Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What Happened To Summer?

Every year for the last 4 or 5 years, here in the North Georgia Mountains, we have had the same weather patterns pretty consistently.  We have had wet winters and springs and very dry summers and falls.  The summers and falls had so little rainfall, it put us in several years of severe drought.   I would plant our gardens in the spring and even with watering them well, many plants would just dry up and blow away.  It was just to hot and dry.  I had many years that the fields got so dry the ground had cracks in it as wide as my little finger.  I had to buy hay in the summer to feed the livestock those years.

What a huge change this year!  We never had a normal Georgia summer this year here.  We never had days that were so hot that when you walked outside you melted and humidity was so thick you almost could not breath.  The weather has been for the most part spring like with an over load of regular weekly rain.  I think I had to water my garden a whole two times this year.  The picture above I just took this week.  Everything is still so green from all the regular rain we have gotten.  The temperatures have been much, much cooler than normal.

I went outside to milk my goats this morning and realized I should have put on a light jacket????  It was downright chilly! Of course we had to bottle feed a few little ones that were crying for their breakfast.

The kids and I spent the whole morning outside doing yard work today.  It was so nice I just could not keep them cooped up in the house doing home schooling.  We picked tomatoes, peppers and green beans.  Here is just a fraction of what we picked today.  I often run out of places to put it all.  :)  We are so blessed!

We cleaned out garden beds of the plants that were done producing for the year.  Like the squash plants.  I started preparing those raised beds for fall plantings.  The weather was so mild that when the kids were done helping me they went up on the hill and cleaned out the chicken coop.   
Usually it is to hot to do something like that.  But William, Carolyn and Zeke had it done in hardly any time at all.  We had all that done by lunch!

I then made a small batch of chili sauce with some of the tomatoes and peppers we had picked.  Yum! The whole house smelled just amazing from it.

The one thing that worries me a bit about the weather this year is we have also had such mild winters the last many years.  So if the weather patterns have changed so much this year for summer……they might be totally changed for winter as well.  We might be in for a doozey of a winter this year.  We haven’t had a good snow or ice storm in years.   The weak branches in trees have not been cleared out by one in a long time.  If we were to have one I believe we would have some serious power outages  from downed power lines. 

This is about as deep and thick as it gets once or twice a winter every few years or so.  We usually get a dusting every few years too.  But that's about it for where we are located and usually it is gone by the next day.  So when it happens the kids get very excited.  These pictures were taken I think around 2009.

Just to be on the safe side I am going to stock up on things we might need this fall for some winter power outage scenarios.  We do have a wood stove we heat with in winter.  We can also cook on it.  So if that did happen it would not be so very bad.  But never the less something to think about and plan for just in case.  I know God will be with us and protect us thru anything that comes our way.  God is so good!

I told the kids this morning with such chilly nights, as we have been having, the pool water temperature is going to drop quickly.  So to get out there and enjoy swimming as much as possible.  They jumped right on it with no fuss!  We had a long fun day and Elizabeth was asleep way before 8:00 pm!

Genesis 8:22  While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.


May the Lord God of Israel, lead, guide and help you as you prepare and gear up for fall. May He bless your remaining days of this summer, helping you enjoy and make the most of each moment. 



Saturday, July 27, 2013

Antonio & Elizabeth Update

Elizabeth got her braces put on the 15 of July this year.  You can read about it here.  That was 12 days ago.  She has an upper and lower appliance that we have to turn with a key daily to slowly widen her upper pallet and lower jaw.  I am amazed that in 12 days there has been so much progress.  She now has a huge gap in between her front teeth.  The orthodontist told us this would happen as her upper pallet seperates and spreads.  It is just interesting to see.  That just 12 days ago her top teeth looked like this.

And now 12 days later after turning the key twice a day looks like this.  Look how much her pallet has separated already.  Look at that gap!  She still has a little over two more weeks of turning the key daily and then once the orthodontist says that it is the right width we wait for four months till the bones grow back together again.  Then the orthodontist will start to work on getting those teeth in the proper positions.

She just started to be able to chew a bit, with out pain, two days ago.  She can chew soggy cereal and soup now.  :(  Bless her heart.  So that is nice to be able to chew again.  Hopefully as time goes on she will feel better and better and be able to eat all she wants again soon.  Everything that is, except crunchy things braces wearers can not eat.  :)

Just in case you were praying for her or wondering about her.  She is doing so much better and thank you for your prayers.  We could really feel them.  She is doing very well now.

Now for an Antonio update in case you were praying for him and thinking about him.

We took Antonio in to see his doctor and we talked a long time about his lungs, asthma and eating by mouth.  We came up with some medications to try.

I am not a mom who likes to go to or take her kids to the doctors.  I avoid medications at all costs and always try to find natural ways to deal with issues when possible.  BUT....When doctors and medications are the only answer, I am so grateful for what they have to offer and can be used to help us and our children.  God is so good.

We have decided to not feed Antonio at all by mouth anymore except for a cookie or treat every day, just to keep those swallowing muscles working.  We don't totally want to ever loose that.  We want to protect his airway as much as possible.  This is the only way I can see to do it anymore.  He is just not consistiant anymore in protecting his airway when eating solids.  After every meal he was always gurgly and coughed sometimes till he vomited.  (He is a lot of work to clean up as he can not move or care for himself at all, so many times a day and though the night we were having to do a total clean up on him)  If he is eating just a cookie he is so excited and concentrating on it and it is just a few bites so he can do that with out aspirating any of it, it seems. 

He has been suffering with constant wet lungs and asthma attacks for the last year or so.  Lots of gagging while eating and swallowing air in the night causing pain and vomiting.  Since starting on these new breathing treatment meds and oral meds, added to not oral feeding very much, he is feeling 100% better.  Praise God! Sleeping thru the night, not swallowing air or vomiting.  He is on meds for his tummy, allergies and lungs.  Praise God this cocktail worked. 

He has always been such a happy laid back kid.  Such a joy to be around always.  And he still has been.  He is a very good patient even when he does not feel well.  Still keeps a smile on his face and prays for help from God to make him feel better.  But over the last year he has had times of being down and just tired from not feeling well for so long.  It was just hard to watch him put on his best "happy"  when I knew he was not feeling that way deep inside.  This last week has truly been wonderful as he is back to his happy self all the time.  I can tell he is feeling so much better.  And not that I minded cleaning him up all the time and working with him more but it has been nice to not have him getting sick all the time.  I felt badly for him every time.  He would just keep apologizing and it was not his fault, bless his heart.
So thank you for all your prayers, encouragement and love.  They are always so appreciated.

I will leave you with a picture of cuteness from out in our barn.  Carolyn and I were playing with one of the new baby goats yesterday.  It is a little buckling that is white with black spots all over it.   While playing with it we noticed that he had a perfect little black heart (spot) on his nose.  To cute.  She is now calling him Valentine.  :) 

Philippians 4:4-7  Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.  Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

May God be with you now and always,



Thursday, July 25, 2013

William's Little Vacation!

I have been one busy Mama the last few days.  William went away on vacation from Sunday to Tuesday!  As you know he is my right hand man around here and helps me so much with everything from Antonio’s care to barn work.   So the last two mornings without him were non-stop.

My sister and her husband decided that they wanted to go on a short vacation to go to Kentucky to see the Ken Ham Creation Museum.  They were very kind in inviting William along.  William was more than thrilled as he loves listening to Ken Ham and is very into learning other ways to defend and explain his belief in the truths of the Bible.  He also had been wanting to see this Museum as well.  So we happily waved goodbye and I readied myself thru prayer......  That they would have a safe and wonderful trip and God would be with me here at home, giving me the strength to get everything done on my own.  Praise God, Tim was still here to help me in our evening bed time routine.  So basically it was just the mornings  and day that were much harder.  Also the chores at night in the barn were long and a bit harder. 

Praise God all went well.  William, my sister and her husband had a wonderful, safe and fun time building happy memories.  
The scenery there was beautiful!

The exhibits amazing!

He was not wanting his picture taken with these different kids of deer giving them a thumbs up because they were cute.  He was thinking yummy meat!  Ahhhhh!!!!  Farm life.  :)

The grounds and petting zoo were wonderfully kept.

They also went to a nearby mall that had a two tier merry-go-round.  I have never seen one in my life!

He thought it was funny someone had taped sun glasses to the dragon!

I think William enjoyed eating out almost as much as the museum!  He kept sending me pictures of his meals everywhere he ate!

By the grace of God everything went wonderfully here at home.  Doing all the chores went smoothly just took time, which I had plenty of as I had cleared my schedule of anything extra in preparation.  Also, I had Antonio up, toileted, showered, diapered, dressed, meds, breathing treatments and fed by 9:30 both days.   

It is always good for me to have these times to see how God helps me so much every day.  How He always gives me the strength I need no matter what needs doing.   He also shows me, it is not me that does anything here in and of myself.  It is all God.  It takes God using all of us….. all working together, with such a large and unusual family like ours, to get everything done.  I must say it all went well and the house was so quiet without William.  He is always tickling, and jesting with the other kids and wrestling with Zeke.  They often get giggly and a bit rowdy.  So it was really quiet.  We missed him so much.  

I have had many people ask what Tim and I are going to do when William and the others move away when they grow up.  How will we do all the barn work and care for Antonio.  It does not offend me and I will share my answer here with you all in case you were wondering too.  :)

Tim and I prayed and know that God brought each and every child, that we have, into our lives and family.  Since God brought them here, I know God will always provide for our needs, be it strength, food, equipment or help.  No matter what I need.  We need. He always has provided.

As Antonio grew, thru the years, we saw that we were going to have to make some changes and prepare for his future care here at home. We are only getting older and his care getting harder.  We prayed and asked God to show us easier ways to care for him and built a handicap bathroom and bedroom just with his growing up and adult care in mind.  We now have everything set up in a way that Tim or I truly can care for him by our selves.  Even on one of my harder days.  Using the equipment takes little effort or lifting on my part but takes time to work and use.  As a stay at home mom, time is something I have.  As my time is for serving God by serving my husband and children.  

Yes, William and the children work hard around here and are a BIG help.  But most of the things they do are to help care for themselves, their own animals or animals that supply milk, eggs or entertainment for themselves.  When they would ever grow up and move away, I would not have ponies or as many goats, chickens, dogs, cats, geese, hamsters ......You get the idea.  They take care of their own things.  I just check behind them daily to make sure it all gets done.  When they go away for a spell, once in a while, I do have my hands full.  But full of mostly their responsibilities.  

Also, most of my children might never move away.  Antonio is my forever child that will always be here.  Most likely Zeke will not be able to live on his own as well.  He has a lot of trouble focusing, thinking, trouble shooting, and learning even basic life skills.  He has trouble controlling his emotions and is impulsive.  Not always in a good" thinking things thru" way.   The girls will only be able to live independently if in a "group home" or if they got married to very special young men.  Carolyn is very attached to us so I don't see her moving to a group home and with Elizabeth's intense medical needs, I can't see her either, unless like I said, leaving in marriage.  So basically the only one that for sure will be leaving the nest will be William.  As even though learning comes hard to him, he can with great diligence.  He studied hard and got his permit and is working toward getting his drivers license.  He is planing for his future education even though he would probably not be able to go to a regular college.  So you see, I will still have plenty of mess makers and mess cleaner upers once William comes to that time in his life.  :)

All in all, I am not worried about the future.  As I said.  God built this family.  He will always provide just like He always has.  He is faithful.  I trust Him with my very life.  It is His.

God is so good.  This trip was such a wonderful surprise and blessing to provide this time away for William.  Many thanks to my sister and her husband for inviting him and making his time away so special.  I am very thankful!  May God bless you 100 fold.

Psalm 95:1-6 O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.  Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.  For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.  In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.  The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.  O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.




Monday, July 22, 2013

Surrender = Freedom

Have you ever had this happen before in life?  All of a sudden you realize you are stressed and over whelmed in a few areas and it is robbing you of your joy and energy in other areas?  Well, here I am AGAIN.  Repenting and giving it all back to God to carry, AGAIN. 

I do this all the time.  I wish I would learn my lesson and do as the Word of God says and let Him do the planning, worrying, carrying the load.    After all….all things are in His hands.  He is the Master and the planner of my life.  He is in control even when I don’t see things going like I would like them to go.  God is so good.  Often when things don’t go as I am thinking they should, God shows me later why it didn’t.  That He knows all things and knew things I didn’t know.  His plan and way is always way better than I could have ever imagined.

Matthew 11:28-30  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

In our culture when we think of the word surrender we think of defeat.  Or giving up our freedom to an enemy.  To be bound by the enemy we surrendered to.  We think about it in military terms. 

But with God.  Surrender = Freedom.

When we get saved we surrender our life, our will, our troubles and despair over to Him.  We are free.  We are no longer bound by sin and the cares of this world.  We are in the world but not of the world.  Heaven is now our forever home.   He is a big and awesome God and if God sets you free you will be free indeed!

John 8:36   If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Totally free in so many ways.  Think of our children.  How they never have to think where their next meal is coming from or if they have a bed to sleep in at night.  They know we will protect, love and provide for them.  How freeing, that as children, they don't have to think on those things.  Same with us with God.  We should not worry about the things in our life once He is our father.  He loves us and will protect, love and provide for us.  That is very freeing.  But we often don't live like that.  We worry.  It robs us of our joy and causes stress.  Distracts us from the daily blessings we have in life. 


Hebrews 12:1-2  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

All my life I have loved children.  All I ever wanted to be was a stay at home mother.  That was my lofty goal and desire in life.  As I have walked thru life and I have lived and learned I have seen now how many children are out there that need homes and a family.  Especially children with special needs.


I am blessed.  Abundantly blessed and I know that.   If this is all the children in life I am to raise….how wonderful and  joyous that blessing has been.  I truly cherish each and every one of Tim’s and my children that God has trusted us to bring up in the love and admonition of the Lord.  What a wonderful fulfilling life I have had. 


But….. I still have this very deep desire to adopt again.  I am not alone.  Tim also shares in this with me.  We talk about it often and pray and wait.  Praying that if God has any special little children out there, that need a home, that would fit well into our family,  to please bring them to us.  And so far……we wait.  I am sharing my heart today.  This is one thing that I struggle with.  I have for years.  To give this desire to God and leave it there.  That it does not consume my thoughts and days.  Distracting me from the ones that are before my eyes. 


This added to other things that are pressing at times.  I don't even always notice I am doing it.  But one by one, little by little, I start to pull them back onto myself to try to fix, figure out and take care of.  Most of them are things that I can often do nothing about anyways. 


Adoption...Bills....Needs.....Therapy....Antonio's feeding issues.....Elizabeths health....Foster Care.....Children's behavioral issues....Home schooling.....Progression...Regression in some areas..... 

When I give these issues or desires to God I can walk thru my days and life so happy and joyous even when days are hard.  I can find joy in so much.  God is with me.  It is when I pull all these worries, things we are going thru and desires back onto my mind.  Over think, over pray, over plan….That is when I begin to have it continually on my heart and mind and start to get impatient.  Sigh.

In life I have learned to live in the moment.  To be aware and take the time to enjoy our children.  Life is so precious, so fragile.  They grow up so fast.  I don’t want to be distracted while I wait…… On the Lord.  To show me what season of life I am going into next. 


God is so good.  I trust Him with my very life.  It is His.  I surrender everything once again.  I feel freedom once again…..And plan to leave it in His hands this time.  :)


1 Peter 5:7  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.


May God carry your every worry and woe.  May you feel free and joyous every day you live for Him.  As the Joy of the Lord is our strength! (Nehemiah 8:10)




Thursday, July 18, 2013

Here We Go Again!

When Elizabeth was born, she had many life threatening issues.  A three chamber heart was one of them.  It had to be repaired at birth and is called Truncus Arteriosis.  She will need many more open heart repair surgeries the rest of her life.  She had major lung and breathing issues and a trach.  She was failure to thrive.  She had digestive issues as well and got the bulk of her nutrition thru a g-tube.  Those were the things we focused on and gave our direct, daily, 24/7 attention to.  Praying and trying to find that delicate balance called “healthy” for her, by the grace of God. 

One of the more minor things we dealt with was that she was born with Torticollis.  Basically that means weaker neck muscles on one side than the other.  Hers was pretty severe.  Severe to the point of her only holding her head in one position while awake and when sleeping.  Not being able to turn her head or hold it in the other position at all.  Over favoring one side, only turning her head to one side.  Because of this her soft skull started to deform and misshape.  It actually started to collapse in the shape of a parallelogram, if you were looking at her from straight on, in the face.  

(See how her right eye socket is collapsing and her head so flat on that side at an angle)
Making one eye socket smaller than the other.  Her jaw started to move to one side and the inside of her palate became misaligned.  We started intense therapy to strengthen her neck muscles on the weak side and had her wear a special neck brace that made her use mostly the weak side.  As we were getting her neck stronger the doctors at the Cranial Facial Clinic made her a special helmet to reshape her head and get it back to a more rounded and balanced shape.  

It took many months of wearing this helmet, till, thru growth, the low parts grew and expanded to meet the higher areas and everything looked more normal.  Basically as she grew her head filled in the inside of the helmet.

Looking at her now, one would never know she went thru it all.  I only know as her mom because I lived thru it.  Also, when doing her hair into pony tails and making a part down the middle,  I cannot put a straight part on her head from all the high and low parts still to this day.  Her hair covers a lot of what they could not fix.  You can also see, when you look at her neck, there are good thick neck muscles on one side and not the other.  She is still weak on that other side. 

But….now she is 10 years old.  And it is time to fix the inside of her mouth where some misalignment/misshaping  happened at that time.  Her lower palate is windswept and very narrow.  Her upper palate is also very narrow. 

So here we go again.  William just got out of braces a few weeks ago.  Now is the time Elizabeth has to go into them. 

In the rest of this post will be a few pictures, some of them being the inside of Elizabeth's mouth.  So if they will make you squeamish you might not want to see the rest of this post.  I am putting them on here as someone might be facing the same with their child and like to see what the orthodontist has had to do.  

First, a few weeks ago they did impressions of her palate and teeth and placed in spacers to spread her teeth apart where they would need to put bands around her back teeth to anchor the appliances and braces.

Then a few weeks after the spacers were put in we went early one morning to have everything put on.  

We were at the orthodontist for over four hours having the braces put on and appliances put in.  The appliances will be turned by a key daily to spread her palate out and widen it.  Bless her heart.  She was such a good girl laying there for so long.  With her mouth open wide for most of that time.
This is when they were gluing the brackets on her teeth.

 In the roof of her mouth is the upper appliance that will be turned twice a day with a key for several weeks spreading her upper palate out.  Widening it. She will then need to wear it for four  months while the palate grows back together.
This is the lower appliance that will be turned with a key once every other day to widen her lower jawline.

Needless to say we would appreciate extra prayers for the next few weeks.  She is the one child in my home with low pain tolerance and mix that with impulsivity and behavior issues......  she is in a good deal of discomfort even with pain meds.  She also does not feel like chewing at all.  So we have been feeding her a lot of specially prepared soups, yogurt, pudding, and overly cooked veggies.  She no longer has a g-tube so she needs to eat.  When she feels puny the first thing that goes is her appetite.  She will have to have that key turned daily for several weeks then the appliances will be left there for four months while the bones grow back together again.  :(  Then they can work on straightening and aligning her teeth and bite. 

It is always so hard to see our children go thru things that are hard, uncomfortable or painful.  Hard things that we can’t bare for them or take from their plate.  I am so glad that there are ways to fix these things.   

This will be yet another chapter to her story.  Her life.  Hard things that bring us closer to each other and closer to God.  

God is so good.  I am forever grateful for His mercy and grace.  For salvation and my husband.  For these children that God has blessed us with.  Elizabeth has come so miraculously far.  All the Glory is His and His alone.

Joshua 1:9  Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

May Gods abundant blessings be poured out from heaven upon you today and always, 


Monday, July 15, 2013

Happy 26th Birthday Stephen!!

Wow!  Wow! Wow!  How did this much time go by already?  Amazing, just amazing. 

I remember complaining to my grandmother how old my children were all getting and how it was making me feel so old, and she said….”just wait till all your kids are retired and getting social security!!”  So funny.  But like everything she always said, it was full of practical wisdom and put things in perspective for me.  :)
Stephen I love you so much.  You are the one that made me officially a mother at a young and tender time in my life. 
All I ever wanted to be in life was a mother and you came along and fulfilled that in me.  
God blessed me with you.  I was so young I had no idea what I was doing.  But I enjoyed and loved you every moment of every day. 
We grew up together.  You had me all to yourself for nine years of your life.  And what an incredible nine years they were.  We did everything together.  We were more like buddies.  Everywhere I went, pretty much, you did too. 
Oh my goodness!!!... the high energy you had/have.  I had always wanted a lot of children but having you made me rethink for a season how many I really could take care of!  Praise God I was so young when I had you or I might not have had the energy to keep your body and mind satisfied. 

You rolled over at two weeks old.  Army crawled at six weeks old.  If you were walking you wanted to run.  Always wanting to go, go, go.  You started talking at 9 month old.  Knew 200 flash cards at 1 year old.  Writing from memory at 3.  Read your first novel at four…. Winnie the Pooh in old English!  The questions all day long were none stop and the answers had better be accurate and scientific.  If I didn’t know the answers, we would go find out together.  You were raised on Taco Bell, McDonalds and crispy cream donuts! (oh, man, have I changed my parenting ways since then!  None of that probably helped your high energy levels!!)
We were always on the go to keep you burning off your endless energy and using your unique creativity. 
When I was not working we lived at playgrounds, and lakeside beaches, swimming, fishing trips and long walks.  You were so very spoiled…..the first grandchild on both sides for YEARS! 
But… you wanted siblings from the time you were four.   You would pray for them..  Ask me when more were coming.  When you were 8 you gave me a phone number you had gotten off a billboard for adoption.  Saying that all you wanted for your birthday and Christmas was a little brother.  Sigh.  As an overwhelmed single mom that seemed an impossible gift to give.   (I guess all that praying built up and exploded on you with siblings a few years later in life when Tim asked me to marry him! Ha ha!)
You were always having fun!!!

Always busy being a big brother.

Do you remember …..

Me walking into your bedroom just in time to catch you from jumping off the top of your dresser.  You had on a cape and thought you could fly!

How about getting on campus isolation IN KINDERGARTEN!!!  For forging my name on a note that was sent home to be signed…..You signed it in green crayon.  I guess signing it MOM didn’t help your plan either.

How about wearing a bow tie everywhere we went for years.  Or stealing my Mario points on the video game we were playing together!  I didn’t even know that was possible.

How about me getting stopped in a routine license and car insurance inspection road block and you told the officer I was not wearing my seat belt and speeding right before I came to the road block! 

What an amazing journey my life has been.  I praise God you were part of it.  A HUGE part of it.
You are a good son.  I am pleased with you.  I love you.  We grew up together and both have changed in many ways.  You are not only my son but my friend.

Thanks for all the many games of scrabble, the flowers you bring. For coming home for regular visits and always making it fun and interesting for the rest of the kids.  Like bringing a huge bucket of Nerf guns for you all to have a war with. one shot the cat.  Silly thing was laying in the middle of the battlefield the whole time grooming itself!!
Or coming to swim with them and toss them around in the pool almost every weekend thru the summer months.

The visits since you moved away, are precious times.  
Proverbs 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go,  And when he is old he will not depart from it.

We love you now and always,
God be with you,
Dad and mom