Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How easily we forget.......

Thank you, Eric, for reminding us to look back and see just how far God has brought Dale since that fateful day at the beach in August, 2011.  I confess, I haven't viewed any videos of that time for a while now.  We still have some of the newscasts recorded on our DVR, and a kind family in our church put together a video disc of several news pieces on Dale, but I haven't taken the time to watch them for over a year.  Watching that video link now, I could only thank God for His kindness and care.  It is amazing, isn't it, to look back and remember how hopeless things seemed and revel again in God's miraculous healing of Dale!

It's good, too, to see how much God has allowed Dale to regain when we remember the grim prognosis the doctors gave.  Dale lay unresponsive for so long that our doctors told us he would probably never wake up.  The words one doctor used were, "There's no response whatsoever to any stimuli.  It's too soon to pull the plug, but........."  We were warned that, even if Dale woke up, he'd not be able to walk, talk, maybe breathe, feed himself, think, etc.  If you could see him now!!!  We get frustrated sometimes because Dale shuffles along---but he can walk!  His speech is sometimes slow and he loses his place in the sentence easily---but he can talk!  In fact, he can tell jokes and carry on a normal conversation.  This is good because our family is "quick on the draw" when it comes to repartee.  Dale might not get as far as we'd like in school since his learning abilities have changed (he has trouble recalling stuff for tests)---but he's in school and learning!  Isn't God good?

Hooray!!!  Our boys basketball team won the tournament!  We've been dying to win that tournament for years (decades!)  Our preacher has had a long-standing arrangement with our teams that, if they ever win the tournament, we all get a day off school.  Whoo-hoo!  PLUS, we finally have guys tall enough this year to dunk the basketball.  Our preacher also said that, if any of our guys ever dunk the ball during a game, we'd get a day off school.  One our guys, Nathan, had dunked the ball during practice but couldn't ever get a dunk during a game..........until the tournament!  He took the ball down and dunked it!  Preacher teased him that it looked more like a glorified lay-up, but it counts as a dunk.  So we have two days off to work into our schedule!  Go, Knights!!!

The varisty teams got back around 7:20 p.m. Wednesday, just as Preacher started his sermon.  They were exhausted, hoarse, and excited all at the same time!  Amanda and Katie got to sleep in Thursday morning, but each had to go to a babysitting job later that day.  Our church holds a Marriage Conference each year; this year it was held a few hours' drive away in Westport.  Amanda, Katie, and I each watched children so that their parents could go to the conference.  This meant Amanda and Katie only got to sleep in one day of their school break.  The rest of the time they were babysitting at different houses:  Katie had two children to watch, and Amanda had three kids.  Ashely helped me with the two boys who came to our house for those days.  They were very good but rambunctious!  As much as we enjoyed helping these families out during the conference, we were all glad to be home with just our family Saturday night.

Praise the Lord for His goodness to us!  There is no way we could ever give enough thanks to our gracious Father for all He has done for us.  From creating us in His image, to sending His precious Son to die in our place, to giving us abundant life here on earth, to promising us eternity in Heaven---we have much to be thankful for.

John 6: 35  "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life:  he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Thank God for vacations!

I'm telling you---whoever first decided to break up the school year with mini vacations was a genius!  I mean, we start the school year strong with decorated classrooms, new students, and a head full of ideas.  Through September we roll, excited about the curriculum and challenging our classes to be their best.  October means that we've begun to lose steam but are still thankful for our profession and willing to keep working.  Several weeks and a field day later, we find ourselves nicely ready for our first break, Thanksgiving.  Once we get back, there's only three weeks until Christmas break---and that's two weeks long!  Then, back to school in January.  This is when the rubber meets the road, so to speak.  Oh, we get a day off here and there, but we also find that coming back to school after two weeks off is not easily done:  no more staying up till all hours, knowing you can sleep in later; no more jumping in the car any time you want to run a quick errand.  Now we're halfway through February, and parents are beginning to realize that we've hit third mid-quarter.  Now they start to wonder if their child will pass the current grade which leads to conferences with the teacher or more pressure put on the student.  Nerves get frazzled, both parents' and teachers', so that this mini vacation (for us, February 18-22) is a welcome chance to reasonably leave all class work in the classroom and enjoy this administration-sent week of relief from all cares!

Of course, not everyone gets the week off.  Our varsity teams are traveling to a tournament over the mountains in Pasco, WA.  They plan to leave after the service Sunday night and will return (hopefully) just about the time our service starts on Wednesday night.  Amanda and Katie will both be going, so they are busy washing clothes, packing clothes, unpacking clothes, and repacking better clothes!  You know how teenage girls are.  Chad and I are trying to encourage the kids to help get the house in some semblance of order before the girls leave, because you know it's much easier to pick up after just three kids than five.  As a result, the washing machine is being run, the dryer is going, the dishes will need to be washed, garbages must be emptied, rooms straightened, floors vacuumed, etc. before we consider the house "clean."  (At the moment, some of the kids are not too happy, but they'll get over it!)

Leading up to this chaos, we had Spirit Week at school.  Monday was Crazy Hair Day; Tuesday was Nerd Day/Hillbilly Day; Wednesday was Crazy Sock/Slipper Day; Thursday was Favorite Sports Team Day; and Friday was Bethel Knights Day.  We had a blast!  Most of the school, elementary and high schoolers alike, dressed up each day, with even the teachers participating.  In addition, each class made a poster cheering our varsity teams to victory; the winning class received ice cream bars.  Plus, each class needed to present a cheer at our Pep Assembly late Friday afternoon, with the teams themselves judging the cheering contest.  My third grade class won the cheering competition!  We were so excited!!!  My students worked hard to memorize the short cheer and, since everybody participated, we did great.  The ice cream bars were a perfect reward for our efforts!

Something to note:  remember the young man who injured his arm so badly last year playing basketball?  He's back on the team this year and doing great.  His arm doesn't extend fully straight now as a result of the injury, but he's able to compensate for it and shoot hoops just the same.  In fact, last Friday at the game, he made some good shots!  And, yesterday at the Pep Assembly, he actually made the winning basket during a silly game event........the varsity players had to put their foreheads on the head of a bat, spin around ten times, and then either make a free throw or do a bump-set-spike with a teammate.  This was hilarious!  If you've ever watched such an event, you understand.  There were ball players falling on the floor and staggering around trying to hit the ball or make the shot.  All in good spirits though!  I think the teams appreciated the extra support we were able to show.

I finally got a call through to the neurologist's office about Dale's medication.  After I explained the problem, they began working from their end while advising me to follow up with Group Health.  I counted carefully the amount of days from when I picked up the 90-day supply to when we would need more, and, yes, there should have been enough to get Dale through, taking 3 1/2 pills morning and night, until February 25th (which is when our new insurance starts).  However, three weeks ago, I had to cut Dale down to only 3 pills twice a day because otherwise we would run out before the 25th.  When I explained all this to Group Health, they did some checking and told me that the manufacturer delivers those pills in pre-measured bottles of 100 pills each.  I had received six of those bottles plus 30 more pills to make up the rest of the 90-day supply.  Somehow, somewhere, we wound up several pills short.  Say, about 25 or so.  Group Health, because their records show that they delivered the correct amount, said they cannot just give us more meds.  However, there is still one refill left on the original prescription which we can purchase out of our own pocket.  My first thought was, "Oh, great, how much is that going to be?"  But, thankfully, it only costs about $58, so we went ahead and ordered it.  This means that Dale can go back up to 3 1/2 pills each dose (we have noticed a not-good difference since we lowered his dosage level), and it means we can breathe a little easier about having to find a doctor to see to continue the medication.  Hopefully, our next doctor will be as nice as our docs at Group Health have been!

Praise the Lord for His bountiful blessings to us!  It's so easy each day to find manifold reasons to complain, but it takes genuine effort to find things for which to thank God.  He is, after all, our reason for living---or should be.  Thank You, Lord, for showering us with good things each day.......and thank You for not zotching us when we grumble!

Psalm 108: 3 - 4  "I will praise Thee, O LORD, among the people:  and I will sing praises unto Thee among the nations.  For Thy mercy is great above the heavens:  and Thy truth reacheth unto the clouds."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Is it possible to love God too much?

What an interesting thought........can we love God too much?  I was listening to the song recently "That's what I'd be willing to do."  The lyrics lists things I should be willing to give up if necessary in order to be like the Lord, including trading "sunshine for rain, comfort for pain" or being willing to endure hardships if that's what it takes to draw close to God.  I had someone stop me this morning and express admiration for my patience and continued pleasant spirit since Dale's accident.  I always cringe whenever someone says something like that because I KNOW ME!  I know just how impatient I get, how much I wish I didn't have to deal with this, how much I dread the future stretching out before me filled with the constant need to be on guard for Dale, how I wish God would just heal him outright and get it over with!

You've heard the phrase, "Life isn't a bed of roses"?  Well, why not?!  Why can't life be easy, where the hardest thing I have to face is running out of toilet paper.  (Yes, that happened in our house last night!  Imagine handfuls of tissues being stashed in every bathroom.......)  Every day our family is faced with numerous issues about which to complain.  And, often, we do!  I grumble about having to take time out of my get-ready routine to walk Dale down the stairs.  We gripe about having to haul Dale's backpack everywhere.  We fuss at Dale for not walking properly.  We groan when we have to refigure our plans to accomodate his needs.  But consider the alternative:  we could be heartsore each time we make plans and realize we are one short.  We could be counting the days or years until we see Dale in Heaven.  We could find it unbearable to live in our house any longer, constantly having to walk by Dale's room and miss his laughter.  God has been so good to us, hearing the prayers of God's people and giving our son life again.  He has given us back our Dale, sound in mind  (at least as much as anybody else in our family!) although definitely frail in body.  Dale struggles with his memory still which makes test-taking difficult; we're still working to find the right balance of classes and responsibility for him, taking into account the fact that Dale needs extra help to get through high school.  Even realizing we are human with all the quirks and foibles encumbering us, how could we grumble about God's goodness to us?  I forget so easily that "this world is not my home; I'm just a-passing through."  This life is not what counts; Heaven is what counts.  When we reach Heaven, our troubles and trials down here will seem so minute and insignificant compared to God's wonderful presence and glory.  I find it necessary to remind myself often to thank God for His goodness and manifold blessings to us instead of frowning and grumbling about my inconveniences.

Chad and I had to ban Dale from playing video games for a while until he brings his grades up.  Dale has fallen into an attitude of apathy concerning his tests and quizzes.  He acts like, "I don't have to study because I had an accident."  He seems to think that he'll be allowed to slide through his classes without any negative repercussions from his grades.  Chad and I had a BIG talk with him on Sunday about being responsible for his own studying and test-taking and homework and keeping track of such things in the planner we got him at the beginning of the school year.  Dale has shown some improvement in these areas already this week, but there's still a long way to go before he's up to par!

I need to call Dale's neurologist and ask how much a bottle of his pills would be for us to purchase on our own (without insurance).  I counted up the amount of pills we have left, and there was not going to enough to last him until we could see a doctor again.  I cut down the amount of pills Dale takes each time, but, frankly, we've already seen some extra shakiness set in since then.  I need to get him some more medicine so that he can resume taking four pills each morning and evening, thus reducing the concern about seizures again.

Today is the last home game for our sports teams!  We're all excited---especially since we get out of school one hour earlier to watch the games.  :-)  With Mandie being a senior this year, this is the last game I will ever get to see her play in high school.  I'm starting to tear up just thinking about it.  (Sniff.)  The varsity still has one final tournament to attend the week of Presidents' Day.  We have a good chance of bringing home the big trophy this year in both volleyball and basketball.  GO KNIGHTS!!!

God be with each of you today and every day.  Each of us has burdens to bear and talents to share.  Have a great day!

Job 1: 21  "And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither:  the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."