-old son at dinner time, where what the son said just blew him away, because the son only used simple words, thanked God for his family and asked for healing of a family member. Simple. Honest. From the heart.

So this author also states that adults can get "caught up in the “prayer game” of trying to balance praise and thanksgiving against requests and intercession" - and I know that I have a hard time with that. There were times, when I went through cancer, where there was just no thanksgiving or praising God! I was angry and had to deal with my emotions, my body hurting, and my faith fainting.... Being now a four-year survivor, I can only shout praises and thanksgiving to my Lord, my Savior, my Sustainer. From the rooftops! But at the time, I was happy making it through the day without major breakdowns.

God pulled me through!

When I read that this man was blessed by his son's prayer because it used simple words and it came from the heart, I felt better about my own prayer language. If my cry for help comes from the heart, I think that God will forgive me that I didn't start with 1) praying for my family, 2) praying for my leaders, and so on.... and then only last to pray for myself.
If I tell Him point blank in simple words what is on my heart, I truly believe that He will hear me and answer my prayers. He is our Father, our Daddy, and I believe He rather has a real personal conversation with me, the true me, with the language of a two-year-old-ME, than when I try to come up with big words that are not me at all. It's all about the personal relationship with Him.

This was very liberating. Liberating to know that my words are enough for Him. He hears me. He cares for me. And he doesn't care that my words are not coming from the dictionary but from my heart. Because I do love Him with my heart and with my soul and with all my might.

So I can go to my prayer meeting tomorrow morning, thank my Lord for everything that I have, for Him, for my family, for my church family, and for my friends. I can pray for our church, the sick and my family. I can ask Him for what my heart is longing for.  I don't have to be ashamed of that.

Amen.