I Will Bring You Back from Your Captivity

I’m so glad to have found an amazing Bible Study: Unlocking the Treasure; A Bible Study for Moms Entrusted with Special-Needs Children by Bev Roozeboom. This journey has been difficult and even more so feeling like my hubby and I are the only ones on the journey. There is no one at our church struggling as we are. None of my high school girl friends even have kids. And all my mommy friends, even though they are amazing and are a huge support system; have all typical children. I’ve been able to connect with a mom whose daughter has Angelmans syndrome, but we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like. Our struggles are hard-but we don’t have it any harder than anyone else. Our struggles are all unique.

One night I just needed some encouragement and I wanted a Bible study for moms in my situation. I’m so glad the Lord lead me to this book. It brings me to tears each entry. Bringing up thoughts and feelings I didn’t realize I struggled with. It brings up issues I thought I had dealt with, but truly I am still holding onto. Each entry is exactly what I need for that day. Even though this books says it’s from moms of special-needs children, I truly think any mom can read it. All may not pertain to them, but I feel being a mom is difficult and no matter typical child or not, it never goes the way we imagined it. Remember while being pregnant how we dreamed of what it’d be like. Is it going how you dreamed of it? Todays topic was A Hope and a Future. I didn’t realize how at times I feel like I’m living in captivity. Now since Sweet Baby has no diagnosis, we don’t know what his future looks like. As he gets older he may catch up, and only those close to us would know how hard we struggled. Or he may always be our Sweet Baby. The uncertainty can sometimes be too much to swallow. I’d like to share from today’s entry. Everything in italic is from the book, I’ll be mixing in a few of my own thoughts/feelings.

There are times when I feel as though our son is holding us hostage! His demands, at times, are so great and the burden is so exhausting. When we look ahead, we don’t see that its going to change anytime soon. Even though Sweet Baby seems so close to walking independently, someday’s I still feel like we will never get there. Because I feel like we’ve been ‘so close’ for so long now. My biggest fear right now, is he is approaching the age for preschool. When I think of it, I go into a massive panic attack. Will he be moving out of our home after highschool? I’m not sure if he’d be able to get a job. Will we always be supporting him (financially, emotionally and in other ways) well into his adulthoodToday, let’s look at a familiar passage of Scripture and allow God’s Word to break some chains!

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD and I will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29;11-14

If we back up a few verses and read the first part of Jeremiah 29 (Jeremiah 29:4-7) the Lord instructs His children to go on with their lives, even during difficult times of trials. Dear sister, God’s plans will most certainly prosper you. It’s just that His plans often look different from our plans, but God really knows what He’s doing! He has the power to take this difficult challenge and turn it into His calling for your life. 

I choose not to stop living! It’s important to keep Christ my center and seek Him with my whole heart; step into each day with the hope and confidence that God will use me in my current circumstances. Go buy this Bible study ASAP, it won’t disappoint, I promise.

~Our Sweet Life~

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Rest in His hands

Sweet Baby’s struggles lately have been hitting my husband and me hard. Now that our baby is two years and 3 months, it is more obvious to people he’s far behind. It doesn’t help that he is very tall for his age as well. Now when people meet him and see he’s not talking, not walking on his own, or feeding himself; I can’t help but feel the judgmental stares. Most people who meet our boy love him right away, but I still see the curiosity in their eyes. It’s like they are trying to figure him out. It really bothers me. Not to mention we have hit with terrible twos with a vengeance. The tantrums, the mood swings it’s enough to wear you out by 9am. His therapists have tried encouraging me by saying its a very good sign cognitively that he is doing this. I’ll keep trying to remind myself of that during his next screaming fit. It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you on Sweet Baby. And you’ll see why, things have been …. crazy to say the least.

The week before thanksgiving, Sweet Baby started having seizures. It was the scariest time of my life. He had 6 or 7 in a 4 day span. That week was hell on earth. I feel I have not been able to relax since. Every time he’s suddenly quite, or laying still on the floor, my heart drops and I go running to him. The doctor put him on Keppra and it’s been controlling his seizures, until recently. Not to mention how it’s affected his personality, making him aggressive & agitated. For the last month or so, he’s been having breakthrough seizures frequently throughout the day. We are currently trying to find a new medication for him. Reading all the side effects make me sick to my stomach. How does a mother choose between medicines that can severely affect his personality or one that is not good for his well being. Well we had picked a new one yesterday but when I was informed of the price, $250 for a month supply, we are back to square one. I just want to burry my head in the sand and not think about it. But my Sweet Baby is counting on me to be his advocate. He had an EEG done, it was abnormal & shows he has a tendency for seizures.

Christmas we spent at the hospital because Sweet Baby had influenza. He was dehydrated and not getting enough oxygen. They kept us overnight because they wanted to monitor his oxygen levels & to watch for seizures. The hubby slept on what they call a bed & Sweet Baby and I slept in the recliner. He wouldn’t sleep in the crib but would sleep on my chest. He needed his mommy, it’s ok because I needed him too.

About a month ago he had his surgery to correct his strabismus, and he was a fighter! I’m so proud of him. He handled recovery like a pro. It’s amazing the progress we have seen already. He’s so close to walking independently, it could be any day. He makes eye contact now, and it melts my heart every time.

He had an MRI back in January and it was abnormal. It showed T2 hyperintensities in periventricular white matter and a thinning of the corpus callosum (it’s in the center of your brain and it is how the left and right side of your brain communicates). Which in a nut shell means: he has less nerves in his corpus callosum than you and I do. So he needs longer time to process information. Having a thinned corpus callosum can cause global delays.

A few weeks ago we took him to the geneticist to look further into his delays. We have a plan of blood work (still waiting to see if insurance will cover the labs) and they want to do a spinal tap if blood work comes back negative.

With everything going on lately, I have been feeling lost. In the dark moments, when I’ve quietly cried myself to sleep, I’ve wondered if God has forgotten or forsaken us. In my new Bible study, Unlocking the Treasure (which is amazing and I’ll talk about more later), we studied Isaiah 49:13-16a.
“Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people. And will have mercy on His afflicted. But Zion said, ‘The LORD has forsaken me, And my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely, they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands”

I find this verse encouraging. When I see the word afflicted, I think of Sweet Baby and his many afflictions at such a young age. It breaks my heart he has to fight at such a young age. But then this verse points out, The LORD will have mercy or compassion on them. That’s soothing to an aching heart. When I feel like The Lord has forgotten us I must remember that His word says He will not forget me. In fact, my name and Sweet Baby’s name is inscribed or engraved on the palms of His hands. To engrave literally means “to carve; cut.” According to the thesaurus, one of the synonyms of engrave is infix. To infix means to “implant so deeply as to make change nearly impossible.” Jesus did not die for us to simply forget about us. He literally cut our names into His palms.
I need to remind myself that when I feel weary and I can’t go on, Christ is waiting for me to just simply fall into His arms. To allow Him to wrap His arms around me and find rest in His hands. The precious hands that are full of love, compassion and have our names written on them.

~Our Sweet Life~

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Black Bean & Quinoa Enchilada Bake

Quinoa was labeled the healthiest food of 2013. I know from my mom’s experience is that it can be tricky to cook quinoa. If you don’t cook it with the right things, it has a bitter taste. But if you make it just right, its delicious! As I was browsing Pinterest to find new recipes I came across this one. Looking for healthy things for us all to eat, I was excited to try this recipe. It looked delicious, smelt delicious and tasted delicious. Put some Chalua on it and it makes it even better. My husband ate his with chips. He liked the flavor but had to get used to the texture of the dish. Sweet Baby enjoyed it as well. Recipe freezes well and I was able to assemble in the afternoon and throw in the oven when the hubby was on his way home from work.

Recipe and photo from Two Peas & Their Pod. Check out their site for more delicious recipes to try. It is a new favorite of mine and the best part is it’s only 6 WW points for one serving! Quinoa is packed with protein so one serving can go a long way! Tell me what you think!

Black Bean & Quinoa Enchilada Bake

Yield: Serves 8-10   Black-Bean-and-Quinoa-Enchilada-Bake-8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes-includes churning time
 

ingredients:

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed,diced
1 red pepper, seeds removed, diced
1 orange pepper, seeds removed, diced
1 cup corn frozen kernels
Juice of 1 small lime
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups red enchilada sauce  ( I put 3 cups)
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
Toppings: Sliced green onions, avocado slices, sour cream, optional

directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

2. Add quinoa and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Cover quinoa and set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the peppers and corn. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Add the lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and cilantro. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4. In a large bowl, add the cooked quinoa and black beans. Add the sautéed vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Pour in the enchilada sauce and stir. Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese.

5.Pour the black bean and quinoa mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining shredded cheese. Cover the pan with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil. Bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and edges are bubbling. Remove from the oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Garnish with toppings, if desired. Serve warm.

Note-this recipe freezes well!

Oreo Rice Krispie Treats

I have been craving Oreos recently! So when I found this recipe I was ecstatic! I love Rice Krispie treats and I love Oreos so I not put them together? Last night I had my girls Bible study so I decided to make this treat for them. Mostly to save myself from eating a whole pan of Rice Krispie treats. And they were a hit! The best thing is you only need a few things & they are quick and easy to make! With Valentine’s Day around the corner feel free to drop a few drops of color into the white chocolate that you drizzle on top. Make a perfect treat for you and your Valentine. Enjoy! Recipe & photo courtesy of Lauren Conrad.

Oreo Rice Krispie Treats

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The “W” in Christmas

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Merry Christmas to everyone and their loved ones. Remember we’ve already received the best gift of all. A loving Savior. Thanks to all my readers. It’s a weird Christmas for us here: Sweet Baby is sick and it’s just a very laid back year. It’s kinda restful though. I hope everyone’s year is blessed. Enjoy this story by an unknown author. God bless. Jesus is the reason for the season.
~Our Sweet Life~

Each December I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations: extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending.

Yet I still found myself exhausted, unable to fully appreciate the precious family moments, and, of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six-year-old. For weeks, he’d been memorizing songs for his school’s Winter Pageant. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production.

Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher who assured me there would be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise. So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early and found a seat in the cafeteria. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.

As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas” I didn’t expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment: songs about reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes, and good cheer. So when my son’s class rose to sing “Christmas Love” I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, who were adorned in fuzzy mittens and red sweaters, with bright stocking caps on their heads. Those in the front row, center stage, held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing “C is for Christmas” a child would hold up the letter “C.” Then, “H is for Happy,” and on and on, until each child holding his portion had presented the complete message, “Christmas Love.”

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly we noticed her: a small, quiet girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down. She was unaware that reversed, her letter “M” appeared as a “W.”

The audience of first- through sixth-graders snickered at this little one’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, and she stood tall, proudly holding her “W.” Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.

A hush came over the audience, and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos there was a purpose for our festivities.

When the last letter was held high, the message read clear: “CHRISTWAS LOVE” (“CHRIST WAS LOVE”). And I believe He still is.

If I Had Known

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Found this beautiful post from Scary Mommy & I just had to share. Because I have come to find there are days when it’s so hard & overwhelming. Back before I had Sweet Baby I used to tell my friend (at the time mother of 2) how I want a baby! I can’t wait to have a baby! She’d smile and say, “having a baby is like being on a roller coaster; once your on you can’t get off.” There are the times I want to get off but then I see Sweet Baby smile, coo or reach a milestones we’ve worked so hard for; I realize I truly wouldn’t want to miss this for the world. Hold your precious ones tight. They grow so fast.

If I Had Known

If I had known what sleep deprivation really felt like before I had kids…

If I had known the full measure of bodily fluids I’d have to clean up throughout my children’s childhoods…

If I had known how much the sound of “Mama? Mama? Mama?” could grate on my last nerve after hearing it for more than a decade…

If I had known that sometimes I’d take an extra long time on the toilet, just to have a few minutes to myself…

If I had known that those few stolen toilet moments would almost always be interrupted by tiny fists knocking on the door anyway…

If I had known how often I would have to repeat the same directions and corrections over and over and over and over…

If I had known that every “expert” remedy for whining, crying, moping, disobedience, disrespect, and laziness would be completely ineffectual half the time…

If I had known that loving your children doesn’t mean liking them all the time…

If I had known that I would sometimes cry in the shower because there was no other place to vent alone…

If I had known that I’d be so “touched out” by the end of some days that the thought of getting busy with my husband would repulse me…

If I had known that I would never be able to truly, fully concentrate on anything ever again…

If I had known that it doesn’t get easier as they get older, just hard in different ways…

If I had known I would feel terrified almost every day that I am failing at motherhood in some way…

If I had known how truly unrelenting parenting was going to be…

I would have had my children anyway.

Because if I hadn’t…

I wouldn’t know how miraculous it feels to have a human being grow from a tiny speck to an entire person inside your own body.

I wouldn’t know that the smell of a newborn’s head is the best evidence that there’s a heaven.

I wouldn’t know the magic of having a baby fall asleep in your arms and never wanting to put them down.

I wouldn’t know the unmatchable thrill of watching your child walk, use the potty, ride a bike, or read a whole book for the first time.

I wouldn’t know how the sound of your child’s laughter can lighten even the heaviest of days.

I wouldn’t know how an innocent, wide-eyed stare can melt you right through the floor.

I wouldn’t know how awesome it is to witness the daily, gradual unfolding of a person you helped bring into the world.

I wouldn’t know the pride of seeing your children navigate difficult situations using the tools and qualities you’ve helped instill in them.

I wouldn’t know how much pure, unbridled joy there could be in seeing your children triumph.

I wouldn’t know how much unexpected, humbling grace there could be in the constant struggle of trying to be a better parent.

I wouldn’t know how the act of parenting your own kids can help heal your own childhood hurts.

I wouldn’t know how losing myself in motherhood would result in finding a deeper, stronger, realer version of myself.

I wouldn’t know the warm, sweet fullness of being loved as only a mother can be loved.

I wouldn’t know the raw, fierce power of loving as only a mother can love.

And I wouldn’t know that the pain and pitfalls of the path are ultimately outweighed by beauty, joy, and wonder of the journey.

If I had known what motherhood really was like, I’d have done it all over again.

(I’d just have slept more when I had the chance.)
Hhhhhh

3 Steps to Triumph in Your Trials

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Beautiful post from: http://www.matthewljacobson.com

At some point, the life we planned on and reality collide.

Our first several years of marriage were pretty much free of serious hardship – oh, things happened that we thought were difficult but the first real challenge? That would be the birth of our Little Sparrow.

How do you cope when the Dr. tells you your new baby is severely brain-damaged and is, in so many words, a vegetable? I kept it together while he was there but could feel a growing fire in my chest, as if the sinews of my heart were being ripped apart.

Daddy wants to protect.

Daddy wants to fight.

But, there’s not one thing Daddy can do to stop what was happening.

When the door clicked shut behind the good Dr., I turned to Lisa – my lover, my friend, and oh how we cried.

In one moment all the hopes, dreams, and aspirations for a new little life, for our little girl, vanished.

Have you been there, too? Or maybe you’re living there right now – searching for understanding and the strength to carry on in the face of deepest sorrow, or a bitter challenge.

Step 1 – Remember Job – He is God in the stillness and in the storm.

God knows every detail about you including the worst thing you are facing right now. The book of Job gives us a “peek behind the curtain.” Satan is at work – in every trauma, trouble, and trial we face – but so is God.

There’s a line in an old hymn I love that goes like this: He will sanctify to you your deepest distress. You see, God never gives you the grace for someone else’s trials but He always gives you the grace for what He calls you to walk through.

Will you receive it?

He will take that trial your Enemy meant as dark and dirty and sanctify it – literally make it clean – if you trust and yield to His light in the midst of your troubles.

In that hospital room, I knelt (fell to my knees) beside the bed, desperately grasping Lisa’s hand . . .

“Oh God, I don’t understand why our little girl has to be hurt like this . . . it makes no sense to me . . .

but I still trust you . . .

we still believe that you are good, even though we don’t see or understand.”

Then we cried a lot more.

Step 2 – Believe the Truth – God will never leave you or forsake you. Matt. 28:20 “. . . I am with you alway . . .”

He is there, in your deepest struggle. Do we truly believe what we’ve been telling everyone we believe? Do we believe that God is good in the shadows of life, or only in the sunshine?

But, don’t get the wrong idea. I still get emotional over what might have been. Sorry – maybe a super Christian would just forge ahead in total strength and conviction, but this Daddy?

The other day when some kids were visiting, running all over the yard and our Little Sparrow leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, “I wish I could run,” or when I’m at some event like we were, recently, where there’s a little country dancing and I see Little Sparrow in her wheel chair, her longing eyes watching the other kids laughing and playing . . . yeah, I still cry.

My little girl’s heart was made for dancing, too.

Step 3 – Hold fast to your hope – Romans 15:13 “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

And, God knows that. He created her for His glory which is why following the Marriage Supper of The Lamb, I’m thinking there’s going to be a big dance and I’m pretty sure I’ll have to stand in line for a dance with Little Sparrow . . . just behind Jesus,

Welcome Little Sparrow . . . may I have this dance.

Matthew Jacobson
http://www.matthewljacobson.com

I Still Would Have Chosen You

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Last week was the hardest of my life with Sweet Baby. Last week he had his first seizure and continued for the rest of the week. They have him on anti-seizure meds that have helped so far. We are on day 4 seizure free! Praise God. I found this beautiful poem that I cried when I read it. It’s so beautiful and true. It’s also a great reminder. I would never trade Sweet Baby for anything. He is my world. He has given my life a purpose I never thought it would have. I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say, “Because of you I didn’t give up.” Of course it was only by the strength of Christ that I haven’t given up. And I never will give up on my Sweet Baby.

I Still Would Have Chosen You 
 
If before you were born, I could have gone to heaven and saw all the beautiful souls, I still would have chosen you.
If God had told me, “This soul would one day need extra care and needs” , I still would have chosen you.
If He had told me, “This soul may make your heart bleed” , I still would have chosen you.
If He had told me, “This soul would make you question the depth of your faith” , I still would have chosen you.
If He had told me, “This soul would make tears flow from your eyes that could fill a river” , I still would have chosen you.
If He had told me, “This soul may one day make you witness overbearing suffering” I still would have chosen you.
If He told me, “All that you know to be normal would drastically change” , I still would have chosen you.
Of course, even though I would have chosen you, I know it was God who chose me for you.
-Terry Banish

Creamy Tomato Bisque

My favorite place to order tomato bisque is Bj’s brewhouse. Just delicious. They put these delicious, buttery croutons on top – divine! Every time I would eat it, I would turn to hubby and say, I need to learn how to make a good tomato bisque. So I found this delicious recipe from Wilderness Wife. This soup was easy to make too. It doesn’t taste like Bj’s and I’m still going to find a way to make it as delicious.  I didn’t have any curry or bay leaf – maybe that is the missing ingredient. Or as my hubby put it- everything could always use more butter!! This soup is 11 weight watchers points and serving size is 8.

Enjoy! Maybe make a grilled cheese with it. 😉 Recipe courtesy of Wilderness Wife.

Ingredients
  • ¼ lb. butter
  • 1 c. chopped celery
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • ½ c. chopped carrots
  • ⅓ c. all purpose flour
  • 2 (1 lb. 12 oz.) cans of whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. curry
  • ¼ tsp. white pepper
  • pinch of salt (to taste)
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a large soup pot.
  2. Saute onion, celery, and carrots until tender.
  3. Add the flour, and stirring constantly, cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, sugar, basil, marjoram, bay leaf and chicken broth.
  5. Simmer for 30 minutes while stirring occasionally, then discard bay leaf.
  6. Puree using the appliance of your choice. I use an immersion blender, but a regular blender or a food processor will work.
  7. Add cream, paprika, curry, pepper and salt.
  8. Stir to combine.
  9. Serve hot or cold.