Saturday, August 20, 2011

"This is a ch_ _ ch. What is missing? U..R"

Obviously, I'm getting old.
How can I tell?
For one thing.....the crazy amount of gray hair I have now!!
{What?  Oh, you thought this was my natural color??}

For another thing, I remember the days when everyone dressed up to go to church.
I'm not talking about the days of hats and gloves for women either.
{I'm not THAT old!}

Just the days when you went into church, you knew you were somewhere special.
You knew that it was different than the school house, or the playground, or the beach, or the mechanics shop.
The folks had actually taken the time to iron their clothes, and shine their shoes, and put on a tie, or a dress.
The little girls all wore dresses and the little boys had their shirts tucked in.
I'm not talking about Norman Rockwell's Americana Fantasy Land either.
I know you know what I'm talking about.

Church has become so casual these days.
Like a stop-off before going to the grocery store or the ball game or the mall.
Not a prepared for destination in and of itself.
Like no thought was put into Who we are coming to honor and worship.
Like we're expecting a hamburger happy meal in the drive through McDonalds.

In this century, our culture is moving at warp speed.
Life comes at me every single day like a tsunami!

"Be still, 
and know that I am God:"
Psalm 46:10

Is it possible that in this culture of lightning fast internet, and ipods, and ipads, and kindles, and cell phones....
it's next to impossible to settle our minds down and focus on the One who has given us this breathe......and the next.....
I have found that the older I get, the longer it takes me to actually hear anything from God's Word.
I have to read the scriptures for at least 15-20 minutes just to get focused in before I can get the noise of the day out of my head.
Then, it takes me another 40 minutes or so to grasp the "concept for the day."
How can I possibly get enough spiritual nutrition for the day by just reading a quick 5 verses and the corresponding devotional.
It's not enough.
Anymore, I have to deliberately MAKE that much time in my daily routine, or it never happens.
For me, that means waking up at 6 or 7 am.....before my children are up and going.

It's the same thing for Sunday worship.
I have to prepare for it.
Set it apart in my weekly routine.
Even dress differently than I normally do when I'm at home, or going to Wal-Mart, or even out to dinner with my precious husband!!

As a child, I read and re-read all of the Little House on the Prairie Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
One of my favorite stories comes from On the Banks of Plum Creek where Laura described "going to church" during the days of the pioneers:
"Laura and Mary had never seen a church.  But they knew from Ma's voice that going to church must be better than a party.  After a while Ma said, 'I am so glad I finished my new dress.'        
'You will look sweet as a posy in it,' Pa told her.  'We must start early.'
Next morning was a hurry.  Breakfast was a hurry, work was a hurry, and Ma hurried about dressing herself and Carrie.  She called up the ladder in a hurrying voice:  'Come on down, girls. I'll tie your ribbons.'
They hurried down.  Then they stood and stared at Ma.  She was perfectly beautiful in her new dress.  It was black-and-white calico, a narrow stripe of white, then a wider stripe of black lines and white lines no wider than threads.  Up the front it was buttoned with black buttons.  And the skirt was pulled back and lifted up to puffs and shirrings behind.  
Crocheted lace edged the little stand-up collar. Crocheted lace spread out in a bow on Ma's breast, and the gold breast-pin held the collar and the bow. Ma's face was lovely.  Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were bright.
She turned Laura and Mary around and quickly tied the ribbons on their braids.  Then she took Carrie's hand.  They all went out on the doorstep and Ma locked the door."
It was a special event.  One they deliberately prepared for and set apart from their regular routine.
One they dressed up for because it was important and an opportunity to wear the best they had.

I certainly don't hold to the philosophy that certain items of clothing make one more spiritual than another.
But I do believe that we should offer the very best we have in gratitude to the Giver of all.....and whatever your best is...whatever you can afford......that's what we should present ourselves for worship in.
For our OWN heart preparation.....not for the response of those around us.
God makes it very clear in His word that it's not how we look on the outside anyway, but the attitude and motivation of our heart.
"And let not your adornment be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.   1 Peter 3:3,4" 

All that we have.....the way we look, what we have in our closets, our children.....are gifts.
Given to us.....unmerited, unearned {because the strength we have to work and even having a job are gifts too....right?}....graces.
How wrong of us to parade around and show off for the oohs and ahhs of those around us.
But I've also noticed {without even trying to see} how some people feel that what they've been given should be seen by all.  Again, going back to this shift in how casual church dress has become.
But scripture clearly guides us in this area too:
"Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness.   1 Timothy 2: 9, 10"

I love how a former college professor of mine described this principle in an article she entitled "Graceful Modesty:"
 "As the truth of His grace fills the heart of a Christian woman, she will develop a mind of sobriety that will find her setting “her affection on things above” (Col. 3:2). The more she is consumed with the fact that her nakedness has been covered with robes of righteousness, the more she will desire to physically clothe herself in a manner that will richly—and not skimpily—demonstrate that covering. As she grows in grace, she will begin to more fully understand that, as a redeemed child of God, her clothing represents more than a physical covering."
I want my children to develop the habit of making church the most important part of their week.  Not because we think we "HAVE to or else,"  not out of fear, or tradition.....but because we NEED it.
We need that day of "rest" from our regular routines.
We need that time with our church family members to be encouraged and to encourage.
We need to focus our minds on the Creator of all a reprieve from all the things.
I need it.

And I feel children must learn how to prepare for going in to our "House of Worship" and to expect to meet with the Kings of Kings and Lord of Lords!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Introducing: Our DEXCOM 7!!!

Several months ago, I read about this amazing piece of technoloy over at Diabetes Sweeties.
Then, several weeks later, another "D-Mom" local friend of mine told me about their experience with it and that "they didn't know how they had lived without it for the last 4 1/2 years!"

Couple those experiences with my thinking through how stressful last school year was and how I've been praying about and thinking through how I could possibly afford another set of "eyes and hands" to help me with all that's on my plate every. single. day!!
We've been watching Ashlyn's blood sugar numbers creep up and up and we've felt like we're just chasing after highs all day long.
We give her more and more insulin and don't seem to see any changes.
It's frustrating as a parent.
You feel like a failure.....every. single. day.
You try changes in diet, writing things down better, chuck it all and just go with her meal readings, add more insulin, call the diabetes educator, get a new routine......still she's high......really high.

So when I did a little more research on the continuous blood glucose monitoring systems I knew this is EXACTLY what we needed!!

We still use ratios and insulin pens.
We're not on the pump.
I'm just not ready yet to hard-wire her to this disease.
I know that's a juvenile way to think of it, and that everybody just loves them and find they have so much better control.
But all I can think about is the maintenance and site changes and tubing and basically being chained to one of her parents when it comes to going overnight somewhere because nobody else is trained in knowing how complicated this thing is.
What if it gets plugged or the site gets infected or she starts dropping and her pump is still pumping insulin in?
Having to take the time to learn all that right now is just too overwhelming to me.
One step at a time.
Plus, she's not that interested yet.

So I needed some way to know what her sugars were doing all throughout the day without having to do a jillion finger sticks!!


The Dexcom 7!!

I talked about this a couple weeks ago {you can click on the previous statement to go to that post} after finding out the cost was going to make it completely out-of-the-question for our family.
But a family member decided she wanted to help us make this possible for Ashlyn.....
So we're IN!!!

There was a bit of paperwork to get through {which our Dexcom Representative helped us with}, but it came this last Monday.

It was a little overwhelming to look at all the books and leaflets this thing came with, but we had her wired in and running within several hours.

(Here you can see that in the last 3 hours, her blood sugars have been above the range we set for her {80-200} and that she's at a steady 245.  It alarms when she goes above or below her range and the arrow tells us if she is steady, going up or going down.)

So far, we've been swimming with it and at the water spray park and it has worked wonderfully.
The second and third full days she wore it, she was in her target range almost the ENTIRE DAY!!
We haven't seen that happen in months!!!
Today, she has been back in the 300's since she woke up.
The great thing is though, now we can see exactly where she is every 5 minutes and can act right now to treat her!!
Before, we just waited until the next mealtime to check her blood sugar numbers.
It's great for her to have this meter right next to her giving her a continuous flow of information!!

It's the extra set of "eyes and hands" that I've been praying for!!
It's my personal opinion that this technology is absolutely necessary for every Type 1 Diabetic.
I couldn't believe that our endocrinologist had not pushed this for us from the beginning.
It's REVOLUTIONARY to their care!!
When I spoke to our Dexcom Representative about it, he said that this device is not marketed to children under the age of 18.
It's not FDA approved for children.
When I asked him, "WHY??" his response was....."Well, that's the million dollar question."
It's absolutely unavailable to the uninsured also because medicaid will not cover it.
In my humble opinion, this needs to change.
This would help so many people living with Type 1 Diabetes change their quality of care dramatically!!
I know it has it's cons {though I'm still looking for them), but the pro's of the information it provides is priceless!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Getting ready.....

 During the first week of this month { can it be already??}, several of our children attended their very last week of VBS {their 6th} with very good friends.
That was it.
All the extra summer activities that are available in our community have ended.
No more VBS.
No more lunches at the high school.
No more reading programs or fun evenings at the library.
No more camps.
We are all getting in gear for another school year.
Our local school district starts on August 22.
So we see lots of Mom's, with school supply lists in hand, shopping for school supplies in Wal-Mart.
We see advertisements for school physicals and vaccinations.
We hear of football practice up and going {and in this heat!!}.

I have also been getting myself ready for our upcoming fall and winter season of learning.
I've been checking lots of websites for the best price for the curriculum we use.
I'm trying to think through how to make this school year less stressful than last year with an added student this year!!
Garrett is starting his kindergarten studies this year, and he is very excited.
I'm thinking about new things we want to accomplish and goals to set in learning for each of my children.
This year our school will have an 8th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader, 2nd grader, and kindergartner!!

For the last several years, two ladies from our former church have asked if they could help us with school supplies!!
They are such a blessing to us and their generosity toward us has always amazed us!!
Here is what came through our door last week:

"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits....."
Psalm 68:19

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Surviving the Summer 2011 Heatwave!!!

I didn't grow up in Texas.
"But I got here as fast as I could!!"

And ever since my husband brought me back to the "promised land"
where he grew up,
I've heard stories {of legendary proportions} of the summer of 1980.
It was the summer that went down in the record books as having the MOST
consecutive days 100+ temperatures {46}, plus the most days of 100+ days in one year {69}.
The #1 hottest summer on record in the state of Texas.

Well, this summer, we're giving that record a run for its money!!
So far, we've had 36 consecutive days of triple digits,
and there is no relief in sight.
In fact, as we get further into August,
the temperatures are only getting higher.
It's quite a novelty for this Yankee!!
I've never experienced a 110+ day yet, and I'm sure we'll see that later this month.

To make things worse, we haven't had any rain in a month-and-a-half or more.

For those of you who live in areas where it's rare to see drought conditions like this combined with temperatures like this, indulge me and allow me to share with you some of the things
that happen in conditions like this.

Our central air conditioning unit {along with so many others around us}
have trouble keeping up with such intense heat.
Our unit is old to begin with, but it's slightly smaller than what we need.
When the temperatures are in the 90's, our house is comfortable most of the day.
But for over a month now, our house is a sweltering 85 degrees with the A/C running.
Which only gets worse if you turn the oven on.
So, we've been enjoying meals that don't require an oven:

Hamburgers {on the large electric griddle}
Hotdogs {also on the griddle}
Fresh fruit {ice cold watermelon and strawberries}
Salads {with rotisserie chicken from Costco}
Crock-pots meals
Tuna-melts {warmed in the microwave oven}
Frosty cold SMOOTHIES!!
No-Bake Cookies

One day, we called an A/C guy to come look at our unit.
He wasn't going to be able to come for a couple days, so he suggested we spray off any
foilage/grass/dirt build-up on the outside unit.
So I tried that...
The house was noticeably cooler the next couple days.
When the house started getting warmer again,
I decided to try that trick again.
While spraying off the unit, I noticed large cracks in the ground and about a 1 inch space between
the ground and the foundation of our house.
So I thought it would be a good idea to "water" the foundation.
I let the water pour into that space all up and down that side of the house.
The next MORNING......
I open my closet door, which happens to be right off that outside wall that I had watered,
and there....
swarming 2 of my T-shirts hanging in that closet.......
were ANTS.
I must have drowned them out, and they came pouring into my closet to escape.

And the more I investigated......
the more I found......
they were on each and every piece of clothing I had hanging there.
So, I had an impromptu morning of fumigating, vacuuming, and laundering!!
Lots of people here are having problems with ants pouring into their homes to get cool and find some water.

Then there's the problem with so many people needing so much electricity to keep their homes cooled.
So we've been warned of possible rolling black-outs to give the power grids a break!!
We've been encouraged to turn out thermostats up, and reduce the number of appliances we use between the hours of 3 and 7 pm.

Because it's so dry and the "grass" looks more like hay, there are burn bans in place.
Many towns around us cancelled their 4th of July fireworks for fear of wildfires.
We haven't had to mow our lawn since May or June because it's basically dead.

Our 5 year old recently ran down the STREET {following his oldest sister} to the neighbors house....
By the time he ran back home, he kept complaining to me that "his feet hurt."
When I realized that he had run.....on the STREET.....bare footed....
I checked the bottom of his feet.
Just as I suspected.
Covering the balls and heels of his feet.
HUGE blisters.
He couldn't walk on them that evening,
and in the morning he was so happy for me to drain the fluid out of them so he could run around again!

Another problem that we {and everyone else} have encountered during this heatwave is.....
It's too hot to go outside to play....just too hot.
So my children are indoors all. day. long.
Thank goodness for VBS and church camp!!

Here are some other ways that we have kept cool and busy this hot, hot summer:

I didn't get 100% participation this year, but 4 of our 6 children completed their summer reading program 
at the library and received a free book, a certificate, and tons of free goodie coupons from local restaurants!
{I think it's significant to notice that neither of my AHDH children are in the above picture!!}

Our local public high school offered free breakfast and lunch to all children under the age of 18 during the months of June and July.
We took advantage of that as many days as we could.
Less mess in my kitchen, a money saver, and it got us out of the house every day!!

Enjoying the fruits of their reading labor!!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Teen Camp!!

The week following Junior Camp in July was Teen Camp for our 13-year old.
This was her very first year to go with our church's youth group as a teenager.
And what an amazing week she had!!
They went on an 18 hour church bus ride to Mount Moriah Christian Camp in Powell, TN.
They started out 1 1/2 hours late because the bus wouldn't start after they got it all loaded.  Battery.
But they all had "the BEST" week of teen camp "EVER!"
Complete with one of the adult sponsors getting 13 stitches in his forehead/nose due to an injury in the pool,
and a tire blow-out on the ride home that resulted in a 3-hour layover at the local gas station!!

We prayed that the Word of God would speak to her heart during that week, and He answered our prayer!!

Lexi was part of the "Photography Club" during this week.

With her best friend and the "big ball" game!!

Lexi is on the left in the black shirt...with the red hair ;)

We were so blessed this year to see 3 of our children get to attend summer camp.
We feel it's such an important opportunity for them to get away from all the "noise" our culture covers them with on a daily basis,
to a place where they have to be away from TV, video games, computers, neighborhood influences.
They are using up tons of physical energy all day, so they can sit still better and hear the principles taught to them from the Word of God during morning chapel as well as evening service time.
Children are very tender to the Lord's voice, and this is a great place for them
to make some life-long decisions for Him.
We work together as family every spring and early summer to raise the money for them to go,
and it has always proved to be one of the best investments of the summer!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Catching up!!

This has just been THE most amazing summer for our family.
We have had such a BLAST!!
The last couple of weeks were supposed to be slower, lazier, less busy weeks.....but we've managed to keep hoppin' most every day.

One of the big things here recently that has significantly impacted our days has been this tremendous heatwave.
We live in Central North Texas, and we are currently in our 36th consecutive day of triple digit temperatures.
On the 1st day of July it was a minty-fresh 98 degrees that broke already many triple digit days, so we've had many, many days of intense heat with it only getter hotter as we go farther into August!!
I'll be posting about how we've been surviving this record breaking heatwave next week!!

But let's get on to other more interesting things than the weather!!!
I've already posted about the "Adventures of Summer Camp", but I wanted to put up some pictures that our youth pastor's wife took during the week!!

Type 1 Diabetes never gets a vacation.  Checking BS with the camp nurse.

This was the day after her nightmare of falling off the top bunk and ending up with a fat lip 
and a visit from the paramedics.
She didn't quite feel like going boating with her friends.

Ashlyn is standing here with her back to the camera in the green shirt and dark shorts.