Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Great Week

It's weeks like this when I am reminded of God's amazing love for me. There are so many times when, in my humanness, I think, "How could God ever give me another chance." It is those times that give Him the perfect opportunity to reveal Himself in a full and very inhuman way.

Since the move, I have become dry, spiritually. Maybe it was just because we were so busy getting everything done that it took to get here, or once we were here, the time it took to settle in, but whatever the reason...I had not been in fellowship with God the way I should have been. My time in the Word was almost "none" and my prayer life was quick and desperate, never taking the "quality" time it takes to be in communication with Someone I love and want a deeper relationship with. About three weeks after we got here, I had lunch with a precious woman in our ministry who has a heart for the new women moving here. Let's face it, moving is hard....much harder than I ever dreamed. The difficulty never had anything to do with how sure I was of our calling....I never doubted this is where God wanted us. I just got so absorbed in my homesickness and grief that all I could focus on wall all I had lost, instead of all that would lie ahead...God's best for me and my family. It was during lunch with my new friend that she looked me straight in the eyes and asked if I was in the Word. After nearly choking on my bacon bits at such a forward question (that I REALLY did NOT want to answer), I said, "No." She very lovingly challenged me to get back in the Word, and gave me a plan. Just like the Good Samaritan...she didn't just recognize I needed help. She helped me.

The plan she put me on was great. It involved reading a lot of Psalms and Proverbs, praying and journaling more, and to finish reading the book When the Boxes Are Unpacked. It definitely put me back in the right direction. After Christmas, I began praying that God would draw me even closer, wake up my cold heart, and set me back on fire for Him.

As of this week, He is beginning to answer that prayer. He used some great things this week to work on my heart. I have started a Monday night Bible study at the Life Action Ministry Center and this week was particularly wonderful. Thursday I began a great study on the book of Daniel. Friday I was able to attend a recording session in which Nancy Leigh DeMoss recorded eight broadcasts on the book The Incomparable Christ by Oswald Sanders. She presented a fresh perspective on the life of Jesus, the Crucifixion, and all He sacrificed for us. And today was the cherry on top. The pastor of the church we attended preached a message on repentance. Isn't God good? He worked on my heart all week, digging up all the rocks, thorns, and roots entangling the garden of my heart, and then gave me the perfect opportunity to make it all right. Love that about Him. :-)

Don't misunderstand me. There is nothing magical about going to church or Bible study. All of that is nothing unless you open your heart and allow God to do a work in you. I pray that that's where my heart is right now... open to a fresh work from God.

At the Monday night Bible study I mentioned before, God proved to me again that He can take something I have already heard and make it new again. Last year, when I was really struggling with the weight of Clara's diagnosis, a friend at church gave me a CD of Jennifer Rothschild when she spoke at the church of my friend's Mom.  At Bible study on Monday, we watched almost the same exact message by her from the True Woman Conference last year. I cried all the way through it the first 25 times I listened to her on the CD from my friend, and really wondered if God would be able to use it again. He did. For those of you who are not familiar with Jennifer Rothschild, she went blind from an eye disease when she was 15 and now travels the country giving her testimony. Among the MANY things she said that pierced my heart, she talked about grace. After her diagnosis, she explained that God have her participant grace; the grace that is given to the one afflicted. She then explained that she thought what happened to her was much harder for her mother than it was for her, and how her blindness was a wound that hurt her Mom anytime it was touched. Her mother, or any mother watching her child suffer, is given a measure of spectator grace, a measure that's just a little more than participant grace. I thought that was a great explanation. She encouraged us to give our fears to God and learn to be content in our present circumstances. One of my favorite things she said was,

"It doesn't have to be well with your circumstances for it to be well with your soul. We don't wait for our circumstances to change so we can experience a level of contentment in our faith. We ask God to change us in the midst of our circumstances."

Isn't that great!

And finally, the biggest thing I took away... Towards the end of her message she talked about changing your "what ifs?" to your "what is".  We had a time to pray and ask God to reveal to us what we fear that we have not yet left in His hands. I felt like He pulled so much out of me I was going to bust. I couldn't say anything out loud.

My fears?

What if:

...Clara gets worse and is confined to a wheel chair, bedridden....or worse?

...Clara loses her mental/intellectual capabilities?

....Clara is made fun of by her peers. We adore her and think she is as cute as a bug, and our family and friends in Georgia do, as well, but what if people here judge her on her physical limitations and never get to know the real "Clara" ? one here ever really gets to know me and what my gifts and talents are?

...I never get a really close friend here?

...we don't fit in?

...I pour all this time, love, prayers, and energy into my girls and they stray away from their faith when they are older? girls never go beyond head knowledge of Jesus and learn to love Him with all their hearts? one ever loves my family the way our Beech Haven friends did?

And then I replaced my what ifs with my what is:

God who called me is faithful.

As a result, I will trust Him more than I trust my feelings.


As my sister would say, "Nuff said".

That's the truth, friends. Satan's lies can always be refuted with truth.

I am praying for another great week to grow in the Lord!

Here is the link to Jennifer Rothschild's Message if you want to watch it. I think you'll be glad you did. :-)

How is Clara?

Clara is doing okay. She has been especially tired and sore this week, which is a little troubling. Temperature extremes are an issue for her, as it takes an extra amount of energy for her body to compensate for the difference, but we have never experienced this extreme. The summer in Georgia was an issue because it was so hot, but the winters were very mild. When we first moved here she was great...better than ever, actually. Now, it has been so cold for so long, I think it is catching up with her. She does seem to know, whether consciously or unconsciously, that the extreme is harder for her, because if the other kids are going outside, she does not want to go, which is not the case with milder temperatures. She has only been on her new medication for muscle pain for about a week and a half, so it is too soon to tell if that is working. Her doctor said we wouldn't know if it was going to work or not for about a month, so we are going to give it about another two weeks and try to gradually reduce her doses of ibuprofen. I will have to overcome some major fear to do that. The last time we took her off of the ibuprofen, she couldn't even walk by the third day. Thankfully, we can put her right back on it if need be. I just hate to see her suffer. We did find out that one of her other (VERY) expensive medications, while still not covered by insurance, we can pay for it with our HSA account, so that was great news! A family member has been very generously and graciously taking care of that expense up to this point, so it will be nice to take that burden off of her. We are so thankful that she has been willing to supply that the last year and a half...I don't know what we would have done without her!

We did get an appointment for the geneticist that specializes in bone disease...on June 16th. Yes, I sad "June". We are on the cancellation list, so hopefully we can get it sooner. Especially since June 16th is her birthday. I wasn't about to push it further away because of that...we can celebrate another day! She'll never know (I hope). :-)

We went snow tubing with a local church yesterday, which was super-fun! That was another first for the Bryant family, and one we will not soon forget. I forgot my snow pants, so I was on picture duty. I did go down twice, but once you get wet, there is no warming up, so I quit while I was still dry. :-) Here are a few of the shots I got. My friend, Laurie, calls me the paparazzi. :-)

***Correction: We DID go tubing at Snow Mountain when we were in Georgia. Thanks, Deddy, for reminding me. :-) It just seemed a little different with no other snow around. :-) chocolate and marshmallows!

Jeff said she looks like an old country farmer....a very cold country farmer. :-)

Alyssa absolutely adores her baby sisters!

I do think it's funny that in EVERY picture of us this winter, we all look the same. We all have only one set of snow gear! I am glad there is a date stamp on digital pictures, otherwise, I would never know one outdoor even from another. :-)

Something really funny happened after church today, but I have already "talked" too for too long, so I will save it for the next posting. I hope you are all doing well!

Have a blessed week!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Funny Little Thing Called....Patience

It occurred to me as I brushed my teeth yesterday morning (one of the few times in my day that there is a chance I will be able to complete a thought) that I left out a very important detail to my story the other day. I was so tired (and punchy) when I wrote that....we had only been home about thirty minutes.

Remember I told you that Jeff dropped me off at the curb? I forgot to tell you when I actually saw him again.

Are you dying to know?

About one minute after I sat down in the waiting room.

Yep. If I had stayed with him, I would have only been one minute later than I was after my Olympic event trying to find where I was supposed to be. As it turns out, when you walk into the door from the parking garage...the only door from the parking garage....and go about 20 feet, you arrive at Registration "B". I told you....his even temperament is a gift...and I always end up being the one that looks a circus clown. :-)

We seem to have recovered fully from our big adventure. Clara's Mito Doc in Georgia started her on a new supplement to help with leg pain. We couldn't order it until we got home after Christmas , and she said it would take about a month to know if it is working, so we wait. We would really like to get her off of the ibuprofen she takes 2-3 times per day, so we are praying hard that this works for her pain. The only downside is that it can cause damage to her kidneys if she doesn't drink enough fluids, so I am trying...TRYING to remember to make her drink a lot. Otherwise, the doctors at the U of M did not change anything with her medications and supplements for now. There is a good chance the endocrinologist will add some medications and likely a Vitamin D supplement, but for now, no changes.

On the school front, things seem to be falling into place. We have had some really good days recently, so I think we are back on a roll. I have been assured by other homeschool Moms here that we will have plenty of time to catch up while it is snowing....and they are right. We have been doubling up on some things because I can promise you, with all this snow, we don't want to go ANYWHERE we don't have to. :-) Alyssa has been plugging along, as usual, with the constant knowledge that once she gets her work done, she is done for the day and can do what she wants to do (which usually involves more reading....gotta love that!). With Emilie, it continues to be a constant challenge to keep her on task. Yesterday, however, I finally implemented the workbox system that I have wanted to do for SO LONG and I think it's going to work!! We had the calmest day we have had in a long time, and for the first time in...I don't know how long...Emilie got all of her work done...and without me having to remind her even ONE time. I am cautiously optimistic, but more hopeful than I have been in a long time where she is concerned.

And then the little ones...those sweet little ones. I have a few favorite blogs that I have been collecting ideas from for a good year, but have had little time to implement those ideas. (See my favorite blogs on the sidebar). Last Monday, I finally started with them, and now everyday the first thing they want to know is, "Do you have acti-bi-ties for us today?" I love their eagerness to learn. I hope it stays that way. This week, we are studying the letter "T". I had already printed lots of "T" activities here and here. One of the things I downloaded were the "T is for Turtle" graphing cards. I wasn't really sure when I would implement them, but yesterday, as I was cleaning up a bag of dried black-eyed peas, trying to remove rocks and varmint-stricken peas, the little ones were very intent on "helping". Well you can imagine how many rocks and varmint-stricken peas were going into my pot. So I pulled out the graphing cards, gave them the black-eyed rejects, and let them graph away....and was able to peacefully start my pot of beans. :-) Here are some pictures:

And just for fun, Megan, our little Sunshine:

Have a fabulous day!


Friday, January 21, 2011

Our Adventure to the U of M

Today was the day of our appointment at the University of Michigan. We decided to spend the night in Ann Arbor because:

1.The appointment was fairly early (9:45) and Ann Arbor is about 3 hours away (according to Mapquest).
2. We are a little bit directionally challenged....even with a GPS.
3. We received no paperwork from the doctor's office, so we really had no idea where exactly we were going.

The man I talked to on the phone who "pre-registered' me on Wednesday told me to go the Mott Children's Hospital, go to the registration desk and ask for a blue card. Sounds easy enough, right?


We left the hotel in plenty of time, giving ourselves about 45 minutes to make the 3 miles drive to the University of Michigan Medical complex. I should have known it wouldn't be that easy. The map of the campus looks like a Battleship game.

We arrived at the campus with time to spare, until we drove around the campus over, and over, and over and over..... No one told us there was construction....or that streets are not marked....or that the sun would be right in our faces....or that the entrance to the hospital is on the OTHER SIDE OF THE BUILDING!

Jeff and I handle these situations very differently. (That is an understatement.) If you measured Jeff's ups and downs with a line, he would look, well, basically flat-lined. No ups. No downs. It doesn't matter if he's happy, sad, angry, frustrated. Nope. Just flat. It's one of his greatest gifts. Me? I am a little more, er...animated. My line would look like the outline of the Grand Canyon.

At one point, I finally lost it and told the GPS "to just BE QUIET". Jeff very calmly turned it off and stopped the car at what looked to be the childrens hospital (with 5 minutes to spare), and let me out on the curb. The plan was that he would go park the car while I got Clara where she needed to be. I was so mad at this point, I wanted to cry. (Yes. I cry when I get mad. You never want me on your team for a fight, because I just blubber and look like a wimp.) So I stepped out of the car ready for a good cry, but thankfully, it was so cold, my tear ducts froze.

I mean....gently placed Clara in her stroller and ran like a bat out of Niles to the entrance. It's a good thing I looked up when I did, because that door was not about to open for me. It's a miracle I didn't run right into it. It said, "Employee Entrance".

GREAT! Now, I really wanted to cry.

Tear ducts still frozen.

Thankfully, a wonderfully nice lady let me in with her. She escorted me to the registration desk to a helpful man who looked up my appointment and promptly told me I was in the wrong building.


Tear ducts thawing out.

He told me exactly where I need to go. "Take this hallway all the way over to the Taubman Building. Continue onto the carpeted area of the hall and look for "Registration B".

Then, he said it again (because I am sure he assumed the frantic, southern woman could not hear or understand what he was saying.)

"Take this hall all the way over to the Taubman building. Continue onto the carpeted area of the hall and look for "Registration B".

OK. Easy enough.

So, I ran, I mean RAN up the hall, onto the carpeted area (for what seemed like miles) until....I hit a dead end. No sign for "Registration B". No sign of "Registration B".

Tear ducts completely thawed.

It was at that moment that a kind nurse walked past me....or probably wished she had walked past me. She must of seen the look of panic in my eyes, and being the wonderful person that nurses are (they really are a special breed), she asked, "Are you okay? Can I help you?"

Open flood gates.

At this point I was about to hyperventilate. I had run farther in two minutes than I have run in years, and I was panicking. I was so afraid they would turn us away and make us reschedule because we were late.

The nurse from Above began patting my arm, as nurses do so well, and asked where I needed to be, so I sputtered out the best I could, between snot, tears, and frantic gasps of air..Registration... gulp...gulp....gasp...B...sputter....snot."

She assured me that all was well. She assured me that the doctor would still be there when I arrived, and then she assured me that they would still see us. Just what I needed to hear. She escorted me to "Registration B", got me some tissue, and offered me a glass of water... or a shot of whisky. I am as much of a t-totaler as a t-totaler can be, but at that very moment..... Anyway, I digress.

I finally got my blue card, and was on my way to the correct office. The lady at "Registration B" gave me directions twice, too. I must have looked pretty helpless at that point. :-) I wonder if it was the icicles frozen to my eyebrows, or the tears and snot that had sputtered all over everything?

Once I registered and sat down to fill out all the paperwork, it was only about five minutes until they called us back. It was only another five minutes until the first doctor walked in. Yes, I said "first doctor". We saw three doctors and a social worker today. I have never been so impressed at a doctor's office in my life. They really worked like a team. Basically, after looking at her x-rays, they are convinced Clara has or has had rickets. I really kind of thought that was a stretch when her geneticist first mentioned it, but this doctor agreed, and said 'rickets' was written all over her x-rays. (I should have checked those things out. It could saved me a lot of time if I had known her problem was written all over them. Sorry...I am a little tired and punchy.) She wants to see Clara back in six months, but in the meantime, we need to go to a pediatric endocrinologist and a different kind of geneticist. I don't completely understand all of this, yet, but I really haven't asked a lot of questions yet. I have learned through all of this not to get too much information until I know exactly what I am dealing with. For me, it is just unproductive.

The next doctor that came in specialized in muscle strength. I can't remember her exact title, but she was wonderful, as well. She gave us some ideas as to how to continue to build Clara's muscle strength, but is very pleased with her progress at this point. She still functions like a 22 month old, physically, but she has really come a long way. She also prescribed a different kind of inserts for her shoes, and was going to recommend we start the process for an adaptive stroller, but we have already done that.

The social worker came in to talk to us about a secondary form of insurance that is offered to Michigan residents. Clara qualifies because of her mitochondrial disease diagnosis, and it would cover anything our medical insurance does not, including anything that is applied to our deductible. We are unsure as to the cost, at this point, so we are praying for wisdom. We will have all the facts within the next week or week and a half. We are waiting to see what our portion of the stroller is going to be. That alone may make it worth it.

Overall, a very good visit, even though we did not get the definitive answers we wanted. We are a little bit frustrated that we have to go back again least twice, but we feel sure Clara is getting the very best care there. Maybe next time things will go a little more smoothly. :-)

We continue to pray for wisdom, and would appreciate if you would pray with us. God continues to amaze us at His perfect provision, compassion, and grace.

Until our next crazy adventure....

Much love,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Crazy Chicken

Hey Everyone,

I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to get ready for Clara's appointment and an overnight babysitter. I really have no business being on the computer, but wanted to keep you all up-to-date.

God has been so faithful to provide this week. We were so happy to get an appointment so quickly, but that also left a lot of other details to get together very quickly. All of her x-rays were 800 miles away-literally-and my brother, Drew, very sweetly spent his day off running around Atlanta fighting traffic and long lines at the post office to get them picked up at two different doctor's offices and sent to us in time for our appointment. They should arrive by 3:00 today. Thank you Drew!! Got sent an unexpected blessing to cover all of our travel expenses, and we were able to find a sweet, southern girl (her family is also part of Life Action) to stay overnight with our other three girls. Whew! I think that's it. Well...except for the directions I haven't printed off yet, the sheets that aren't finished washing, the few groceries I forgot at the store, Emilie's appointment this afternoon, and the toilets that need scrubbing. But other than that, I am all done! :-)

While I am so thankful that God has helped all the details fall into place, weeks like this frustrate me. Not because of the busyness....I actually kind of like that feeling of "purpose" when I am scheduling and getting things together. The part that I don't like is the way a week like this makes me focus on what is wrong with Clara....not so many wonderful things that are right. We try very hard not to dwell on her medical issues. Obviously, when she is sick we have to deal with it, but most days we like to pretend there is nothing wrong. Even her cute little walk and big ole head that lets other people know something is wrong has become very much a part of her...a very normal part of her. We never want our lives to be defined by mitochondrial disease. Obviously, I guess it is just that way, sometimes. I'll face facts when I need to, and the rest of the time...denial is a beautiful thing. :-)

It did occur to me this morning how thankful I am that God can also see all of my many faults, but chooses to shed his magnificent, everlasting, and abounding grace on me (and everyone else), choosing to focus on always making me more like Him. Never throwing my faults and handicaps back in my face once they are forgiven. I cannot tell you the overwhelming sense of gratitude I experienced as I thought about that. God has taught me so much through our precious girl. And all of this, Lord, I will thank you!

Please pray for a very safe and productive trip. We are really hoping to get some answers tomorrow, praying that God will finally put all these puzzle pieces in place.

Have a blessed day!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Perfect Kick in the Gut

I read something today on one of my favorite blogs that really got my attention. Suzanne McMinn, the author of the blog, said, "One of the surest paths to unhappiness is waiting for life to be perfect."

That sentence nearly knocked the breath out of me.


For some, it is a feather in their hat.

For me, it is almost a curse.

In some ways, that helped explain the mood I have been in lately.

That one word has debilitated me over and over again. I find that as I get older, it gets worse. When I was young, the pursuit of perfection is what drove me, motivated to be the absolute best at everything. If I didn't think I could be the best at it, I just didn't do it. Because I only had 'me' to take care of, I could keep perfect control of my life, and do everything the way I wanted.

Then came the (precious, wonderful, beautiful) children.

Nothing will spin you out of control like birthing four children.

Add to that one child with severe ADHD and a mood disorder, one child with a life altering illness, one little bonus blessing 11 1/2 months after the precious one with the illness, raising support to go into full-time ministry, trying to sell your house in the worst market ever, moving across the country away from everyone you have ever loved and held dear, and add to that all the regular craziness of life....I just about quit living. I could not/cannot keep my house perfectly. I cannot be the perfect wife. I cannot be the perfect mother. I cannot the perfect daughter/daughter-in-law/sister/friend, etc. I cannot balance my checkbook perfectly. It has been enough to make this crazy perfectionist, well....crazy!!! It has definitely made it harder to settle in should see all the boxes I still haven't unpacked!

The truth is, it is all a lie. A lie from Satan to rob me of the joy  that comes from knowing Him as my Savior and Lord. A lie to keep me from enjoying life's greatest blessings....Jeff and the girls. A lie to keep me from the joy of this ministry He has given me....wife and mother. And in true Satan fashion, it came on gradually so I could not notice it.

No more!

I cannot say that I will wake up tomorrow and no longer be a perfectionist. I cannot promise that Jeff will no longer have to say, "Honey, you're being too hard on yourself." I cannot promise that I will not be tempted to allow the condition of my home/wardrobe/ determine my worth. Also, I cannot promise that I will not retreat from a mess that seems impossible to clean up perfectly.

I can say that I am now aware. From this moment on, I will march forward as a child of the King, let Him pick me up when I fall, and realize that I can do NOTHING in my own strength and what I do does not have to be perfect. Perfection has only come to this earth one time. My prayer is that the One who is perfect will live through me, will be visible to all I encounter, and will be the strength that allows me to persevere in trials.

Please keep me accountable. :-)

A quick update on Clara:

When we were in Georgia over Christmas break, Clara's geneticist wanted us to see a metabolic bone disease specialist that could look at all of her test results and x-rays and help us figure out what exactly is going on with our sweet girl. We don't know if they will replace her mitochondrial disease diagnosis or add to it. It is possible that she has a form of dwarfism, has some type of thyroid disease, or has rickets. All of her symptoms do not fit neatly into any of these possibilities. Please pray we get answers. Clara is such a little puzzle. I know God knows....I just want Him to let us in on some of her secrets. Hmmm....I wonder if He is challenging my perfectionism? :-)

Please pray that all of the details of the visit will fall into place, as well. We were able to get an appointment for this Friday (we just made the appointment today) because they had a cancellation. Otherwise, it would have been months. While it is great that we are getting to go so quickly, that is a fast turn around to get all of her x-rays, especially considering that no one would answer the phone today. I don't know if they were closed due to MLK, or just swamped from the bad Georgia weather. I think we have arrangements in place now for the other girls, and the hospital at the University of Michigan took care of our sleeping arrangements. I thought that was awfully nice of them. :-)

So, once again, a long post. If you are still with me, I pray you have a blessed night!


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Now THIS is more like it!

The first thing people always said to us when we told them we were moving to Michigan was, "You know it snows there, right?" The smart-alec in me always wanted to pop back with a smart-alec remark, but I usually just smiled sweetly and said, "Yes, we know." Truthfully, I was just glad he didn't call us somewhere HOT, like Africa. :-) (I am really praying God will continue to work that smart-alec streak out of me.) When we got here, the first thing we did was to prepare for snow.

We gathered all of the snow gear we needed (even though we didn't know what most of it looked like). Actually, the first two times we went shopping, there was nothing out yet. My friend, Laurie, who has lived here her entire life, had agreed to go shopping with me, and even in her sweetness could not resist the urge to tease me about being frantic about preparing for "that blizzard that's probably gonna come next week". ( the middle of October). Before we even left Georgia, I was looking through Land's End trying to find coats (because I thought that was the only place to get warm clothing), e-mailing Laurie asking her if I needed the coats rated for -10 degrees to 5 degrees, or the ones graded -25 degrees to 0? She finally e-mailed me back. It said, "I am writing this with a smile. I guess I never thought about what it would be like for a Georgia peach to move north". I now know that snow boots, coats, sleds, and any other snow gear you could ever want are sold here at Wal-Mart. :-) The first time I ever saw snow boots, we were in Target. We came upon a rack of boots that didn't look like regular boots. After a few seconds of the girls and I standing there, staring at those boots, waiting for the neon sign to flash 'we are snow boots',  a woman came down the aisle. I said, "Ma'am, I don't mean to sound dumb, but are these snow boots?. She said, "Yes, and your going to NEED them!" we all started taking our shoes off and trying on boots.

With all this preparation, we were fully prepared for whatever may come our way (we thought) by the middle of October. October came and went with no snow. November came and went with one little snow. It finally became a joke at our house about this "alleged" snow. Jeff would tease the people at work about this "alleged" snow. We did get some at the beginning of December, and we thought, "Well this isn't so bad." We truly could not figure our what all of the hype was about. While we were in Georgia for three weeks, there were some significant storms here in Michigan. We know our power went out, at least for a little while, because of the evidence we found in our freezer :-), but we still had not seen anything worse than what was here at the beginning of December. While in Georgia, people would ask about the snow and we would say, "It's not so bad".

Hah!! Well, yesterday, we got it! Two feet in a 24 hour period. These were all taken fairly early in the storm.

This is our back yard. By the end of the day, you could not get to the door of that playhouse. The girls have had a goal of the snow reaching the bottom of the swing....we reached that goal yesterday!
This was the view from the front door.

Emilie LOVES the snow. She's always the first one in it...and usually not as 'dressed' as I would prefer. 

Megan was determined to play outside with Emilie, but she had to do some major high-stepping to get through the snow.
Our snow babies. :-)

Let's just say that these southerners, who have been trying very hard not to be southern about this whole snow issue, are at home in PJ's in front of a fire drinking hot chocolate being VERY SOUTHERN...and we like it. :-)

We have learned that :

1. It is okay to go get milk from the store. If you don't, your northern friends with a plow have to bring you some in the middle of the storm....your northern friends who are barely even sweating the storm.

2. You never "make a run for it" in your house shoes in this kind of snow.

3. It is time to start praying for a snow plow because neither one of us is physically equipped for what it takes to shovel 2 feet of snow out of the driveway.

4. Aren't there people in Honolulu that need Jesus?

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Left You Hanging

Hi Everyone!!

I just got on my blog for the first time in ... well... um...a while, and realized that not only has a TON happened since I last posted, but I totally left you hanging on the doctor decision. This will have to be fairly short because I have a bunch of unpacking and cleaning to do, but I thought I would give you a quick update.

Yes, we found a pediatrician. We are not convinced we will be sticking with the one we have chosen (I am not in love with their office procedures), but for now, it's the one we feel we are supposed to be with. He is very smart and he always calls me personally to discuss things, which I really like.

Clara is doing great. We have found her a physical therapist here that is super-sweet. She has been warned not to be too sweet with our sweet Clara, because Clara, if given the opportunity, will conquer and rule. She's a bit of a Napolean. :-) We visited with the geneticist while we were home for Christmas, and while we still don't have all the answers we want, we are on our way. I can't remember how much I have posted about this, but there is a possibility that Clara has either been incorrectly or not completely diagnosed. We are trying to get to the bottom of that. We have been referred to the University of Michigan to visit with a metabolic bone disease specialist there to determine what else is going on with her. Sorry to be vague, but I would rather not post a whole lot until we know for sure what we are dealing with. I'll keep you posted. :-) We are about to start the process (again) to get Clara the adaptive stroller she needs. The last time we started the process, there was the obstacle of time because we moved and the process is long, and money, because we were not sure what insurance would cover. We have been able to get by, until now, by carrying her or using an umbrella stroller, but that has gotten too hard. She has outgrown the stroller and she is WAY too heavy to carry. Please pray this process will go smoothly and insurance will cover well.

Thanksgiving was wonderful! We spent it with sweet friends here in Michigan.

We have been sledding for the first time ever! Even the little ones got in on the fun in "I'll-do-it-all-by-myself" toddler fashion. :-)

Christmas was wild, crazy and wonderful. We were in Georgia for three weeks. We went a little earlier than planned because we closed on our house on the 13th!! Yippee!! I will admit that it was bitter-sweet, but it needed to happen. It is weird to think of other people living in my house now. :-) However, I do not want to lose sight of the fact that God has been so faithful to take care of our every need since we've been here. The rest of the time was spent trying to see everyone we wanted to see. We did not succeed, but I think we did our very best. We both have large and very divorced-and-remarried families, so it makes it crazy. Not to mention, we have so desperately missed our church family and wanted to spend time with those friends, as well. There are still friends we did not get to see, and I am sad about that. We did not get to spend AS MUCH time as we wanted with anyone, but overall, it was a good visit. We were just very exhausted when we arrived back in Michigan and are trying to get caught up on sleep, as well as unpack and reorganize. We looked a little bit like the Beverly Hillbillies on the way home. We were already very packed in the van when we left, especially considering we left a day earlier than planned because of a storm that was strategic packing. We just threw it all in! But after 6 Christmases, it almost took a U-Haul to get us back to Michigan. All we needed was granny on top of the van in a rocking chair. :-)

This is what the road looked lie for the vast majority of our 17 1/2 hour drive to Georgia.

We did manage to squeeze in some fun. We went rock climbing for the first time EVER with some dear friends. All the girls did great, but these little ones blew us away! Megan went sraight to the top. It took Clara all night, but she kept trying, going a little farther up every time she tried. The little girls got to feed the ducks with Ms. of their favorite things EVER. As part of our Christmas gift from my parents, we went to Snow Mountain with my side of the family. We really enjoyed the sledding, shows, train, and 4-D theater, but most of all, it was so great being with my parents, brothers, sister, nieces and nephews.. Boy, I have missed them. We also spent a morning at Pump-It-Up with our homeschool co-op friends. There were two families back in town for the break (us and one other), so they scheduled a get-together so we could all see each other. Wasn't that sweet? We got to house-sit for a few days at the home of a GIGANTIC and very gentle lab named Rascal. The girls loved that. Megan kept trying to ride him. :-)

Feeding the ducks with Ms. Jill.

Emilie and Megan scaling the wall.

My parents, siblings, significant other, and us at Stone Mountain. I took some of all the kids, too, but they came out blurry. I get in too big of a hurry with the camera and sometimes forget it has to have time to focus. :-)

Christmas dresses.

Alyssa on Christmas being her preteen, goofy little self. :-)

Emilie on Christmas morning.

The little girls on Christmas morning sporting their new rain boots.

We celebrated a huge milestone in our family while in Georgia. Jeff turned 40!!! We had a wonderful time celebrating that milestone with (almost) our entire immediate families and some friends. Good times. :-)

Jeff is settling into his new job here, and really loving his work. He will be traveling soon to attend a pre-summit, and is very excited about seeing what happens there from a ministry perspective. Please pray there is not a blizzard in Michigan while he is gone. :-)

I know this is very general, but I wanted to get you all of that cliff where I left you hanging. :-) I will continue to try to do a better job keeping up with our blog.

Happy New Year!!