We Waited A Decade For This Moment

Today held one of those moments in life which freeze a forever picture onto your mind’s eye.  Matthew had a follow-up doctor’s appointment with a couple of his ENT specialists down at Jefferson.  All the kids came along, and we maneuvered the parking garage, elevators, city blocks and waiting room chairs.  The first doctor took a look down his throat, through his nose.  I have been to every appointment where he has been scoped, and have seen enough inflammation to know the moment the picture came on the screen, that this was “normal”.  I videoed the procedure and now have something with which to compare it.  These are screen shots of a cell phone video… but if you have any sort of medical background you’ll probably be able to see the difference between the two:

Matthew's vocal chords, 2014 and 2015.

Matthew’s vocal chords, 2014 and 2015.

His first doctor said, “What are you doing?”  Matthew told him he’s been keeping a pretty strict diet, exercising, plus added some supplements which have been really helping.  “Well, whatever you’re doing, keep doing!” were his instructions.  He said he had never seen his throat and nose look that good.  In his words: “I see no evidence of disease at all. There is no inflammation.”  He was so pleased.  The second doctor was even more flabbergasted. Especially when he learned Matthew is no longer on any prescription meds.  “There is no crusting in your sinuses whatsoever.  Not even a bit.  It looks completely clean as a whistle.  What are you doing differently?” he asked.  So Matthew told him about Plexus and how we’ve been taking supplements which target gut health, inflammation and balancing blood sugar.  He was super interested and wanted to know a bit more about it.  Then he said, “Keep doing what you’re doing!” and asked for more information.  This journey of a decade has seen us sitting in MANY waiting room chairs.  More doctor dates than I can count.  I am so thankful for the many people who have prayed and supported us through this journey.  It feels like the end of a really difficult race, yet I know it’s actually the beginning of a new lap in life.   One of the hardest turns was two years ago.  These verses spoke into the darkness which threatened to swallow us in that hospital room: 
We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us,  as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1)
Today I feel like the last part of those verses has come to a sort of fruition.  We know there has been much glory and praise given to our GREAT God and deliverer today.  Because of what He has done through our circumstances, we are unable to keep our mouths shut.  

I want to take it a step further here.  We feel like nothing which has happened to us has been for nothing.  If our story helps one person, it has been worth it.  Yet, we don’t want to just be an encouraging story you read.  We want our story to stir you into action.  Yeah, it’s not easy to change your lifestyle, eat a whole new way and exercise when it’s almost never convenient.  And if I used strong language I would insert it here.  It also SURE ISN’T EASY to sit in a hospital and wonder if your life will be taken away or spared.  That changes you.  It changed us to action, research, questioning everything, and trying new things.  Our story is not over, but it’s been an incredible page-turner so far.  Everyone’s health journey is SO personal and intimate to them.  But if I could look you straight in the eye and beg you not to wait until it’s too late to get a hold of your health, I would.

We’ve been trudging through a pile of puzzle pieces for so long, and both feel that Plexus has been that last missing piece, bringing everything together.  Because his gut is healing, other things are happening.  In four months, Matthew feels better than he ever has on any prescription meds.  The amount of reading and research I’ve done has solidified my belief.  Now to have two elite specialists giving us their thumbs up: incredible.  2015-09-26 11.59.53

I love this picture of Betty and him counting to 100 while they waited for the doctor to come.  I get choked up in humble thanksgiving that our children are blessed with such an amazing dad.  His faith, endurance, and gentleness stand out to me the most.
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Thank you for praising with us together tonight!

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September Snapshots

This week in school has been busy!  We made gliders in Science class one day to learn about drag and experiment with a long skinny wing vs a short and wide wing… which flies further?  It’s always fun when school can be brought outside.
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Our sidewalk always needs a sweep, and we have a few kids who adore sweeping.  I love her joy and I also love her outfit… which has been going strong for three days now.  I think it’s one of her favorites too!  DSC_7828-2
I’m thankful for homeschooling, but by three o’clock my brain is toast and I need a few minutes of alone time.  The other day Betty, who’s middle name is shadow, said, “I really want to follow you because I have a lot of stuff to say to you!”  I mean, really.  How do you not squeeze someone like that?  She’s also very perceptive of when I need a break.  A couple days ago, she happened to be walking up the stairs behind me as I retreated to my room for a few minutes of silence.  She immediately said, “I’m not following you, mom.”  I laughed on the inside, and her wit started the process of melting away the stress of that day.  She is loving Kindergarten.  She constantly wants to do more and learn more.
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Elijah continues to invent, experiment and build.  He got over his fear and mastered a front flip off the diving board this summer.  He almost made me dive headfirst into our grill while I was flipping hamburgers the other night, when he snuck up behind me and scared the living daylights out of me!  He’s a great big brother.  He loves music and his guitar lesson is the highlight of his week.
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Nadine is doing great in school.  She loves her time with her rabbits.  Yes, Oreo is really jumping into the air.  He races around our front porch and Nadine says he’s happy when he does that.  I don’t speak bunny, but she does.  She occasionally babysits now, which she enjoys very much!  She is super into coloring to de-stress, and continues to be the best letter-writer in the County!
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Jack keeps improving on his reading.  He is strong and a perfectionist.  He enjoys competing with Matthew and one day he will beat him, I’m sure!  He totally beats me in pull-ups, push-ups and the like.  He loves to play with coins and carry them around in a sock.
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Elsie is a great big sister.  She and Betty still enjoy twinning some days.  She is very much into gymnastics, even though not officially taking lessons. She watched some YouTube videos and learned how to do a back bend, and how to do a back pullover on the bars!  She has turned into a bookworm, and I love that her favorite book right now was one of my favorite books when I was her age: Annie Oakley!  She constantly is tidying up around the house, and more than a few times I have come upstairs at the end of the day to find the bathroom scrubbed, or my bed made.  She is a strong girl with a lot of determination!
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In a few weeks Matthew & I will be running the Ragnar relay again.  So I’ve been running a lot.  Since we started taking Plexus and my blood sugar has been stabilizing, I actually sweat now.  I never used to sweat, and so this is a new phenomenon for me and I text way too many pictures of my sweaty face to Matthew because it tickles me… literally!  When I’m not running or teaching school, I’m IN school or in our kitchen.  Things I study: I’m still studying to become a certified aromatherapist, which I love and dive into when there’s a free evening.   Also, constantly researching gut health.  My favorite beverage is a tumeric latte, which helps with inflammation.  It’s a sad evening when the whole thing spills all over the table and dyes the floor yellow.  It’s amazing stuff.
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Time with Matthew is incredibly precious.  The other night we were able to slip away for a little date.  I pulled out some shoes I haven’t worn since I was a teenager.  Fun times!
In closing, I’ll attach a video we made yesterday.  In science we decided to conduct a little experiment about a product in our house we generally think is “healthy”.  But is it?  Check it out to see our amateur video attempts.  This was our first run through, and the kids thought the humor was fun so here it is.  First cut.  Enjoy!


Running and Free

We were created to be free.  One of my favorite things about being a child of God is the freedom we have in Christ.  Why has Christ set us free from sin and death?  For the incredible and awesome status of “free”.  Free to love beyond ourselves.  Free to truly live and not just exist.  We were on those slave blocks.  Half-naked, humiliated, alone.  Sin had us bought and mocked and tortured some more.  Deep inside all of us is this yearning for freedom.  Real freedom.  Not the freedom from our own procuring, like sneaking out the house at night in search of exhilarating freedom, yet being burdened with guilt instead.  Not like a runaway slave who is constantly looking over their shoulder in fear.  Freedom in Christ is freedom FROM guilt and fear.  It is living truly free.  Free to be at peace with our life today and eternally.

My heart hurts when I see God’s children becoming slaves all over again to fear and guilt.  The very reason our freedom was bought at such a cost was so we wouldn’t have to be burdened ever again.  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Did you hear that?  It’s like a slave being bought from the tortured life of slavery, being given every privilege of a free man, yet still beating themselves every night for old times’ sake.  It’s a mockery of what Jesus has done for us on the cross.  And it’s exactly where our enemy wants us to  be.  If we aren’t taking full advantage of our freedom in Christ, he wins.  Because his tactics are to lure us into self-made cages of fear and guilt.  As long as we’re in bondage again to fear, we are powerless.  Scared stiff.

I’ve been really convicted about being unafraid of doing hard things.  We all have hard things.  Everyone’s story is different.  We simply can not compare each other’s journeys.  We’re all running the race, and it’s a good thing we’re not all the same pace.  Just like running, though, the goal is not to quit.  On our journey, we’ve had some hard stuff.  Our hard has often revolved around health and money.  In fact, last month, the two year anniversary of our hardest battle yet, came and went without me even thinking about it!  I praise the Lord for a healthy marriage, despite unhealthy bodies.  More recently, our hard has been the climbing out of the pit we’ve been diving in and out of for the past ten years.  It’s because of the freedom we have in Christ we have been able to keep going.

Maybe Paul was a runner too, because he often referenced our life to a race. In a race, you’re exhausted, sometimes unsure of how to make the next step, and usually right about the time you feel like quitting, someone with a cup of cold water or a really encouraging word yelled in your direction puts a new strength to your legs and a renewed desire to finish well. 2015-09-08 12.13.17
We all have stories.  I actually made a short video about our journey so far.  I call it ten years condensed into less than five minutes.  Consider it a cup of cold water if perhaps you are going through a hard mile.  We’re not there yet, but I can fully and earnestly say, thus far the Lord has helped us!

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Weldon Homeschool Academy

School has started in full swing this week.  We’re reading, incorporating more fun, and lessons are shorter and more varied than previous years.  It’s pretty exciting to be coloring a map and have to say, “Ok, put your map away until next week!” and hear groans all around the table.  Today in school, besides reading about the Oregon Trail and decimals, Elijah made this fabulous K’Nex slap shot set-up and we had fun filming our version of Dude Perfect.

In science we learned all about air pressure. The moving air across the top of the straw could not press down as hard on the water in the straw. Since the water inside the straw wasn’t being pushed down as hard as the water in the cup, it was pushed out of the straw!  The spray surprised us all!

Reading, writing, drawing, coloring, making movies, and much more have been scattered across the hours.  Right now our house looks like a whole lot of action has been had inside its walls.  Canning and running and sweating were all a part of our day, and my body is aching to fall into bed.
September 2015 phone photos
A little chalkboard fun; making a movie about The Enlarging Machine, Jack is a master builder with pennies; Betty was proud of her sunshines she made out of K’Nex; coloring, sword drills, and a little Pink Drink make our mornings fun.

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Fifth Annual Kids’ Day and Other August Adventures

August has been simply amazing.  One highlight was our Fifth Annual Kids’ Day.  We decided to pack up the kids and take them to Six Flags Great Adventure for a day of thrills and laughter.  Everyone loves rollercoasters, and even though the one who loves them the most is the shortest, we still did a whole lot of fun together.  On the Congo Rapids, we laughed so hard because on each and every opportunity for water to crash into our raft, Jack and Matthew got soaked.  Meanwhile, Elijah, who was the only one hoping to get wet, stayed completely dry.  He wasn’t too happy about that.  My favorite part of the day was going on Nitro with the three bigs, in the dark, right before closing.  It was so fun, we ran all the way around to the front of the line again so we could ride it one more time, and we made it to the second to last ride before it shut down for the night.  We laughed and screamed and declared it to have been the perfect adventure.
August 2015 phone photos
Our second adventure in August was our family vacation down at Ocean City, NJ.  I barely pulled out my camera, but we sure had a blast.  Betty adores the ocean, is fearless to ride the waves, and we all had so much fun boogie boarding together.  It’s been a long time since I’ve body-slid onto the shore from the top of a wave and had my bathing suit filled with sand.
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This is how sad Betty gets when she’s told Daddy needs a break.
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A few gorgeous runs with Matthew lit up some of the mornings.

One night, we hung out at the boardwalk.  I asked someone to take our family’s picture, and happened to ask a professional photographer.  He nailed it.
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That night we enjoyed the musical talent of many different bands, and joined in the dance party with some friends.  It was a blast.  At one point I had ice-cream dripping down both of my hands, where the kids had stuffed their cones so they could dance instead.  They busted some sweet moves and won enough free mini-golf games so they could go golfing the next day.  One night I found the kids on the upstairs deck, talking and laughing together.  It felt strangely grown-up-ish and not childish.  Good food, walks, talks, sand, sun, runs, and many wonderful memories made it the perfect week.
August 2015 phone photos1
From there, we traveled to MD to visit friends, and then to Washington D.C. to see the sights and more friends of ours.  It was a great memory, for sure!
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By the time we reached the White House, our feet felt like they just might fall off.  Some, more than others.  However, it was still worth the time and mileage to make those memories together.
August 2015 phone photos2
Summer’s memories are treasured, like love notes tucked into my pocket. Every once in awhile I will pull them out and smile, remembering each moment together.
A favorite song of mine recently has been rolling around in my head all week.  I thought it fitting to put the words on the backdrop of one of this week’s sunrises.
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First Day Fun

Today began our new adventure.  Our one-room-schoolhouse is now officially in session.  These beautiful kids were excited to start and did an amazing job!  We’re super excited about what this year will bring, and thankful to know the One who will take us through each day!  This is the first year I will have all five in a grade.  In case the comment is on the tip of your tongue, please know, I also can not do this.  Not alone, anyway.  I have a really big God who has promised to provide the resources to do what He calls us to do.  If that means teaching our kids at home, then He gives the strength, the joy, the patience, the creativity, and the desire to do so.  Praising the Lord for His great faithfulness, for strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside…
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Summertime in a Jar

Yesterday I worked for eight hours on canning tomatoes into all sorts of yummy summery goodness.  90 lbs of tomatoes went through our kitchen this week.  The lady behind me at the farm asked me what on earth I was going to do with all of those tomatoes.  Summertime is my favorite time of year, and I’m so excited to have made and canned my first batch of summer salsa.  Here is my loose recipe, which I divided up between two large glass cake pans, because I lack a big roasting pan:

16 cups of tomatoes
4 sweet onions quartered
2 large sweet peppers
1 pineapple
1 whole garlic bulb
bunch of fresh oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
4 teaspoons sea salt
2 cups apple cider vinegar

I baked this for about 30-45 mins at 400 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes or so.  I would have preferred fresh cilantro, but didn’t have any on hand, so that is omitted.  Blitz in blender until a salsa texture is achieved.  Refrigerate, or can for the winter!  This made 2 quarts and 5 pints of salsa.  (If I remember correctly)

The tomato sauce is just tomatoes, onions, garlic and sea salt roasted in the same way, then blitzed in the blender to a rough chop/puree.

Summertime Tomatoes


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