Saturday, January 29, 2011

No time to blog.............maybe..............

I had every intention of catching up this blog on life at Calico Acres Farm  aka  Smith  Soup. Instead, I decided Daniel needed a haircut more at the moment than I needed to write. Ok.  SO I opened up my blog and after several days of internet being out and in , mostly out............ I saw that I had missed a LOT of blog posts from so many of you and so instead of writing, I read. OH  MY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I missed a LOT of life dear friends, a lot that I will be praying and praising God with you over!!  So, since it's 12:30 AM and it is now Sunday which is my earliest morning of any week, I am not going to write  much now either. Let me share that  we are on DAY NINETEEN of no black outs for Jael!!!!! Esther is definitely feeling the usual first trimester  symptoms of a pregnancy, Joshua is in Germany on military assignment for 6 weeks, Caleb and Tiffany are slowly but surely recovering from the disappointment of a 10 week -along miscarriage and Gideon's broken foot is healing. Sopheak did her finger prints at USCIS for her Change of Status from fiance visa recipient to Permanent Legal Resident! To take total advantage of a flukey 80 degree vacation from winter, we had  a back yard BBQ to celebrate son-in-law Jon's 28th birthday. YES!!!!   80 degrees in late January , in Oklahoma. Last week we had snow. There is still a snow pile here or there in northern exposed areas even today (or a puddle where that snow pile stood yesterday perhaps!!)  What fun to grill outdoors while comfortably wearing shorts  (or in my case, only a long sleeved shirt with no jacket!) and to just hang out on the deck watching the kids toast marshmallows! The pinata we did for Jon's party was definitely a "summer " thing too, but in Oklahoma, one learns that seasons are more like  lots of spices mixed in a  single jar rather than several jars sitting side by side. In all of that God has been faithful and we have been very mindful of it! The song that probably most accompanies my thoughts this week is "More like Falling in Love"  or  "Oh How I  Love Jesus!"  There is a whole separate post about WHY those two songs, but if you have heard "Falling in Love"  you know its about cutting past religion  and being in  a relationship with Jesus..."Caught up called out...." and what I want, what I  HAVE, what I strive to nurture is "more like falling in love  than something to believe in, more like losing my heart  than pledging  my allegiance"  The God Who sent His only begotten Son LOVES  ME. He  delights over me with singing, calls me the "Apple of His eye" and adopted me as his own so I could always run to  Him as  my Abba Father! There are some who deny that one can have a relationship with Jesus because that isn't "scriptural" but I am here to tell you, my relationship with Jesus is REAL  and I have no "religion" by name but  as a born again child of God, I do desire to practice what HE calls "true religion". I will never hesitate to encourage each of you in that pursuit either! Let me leave you with Hebrews 10 : 23-25  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Spur someone on today toward love and good deeds, meet together with other believers, worship our God  and Father in Spirit and in Truth. Have a totally blessed Sunday!

Friday, January 28, 2011

A quote to start my weeknd! C. S. :Lewis

"O Kings and ladies, I have been wandering to find him and my happiness is so great that it even weakens me like a wound. And this is the marvels of marvels, that he called me Beloved, me who am but as a dog .” C. S. Lewis… “The Last Battle”

Friday, January 21, 2011

Liberia on my mind............and black outs too...........

We met a man named Eric two years ago when my husband and I traveled to Liberia to spend two weeks with our children, Junior and Diamoh. Eric and his family hope to adopt  a daughter in Liberia as well and getting to know him was a blessing. He has been able to return to Liberia several times to do mission  and humanitarian aide work and he is returning again  TOMORROW!.  Please pray with me for  he and his team who will be doing some construction projects and other work too ?   I  know I mentioned this already. Eric is also going to see our children and take gifts to them...something I am seriously excited about! 
Please pray for Julie, who is home with their other children too? I am pretty used to being on my own on a regular basis, but I don't think that is the case for Julie, who is7 months pregnant with Baby #8.
THANK YOU SO  MUCH ERIC for taking gifts over to our children for us!!
Today was Day #11 for Jael with no blackouts! I don'tknow why they started, I don't know why they have seemed to stop. We will see the neurologist on Wednesday and hopefully she will have some answers or ideas. In the meantime I am so thankful to our Heavenly Father that Jael has remained safe over the past 4 months, even with the random black outs.  He knows the what -for, the whys, He knows it ALL and above all, we are trusting God to keep our focus on responding in ways that are pleasing to Him and appropriate for the  faith He has given us .Compared to some other folks I know who have daily  "crisis situations" I feel  like ours are minimized but NO! How each of us responds in our situations to GOD is really  the focal point.If life is "Easy" and I forget to praise God , I am wrong. If life goes totally haywire and I forget to trust God , I am wrong.There is an old hymn called " I Surrender All" and that cuts to the heart of the matter. Do I, do you, trust God all the time or do we wig out and lean into  our own understanding when the unexpected arises? As  humans it is normal to jump into "self-sufficient  mode"  when something out -of-the-ordinary  pops up. As God's children, He really desires for us to talk to Him first and react accordingly...
 by living out the faith we profess during the "easy days"..  Other situations in my life which shall go undetailed  challenge me every day to make the choice to LEAN or go it on  my own. It is  amazing how quickly I am abel to see the fruit of  what I choose. The times that I press hard into my Lord and choose to react HIS WAY don't always resolve things any more easily  BUT I do not have to add repenting for poorly chosen reactions either. When I do respond in my flesh, often the conflict is prolonged and painful. "Stressing out"  over Jael's health issues won't change them any but that mentality will change me.
I shared a passage in Isaiah with a friend this morning and I want to share it with you as well. It is from
Isaiah 43

1 But now, this is what the LORD says—

he who created you, O Jacob,

he who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

you will not be burned;

the flames will not set you ablaze.

3 For I am the LORD, your God,

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior

How can I  NOT  trust the God  who promises  CHILD  "YOU  ARE  MINE!!!" ?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Meet my newest GRAND BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here is Riley Kaye/ Logan James Rogers............. all 5 weeks and 5 days old!! Esther and Casey announced their news last week. We had a SCARE on Monday but the ultrasound showed us that Baby Rogers was indeed very much present with heart tones recorded!! I was so thankful that Casey was able to get off work to be with Esther and glad that I was able to drop what I was doing to be with them as well! Oh we prayed so earnestly together for God  to do what looked pretty impossible at the moment, but  more than that,   to draw Esther and Casey closer and closer to Himself   NO MATTER WHAT!!! Our rejoicing was certainly great when we knew she had not lost the baby!!  Our son Caleb and his wife Tiffany were also expecting a baby, due at the same time. They were waiting on their ultrasound to make their announcement but the ultrasound didn't deliver good news for them.The roller coaster ride of   Mamma -Gramma  emotions was pretty wild, sharing Esther's news, to be met with Caleb's news, and then  for Esther to experience what she did on Monday ............I had chosen as one of our worship songs for Sundays' service Blessed be the Lord".
We all were  singing " Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise. When the darkness closes  in Lord,  STILL I WILL SAY  Blessed be the Name of the Lord  Blessed  be Your Glorious Name!!" prepared  to sing  praises no matter what was going to happen.
Isaiah's MRSA  infection had to be re-opened and repacked yesterday, but he is more mobile than he has been. I'm so thankful that even though there is still a lot of infection still present  we seem to be beating it back!
  Jael is celebrating this her NINTH DAY of no blackouts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are still other symptoms which are pretty limiting, and I did have to bring her home from school today, but no black outs!!!! We are praising God for whatever He is leading us through as we trust for complete healing and restoration in her body!
I will be waiting with almost baited breath for new photos of our  Junior and Diamoh next week! A friend we traveled to Liberia with two years ago is going over this weekend and is carrying gifts from us to our dear children ! It is such a joy to be able to send things to them,  to send money to provide for their needs and OH SO PRECIOUS  to be able to talk to them as often as we do!! It will be wonderful to have photos when Eric returns. One day we won't need a courier  because our children will be home. Lord please  haste the day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I can tell you all with absolute certainty, life would be beyond impossible without the presence of my Heavenly Father by  awesome His Holy Spirit!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Of MRI's and MRSA's

Jael's MRI  results came back: completely normal.  PRAISE GOD, no tumors or any other  such  "scary" things , but we are still no closer to a diagnosis or a course of treatment either. When the neurologist's office responded to our doctor, we were initially given an appointment in SEPTEMBER! I was dismayed to say the least and asked if the Neurologist could call or be called by  our  doctor to discuss a more relevant date to begin Jael's assessment. AS I prayed that we  could get Jael seen sooner  both the Neurologist's office and our doctor's office called to let us know that Jael had been moved up to January 26 . The plan is apparerently to do an evaluation and a "Real-time"  or "visual"  EEG. That is still 14 days away, but much better than no apointment or one so far off as to be "no appointment". Thankfully she has had no black outs for two whole days andv since I  have not received any "MRS. SMITH...........YOUR DAUGHTER............." phone calls , I can happily report that she has  gone almost THREE DAYS!
As for Isaiah and his MRSA infection, I wish that the report was better. He has had his leg wound packed , repacked and cleaned 4 times now. He has taken two rounds of anti-biotics, the wound is still very deep and very large. It is not really getting better, it is just no longer draining to the surface. NEXT STEP:  an ultrasound of the wound to determine depth and scope of the infection, and perhaps,  and likely,  an out- patient surgery under general anesthesia to open up the wound, debride and clean it to its core. OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 Despite good hand washing and hygienic practices, it would seem that the MRSA is out to get me too. I had a cut on one finger,;it healed just fine. A cut on my other hand has not healed as well and is looking supiciously like a MRSA infection. Our doctor ordered a dose of meds for me, just to be careful.
 In other news; Esther and Casey are expecting their first baby later in summer!!! The plan was to not announce the news quite so early but a couple of "insiders" got so excited , Esther and Casey decided to go public before any hurt feelings ensued.  The names  Clayton  -Something  and  Riley Kaye are being considered and Charlie/Charles   IS NOT. Esther was hoping  for another  Little Charlie  Smith cousin, but Casey says "no way".  Several of us have a "pink" feeling about this baby anyhow. We'll see, won't we!!!!
My  11th  Grand baby will be born in 2011...that' kinda cool isn't it!!
Some friends are going to Africa  later this month and it is so exciting to me to be able to send little gifts to our children and their wonderful care taker!! Mailing is never a good idea so we who have ties there all wait for others to help us out. I had such fun picking out little goodies!  I put together a new photo album of us for our children first and foremost!! Then, 6 awesome and fun shades of nail poilish for Diamoh, a new outfit, UNO for Junior as well as two Matchbox  Airplanes.  Junior  aspires to be an airplane pilot , and I want to encourage that any way I can!!!!  Punch balloons for all the children  and some love gifts for our care taker complete the package!  I started out thinking "Oh  this for that child  and a little this for that child and OH SHE will like THIS!"       STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It is s a fine line between sending gifts and over extending someone else's weight allowances and gracious offer. . So while shopping  for gifts  sometimes  leaves me   feeling  like  I'm sending  "so little, "  when my "little"   is packed into someone else's luggage x how ever many other people are wanting to send "something little"... it adds up so very  quickly!! Nevertheless, I am so grateful for  a chance to send anything  over to keep us all encouraged and in touch while we wait............... and wait................I am hoping that the nail polishes will bring back smiles and happy memories for Diamoh  of the day that I painted her nails and then  all the other  girls' fingers and toes with her as my assistant.
After several days of really  cold temperatures , today's 38 feels almost  warm. NO it does NOT! It is still cold, my wood stove is still my most essential utility. Thoughts of steamy , humid West Africa  and S.E. Asia float over my chilly brrrrrrrrain and a blanket stays wrapped around my shoulders! For all of you who love the cold, ENJOY!! I wish you as much enjoyment as you can stand! When it's hot in a few months  and you are not so comfortable, I hope you'll wish me lots of warmth as well. Leah and I laugh often about how glad we are that God created such a wide temperature range and so many people to enjoy each and every degree of it!

Precious hands and feet!

From another angle...

Plaiting Diamoh's hair

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Flunking the "Proverbs 31 woman quiz" !!

YES I DID,  or I "would have"  if there were such a thing.
 In all of the busyness of  black outs,  MRSA infection, kidney infection,  broken bones, doctor visits, hospital visits, normal  life activities and such, it got colder and colder, we used the propane heater in the dining room more often and while I do know it's a propane piggy, I got too busy to  remeber to think about propane tank levels outside in our big tank. BAD MISTAKE!!!!  I woke up this morning to an incredibly cold bedroom and was  saved only by my electric blanket and thick sleep socks! My first thoughts were to re-set the thermostat and get things going again. Failing in that, a quick trip downstairs to turn on the  kitchen stove confirmed to me that YES  I had let the propane tank run out. It is 9 degrees outside and the wind chill makes it even colder. After taking Jael to school and  gassing up the car in those cold temps (found a gas station still offering  pre-Alaskan pipeline  leak/shut-down  prices) I called our faithful propane dealer who will come  to our rescue this morning...for $1.99 a gallon x 200 gallons.  SO  for now, the wood stove and small electric space heaters will keep us warm, we'll do school around the  woodstove , we'll fix anything hot in the microwave oven, we won't dry clothes or shower.  I'm hoping that the water heater and stove lines didn't get too much air in them overnight when the propane ran out. It's always a challenge to relight  things when too much air gets in those lines. NEW  RESOLUTION:  I will now write the propane delivery date on  the calendar on the  day  it is delivered AND on the next subsequent few calendar pages  to remind me to keep a closer watch.   Sweet Naomi, ever resourceful, just said, "Mommy, I brought you something!"  and gave me a bowl of parmesan cheese sprinkled  pasta which she had  cooked with  the microwave oven. Maybe I didn't flunk that "quiz"  after all!!!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Just listen...............It's His KINDNESS..............

This song,  "Kindness"  by Chris Tomlin has been  on my heart  and in my mind all week as I have been praying with some dear friends over their son who has chosen a  modern day  "Prodigal son " path in life. That  made me think about how much " prodigal son" stuff goes on in our own lives that others never see.I hadn't thought of this song  or this scripture for years, but all week I was drawn to that passage and to Chris Tomlin's song. We will be singing it in church tomorrow. I sense God stirring some waters beyond just the "obvious". I know I am praying over my own life that God show me anything  that is keeping me from knowing the utter absolute fullness of a relationship with Him, keeping me from "life and more  abundantly" in every area of what God has blessed and challenged me with.
Romans 2:3-5 in the Message  version of the Bible reads " You didn't think , did you, that just by pointing your finger at others  you would distract God from seeing all  your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because He's such a nice God, He'd let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind  but he 's not soft. In kindness He takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change."   NIV  puts it this way,"  " Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that  God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?"
God has given us so much and some times we just don't see it, but  EVEN  THEN, He shows kindness to remind us who He is and what He is like. Isn't it  JUST LIKE GOD to be kind when we are acting like spoiled children, but not kind just to be "nice"   but kind to draw us , lead us, invite us, to repentance because He loves us so much  and He wants us in fellowship with Himself. What is God drawing you to repent of ? How is His kindness  touching you? Is His love better than life to you? How is He leading you and showing you Who  HE is so far this year?

Friday, January 7, 2011

December 31 and today:only days since December 23 without a doctor in them!

I have been  SO  M I A. and I can see from the loss of followers  that when life gets so busy you can't blog about it, people go blogging elsewhere. Jael has now been blacking out for 3 +  months, and we are really no closer to a concrete diagnosis. Yesterday capped it all with a long black out on her first day back to school and a near trip to the ER  by ambulance.  In between her black outs,  my mom was hospitalized for a severe UTI  and kidney infection on New year's Day,,  the day she came home from the hospital, Gideon broke his foot, and Isaiah developed MRSA infection in his thigh and needed much intervention.  SO FAR TODAY no black outs, no doctor visits, and we do have an MRI  scheduled or Jael for next Tuesday. Jael and Isaiah have been at the doctor's office either together or on opposing days since December 23. Isaiah is needing a bit less pain med for his leg and the infection site looks to be improving!!!! How I praise God for keep ing me all together when the goings on around me are rather chaotic!!  Blessed be the Name of the Lord!!!
I  hope to have photos and fun things to share very soon with those of you who are still coming around to visit SmithSoup!