Friday, July 15, 2011

Life is a Bowl Full of Cherries

Yesterday we spent the day at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital having tests done on Cora.  She had an ultrasound and a VCUG (Voiding Cysto-Urethogram) which basically involved a catheter, dye, tons of x-rays, and lots and lots of tears.  It's a very invasive, frightening test for a little person, and Cora had it done on no sleep, right in the middle of naptime (not my choice).

We found out that Cora has something called VUR (vesicoureteral reflux), which is a pediatric condition that allows urine to flow backwards from the bladder to the kidneys.  If untreated, this condition can cause kidney infections, kidney damage, scarring, high blood pressure, and other issues.  Fortunately, we should be able to keep problems at bay with a daily low-dose antibiotic and monitoring by a urologist until she outgrows the condition.  If you want a simple, easy-to-understand explanation of VUR, check this website.

This diagnosis comes on the heels of a lot of other medical stuff we've had going on.  Cora has been sick on and off for about a month (related to the VUR), and before that, if you remember, I hurt my back and had to have x-rays and chiropractic care.  To add to the fun, Jim had to have a root canal and a crown a few weeks ago, to the tune of $2000.

We haven't had too many breaks in these last twenty-one months and neither has our bank account.  Colic, reflux, milk protein problems, ear infections, tubes, VUR... It is all starting to take its toll.  I'm tired and I'm discouraged.  I'm concerned about money and how we will get through any more emergencies.

Each day I find myself scheming for ways I can make a few dollars.  I've looked into tutoring and selling craft items as well as a few other things, but none of them seem right.  Deep in my heart I know that my attempts to find a financial solution are really just me not trusting God.  I truly, truly believe that I need to focus on my family this fall.  We are on the brink of so many changes: kindergarten, seminary, women's ministry, and several other new things that are new to our plates.  And every money-making thing I think of feels like more of a distraction than a blessing.  Unless I can find a job I love that pays me to work only two days a week while Cora is at Mother's Day Out (also a potentially new thing this fall) and doesn't require extra time on the side, I can't see how the income could be less than a hindrance.

And still I fear.

Last night I led a Bible study on the parable of the sower from Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8.  This is one of Jesus' more well-known parables about the seed being scattered on different types of soil.  At the end of his explanation of the parable, Jesus says this:

"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop."  Luke 8:15

I LOVE that when I looked up verses yesterday for my own life (unrelated to my preparations for the Bible study), I found Jeremiah 17: 7 and 8:

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

I just don't think these connected verses are a coincidence.  I can't claim to be good soil and have God in charge of my life if I'm not bearing fruit.  And I can't bear fruit if I'm afraid and trying to control everything.  So even though I don't know where our money will come from, I will try to stop worrying and trust that God will provide. (Matthew 6:25 - 33)

Even though I don't know what will happen with Cora's health and kidneys, I will believe that God has a plan for her life and wants to prosper her and not harm her. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Even though I'm intimidated by this huge time of change our family has ahead of us, I will believe that God is leading our family and will honor our desire to serve Him. (Matthew 6:33)

I'm eager to produce good fruit, but some days I just crave chocolate.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Busy 4th of July Weekend

Independence Day weekend was super busy in our house!  Here is how we spent our weekend:

Our friends Josh and Cat came over to help make placemat purses for the girls we sponsor.  We sponsor a little girl named Mayerli who shares Cora's birthdate, and Josh and Cat sponsor six girls, five of whom can receive small gifts through the mail.

I loved the idea of making and personalizing a bag because it's useful for any age, and a placemat purse seemed like a great option because it's so easy and inexpensive.  Plus, this size bag would actually fit in the envelopes allowed by World Vision.

If you've never made (or heard of) a placemat purse, just google it to find plenty of online tutorials and videos.  Basically, you take a placemat, fold it in half, stitch up the sides, make a few more stitches to form the bottom of the purse, and add some ribbon handles.  It is seriously easy for anyone who can sew a straight line on a sewing machine.

Everyone got in on the action, and it was especially fun watching Jim teach Josh how to iron.  :-)

When the bags were stitched together, we used freezer paper stencils and fabric paint to add the girls' names.

Partway through the morning, Jim received an awesome - but crazy -  text message:

He recently applied to take some online classes through Dallas Theological Seminary, and this is how he found out he was accepted!!  Have times changed, or what?  Anyway, he registers this week and starts his first class at the end of August.  He is hoping to get a Masters in Christian Education.  It will probably take around six years to finish the program because he is only going to take a few classes at a time, but he does hope to eventually finish.  Exciting stuff!

Anyway, back to the bags.  

Brennan worked on drawing pictures for the kids while I wrote letters and everyone else finished up the bags.  In the end, I think they came out super cute.

One of Josh and Cat's bags was still drying, so they just have four here to show off.  I think the kids will just love them!  And they only cost us about $4.50 each!  Rock on!

We joined our friends, the McGregors, at the splash pad in nearby Smyrna.  The kids played in the water, and when everyone was worn out, we had a picnic dinner in a beautiful area with perfect weather.  

I realized when we got home on Sunday night that Cora is starting to become like one of the "big" kids.  She went on a little walk with Alana, Brennan, and me and kept up with all of us, she sat at the picnic table and ate her dinner, and she made her needs known throughout the day.  Where has time gone?

We had a lazy day, cooked hot dogs and brats on the grill, and at night Brennan and I drove over to the nearby elementary school to watch the local fireworks.  They didn't start until 9:30 PM, and fifteen minutes into the show, Brennan fell asleep.  He startled awake at one point and begged me to take him home.  I watched the finale through my rearview mirror and had him in bed, sound asleep, while most people were probably fighting to get out of the parking lot.

Since I have no good pictures to share from Monday, I'll show a few pictures of the kids dressed for church on Sunday.

I bought their outfits last year at after-holiday sales, and it was so fun to see them on!  Someday I'll probably get most of my money back as I consign them.  It will be hard to part with this dress, though.  It's just so sweet!

I hope you had a great Independence Day!  What did you do to keep busy?
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