It’s That Time of Year

What gets you excited for the holiday season?  For me it is family.  And pie.  But mostly family.   I just can't believe how blessed Randall and I are with such an amazing family!  

For Randall's family and many other people I know and love, Christmas preparation starts in July.  That is when choir rehearsals start for the big church Christmas Pageant.

Randall's dad directed choirs for over 50 years.  He was an amazing director.  He would produce the most magnificent Christmas pageants.  I was blessed to be a part of a few of those.  I even played Mary once!  Now Randall's brother, Lyndel, is doing the same thing.  We've been able to see a few of his musicals and they are just as outstanding as Bill's ever were.  It's something I really look forward to at Christmas time.  

Randall, the boys, and I visited Randall's mom in Oklahoma City last weekend.  It was so nice to get together with the family. Dolores has been working on her church's Christmas music for quite some time, too.  They actually recorded a CD of their music and she gave us one to listen to on our road trip.  

Randall and I were able to leave the boys with her as we set off for Waco to see the Baylor/OU game.  So, early in the morning as the sun was rising over the plains, I popped in the CD.  I'm not going to lie.  Choral music is not typically our thing.  It's definitely not Randall's thing and we joked a little at the cheesy narrations over the music.  But as our conversation lulled and the music swelled, I got emotional.  I couldn't stop the tears as I thought about how much I missed Randall's daddy.  

I know the holidays are hard for people who are missing their dear ones.  But I am so thankful for the memories and moments we shared.  I'll never forget the extravagant Festivals of Lights.  When I see people holding candle lit services on cheesy Christmas movies, I always remember how Bill would direct us to move our candles in unison up and down.  And I can still hear his voice singing our favorite carols loudly over the congregation.

Our church rarely has a choir these days but this year we're trying something different.  We're asking for your help.  Yes, YOU.  This Christmas in all of our fourteen Christmas services we're going to have a virtual choir.

For Christmas this year at The Crossing we’re closing our Christmas Eve services with the song “Here With Us” by Joy Williams. For the experience of the last song, we’re going to have a choir on-stage and a “virtual choir” projected on the walls. Basically, we’re sharing the idea that all over the world, and in churches around the St. Louis area people are worshipping Immanuel together, especially on Christmas Eve. God is here with all of us.

So here’s where you come in but a disclaimer first: if you attend The Crossing on a regular basis…this is not for you because we only want folks who are outside the community as a part of the virtual choir.  If you are a part of The Crossing please feel free to forward this information on to your friends and family and join us at one of the fourteen Christmas Eve services at Fenton or Chesterfield this season.

 

If you're like me and you think Christmastime is made special by choirs, if you love God and love to sing, record yourself on your laptop singing parts for the Christmas Eve virtual choir. The whole process is laid out online at the link below and is a ton of fun. 

http://www.wcrossing.org/virtualchoir/

I can't wait to see what it looks like and to hear and see some of the same people I once sang Christmas songs with in Bill's Festival of Lights.  Let me know if you need any help or more information but make sure you participate!  This Christmas and again some day we'll all sing praises together in thanks to a God who really is here with us.

 

Budding Artist

When Isaac was in preschool, his teacher told us that he never chose to color or draw.  He always chose some other more physical activity.  She encouraged us to work with him on his art skills.  So, I decided to stock the desk in his room with paper and art supplies.  Everyday we (I) have quiet time in the afternoons.  This is the time when Asher can nap and Isaac can read or play by himself, while I (nap) get things done around the house.

Once Isaac had the opportunity and wasn't being forced to draw, he found that he was really very creative.  His first drawing was a giraffe.  We praised him so highly for it that he only drew giraffes for months.  Then one day last May we found this:

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Isaac's first love letter.  Abby is a cute blonde that was in his preschool class.

Recently, I've found other drawings of interest.

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Is it a plane making a train noise?  Or a bee being rude?  Either way, I laughed when I saw it!

Just the other day I found this and it made me laugh a little, too.

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It's been ripped and colored over since I first saw it.  He's had some remorse.  But at the top, you see a person "mom" with knives in her eyes, and a lovely caption, "Mom is DED".  I asked him when he wrote it and he said one of the days that I made him take a nap when he didn't want to.  He said "sorry"…

But I'll leave you on this sweet note:

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Tell Your Kids

Here's something I tell my kids:

Don't ever tell people what they look like.  They've got mirrors.  They know what they look like.  It's rude to say, "You're old" or "You're short" or "You've got hairy arms."  Don't tell them that they have yellow skin (Asher did that in the grocery store the other day to an elderly woman waiting in line at the pharmacy…) or a big tummy.  People already know what they look like and it's rude to point those things out to them.

 

Words of wisdom from a short girl with hairy arms…

 

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Part Two

The last post on Asher's adventures at the hospital was getting too long, so I decided to end it as we left the hospital.  But the story continues.

Side bar.  Can I be immature for a minute.  I try to write such thoughtful, endearing posts.  We need a laugh every once in a while don't we?  I had to really filter myself with the title for this one.  There are so many digestion issue related titles I could have used here instead of Part Two.  For instance: Number Two or Part Deuce.  I could have just titled this post any of the nicknames we give Asher (because of his issues) like "The Continued Saga of Toots Magoots" or "Tootie McTooterson."  Okay. I'll be done now but I'm sure you've got some of your own.  Don't you?

 

ANYWAY, so Asher quit crying as soon as he got in the car.  We decided to go get him a special toy at WalMart on the way home.  I do NOT spoil my kids.  Apparently that's what grandparents are for.  But I don't call a special toy for such a tramatic experience "spoiling."  All the way home and throughout the store, Asher didn't use his left arm.  He held it close to his chest so it wouldn't bump anything and refused to straighten it.  He picked out a Spiderman motorcycle toy because he was brave like Spiderman.  We went home and started playing while we waited to pick up Isaac from school.

Asher was just playing around in our play room when he found a toy stethescope.  He put it on and asked to listen to my heart.  Then he told me that he was going to be the doctor and I was going to have a son that was not feeling well.  So I played along.

Dr. Asher (in his deep "grownup" voice): Hello there where does it hurt?

Me: My son says his tummy hurts.

Dr. Asher: Where else?

Me: Just his tummy.

Dr. Asher then proceeded to use the stethescope to listen to my imaginary son's belly.

Me: How does it sound?

Dr. Asher: Bad… We're going to have to make him see his blood.

Me: But my son is scared.  Is it going to hurt?

Dr. Asher: Yes.  But you have to be brave. And I only need three. (Asher had to give four viles of blood, Dr. Asher only needed to take three from my imaginary son.)

Me: Ok he'll try to be brave.

Dr. Asher: And when it's all over, he'll get two stickers, a Spiderman and Batman sticker.

He proceeded to take the boys blood (which was really mine, he had a hard time pretending to physically check out an imaginary person) and then gave him two stickers.

Then he gave him a truck.  And then a special book.  Dr. Asher really thought my "son" deserved a lot of treats for being so brave.

Then he asked me what color my sons skin should be.  I said, I don't know what color do you think it should be.  He said red.

 

Later on he asked me why his tummy hurt.  I said, it could be that your tummy doesn't like certain foods.  Even though they taste good in your mouth, they may hurt your tummy.  I said maybe it's milk that makes your tummy hurt, even though we love to drink it.

He said, "Maybe it's donuts that make my tummy hurt. Cause sometimes Grandpa gives us donuts for breakfast." 

I said, "It could be.  They sure do taste good though, don't they?"

And then was sat in silence, drooling a little bit. 

 

I sure hope he's not allergic to donuts… We'll find out Tuesday.  I'll keep you posted.

Doctor’s Office

So I took Asher to the Kids GI office today.  On my way there Randall called and decided at the last minute to come support us.  I didn't think he needed to come.  If it were only a doctor's visit or consultation, it'd be silly to leave work.  But it wasn't.  And I'm glad Randall was there.  Thanks, Buddy.

So we get to the office on time and sit down in the very small waiting room.  There are lots of toys and Asher is excited to play.  The window is closed at the reception desk and I can't see anyone through it.  But we're making lots of noise playing so I assumed when the receptionist was ready to greet us, she would.  Ten minutes and a potty break later, we still hadn't seen a receptionist.  Then Randall walked in and a minute later we were greeted…

We filled out the paperwork and then got called in.  Asher started to get pretty scared.  We hadn't told him much about this visit because we didn't really know what to expect either.  Asher started to cry and said he didn't want to go in.  But the nurse just wanted to weigh him and see how tall he was.  We coaxed him in and got a weight of 36.5 lbs and the height of almost 40 inches.  He's still a growing boy.

Then suddenly we were in OUTERSPACE! IMG_0822

 

Just kidding.  We were just shown to a room to wait for the doctor.  But we had fun in there while we waited.

 

When the doctor came in, wait.  I have to tell you that this was not just any doctor.  Her waiting room boasted that she had been named one of the best doctors in the US for the past three years!  There were framed magazines and awards posted all over the room.  I don't know what I was expecting. But the doctor walked in and introduced herself so quickly it took me a second to figure out what she said.  Which was fine because after she shook our hands, she just sat and stared at us for two seconds before she said, "How can I help you." 

After explaining Asher's tummy troubles for the twenty third time. She briefly told us five or ten of the options Asher may have.  1) A parasite that didn't test positive the last time he was tested.  2) A milk and soy allergy (not just lactose but milk, even when it's baked into something). 3) A gluten intolerance or 4) some other food allergy. And 5) Celiac's Disease.  Then she told us to go downstairs and get his blood drawn and then to call her back on Tuesday to get the results.  So I sat there in shock and then picked up the papers as Randall took the boy and we headed downstairs. 

We still didn't quite know where we were going.  We had failed to ask where "downstairs" the little vampires took sweet babies' blood.  Luckily, the first thing we saw when the elevator doors opened was the lab.  We checked in and waited around, avoiding the subject altogether for 15 minutes or so.

We thought now would be a good time to tell Asher what was about to happen.  Randall showed Asher all the veins in his arm and said that sometimes a doctor will stick you and you can see your blood come out.  That sounds awful in print, but it really sounded exciting the way Randall put it.

And then we got called and moved to the actual lab part and waited there.

I was so glad Randall was there at this point.  When we made the move, Asher caught on that he was about to get to see his blood and he was not looking forward to it!  He started to whimper and I started to tear up.  Randall was great at changing the subject and getting Asher's attention so he didn't look at me. 

Then I saw it.

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The sad clown face painting on the wall across from me.  I mean COME ON!  Is that really what anyone of any age wants to stare at as they wait for someone to steal their blood?  But quite frankly, it made me laugh.  And the tears went away (for me anyway).

Asher was so brave.  He cried and said he didn't want his blood drawn.  But Randall held him as I held Asher's arm still while the blood was drawn.

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He cried all through the procedure and all through the hospital and all through the parking lot and then as we approached the car, he squeezed me tightly.  I stood with him in my arms, cherishing every moment of the unseasonable warm weather, the cool breeze, the breath taking fall colors, and the baby that needed me holding me close.   I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm sure:  I hate these storms but since they are a necessary part of life, I wouldn't change them for the world.

 

Asher

Do you remember this blog?  The one where I said Asher has been eating very well and I didn't want to post anything about what a good baby he was because I was afraid I might jinx something?  I was right to be afraid.

I guess I don't remember when it started, but shortly after that post (because I never remember him eating well) he started screaming every time he would nurse.  I called the doctor about it and she thought it might just be acid reflux.  But really she was baffled as to why Asher would hate the act of eating so much.  Most babies with acid reflux scream after eating when the acid starts bothering them.  We were prescribed a $45 once day drug that didn't do anything to help with the screaming but did stain everything Asher would puke on.  And boy did he puke!  

I've never seen a baby puke so much in my life.  Instead of using "burp" cloths, we needed puke cloths so we used dish towels.  Here's Aunt Erika with Asher and a lovely dish towel.  I feel like it just ruins a sweet picture…

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Anyway, the food issues progressed as you would expect.  A picky nurser, became a picky eater.  Asher didn't eat anything but bread when he started eating solids.  But just like the experts say, after offering a dish about nine times, he'd eventually open up to it and even enjoy it.  Today, Asher is doing pretty well with foods.  He loves all vegetables and fruit.  He'll eat chicken and beef (as long as he's familiar with the dish).  He's still very hesitant to try new foods and he still takes about a half hour longer than everyone else to finish his dinner.

But over six months ago he started having some digestion problems.  Without giving you too much information about his bathroom habits, six+ months of chronic diarrhea made us decide to call the doctor.

We tried many different things.  We removed lactose from his diet: no change.  We added probiotics: no change.  We tested him for parasites and ecoli.  We tested for blood in his stool.  All sorts of fun things!  Only a mother can love her child this much.

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Anyway, Asher started to look sick. He got dark circles under his eyes and he started looking sickly to me.  I remember thinking he just looked tired on this day.

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Asher spends so much time in the bathroom that just the other day, he told me that he had a dream that he was in the potty.  I asked him, "What were you doing in there?"  He said he was just swimming around and then he climbed out…

It's such a usual thing for him that he never complains and every time I ask him if his tummy hurts he says no.  And then last week he started complaining of a tummy ache.  After lunch he just wanted to lay down.  I felt his belly and it was bloated and hard.  My sweet baby.  It just breaks my heart.  So I called the doctor and told her I was tired of trying things.  I was ready to test for Celiacs Disease.  She referred me to a GI specialist.  

So we see the pediatric GI doctor today.  Here's how Asher feels about that:  Yesterday he asked if he could get an x-ray. 

Here's how I feel about that: I'm scared.  I'm worried about the actual testing (which they may not do today).  I do not want to see the pain on his face if he gets blood drawn.  I don't want to see the fear of the unknown on his face if they have to do any additional testing.  I know for Celiacs they usually do a blood test and a scope down your throat (although they put kids out for that).  

I'm also excited to get answers.  And worried we won't have any.  I am such a laid back person.  Not much in this world bothers me.  But I have never been so worried as when my kids are sick.  It makes me physically ill.  My heart aches and my stomach churns when I can't fix the problem that's bothering my kids…

So my prayer today is for wisdom and answers and strength to put on a happy and brave face for Asher.  This appointment may only be a short conversation with the doctor.  I just don't really know what to expect.  I also pray for healing and if I can be selfish, for an easy fix that does not come with a diagnosis of anything that includes the word "disease".  But really I'll be thankful just to know how to help!

A Tattle Tale

Let's talk about tattling. IMG_8005 

When I was a kid, I really did not understand why tattling was such a bad thing.  My understanding of it was that it was probably the right thing to do, but still very annoying and it made people want to beat you up.  So I tried to stay away from it, but I didn't really know why.

But tattling is something you forget about as you grow older.  I didn't think about it again until my kids started doing it.

Now, I am a big advocate of giving your children the reasoning behind the things you ask them to do.  I've heard people say that they don't give their kids reasons because they need to learn to respect a parent and obey without questioning.  My thinking on the subject is that if I'm asking my kid to do something and he's going to not want to do it, I better darn have a reason for asking him.  It's called choosing your battles.  I never want to ask my kid to do something just "because I say so."  I want to have a good reason and he's welcome to know why I ask… It's always because I want whats best for him or I want what's best for others.  In my own life, I don't want to do anything just because someone told me to.  We don't function that way as adults and if you do, you should seriously consider that.

So, when Isaac first started tattling, I told him, "Isaac, when you tell on someone just to get them in trouble, that's called tattling.  You shouldn't do that."  Many of my explanations go over the boys' heads.  I'm okay with that.  But, I remembered back to my childhood and seriously questioned why it's wrong to tattle.  Shouldn't people be held accountable for what they do?  Doesn't every wrong deserve a consequence?

I figured it out a while ago and started telling my kids the real reason why we shouldn't tattle.  The Bible clearly gives us actions to follow when someone wrongs us.  In Matthew 18, it says to first approach the person we have conflict with.  If you can't resolve it, then bring in your mom (or some other mediator).  Now when Isaac comes to me with a tattle tale, I tell him to talk to Asher about it (and vice versa).  If they can't work it out themselves, I step in.  

Just this week in CBS we talked about the Matthew 18 way of resolving conflict.  One woman said that she didn't think anyone resolved conflict that way anymore.  I saw a few other women nod their heads.  It really saddened me.  I had to speak up.  I said, "Absolutely people still follow this way of resolving conflict."  We learned this when I was in public elementary school.  We were taught this exact formula for resolving conflict.  I was actually a part of the "Conflict Resolution Team."  I was an impartial mediator.  When two kids would get in a fight, they could request a mediator and I'd come and help each person work it out.  If we couldn't figure it out peacefully, we'd bring in the school counselor.  Her name was Dr. Love and that's another story…

My church talks about this passage of the Bible all the time.  I bet you every volunteer and anyone who's been at our church for very long knows exactly what Matthew 18 says.  We talk about it in every Music Team interview we have.  We talk about it in each of our classes and we practice it to the best of our ability.  I've really never been in a healthier community in my life.  

And that's really something I want to teach my kids and the next generation!

But my kids still tattle every day.  What happens often is, Isaac will wrong Asher in some way (or the other way around) and then Asher will talk to Daddy about it.  They'll work it out and then later in the day Asher will see me and rehash the whole event.  At this point, there is a new lesson to be taught.  This is where I tell Asher it is time to forgive Isaac.  If you've already told him that he hurt your feelings and he apologized, then it's time to forgive him and not bring it back up.

That's a hard one.  Our church is spending the month of November talking about forgiveness.  It's easy to talk about to Isaac and Asher but it is much harder to apply to my own life.  Things are much more complicated when you're older, aren't they?

God give me the wisdom to raise my children in a way that will make them successful and godly men. Help me to be an example in grace, mercy and forgiveness.  Thank you for being the ultimate example to us.  Don't let me forget it.

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The Other Boy

I talk a lot about this boy IMG_8539

and this boy IMG_8634

But there's another boy in my life that I don't talk about as often on this blog.  It's this one IMG_8333

You know, before Randall and I started dating I wasn't into all that mushy romance stuff.  I never thought that God created each woman for one man. Not one man, I definitely believe in a one to one ratio here… I just wasn't ever looking for my one "soul mate."  I was pretty sure that any godly man who loved me could be "the One" when I was at the point of my life that I was ready for marriage.

When Randall and I started dating, it was a big deal.  He was ready for a serious relationship and I had never been in one of those before.  Randall and I had been dating for a relatively short time when he started telling me he loved me.  I refused to use the word "love" lightly in any relationship.  So, every time Randall would tell me he loved me, I'd just say, "thank you."  This went on for months until one day I finally questioned his love for me.  I believe we were making dinner at his parents house.  They were out of town and he must have been house sitting.  From across the room, he told me that he loved me and before my mind could catch up with my tongue I responded, "You say that, but how many other girls have you said that to?"

Then he responded with words I will never forget.  

"Emily, I've said it to other girls, but it's never meant what it means right now when I say it to you.  And if we ever get married, and I tell you 'I love you' on our wedding day, it will mean something so much more than it does now.  And on our tenth anniversary, my love for you will be even stronger and when I say 'I love you' on our fortieth anniversary it will mean something so very different, so much more than it did on our tenth anniversary,"  he explained.  And that may have been when my heart turned.

We came to a point while we were dating where Randall told me he was ready to move on in our relationship and if I wasn't ready to move forward then I'd need to let him go.  I hung up the phone from that conversation and prayed.  I asked God to move my heart towards Randall or make it clear that we should not move forward.  I can't even remember the first time that I told Randall I loved him.  I do remember just weeks after that phone conversation thinking that I didn't want to spend another day without Randall.  It occurred to me then that God had answered my prayers absolutely.  

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When I look at our relationship now, there is no other man on this earth living or dead that was made for me.  I'm still pretty sure that for each person, God gives them a multitude of choices when it comes to a "soul mate."  But for me, I must be different.  God made Randall for me.  God gave him to his parents 13 years later than they planned.  God moved his parents to St. Louis while he was in college.  God gave Randall the desire to go to seminary in St. Louis so he could meet me.  God gave my cousin the foresight to bug Randall relentlessly until he became a staff member of Windsor Crossing Community Church.  God put little whispers in peoples ears that encouraged us to start dating and God changed my heart towards this wonderful man. 

I can't imagine life without him.  I don't want to and thank God I don't have to. Photo

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Also, thank God we look better with age…