Friday, March 18, 2011

A "Little" Gardening Miracle of Healing

I took the entire day yesterday, aside from Daniel-care,  to garden. I sun-screened pretty successfully, and stayed busy from 11-5. I love being in the garden, I love the soil no matter how sweaty and "funky" I may get. It is life -affirming for me, it is therapeutic,  it is so satisfying, it is pure hard sweaty-working pleasure!!! There was a lot of border root-work to do before I could put my cucumbers in: my tiller just can't get that close to the fence so the little trowel and I spent about 1 1/2 hours prepping the cuke portions of the garden. Those borders were then as nicely composted and turned over as the tilled portions. !!! Two varieties of cukes went in, and along with them garlic, onions, cauliflower, broccoli and a bit more early cabbage and some late harvest cabbage. Marigolds will border the entire garden to help ward off  bugs.   The strawberry patch is in and it too is looking very promising. THIS garden is going to produce and provide for now, for later, for sharing with others: it is a SERIOUS garden!! When the "cold weather" early veggies are done, the peppers, tomatoes,  egg plant, beans, zucchini,  and squash will go in. Most of these are  currently (and  happily?)  sprouting in the indoor green houses and waiting their turns. Our other garden is the corn field which I've  bordered with  potatoes and carrots. The corn field was so nice and soft, full of great horse and goat compost, lots of great soil and sand so that prepping and planting the corn rows was an easy task.  (Thanks to Gideon who tilled for me, twice!) I was staying well hydrated,  still well sun-screened, took some Aleve for the stiffness in my hip and back, and was guarding my knees against a possible lock up even though I have not locked up either knee for over a year ( out in the goat nursery delivering that Topsy Turvy and the other 2/3 of those triplets) and was feeling really GREAT!!! Suddenly, as I started to move forward on my knees to advance my corn rows, I felt that oh-so-unwelcome and oh-so-familiar sensation of my left knee locking up! I tried to reverse my motion because sometimes that quickly unlocks the knee, but not today. I gingerly turned over so I was sitting instead on kneeling in the corn patch and I started to pray. I thanked God for the day, for the love of gardening that He has placed in my spirit, for the ability to produce food from our land, and for the strength He has given my body in spite of some of the "creaks" . I asked God to  please release my knee so that I could continue using the perfect conditions of the day to complete the gardening because ALL OF IT was unto Him.
 A bit of history:
God has released my knee numerous times  over  the 7 years it has had this issue, in answer to prayer, but some times He has let me stay locked for as long as 12 days, relying totally on  Him and moving along  on crutches. The last time I was locked for 12 days was right before Charlie came home from Iraq his last time. I locked up, and that knee did NOT release under any conditions. I did farm work on  my crutches that whole time. I was still doing a lot of the milking back then, which  did not do my opposite hip any favors but the work got done. My chiropractor was able to unlock it  once but it took him an hour of work!!!!! Some times God will give me some guidance as to what I need to do or how I need to move to cause the knee to unlock and it is not always the same method. THIS TIME, God moved in my mind that I needed to stretch out my leg as far as possible (  something I try to avoid because it  is PAINFUL!!) and to massage above my knee  working downward . I have never done this before or even tried that technique. I massaged as I continued to talk to my Lord. In about 20 seconds, I heard the oh-so-familiar and oh-so-WELCOME sound of a little "pop" and my knee released! As soon as it unlocks when it's just been a short lock-up, the pain is gone and I am totally free to move as I choose!!!! After a pretty lengthy praise time , I decided to finish my corn rows sitting rather than kneeling. This was a pretty good plan as Gideon assessed when he came to bring me a squirt bottle of cold water. He thought I'd chosen that position because it allowed me to use my body as a "Row spacer". I WAS, and I DID, but not until the locking and healing episode! Actually the sitting method was faster than the kneeling method because I could very easily furrow, plant and a cover two rows at once.

This garden will be particularly  special to me, this year especially the corn field. While I don't think that anyone "needs" a special place to pray, I suspect that at least this year, my corn field will be my frequent prayer place !!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Daniel, a birthday with a neuro-surgeon visit

Our sweet baby boy is officially by Birth Certificate -officially,  three years old!
His day yesterday started with a vist to his neuro-surgeon for a follow-up on the shunt placement  done  last July. Our visits with this doctor last year were far from "warm-fuzzy"  encouraging visits, but I saw that God was using Daniel to teach this very educated, experienced man a few things that no school or other educated person could  ever teach him. I saw this again yesterday when  doctor entered our exam room and asked how Daniel was doing. My cheerful and enthusiastic "He is doing VERY WELL!!"   was met with a much more sober and not enthusiastic " Why would you say THAT?"  I got to testify about God's hand on Daniel again by explaining the changes we have seen in Daniel's behavior and reactions to things and people around him,  how we  are so pleased that despite what his MRI indicates, Daniel seems able to acomplish far more than "expected".  I spoke about tickling, music, how he loves to sing praise music,  tracking my voice with his eyes, even though they cant' see, everything that is a part of Daniel's DEFINITE personality, including the dis-likes and ongoing limitations. He looked at the chart  and saw that the nurse had measured Daniels' head  circumference and commented that his head had not grown and said "Well at least he is comfortable.  You can come back and see me in a year."  He asked what the neurologist had said about Daniel and I replied that she told me she was amazed that he was breathing, much less that he was alive.  NO response to that but to comment that  the incisions were healed well and the risk of infection from the shunt sites were very minimal at this point and that having a family to care for him probably had done more than a shunt.. The questions I asked him he told me that I would be better suited to ask the Neurologist herself.
Daniel for his part, talked to me throughout the exam, smiled and roared his little roars and stayed pretty relaxed. He had to have his photo taken  for his file and we even managed to catch the tail-end of a smile for the photo. The nursing staff are very sweet to Daniel, VERY SWEET.
Since it's our family tradition to celebrate birthdays at the Tex-Mex restaurant where Esther used to work, last night for Daniel's birthday was no exception. The staff were more than happy to celebrate Daniel with us!
I fogot my camera, Charlie took a few photos with my camera phone and they are all we have tangibly  to remember the night by, but we will all remember the joy at being able to celebrate that Daniel IS  three years old and VERY MUCH ALIVE AND WELL!!!! And for the record, he did NOT like the whipped cream from his fried ice cream!

Inthe Birthday Sombrero for a photo-op!

Daniel's first birthday party

was with our church family after service yesterday morning.  Our precious baby is turning three but this will be the  FIRST time his life will be  celebrated by acknowleding how  special the day of his birth really was! Daniel  was having a really worse -than -bad -day of incredible irritability due to his intestinal system being on strike or unaware that  it had been invited to participate in his week, but we were celebrating DANIEL's  L I F E   nonetheless!
 I knew that having invited everyone  to a  cake and ice cream party , the mention of gifts would come up. Daniel does not need anything, really so  I suggested that if anyone REALLY wanted to do something for Daniel that I would love it if they would give him a gift of a donation to an orphanage related in some way to his life. THANK YOU to those who did just that!!!  I am more than happy to Paypal funds in Daniel's name for you!

 We are so thankful for Daniel! Holding him while he screams and cries in discomfort and irritability over every touch and movement , being unable to comfort him except by thumping on him seems so inadequate to this mamma's heart but pound and thump I did. The second I'd slow down or stop to switch hands or rest my hands would be the start of the next round of screaming. I'd medicated and hydrated, prayed and started all over again and again  for three days. Late last  night his body gave him a little bit of relief and this morning I was informed that Daniel MUST have " REALLY cleared out" because the space by the woodstove was too  smelly for anyone else to sit near Daniel,  AND he was stretched out and SMILING!
If an empty intestinal tract makes my baby happy,  and causes him to hurt no longer, that's about the best birthday gift I can give !! He had not "talked to me"  in 3 days or so, but after a thorough clean up, he was talking and smiling , responding to some tickles and  he even allowed me to help him do some stretching exercises!! We will celebrate again tomorrow as a family. I have been asked why we'd "bother" to make a big deal out of Daniel's birthday, yes  we have.   We celebrate because Daniel is our baby. We celebrate because God blessed us with him and chose us to love a very unique baby boy who may never have a clue that we celebrate his life. I know  that  seemingly his understanding of a diaper change, a bath, the brushing of his teeth  the changing of his clothes and the putting on of socks or shoes is that they are pain producers, interruptions to being still and and unstretched but  not elements of being loved and cared for. How often do we cry and complain and "pitch a fit"  at the circumstances we find ourselves in? Those of us who profess to be  born-again followers of Jesus:  how often do we respond to God "cleaning us up"  like  Daniel responds to me? Yet God loves us , loves us so so much, loves all of us, loves me,  regardless of how I/we respond to His touch. How wonderful that God never loses his temper, doesn't get irritable "back" , doesn't shake His head needing to "take a break" from our behavior. He loves, and loves and loves some more. That's how I  want to be able to love Daniel and all the people in my life: every day! Daniel's obvious limitations really help me remember the not-so-obvious limitations of the rest of us ,and remind me of God's unfailing love!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom"

 Rewritten and  re-tooled:
I love this verse from Psalm 90. It's verse 12.  I know that I waste a lot of time.It's easy to do. We all have things that we know deep in our hearts are a waste of time. Some of those things, in and of themselves are not "bad" things whatsoever, but in light of Eternity, what I see is that RECOGNIZING what I/we waste time on and getting it under submission to a real schedule of productivity aims us toward the " gain a heart of wisdom" goal. I don't see where the "Proverbs 31 woman" is forbidden to have a second cup of coffee, or linger a bit longer over the wonderful myriad, plethora, (OK I just happen to love those two words and enjoy being able to seize opportunity to use them!) or abundance of recipes in her new cookbook, or blog-hop, blog write, watch tv game/talk/news shows,  but I suspect that "She" ie, US, are always learning to be ever more consistent in time management; let's call it what it is : good stewardship of our time and self-control. Numbering our days means numbering our hours and minutes. SO often I say " I just do not have time for that" but what I mean is and the truth of the matter is, I used up the time I had doing something else: be it a necessary thing or a good choice/bad choice thing. Like it or not, to choose doing one thing is usually choosing NOT to do something else. My prayer is that I will make the best choices while not getting angry, impatient, or bitter about the necessary choices. Yesterday was an easy stewardship of time day. Everything fell into place with children, school, chores, and Bible time. There are also days when the normal routine activities take up more time and energy, than "normal" and the extra time I'd hoped for is a vapor in the today. Daniel  had a very hard start to his day and was super difficult this morning. His getting-up-and-fed routine took a very long time. as he drew up extra tightly and was extremely irritable to every touch and motion.Every thing I did for him caused screaming and more drawn-up tightness, and  lots of pauses to help him re-group so I could continue with his routine. I numbered my days against how  the uncertainty of just how many days I will  have to love on Daniel and care for him. Love on my cranky baby or  wish I could go write? NO BRAINER. My baby is now and writing anything, doing anything  else,  can wait a while. I, me, myself, wanted to write NOW, but now it is time to go across town and pick up Sopheak for work. Numbering my days..................I love being able to help Malachi and Sopheak. One day she will have her driver's licence and I will have an extra 45 minutes back in "my day". Numbering my days for me also means keeping a "heart of wisdom" attitude even if the time can't be spent the way I planned or hoped it would go. Lord please help me to be mindful of the increase when it returns and not let myself fritter it away !! Psalm 90:16-17 wrap up that chapter with these words:
"Let Your work appear to Your servants and Your glory to their children, And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us, Yes, establish the work of our hands!"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day dreaming about my other two children.........................

Day dreaming, praying for, longing get the picture!

A face we can't wait to see face to face with our own faces! Such a fun-loving and handsome young man!

I love that Diamoh will smile now that she has all her permanent teeth in.She is so beautiful and it made me sad when she'd hide her face from any thing  that looked like a camera for such  a long time!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

So many Smiths, so much activity!

    ..... or at least a flurry of activities! Our weather has been glorious this week, sunny, warm and not even windy so my priority for the week was to get the "cold weather "veggies planted and to get the garden beds ready for planting. Yesterday while playing with Grandbaby Charlie, I got the cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower planted. I would have gotten farther but a phone call from oldest son Joshua took top spot, even on a sunny day. We had a one hour + conversation as I sat in my garden chopping manure into the soil. Our Yellow star flag is going back up in the window, again. Joshua heads out for Afghanistan in three short weeks for the rest of the year. God has kept him safe through 5 years of tours of duty, has sustained my daughter-in-law Diana and grandchildren Emily and Ethan while Joshua has had to be gone and I am beyond words of praise to our Heavenly Father for that!! My uniformed military guys have done their tours and been able to come home for a state side tour. Civilian contractors who do vital jobs for the military do not have that luxury and Joshua has been over seas more than any of our uniformed service guys combined. Please keep them in your prayers when you think of the ongoing War on Terror . The "press" may be tired of writing about the war, but it MATTERS and we have a lot of soldiers and civilians serving in that War. THANKS!!
Our strawberry patch got turned today so that I may plant tomorrow but it sure didn't happen today!!
The milestone of this day was that Sopheak got her learner's permit Driver's Licence!!!!! Malachi is in school all day at OSU so I got to take her for her test and photo and celebrate this occasion with her. WHAT FUN!!!!!A trip to Sonic for late breakfast was the perfect end to that part of our day
.Jael s is an officer in the high school DECA national marketing organization which had its state competition Monday and Tuesday. While she didn't place in the top 3 slots in competitions she did place 4th and earned a slot for the national Convention  and  Competition at Disney World in May! She is so excited about this honor and opportunity which will help her wind down her Senior year !! I am super proud of her!! Her category of competition had a lot of other contestants, more than the other categories she could have chosen so she knew she would have to work extra hard to do well. The migraine meds she is taking have really made life tough for her and she does everything she does around and through headaches and nausea. The black outs seem to have disappeared as quickly as they appeared but the Migraine meds have side effects that may or may not be worse than what they are intended to prevent. Jael continues to keep plugging and excelling !!!
     Charlie may do the final assembling and filing of our family taxes ever year but the "leg work" is up to me. I've been gathering receipts and tallying all of our pertinent categories so that he can plug those numbers in and file our return. HOWEVER... he is gone a lot and Esther and Casey, and Malachi and Sopheak are not so confident in their tax-filing abilities so I have been the TAX GIRL this week for them. Happily, I was able to guide them through the process and get them both good returns as a result.
     Tennis season started last week for Isaac, Noah and Isaiah as did the Junior High traveling basketball league season for Noah . Baseball starts soon for Rachel as drum lessons continue for Leah. My garden is SUCH a blessed side step from all the taking and picking up. It's so fun to watch our sons and daughters in their individual and collective activities and so fun to do our "at home " activities together as well.
      Also on the Grown Smith Kids front, Caleb leaves for Drill Sergeant school this month until late June, Kari will know next Monday if she is pregnant with Baby 4 ( and Baby 5!!) and Gideon is planning to go to Russia to work with Alex Krutov and the staff at The Harbor in St. Petersburg from September to December. THE HARBOR is an incredible organization which while NOT an orphanage, takes in orphans in Russia to teach them a trade, teach literacy, teach the Gospel and help as many at-risk young orphaned youth in Russia to NOT end up as prostitutes, drug addicts and suicide victims through presenting HOPE and a FUTURE to the students who live at The Harbor. Gideon will be teaching carpentry to the young men/boys so that this may be a trade they can be employed with after they graduate from The Harbor. This is a HUGE thing for Gideon who is preparing spiritually, mentally, emotionally and financially for this 4 month mission trip. Gideon was very very touched by the Holy Spirit when Alex came to visit us about a year or so ago, and God has not let Gideon alone about the needs at The Harbor and what he, Gideon might have to offer . He will take university classes through the summer so that he can take the fall semester off for his Russia work and then finish his senior year at OSU when he returns from Russia. It promises to be a challenging and exciting time !!! It is a mission trip requiring MUCH fervent prayer!!!!!!!!
      Daniel is TICKLISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sometimes! I discovered when massaging and doing his stretching exercises this week that his ribs are (for now, sometimes) ticklish . When the sensation of being tickled feels good Daniel laughs and laughs with the most melodious sound I think I have EVER heard anywhere, seriously!!! It doesn't' t last very long and he does not always respond favorably to being tickled BUT WHEN HE DOES, IT IS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!! There have been no hands nearby to pick up a camera and make a photo -op out of Daniel's delightful responses but I have to tell you that my heart soars with a Mamma-delight over his laughter that could not be photographed anyhow. He is an amazing baby! This week I have become aware of his responses to setting up his feeding tube for a meal too. He has shown a definite awareness and approval when I have lifted his shirt to expose the feeding tube and hook him up for a feeding. This is a new response and it too, delights me and gives me much to ponder in my heart and to call other family members to come and observe.He rarely ever expresses an awareness of hunger or that it's time for a feeding, but the approval and pleasure of getting set up for a feeding and the feeling warm liquid food -stuff flowing into his tummy are undeniably obvious!!!
Our scripture study today was in Numbers today and in Psalm 90.   I  so love and appreciate the words of verses 12     "and  So teach us to number our days That we may gain a heart of wisdom. "
  ...17 "And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands".
I don't  want any of what I've lived today or what I've shard about my life today to matter... if it is NOT established by the Lord and what HE has put into my/our hands to do and be about the business of tending to. I want for our family that each of us count our days, that we pursue wisdom  as we grow in our faith and relationships with our Heavenly Father. This passage also instructs us to be Holy as God is Holy... a teaching we are studying in 1 Peter  as well on Sunday nights in our small group fellowship. Impossible?  As humans yes it is. As new creatures in Christ who are being  conformed to God's image and renewed by  the tranforming of our minds, YES  I believe  we can be. I am going to be dedicated to  that pursuit of Holiness and to teaching to my children  a life -long hunger for that Holiness .
If  what I  am here on Earth for is not established for my hands  by my Heavenly Father, it won't matter what I try to do or what  I feel I've acomplished. It is the desire of my heart  to be everything in every moment  that my Father wants me to be from gardening to ticklling   and everything in between!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Newest photos of Junior and Diamoh

 Oh how I love new photos!!!!

Junior, age 11 1/2 with some gifts from home

Diamoh, 8 1/2...not quite my "little girl" any more
Praying daily, waiting, praying ,trusting God for our children as He sustains them in Liberia and as we all wait for THE  Day  that they are finally allowed to come home!!
Thanks so much to  our friend Eric for taking the time to take gifts to our children and their care taker, and to get photos for us as well!!
Just as I watched our Rachel grow up in photos from when we met her so long ago when she was barely three until we brought her home at age 6, we are watching teeth, loose teeth, no teeth, shy smiles and oh-so-serious  faces, smiles with teeth once again and the confident smiles and expressions  that have nothing to prove any longer. Junior's photos have less of a growing up story to tell although I do have photos of stages of his life where he added some permanent teeth in less obvious spaces than one would see watching the changes in a younger child's development. Both have changed so much and yet  so little since we first saw their faces so long ago in photos, and in person twice now. They are such beautiful strong children and how I ache that this "tween" stage of life when they need a mommy/mom daddy/dad to nurture and nurture them is passing by! Dear P. does such a great job with the children although she does tell me from time to time of "issues"  and we discuss how she handles them and that my message to our children is "OBEY P! She is telling you to do exactly what Daddy and I would tell you! She is teaching you just as we would be teaching you  here at home with your brothers and sisters." The ongoing relationship we have  is far from ideal, but until God opens the doors for us all, it is the relationship that we work to develop. Please pray for our children with us as we wait?