St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Autoimmune Disorder

If you haven't read about or have been following my illness and treatment, you can look back here for some more information:  Hope & A Beautiful Day 

It has now been 9 weeks since the medicines were prescribed to tackle my chronic liver inflammation, autoimmune in origin.   My liver enzymes have been going done, responding to the steroids and immuno-suppressant.  As of the 8 week interval of blood work, one liver enzyme that was originally in the 3000s is just closing in on the normal range, at 52 -- high end of that level is 49, so it's very close.  Overall, the side effects are not too bad, fairly manageable, but I do need to watch my sodium like crazy, caffeine and sugar, which just make me super hyper or unable to sleep;  I have only averaged about 4-5 hours of sleep per night because the steroid just prevents it somehow.  I nap.   My face is slightly swollen, but that too varies with sodium, I just really need to watch it vigilantly. 

I do exhaust much more easily, but at the same time, I've had energy like never's been missing for several years now, that's for sure.  

The weather has still been quite lovely throughout these weeks, making it easy to get to holiday gatherings and appointments, and all the blood work I've had to have done.  

I am hoping to hear from my doctor soon about lowering the steroid dose over the weeks when the levels are looking good.  Maybe after Christmas?  

Kindergarten, the new first grade.....

Very worthwhile article, long and pithy and packed with a lot of to think about:

"Conversation is gold. It’s the most efficient early-learning system we have. And it’s far more valuable than most of the reading-skills curricula we have been implementing: One meta-analysis of 13 early-childhood literacy programs “failed to find any evidence of effects on language or print-based outcomes.”"

The New Preschool is Crushing our Kids

 Really what are we doing to our young children, 3 year olds that still need to be with mom?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Something Old, Something New

By this time of year I like to take inventory of what I really need and have used through the year,  or don't need, need to change, need to keep, need to toss.  Yes, the year's end....a new beginning awaits.   There are some resources, material items that we all use over and over again in our families;  like soaps, toiletries, food of course.  You know: stuff.  Stuff we DO need and use daily.

When the ads are overwhelmingly compelling and glamorous this time of year, and they scream out to you to buy me buy me buy me! shipping, reduced prices, use this code!.....well, sometimes I get snagged. BUT, I have learned my lesson from doing that spontaneous _buy me_ also.  

Since my theatrical days, I have had a soft spot for make-up.  I actually don't wear much at all, but when doing "drama" you do tend to over use the cosmetics.  So somehow, it's written in my DNA that I must look at new make-up, better make-up, all the time.  Chances are I purchase something, use it a couple times, and I'm not impressed, or realize, it's just not needed.  

So, there are beauty staples I have used nearly my entire life thus far.  Witch Hazel (Dickinson's brand) is one of them.  I have used it since my teen years. I use witch hazel on a cotton facial pad every morning and blot my face off.  That's it.  Then I moisturize with Mary Kay Timewise moisturizer for dry skin (I have used Timewise moisture since it came out, which must be at least 15 years ago) That's my morning "facial routine."  Yes, I know.  Not so glamorous, eh?  Sure, I belong to Arbonne, Melaleuca, and even Young Living, I've bought the best of them, like Elizabeth Arden toners, Estee Lauder toners...and you know what?  ...a waste of money.  Maybe it's good DNA or skin luck, but I do not really have one wrinkle.  Well, maybe one age 55 that's not too bad.  Nor do I have gray hair, yet anyway.  So, economically speaking, good ole witch hazel and a good moderately priced moisturizer works for me.

Then, makeup foundation.  Well, I've certainly been around the block with those.  I never really wore it for many years anyway -- but of course I tried all the big name brand ones, and in the last 15 years I've always come back to and continue to use Covergirl Advanced Radiance (in Buff Beige).  It is just perfect for my skin, peptides and calming agents, moisture, and not heavy, sheer and natural finish.  For about $10.99 at the drug store, it's another economical staple of mine.

A couple items I can't get away from due to sensitivity is mascara and eye liner.  I am so fair, my eye do need some kind of definition, so lining lightly is helpful.  I have very sensitive eyes, so anything that isn't waterproof, or waterproof and easy on the eyes, causes a flare up of allergic conjunctivitis.  We can not have that.  So, I have found that Clinique's waterproof Brush On cream eyeliner works best for me.  I use to use the Smokey Gray color until is was discontinued, now I use the regular black, but go lightly on it.  I also use Clinique's High Impact mascara in black; it's just plush enough, and well not waterproof, it certainly stays put no matter what and no sensitivity.  These are two items I just have to go with and I'm glad to do so, as they aren't astronomically priced and easy to find.  I will add I like Clinique's Different lipstick's also  (Guava Stain) as they are flavor and fragrance free.  I don't really like to taste or smell my lipstick while I'm wearing it. :)

That brings me to skin care.  So, I do have some favorite, some more pricey, some not so much.  One such pricey skin care line is Arbonne's  Re9 Advanced Skincare  - I do love the lemony cleanser -- and I love the moisture from the FC5 line; the night time moisture with strawberry and kiwi cells.  It is so refreshing.

But, while I have these items and certainly use them, I also have a favorite milky cleanser from Avon.  It is the Avon Elements Nourishing Cleanser.  It is so comforting on my difficult skin right now, due to steroids and immunosuppressant drug use (my autoimmune treatment).   So I am all about self-care, comfort and calming down sensitivities.

Later, I will share my practical items, office resources and things that have made daily life easier, while working, schooling and staying in touch with friends and family. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe

I'm not sure when or exactly how it happened that I came across and began my admiration and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe in my youth, but it did happen.  When I was wed 28 years ago, my husband's gift to me was a huge beautifully framed image or Our Lady of Guadalupe, which has continued to hang in our dining room all these years.  Our Lady's story, with Juan Diego is certainly worth reading, watching, researching.  And if you are a non-believer in the Blessed Virgin and honor that Catholicism and some other faiths uphold, I ask you approach this with an open heart and mind.  Maybe the recent National Geographic article will help you into further understanding.   How the Virgin Mary became the World's Most Powerful Woman.  

And then, there's this episode of the popular PBS TV series:  Wishbone, in which the little dog Wishbone himself, portrays the part of Juan Diego, who the Blessed Mother appeared to.   It was titled:  Viva Wishbone!,  and aired Nov. 23, 1995.  How well I remember it!  I was quite delighted and surprised at the same time that this topic of the Blessed Mother, and one the very famous apparitions appeared on national TV!  You can the episode here at YouTube:  

May Our Lady bless you with her continued prayers on behalf of mankind......
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for Us!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

The Season of Waiting and Anticipation

The weather God has given us: 
As we entered into Advent, our weather has been unseasonably warmer than usual for this time of year.  I am not complaining!  There has been sunshine in more abundance, and that does one of my children a great deal of good as he battles Seasonal Affective Disorder and it begins to creep its way in around late November and peaks to a negative frenzy around mid January. Medication helped him last winter when it was at its worst.  He continues the medication and  I am hoping with some more therapeutic helps (supplements, exercise and sun lamp therapy + counseling to talk his way through it with a professional), in place for him that this winter he will not succumb to it quite as dramatically as last winter.  

A personal note:
I continue to improve regarding my autoimmune liver problem.  My blood work is looking better, the levels coming down to where they should be.  I continue the medications with little side-effects other than insomnia and occasionally when I don't watch my sodium (like at Thanksgiving), I swell a bit in the face.  But it leaves quickly once I watch my sodium and eat more potassium rich foods.  Seems to balance it all out.  I am grateful for western medicine at this point because I can not imagine how I'd be doing without it! 

On the home school front: 
Our home school is moving right along and we are nearing the end of our first semester; I already have many first semester assignments in and ready to go to our own consultant in January. We have made good progress.  I am ever so grateful for home education and the ability to meet with my children personally and help guide them and instruct them and help them with their studies.  It is a mantra I will chant over and over in my lifetime; that I was able to have this special time of formation with my own children and really be fully engaged and involved in their very formation. The discussions we have are priceless and such treasures .....over history, literature, sciences and religion....even on the hardest days it makes my heart swell with joy that this can be.   That my children can be deep and pithy and well read.  

Waiting and Anticipating:
And so, amid regular daily life and family goings-on, we prepare, and wait and anticipate the glorious event of the Nativity of Christ .....praying, lighting the Advent wreath, reading the scriptures and seasonal literature....decorating and adding a bit more light here and there to give way to a warm and welcoming environment around us, as we wait for the Christmas Eve vigil that marks our way to Christmas day....

May you reap the glow of this season and enjoy a beautiful Christmas as it approaches....

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Shhh...don't tell anybody..

...but I've been Christmas shopping.....

I have been stashing away gifts as they arrive and am ahead this year, I am pleased to say.  I have also found some really interesting and unique things this year.

One such item is: Bento Box lunches....a simple box and a recipe book to accompany it for my daughter.  She loves to "organize" and eat a healthy lunch.  This will give her a little more inspiration to do so. 

Adult coloring books:  These and these..and this ...they are beautiful, I am so impressed. Throw in some nice colored pencils and it makes a beautiful gift.  

Star Wars Coffee Mugs....well, of course     

Young Living Ceramic Diffuser w/Oil 

Tolkien Treasury Little Gift Book

Keep Calm and Carry On book

Mikasa Gourmet Basics Mug Set

Celebrations by Mikasa Rejoice Angel

A Few of My Favorite Things (flashback)!

Throw-back Thursday flashback to 2006!  What I was blogging about: 

Pears Soap. Ever hear of it? It's been around a very long time. I've enjoyed using it my whole life thus far, and at only .99 cents a bar at my local drugstore, it's a luxury I can afford! To read about its history, just follow the LINK.

Hurrah! Another wonderful holiday tea blend:

Candy Cane Lane Holiday Tea

What could be better than the delectable taste of an old-fashioned candy cane - the memorable flavor of cool luscious peppermint that is such a delight. Now you can have this lip-smacking taste without visiting the candy store. Candy Cane Lane is an irresistible blend of peppermint, creamy vanilla and just a touch of cinnamon and sweet blackberry leaves. Best of all, it's made with antioxidant-rich decaffeinated green tea. So you can enhance your health while you enjoy your treat. The combination is sure to bring a smile to your lips.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hope and a Beautiful Day

It is indeed a beautiful day here -- breezy, warm; the earth smells like spring today.  A little blessing in the midst of November weather.  I'll take it for now! 

And I am hopeful in my remission of my liver ailment.  I am feeling better, learning to eat differently (or, at least clean up my eating act :)  I never really ate badly per se.  But I am "getting there."  I do have good days and bad days.  The worst of the fatigue has lifted, and I have more energy back then I know what to do with.  As you can imagine, I have cleaned, and tossed and cleared and well.....I've needed that energy months ago.  Still, there is an occasional down day, where it's not so much fatigue....but a just a tiresome feeling that overcomes me.  
In the meantime, we press on with our school work which is going so very nicely these days.  It probably helps because Mom feels better :)

And I am looking forward to Thanksgiving so much this year -- maybe because I had been ill and am feeling better -- maybe because I appreciate things (life) so much more at the moment.  All I know is that I am "feeling the season" right now and it's feeling right and good. 

God bless ~

Friday, November 13, 2015

Why Today's Student's Can't Write

Very good article.  I am so glad our home school program (Modg) focuses on areas that produce good writers, especially high quality literature.

The 1897 Text Gives 3 Clues Why Today's Student's Can't Write

Home Education and a Small World.....After all..

I am already entering my third educational year of homeschool education consulting and enjoying every minute of it. Working with families, discussing their curriculum and guiding them; using the database for their courses and transcripts; going into web meetings and scheduling appointments.  It's not even about the paycheck, although that is a very nice perk, it is about so much more! ... the unbelievable connections... those wonderful, encouraging connections. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to be sure this is really happening!   To meet families across the US and abroad has been so special and such an amazing blessing after homeschooling all these years.  Who knew that when I was asked if I would take a family from would end up being a family from Ireland, and the mother would share my maiden name, and area of clan in the Emerald Isle?  Is it a small world after all??  I can not tell you how delighted that Irish mother and this part Irish mother was when we could talk about all things Irish, the home education of our children, and the support of Catholic homeschooling all the way....all the way across the ocean. By the way, they do not take homeschooling in Ireland for granted, it is considerably very new and regulated.  There are more protocols in place and check points for them.  

I truly feel if we don't support these wonderful Catholic organization such as Mother of Divine Grace, we will not have them in the future.  I am hopeful to think Modg will be around a nice long time -- they have grown so much, but still I grow concerned that support for authentic homeschooling is waning as cyber public schools seem to attract so many, while others don't seem to really care about quality education, none the less, classical formation. When we started with Modg twenty years ago, I could not imagine their future and how bright it would with all the technology to back them, and opening their own bookstore this last summer...well, they deserve it, they are just the best. 

It has been such a blessing to me to meet with mothers that are doing the same thing I've been doing for the last 20 years.  It has been a support for me when I'm surrounded by other homeschooling families that do things entirely differently.  And that's okay.  It's just nice to talk to those that are doing the same thing and understand the formation and goals and appreciate classical education, and enjoy teaching their children.  They understand and see how perfectly beautiful the Advanced American Gov and Econ, Catholic Doctrine and Health course is at the end of high school years -- how those three courses in unison, beautifully integrated, have a student so immersed in the true teachings of the faith and critical analytic thinking.  I can not even express how beautifully done those courses are - unless you have experienced them through your student yourself.  They are the golden jewels of the Modg program, they are what you have prepared your student for, all those years - this crowning glory where it all culminates with its brilliance. 

My children have received, uninterrupted, the same classical Catholic education across the board with continuity and commitment to each new year.  It has cost money yes, but money so well spent; they are worth every penny of it.  I have learned from my families I consult to,  the cost of private Catholic education across the USA is somewhere around $14,000 and as high as $24,000 in some cases, per child.  Sure, some families say they don't pay quite that much, there are scholarships and financial aid.  Still it's around $9-12,000+ a child on the average. For a smidgen of that cost, and I mean a very small fraction, the whole family can be enrolled in Mother of Divine Grace yearly.  I'm not doing this as an ad, no.  I'm just comparing costs.  And with the wonderful addition of on-line teacher led courses (LS classes), those sometimes tough subjects like Latin and Math, Sciences, could be done in an Adobe classroom setting with a teacher.   There are math labs, for one on one tutorship -- language labs too. There is so much and it's so exciting.  I'm especially excited about the Special Services on line courses for an additional flat semester fee, per semester, that gives the student a block of four core courses, twice a week, in a classroom setting with our varying degrees of special service students and understanding trained instructors.   

As we have already begun our new school a couple months back, I am thoughtful and reflective of how God has led a couple decades of beautiful classical education in our home and enabled me to be able to take a position with this organization; in a way: giving back. Giving back so much that it has given to me and my family.  It brings me joy to do so. 

For more about Mother of Divine Grace, visit:  HERE

To listen to Laura Berquist's recent interview on EWTN'S Home with Jim & Joy Show, click HERE.  

To read the recent Modg Newsletter:  visit HERE, and scroll down to Newsletter, and click the link within the paragraph.   

My New Curriculum Update for 2015-2016

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

An Autumn Tale: Battling Back from Inflammatory Disease (part 3)

You can read Part 1 and Part 2 by scrolling down beyond this post if you've come to my homepage; or by going to Here Part 1, or Here Part 2.

As my autoimmune disorder journey continued, eight weeks had passed by the time I met for the second time with the gastroenterologist in his office. During those weeks, the nurse called me with testing and lab work, and finally the liver biopsy had been scheduled.  Another five days passed and the call came to begin medication.  By the time I met with the doctor, I had thirteen days of medication behind me and blood work scheduled for the very next day. 

As I sat down with the doctor it all became rather surreal.  I was hearing things like:  Stage 2 liver damage, and Stage 3 inflammation, a prominent lesion, a little cirrhosis of the biliary ducts, and "chronic."  Chronic.  This wasn't something that had just happened the last six months, or last, this had been slowly happening for a number of years.  Sigh. 

The doctor asked about my autoimmune thyroid disorder.   Fifteen years ago it had been diagnosed.  I only went of medication for it in the last four years.  He felt the liver inflammation may have been going on for quite a number of years also; maybe sometimes I didn't feel good, maybe sometimes I didn't notice.  At times I may have thought I had a virus. 

The course of treatment.....To continue to take the medication and get blood work, and eventually wean off the steroid, but continue the immunosuppressant a while longer.  More blood work all along.  The blood work would tell all.  The trick would be if the disorder will "stay" in remission once the medication/medications are withdrawn.    

I left both hopeful but yet fretful.   Liver damage, that just rang in my ears for the longest time. How an autoimmune response can turn against it's own body tissue destroying it.  At least they knew what was happening, but it seemed so bleak when I really thought about it.  Yet, there was: remission.  For how long?  The doctor said, it is any one's guess, as every one is different, and this actually not as common as your usual liver ailments.  

In the meantime, I had already begun to change my diet based on the recommendations of the Paleo Mom and the autoimmune protocol diet plan.  I could see that many things I had previously eaten in abundance were likely culprits to this kind of disorder.  I studied more about the food plans and was determined I would at least eliminate the foods to be avoided and give it my best try.  After all, I wanted healing and I definitely wanted to feel better and stay in remission once the medicine was withdrawn.   I downloaded the book onto my Nook eReader: The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body, by  Sarah Ballantyne, PhD

And so this is where I am.....after 3 weeks, on a different diet plan, and taking the medications daily.  My morning schedule has changed dramatically -- as it started with coffee each morning. My sleep schedule, likely a side effect of the medicines has altered also, 4-5 hours a straight sleep is about all I  can manage - then I'm quite awake!  

Once I got a little energy back, definitely due to the steroids, I was able to pay more attention and detail to actual cooking from scratch. (the fatigue was quite overwhelming!, it was hard to cook, and nap at the same time:)  Now, that I'm at least back in the game, low/no sodium, low/no sugars (most due to the steroids); I keep my plate plain and simple.  I do like the variety of fresh foods I can eat, so that's always a good thing.  I have avoided raw veggies at this point because my digestion is so poor - -so I do need to steam or cook vegetables.  I can do some fresh fruits, like apples and bananas and I can do some canned (no heavy syrup or added sugars) or frozen fruits also. I have added in more fish choices, which I enjoy anyway.  So far, so good.  And herbal teas have become my standby, although I have had a cup of coffee here and there, but certainly not every day, or every week.  

Highlight of the last week:  that blood work I had the very next day after the doctor visit.....well, it came back with much improved liver enzymes levels.  The highest level tipping upwards of 3,000, (the cut-off is 49)  was down into the hundreds.   One level was only 1 pt above the cut-off, (remarkable!), and one level had already gotten into the "normal" range.  Praise God. 

 My journey has by no means ended.  In the weeks ahead I will be returning to this health issue on my blog and sharing with you my progress.  I ask that you keep my in your prayers as I navigate this difficult time of my life.  Thank you for reading, and thank you for thinking of me! 

Blessings ~   

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An Autumn Tale: Battling Back from Inflammatory Disease (Part 2)

If you haven't read part 1 of this journey, you can do so HERE.

My journey continued as we awaited results from my liver biopsy.  At the end of a long week I received a phone call from the gastroenterologist office.  The nurse told me that they were calling in prescriptions for steroids and an immunosuppressant.  "Take the meds as indicated on the label; do not forget or skip them.  Come to your regularly scheduled appointment, which I see is next week.  We are sending you a blood work order; once you start the medications have blood work at 2 weeks, 4 weeks and 8 week intervals as the lab of your choice..."  Wait! what did the biopsy say, why the medicines, what's going on?   "Inflammation...your liver is badly inflamed. The doctor will talk to you about the details at your appointment."   

Oh my.  Many words I dreaded to hear, one of which was: steroids, specifically Prednisone. Was I going to puff up like a balloon?  I was trying to not be vain.  I didn't want a lot of starring eyes looking my way, drawing attention. 

I immediately messaged a couple friends who I knew had to take Prednisone for long amounts of time.  They were so gracious and supportive on how to's and don'ts of taking it without many side effects.  "Watch your sodium - low or no -- watch your sugar, in fact avoid it if possible." "Don't eat dessert and drink coffee at the same time equals immediate fat stores."   I was reading stories all over the internet about how people swelled and looked disfigured by day 3 of steroid therapy.   Oh but how I wanted to get better......

I got the medications and read the labels.  Imuran, the immunosuppressant seemed to be without too many ill side-effects, other than eventually it could lower my resistance to catching things. Flu and cold season were setting in.   Predninsone was 30 mg and in 10 mg tabs, eventually to be tapered off of  - take 3 a day.   Okay, I guess I was thinking it would be 50 mg like the Imuran.  I'm going to do this -- I have to do this.   I took my medicines the first day. 

I took my medicines the second day.  I kept looking in the mirror - was I looking rounder?  By day 3,  I was actually starting to feel kind of good, better...more relaxed - my abdomen didn't feel as tight and funny as it had for so long.  By day 7, a whole week, I felt much better; still wasn't sleeping very well, but wasn't swelling either, in fact, I was losing weight ....water weight? I don't know, but the Prednisone, was agreeing with me.  I did, one morning, drink a cup of coffee and felt like I ate a bag of sugar rather than caffeine.  I felt giddy and happy.  Drunk on coffee?  

I still hadn't gained an appetite back, in fact, I had lost my appetite for even coffee, which is a hard thing to believe with me. Since September, the onset of the more severe symptoms, I had only had 2 cups of coffee and this was the end of October going into November.   One of my friends sent a link to some diet suggestions - and autoimmune protocol diet; it spoke about autoimmune diseases such as the liver difficulty I was having which on my diagnostics was starting to show up as:  Autoimmune Hepatitis.   Well, well, I had an autoimmune thyroiditis condition diagnosed 15 years earlier.....hmmmm

So, I began to check out the diets my friend had sent.  This led me to realize that EVERY THING on the NO EAT list for autoimmune protocol was something I completely indulged in full force several months before on a natural diet craze I was doing.   (the Fast Metabolism Diet)  

Wow.  Could I have brought this on myself?  Well, I am set up for autoimmune apparently, and I'm sure my past eating habits were not helping. In hindsight, this metabolism diet may have really helped trigger it.  I was going to look over the lists of foods to avoid and foods to eat at the Paleo Mom site my friend had sent, and see what maybe I could do to help heal myself as well.   My friend had Crohn's disease and it was under control for so long by diet, when she had her last colonoscopy, there was no signs of it  -- as if she had never had it.   That gave me so much hope!  

You can begin to read more about autoimmunity and paleo HERE. 

Sunday, November 08, 2015

An Autumn Tale: Battling Back from Inflammatory Disease (part 1)

I have been AWOL on my blog for a while now.  The truth is I just haven't felt well for quite sometime. I was diagnosed in late October this year with Chronic Inflammatory Liver Disorder - autoimmune.  This is my short story of my illness and diagnosis and hopeful remission.  

It began back in September.  I wasn't feeling very well for a while; very fatigued, overly so with terribly itchy eyes all the time..  allergy??  ...I went to my regularly scheduled Endocrinology appointment thinking that maybe it had something to do with my thyroid. Surely my endocrinologist would be able to say, yes, your levels are off, let's fix that.   Not so.  She took one look at me that day, and I'm not sure what she saw but she called for more blood work before I left the building.  My thyroid levels were fine, perfect, that was not the problem.  There was just something else....

Later that day, close to dinner time, the phone rang.  It was my endocrinologist:  "how do you feel?  are you nauseated? ....vomiting? does your abdomen hurt? your ribs?  ...if you start to feel very bad please go to emergency room,"  she pronounced in her broken Russian accent.   What?  "Your liver enzyme levels are ....very high, very high; I'm sending you report through patient portal.  You will need to follow up with specialist; my nurse will be contacting you, soon."

Huh?  Liver enzymes, what's that?   So began my google exploration.  And then my impending doom.  

Wow, I really am sick.   How did this happen?  No wonder I haven't felt good.

That was around the second week in September.  By the next week, the real symptoms began to emerge full force.  Every joint in my body hurt, big time.  My ribs ached, my back ached, I was looking a tinge of yellow; my urine and bowels were dark.   I felt nauseated.  I was sleeping every chance I had.  It was overwhelming.  I couldn't wait to see the specialist.  They had called and scheduled me, but more runs for more blood work first.  The levels were rising higher.  They called for an abdominal ultra-sound.  More blood work.  Then again, a doppler ultra sound with more detail, more blood work.  I saw the gastroenterologist.  "We are going to need to do a liver biopsy.  We are scheduling it as soon as possible."   "Am I going into liver failure? What's going on?"  "No, but something is clearly wrong, impacting your liver function,  because all your blood work comes back negative against any hepatitises or tumors, even celiac and viruses, all clear....So we need to see first hand what your liver tissue is doing."    

Discovering how a liver biopsy was performed brought on more anxiety.  Sure, I had my thyroid biopsied 15 years prior....a needle aspiration, yes.  They deaden it will a local anesthetic and it feels like a bee string temporarily, then it's okay -- just pressure.  My thyroid tissue came back as autoimmune; it was attacking itself, perforating, causing a nodule.  Easily enough taken care of; the thyroid could be removed if troublesome and thyroid replacement given.  It took another 12 years for the condition to have any impact on my thyroid serum, and then, my endocrinologist began to give me thyroid replacement to override the thyroid.  

But the liver, hmmm, a little more difficult to take care of's not like it can just be removed, or a replacement given (other than a liver transplant).

The more I thought about it, the more I dreaded what was happening, but the more I knew in my heart I had to do the liver biopsy.  I prayed and prepared myself mentally.  I reached out to others to pray for me as I knew many prayer warriors that would uplift me.  

When it came time for the biopsy one bright Friday morning, my husband took me to the hospital and got me settled in.  He remained with me throughout the entire procedure.   He stayed in the surgery room with me.  The team that did the procedure were wonderful.  The surgeon that actually did the physical biopsy was amazing and quick.  The only discomfort was the "bee string" into my ribs and then quickly it was numbed. Within minutes it was over.   And the waiting for 5-7 days for the pathology results began. 

(watch for part 2 soon) 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Many Beautiful Octobers

Beautiful article, .... alas, October is ending.....but the colors and feel are still very present....
Follow the Link to read the full article "The Twilight Country of October"

      "October Country…that country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain. [Ray Bradbury, The October Country

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Spiritual Summer

Maybe it is God's blessings upon us in the warm balmy breeze.....indeed, it has been a spiritually rich summer, like none I can recall before it.  I can't even begin to describe how many events have led our very souls to realize the Lord in a very tangible sense.  From the whisper that Elijah heard, to the quaking of the earth, our God is alive and well and actively seeking us.  There have been so many connective signs the warm healing days.....linking things together,  from messages at vacation bible school, to hymns, to connections of scripture and songs and events that just seem to seamlessly flow together harmonically, as if suddenly the orchestra is listening to the one director as they should. 

From the loss of jobs to the loss of lives of loved ones, life is a big brew of spiritual chemistry.  I know my heart and soul are deeply moved and touched this summer.  I can not even formulate into words the depth and breadth of it all, but I would like to share with you some small spiritual nourishment that will feed your soul with the truth and love of God. 

The Divine Office Liturgy of the Hours Christian Prayer, isn't just for priests and other religious, or just for Catholics.  You want to hear scripture "prayed" ? and fully used throughout the day and night?, then turn to the Divine Office and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Psalms and hymns and responses.  The app is available and so well worth it ~ I find so much peace in just listening to the beautiful articulate voices recite and sing the scriptures, and saturate me with God's healing and comforting Word.  You can find the Divine Office app for many devices; I'll share a couple here:  Divine Office Android, Google Play Store.  I purchased mine through Barnes & Noble for Nook, here: Divine Office, Liturgy of the Hours Christian Prayer. 

As summer is fleeting, and I cling onto every last warm and fading moment of it, I also cling to this scripture, which since 6th grade, has always been mine to stand strong on and cherish:

May God bless you with a spiritually rich remainder of the summer, and hold you in the palm of his hand.....

Saturday, July 25, 2015

End of VBS Week

It's been a while friends.  My month of July has been spent preparing for and orchestrating our church Vacation Bible School.  It ended yesterday; a week filled with the reality of God and his power.  So many beautiful little souls coming to enjoy learning about God through "Everest, Conquering Challenges with the Mighty Power of God."  The children learned SO much, but in a nutshell, they learned that God has the power to Provide, Comfort, Heal, Forgive and Love us forever.  That should help us make it through the sometimes tough journey of life.  We know Our Father awaits us in an eternity filled with peace and comfort and love, above all, love.

I am so proud of the leadership youth that step up and help with the younger students at our VBS.  It is such a great opportunity for them to be formed in leadership skills and work with younger children.  Do you know how many references and requests I get for college letters of recommendations and jobs from our teens, once they realize they actually did a substantial work, working in VBS leadership positions?  It is an excellent opportunity, and I am so joyful at how they genuinely want to serve their church community and give to the young children.  They add an energy and vibrancy to our youth program that otherwise just wouldn't happen. I am grateful to God for them and ask God's blessings on them.

In the same week, my own daughter, in what would be her last leadership role in VBS, was accepted for a job that she had interview for earlier in the week!  What a great way to end her VBS career, (since 7th grade she's been serving in it), and begin her new career and life as an adult in the work force.  God blessed her this week for sure -- and I truly believe the other jobs were a "no", and it made sense that when she gave unselfishly to her church community once again, her efforts were blessed beyond measure.

I will post some photos later when I get a chance.  I'm off to a somewhat busy weekend with VBS follow-up Summer is surely fleeting!  But what a beautiful July week it's been.  I hope it keeps up :)

Many blessings...

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Birthday Celebration....

This very overdue sweet baby boy arrived 16 years ago ....

Through the years he has changed a lot .....and is still growing and changing into who God desires him to be:

It's a beautiful Sunday to enjoy a birthday with friends and family....

Flag Day.....

Today is Flag Day....
I saw a beautiful photo and post from a friend, whose family was outside in their front yard, hands on heart, saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  How wonderful.....paying due respect to the symbol of what this country stands for:  the land of the free....and the home of the brave....

May God bless you with continued freedom....

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Summer Bliss

Although Summer has arrived, it's all but 55 degrees here today in my part of the midwest.  That is quite a dive from 82 a couple days ago.  

However, this does not stop me from enjoying the beauty that has bloomed around me.  The bright sunshine that is now ours most days, and the balmy breeze, with moisture clinging in the air at night.  On days like this I sit by my fire pit and enjoy the sound of the toads croaking their evening music...and take in the smell of the wood burning and the sound of its crackle.

Since May has left us, life has settled down a bit.  May was a whirlwind of activity; finishing up our church school weekends, First Communion and May Crowning, high school graduation and parties, the college graduation of my daughter.  All a blur now, but all sweet and comfortable in my memory.  

Both my sons that are still homeschooled have completed, or near completed their courses. The oldest is finishing up a history paper and science report.  The youngest has been finished since the end of May and is thrilled to be "on summer vacation."  I plan, for their next school season.  I think I have it all under control!

These recent days I indulge in my Young Living diffuser, switching between Stress Away, or an allergy bomb, the combination of equal amounts of Peppermint, Lavender and Lemon.  All the while listening to an audio (Nook) book of The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins. To enjoy this version you need first, a Nook, and then to download the Nook Audiobook App.  I have had several Nooks since they  first arrived on the scene, and my latest one is a Samsung Galaxy 4.0 Nook Tablet -- which I'm just loving. 

Smelling the therapeutic aroma of the essential oils and listening to expert readers tell me the most engaging mystery story is such a blast of relaxation for me; long needed relaxation. 

I hope you are enjoying some small indulgences as summer unfolds......

Friday, May 22, 2015

Breath of Fresh Air - Making Progress

    So many amazing milestones have occurred in the last month alone, I just haven't known how to express them all, so I haven't been blogging them......I've been living them and savoring them.

   Today, I take inventory of the blessings in my life.  Although there are many unknowns at this time, which could leave so much stress, I am nonetheless ever so grateful for the progress my family has made over the years.  This year marks such successes, rather triumphantly I might add.  I am not one to just "do a thing", no, I want to do the best thing; it's in my nature to not be mediocre.  Maybe it's because I was raised by two US Marines?  I don't know, but I do know, if I'm going to do it (like educate my own children), I don't settle for anything less than high quality.  I see that paying off in how well my older children did at the college level, both having graduated now.  I could not be more proud of them.  

   The winter was difficult for my current teen son, yes.  But the spring pulled us out of the dark tunnel and onward into the light with refreshment of mind, body and soul. We took a couple new turns, made some changes, with some fantastic results.  I take comfort in the leaps I have seen happen in my family with my children; really amazing leaps.  Leaps that have given me such hope for them, hope for their futures.

    I am so proud that my children are growing into such fine adults.  So proud that we've been able to educate them with a quality home schooling program that really forms them and sticks with them through the tough times.  I'm thrilled that our home study program has added an uber special services section of on line courses for high school that will provide a high quality classical education at a pace they can manage; still helping them to feel a part of it all - with other students.  It will be my blessing for my youngest son with autism as he enters middle school and in three short years will be high school age.  I can not do it alone - nor do I think it's wise.  I draw upon my Lord first, and those with experience and intellectual property to share (and great home school program).  I believe because I have been submissive and humbled by letting others assist me, I have been greatly blessed.  

   And so as we enter Memorial Day weekend, I reminisce about my family and their roots; my children and how I have been so blessed to be able to educate them at home; my children that have graduated college, my pride and joy as I prepared them for it through an excellent high school path; and what is yet to come for them.  My teen son finishing a rigorous amazing 10th grade year even though he hit rock bottom in January & February; getting his driver's permit, getting more social than ever, and really participating in life more, now that he's over that horrible hump that stood in his way literally for so many years.  He is making such progress in all areas -- I am in awe and so so grateful.  He will have an exciting high standard of studies in 11th, and I'm thrilled I can be a part of it.

Have a beautiful Memorial Day Weekend

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,

    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3