Those of you who follow my blog or who know me personally, know the issues of our middle son, Alex. He has a degenerative brain disorder called Cerebellar Atrophy. It affects his vision, his balance, his motor skills…and causes him severe pain daily. It does not affect his mind in anyway, thank God! When I say that he is never without pain…it is not an exaggeration.
For years, ever since he was diagnosed when he was in the eighth grade, we have sought help from anywhere and everywhere. The trouble is, there’s just not a lot of information, and fewer doctors who specialize in this. We have looked the world over…literally. We have gotten the most help from the University of Michigan and they have been able to give us information, but no help in dealing with the pain.
Alex is a regular patient of the Pain Management Center here and is on quite a few medications. And, that is where we have been for about 10 years. A few months ago, his doctor told him about a new treatment that could possible give him some relief. He began looking into it and trying to get it available in Dothan. However, we told him we would go wherever it was available. The procedure is done every 4 days, so it really needs to be done as close to home as possible. Finally, it was approved for him to get the equipment here in Dothan. Then came a whole mess with insurance coverage, etc…since it is still considered by some to be experimental. Another month or so and that was finally worked out. We told them we would cover it out of pocket if insurance wouldn’t cooperate. But, finally it was all set up. And the device was implanted behind his ear last Thursday.
********The P-STIM is a miniaturized device designed to administer auriculo (ear) point stimulation treatment over several days. Stimulation is performed by electrical pulses emitted through selectively positioned needles. The advantage of using the ear is that it offers numerous points of stimulation within a small area. It provides continuous point stimulation for several days and then is removed and replaced with another.********
I share this with you to ask for your prayers. Regardless of the efficacy of the treatment, ultimately Alex’s well being is in the hands of our Heavenly Father. I truly believe God wants Alex to have a better quality of life. After all, He wants us all to have the joy that only He can give. We know the outcome of this procedure is up to Him. Our prayer is that it would give him some relief. Our prayer is that Alex could be completely healed. Our prayer is that he could live a normal life and get out into the world and not be home bound. And, we know God is able. God is able to do more than we could ever imagine. Our prayer is that He shows us grace and mercy in Alex’s life.
But, if He should choose to let things remain as they are…we will still praise Him. He is good…all the time. And, He sees farther along than we ever could. His will may be to teach us all a lesson in accepting what we cannot change and learning to look for the blessings of each day.
Pray with us, if you will, that God will give us the grace to accept His decisions…and the strength and perseverance to continue the fight.
1/26/15…..Edited to add: Today Alex went in to have the second device implanted. No news yet on if it is working, Even the doctors and reps don’t know how long it will take to see results. But, my God is big!
Yesterday, 1/14/15, I had a doctor’s appointment and Levi was going to stay with his Pa at work. I had some time to kill before I could drop him off, and I was already on that side of town, so I decided to go by and visit my Mom at the cemetery. As I pulled in…
Levi…“What is this place? I never been here before!”
Lulu….“I’m going to show you something.”
And, then I realized that Levi had probably never been to a cemetery before. Oh, my! How was I going to explain this to him? I sent up a prayer…“Please, Lord, give me the right words.” I did not want it to be a frightening thing for him…but just a fact of life.
We drove past the entrance and into the winding lane between the graves.
Levi….”Oh, I know what this place is! It’s a flower garden!”
And, looking out over the neatly manicured lawn with flowers springing up everywhere…it did look like a flower garden!
Lulu…“There are sure lots of flowers here, aren’t there?” And, I kept driving until I got close to Mom’s grave. I parked and we got out. He immediately took off running and exploring this new place.
Levi…“Look, Lulu! There’s flowers and rocks in the ground!” (He was referring to the headstones that are flat to the ground.)
Lulu…“Come with me, I want to show you something.” And, I took him over to Mom’s grave. I showed him the tree we had planted there, and the little redbirds that hang from the branches. I showed him the bench we had placed there to sit and rest.
Lulu…“This is where My Mommy rests, but she lives in Heaven.”
Levi…“Where is Heaven?”
Lulu…“I’m not really sure, but I think it is on the other side of the sky. But, I know for sure that Jesus lives there. “
Levi…“Does she have a house?”
Lulu…“The Bible says that she will have a house there. And, the best part is, God is there, too!”
As he took all this in, he noticed the mausoleum close by.
Levi…“Is that God’s house?”
Lulu…“No. That’s not His house.”
This was really a lot for a little boy to take in. So, I just sat and let him ask what he needed to know.
Lulu…“Look, here is my Mommy’s name.”
Levi…” What is her name?”
Lulu…“Her name is Eloise…but your daddy called her Granny. Some people called her Ella, or Miss Ellie, or Annie. I called Mama.”
Levi…“Is that her rock?”
Lulu…“Yes, that’s her rock. See! We put flowers right in here. See how close it is to the redbird tree.”
Levi…Look! her name has an ‘L’ in it, too!
Lulu…Yes, and look! it has an ‘E’ and an ‘I’ in it, too!
As he ran around, he picked out letters in other names on the ‘rocks’.
Levi…“Are they all your Granny’s name?”
Lulu…”No. Those are names of other people who are resting here, too.
Levi…“Did they go live with God, too?”
Lulu…“I don’t know, Levi. But, if they loved Jesus in their heart, they sure did!”
I sat down on the bench and he climbed up beside me…swinging his little legs and looking around. I knew his mind was full of questions.
Levi…“I like this flower garden. I think it is a happy place.
Lulu…“Oh, it is a very happy place! I like to come here. But, we’ve got to go now…it’s very cold.”
Levi….“Is your Mommy cold, too?”
Lulu…“Oh, No! She is in heaven…and she is singing and dancing and having a great time. She doesn’t get tired and she doesn’t get sick….and she doesn’t get cold. She’s happy all the time.”
Levi…“Can we come back next time?”
Lulu…“Of course we can!”
Wow! What an amazing exchange! I think God gave him a little understanding and me words to say.
This morning, before breakfast, Levi said the blessing.
Levi…“God, please look after Lulu’s Granny in heaven. I like her flower garden. I will come see her one day. I like the eggs and the bacon. I like my school. I like Jesus. Amen.”
Friends, these are the moments that you take and tuck into your heart of hearts. These are the moments that remind you that God cares about the hearts of little boys and big Lulus. These are the moments that remind us that He watches us everyday, in everything we do. And, He plans special moments for us to savor.
It has always saddened me a little that Mom never got to know John Thomas and Levi, and now Jackson. She loved her grandchildren so much and her great grands would have thrilled her! Joy takes John Thomas to visit quite often and now Levi has visited her resting place. I don’t know if she sees them or knows of them, but I sure like to think that she enjoys it when they visit her.
This little visit to The Flower Garden was a spur of the moment idea…not planned or even thought about until it happened. Well...I didn’t plan it. But, perhaps God had other ideas!
It is important that in matters of theology we don’t give more information than a child is old enough to comprehend. I gave Levi as much information as I thought would make sense to him and I answered every question he asked, but I did not try to explain to him that her body is under the ground, or that she is dead. That can be quite confusing to a young child. and that understanding will come to him at a later time. So, I followed his lead. What he needed to now…he asked. What he asked…I answered. The main thing this little visit did for Levi was show him that a cemetery is not a scary place. This sets a foundation for the times he will encounter death in years to come. To him, at this time, a cemetery is a place where there are lots of flowers…it’s a place where we talk about people we don’t see anymore…and, he had a happy time there.
” We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the
Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done…
so the next generation will know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn will tell their children.”
THE MERRIEST CHRISTMAS DAY…2014
The last car has gone from the yard and the house is too quiet! But, OH! MY! the fun that has gone on within the walls of the Creekhouse during the past few days! I think it was the best Christmas ever! (But, I say that every year). But, this one was surely among the top!
Christmas Day started bright and early with me getting the turkey in the oven. Then finishing the meal prep with Don’s help, and getting dressed and ready for the fun! First to arrive was Tara and Will and John Thomas, followed by Lori, and Tommy and Joy and Pop! We knew Tina and Ian and Jackson were on the way, but were going to go ahead and start eating! We held hands around the table and prayed together. As soon as we said “AMEN”…in they walked! So, we quickly added a postscript to our prayer and thanked God we were all together and for safety in their travels. Alex was able to be up and enjoy the family, too! Thank you, God! (Adam had to work…and Suzanne and Levi were joining us after lunch at her parents.)
After lunch, Adam and Suzanne came in and I followed the advice of several of my friends. Last week I posted a pic of our 3 little guys made on my front porch steps.
Several of you suggested I make this an annual photo of the boys and I thought that was a wonderful idea! So here is CHRISTMAS ON THE STEPS…2014
We had a big surprise for Levi, and as soon as we had snapped these boy’s pics, we took him into the garage where he had this waiting for him! He was ecstatic! We were trying to give him a chance to ride it a little before it got dark! He jumped right on and the other boys hopped in too! Off they went…down the drive, and all the way to the bridge! What made it even more special was that Adam and his work partner happened to be free and swung the ambulance by the house in time to see Levi’s big surprise! Thank you, Lord, for working that out! As it turned out, we all went outside for the big ride…and made lots of pics while there.
We gathered in the den to share some gifts. Pop blessed us all by donating gifts to Heifer International, in each of our names. This organization provides animals to those who live in deep poverty around the world. By using the animals, goats, sheep, chicks, cows, pigs, rabbits, etc., they are able to have milk and eggs for their family, and some to sell. They then can breed the animals, as well. By suppling a few families in the poorest of villages, soon they are able to help each other out and help provide for the village as a whole. This is a Christian organization and well worth supporting. Also donations were made to Clean Water and Smile Train. This is such a worthy gift and honors us greatly. Pop and Mom started doing this years ago, and it has become a blessing to our family. To know that we, who need so little, are helping many who are in such need, is humbling. Thank you Pop for having such a giving heart and for being so willing to share so others may have a better life. You lead us well!
Levi sang ‘Happy Birthday, Jesus’ for us, and we all sang some Christmas songs together.
Then the little boys dug into their gifts and had a ball! Too soon, we were all stuffed and sleepy and the celebration came to an end! It couldn’t have been any sweeter!
THE MERRIEST DECEMBER 26….2014
Because Adam could not join us on Christmas, we extended our family celebration into the next evening. Oh, what joy it was for me to have all my children and all my grandchildren and Don and I in the same room at the same time! Adam and Alex and Ian had fun just playing and sharing tech stuff. They laughed and danced and sang and I watched it all with pride and happiness!
Levi finally gave out on us and the night had to come to a close. BUT…I had told the whole group I was getting pictures of my boys and nobody was leaving until I did! So, grudgingly, I got the boys and Don and I in three quick pics! Treasure, I tell you! Treasures!
You’d think folks would be glad I made a few photos of the day, wouldn’t you! They all like to have them after they are made! And, most of the family is cooperative….but these guys? Party poopers!
Can you believe it?
Jackson got his bath and posed for a sweet Christmas picture in his Christmas PJ’s beside my tree….gladly, I might add!
And, a few minutes ago they pulled out of the driveway, heading back to Birmingham. Levi is spending the day playing with his new toys, at home with Adam and Suzanne. Alex has retreated to his apartment to recuperate, Don is watching a movie, and I…I am here…documenting it all. I love to record the happy memories we make. I want my children to be able to look back on these posts one day and remember just how sweet the times were. I want my grandchildren and grandnephew to remember how blessed they are to be in a family that loves and adores them. I want us all to remember this is not by accident. It is by the grace and mercy of our Lord. Thank you, God.
“It is God who gives us these times of joy!” Nehemiah 12:43
MANGER….a box or trough in a stable or barn from which horses or cattle eat.
A week or so ago, Joy and I went to Birmingham for a few days….to shop, yes, and just to get out of town, mostly! We have our favorite places we like to go and sort of make the rounds until we hit all the places on our list. We sort of criss-cross the whole city!. One of our favorites is a gift shop in Hoover. It’s a must on our list each time. Joy let me off at the door, went to park the car…because she is a good sister who always looks after me! The minute I walked through the door, my eyes rested on a little manger made of wood…with straw, shoved under a table full of much finer things. A little doll lay on the straw. I didn’t pick it up to check the price…I didn’t touch it at all. I didn’t even ask Joy if it would fit into her car! I went straight to the checkout desk and told the girl there that I wanted it! She said that that was the last one they had and they did not have a box, so they would have to pack it up for me. “Fine”, I told them, “I’m in no hurry.” I found several other gifts for family and friends, and then went to check out. They had folded it all together and packed it into a small package. And, it fit into the car just fine!
Then we began looking at the doll that was to represent Baby Jesus. It was not a pretty baby. It was very strange looking, actually. And, its eyes would not close…so I knew we could not sing ‘Away In A Manger’…since the’ Little Lord Jesus’ could not go to ‘sleep on the hay’. That would not do, at all. And so we added a baby doll to our list.
Now, I know nothing about baby dolls. Raising 3 boys, it was never on their lists! Even though they did have on old baby doll they played with when they were toddlers…but I don’t even know where it came from. Forgive me boys for telling your secrets) Dolls are strange. Some have the saddest looking faces…and by sad, I mean scary. I don’t know why they would even make some of the ones we saw. We looked in several places and finally found one that had a sweet face and eyes that closed. And, the best part was that it had a soft squishy body instead of a hard molded one. Never mind that it had on a pink ensemble with matching hat, booties, and bottle. Once we got rid of those things…there was no evidence of gender at all. (OH MY! I’ve probably offended someone! So sorry!)
I am a big believer in ‘hands on’ learning. You can see pictures and read books and talk about it…but when you actually feel the rough wood, and place the pieces of hay, it becomes clearer. Swaddling clothes…what does that mean to a little one? Not much…until you show him how the strips of cloth were wrapped around Jesus’ little body when he was born. I dare say, he will never hear about a manger again without thinking about what it really looks and feels like. He knows now that ‘it wasn’t soft’.
I could hardly wait for Levi to see it! I set it up right beside the tree, and put all the items on the floor around it. There was a mossy mat, and straw, and a piece of torn blanket, along with a book and the doll.
Now this piece of blanket was no where near what we would call ‘swaddling clothes’. So, I tore several long strips from an old sheet and added them to the mix. And, waited for Levi to come.
It was the sweetest thing. I showed him all the pieces and he went right to work. First he put the little mat in the bottom. (“Hang on, Baby!”)
And then he added the hay (straw).
He put it all in and then felt of it with his little hand and said, “Lulu, this is not soft.” I told him that when Baby Jesus was born, he did not have a soft bed, and that all he had was somewhere hard to lay. He thought about it for a minute and then set about finishing. First he sorted through the pile of cloths and got the biggest one. He laid the doll on it and wrapped him up tightly.
And then he laid the doll in the bed and covered it with the piece of blanket.
He took a few piece of the straw and laid them on top of the blanket. Then he looked down at him and said, “Go to sleep now, Baby.” And, as he turned to go back to play with his toys, he stopped and looked at me again and said, “It’s just not soft.”
He’s right. Our King came into this world in the lowliest of ways. He didn’t have a soft bed. He had hard wood, or maybe even stone, and the smell of animals, and the itch and sting of hay. But, he had a mother and father who loved him, and who did the best they could with what they had. His first visitors were among the bottom of society at that time. Shepherds…whose job was to tend to animals. And more visitors came later. Kings…who were wise and brought gifts that showed how important the child was to our world. The lowly and the exalted…he came for all!
My wish is for this little manger to be seen by the 3 little boys in our family every Christmas. Right there with all the presents and the ribbons and lights. A reminder that the first gift was…and will always be…the best gift! This has always been the focus of our family and it will continue into the next generation.
“I WISH YOU THE VERY MERRIEST CHRISTMAS ! MAY IT BE FILLED WITH LOTS OF FUN AND LAUGHTER AND GOOD FOOD. AND MAY THE MEMORIES YOU MAKE LAST A LIFETIME !”
(Please forgive the blurriness of these pics…it was very hard to get him from an angle to see what he was doing. And, he was into fixing it just right…not in posing for pictures! Which is exactly the way it should be!)
With my partners in the hunt for all things old and rusty and distressed, Shirl and Tina and I headed north to Franklin, Tennessee for a few days of fun, shopping, catching up, good food and …shopping. This was the weekend of the City Farmhouse Pop-Up Show in Leiper’s Fork, TN, close to Franklin….close to Nashville.
First of all, Franklin is such a neat town…with lots to do. Cute little shops and terrific places to eat. We spent two days exploring the shops and discovering little antique stores…finding little treasures all along the way! We all did some Christmas shopping…both for giving and decorating! Here…a few pictures from around town.
Look…It’s MY store…
Great lunch here…
The bottles say…FAMILY and FRIENDS…perfect!
Acting silly in a Christmas store…we all bought a hat for our grands…but we had to make sure they were cute first!
Oh, what fun this was! Over 150 vendors from all over the U.S. It was everything we love! The grounds were beautiful and it was just delightful being out in God’s beautiful world!
…another fun adventure in the books…sweet memories made…and friendship bonds stronger than ever! Till next time, friends!
*********Picture credits…..#1,9,14,17,18,19,20,21….The City Farmhouse…..all others…Tonja Owens.**********
This morning I was in my studio working on a project. Don was gone and Alex was in his room…and there was no television or radio on. Just me and the quiet…and God. We were doing some visiting and discussing, He and I. I need some guidance this morning. All of a sudden, I heard what sounded like a bird convention outside the big window. All this tweeting and squawking! It was so unusual, I got up and went over to the window to see what was taking place. *********Last year Pop gave me the neatest bird feeder. It is made so if the squirrels jump on the ledge around the seed, it collapses and they fall off. It was funny to watch for a while…but they don’t even bother anymore! Levi and I have enjoyed seeing the birds come and go. He and Pa have the job of seeing that it is kept filled. Our favorite visitor is Daddy Redbird! We know he’s the daddy because he is bright red! There are finches and sparrows that come, too. But, they are rarely there all at the same time. Usually one group will come and then leave and another will drop in for a snack! We have even begun to be able to identify the sound of the Daddy Redbird. Many times we will hear him before we see him. Just recently Levi was able to detect Mama Redbird. She’s harder to see, she just blends in. But, I can see they are almost always together! *********** Well. Back to today. In the trees were about 8 birds…all kinds! And, they were flitting and fluttering and obviously very riled up! All of them. It was something I had never seen! And, such noise….they were all telling the news! But…what was the news? Why were they acting like this? I am in my studio every day and I have never seen this before. Then I got closer to the window and looked down. There is a bare spot where the seed falls to the ground. I thought maybe there was a hurt bird there. But NO! Not that! There was something else there! Bet you guessed it…a sneaky, slithery snake going right under the feeder and disappearing into the jasmine. I have had all the snake business I want…but there he was. And, he begged to be dealt with. So, I went and got a shovel. Then I went and got Alex. Then I went and stood on the doorstep and watched…and watched…and watched. Alex helped me watch! I ventured into the front path, but not too far. I didn’t want him to come at me if I wasn’t prepared. I asked him kindly to come out into the path so that I could kill him…but, he declined. And, you can be sure I was not going in there to look for him. Alex decided we should let the snake go on with his life and that we should not put ourselves in danger. And, so, that’s what we did. But, perhaps you can answer this for me? Do birds warn each other of danger? Do you think that’s what they were doing…warning all the other birds and squirrel friends that a snake was nearby. Because, for all the world, that’s exactly what it sounded and looked like to me! I know that dogs can sense danger and are attuned to nature’s goings on, but never thought about birds having that sense. I know God designed majestic creatures throughout the earth. I suppose we will only learn in Heaven just how amazing they can be! So, I don’t know if they were trying to get the attention of other critters or not, but they sure got mine! And, then Mr. Snake got it even more! God tells us that everything in His creation is cared for by Him. He says that even a little sparrow doesn’t hop on the ground without Him knowing it.
“I know all the birds of the air; and all that moves in the fields is mine.” Psalm 50:11
And, I suppose He has a purpose in those awful snakes being around, too. But, I sure don’t like them! I went on about my business and prayed that God would send that snake on to a new home…in the deep woods…away from people. The tree stayed quiet for a while…didn’t hear anything! But after an hour or so, I heard that familiar chirp…Sounded like Daddy Redbird. And, so it was. Now this may sound silly to you…but, I prayed right then and asked God to keep that bird right there so I could get a picture of him to share with you. And, do you know I got about 10? Daddy Redbird even played peek-a-boo with me! Sorry, they’re not too clear…made through the window. You surely didn’t think I was going back out in that jasmine to get a pic, now did ya?
I have a several Pinterest boards (43 to be exact). I am a collector at heart…not a hoarder…a collector. Much nicer sounding, don’t you think? There are so many things I read and think, “One day, I’m going to want to read that again.” So, I save it. The sayings and verses I pulled from for this post are titled ‘Things I Know For Sure’ and ‘Woman of God’ and ‘The Bible Tells Me So’. I knew I would find within these boards just the right pics and words to help tell my story today!
This week, I have been battling some health issues. Nothing that a lot of you haven’t gone through, but painful and hard to deal with anyway. This is nothing I want to get graphic about in this forum, but there are times it is impossible to move or even breathe for several seconds. Then it subsides. But, I feel like I look like I’ve all of a sudden gone into a catatonic state. Which can cause folks to stare at you sorta strange like. You know if you just can not move your buggy out of their way IMMEDIATELY, they want to start a fight because you are interrupting their flow! Well!
I got some medicine which will take care of this, but I could not pick it up until Friday morning at 8:00. Friday morning at 10:00, I was responsible for teaching the art of drawing pumpkins and then painting them with Kool-Aid to around 50 children…3 classes…teaching one class at a time. So…on my feet for a good two hours. I was panicked thinking what these kids and their teachers would do if all of a sudden, I zoned out on them like a hippie from the sixtes stoned on weed. (Not that I ever was a hippie from the sixties stoned on weed, but I’ve seen some people who were and they looked s-t-r-a-n-g-e!)
I had problems all through the night before…and got little sleep. But, before I got out of bed…and in the shower….and eating a banana nut muffin….and loading my car…I prayed mightily! I boldly asked My Father to stop this process happening in my body for the time I was going to be working with the children. I didn’t ask Him to take it away completely…just give me a break for a few hours…a respite.
I had to make a stop on the way to pick up some candy for the kids and sure enough…in the store…BAM! it hit me! This one stopped me for a full 30 seconds!But, I got into my car and prayed all the way to school. Well, ‘begging’ may be a better word. And, I told God that I would give Him the glory and praise if He allowed these classes to take place without me ‘zoning out’ in front of the teachers and most importantly, the kids.
And, my friends, I am here to testify to you that from the second I left my car at school…I had not one, single pain! Not even a twinge! No need to ‘space out’ except for the fact that our room was covered in pumpkins and we just may have gotten a little ‘high’ from the smell of all the Kool-aid. We probably went through 50 packets! Some of the kids even asked if they could lick the table!!!!
We finished our project and I was able to clean up. Well everything except my hands! They, I fear, are forever stained red and orange! I tried everything to get it off…baby wipes, clorox wipes, soap, goof off, fingernail polish remover, and finally a magic eraser! The magic eraser worked the best!
What fun we had! The joy of seeing the colors on the paper and experiencing a different type of art was such a good time! I’m so blessed to be able to do this.
I gathered my bins of supplies and walked to the car. After putting my supplies in the back, I went around to my car door. BAM! There it was, back with a vengence! After I was able to move again, I got in the car, bowed my head, and thanked God!
Isn’t He amazing? Isn’t He wonderful! It thrills me to the bottom of my soul to think that the Master and Lord of the universe, who has whole worlds and heavens and oceans to keep an eye on…cared about me, a mere speck in the face of all humanity. He cared enough about what I needed Friday morning to touch me and care for me. He heard my prayer…along with the millions of people praying for oh! so much more important things than I was asking for. He heard me, as He heard them all.
“…you have not because you ask not.” James 4:2
And, that is why I felt compelled to share with you that He does listen and He does hear. And, true, He doesn’t always answer our prayers just like we want Him to. And, that’s where faith comes in…trusting that He knows what we need better than we do! That’s a hard one, isn’t it? I think He wants us to be specific when we pray, don’t you? Generalities cover so much. I think He wants to hear exactly what it is we think we need. And, perhaps, being specific helps us to put things in a better perspective in our own minds. Well, today, I was specific, and He so graciously granted my request. I thank Him, and I praise Him…and I am humbled.
I end this post by sharing one of the most comforting passages of scripture to me. A friend shared it with me years ago, when I really did feel I was being consumed. And, truth is, sometimes I still feel that way at times. I’m sure you do, too. We all have those time that it seems as if everything and everybody is ganging up on us and we are going under…FAST! Remember this promise when you feel this way. I know, for sure, it is truth!
*…(res-pit)…a delay or cessation for a time, especially of anything distressing or trying ; an interval of relief”