Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | January 19, 2011

Our Vision Therapy Journey – Part 3(Last Part)

So as we were going through the whole process from the past two posts, we shared what we were learning with friends and family.  And we found out that several of our friends – many adult males – said that they remember having the same struggles when they were  young…and some of them continue to make adjustments today.  I also learned that one of my brothers had been diagnosed with similar problems when he was young, but my parents could not afford the treatment.  One friend related a story of getting m’s and w’s mixed up and would turn his paper upside down to write it correctly(he’s now an engineer btw). Another vaguely remembered going to vision therapy himself and remembers that something clicked and he was able to play sports better after that year.  It was fascinating to see how common these types of vision processing issues actually are and the different coping mechanisms people have used over time to overcome them.

We made the decision to go begin Vision Therapy in December of 2009.  Although we were a little concerned about the amount of money it was going to cost, we reminded ourselves how much people are willing to pay for orthodontics, private school, club sports, etc and that being able to read was at least that important. 

We had an auspicious start.  BW & I decided to both go down for the first appointment.  A winter storm warning had been in place for that afternoon.  All week long there had been predictions of snow, but there was nothing on the ground.  That morning, it was raining, but the temperatures were still fairly high so we decided that the meteorologists had it wrong again.  A teenage friend had come over to babysit our other kiddos. We had been talking and praying about this for so long that we really just wanted to get started as soon as possible.  We took our boy out to lunch, went to Target & Trader Joe’s(something we don’t have in our mountain town). 

Honestly, I don’t remember much about that first appointment after meeting our wonderful therapist because I was staring out the window.  The rain was coming down HARD and I knew we needed to get on the road and beat that storm!  We learned the exercises we were to do with him that week.  Someone needed to stop  for coffee & cookies as I recall… And then we were on the road trying to get up the mountain before the storm did.  When we were two exits away, I received a cell phone call from a friend telling us to be careful for snow and an accident up ahead.  We past the last exit before ours and the snow was really coming down.  And then…traffic stopped… And it hailed and it snowed and we waited.  And then we turned off the car and we waited. And we waited.  And it started to get dark.  And we waited. For 5 hours we waited!  And even on that day, there were God’s Everyday Graces:

1)We had just bought a blanket at Target – a soft, thick, warm one so I could cuddle in the backseat with my boy.

2)We had snack food from TJ’s to munch on.

3)My other kids were being well taken care of! Love you, Emily!

4)We always had cell phone coverage so we talked to lots of people during that time to see how others were faring in getting home during the storm.

Once we finally did start moving, we found we had only been 2 miles from the exit and 3 miles from home!  (FYI – I will always give meteorologists the benefit of the doubt once “Winter Storm Warnings” have been predicted).  Our babysitter ended up staying the night because her own family had been snowed in at their house(another FYI – I will always have a spare toothbrush in case someone needs to stay over in an emergency).

Anyway, back to Vision Therapy… Despite that first hiccup, we went back the next week! (though we promised him we would never go again if snow was predicted).

Every week, we would go down the mountain and our boy would meet with the therapist.  They would do exercises together.  At home, we had exercises to do 4 days/week that were changed every two weeks.  Initially, I could not understand what most of the exercises were really trying to do, but over time I began to get the picture of what we were doing.  I wish I could say it was always fun, we always did all 4 days and we both loved every minute of it.  That would not be true – life happens. attitudes happen( both him & me!).  But over time, we were getting it done.

Changes started pretty gradually and weren’t really noticeable at first.  I began to notice his handwriting improving and that he was staying on the lines better.  I began to notice him picking up a book during his free time.  I began to notice that math lessons were going a little quicker.  Then there were fewer reversals.  Baseball season started and he consistently made contact with the baseball, getting at least one hit in every game during the season.  After 24 sessions, he was re-tested.  He had gone from a 1st grade reading level to a 4th grade reading level!  We continued for another 6 months, and though the changes weren’t as drastic as they had been at first, he was steadily improving.  We took a month off during the summer to give both of us a bit of a break, restarted in August.  We began school, and it was just well, easier than it had been the year before!

God sovereignly gave us just the vision therapist our family needed – a woman who had homeschooled her own flock of kiddos back when it wasn’t “in” through high school.  She was so patient whenever I brought my brood into the office!

Last Friday, my son “graduated” from Vision Therapy after over a year of weekly sessions.  There are still follow up exercises to do.  School can still be a struggle some days, and he may always struggle a bit in some areas.  But I was brought to tears last week as he read The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe under a blanket on the couch in one afternoon – just because he wanted to!  And I love seeing him reading his Bible in the morning – what a gift to be able to read God’s Word for himself!  And all the driving and all the “exercising” and all of the money and even some of the battles we went through over the past year, fade away because my son can and enjoys reading now!

So to sum up our Vision Therapy journey, it has been an “Everyday Grace” in our lives.  For our family, it has been worth it.  I know that there are children out there whose parents may not be able to afford this kind of treatment, and my prayer is that just as insurance now covers chiropractic care that it didn’t cover 10 years ago, Vision Therapy will someday be offered to a wider range of children. 

I am by no means an expert in this field and I know that this type of treatment is not a cure all for every struggling reader.  But I do praise God for His timing, His direction towards this treatment and His provision for it.

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are ALL THINGS. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36

Advertisements
Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | January 18, 2011

Our Vision Therapy Journey – Part 2

So after all the testing, my hubby & I went to find out the results.  The good news was that he had 20/20 vision at all distances.  But as we learned, vision for reading & writing has so much more to do than sight itself.  Think about all that has to happen for you to read these words.  Your eyes(both of them!) need to work together to physically see the information.  Your eye muscles need to move along the line to the end of the line and then continue on to the next line.  Then you need that information to be transferred to your brain.  Then you need to keep that information in your short term memory long enough to think about what you are reading and comprehend it.  If you then need to write a response, you need to determine your response in your brain and then your brain needs to communicate with your muscular system to remember how to form the appropriate letters & spelling of your response.  Then your muscular system needs to do what your brain tells it to do – including determine where the line is that you need to write in, how close together to form the letters, how to form the letters(what direction b & d goes:), etc.  And your brain needs to remember what you are wanting to write further in the sentence while your muscles are writing the thing you are currently writing! 

Ok – so this is a very simplistic, non-medical explanation, but you get the idea!  (On a side note, if you think about all that needs to happen for reading and writing to take place, it’s awful difficult for me to think that all this just evolved simultaneously without help from an awesome, amazing Creator! But I digress…)  The point is that there is A LOT that needs to work together for a student to be successful! 

Here’s a summary of the findings:

Our son had problems with focusing ability.  This meant that there was intermittent blurring of the print.  I think of it like an autofocus camera – it takes a second to get it into perfect focus.  Focusing was taking a little longer than “normal”.

Our son had problems with eye teaming.  The visual system is designed so that the eyes and muscles work together as one.  He had severe difficulty in his eyes working as a team. This was causing overlapping and even movement of words while reading, so to compensate one eye would sometimes block the vision of the other when trying to use both eyes together.  Additionally, the muscle movement needed to shift his eyes quickly from one point to another was below normal levels.  This was what was causing him to skip whole lines or words when reading. 

One of the more fascinating results was his deficits in the area of visual memory(being able to hold information in your brain) and visual sequential memory(being able to hold a series of facts in your memory).  This explained why he would sound out one syllable of a word; sound out the second syllable and then forget what the first syllable was.  Or why when he was doing mental math, he couldn’t “hold” the first figure when he was doing a multi-step problem.  However, he scored in the 99th percentile for visual-spacial relations.  This is why he had “faked me out” that he was reading.  He knew words by their shapes rather than by their individual letters!

It was found that he did have a mild subset of dyslexia called dysphonesia.  This makes it difficult to develop phonetic word analysis.  He has a hard time sounding out words and often guesses at words based on their shape or first few letters of a word. 

The recommendations were about a year of Vision Therapy…that was not going to be covered by insurance and was quite expensive! 

My husband was interested in the science part of this – had it been tested? What proof did the doctor have that vision therapy worked for these problems?  He asked many questions because, unfortunately, it is difficult to do regular scientific studies on Vision Therapy.  There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is that you really can’t have a control group.  If there are two groups of struggling readers, no one is going to do absolutely nothing to one group to be able to compare them with those who have received some help – at least I wouldn’t sign my kid up for that!  So then it is difficult to determine if it was just the extra time of maturing that helped improve their reading, if it was the reading tutor the parents paid for, etc that may have helped.  Additionally, Vision Therapy is extremely personalized.  No two people have exactly the same symptoms and many have compensated in a variety of ways.  So being able to re-train the brain will look different in each person.  I now know several people who have gone through Vision Therapy, and though we have done some of the same exercises, they aren’t done in the same order because different people may have different issues.  This is why it is so important to really research the background and get referrals of the doctor you are planning to see to make sure they have been successful in treating others with similar(though not exact) symptoms.

My husband came out fascinated by the brain and how it works.  I walked out of the meeting completely overwhelmed and with an incredible sense of guilt!  First of all, it was so much to take in that I really relied on my husband’s knowledge of all that was said.  Much of it he had to re-explain to me in the car!  The guilt came in because…well, I was his teacher!  I’ve often said there is very few types of guilt like homeschool mom guilt!  How had I not caught this before? Had I waited too long? Would he be scarred for life? 

And then, my wonderful husband began speaking truth to my heart and mind.  He reminded me of God’s awesome “everyday graces” in this situation:

1) Because I was his teacher, it was actually caught earlier than it may have been had he been in “regular school”, especially because he would have “faked them out” too!  After all, he was “technically” reading grade level readers.  Many times this is not caught until the child enters about 4th – 5th grades.  This is because at this point, many teachers transition to multiple choice testing.  Multiple choice leaves less words for kids who struggle with this to “guess” or try to figure out the context based on words they actually know.  Pictures are also not as prevalent so context can’t be drawn from them as they read.

2)Although it would have been nice to “catch” this earlier, the truth was that at that point in our lives we were in seminary with little or no income and didn’t even have any health insurance much less the money to even try to pay for this kind of treatment. How much harder would it have been for God to reveal this when we could have done nothing about it!

3) We also had just moved 4 times in 4 years!  God’s perfect timing was that we were now in a stable situation where we could work on this without having to find new doctors in new locations.  Our younger kids were now a little older – even potty trained! – so that we could focus some time on this.

4)We actually had the money to pay for it! Our health insurance has a high deductible, but my husband’s employer gives us the deductible in a Health Savings Account.  We had not used our HSA money the previous year because we had been healthy!  The money was there waiting for this treatment!

5)At the time, BW had a day off during the week.  So he could watch the other kids while I took him down for therapy or vice versa. Last Fall, when he began teaching at our church school, we were in a routine that made it ok to take the other kids down with me.

6)God had just provided us with a new vehicle!  Our old van would not have been able to make the hour drive up and down our mountain every week!

7)We had just moved into a house in town where our previous rental had been 30 minutes from the freeway which would have added an hour to this journey each week!

So, although, my urge was to beat myself up for being a horrible mother and teacher, it was truly amazing to see God’s perfect timing as He had indeed provided the resources and time for us to begin this Vision Therapy journey.  Great is His faithfulness!

Next entry will talk about the start of Vision Therapy…

Blessings!

-J

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | January 15, 2011

Our Vision Therapy Journey – Part 1

I will be writing over the next week about our journey with Vision Therapy.  Although we’ve been on this ride for over a year, I hadn’t blogged about it at all because I wanted to protect the privacy of my son’s struggles, and frankly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to if it didn’t work for him.  Today, I will be giving some background on how we came to find out about this.

My son was a struggling reader since the time we started homeschooling him.  It was hard to determine just how much he was struggling, though, because his sister who is just 15 months older learned her sounds and then just took off with reading and spelling at age 4; she’s a natural student.  So, initially, I didn’t worry.  He was a boy, after all, and there really was no rush. 

We held him “back” for 2nd grade, which he didn’t realize.  When we moved to our new town, all of his friends(whose moms had held their sons back in K just for maturity reasons) were in the grade below him.  We just kept him with his friends and continued to work on it.  That year, he made some progress and was able to read through some Abeka readers.  At the start of his second 2nd grade year he was reading the 2nd grade readers.  I thought that perhaps his brain was finally maturing and he would start to speed up and other areas(spelling and handwriting) would just improve naturally as well. 

In the Fall of 2009(he was 8.5), I purchased an inexpensive phonics book that suggested that it would help my son learn to read faster.  For $15, I figured it was worth a try.  The book was just lists of words sorted by phonetic sounds and families.  This was when panic started to set in.  I realized that he couldn’t read these lists of words!  We went back to the readers and he could read sentences.  What was going on?  I figured out that when reading, he knew just enough words in the readers to be able to draw context based on the words he did know and the pictures.  But without those cues, he could not read the actual words!

His spelling was also a weakness.  He couldn’t seem to differentiate between the sounds of short e and short i(which until then I hadn’t realized are strikingly similar).  His handwriting and other fine motor skills were also weak.  Tying shoes & cutting with scissors caused a huge struggle.  When he wrote, he often reversed letters.

But his mind was incredibly sharp! When doing his work orally, he had no problems in math or grammar.  His reading comprehension was awesome though he often had a hard time expressing the answers to questions.  He loved to be read to and had grown very fond of our chapter book read aloud times since the first time we read The Mouse & the Motorcycle.  He had begun to illustrate original books with a passion.  He would staple pieces of paper together and illustrate entire stories.  When he sat down to read them to anyone who would listen, I was amazed that he used the exact same language every time he read a particular story…even months after the writing it!  We now have a full drawer full of these stories and series of stories.

So my mind started racing – could he have a learning disability? And if so, could I really continue to homeschool him?  After all, I am not trained in that area at all!  I was a natural reader & speller growing up – I had never struggled in these areas.   Or was he in that “better late than early” category of kids who would just take off with reading later than normal.  Did he just need more time to mature? What was this going to mean for our family?

So I began to research learning disabilities and shared his symptoms with my online network/support group of homeschool moms.  Most agreed that it was probably time to get some things checked.  I read the book The Mislabeled Child: How Understanding Your child’s Learning Style Could Open the Door to Success.  I was overwhelmed pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, I found that most school districts would not be of much help unless he was at least 2 grade levels behind, which he technically wasn’t.  They also test primarily for whether a child has a big enough problem to receive services.  But I also learned that most reversal issues should improve on their own by age 8 and if not, it might indicate a problem.  A few recommended that I look at the College of Optometrists of Vision Development(COVD) website.  It was there that I first heard of Vision Therapy

I read testimonial after testimonial about children who had really been helped by it.  I also learned that if your child has dyslexia or a true learning disability, vision therapy will not be of help. If you google Vision Therapy, you will find a myriad of opinions about it.  For example, the American Association of Pediatricians has not recommended it and basically said it was a waste of money.  Many opthamologists also don’t believe it helps.  There are horror stories of people who spent thousands of dollars and their children were no better off.  I consulted with friends who are school counselors and professional teachers – their advice was mixed.

I have basically come to the conclusion that the truth is: it just depends.  It depends on who the doctor is and how much experience he/she has and that particular doctor’s motivations. It depends on what diagnostic tools the doctor uses. It depends on the individual struggles of the child. It depends on the amount of support from the parents. 

But….some people love their chiropracter/accupuncturist/herbalist and insist that he/she has drastically improved their health.  Many others consider them “quacks”.  And some people believe they can give their children as good or better education than a professional teacher. And some professional teachers believe that the homeschool parents are doing a disservice to their children.  The truth is: it just depends…and it depends on many factors.

We decided to keep an open mind. The covd website had a listing of doctors in our area that did Vision Therapy.  The nearest to us was an hour away –  yikes!  The testing was $400 – double yikes! And insurance rarely covers it – triple yikes!  But we liked that she doesn’t just test for vision therapy issues.  Our doctor screened for dyslexia/learning/reading disabilities, auditory processing issues, motor skills as well as vision and vision processing issues. 

My husband took him down for the testing over a 2 week period.  The results that were found will be in my next post…

Blessings!

-J

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | January 6, 2011

Memorizing Scripture

I have had a desire to memorize Scripture since hearing a missionary wife while my hubby was in seminary talk about how she memorized huge chunks of the Bible knowing that at any moment it could be taken from her.  What would she rely on for God’s Word in her life to sustain her if she didn’t have access to a Bible?  Though this scenario may not seem likely at the moment in our country(some would debate that, but I won’t get political here), what about during a natural disaster or an ailment that prohibits reading or just needing to rely on God’s Word at any given moment to counsel others or your own heart?  We are incredibly “spoiled” in our country.  No other group of Christians in history has had more access to the Bible(most have multiple copies in their homes, on their computers and even phones now), commentaries, sermons, books, etc yet as a society we are some of the most Biblically illiterate.  I believe that we will be held to account for what we do and don’t do with these gifts & treasures that we’ve been given that would be the envy of others in history and even in other parts of the world today.

So one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to begin to memorize Scripture.  But where to start?  In the past I have memorized with my children from their Awana books, but felt I wanted larger chunks rather than isolated verses.  Then, God in His sovereignty pointed me to Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience.  She has created a complete printable booklet and reading plan to memorize the book of Colossians in a year(and it’s FREE!).  What’s so awesome is that our church’s Women’s Bible Study will also be studying Colossians this semester!!(Don’t you love it when He organizes the smallest details?:)  So I have another one of my New Year’s Goals checked off – at least the how and what…Really praying that this is the beginning of a lifelong discipline. 

I have printed out multiple copies on cardstock.  I am keeping the current weekly verse in my Bible, in my kitchen, in my Well Planned Day planner and possibly my bathroom so I have no reason not to work on this (and others in the household may inadvertently memorize along with me:).  I’ll keep the past weeks on a binder ring for easy flipping. 

Edited to add:  Ann’s pdf file uses verses from the TNIV version of the Bible.  Since that is not the translation I use, I am using the NASB. 

I would love to hear how you work the discipline of Scripture memorization into your life!

Blessings!

-J

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | January 6, 2011

Seed Shopping

I have found a new favorite pasttime: perusing seed catalogs!  Even though I am a complete newbie at gardening – first major gardenting attempt last summer – I have such fun pouring over catalogs of seeds!  Who would have thought that the girl who was used to business attire in an air conditioned building would one day spend her evenings dreaming about getting all sweaty and dirty come spring/summer!(Ummm…had to be an act of God:)  The potential of what can be grown(even in small spaces), the varieties of foods and the low prices of seeds have become so much fun for me!  Trying to decide what to plant, where to plant it, what to plant it with, making diagrams of our raised planter beds and dreaming of eating our own veggies(and some fruits) next summer is just delightful…especially when it’s snowing outside!

This year, I am buying the bulk of our seeds from Bountiful Gardens(a Calfornia business is a plus too).  I like the layout of their catalog, the way they describe their plants and give good tips(i.e. green pole beans are good companions with cucumbers because they shade them) and that they have symbols next to certain varieties to show whether a plant is easy to grow or tolerates hot/cold weather.  I also appreciate that their seeds are heirloom seeds.  Heirloom seeds have been around a long time and were bred before chemical pesticides were common so they are well adapted to an organic garden.  They also will not carry GMO varieties.  Genetically modified seeds are made by technicians that mess with the DNA of plants and insert genes that don’t even come from plants – they may even come from bacteria or fish!  Personally, I just feel better knowing that my food’s DNA is just what God intended for it – not genetically altered in a lab.  Lastly, their seeds are not coated with pesticides or fungicide chemicals. 

I’ve also decided to order some flower varieties.  I had made up a landscape design for our front yard and was waiting for extra money in the budget to get started.  But, our house is currently on the market as we pray that God might provide us with an actual “homestead”(would LOVE to have chickens! and maybe even a goat! Who have I become? LOL!) instead of our suburban dwelling in town.  But since we have no idea what the housing market will do or if it’s even God’s timing at all, I’ve decided to grow some annuals from seed- the cost is right! – for both curb appeal and so that we have something nice to look at(planning to start them indoors first).  We will also be adding a planter box near our raised veggie beds to attract the right “helpful” insects to our garden.  Who knows, I may just put some in and around the veggies as well. 

I hope to encourage other town-dwellers that this can be done – even with a small-ish backyard!  Here’s my current wish list:

Fruits/Veggies: Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, green beans, basil, cilantro, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, spinach, watermelon, bell pepper mix

Flowers: Sunflowers, nasturtium, cornflower, calendula, love in a mist, California poppies, morning glories, alyssum

What are you planning to grow this year?

Blessings!

-J

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | December 31, 2010

2011 Book List

I love books!  But I realized that I often am a little ADD when it comes to reading…I buy something and then start reading it and then put it down for something else(never finishing book 1), then find something at the library, then pick something up at the bookstore, then see that someone else is reading something and want to read it and so on so that I either don’t finish what I start or don’t really get to digest and process what I’m reading.  As I’ve been reading through blogs, I found that some people actually plan out their reading list for the whole year all at once!  What a concept!  In the interest of keeping my goals attainable and in saving money(especially those impulse buys at conferences and at bookstores), I’ve decided to do just that this year.  I’ve chosen 12 books(theoretically one a month) and a daily devotional.  They devle into the realms of spiritual, marriage, parenting, relationships, homemaking, homeschooling and gardening/homesteading.  A few are some of those books that I already owned and just perused through instead of really digesting when I read them the first time.  This helps me to actually see what I already own, what I can borrow from the library, and budget for those that I desire to purchase(keeping me from those impulse buys).  In the meantime, I am going to be keeping a list of those that I would like to add to the list for next year.  If you are interested in my list, I placed it on the sidebar. 

What are you planning to read this year?

Blessings!

-J

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | December 31, 2010

Christmas 2010

I want to remember Christmas 2010 for its Everyday Graces…That our family was together, healthy and happy…That we were able to get together with friends who have become like family to us…That we were able to worship freely with our church family on Christmas Eve…That my children have learned the joy of giving to one another…That we were able to visit my Dad who looked so much like himself that I had to remember that he had doubly bypass surgery only a month earlier…That the kids and I were able to accompany him on his daily walks…That all 5 of my siblings and all the grandkids on my side were together at the same time…That we don’t lack for any of the essentials in life…That I am loved by a thoughtful man who wants to give me great gifts…That we have an awesome God who, before the foundation of the world, knew that He would empty Himself and become a man so that I could have eternal life…

Here are some Christmas memories caught with the camera…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | December 8, 2010

Connecting with my child in “real school”…

My oldest is about to finish her first semester in “real school”.  Overall, it has been a positive experience but after homeschooling her for 6 years, I will admit that I just miss her.  I miss knowing what’s going on in her day and I miss just talking with her about nothing.  So for the past several months, I’ve been trying to find a way to re-connect with her.

Here’s what I came up with.  There are so many books that I really want to go through with her, but I just don’t seem to find the time.  One of them is Beautiful Girlhood.  For her birthday last month, I bought the Study Guide and a journal with a note that shared my heart that I want more time with her.  She goes through the chapter & study guide and answers the questions in the journal.  Then it’s my turn to do the same.  It’s been so fun to compare our answers, to share memories and our hearts with one another.  She has asked for Christmas to start something similar and add her little sister. 

Although it could never make up for the time we don’t spend together, it has been a tool.  Additionally, Lindsey at Passionate Homemaking (http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/) recently blogged about Loving our Children with the Written Word.  As we rely more on computers, social media & texting to communicate, I do believe there has been something lost in recognizing a loved one’s handwriting and seeing them express their love in a card, note or journal.  I am hoping that our journals together will continue and that future generations will be able to see the work that God has done in our lives through this form of communicating with one another.  I have also tried to periodically include a note in her lunch box that reminds her that I love her and am praying for her that day. 

Blessings!

-J

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | December 4, 2010

Everyday Graces during a trial…

Well, if you haven’t noticed, my Thanksgiving posts came to an abrupt ending.  Not because I wasn’t thankful, but because we found ourselves in the midst of a crisis which left little time for blogging.  On November 11th, my dad had a heart attack and eventually would have a double bypass surgery on November 16th.  Although the world might find little to be thankful for during a trial of this kind, I am so awed and amazed by all the Everyday Graces God showed during that time, that I thought I would record some of them here.

1) God’s timing – Although there is never really a “good time” for my dad to be in the hospital, it turned out that God was so gracious in His timing of this trial.  When we got the call that my dad was in the hospital my hubby & I were only an hour away.  We had scheduled a two day getaway without kiddos.  Because of this(and the fact that we hadn’t scheduled anything but some R&R), we were able to get to the hospital the next morning without having to worry about who would watch our kids – they were already in excellent hands among 3 different families back home. 

Additionally, my youngest brother who hadn’t been home from college in months had a few days off work that weekend and had chosen to come home for a visit, not knowing that he would eventually be the one to follow Dad in the ambulance to the hospital.  My sister had already scheduled a visit for the same weekend as we were planning to celebrate my oldest’s birthday.  This meant that all 5 siblings were able to be there!  Considering we all live up to 600 miles apart from each other the timing is truly amazing!

The surgery was scheduled for a Tuesday.  In this season of our lives, Tuesdays are the ONLY days where my kiddos do not have anything scheduled.  So I (along with 2 siblings) were able to be there that day to wait with my mom for him to get out of surgery.  My hubby’s co-workers were wonderful about covering for him so that he could take care of the kids while I was out of town.

2) Dad’s medical care – With few exceptions(there one one particularly “mean” nurse), my Dad received excellent care!  I had never given much thought to how important good nurses are – especially good male nurses to give my dad the help and dignity he needed.  To have a heart attack on a Thursday, an angiogram on Monday and bypass surgery on Tuesday is truly amazing and, though I don’t want to get political, something that I know is rare in the rest of the world where these procedures would either not be available at all or have an extraordinarily long wait time.

3)My siblings – I am the oldest of 5 children spread over a span of 15 years.  Although we haven’t always been the best of friends, it was awesome to see everyone come together in a crisis to support one another and my parents; texting one another and keeping each other updated; working together to get everything done including getting the house ready for my dad to return.

4)The weather – My mom is not comfortable with driving freeways, particularly in bad weather.  My dad was eventually transferred to a hospital in downtown Los Angeles 50 miles away from my parents’ home.  Rain was predicted and came throughout that time, but each time I drove my mom to or from the hospital, it was like God parted the clouds and made everything dry.  We were spared horrid LA traffic and had a smooth ride in the carpool lane!  The day I had the priviledge of taking my Dad home from the hospital was one of the most beautiful days in the Los Angeles area ever – you could literally see downtown LA from 50 miles away!  In addition, God showed up in a powerful way through a sermon we were able to hear one morning on Christian radio that was just what we needed to hear.

5) The power of prayer – My dad initially didn’t want a big fuss made over him, and for a time we complied and didn’t announce his condition to the world.  But somewhere along the way, we realized that we all needed prayer and we let people know what was going on.  Our entire church, extended and long distance family & friends were praying for our family and I felt strength, calm and peace that truly surpasses all understanding! 

6) A Thanksgiving to be thankful for – Dad was well enough to be home the Monday of Thanksgiving week to celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday!

7)Christian Radio – There were several times when I was tempted to despair, and the perfect song would come on to remind me of God’s love for me and for my family.  One song in particular, Safe by Phil Wickham has these lyrics:

To the one whose dreams are falling all apart
And all you’re left with is a tired and broken heart
I can tell by your eyes you think you’re on your own
But you’re not alone

Have you heard of the One who can calm the raging sea
Give sight to the blind, pull the lame up to their feet
With a love so strong and never let you go
No you’re not alone

You will be safe in His arms, you will be safe in His arms
‘Cause the hands that hold the world are holding your heart
This is the promise He made, He will be with you always
When everything is falling apart you will be safe in His arms

Did you know that the voice that brings the dead to life
Is the very same voice that calls you now to rise
So hear Him now He’s calling you home
You will never be alone

These are the hands that built the mountains
The hands that calm the sea
These are the arms that hold the heavens
They are holding you and me
These are the hands that healed the leper
Pulled the lame up to their feet
These are the arms that were nailed to a cross
To break our chains and set us free

Safe in His arms, safe in His arms
Safe in His arms
When everything is falling apart
You will be safe in His arms

Songwriter: Phil Wickham

Download Safe chords – Phil Wickham

Remembering God’s promise to never leave me nor forsake me and that the One who had created the heavens & the earth was in control of my dad’s heart and his life were of immense comfort to me!  In addition, God showed up in a powerful way through a sermon by Alistair Begg my mom & I were able to listen one morning in the above LA traffic on Christian radio that was just what we needed to hear.

8)An uneventful recovery – To date, my Dad is making great progress – even in the bigger lifestyle changes he’s been forced to make.  His body is healing, he is walking each day and looks again like himself.  He still has a few weeks before he will drive and be back to work, but it is truly amazing to see the healing process actually working!  Seeing him get up to walk me out to my car the day after he was home, just like he always does, will always be a treasured moment to me and let me know that he had averted a tragedy:)

We indeed have much to be thankful for during the coming holiday season!  Above all, I’m grateful to God for sparing my dad and giving us additional time with one who has been so instrumental in who I am, has provided and taken care of me throughout my life and who I love so dearly. 

Blessings!

-J

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | November 14, 2010

Thanksgiving Day 14

Today I am thankful for the gift of hand-me-downs!  I am busy making the transition from spring/summer to fall/winter in each of my kids’ dressers and am so thankful for those who have shared their outgrown bounty with us!  What a cost saver to our clothing budget!  And I will admit it will be fun to be a blessing to another family as we pass it down to the next age bracket…

I had not realized how much I treasured hand-me-downs till we were in seminary and there really was no money for anything new.  It was such a blessing to us when friends(and even people we didn’t know) shared their best with us(not the hole-y or stained)!  I know that some of those clothes could have been sold on e-bay or a garage sale to pay for further purchases in their budget…and there are definitely times when that is being a good steward.  But as a recipient and now a giver of those items that will just “bless a families’ socks off” I more often than not try to find a good home for even the best of our outgrown bounty. 

Be in prayer about who you can share your bounty with and bless another family’s socks off!

Blessings!

-J

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories